Saturday, June 30, 2012

Picture Pause - Tom

This is the feral street cat, Tom.  I don't claim him as my own - I just named him because it was easier to say 'Tom' than 'the darker of the two male orange tabbies without white markings'. 

Tom may not be mine, but he does like to hang out in my yard from time to time.  And I like to snap pics of him, because damned if he isn't photogenic.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

No Fire Here

Cross-posted from my Facebook page:

For all my friends in other parts of the country, I am NOT in any danger from the fires in Colorado you've been seeing all over the news. All of those currently burning are at least 3 hours away, and the one that was burning on the plains was put out quickly and wasn't close to where I'm at. We are under a Red Flag warning due to the heat and lack of moisture, but no fires here yet. (We'll see if that changes after all the ill-advised fireworks displays next week. Keep your fingers crossed for me.)

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Books Are Like Food

The other day I read a blog wherein the author said something to the effect of 'there aren't any good books in the bookstore lately' and they wondered how they were supposed to get published when there was so much mediocre stuff floating around. This got me to thinking, of course.  (Happens sometimes.)  Now I know I've been in the same place.  It's genuinely frustrating to walk into a bookstore and not see a damn thing you want to read - especially when you've got your own books eating their heads off in a folder on your hard drive.

My answer to this person was: Books are like food.

Think about it for a second.  Saying 'books are like food' is no big revelation.  It's all about tastes.  Some types of food appeal to a wider variety of tastes.  Others draw only people like that chunky guy on the Travel Channel (who we refer to as The Weird Food Dude.)  Sometimes people might try something a little different now and then, but for the most part, we like what we like.

Publishing folks have to try to determine which book is going to appeal to the widest variety of tastes so they can sell the most books and make the most money.  That's not a bad thing.  They've got rent and mortgages and tuition bills for their kiddies, too.  They've got to look at the market and figure out who's going to want to eat what and how much of it they're going to consume in a given time period.  Not an easy job, folks.  Especially in a fickle culture where tastes can change in the blink of an eye.

And we, the authors?  Well, I guess we're like the contestants on The Next Food Network Star.  We make our dishes, thinking they're the most awesome culinary feat ever.  We present our food to the judges (or in our case, the agents) and hope Gordon Ramsey doesn't gag when he takes a bite.  Maybe one of the three guys will enjoy what we've given them.  Maybe all three will rave about it and we'll make it to the next round.  Or maybe all of them will tell us better luck next year.

What our families rave about at the dinner table might not turn anyone else on.

As for readers and the quandary at the bookstore?  Well, I think that might have to do with our appetite of the moment.  You walk in and nothing sounds good.  You know you want to eat.  You may in fact be starving.  But every bit of nourishment you look at makes you want to hurl.  Meanwhile, the shelves are stocked with every food imaginable.  All of it looks like mush to you because you aren't in a place where even the tastiest treat will entice you.  There's good food out there - lord knows the rest of the patrons are gobbling it down - but you're just not ready to eat it. 

Maybe you're getting over food poisoning (i.e. a bad read).  Perhaps you're already too full to think about another bite.  Give it time.  When you're ready to read again, you'll find something.

Until then, write a recipe.  Or stay away from food entirely until your appetite comes back.  In the end, you may still have a tough time finding the meal that's right for you, but then again, your tastes may just be more selective than most.  And that's okay.

But here's an idea, too.  Start trying to expand your tastes.  Eat a little fois gras.  And then grab a Whopper from BK.  Try some Kraft Mac & Cheese.  Have a scallop or two.  Eat a frog's leg.  Try the fried chicken.  It's all stuff someone somewhere enjoys.  Why can't you be that someone?

To paraphrase from the musical Mame: Life's a smorgasbord, folks.  And most poor suckers are starving to death.

I know that was a big rambly post, but I think you get my gist.  Now it's your turn to chime in.  What do you think?  Are you a picky eater or will you try anything?  Are you enjoying the smorgasbord or do you only eat from one section of it?  Chime in now.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Picture Pause - A Promise Kept

Hi all.  A while back I made a promise to my friend, Janet, that when I got pics of my wild gladiolas* (Mom says they're hollyhocks) I would post them.  Well, here they are:

They wandered over from the neighbors yard last year and came back this year.  I've been trying to take care of them, especially since they're the only pretty things back there.  Otherwise all I have to look at back there are goatheads**.

If you look closely, you can see the little green spiky balls that turn into dried up torture devices in the fall.

And lastly, because I haven't posted a picture of my rescue cat...

Yep, that's Max the Wonder Cat.  Ain't he gorgeous?

Have a great weekend, folks.  =o)

* Not sure if those are really glads. Nope.  Hollyhocks. 
** Don't know what these are really called either, but we call them goatheads here.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

The Me You See vs. The Me You Don't

I was reading a post by Seanan McGuire just now (at Rose Owls and Pumpkin Girls) wherein she talks about discovering that someone considers her online persona 'grating', and it got me to thinking.  What is my online persona?  Is who I am here online the same as who I am here in the house?  Pretty much.  Is that person the same as the one who goes to the grocery store?

Short answer: No.

Longer answer: If I could be who I really was all the time, I'd be the person you all see online rather than the person I present to the physical world.

I'm not nearly as angry online.  When I sit down to go into the internet, I'm stepping into my happy spot.  Sure, people here piss my off on occasion, but if I don't like it, I can walk away with one click of the mouse.  I can't just pick up and move away from the morons I encounter in my daily life.  And sometimes when I try to walk away, they follow me, trying to get my attention.  Of course, in either case, my anger never gets out.  I just seethe more out in reality.

I think I might be just as friendly in the real world as I am here, but I'm more guarded in real life.  I have to watch what I say - mainly because there's no delete button.  There's no chance to edit my thoughts out there in the real world.  I have to trust in my leaky brain to filter out the really stupid things before they come dribbling out of my face.  Like the other day when I offered to get a chair for a pregnant woman, and she wasn't pregnant*.  Derp.

And here I can say things like 'Derp' and no one thinks I'm retarded.  (Yes, I do say Derp at home, too, but they already know I'm retarded and they love me anyway.)

Whether or not I'm grating to people occurs to me every once in a while.  And then I motor along being myself anyway.  Way back in the early days of my original blog (the first incarnation of The Writing Spectacle), I wrote a post about being a WYSIWYG person.   It's a computer term meaning 'What You See Is What You Get'.  That's about it.  What you see of me here is what you get. 

Who are you online?  Are you the real you or a persona you've created to meet someone's expectation of who you should be?  How that working out for you?

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Goodreads and Me

A long time ago, I joined Goodreads.  And then promptly did nothing with it.  At all.  I was like the ghost in the Goodreads machine.  Earlier this year, though, I finally decided to get into the place in a more active way.  Sure, I'm not partaking of everything the site has to offer, but I'm finding my place and enjoying the scenery.

I might have mentioned (if not here, then elsewhere), that I became a Goodreads Librarian.  It's really not that hard a position to get into.  You exceed a certain number of books in your library and then fill out a form.  They accept or deny you.  I got accepted.  Basically what that means is I can update books, fix listings, and add books (when I'm absolutely certain it's not out there already). It all came about because an acquaintance of mine needed help getting his books up on the site.  Since then, I've helped him, and a few others, to get their books on Goodreads or get additional materials up there (like cover images, etc.)

I'm also keeping track of the books I read with their reading challenge - if you didn't notice there's a widget thingie over on the right.  I still keep my own page for that, but this is cool, too.  Now everyone who's friends with me can see what I read and I can see what they've read.  It's totally cool - in a nerdy, book-addict kind of way.

Additionally, I've found a few great books to read by seeing what my friends on Goodreads are reading or have in their too-read list.

All in all, it's a pretty neat place for book lovers to hang out and connect - and it's totally what you put into it.  No pressure, just books.  :happy sigh:  They even have discussion boards for those people who are interested.  (Not me.  I'm a recovering forum addict.  But you might like it.)

So, have you tried Goodreads?  Feel free to friend me.  I'd love to see what you're reading.

Sunday, June 17, 2012


Dad was in his element three places in the world...

At work:

Out hunting:

or fishing:

And being a father:

It's been 10 Father's Days without him now, but I'd still like to wish Dad a happy day - even if it's only to that place in my memories where he will forever be with me.

Happy Father's Day to all the great Dads out there - including my own dear Husband.  =o)

(Yeah, that's me in the yellow.  The baby of the family.)

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Writing Snippet - Over There

This morning's post is over at my oft-forgotten blog Tabula Rasa.  I posted the new beginning of Djinnocide.  Be gentle.

And if you don't feel like heading over there, scroll down and comment on yesterday's post about my need for coffee.  (The Tabula Rasa post is more intelligent, though, trust me.)

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Great Godfrey Daniels, is it Wednesday already?  Where the hell did Tuesday go?  I guess spending the morning cleaning clogged drains will make a person forget a whole day.  Derpy derpy derp.

Must have too much blood in my caffeine system...

So, anyway, how are things with you?

(And no, I don't remember where I got the above image.  My apologies to the brilliant human being who made it.  It was just so apropos, I had to kipe it.  If they happen to stumble across my shameless theft, they can let me know and I'll either take it down or give them full credit.)

Monday, June 11, 2012

Picture Pause - Gather Ye Roses

Between the unseasonal heat and the dryness, most of the roses in the area are done blooming.  I snapped this during the last good week for flowers and even this is on its way out.

So, I guess that they say is true: Gather ye rosebuds while ye may.  ;o)

Friday, June 8, 2012

Adjusting Your Expectations And Giving Up

I never expected to be here.  When I was 18, I expected to graduate from college and become a psychologist.  A couple years and a major change later, I expected to get a good job at someplace like Boeing in their human resources department.  When I was 22, I expected my fiance to marry me and we'd raise the baby that was on the way together.  The next year I woke up one morning expecting to make it to work safely.  I expected to live in Michigan my whole life.  And at 34, I expected my first book would attract somebody's interest.  I definitely expected to be published by now.

Needless to say, I've had a lot of expectations in my life.  Also needless to say, none of the above actually happened.  In each instance, something derailed me and I had to adjust my expectations.  In a lot of instances, I could've given up.  (And in the case of college, I actually did give up - but I didn't realize it until later.)  Instead I adjusted my expectations.

Recently, we had a setback.  The daughter I raised, the one who's so damn smart I could weep for joy, the one who aced her ACT...  She bombed her first year of college.  After much gnashing of teeth and rending of garments, we made the decision she won't be going back*. 

And we all adjusted our expectations.  She expected to graduate, move to Japan and get a job managing a software development company.  Now she has to expect a lower paying job, not so nice a car, and a lot of hard work to get anywhere.  Sure, she's bummed, but by adjusting her expectations, she can roll with this.  She can put her head down, work hard, save some money and gain the maturity she needs to go back to college.

At least, that's the adjusted expectation.  She hasn't given up on her goal of graduating from college.  Whether she ever does isn't the point right now.  The point is that she still has goals and expectations she's working toward.

I guess what I'm trying to say in my rambling, disjointed way is that things don't always work out the way you intend them to.  Shit happens.  You get derailed.  And then you have a choice - you can adapt or you can quit.

This morning, I thought about quitting.  I was standing on the porch smoking and the thought jumped into my head - totally unbidden and without any warning - that I should just quit writing.  I haven't really gone anywhere with it.  More and more often, I find something else to do rather than the work I know I should be putting in. 

Maybe I need to adjust my own expectations and see what happens.  Or perhaps I've just stopped having expectations about my work.  Instead of expecting to finish this and send it out, I'm just floating through.  I'll give setting up some expectations a try and see what happens.  I expect things will improve.

And don't worry.  I'm still not planning on quitting - no matter what messages my subconscious throws up at me while I'm enjoying a nice morning and a bit of nicotine. 

*She wanted to go back this fall.  We just couldn't see throwing another $10K at the problem on the off chance that she grows a work ethic between now and August.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

May Fights of Eagles Wing Thee

One of my heroes died today.  Ray Bradbury is gone at the age of 91.

And for those of left behind, I'll post some profound words he graced us with:

"The point is obvious. There is more than one way to burn a book. And the world is full of people running about with lit matches. Every minority, be it Baptist/Unitarian, Irish/Italian/Octogenarian/Zen Buddhist, Zionist/Seventhday Adventist, Women's Lib/Republican, Mattachine/Four Square Gospel feels it has the will, the right, the duty to douse the kerosene, light the fuse. Every dimwit editor who sees himself as the source of all dreary blanc-mange plain porridge unleavened literature, licks his guillotine and eyes the neck of any author who dares to speak above a whisper or write above a nursery rhyme." - Ray Bradbury 1920-2012

I write because you gave me courage.  And I write because your vision of a world where people burned books scared the shit out of teenage me and your vision of a world where people wouldn't care if intellect was silenced scares me still today.

Goodbye, Mr. Bradbury.  May flights of eagles wing thee to thy rest.

Monday, June 4, 2012

You May Be Alone, but You Are Not Alone

"Writing is a solitary pursuit."  I heard someone on TV say this yesterday and I was all like 'well, duh'.  But thinking about it this morning, I realized something.  This may be a solitary pursuit and one no other person can really help us with (unless, you know, you're like working on a collaborative manuscript), we're in this together.

Don't get me wrong.  I'm all about the individual - doing his thing, being his own person.  What I mean is more along the lines of we have a shared experience.  Each of us is working toward a personal goal, and along the way, we face the same pitfalls, the same elation, the same deep dark depression and endless misery.  So, it just makes sense that we help each other however we can - even if it's just putting a hand on a friend's shoulder so they know they aren't alone.

Our paths are different, but we're all walking in the same direction.  Toward publication.  (Even those who are already published are still walking.  Just because one book is sold doesn't mean the journey ends.)

So if you see someone faltering, reach out a hand and help them back up.  If you see someone making progress, cheer - because the cheering inspires and heartens.  And if you feel like you can't take another step, call out so others can maybe help.

Writing may be a solitary pursuit, but you don't have to go through it alone.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Afraid to Finish Reading

Okay, so I'm about 2/3rds of the way through Blackout by Mira Grant.  I have a total writer crush on her (aka Seanan McGuire) and I so totally love the books she writes.  So far I'm loving this book, too, but I can see where it could all go so amazingly wrong for the characters.

And thinking about this last night makes me want to do something I've never done before.  I want to write Seanan and ask her to let me know if there's an HEA.  Or at least a 'happy for now'.  I don't want her to tell me how it ends.  In fact, I hate spoilers.  I just need a 'yes' or 'no', so I can either continue reading or set the book down now and create a happy ending in my head rather than a horrible end she might have planned.  This is the last book in the trilogy and I really don't think I could bear it if this story goes bad for the characters I've come to love so much.  :cough:HungerGames:cough:

Has this ever happened to you?

ETA:  Thank you, Seanan.  I never should've doubted you would end this right.  And damn you for making me cry - even if they were good tears.  =op