Thursday, October 31, 2013

13 Really Very Super Scary Things

1) Waking up and not being able to make coffee - either because the machine died, or you forgot to buy grounds, or because there's a power outage.  Who needs a zombie apocalypse outside, because there's about to be one in the house.

2) Facing NaNoWriMo after being totally stuck for a month.  You think facing Dracula is bad?  He only drains your blood.  This might just drain your will to live.

3) Moths

4) Politicians

5) Forgetting to put the garbage out to the road on garbage day.  Or in my case, thinking we forgot just as I heard the truck pulling up the hill toward our house.  Talk about running through the house like Michael Myers was chasing me.

6) Waking up feeling like some kind of insect just crawled across your face, so you jump out of bed and flip on the light.  But you can't find it to kill it.  Try going back to sleep then.

7) Your kid just moves into a new place - complete with the Holy Grail of wifi - but then you don't see her online for days so you FB message her just in case she's online when you're not looking.  She doesn't reply.  You email her to no avail.  You try to call her, but she doesn't answer her phone.  And because you're a writer, and a true-crime show junkie, you start imagining all the things her new roommates might've done to her...*

8) A new book comes out that you've been waiting forever for, but you don't have any money in your book budget.

9) It's Halloween and you ate all the candy meant for trick-or-treaters.

10) Praying Mantises - because they just creep me out, man.

11) Tornadoes

12) Typing up a list and realizing you forgot #3**.

13) You write what you think is a really funny blog post and no one comments.  ;o)

Happy Halloween, Everyone!  May none of the really very super scary things happen to you any time soon. 

*The Kid had been hanging out at a friend's house where she wasn't online at all and forgot to take her cell phone with her.  She had a great time and I had several panic attacks.

** Made ya look.

(Most of the above totally hasn't happened to me recently.  And no worries... the coffee is coursing through my veins even as I type this.  Because a B.E. without coffee is a truly frightening experience.)

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Helping A Grieving Writer on Release Day.

Last month, author Nancy Holzner faced something I can't even envision - the loss of her husband.  Today, the fifth book in her Deadtown series releases and because she's still in a state of shock and grief, she can't possibly get all 'WOOHOO' and "Hurray" for her book birthday.  Today, she wrote a lovely post about her husband, the people who helped him through his illness, and the people who helped her through this process of getting a book published while your husband is gravely ill.

Since she can't focus on the book birthday today, though, I think I'll do a little of it for her here.

First, I don't know Nancy.  I just love her books.  I mean, we're FB friends and junk, but that means next to zilch - especially at a time like this.  I just know how I'd feel if anything ever happened to my Hubs.  I sure as hell wouldn't give a damn if a book was releasing. 

Anyway, Hellhound (Deadtown #5) hit the shelves today.  If you haven't read the other books in the series, do a solid and pick them up if you have the fundage.  You won't regret it - they really are awesome.

Here's the shamelessly borrowed Amazon blurbage for Hellhound:

They call it Deadtown: the city’s quarantined section for its inhuman and undead residents. Most humans stay far from its borders—but Victory Vaughn, Boston’s only professional demon slayer, isn’t exactly human….
Boston’s zombies have suddenly become inexplicably violent—horror movie-style—resulting in a catastrophic all-out battle against humans. More troubling to Vicky is that she’s had dreams and visions of herself fighting alongside the demons. At least, she hopes they’re just visions—otherwise, that puts her on the front lines of the wrong side of the war.

Vicky’s not surprised to discover that Pryce, her demi-demon cousin and loathed adversary, is behind the outbreak of the zombie plague, having formed an unholy pact with the Old Ones. Now, as the violence escalates and alliances shift, Vicky knows she’s the only one who can stop the plague. Unless the pack of hellhounds on her trail finds her first. 

Vicky is totally kick ass. This series rocks hard.  And Nancy is a hell of a nice person who writes awesome stories and just happens to be feeling a whole lot of pain at a time when she otherwise would be reveling in booklove.

None of us can help Nancy with her loss, but we can help make her day a little brighter by adding to her sales figures (or passing along word of her release day so she doesn't have to feel like her marketing got abandoned while she dealt with her grief)  I squeezed $6 out of my budget just now for a Kindle copy.  How about you?

(Nancy Holzner has no idea I did this.  Like I said, I don't know her at all.  Which means, of course, that she didn't authorize any of what I said here.  She may, in fact, stop by and kick my ass for doing this, but I felt like I kinda had to because I know how I'd feel if our lives were switched somehow. And just the thought of losing my Hubs wrecks me.)

Monday, October 28, 2013

Organizing Zoe

Zoe is a mess.  She can't keep my books straight to save herself, poor darling.  But I spent some time this weekend trying to sort her out.

Ummm, yeah, Zoe is my Kindle.

I love her.  I really do.  But she's the kind of Kindle that just shows me the title and the author name.  (Or do all Kindles do that and none of them give more info up front?  If so, that's something they need to fix on subsequent models.)  Problem is, I can't remember what a book's about by just reading the title.  And I'm the kind of person who might want Romantic Suspense one day and Dystopian the next.

So, first thing I did was take all the books I already read and sort them.  The keepers went into a new folder called 'Read'.  The others got deleted. 

Next, I sat down with a notepad and wrote down every single title Zoe is currently holding for me to read.  Title and Author.  In the left margin, I noted which genre the book was - if I could figure it out... which was rare.  This morning, I opened up my Amazon and started trying to determine what everything else was. 

Lemme tell ya, even then figuring out genre wasn't all that easy sometimes.  (And now I know why agents insist on having a definite genre in the query.  Bleh.)  But that's a story for another day.

I only got about a third of the way through this morning because my browser and Amazon weren't getting along, but I'm making progress.  And I picked out which 'book' to read next... which is actually six books thrown together into one package called 'Dark Nights Dangerous Men'.  That should keep me busy until later this week when I add a few more choice novels to little Zoe's stash.

Next I might arrange Zoe into folders so I can snag just the genre I want to read when I want to read it, but that might be a little anal for me.  We'll see how it goes.

What about you?  Do you organize your books by genre - cuz even my hardcopy books are kinda in genre order?  Or am I just being little Obsessive Olivia?

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Oh God, It's Coming!

Yes, folks, it's that time of year again.  In just over a week, NaNoWriMo will be here again.  For the uninitiated, NaNoWriMo - National Novel Writing Month - is thirty days of finger twisting, type your brains out, super fun free for all.  Or rather it the time when the goal is to write 50K words (one book) in a month.

To save y'all the math, that equates to roughly 1667 words a day.

I won't get into the fact that books from Chapter One to THE END are rarely 50K words.  Getting a book finished in November isn't the point.  The point is supposed to be proving that you are capable of finishing a whole damn book - even if it's only proving something to yourself.

I haven't participated in a while.  I can't remember what I was doing last year, but the year before I was in the middle of editing, so I shift my book writing to December and called it HoHoWriMo.  Some years I was in the middle of writing something else, so I didn't officially participate - I just tried to write 50K words and get the book finished.

The point of NaNoWriMo, I think, is to dedicate your November to the job of writing a novel - whether it be the actual act of writing new words or those most fun endeavors: editing or revising.  (Which is why some people take November and call it NaNoEdMo.  Hell, not everyone is in a place where they can WRITE in November.)

Me?  This year I've been trying not to think about NaNo.  Back at the beginning of September, I got all jazzed and told myself I was going to finish editing this book and jump into writing a new one come 11/1.  Let's just say that did not work the way I planned.  I also promised someone that I would work on writing the 3rd Djinn novel in November.  That ain't looking so good neither.

As Hubs pointed out yesterday when I was discussing (dreading, whining, belaboring...) NaNo with him: "It's hard to get excited about writing a new book when you can't get anyone interested in the old books." 

So, with a little over a week to go, the jury's still out on whether I'll be writing next month.  And if so, exactly what I'll be writing.  Maybe I'll forgo the djinn and work on that  MG fantasy I was playing with last year...

How about you?  Do you NaNo?  Dreading it or looking forward to it?  If you don't do the NaNo thing, would you ever consider it? 

Friday, October 18, 2013

My Top Ten 'Scary' Movies

I don't do scary movies.  At least not what people today consider scary.  I'll leave those to my sister.  Nope, I like a good old fashioned flick or one with some humor involved.  So here are my choices for this scariest of months (not really in order because I can't pick which one is my absolute favorite)...

  1. The Frighteners - starring Michael J. Fox as a con man who uses his ability to see ghosts as a way to make a little jack.  He uses his ghost friends to 'haunt' people and then he shows up to eliminate the ghosts.  And it's going pretty well until a real nasty ghost shows up...  I love the humor in this movie, but I also love the reality of Michael's character - his pain, his angst, and even his anger.  Plus, Dee Wallace in it harkens back to the horror movies I watched with my sister way back when. 
  2. Final Destination franchise - Yeah, this is about as close as I get to enjoying a modern scary movie.  This franchise fascinates me and I spend every one of them waiting on the edge of my seat to see how each person is going to die. 
  3. Silence of the Lambs - This one for me is more about the suspense than the actual scary, but yeah, Hannibal Lecter can be pretty scary.
  4. Abbott and Costello Meet the Mummy - I loved these guys when I was growing up and this movie is the bomb around Halloween.
  5. Frankenstein (1994) - A stark and beautiful retelling of Mary Shelley's masterpiece.  This one sticks pretty close to the book, and hey, you can't go wrong with Kenneth Brannagh.
  6. Godzilla - I love this remake of my old favorites from Japan.  When I was a kid, I think I saw just about every Japanese monster movie they released here in the states.  This one is probably the best attempt to redo all that - even if this Godzilla doesn't have a smidgen of the Japanese Godzilla's charisma.
  7. The Blob - What can I say about this classic?  I just love it.
  8. Carrie - The original version, of course.  And it's the original catharsis for any girl who's ever been picked on.  This one doesn't scare me - it has me rooting for Carrie.  Yeah, I cheered when she took out John Travolta and his trashy girlfriend.
  9. The Raven - A movie based on Poe's poem starring Vincent Price and Peter Lorey.  This was awesome.  
  10. The Alien franchise - Man, I could watch these for hours.  They don't scare me so much as startle me... well, except for the one with the creepy half-alien/half-Ripley thing.  That one creeps me right the hell out.
Honorable Mentions:

Young Frankenstein - It's Mel Brooks, so natch.  Plus, with lines like 'Werewolf!'  'There.  There wolf.', how can you go wrong?

Manhunter - Also in the Thomas Harris 'Hannibal Lecter' franchise, but made way before Silence of the Lambs and starring William Petersen from CSI.  This one was based on the book Red Dragon (and remade into a movie of that name).  Personally, I think this version is way more suspenseful than the new version and the portrayal of Hannibal Lecter by Brian Cox is totally creepy.

Hocus Pocus - which has Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker and Kathy Najimi as the Sanderson sisters - witches from back in the time of real witches.  (And yes, my enjoyment of the movie increased when I realized we share a last name now).  It's funny and it's quirky.  Plus, it's got some real emotion behind it.  Especially with the cat who is really a boy and how he just wants to be with his sister.  (And if you didn't know it, the cat is played by the same guy who plays Tim McGee on NCIS.)

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

A National Bullying Prevention Month Rant

Someone pointed out this morning that October is National Bullying Prevention Month and I have a few thoughts on the subject...

(Run now or don't say I didn't warn you.)

First off, let's get one thing straight. If you don't give a flying fuck what other people think of you, they can't bully you. (Unless they're physically assaulting you*)

Secondly, if this culture wasn't so damn set on forcing everyone to like everyone else, then our children could actually stop giving a flying fuck what these bullies said to them.  They wouldn't kill themselves over things these assholes were saying to them on Twitter and FB and other social media sites because they wouldn't care.  They'd be all like "Oh look, John said I was fat. Well, he's kind of an ass, so his opinions don't matter.  Poor sad little John. ROFL"

We really put too much stock in the thoughts of others if their thoughts are driving our children to kill themselves.

And we all worry so much about what other people think, might think or that we think they think that we warp ourselves to some vague image of what we hope they'll like.  It's all bullshit.

I got bullied.  Hell, I suspect most people have been bullied at some point - except for the bullies themselves (and even then, I'm guessing they got bullied somewhere along the way).  But I didn't consider killing myself over it.  Looking back, those times when I was on the edge contemplating a swift end to it all, it didn't have a damn thing to do with what some fucktard said about me.  Mostly what I was thinking about after being bullied was revenge.  Cathartic thoughts of pushing Diane and Rachel in front of a school bus.  Not real thoughts of taking a semi-automatic and wiping out half the damn school. 

Seriously, that's just stupid.  That's like saying 'these assholes are ruining my life, so I'll teach them by REALLY ruining my life - and the lives of countless others along the way'.  Yeah, that'll learn 'em. 

But I digress.

That shit can be stopped, too, if we stop putting so much value on the opinions of others. 

And you know why bullying works?  Because the bullies KNOW you give a huge shit about them.  They're counting on it.  Because the second you stop caring, their fun goes away.  (Once I stopped caring what Diane and Rachel thought, they left me alone.  I wasn't fun to pick on anymore.  And years later, I actually became friends with Rachel.)

Sure, it's harder than it sounds.  The inundation of 'get along' in our culture makes it harder than it has to be.  Hell, any time any kid sticks out from the pack, the pack tries to shove them back in. 

Let's use an example from my own kid's life - which she'll hate, but that's how Mom's blog goes sometimes.  Back in I think it before 4th grade, she was in summer school which was kinda cool for her because she actually got to celebrate her birthday with her classmates.  I bought cupcakes.  There were x-number of kids in her class and she wanted most of them to have cupcakes, but there were a small number of little shits she didn't want to give cupcakes to - because they picked on her.  I told her she didn't have to give cupcakes to the kids who'd picked on her.  The school called me at work it a total hissy fit. 

This was a private school that was supposedly big on the idea that actions have consequences... unless you're a bully and a shit, then you get cupcakes from the kids you've been pantsing all year. "Thank you for making my life hell, here's a treat."

I tried to raise her to believe she didn't have to associate with people who were mean to her other than in a most civil way.  They taught her she had to be friends with everyone - and if she couldn't be friends with everyone, then there was obviously something wrong WITH HER. 

I taught her to be her own person.  They taught her she had to be like everyone else and if she couldn't fit in, then there was something wrong with her.

And they (in the big general usage of the word 'they' which encompasses this weird ass culture we live in) are the ones giving a whole lot of lip service to ending bullying.  But they aren't really doing a damn thing to stop it. 

Stop teaching kids they have to be friends with everyone.  Teach them instead that they have to be respectful and civil to everyone - even to the people they don't like or don't understand.  Stop teaching kids they have to think like everyone else.  Teach them instead to think for themselves.  Stop teaching our children to obediently swallow every load of crap that comes from the culture at large.  Teach them instead to reason and think and be their own person.

Maybe then the bullying will stop.  Or maybe it will go on, but the majority of the kids just won't give a flying fuck and the bullies will wither up from lack of attention. 

One can hope.

*And if these bullies are physically assaulting you, call the police (or have a parent call the police) and prosecute the little jerks to the fullest extent of the law.  None of this 'they were both fighting so they both get punished' bullshit.  No one should get punished for defending themselves - ever.

End of rant note:  You are perfectly welcome to disagree with me - as long as you're reasonable and rational about it. I don't allow nasty comments on my blog, so if you're thinking of leaving one, don't bother.  I'll delete it before anyone else has a chance to see it. 

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Eat Your Peas

Okay, I think I may have a handle on this thing.  Something occurred to me this morning - I promised myself I wouldn't start anything new until I get some of this backlog of writing into shape to be sent out into the world.  I mean, come on, I have like 13 books in various stages of 'ready' - which is to say not ready because if they were really ready, someone somewhere would've wanted one of them by now.  And starting something new right now just feels like adding to that steaming pile of unfinished.

I spent the better part of the summer whipping a manuscript into shape only to decide I wasn't going to try to publish it. 

Now I'm in the middle of editing the one book that was the hardest for me to edit.

And I hate editing.

I don't know how the rest of you were raised, but I had to clean my plate before I was allowed to get up from the table.  The meat I never had a problem with.  No prob on the starches either.  But the vegetables?  OMG, I did everything possible to not have to eat those.  I would hem and haw.  I would whine.  I resorted to stuffing them along the edge of my plate and then making sure I was the one to clear the table - until I got caught.  I even went so far as to swallow some of them whole with a generous gulp of milk so I wouldn't have to actually taste the loathsome things.  (This worked best with peas because they're really just green pills, and if I could swallow hard aspirin, I could certainly choke down soft peas.)

In order to get to the fun stuff in life - like dessert and playing outside - I had to eat my peas.

In order to get to the fun stuff in writing - like creating new stories - I have to do my editing.


So in some immature, foot-stomping, breath-holding, pissy-bitch fashion, I've been refusing to eat my peas which leaves me stuck at the proverbial table, staring down at what are now incredibly cold and nasty veggies, whining about how I want to go play.

Hell, even worse, I already made a deal with myself that if I got this particular manuscript done I could go play with the NaNoWriMo kids.  (Deal making is the scourge of parenting, btw, but that's a subject best left to another day.)

Basically, I have to eat my peas.  Now if I could just find a glass of milk large enough to wash down 300 pages of edits before November 1st.

And don't try to talk me out of it.  I fixed this plate and I'm going to eat it all, even if I have to sit here 'til Christmas.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Distracting Myself From Myself

I'm not writing.  I haven't been writing.  And every time I think about writing, it sets off a wave of mini panic attacks which then makes me go find something else to do.  (Although lately, I've been skipping the panic attacks and just finding other things to do.)

Yesterday, I swept all the hard floors in the house and part of the garage.  Then I read.  Then I volunteered to drive up to town to buy paint so my husband could finish painting the deck.  I got paint, another bag of dirt*, weather stripping for the deck door, and nails.

Remember my last post where I talked about being a reading machine.  This.  This is why I've been a reading machine.  Other people's stories interest me more than my own do.  And hey, I don't have to worry whether those stories will get published or whether people will hate them or whether they'll debut to the sound of crickets.

Today I'm planning on redoing the rose bed. (*this is where the newest bag of dirt will go.)  I have three rosebushes in the bed beside the porch and whoever planted them had no sense of space and arrangement.  They're planted kinda like this |__._'_-|  Looks like crap and it's driving me nuts. 

I suspect it's driving me nuts because I'm not writing and my brain is looking for excuses.  Otherwise, the flower bed is really not all that tragic.  And the floors don't really need to be washed (even though my brain is telling me otherwise**).  The door really does need weather stripping, but not today when it's supposed to be lovely.  The iris bed doesn't need to be weeded - those weeds aren't going anywhere.  I didn't need to buy that many crocus bulbs... but now that I have them, they do need to be planted - in the redesigned rosebed, of course. 

**you know it's bad when I'm giving myself household chores to do.

I know I'm doing all this to distract myself.  I hate that I'm not writing.  I hate that just thinking about writing makes me want to do something like washing the hard floors and dusting the cobwebs out of the garage.  So yeah, I'm distracting myself from myself.  Bleh.

What's distracting you today?

Sunday, October 6, 2013

I'm Just a Reading Machine...

da dun dun dunt da dun dun dun da.

:dances a little:

Yeah... Sorry if that's stuck in your head now, but I couldn't help myself.  I've just been reading like a crazy person lately.  Other than the tired eyes, it feels great to get lost in book after book.  All kinds of books.  I'd throw them on the floor and roll around in them, but they're mostly on my Kindle and Zoe would break if I rolled around on her.

I suppose I should feel a little guilty that I'm reading the hard work of all those other authors while not really working hard myself.  But I don't.

I should probably feel a little guilty about the fact that my house is kinda messy.  Hubs did such a lovely job cleaning his bathroom the other day and my bathroom is a disaster area.  Hey I did the dishes yesterday and I've been cooking our meals...  The dust bunnies can wait.  They aren't going anywhere. 

When I started the year, I knew what I was facing, so I only committed to reading 50 books.  But it wasn't nearly as time consuming as I thought, so I upped the commitment to 75 books.  Then I really was burning up the old ebook files, so I upped the commitment again to last year's goal of 90. 

Yesterday I read my 77th book of the year, so that was probably a wise move.  (No, really, I read a whole book yesterday - and it wasn't even a brain fluffer.  Political thriller - 216 epages - read yesterday while I watched the MSU game and then the U of M game.)

Readin' machine.  I am it.

What have you been reading lately?  Are you on track to reach your reading goals? 

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

The Tree Project

So here I am in a new environment.  Six months now.  And we're still kind of settling in.  The things we could do, we did - like the landscaping project.  Other things - like new flooring - will have to wait until next year.  It all depends on time and fundage.  One project that didn't have to wait for fundage is something I'm calling The Tree Project.

When we first got to this heavily treed acre and a quarter, we had a good idea what some of these trees are.  Black walnut trees are pretty hard to mistake for anything else - especially when they start dropping smaller tennis ball looking fruits all over the place.  And an oak is an oak is an oak.

Except when it isn't.

We have at least 4 different varieties of oak in the yard.  And a couple different kinds of hickory.  So the first thing I did was pick up a copy of The Audobon Society's Field Guide to North American Trees: Eastern Region.  Which helped us determine that the big oak in front is a white oak and the hickory tree just outside the sunroom is a mockernut hickory

Using the internet helped, too.  Without online resources, I wouldn't have known that was a redbud tree in the front yard or that those were dogwoods just off the property line.  (Never seen either of those up close before.)

But a few trees still eluded me.

The other day, I went around the yard with my camera - snapping pictures of each tree's bark, the leaves, and any fruit they might offer.  (Stupid oaks weren't being cooperative and wouldn't show me their acorns - at least not on the tree and with all the squirrels, I can't just guess which acorn goes to which tree.)

Now I'm trying to catalog which trees are what.  Yeah, I'm totally geeking out.  But I have a burning desire to know.  And it's not easy. (Of course, it doesn't help that some oak trees are known to hybridize... those hussies... which would explain why the oak in back has traits of both the Scarlet Oak and the Shumard Oak.)

I even made a map of the yard and numbered the trees in red, so I'd know which pictures were of which trees.  (Yeah, I'm thinking way too hard about this, but that's kind of what 'geeking out' means.)  In the end, I'll have a good idea of who's who and what to expect from them over the years.  Who'll be dropping nuts, who'll be flowering, and who to watch out for in times of drought.  In the great scheme of things, it's not that important, but it's important to me.

What kinds of things do you geek out about?