Thursday, December 26, 2013

Going Dark to Think

Hi Everyone.  I'll be pretty much going dark across my little corner of the blogosphere until after the New Year.  Other than Killer Chicks, don't expect to see posts here or at The Guide or over at Pound. 

I have some thinking to do.

Of course, if I see something neat I'd like to share, I'll post it whether I'm supposed to be dark or not.  Cuz that's just how I roll. (She says as she sits here in her brand new bib overalls, looking like Weezer* from Steel Magnolias. I just need a floppy hat and shorter hair.) 

Don't fret.  I'll be around here somewhere.  Or over there reading.  But never far.  If nothing else, I'll see ya next year.

*This is apparently spelled Ouiser according to IMDB.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas!

I hope you all have an amazing day today - whether you celebrate the holiday or not.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Weird Dreams

I think I was beating myself up last night.

I know I fell asleep thinking about writing.  Not the fantasy.  Not even the book I'm trying to edit.  Nope, this was a new book whose premise I've been bouncing around in my head for a while now.  That's probably what led to the violence of this morning's dream.

As usual, I don't remember the gist of the whole dream.  I know it was going along rather nicely or I might remember more of it.  All I remember is the end.  I was sitting on a couch typing.  Someone was sitting next to me reading over my shoulder - which I hate, but I was dealing with it.  Then some girl came and sat on the couch next to the person next to me. 

And she was talking rather loudly.  And laughing.  And nudging the person next to me.  Every time she nudged him, he'd bump into me and I'd fatfinger the words I was typing.  I'd say "Just let me finish this sentence."  Delete the fucked up words and try again.  Just when I'd type some more, she'd nudge him and he'd bump into me and I'd screw it up again.  Once more with the "Just let me finish this sentence."

And again, nudge-bump-mistype.  "Just. Let. Me. Finish. This. Sentence."

Nudge-bump... I turned and jumped across the guy onto the girl.  I was beating the holy hell out of her when I woke up.

I told this dream to Hubs a little while ago.  He said, "I was planning on leaving you alone today."  And I assured him he was not the person who annoyed me so bad that I felt the need for physical violence. 

I think I was beating up myself.  Or rather that part of me that isn't allowing me to finish anything.  I opened a can of whoop-ass on her.  She needed it, trust me.

What this means for today?  I'm trying to write a little on the idea that kept me up last night.  I don't know if whipping that chick in my dreams means she'll leave me alone to let me write or not.  All I know is it's a neverending battle. 

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Screwed up Carols

My Dad sometimes liked to screw up Christmas carols.  I wish I could remember all the ways he made them funny, but right now I can only remember his version of Deck the Halls...

Deck the halls
With Boston Charlie
Fa la ra la rah, de sis boom bah.

Early in my childhood, I learned a new way to sing Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer...

Randolph the bow-legged cowboy
Had a very shiny gun
And if you ever saw it
You would turn, scream and run
All of the other cowboys
Used to laugh and call him names
They never let poor Randolph
Join in any cowboy games
Then one foggy Christmas Eve
The sheriff came to say
"Randolph with your gun so bright
Won't you shoot my wife tonight?"

I don't remember how that one ends.

Then there was the version of Jingle Bells...

Jingle bells.  
Batman smells.
Robin laid an egg.
Batmobile lost a wheel
And the Joker got away.

Of course, later in life, I was treated to such wonders as The Twelve Pains of Christmas and Cheech and Chong and You Ain't Gettin' Diddly Squat and the newest awesomeness of Jeff Dunham's Jingle Bombs.  So, is it any wonder I've been walking around the house singing...

Later on we'll perspire as we drink by the fire...?

Yeah, I'm screwy that way.  Any messed up carols in your life?

Monday, December 16, 2013

I'm Too Turkey

Okay, because I'm slowly losing my mind, here are some turkey pics I took yesterday set to the refrain of Right Said Fred's "I'm Too Sexy".

"I'm a turkey.  You know what I mean...

And I do my little turn on the catwalk...

On the catwalk...

On the catwalk... hey...

I shake my little tush on the catwalk.

I'm too turkey for this song...

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Thoroughly Unmotivated

Looks like I've been a naughty puppy lately.  But don't feel bad, blog readers, it's not just here at The Spectacle.  I haven't really been getting much of anything else done either. 

I don't even have any good excuses. 

I'm not writing.  I'm not editing.  The malaise seems to have struck me early this winter (hell, it's not even winter yet, so what's that say). 

I could sit here and whine about how I hate my book or how much I feel like I suck at being a writer right now, but no one wants to see that - including myself.  Blahdy blah blah blah.  Bleh. 

And that's where I'm at - bleh.  I'm thoroughly unmotivated right now.  The only post I've managed to write was that ranty one yesterday that accidentally got published that I'm not even sure I want to see the light of day.  (If you saw it for the brief time it was out there, I apologize.  It wasn't ready for prime time.)

Anyway, now's the time to talk amongst yourselves.  You'll still see me at Killer Chicks because I'm committed to holding up my end of the blog there.  I don't know how much you'll see me here or at The Guide or at A Pound of B.S. until after the new year, when I might just be able to pull my head out of my orifice.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

My One-Sided Conversations with Victor Hugo

Okay, so I've undertaken the task of reading Les Miserables by Victor Hugo.  I'm about 40% through and the daily conversation goes something like this...

"Please, god, let this Bishop be somebody important in the novel!" - after Vic spends the whole beginning of the book talking about him.  Spoiler: He was kinda important, but Vic didn't need to spend the whole beginning of the book detailing the poor man's life in infinite detail.

"Honey?" I said to the Hubs who's read this several times.  "Please tell me all of this has something to do with the story."  His answer was that only about 300-400 pages of the 952 page novel is actually necessary to the story.

"Why are you talking about 1861??  Jean Valjean would be dead by then!  Or really really old.  Please tell me he's not really really old and you're doing a flash-forward before you go back."  Turns out he was just setting up his explanation of Waterloo...

"Victor, Victor, Victor... no, you do not NEED to tell us every little detail about Waterloo."  Turns out he used the entire battle of Waterloo to show - once again - that the man who took in Cosette was an ass.  Which came at the very end of the entire narrative about Waterloo.  :headdesk:

"Please tell me that this boat you're described in painful detail will be important at some point..."  It was for about a paragraph.

"Oh god, you already explained the entire moral character of the convent.  You do not need to tell us about the buildings! Or the garden you already described once. Or the really really old nun."  At which point, I looked at the Hubs and said "You know, I could probably draw the inside of this convent just from his descriptions.  Hubs laughed.  I think he's enjoying my frustration with this book.

All in all, though, once you get past the long-windedness of Mr. Hugo, the story itself is really very good.  I'm drawn in by the characters and by some of the description, but I think a lot of the time, Vic was talking just to hear himself talk.  He even references himself and why he thinks the reader really needs to know what he's putting down in the book.  (He's mostly wrong about that, though.)

(In my defense, I rarely talk to or about the authors of the books I'm reading, but Victor's been dead for a really long time, so I think I'm safe.)

Saturday, December 7, 2013

The Hungry Games Starring Catness Evermeow

Every Saturday morning, her majesty walks around the house meowing because she knows it's the day she gets canned food.  (And Sundays, which are, to her, second Saturday.)  This morning, I decided to document the fun.  While I was taking pictures, and she was dancing around keeping up a constant stream of meowing I happened to tell her that I didn't appreciate her catness... which led to today's post title.

So, without further ado, here's our version of The Hungry Games....

(I didn't get pics of the start of the Games, wherein she paced in the kitchen merowring while the Hubs asked her "What Day Is It?" like the commercial camel and then I sang "It's Kitty Tuna Time" which brought her running into the office.)

First off, she shows me exactly where her food should be placed...

Then she feigns disinterest while I get the food out of yon cupboard.

"Is Fancy Feast Turkey and Giblets acceptable to you, madam?"

Head-bonking of kitchen appliances begins while she waits impatiently for me to put it in the damn bowl...
Followed by pacing and expectant glares...

 ... until the time arrives for product placement
And the first round of gobbling can commence.

She'll eat part of it, go sleep and then come back later for more.

Thus ends today's Hungry Games.  Not quite as exciting as the movie or the book, but we work with what we have here.  ;o)

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Superstitious Me

Hi All! 

Just so you know, I'm not usually a superstitious gal... Well, not anymore anyway.  I used to be super superstitious, but I got better.  Nowadays, I'm pretty good about not throwing salt over my shoulder, or flinching when a black cat crosses my path, or worrying about jinxes. 

Nope, nowadays, my superstitions are confined to writerly things.  For instance...

I cannot read writing advice if I want to write.  I even see a blog with an advice type post and I steer far far away. 

I cannot read about other writers having problems - like writers' block or stumbling or being at a loss for ideas.  Even if they've solved the problem and have the answers for how to avoid it.  (See #1 up there.) 

These aren't just fanciful superstitions, though.  For some reason, as soon as I read writing advice, I freeze up.  I lose my self-confidence.  As for reading about other writers' problems, more often than not I read about their problem and suddenly I have their problem.  It's like a form of writerly hypochondria. 

Recognizing these flaws, I stay the heck away.  Sure, I could sit down and find a way to fix the flaws, but I don't want to chance the many weeks of not-writing it would take to fix any of this.  So I avoid it all.  (I'm really good at avoidance.)


What about you?  What are your superstitions?  Do you avoid them or have you tried to fix them?

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Post NaNo Roundup

You may have noticed from my widgety thing over on the left, that I 'won' NaNo.  I hit the 50K mark yesterday afternoon, and then for the site verification, I just did the whole book - including the 1541 I wrote before November first. 

Frankly, it was anti-climactic.  In the past, I've dawdled and dragged my feet.  I've had days and days where I was behind, always struggling to catch up, until finally in the last few days I typed like a madwoman to reach the goal.  This year, I did have a few days off, but for the most part I was the tortoise.  "Slow and steady wins the race."


Sure, it's good practice to get you where you're meeting a goal of writing every day.  And it's a lot less stressful.  But stress is what makes life interesting.  Will I make it?  Will I fail?  OMGOMGOMG

I'd rather be the rabbit and get the excitement... but still win like the tortoise.  :shrug:

Anyway, I figure this book still has anywhere from 30-50K left to write on it before it's a first draft, so tomorrow I'll be starting HoHoWriMo - with the goal of having this sucker all the way to THE END by the end of the year.  Shouldn't be a problem.  I just need to maintain my motivation.

What about you?  Did you accomplish your goals for November?  If not, will you still be trying to complete them this month instead? 

Friday, November 29, 2013

Whatcha Readin'?

With two days left in the month of November, I'm a little sick of talking about writing.  (Not sick of writing, just of talking about it.) So, let's talk about something entirely different - READING!

Yeah, if you're my Goodreads friend, you may notice that I started reading Les Miserables.  I know, I know... it's a monster of a book.  And chances are I won't reach my updated goal of 110 books this year because I'm reading this.  But through some error in my youth, I've never read it before.  (Maybe because instead of assigning great books like this, I got stuck reading Catcher in the Rye and Lord of the Flies.  Bleh.)

I also know good ol' Mr. Hugo can be as dry as dust sometimes.  Thanks to my awesome husband, though, I managed to get through Ninety-Three with no problems.  (And I cried which means I definitely was not bored.)  When we first got married, he handed me his copy of Ninety-Three, warned me about Hugo's penchant for over-describing every little freakin' thing, and told me to flip past those parts.  It made reading Hugo so much less daunting.

So yesterday, we were flipping through the channels and noticed the movie was on a premium channel (which we're getting for free this weekend).  It was near the end, but we watched it anyway.  OMG.  Afterwards, I found a Kindle copy for free at Amazon (because there was no way I was going to be able to sit through a hardcopy of this) and started reading it last night after I finished my writing.  So far, it's pretty bland, but I know amazing things are coming.

I also picked up several other books (all for free) I've somehow missed over the years, but that I always wanted to read - Don Quixote, The Three Musketeers, Tom Sawyer, etc.   With the Kindle, I should be able to knock those out a whole lot quicker than in paper form.

Anyway, that's what I'm reading these days.  What are you reading?  Ever read Les Mis?  What have you always wanted to read, but haven't yet?

Saturday, November 23, 2013

The Loves and Hates of Writing Fantasy for the First Time

Yes, I am writing a fantasy novel for the first time in my life (if you don't count that SF/F thing I did in high school).  And as I'm about 35K words in, I've learned some things...

I love the fact that when I'm feeling like the book is dragging, all I have to do is insert a mythical beast and mayhem ensues.

I hate that I have to make up every single freakin' name.  It's not like I can have Susans and Bobs and Larrys and Lauras running around.  And they each have to be unique.  And every single person they meet has a goddamn name.

I love that I have to make up pretty much everything else.

I hate that I'm going to have to go back and research all the little things - like what the hell they'd be wearing in what is basically medieval-ish times. 

I love that I can let my imagination free.

I hate that I can't let it totally free or no one would understand what the hell I'm writing about.  You say 'dragon' and people know what you're talking about.  You make some beast up totally from your imagination and call it say 'a hurchess'*, and people would be all like 'WTF?'

I love that I spent my formative years reading fantasy and playing D&D**.

I hate that I can't remember everything I read in the Monster Manual, and I gave my copy to my nephew years ago, so now I have to resort to more research.

I love research - just not when I'm trying to sprint to 50K words.

Sure, some of this stuff I encountered when I was writing urban fantasy.  And some of these problems can crop up in dystopian - especially if there's been a nuclear holocaust in the past.  But this still feels like I'm learning how to write all over again.

Heh.  It's kinda awesome.

Ever step totally out of your comfortable box and try a new-to-you genre?  How'd that work out?

* There's no such thing as a hurchess - even in this book.  I just threw a made-up word out there. 

** A great many D&D monsters come from various well-known mythologies, so I'm not writing a D&D fan fiction novel here.  I'm just wishing I could access my old Monster Manual as a reference.  The book I have - The Element Encyclopedia of Magical Creatures - is jam packed with every critter every conceived and it's a bitch to wade through.  And since this is set kinda in a mythical Scotland, I can't use creatures from Indian, Native American, Japanese, etc. mythos.  That would be too weird.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Internet Difficulties

Something is weird with CenturyLink in the state of Missouri (at least that's what the tech guy told me).  Earlier I could still get on FB, at least, then that went away, too.  At least I still have some of the blogs I read - the ones held by blogger - and my gmail.  I can Google stuff, too... just hardly any of the links take me anywhere. 

So, anyway, if you need me, email me.  I'm still alive.  I just can't reach Pandora or the NaNoWriMo site or my friend Silver's blog or Twitter or... :sob: Facebook. 

I watched UP! instead of being online.  It made me cry.  Twice.

What are you up to tonight?

(And yes, I know... this should be the perfect time to write, but I've lost the will this evening.  And :whine: I can't play my Pandora station I created just for this book - the one with the kind of music I don't have on CD.  Well, except for that one CD, but I refuse to listen to the same CD on repeat.  Blame my brother who listened to the same three records on repeat ad nauseum when I was a kid.  I still can't listen to John Denver without cringing.  Anyway, I'll make up the words tomorrow or over the weekend or something.)

Monday, November 18, 2013

Movies I Wish I'd Never Watched

I wish when I was younger someone had told me to be cautious about what I put up in my head, because it'll be there forever.  In honor of that, here's a list of movies I wish I'd never watched.

Sybil - I stumbled into the TV room in my dorm one weekday afternoon to find a bunch of the gals watching this.  It had just started, so I sat down.  Watched the whole damn thing.  I couldn't look away.  And I've been totally squeebed out about it for 20+ years.

Hellraiser & Hellraiser 2 - I did not do this to myself - other than remaining in front of the movie after the guy I was with convinced me to start watching it.  Okay, so I knew going into the sequel how much it would freak me out.  But all my friends were watching it.  Peer pressure is an evil thing.

Leaving Las Vegas - I didn't know going in that this sucker would be so damn depressing and fill me with a hopelessness it took weeks to get over.

Pay it Forward - This one was a total sucker punch.  I honestly thought it was going to be a feel-good movie.  And it was, right up until the end.  Bastards didn't have to kill the little boy - unless they were trying to make the point that life is senseless and no matter how hard you try, you're still going to be murdered.  I should've known better, though.  I hate Kevin Spacey in just about everything except Outbreak, and he dies horribly in that one.

The Fly - I blame my siblings for this.  To this day, I still can't hear someone whisper 'Help me' in a high-pitched, squeaky voice without having a little panic attack.

Ferngully - Way to take innocent minds and warp them into thinking mankind and machinery are inherently bad.  Took me years to convince my daughter that bulldozers weren't evil.

I'm Gonna Get You Sucka - because I will never get those two hours of my life back.

And yes, I guess I was a little crabby this morning.  Since venting this negativity out, though, I'm much better. 

What movies have you watched that you wish you hadn't?


Event Horizon - I'd repressed this one until it was mentioned in the comments here.  Ugh.  Now I have to go back to repressing it again, so I can scrub that skinless guy out of my head for another 20 years.

Oh, and I just remembered another one... SE7EN.  OMG, what a horrible movie.  Still gives me nightmares.   And I just realized, Spacey's in this one, too.  Figures.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Why I Didn't Write Last Night

Yesterday, Hubs and I looked at each other and decided to go rake leaves.  Now, we have an acre and a quarter of land - about a third of which is yard.  This land is what the realtors call a 'treed lot'.  I figured it out and there are 28 trees in the yard - oaks, walnuts, hickory, sycamore and the cedars (which are my favorites right now because they don't drop leaves).  Lots of trees = lots of leaves. 

We started about 1pm with the idea that we would take it leisurely.  We'd spread the raking over the course of 3-4 days.  Yeah, like that was going to work.  We're not the kind of people who do jobs as half-measures.  Soooo, we got slammin' and jammin'. 

Early on it was decided that we wouldn't make piles here and there to cart with the wheelbarrow.  No, we were going to rake the piles down toward the back.   You know, to make it easier... heh.

By 3:15 we could rake no more.  Here's the result:

(Taken from our back sunroom, looking down at the piles.  From this vantage, they actually look kinda small, but trust me, they aren't.)

We're maybe half done.  Still have to do the south side and the back, plus cart all those leaves into the woods.  

Needless to say, I was bushed.  I did nothing for the rest of the afternoon and evening.  Dinner was slapped together grilled ham and cheese sandwiches.  The only thing I did after the raking was read. 

Today?  Well, the rest of the leaves aren't going to rake themselves.  But I'll try to take it easier because this book ain't gonna write itself either. 

Did you write yesterday?  If not, what's your excuse?

Saturday, November 9, 2013

NaNo Update #1

Okay, so despite my grousing and the occasional comment that I may be insane, this year's NaNoWriMo is actually going well.  Here's how the first week broke down:

11/1 - 2735
11/2 - 2556
11/3 - 1183
11/4 - 1491
11/5 - 1014
11/6 - 2515
11/7 - 2136

Which left me at 13360 for the first week with an average of 1947 a day.  Since I needed to be at 11669 and average 1667 a day, I'm pretty pleased.  Getting ahead early really takes the pressure off.  And I'm proving to myself how committed I am to this project by not sitting back on my ass when I'm ahead.  Not that I haven't wanted to.  Thursday I felt like warmed-over, leftover goat excrement for most of the day. 

As an added bonus, I'm getting a lot done around the house because I'm trying to make myself stick to the schedule of writing at night.  So when I feel the urge to write in the morning, I go do chores.  Sure, I could be farther ahead.  I could also be burned to a crisp right now and dreading the weeks ahead.  Slow and steady wins the race.  You won't catch me so far ahead I'm napping under a tree while the tortoise crosses the finish line.  No sirree bob.

With yesterday's additional 2222 words (totally didn't plan to hit the all 2s, but hey, cool), I'm sitting at 15852 NaNo words for this project.  That puts me 2516 words ahead. 

Not sure what the weekend will bring.  I might write during the day on weekends... or not.  We'll see how it goes.  I do know as soon as it warms up, I'm going outside to rake leaves.  I love our new big, treed yard, but having it means a lot of leaves on the ground right now.  ;o)

How's the writing going for you?  Are you participating in NaNo (and if so, are we friends on there)?  If you're not, that's cool, too.  NaNo's not for everyone.  Hell, I haven't officially done it since 2010.  If you're not writing, how's life in general? 

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Day 6: Wherein I Lose My Grip


I sat down to write my 1667+ yesterday evening.  I was being so good.  I cooked chili in the crock pot so I wouldn't be bothered with dinner. We even ate early so I could get right to work after Jeopardy.  (Cuz I gots to flex the brain muscles, donchaknow.)  Problem was when I sat down and tried to pick up the thread of the story, it occurred to me that I couldn't remember some of the characters I'd already dropped into the story.

So I went back over the text, scanning for people names, in order to make a character sheet.  Easy enough. 

It was at that point that a little lightbulb went off over my head.  It's possible I have taken a way larger bite than I could possibly chew. You know, since I picked the hardest possible genre to write quickly - especially when you consider I didn't do any pre-planning.  I mean, seriously... fantasy?  With all its inherent world-building?  "Are you freakin' nuts?" I said to myself.  "Of course," I replied.

I can't even keep the freakin' names straight and I'm supposed to keep a whole new system of magic, within a whole different world, all up in my head???  WTF was I thinking??

But I am forging ahead.  Oh, there are definite flaws.  Like getting one character mixed up with another character and giving girl #2 the traits meant for girl #1 while totally forgetting I even named girl #1 several chapters earlier.  And what the hell did I mean when I said X back in chapter 2 only to have it be completely weird by chapter 5?

But I am forging ahead.  Even though I have no firm idea where any of this is headed.

Sure, as I was laying down for a nap, I had a great idea pop into my head for a whole new beginning which would make the goals and motivations so much clearer.  When I woke up a little later, it occurred to me that no matter how I write my 'great idea', it's going to look like a total ripoff of part of Terry Brooks' Elfstones of Shannara.  Good thing I caught that before I wrote several thousand words toward down that path.  Sheesh.

But I'm forging ahead.  Not sure how firm my grip on sanity is at this moment. 

Heh.  That's NaNo, I guess. 

:wanders away to pick flowers off the wallpaper:

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Procrastination Tactics

So, procrastination tactics... because it's NaNo time and who doesn't have procrastination tactics that jump out when you really ought to be writing? 

Sunday I helped the Hubs pick up the big piles of leaves he raked together on Saturday.  We carted them into the forest and dumped them where they wouldn't be noticeable from the house.  'Out of sight, out of mind' works for me.

Yesterday, I changed out all the faceplates on my kitchen outlets from dingy cheap-ass wood to tidy cheap-ass almond plastic.  Looks much nicer.

Today?  Well, I've already taken that drywall patching kit I bought back in April... yeah, I used something I procrastinated over to procrastinate - sue me... and begun the job of mending the holes in the kitchen wall above the stove.  The moro...people who lived here hung a microwave there and made an unholy mess when they removed it.  So, I patched the biggest holes with the kit and then filled in all the little holes with that spackling compound that goes on purple and then turns white as it dries.  It was like cake decorating!

Who knows what tomorrow will bring.  If I get crazy enough, I may drive into town, pick up some paint and start doing the kitchen.  (Because now the patchy places will be white on off white, and we just can't have that.)

How are you procrastinating these days?  Or are you being good and doing what you're supposed to do when you're supposed to do it?  If you're one of the latter, I salute you. 

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? 

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Temporal Constipation

I'm stalled.  Nothing seems to be moving forward.  Nothing is sliding back.  There's not even any lateral motion.  I'm just standing here (sitting here, slumping here...)  I can't tell if I'm waiting for something to come along and happen to me.  Or if I'm supposed to try to make things happen and just don't have the inertia right now.

I can see things happening around me.  Certain members of my friends and family are going through things right now.  I'm stalled by that, too.  I want to help, but I can't.  So I stand here.

I know in my heart this is just a pause-point in life.  Later maybe.  Perhaps tomorrow.  Could be next week, I'll move again.  For right now, though, here I am.

Feels like temporal constipation.

Friday, September 27, 2013

This n That - the Insomnia Addition

Well, it's shortly after 4am here and I've been up since 1:30.  yay.  So I thought I'd do a little 'this n that' post.

I've lived here for almost 6 months and I got my first 'you might have to serve on a jury' notice.  Apparently they do things differently here than in any other place I've lived.  You get a notice with a date window when you might be called upon as a juror.  Mine's November through March.  Yippee.  I've got the form sitting here on my desk waiting to be mailed back (I have 10 days before the jury police put me on the list of those who need to be hunted down and terminated).  The only question I'm having a problem with is 'Are you related to anyone in law enforcement?'  They don't specify living or dead.  If living, no.  If either, yes.  Grandpa was a police chief once upon a time.  I think I'm just going to check 'yes' and let them sort it out. 

Some of my plants are supposed to arrive either Saturday or Monday.  I got more good, stinky, dark soil to finish beefing up the beds.  I just need to dump that in and spread it around so my new plants have a lovely place to live when they get here.  Gotta make them feel welcome so they bloom tons.

My desk is a sea of little piles of papers.  Some of them are perfectly valid piles.  The lefthand pile is printed chapters already inked up and ready to enter into the computer.  But I don't know why I don't just file the middle pile and the right pile.  And some of the notes in my yellow sticky pile need to be thrown out.  (We won't talk about the piles on the floor or the printer right now, k?)

Seed ticks are insidious little bastards.  If you don't know what they are, they're the 'fresh out of the egg' version of a regular tick.  Looks like grains of pepper crawling up your legs.  And if you don't catch them all, you wind up with red, itchy bumps every place they bite.  (Not latcher-oners like the bigger ticks - more an eat-and-run kind of thing.)  We still haven't figured out where they go to transform into bigger ticks after they make a meal of us.  Magical tick transformation land, I guess.  Point is, we don't see them - either way.  And they aren't dropping off us and latching onto the cat, either.  I checked.  I hope they're hanging out in the clothes that end up in the dryer - where the heat will kill them dead.

Heh.  Started that and then crashed before I hit send.  So, tell me, folks, what 'this n that' is going on with you right now?

Sunday, September 22, 2013

College Football Disappointment

I don't know how many of my followers here follow football.  I don't know how many of those follow college ball, but I have to get something off my chest.

Yesterday in college football was depressing to say the least.

I'm a University of Michigan fan.  The best thing I can say about their showing versus tiny UConn was 'they won'.  It was an ugly game.  Sure, they got the first touchdown.  Then UConn handed them their asses by getting the next three touchdowns - all unanswered by my beloved Wolverines.  They looked awful out there - and I didn't even get to see the game because the BTN was showing Missouri and apparently here in Missouri when Missouri is playing, no other Big Ten games get shown.  Well, =op.  Anyway, from all reports, Michigan looked like doodoo.

But for me, that wasn't the worst of the weekend. 

I wanted to watch football.  I wanted to see the competition between two teams.  I wanted to see teams fight it out to win.  Instead I saw, again and again as I surfed through the games, a huge school beating the crap out of a small school...

#4 Ohio State played little Florida A&M, whomping them 76 to nothing.  #7 Louisville kicked the crap out of tiny Florida International, scoring 72 to nothing.  #16 Miami slaughtered itty-bitty Savannah State (I don't even know where the hell that is) 77 to 7. 

What in the hell?  If you're scoring 70+ points against your opponent, what in the hell are you even doing playing that opponent?  It's like Arnold Schwarzenegger setting up a steel cage death match against Gilbert Gottfried.  Somebody's gonna get pounded, and it ain't the big guy.

And who really wants to watch that?  Sure, I love it when my teams win, but I want to see a good game.  I want to be able to say my team is 4-0 because they came out ahead of some really awesome other teams.  Not 'my team is unbeaten because it played teams that couldn't possibly beat them'.  If that's satisfying, why not just have the whole season be against teams like Morgan Community College and Goodrich High School and Pawtucket School for Girls?

Oh, because playing against those teams would be unfair.  Well, duh.

And don't give me the answer that without playing those big teams, the small schools would never get television coverage or their names in front of potential students or players... Does anyone really choose their college because they once saw the place get their asses handed to them by a big name school?  "Oh, Bethune-Cook?  I saw them get whooped by Florida State, so yeah, I definitely want to go there."  Riiight.  As for television coverage?  Yeah, I never get to watch my alma mater, Northern Michigan University's football games on TV - and I don't want to if the only way I could means watching them get creamed. 

Of course, there are also the people who believe these early games are like pre-season NFL.  Just practice for the real games that occur later in the season.  Well, if that's the case, then these games against small school shouldn't count toward the rankings.  They shouldn't count for anything.  They're just scrimmages. 

But no.  The number 1 school in the nation (Alabama) plays an unranked team (Colorado State) - and that game wasn't even a blowout - and they get to stay #1 because they won.  Woo...hoo. 


There are probably those out there who are thinking I wouldn't be all pissy about any of this if Michigan had rolled over UConn yesterday.  Nope.  If Michigan had ended up with a score of 70 something to nothing, I still would be crying foul.  Because Michigan should be better than that.  They should be bigger than a bully kicking sand in the face of a weakling.  (Even if the weakling schools asked for it by setting up this obscene schedule.)

It's just good sportsmanship.  It's just good football.  And hell, it's way more fun to watch.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Die Little Darling

If you've been around this gig for a while, you've heard the phrase 'kill your darlings'.  Personally, I don't like the concept, but I think in this case, I'll allow it. 

I love the title Djinnocide.  To me, it's perfect.  It says what I need it to say about the book - something is killing djinn (basically genocide for genies*).  But it's not obvious about it.  It's witty, but not overly so - like the idea I chucked early on to call this Djinn and Tonic (doesn't fit the story or I would've used it because I'm just that demented).

But I think I have to kill it**. 

It's hard to wrap your brain around if you're not familiar with djinn it's hard to pronounce (djinn = 'gin', btw).  Plus, it's not a real word, which makes wrapping the brain around it harder.  It's an amalgam of two words and will most likely confuse the hell out of people.  (Or already does as the case may be.)

So, I've put up another poll over there.  Go pick the alternate title you like best, if you would. 

*Hey!  Genocide for Genies?  Could that be the title?  I've been staring at this too long when everything looks like a title.

** And with it, kill a page full of titles for subsequent books in this series - Djinnesis, Djinntuition, Djinnuine...  Yeah, I have a few dozen of them.  :headdesk:

PS. I tossed The Third Wish as a title because it didn't fit and I decided I didn't like it.  Sorry for them what voted for it.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Quickie Poll

Hey all.

I just want to run something by you real quick.  Since I've had some comments that the title Djinnocide needs to be changed (one comment from an actual agent), I was wondering what the general concensus is out there.

So, over on the left there you'll see a couple poll questions so you can answer anonymously.  And if you're worried about hurting my feelings - don't.  It's a title.  I think it's catchy, but I'm not married to it.

Anyway, if you could, go over there and answer the poll questions.  I'd be super grateful.  And if you feel like elaborating, you can do that here in the comments. 

Thanks bunches.


Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Fixing What You Didn't Know Was Broken

How do you fix what you didn't know was broken?  Sure, other people can point out it's broken, but until you see it for yourself, you still don't believe it. 

Case in point...

I took some interesting criticism during my Secret Agent Contest entry last week.  For now, we'll dismiss the obviously out there and address the two key points that seemed to be a running theme.

Point 1)  From the first 250 words, it sounds like YA.

I don't see it.  Sure, it starts on Jo's 18th birthday and she's a little immature (naturally), but this is the key focal point upon which rests the book - and the whole series if the other books ever see the light of day.   For me, the reader needs to see where she was to understand where's she's gotten and why she reacts the way she does to the events that unfold. 

Point 2)  I started in the wrong place.

This one, I can kinda see.  I'm notorious for starting in the wrong place anyway, so it's not surprising that I get this criticism again.  How do you know what the right place is?  I'm damned if I know because I've actually started this book in several different places and this one feels the most right.

Of course, it could be that I just need to shuffle a few things around in those 250 words to make it have more impact.  Which I will look into.  But ugh, I hate the thought of touching this manuscript again.  If I had a nickle for every word I've rewritten on this thing, I could afford to self-publish.  LOL

Of course, of course, it also could be that it's fine and those critters just needed to keep reading to see how awesome the beginning was.

But I doubt that's the case.

What about you?  How good are you at recognizing when something is broken?  When someone else points it out, are you all like 'well, duh, why didn't I see that' or are you more like 'what are you talking about... there's nothing wrong there.'?

And in case you missed it, Silver James wrote an awesome post over at The Unpublished Writers' Guide to Survival yesterday.  Go forth and read - after you comment here, of course.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Query Letter Help?

Anyone got a minute to look over this query letter I've reworked for Djinnocide?  I don't want to send it to a group site for crit.  I just need to know if I've headed in the right direction with this damn thing and I'm too close to see it.

Cuz, like, I hate it and every previous incarnation of it.  Hate it with the flame of a thousand rugburns.

Let me know either in comments or via email.  (If you've already read the book, that would be a big plus, but if not, you can at least tell me if the letter makes you want to read it.)

Friday, September 13, 2013

Bloggery Stuff

Okay, so Google screwed everyone with it's bonehead play of dropping Google Reader.  But the dashboard still worked.

Except not quite.

It won't let me add new blogs for one thing.  And some days it keeps telling me I have no blogs in my list - "would you like to add one?"  :eyeroll:  Why yes, I would like to add one, but you won't let me do that anymore either.  Turds.

So I'm slowly working on moving my blog reading over to Feedly.  So far... meh.  But then again, I'm a creature of habit.  Not hard to see why, when I've been reading blogs in my dashboard for freakin' years, I'm not exactly jumping up and down about a new way to read blogs.  Bleh.

And this morning I discovered that my dashboard has been hiding blogs from me.  (Not that it wasn't doing that before.  For weeks, it was telling me that the last post by Jeffe Kennedy had been posted in May.)  Today, I found out that Rob Thurman hasn't been absent for months.  She's been posting but dashboard hasn't been telling me.  Bastiges.

Anyway, if you haven't seen me for a while, blame the dashboard.  I'm working on getting everything transferred to Feedly, but there doesn't seem to be a way to just transfer all the damn blogs I read over at once, so I have to input them one by one. Not a project I had slotted time for, but I'm getting there.

Right now, I'm still swinging back and forth between the old dashboard and the new feed.  Depends on the day and my mood and the vagaries of technical gremlins where I'm coming at you from.  :shrug: 

How much you wanna bet as soon as I get comfortable with Feedly, they'll change it or cancel it or implode or something?

What do you read blogs on? 

Wednesday, September 11, 2013


Today I will celebrate my ability to walk the streets of this amazing country with my legs and arms bare, and my face showing.  Hell, I'd run around buck naked if I didn't think I'd gross people out. 

Today I will revel in conversations with my husband - who sees me as his equal and never tries to quiet my words.  Although he does groan from time to time at my off-color jokes.

Today I will tell off-color jokes that make my husband groan (and sometimes laugh while groaning).

Today I will worship at that bastion of capitalism, Wal-Mart, and buy goods - like peanut butter ice cream sandwiches and kitty litter and paperback books - with my hard earned cash just because I can.

Today I will not stand in line for a loaf of bread, or a bag of flour, or a pair of shoes.  Well, except for the checkout line - in which I will happily stand because it means other people are shopping, too.  Retail therapy... Ahhhh.

Today I will not weep for the thousands lost to this insanity.  I will get pissed instead and I will rail against the oppressors of this world for being the fucked-up assholes that they are.

Today I will not ask permission from anyone to think, feel, and express myself in whatever way I see fit.  As if.

Today, I will write.  Because those countries who have sought numerous times to crush us wouldn't want me to do so.  They'd want me to be a good little burka-wearing, eyes-averted, 'yes, sir, may I have another beating', quiet, mousy, little incubator for their future homicide bombers.  Either that, or they'd want me dead.

Well, I don't think I'll accept that today.  Or any other day.  FYVM. 

What will you do today?

Sunday, September 8, 2013


Okay, so it's Sunday.  I'm busy working on polishing Djinnocide again because damned if I didn't find TYPOS in it on my re-through.  I'm also hip-deep in the edits for Nanotechnology.  Basically I'm switching off - working on one and then the other - as I sit in the living room watching football. 

Of course, I have to go back over last night's notes because some numbnuts decided it was a good night to have a party and the whole neighborhood sounded like an '80s version of MTV Dance Party.  So, I know I wasn't concentrating on the work.  (I really need to find out who that was, so I can casually park my car outside their house at 5am and turn up my Wagner CD.  Ride of the Valkyries out to do it.  Nothing like a little opera to wake stupid folks up.)

:pokes the negativity with a pointy stick so it deflates:

Anyway, I'm making what I think is good progress.  If all goes well, I should be shooting queries for Djinnocide back out again this coming week.  And I should have the first 50 pages of Nano edits typed into the computer at least.

I was going to do yardwork today, too, but it's supposed to be 95 here today and, well, I don't feel like sweating.  Thank goodness for AC.  Instead, I'll work on writerly things and watch pro-football. 

Hope it's as good as yesterday's college ball.  GO BLUE! 

What are you up to today?

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

They're Killing Me

Last week, Debra Webb's latest installment of her Faces of Evil series - RUTHLESS - hit the shelves all over the country.  So I went to Walmart to get my copy.  It wasn't there.

I figured, 'okay, fine - it's only release day and first thing in the morning to boot, so they haven't had a chance to put it on the shelves yet.'  I went back to Walmart on Friday.  It wasn't there.

I went to Walmart to get it because they've been so good about having these books when they come out.  You know, a why wait for delivery when I can drive down, walk to the shelves and choose a copy kind of thing.  (If I had a choice, I'd always pick out my own copy rather than be left to the hands of some shipping dude who may or may not care if he creases the cover corners when he jams my books into a box.)

So, yesterday I went back to Walmart.  I rolled my cart up to the book aisle.  IT WASN'T THERE.  But the book stocking dude was.  I said "You're killing me here."

"What are you looking for?" he says.

I walk to the last book in the series that's still on the shelves - REVENGE - and say "The next book in this series.  RUTHLESS.  Looks just like this one, but I think it's got a yellow cover.  You can't miss it."

He says that he hasn't opened all the boxes yet and he won't know what's in them until he opens them.  He's also got some boxes still in the back he hasn't touched yet.  "How long are you going to be here?" he asks me.

I tell him I just started shopping, so I'll check back when I get everything else.  In the course of our conversation, I also let him know that according to many people on Facebook other Walmarts in America have the damn book on the shelves already - ya know, since it came out LAST WEEK.  His reply, "That's strange."

So, I go do all my shopping - which actually takes longer than usual because I was a scatterbrain yesterday morning and ended up walking all over the store because I didn't group the items on my list.  Way in back for the printer cartridges, then back to the middle for toilet paper, then three rows up for these stick-on scent thingies (like Stick-ups, but not), then all the way over to the other side of the store for suet and all the way back for grocery items.  It was like some weird ballet of "oh shit, I forgot the cat food which is over there" and "crap, where the hell are they hiding the stick butter again?"

When I finally get to the last item on my list - a birthday card for Mom - I head back in that direction.  (The cards are right by the books.)  Even before I pick out the card, I can see the book's not there.  Like I said, it has a very distinctive cover.  Still, after I get the card, I peruse the shelves.  It's not there.

Book dude still is, but now he's talking to the Pepsi dude and there are still like three boxes sitting on the floor unopened.  I bet he never even went in back for the other boxes.  So I stand there, being polite enough to not interrupt what had to be a riveting conversation about their weekend activities or some such.  At one point, the book dude looked right at me, standing there, and then turned back to his chat.  I waited another couple minutes and then left - bookless.  :sniffle:

I would order this one to read on my Kindle, but I have actual copies of the others and they look so nice in a row on my shelf that I know I need to have the next one up there, too.  Argghh.

I guess I'll have to order from Amazon and take whichever creased copy they can shove into an envelope.

These people are killing me.  And now that I think about it, they're probably what's killing the physical copy book industry, too.


Monday, September 2, 2013

Repainting the House... the 21st Century Way

Hey, remember in Total Recall (the original awesome one - not that thing they did to remake it) when the secretary was painting her nails?  She just used a wandy-thingie, touched the tips of her nail, and it changed to a different color. 

Well, I'm not quite using that level of technology, but I am using Microsoft Image Composer to look at different colors on my house so we can get an idea of what color would look the best.  (Yeah, Image Composer - which I've had and used since 2000.  They don't even make it anymore and it's not 100% compatible with Windows7.  But I'm used to it and it is awesomely easy.)

Anyway, I used one of the photos I took of the house:

After several false starts, including one where I turned the whole picture B&W, I got into the 'tools' in the program and chose the 'colorization' function to make the orange part white (for a better canvas):

And since then, I've been trying various shades of wood tones.  Anything to get rid of the orange.  I even tried to match the wood - using the 'color picker' tool (it sucks the color off any other image and puts it into the 'paint') I tried to match our sunroom paneling:

And ended up with:

Way too yellow...

I tried to pull colors off one of the does:

But everything looked flesh toned...

I tried using a fawn's coat:

But the background was making every attempt pull too much green.

Anyway, I'll probably play with it some more today.  I may even go out and take a full frontal pic of the house to get a better canvas to play with.  :shrug: 

Yeah, I probably should be writing...

What are you up to today?  And once you get done answering that question here, please go over to the Killer Chicks and answer it over there.