Friday, March 30, 2012

Sad Songs Blogfest

You know... I've always preferred a sort of sad song. My earliest memories of favorite songs are Sound of Silence from Simon and Garfunkle and Seasons in the Sun by Terry Jacks, which amazingly has a cover by Nirvana (win).

So when Diane at Spunk on a Stick offered up the Sad Songs Blogfest, I thought , HEY, that sounds good!

Now my idea of sad songs is probably a little irregular (which should surprise NOBODY who knows me). I am not much for whiny love lost stuff. Romance Schmomance. Poo! I am far more into LIFE gone wrong. So without further ado, and in no particular order:

Hate Me by Blue October

This song is about someone telling someone they love to hate them so that they don't have their life screwed up any further. It is the DEPTHS of self-loathing, but also the purest of love. I dare anyone who's ever loved an addict to listen to this and not cry. Killer line: “Hate me in ways, Yeah ways hard to swallow. Hate me so you can finally see what’s good for you .”

Creep by Radiohead

Self Loathing at its deepest. I am too unworthy to have anything to do with you. Killer line: “I want you to notice, when I'm not around. You're so very special. I wish I was special. But I'm a creep, I'm a weirdo. What the hell am I doing here? I don't belong here.”

Murder of One by Counting Crows

This one is about falling for someone who has already cast in their lots with someone who doesn't allow them to really live... controlling or horrible, in whatever way. I find it sad because there is someone there who wants to love her, but she can't take the leap to leave. I'm not sure this one has the killer line so much as a build—he is alternating observations with temptations for a girl he sees as completely trapped.

Joey by Concrete Blonde

Her very voice has a cry to it. This whole CD is really dark—perfect for when I'm in a dark mood. Caroline would work, too. But Joey, I find sad because it is sort of the aftermath... the couple had a lot of trouble because of his addiction stuff, she's gotten angry and left, but here she is letting him know she's not mad anymore... it's just DONE. It is like a break-up is a lot of screaming and fighting, but this is filled with both compassion and a finality. The killer line, “I know you've heard it all before, so I don't say it anymore. I just sit by and let you fight your secret war. And though I used to wonder why. I used to cry til I was dry. And sometimes I get a strange pain inside. Joey, if you're hurtin' so am I.”

Strawberry by Everclear

We're back to my addict theme. I had a few years where this was on my mind nearly all the time and this song came into my life in the midst of it. Art Alexakis is himself a recovering addict (and I've said on this blog before, I think he's the best storyteller-songwriter out there), so he sings it SO TRUE. The killer line, “Ten long years in a straight life. They fall like water. Yes, I guess I fu*^ed up again. Don't fall down now. You will never get up.”

I Believe by Chris Isaak

The only one that doesn't fall solidly into the heavy side of rock, though Chris Isaak sings with a ton of passion.  This song is beautiful irony. The narrator truly believes happiness is possible—sublime love—that it can happen. And then delivers, “But not for me, and not for you. I know you tried. I tried too. But sometimes all our dreams just don't come true.”

So that's probably enough. I know there are more. I could probably go through my CDs and find dozens, but these are the ones that come to mind.

Be sure to check out the other blogfest participants!

And I will see you all Monday for the beginning of the Crazy A to Z marathon! (see upper right corner if you need to learn more)

ANNNNND... Bloody Blogger seems to be having commenting problems--what a hassle. Just FYI--I am making my way down the middle column for the blog fest... Wish i could leave comments. Hmph.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

I’m a Right Little Ray of Sunshine!

Another meme… or rather award… I know… it looks like I might lack creativity, but it is actually just that I am submerged in editing and so decided a few days of easy was better than a few days of nothin’.

This one is fun—I love answering random questions… I was given the award from Nessa at Life Love and the Pursuit of a Crawling Baby. Thank you, Nessa! And like I said, very fun questions, so here goes…

Favourite colour: Periwinkle, if we are being specific, but pretty much any shade of purple.

Favourite animal: really depends if we are talking admiration or pet. I’m a HUGE llama fan, and also love the variety of creatures that seem almost human-like in their ability to play—otters, meerkats, lemurs. And super cute ones: hedgehogs and sugar babies… Always thought my patronus would be a dolphin (I think because water seems like a safe place to me). For a pet though, I will always have cats.

Favourite number: 5. Has been since I WAS 5. Also a big fan of 23 (having a birthday on the 23rd and all. Note 2+3=5.

Favorite non-alcoholic drink: Really cold water. Is that weird? I drink a ton of it.

Facebook or Twitter: Facebook. I have a theory about Twitter that involves crack. I mean… I’m THERE, but I really don’t quite get it. Whereas I LUUUUUUURVE Facebook.

My passion: The writing. Definitely the writing. And PLAY. And that rocking place where they overlap.

Getting or giving presents: I know the politically correct answer here, but that isn’t me. I like getting them. Giving is something I really enjoy when I absolutely get it right, but I have a really hard time nailing that. I’m not sure if I don’t pay enough attention or what, but I have a lot of anxiety about giving. Whereas I appreciate pretty much anything.

Favourite pattern: Paisley? Polka dot? Something with whimsy, anyway. But not clowns. Something decorated in clown would scare me..

Favourite day of the week: Thursday. It’s all about anticipation. I love weekends, but I love to anticipate them more than the actual experience of it. Besides, Thursday was the first day to truly commit to being naked.

Favourite flower: Probably lilac because when the lilacs bloom they are PRETTY, they SMELL fabulous, and they never lie that spring is truly here (unlike those dastardly hyacinths).

So there you have it... Don't forget it is naked Thursday, so behave appropriately!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Lucky 7 Meme

I wasn’t specifically tagged on this, but I have been generally tagged—blogs I’ve read inviting all to participate… that is how I’m going to go about it, too—any of you who read are invited… but here is the idea.

So, for Lucky Sevens you have to :

1 -Go to page 77 of your current MS
2 - Go to line 7
3 -Copy down the next seven lines –sentences or paragraphs – and post them as they’re written . No cheating.
4 -Tag 7 authors
5 -Let them know

Here's the 777 excerpt from CHRYSANTHEMUM CAMPAIGN

“No. I doubt that, too.”

“Okay, can you stop being so cryptic? Is it the whole Roanoke Garden Society or something?” Cam asked.

“Not all of it.”

“Drat!” Cam sat back and took a larger sip of margarita, then regretted it as brain freeze set in. “Ouch, ouch, ouch!” She held her forehead and tried to massage the roof of her mouth with her tongue, but it took a minute.

Rob set a printed copy of the list on the table and Cam could see a couple highlighted names. Neil Patrick was one. Alden Schulz was another.

“Damn!” Annie said.

“He could hardly murder someone if he was kidnapped!” Cam said.

So there you have it… my little teaser… Anyone who wants to is invited to play… Because I'm a rebel that way...

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Youthful Rebellion.

It's TMI Tuesday...

So the latest CD in the car that all three drivers agree on is Airborne Toxic Event, and it has got me thinking... Well to start, maybe I should give you the lyrics

Airborn Toxic Event
from: The Kids Are Ready to Die

but punks like us we were always receiving instruction
and you could burn our cloths you could wash out the ink and the dye
but you can't look me in the eye and say you don't feel like a little destruction
and the kids are lining up on the wall and they're ready to die

and from: It Doesn't Mean a Thing

Now my dad says fuck the details
Just keep your head down hard
Ya got to find yourself alone before you'll find the eyes of God
You make broke and scared and out of jail
Out the flesh of your own heartstrings
But you were born to be a peasant not a king
So just stop acting like your running from something
Ya gonna leave the way you came without a thing
With your heart tattooed and your mind tied to a string

This all reminded me a little of The Living End, an Australian band I got very into because of one of my Aussie friends. Songs like Prisoner of Society...

And THAT got me thinking about punk... Punk was a rebel movement—labor class kids in England when labor JOBS had all but died... when hope was hard to come by. And so the music rebelled.

Which in the roundabout way things go in my head, got me thinking of rebellion in general. And rebellion of youth, specifically... and the eras in which youth rebelling have been so enormously prominent.

You see them across the world. And sometimes they are squashed (China, in Tiananmen Square), but sometimes they triumph. What I am most familiar with though, is US history.

I'm not sure we had rebellious youth en masse until the 50s. And I believe, though I have only really studied via pop culture, that part of what led to that was the relative comfort of the middle class... there was CRAVING for that among poorer kids, and TIME on their hands never seen before among the privileged... time to take up a cause maybe they didn't NEED. There were the greasers because that was the option... and the greasers because that was the culture... because THAT seemed to be the road to the future (independence, forward momentum).

This happened again in the late 60s with the peace, love, drugs stuff. This particular movement was actually not unrelated to the availability of birth control (free love being freed of permanent consequences and all), but was also related to the civil rights movement (a belief all people deserved representation) and protest against a war the young were fighting on behalf of the decision makers.

And then somewhere in there, young people lost the purpose of their rebellion. Rebellion became an individual or small group activity. Substance use (which admittedly always was a part) or clothes, but nothing meaningful or ideological. I mean the bigger movements weren't gone—I remember marching against Apartheid in college. But it didn't ever take on the entire young population again. WHY?

I have some theories:

1) The consumer age. During the Reagan Administration credit got cheaper and was given freely, even to college students (I was offered my first charge card in high school—just a Bon Marche card, but I have a suspicion I was the first generation who got it. Then in college, as a junior with no income, I was offered a Visa. Sure, it was only a $500 limit, but ALSO... debt with no income!? GADS!

What this really meant though, was an ease of the pang of want. People are less dissatisfied if they can buy their toys.

2) End of the draft. If the armed services are all voluntary, then the MASSES of young people no longer have to yell and scream when people are sent to war. I mean HECK, they signed on for it.

3) War funded on credit, starting with Reagan, instead of the entire population having to tighten their belts to pay for war we just charge it. This means that the population broadly barely notices. Now while there wasn't a major war between the Vietnam war and the first Iraq one, believe me, there was a heavy stream of military activity: Nicaragua, El Salvador... plus that bloody cold war that cost so much.

So with 30 years of nothing to do because we've been sedated with stuff and asked to give up nothing, we are out of practice. And worse, our kids have never SEEN protest. So at this time when they really should be fired up and fighting for their future, they are largely MIA. I find this sad.

I also hold the opinion that anybody who has never rebelled against something lacks critical thinking skills. If life falls into line, it means either lack of exposure to varied opinions, or lack of engagement in mental activity. Because everybody encounters something they disagree with at their core that comes from someone in authority--a parent, an education system, a religious institution, a government.  Both lack of exposure and lack of evaluation are dangerous, so I hope any children you have rebel at some point against SOMETHING. (that is a blessing, not a curse)

Monday, March 26, 2012

My New Best Friend

So Saturday I was walking down to my Couch to Keg buddy's house for our walk and there was this really fat squirrel on the sidewalk. I said hello to him, because this is the sort of person I am. Instead of scampering away in squirrel-like fashion, he just scooted over a bit to let me pass, never leaving the sidewalk himself. He turned as I passed, not wanting to let me surprise him or anything, but he seemed really pretty comfortable with me passing so close.

I'm not actually a hunchback...
So I met Jackie and we began walking back up the street, me telling her about him, and there he still was, hanging out on the sidewalk. Jackie said, 'Well, hello, baby, come here,' and the little guy DID! He started running at us like we were his long lost family.

So I went past him and ran up to my house, fetching a few raw almonds, and came back out. Darned it if the little guy didn't just eat a few right out of my hand—one out of Jackie's too.

I think the lesson is if you are really friendly, people will just give you stuff.


Maybe you have to be really friendly and really cute. It's also possible you need a big, fluffy tail.

In other news, we power walked almost 5.5 miles, including some mondo hills... MAN, were WE tired!

But that is all I have today. I have been meant to be editing, but got sucked into re-reading Hunger Games this weekend, too, so I am behind.

Anyone else have squirrel friends? (I've fed one by hand before, but it was on campus where they all get fed regularly. This was a neighborhood squirrel and it's the first time it's happened so close to home, though Jackie made friends with a chipmunk last summer, so maybe she is the rodent whisperer.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Hunger Pangs (no spoilers, just whining and fangirl squees)

So Hunger Games started at midnight, eh? And I LOVED these books. And I can't go until NEXT WEEK! (need to wait for pay day *pouts*)


So I'm going to tell you what I THINK I will love about it. How's that?

1st I loved these books. But more importantly, I think these books are more easily translatable to film than say... Harry Potter... The reason being they are more linear. JK Rowling had so many peripheral details that were in it for the LONG pay off... that the movie-makers kept wanting to drop because they didn't know why it mattered...

These books were ALL out before the movie-making started, so THAT helps—they KNOW the long payoff. But it just is a more straight-forward story. There is no slight of hand needed to make them as compelling as they are, probably because at its core, Harry Potter is a series of mysteries.

I don't really feel like I should compare these books because I will never love ANYTHING like I love Harry Potter, but I think when we are talking book-to-movie translation, it is apt. And the Hunger Games BOOKS really are only about the 2nd series to get me super excited since Harry Potter...

2nd They could not have DONE BETTER than casting Jennifer Lawrence. I've only seen her in Winter's Bone, but that character has the same 'tough because I have to be, not because I want to be' that is both admirable and sympathetic—that gets at the subtle difference between a badass and true hero. Don't get me wrong--there are times Katniss is a real badass, but the reader KNOWS this is a show, and I think Lawrence has the chops to pull that off.  A hero is AFRAID and DESPERATE and pulls something out of their core that they didn't know they had. PLUS, I've seen several interviews with her—she was a huge fan of the series before she even knew they were MAKING movies of them. Holy cow, every time I see that trailer where she jumps out and yells, “No, take me! I volunteer!' I cry... sheesh... I'm crying just THINKING about it. The squeak of desperation to save her sister... That girl both CAN ACT and really GETS this role.

Not positive, but I think I'm underwater
3rd I read what Suzanne Collins had to say about where the movie embellished and she was thrilled at how they had carried forward the WORLD building stuff. This is not an 'other world' movie, so as narrator in the book, Katniss is a little sparse until she gets to Panem. Suzanne Collins sounds like she loved the interpretation and I am excited to see it. This is OUR world, a generation or two into the future where natural disasters have really limited population and resources (note what is now under water) that has been restructured in a totalitarian way--with a central government, circa Denver, and then districts that each provide a kind of 'good' that the central government distributes (keeping enough for itself and leaving all the other districts short)

4th My kids and neighbors (the couch to keg team) and maybe even my friend Patti are going with me. Patti and I have never met in person, but through a mutual friend have become good friends online and she lives just two hours from me... she thought it sounded like fun!

So I am really looking forward to this, but I have to wait for freaking PAY DAY!

Anyone go to the midnight showing last night? Are you excited about this one? When will you see it? Have you read the books?

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Reviews: to Hear or Not to Hear

Actually... that should be to listen or not to listen... but that doesn't have the right cadence, does it? (and I DO like cadence) I remember a conversation once with my friend and neighbor from Colombia who asked be the difference. She said, “You say listen, I say hear. What is the difference?”

Well, my friends. Hearing just happens. It is a sense, and you do it whether you are trying or not. Listening is ACTIVE and requires attention on the part of the listener. So while we might HEAR all reviews, whether we want to or not, our decision is whether to LISTEN.

Why am I on about this?

My reviews were posted yesterday afternoon for my excerpt.

Now is when I decide what to listen to.

First note: My reviews seem sparse. This is a reviewer by reviewer thing, I think. A couple people shared theirs and some are really long. But each person had several to do, so I don't really begrudge 'short'.

I am going to share them, and as I go, in purple ink will note my thoughts...

ABNA Expert Reviewer 1

Designed by Joris Ammerlaan
What is the strongest aspect of this excerpt?
The plot is really interesting. I just want to see what that girl is going to do next. Athena seems like a capable and responsible girl, struggling against the world to survive.YAY!  Thank you!
What aspect needs the most work?
It needs some editing for misspellings and grammar mistakes - minor work. The very first scene might be rewritten to be a bit less explicit in case school libraries object to it. On typos: Erm... a little. I went through and found 3 actual typos--one in the pitch, two in the excerpt... As far as explicit?  I don't actually believe this. I have already toned it down a lot. I think it's necessary for setting up the desperation of the situation.
What is your overall opinion of this excerpt?
It is very promising and I hope someday to read the whole book.Thank you!

ABNA Expert Reviewer 2
What is the strongest aspect of this excerpt?

The writing is very good--suspenseful and evocative. The pacing is good.Thank you!
What aspect needs the most work?
Athena's situation is pretty grim and not exactly an appealing read. I don't know if it can be toned down a bit without diluting her reason for taking to the streets, but from the first pages, I wasn't keen on reading about it. Others may feel differently.  See... I see this as entirely preference. And I see the PREFERENCE as contrary to what a lot of teens want to read. YES, it's grim. THAT is what makes OVERCOMING it so BIG.
What is your overall opinion of this excerpt?
Well-written and promising. I'd keep reading unless things get really gruesome.

General thoughts:

I was a little surprised, with sort of luke-warm reviews, to pass. But I think (and respect the reviewers for recognizing) that their problems with it were sort of taste issues.  A person who read a lot of YA would know a lot of it is sort of explicit--and my explicitness is, I feel, necessary, to set up the situation so a girl has no choice but to leave home. If it wasn't horrible, she wouldn't need to GO, now, would she?

I DO though, really appreciate that both seemed to recognize that. I clearly must have had adequate scores to pass me through, so what they actually rated me on was fine.

On the other hand, I reread it last night and think it could actually be trimmed by about 20%. I have a tendency to write EVERYTHING that happens, when the story only needs the important points. It's been pared a little, but not as much as it could be.

You should be able to read it here (top entry, page 4) SOON. And looking over it... In spite of the overshare,  I think it moves along pretty well anyway.  The lists can be found here.

Whatever the case... How do YOU feel about reviews? When do you listen and when do you smile and say thank you, but ignore?

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Mish Mash o' Stuff

This is the actual one: photo taken from Hudson Mills Metro Park
Today I am REALLY over at Burrowers, Books and Balderdash talking about the tornado that came THIS CLOSE last week. But I gotta couple sumpin sumpins here...

(the photo to the right is actually from a video--these loons stood there recording the thing when they should have yelled RUNAWAY and then DONE IT!--but you can find it on YouTube--Dexter Tornado)

So yesterday's post had a lot of great responses, but one in particular was HELPFUL... my friend Kathy actually does this disaster preparedness stuff and has a great blog with that in mind, in case you think you want to start prepping!  Go check this out. Some of it, I am not nearly domestic enough for (or don't have the storage or marital fortitude for---hubby can't handle what HE calls hoarding) but a lot of the ideas are great!

Next up...

L. Diane Wolfe is holding a Sad Songs Blogfest on March 30, so head on over and sign up! List the sad songs that really inspire you!

And finally...

Today is one of the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award cut-offs--Quarter finals. I should find out mid-day some time and will come leave a note when I know. Whatever the case, you can rest assured I am currently obsessing and hitting refresh at least hourly. And then I will hit the ABNA boards where some sad people will behave very badly. Always happens. I love this contest and this community, but I think there is a growing process we all need to go through and for SOME people it is instigated by an ABNA cut. I've pouted and ranted about my work being better than I thought I was getting credit for. (secret:  It really wasn't ready yet, but you won't hear it until you hear it... usually requires writing something BETTER to see it).  Anyway, if you could all send a little mojo, it would be very appreciated.

UPDATE:  I did in fact make Quarter-finals, as did a few of our blogger friends. So congrats, too, to Roland Yeomans and Theresa Milstein!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Plan your Apocalypse

So I was thinking about Encyclopedia Britanica stopping their PRINT versions (in the news last week)... and it got me thinking about the Apocalypse... Oh, I know. It doesn't take much to get me to thinking about the Apocalypse. Though for newbies, let me clarify, this isn't a religious thing... it is a GIGANTIC world shift caused by natural disaster (meteor), unnatural disaster (nuclear war) or plague.  In ALL cases though, I see an interruption in... you guessed it... THE INTERNET!

So if the most recently printed manuals of how to DO STUFF in most people's homes are... you know... ancient... (My own set of encyclopedias is dated 1974), because we are all counting on just looking it up online when we need something, then how the heck do we figure out what we need to know in an age of no more stores, no more printed reference materials and NO MORE INTERNET!?

When that disaster strikes, chances are all communication goes. It WOULDN'T if we still had those ground lines linked place to place... those require no power. We could talk on THOSE, but the new system is not a HARD system.

There would be simple radio waves... walkie-talkies, Ham radios. Although that Ham needs power, so could only work with a generator. Still, I am a granddaughter of a Ham radio operator who talked to people all over the world and I have great faith in that system, were the other ones to fail, as the mechanics of it are simpler.

So if all this internet stuff disappears with that meteor hit or nuclear strike, or large enough epidemic that the population is decimated, what do you NEED? What is that crucial information you maybe should have in a hard copy?

Here are the things I would want handy:

Simple motor. (repairing, but ideally, also making)  I would like to be able to do some basic repairs for say... a really old pick-up or lawn mower. Jericho (the TV show) had a power surge that knocked out anything with an electronic chip, so the only watches that worked were the old fashion quartz, the cars with computerized panels seized, NOTHING digital worked. So the old cars became the only ones they could work.

Plant guide for naturally growing stuff. Talk about a time it would be nice to know how to eat off the land. There are some edible tubers (bulbs) and distinguishing which berries and mushrooms are safe would be very helpful.

A nice list of crucial minerals and such. Like I know they put iodine in salt because we need just a little. Same reason they put vitamin D in milk. Sources of the things we need would be good to know.

What would I DO if this happened?

Well honestly, it would depend a little what was 'out there'. All the shows based on an Apocalypse make travel look pretty darned dangerous. But my concern is where I live is very densely populated, so resources would grow scarce very fast. My instinct is I would head west (probably by going north first--maneuvering through Chicago is not even a little appealing under these circumstances--better to get up to highway 2 and cross—try to get to where my family is in Idaho. There are fewer people there to try to live off more space, and while northern Idaho is infamous for its militia-minded people, I grew up here. I don't believe these people are generally hostile, they are just anti-government. They are not the sort to move out and steal from neighbors. They are more the type who just feel justified defending their own lands through any means necessary. And I don't believe, if there were a large-scale population wipe-out, that I would have any need to try to take anything from anyone who was still around.

What about you? What instructions are you now thinking of printing up? Where would you go?

Side note for the curious:  The motherboard on my laptop is dead and the cost to replace is almost that of a new computer. I decided to have them pull the hard drive and I am currently using it as an external hard drive for my desk top... something that is only a short term fix, but for now, will work.  So I'm back, but limping a little, probably until summer.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Naked Season Approaches!

HUGE Apologies to Laura for forgetting Bloggamonsta Blogfest!!! I'm so sorry! Broken computer threw me for a loop...

It's been a while since I've espoused the joys of nudity, but you know what? It is supposed to hit the 70s this week and it is time to GET NAKED!

MAN, how I love Naked Season.

I walked home from work last night without my coat. Comfy. Not warm, but warm is coming... I mean not WARM WARM, but warm enough to shed the layers.

See, when the clothes are shed, the sun and breeze (and sometimes rain) can kiss your skin. It's so nice... communing with nature a bit... actually making a little skin contact when you give someone a hug...

There is no BINDING or ITCHING or CHAFFING from irritating clothing.

And Naked people are so much HAPPIER! (see itching, binding, chaffing). It is really HARD to be crabby when naked. If you don't believe me, just try having all parties get naked next time there is an argument. See how long you can be a crabbypants with not pants!

Say it with me:  Pants are evil! Down with pants!

On that note, I have to get back on my fitness schedule. Being sick threw a cramp in the exercise routine (and the eating one, too, if I'm honest, which I try to be... though if I'm REALLY honest, the eating routine was already suffering). But at the moment, while I am happier naked, I'm not sure the rest of you would feel that way.

And THAT THAT said, something is wrong with my laptop and I need to get it into the doctor. The timing couldn't be worse—I was almost done with edits to send back to my editor for BEGONIA BRIBE but they are stuck on THAT machine. Our home desktop has a cracked monitor, making any typing a challenge. So I think this week will be a down week for me on the blog—I am VERY sorry on that front, but I just can't predict how long this will take to get sorted.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Sea of Sickness

Last week I had two sick days in a row. It is the first time I've taken two sick days for my own illness since 2000, so you know it isn't the kind of thing I do. I am both healthy and am not the kind of person to skip work for small things.

But man, whatever this bug was knocked me on my butt. It was a lung thing. And an ache thing.

But Sunday, after four nights of more than ten hours of sleep, and after many many iterations of boiling water with lemon, ginger, honey... sometimes whiskey... Down time. Out of the weather time.... by Sunday I was feeling MUCH MUCH better.

I am still not 100%, but I finally feel like I have an ordinary cold rather than Satan's revenge.

So What Does a Girl Do When She Feels Like POO for four days?

She edits! DUH!

I managed to finish my run of BEGONIA BRIBE, send it to my super duper buddy Stacy, and get started on my first revision of CHRYSANTHEMUM CAMPAIGN.

Stacy is AMAZING and has gotten 100 pages back to me already—catching all sorts of the gaffes I didn't catch that were caused by the timeline change. I am so thankful to have a friend able to back me up last minute.

Honestly, it was sort of nice to have a weekend where I didn't feel up to doing much so I could just be still... read... mark... enter changes... I am not back on track with my editing, but I made some progress.

That said, that is sort of all the time I have for blogging at the moment.

Anybody else catch this nasty that is going around?
Anybody else geeked for good weather coming this week? (Michigan is supposed to hit 70)
Anybody else making good editing process?

I wish all of you a happy Monday! (even if that is an oxymoron)

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Detour, Blogfest, and a Free Book

This picture makes me giggle
I am really over at Burrowers, Books and Balderdash today, telling a little story that sort of happened, sort of didn't... though I have no idea where the line crosses...

(it goes up at noon, GMT)

But besides that, it is Cherie Reich's BIRTHDAY and to celebrate, she is giving away her novella!  This is the same one she talked about here just last week. So you should go get it!

 And then there is a FUN blogfest I should let you know about. Siv's Bloggiversary happened this week and she got to thinking about how she started blogging... And, being from Norway, of course it involved trolls (of a personal sort) and she dove in (for which we are very glad).  Anyway, she is having a blogfest this month to honor our blogging roots.  You should go check it out.

Is this me, or what?
See you over at BB&B!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Have I Lost It?

(Did I ever have it?)

I probably could have used yesterday's whiny baby post for my Insecure Writer's post, but you know... if there is an excuse to whine again...

Most of you know by now that Alex the FABULOUS, along with a few buddies, run the 1st Wednesday Insecure Writer's Support Group. Because let's face it, we are ALL insecure.

My LATEST insecurity?

Have I lost my blogging prowess?

I mean... I know I still have FABULOUS blog friends. But in the last year I've lost comments per post.... I'm not sure what that is about. Being offensive? I somehow doubt it. I've been no more naked or honest than I've always been.

But I think I've lost my ability to keep on TOP of it all. I still feel like I try to comment on others regularly, but... maybe I've taken on too much? Maybe I'm not getting to people as regularly. My strategy maybe needs to be more organized. I feel like a buffoon. Like I'm failing. But it isn't taking me any less time. Have I lost my skills at this?

Oh, man, I hope this isn't true...
Or is the blogging community maybe... growing less slowly? But growing more quickly at the same time? What I mean is, are there new bloggers but not necessarily new readers? Or are readers not getting around as much generally? Has anyone else experienced this? Even work for diminishing gains?

I hate the sound of that... gains and losses for what really are friendships. I don't feel less close to anyone. Maybe that is because the relationships, once established, are THERE. But I have to say, I am impressed as all get-out with those of you who seem to get around SO REGULARLY. Often to many more people than I EVER could.

Anyway... love to all of you struggling. I definitely believe this is getting harder.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Who Cares?

It's TMI Tuesday, so I thought I'd talk about this very strange phenomenon of WHO CARES about our writing. I shared my 3 month anticipation post yesterday, and posted it not only to my writing profile, but also my personal profile on Facebook.

The very very COOL thing is that actually a LOT of people seem to care... Friends. Family. Nice notes. People I only knew very peripherally once upon a time. In fact there are people who seem to have known me that I didn't know hardly at all... people I know names for but for whom it never occurred to me it went the other direction. My policy on FB is first and second degree friends for my personal profile—if people know me, or are friends with a friend of mine... I even have a few writer friends I bonded more tightly with—people I've known long enough to establish some trust.

So I felt really really loved yesterday. Hugged and cozy. I loved it.

But there are also the absent... Now I get that not everybody is on Facebook every day. There are people I've been friends with forever who seem completely oblivious, even though they ARE around a lot. I don't feel any fear they will stumble in HERE. I am clearly not on their radar. But how much effort is a freaking 'like' when you see someone post really good news?

A couple of my high school friends have sent me personal notes—email. And I don't begrudge them at all. They aren't online much. But if you ARE online?

I can't help but get a little paranoid that either my nudity or my politics have alienated people.

Now I have a LOT of non-naked or politically incompatible friends—heck, I grew up in Idaho where my politics fit not even a TINY bit. But in OH-so-many cases we can argue civilly, agree to disagree, or stick to other topics. They are great people.

On the not-interested, though... I mean maybe they aren't interested in writing... I get that. No. I don't get that. But... so here's an example. I have some friends who craft. Scrap-booking or jewelry making. I don't do that. And the scrap-booking, in particular, I'm not that interested in. It is one of those super-mom traits that missed me entirely. But if one of my friends was... putting on her own SHOW or something... or had sold a pattern (does that fit—I am a little clueless here)--but you can tell what the successes are, yeah? I could BOTHER to hit the freaking LIKE button. I would recognize it as big in their area of interest, and therefore to be applauded.

Am I being a bitch? I am not holding anything against ANYBODY who says 'yay' every once in a while. I know not everybody sees everything I post. But never? Do I have bad breath? Am I being annoying? Boring?


So there is my little Tuesday mini-rant.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Three Months from Today...

I have tummy flutters. We are entering into the 'this is really happening' zone. On June 5th The Azalea Assault. My first published book, will be released. It came to my attention that the Amazon and Barnes and Noble sites finally have the cover included with the listing:

Barnes & Noble

I think this means it is time for me to very seriously begin planning. I know there are a bunch o' you who think I'm nuts that I didn't start this months ago... maybe I am. But I know myself and my ability to push through sort of has a time stamp. I've done some thinking... writing DOWN of the plan. But I have also had some obstacles to doing too much.

In fact some of those obstacles are still in place. My finances are sort of tied... So I have bookmarks and postcards I plan to order, but until I get my taxes back, I don't have the means to order.

My plan, on that front, is to concentrate on the geographic areas where I have ties. The Pacific Northwest and Michigan, in particular. I also want to send postcards to the Roanoke area. So in the short term it is time to make a list. The specific libraries and book stores I plan to contact need to go in a database so once everything arrives, I can turn it back around quickly.

I also had a nice surprise Friday... my first Advanced Readers Copies! Not a lot of them, but very exciting because they are THE FIRST! My husband is even reading one. I know this isn't that unusual for a lot of you, but HWMNBMOTI has deep suspicion of fiction. He generally only reads histories and the newspaper.

I was surprised it didn't have the cover. The only ARCs I've gotten have the covers, but then, those have come directly from the publisher... and there haven't been a ton of them.

So I guess the ball is really rolling. I am going to be a published author soon! I hope you all don't mind that probably the blogs related to getting a book out may increase. I've never done this before, so it seems to me it will occupy a lot of my brain and what I have to say.

To get started, I would TOTALLY love you if you would be willing to LIKE me or FAN me...

Facebook Alyse Carlson Fan Page  (I promise not to spam you--only real updates)
Goodreads (I guess marking it as 'to read' is best option here until I figure out how to set up an author page under my pen name)


Friday, March 2, 2012

Mourning the Crazy Lady?

So every neighborhood has one. A house. No. THE house. The one the kids cross the street to avoid. The one nobody has the nerve to go to the door. The one targeted for dares. People talk. Not just kids, but grown ups.

Sometimes it is rumored to be haunted. But more often it is because of somebody who lives there.

You know the ones.

The shell-shocked vet.
The mad scientist.
The witch.
The child molester.

Heck, one of my best friends growing up boasted a street with both a child molester AND a vet that practiced voodoo magic... or so the tales we whispered said. Neither case confirmed, but one trip to the voodoo vets door (on a Halloween dare) achieved nothing but a miniature Hersheys.

But then neither of these HOUSES was so dilapidated that there was external evidence that say, a grown-up might join the worry. I mean there were houses like that... but those houses tended to sit quietly... most of the time. Those houses, I suspect, often contained shut-ins. People too poor or sickly to maintain the place. People with no family to help them out. Crazy people.

In movies these people tend to be kind and misunderstood. Sandlot is a great movie with this at its core.

My street has such a house.
When we bought eleven years ago it looked over grown. Badly. But because of the overgrowth it was hard to see that the siding badly needed painting, and brick being brick, more of it appeared sturdy, than horrible. And it's down the street far enough that the numbers have gotten into the 1600s... (ours is in the 1400s), so we didn't think much of it.

Our house gave me my first shot of 'spooky' that first summer we lived here. There was a young couple living next door. Nice people with rhyming names. They had kids, and any of you who has ever moved with small kids will remember that OTHER families with kids are like magnets. Those are the people you meet first—looking for playmates, references, resources, friendship...

So we used to visit with this family often. There is a field at the end of the block we played in sometimes, and heck, their house was right on the way, so why not?

And they (he) told us the tale of the Crazy Lady. The neglected house, though we'd never seen anybody in it, held an old woman and a VERY old woman. Neither of whom left much. The old woman suffered from paranoia and delusions, and had just come over to our friends' house and dug up a string of shiplights that had lined their driveway. She insisted they were using them to spy on her.


Not long after this, we began to see some sitings of this woman. She would yell at us from her porch to stop harassing her. Harass, defined here as walking on the sidewalk past her house. We began to use the other side of the street.

And then she disappeared for a while...

In 2004 I volunteered for MoveOn dot Org for a get out the vote campaign. Ann Arbor being what it is, they wanted as many people as possible to vote, and I was down with it. We were offering rides to people who might have trouble getting to the polls.

This was a nice experience some of the time. I was canvassing my own neighborhood and met some of my neighbors, one of which was the woman who lived on the OTHER side of the Crazy Lady. This woman and I didn't agree on the presidential vote, but she pointed out to me she was a by-the-person voter—she WOULD be voting to re-elect the democratic mayor. Because HE was the one who had finally helped with the Crazy Lady. She'd called social services. She'd called the police. Nobody would help. FINALLY, she contacted the mayor and he got the right people there.

The Crazy Lady had been threatening her. What's more, she seemed to be a danger to herself. A clean-up crew came and cleaned up the most extreme case of hoarding I think I will ever see. It took one of those HUGE bins brought to her driveway.

I learned that over the years cash had been sent to help those ladies and they'd wrapped it in newspaper and stacked it in the corners. This was discovered partway through cleaning, but they suspect they threw away thousands that they thought was just garbage. I heard rumors of dead cats, but I have no clue if that's true. That dumpster, though, was FULL of trash.

After that someone came to check regularly. The old old lady died, leaving just the paranoid schizophrenic, living alone. Somewhere in there I had my only conversation with the woman. She strayed up the street and I was worried for her safety. I stopped her and asked if I could help her. I managed to get her to head back home and think it was her neighbor I asked to call the social service person.

Since then, there have been meal deliveries and someone checking. A trustee? But whoever was doing the arranging dropped the ball somewhere last fall. I don't know how, but these are the events as I understand them (and as they were learned by anyone I know)

Two weeks ago the mailman knocked and asked the neighbor if she'd seen the woman, as she'd stopped taking in her mail. No. Not for quite a while.

Apparently if it has been a while, the postal service notifies the police.
So the police came Wednesday and tried to knock.
Then they came and asked my exercise buddy if she had anything to break into a house.

We've been joking about this. Who can ask that question? Only a police officer.
I told her she should have said, “just a second while I fetch my burglary kit.'

But they borrowed some tools and apparently succeeded in breaking in.

The woman was dead in her bathroom.
Had apparently BEEN dead in her bathroom for at least a month.

We learned the meal company had not delivered since October. OCTOBER? How did her trustee not notice there were no meal bills? But it was the second food company. It had been a Schwann truck until the woman assaulted the delivery driver. So maybe he thought something like that had happened (but wouldn't he check?)

This is the stuff nightmares are made of.

And it leaves such mixed emotions. I know her immediate neighbors have a lot of relief, and who can blame them? She seriously threatened them more than once. But I just am SO SAD. I am very sad for her death alone and unnoticed. But more than that, I am sad at her life alone and uncared for.

What have we come to that somebody can so badly fall through the cracks? There was a time of insane asylums and much of it was awful, but there are people who really need to be institutionalized. Had this woman had daily monitoring of her medication and attention to her care, I really believe her life might not have been so tragic.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Welcome Cherie Reich

So today I am hosting Cherie Reich as part of her Defying Gravity book blog tour. Cherie is one of our blogging community, so probably lots of you know her already, but for those who don't, she's an avid reader with an amazing imagination. And she hales from the town I keep pretending I'm from—Roanoke, Virginia.

To give you just a little insight about just how amazing her imagination is, Cherie is going to share with use today where her idea came from for her latest book. So without further ado, welcome, Cherie!

Reaching the Stars, or the Idea

Hello, everyone! Thank you, Hart, for welcoming me to your blog.

My space fantasy romance novelette Defying Gravity had an interesting start. The idea started with a character: Linia. In my novelette, she’s a Persean, but she didn’t start out that way. About eight or nine years ago, my friend Shannon decided to create a Star Trek role-playing game. She invited me to join, but although I’ve watched some of the shows, I couldn’t say I knew much about it. So she sent me to a list of aliens on Memory Alpha and I came across the B’Saari. Several things intrigued me about these aliens. One, they were very intelligent. For two, they had a technique for reviving the dead. Bingo! That’s just way cool, so I took that and created my linguist Linia who was young and inexperienced and finds herself sucked through a wormhole to a new planet.

The role-play didn’t last long, but the character remained with me. I just didn’t know what to do with her. Then in fall 2009, Pill Hill Press announced the Fire and Ice anthology. They were looking for romantic suspense, but it could be crossed with other genres. I’d wanted to write a science fiction story and I thought it would be interesting to combine it with romantic suspense. My thoughts went back to Linia, and I knew I had something here, but she shouldn’t be from B’Saari. I love Greek mythology and wanted a Romeo & Juliet type feel to my story. Bingo! Perseus and Medusa, or the planet Persea and the planet Medusa. All the ideas seemed to zoom in at once.

Defying Gravity started in Linia’s point of view and was around 8500 words long. It was short-listed for Fire and Ice, but they didn’t get enough submissions, so the anthology was cancelled. I revised the story in 2011 (added around 2000 words) and resubmitted it to a small publisher where it sat for nine months before I withdrew my submission. Since December 2011, I added Alezandros’s point of view and another 5000 words. Through multiple edits, multiple sessions with my critique partners, it debuted on February 9th (officially on the 14th).

If it weren’t for Shannon, I probably never would’ve created Linia. Now her story has inspired two others in her Gravity universe (Fighting Gravity and Pull of Gravity, Forthcoming).

She’s allowed me defy gravity.

I think as writers we need to pay attention. You never know when someone will gift you a story idea.

Have you ever gotten a story idea or inspiration from someone else?

Thank you for having me!

Defying Gravity by Cherie Reich

Book Description: Homesick upon the SS Perseid, Linia, a young linguist, thinks she signed up for a mission of peace, but her crew members have another plan: attack the planet Medusa.

Bored with his dying planet, Alezandros, a space cruiser pilot, joins the Medusan Army in his quest for adventure.

When the SS Perseid clashes with the Medusans’ space cruisers, Alezandros and Linia’s lives intertwine. Sucked through a wormhole, they crash upon a post-apocalyptic Earth and are captured by cannibals. In adjacent cells, Alezandros and Linia cast their differences aside for a common bond: escape. But when romantic feelings emerge between them, they might do the unthinkable because for a Medusan and a Persean to fall in love, it would defy gravity.

Book Links: Surrounded by Books Publishing



Amazon UK 

Amazon DE 

Amazon FR 

Amazon IT 

Amazon ES

Author Bio: Cherie Reich is a writer, freelance editor and library assistant. She enjoys writing horror, fantasy, and mysteries, but she doesn’t let that stop her from trying other genres. Her short stories have appeared in magazines and anthologies, and her e-books include Once Upon a December Nightmare, The Best of Raven and the Writing Desk, and Defying Gravity. She is a member of the Virginia Writers Club and Valley Writers and placed third in Roanoke Valley’s BIG READ writing contest.

Author Links: Website


Twitter @bookworm0753


And Cherie, I wish you a ton of luck with this!