Saturday, August 29, 2009

Blatant thievery

I read this post from Janet Reid's site.
(Don't get too excited.)

And it led me to this post from Susan Adrian's site.
(I told you not to get excited. It's closed now.)

I composed my short ditty. It was a good one too. It was also twice the required length.

Then I went and read a book and a half.

I came back the next day and edited my epic 100 word novel. It lost two characters, some humor and a whiff of backstory subtlety. I just hope it still makes sense I've cut so many words.

It's now the appropriate length, but, alas, it's too late to enter. So I'm putting my little entry here. And you're all welcome to compose and post your 50 word entries too.


Stephen was wearing a tiara. He hated losing bets.

"That thing sure is sparkly." He looked up at his boss.

"Yes sir. I'm testing it for Rhinestones International. Is your response positive or negative?"

"I don't care, princess, just get me one. Roleplaying night is coming up. I'm feeling frisky."


Just finished: A Not-So-Perfect Past
Currently reading: Wolf Tales V

Friday, August 28, 2009

I have very few close friends

... but the ones I hold dear are 24k solid gold.

Today I finally put in my notice to move out of my apartment. If you follow this blog at all, and not many of you do, you know that I've been hemming and hawing about getting out of this place for a while now.

Recently, in my life, there have been distractions, and travel, and emotional upheaval. Through all of that, there has been the desire to move on to the next plane of wherever The Great Spaghetti Monster In The Sky decides to take me. But, at the heart of that has also been fear, and procrastination and that awful paralysis suffered by people stuck in the crosshairs crossroads of life.

During the distraction my friends were nowhere to be found. For the most part I didn't tell them what was going on, and we're close enough that we can maintain a solid friendship without living in each others' pockets. During the travel, I was nowhere to be found, and even if you had been able to stick me to a map with a straight pin, I would have wiggled my way free to another destination within days anyway.

But during the emotional upheaval? They stuck to me like the best kind of glue. I could shout, cry, obsess, second-guess myself, challenge them, talk with them and then demand my privacy - and they were still there. And I love them for that.

One really good thing came out of the emotional upheaval however. It was decided that it was time to get off the pot and just fucking move already. So do you know what one friend did? She spent this entire week helping me pack up my life for a final farewell from this apartment and then she accompanied me to the office today to sign the official Notice To Vacate.

She's a moving champ. I'm a moving imbecile. (Apparently you don't put neatly boxed items into another box to move them, they just travel on their own. Who knew?) She stood over me and made me throw away papers. She sat on the bed and folded all of my clothes and then cheered me on when I grudgingly found a way to part with some of them and send them to charity. She did more runs to the garbage and Goodwill with bags full of my crap than I can count and she not only helped me find boxes, she spearheaded the search, then came back to my place with me and wrapped my goods and packed them into said boxes, which she then taped up and labeled and stacked in my living room.

I will admit she's not a total paragon. When faced with my lingerie collection* she might have killed me if she'd been able to get away with it, however by then her forensic evidence was all over the apartment. And she keeps telling me I'm not allowed to buy any more food. But a girl's gotta eat, right? Through it all though, she has maintained her good humor, and patience, and willingness to kick my ass help. She even sat on my computer one night and helped me search for a new place to live while I sat on my couch and shredded my little fingers off.

If I can't find the right place to be in my new city, coincidentally, her city, she and her boyfriend are even willing to put me up while I look. And I made sure she checked with him, and then spoke with him myself to make sure I wasn't treading on toes; he's totally on board. I know a big part of that is because, even when I'm not around, she speaks well of me to him - and really, can you ask for anything more from someone?

She plans to come back and do some more in the up-coming weeks, and my orders are to keep going, even when her eagle eyes are not upon me. With her considerable help, I am feeling less daunted by the whole project. It now seems like something that can be done instead of a feat of impossibility visited upon me by the gods. It's kind of scary, but I think this might be what normal people call "optimism." I am not familiar with the concept, so someone will have to enlighten me.

And she didn't just do this because I asked for her help, she volunteered because she knows me and loves me and wanted to help. She is a goddess among friends. She is a goddess among human beings, even. I cannot thank her enough for all the work that she has done. I offered her a choice between my first and second born child, she said she'll take the first.

Just finished: Nice Girls Don't Have Fangs
Just finished: Bet Me
Just finished: Finger Lickin' Fifteen

*I fully admit right here, right now, that I have an unhealthy fetish for pretty bras combined with matching panties. I know and love every one of my bras, and refuse to give any of them up. Last count hovered somewhere around 50 bras with at least 2 matching or near matching (in colour) panties for each bra.

Thursday, August 20, 2009


Now, I mentioned that the dryer died yesterday too. What I didn't mention is that it died in the middle of me washing my sheets, mattress pad and body pillow. Because of this, my mattress is nude, and remained so all night long.

Also, because of this, I elected to sleep on the couch last night. You'll be surprised to learn that I didn't sleep that well. First of all because I was on the couch. Secondly, because of the big ass cup of coffee I'd had earlier that day and thirdly because, hello? Squirrel.

So I woke up with the sun, not long after 6am. I resisted the urge to hop into the bathroom for my morning pee because I hadn't heard the trap snap shut at any point last night. I could, however, still hear the rhythmic squeal and screech of distressed squirrel emanating from the eastern side of my apartment. I turned my head and saw the cat doing that slow motion stalking thing that cats do when there's a bird or mouse-shaped toy nearby. Only she was facing in the wrong direction. When I went to bed last night, the squirrel was trapped in the bathroom, pulling at bits of carpet and knocking over my shampoo. When I got up this morning, apparently the state of the union had changed.

I put both feet on the ground and went to investigate what I feared was going to be a squirrel-led coup, starting with the bathroom and then slowly taking over my life, one room at a time. I was lucky. It wasn't sitting on my uncased pillows lording it over me and the cat with its beady eyes spelling out the terms and conditions of this new dictatorship. It was, however, out of the bathroom. WTF?

*sigh* I look at the bathroom, the door is still shut. I open it. There's the trap, sitting innocent as you please and unsprung on the bathrooom floor. You know what else is on the bathroom floor? The little rug I had left OUTSIDE the bathroom door last night (it usually lives on both sides of the door jamb, providing protection for the carpet there), as well as ample evidence of the squirrel chewing on both the rug and the apartment carpet on its route to escape.

My bathroom floor now is littered with carpet shavings, and the squirrel has won this round. I check the door clearance. When the door is open, there's maybe 2 inches free until it hits the linoleum floor. With the door closed, there's maybe 1 inch of airspace (without the extra rug) between the bottom of the door and the carpet, but apparently, one inch is all some squirrels need.

Now this thing is loose in my bedroom. My worst nightmare. I grab the trap and re-close the bathroom door, hopefully securing it from further invasion. I back myself into the bedroom and see a flash of tail as the squirrel takes refuge behind the desk in the corner of my room. I lay the trap at in front of the desk, knowing it's a useless action as I do so.

I slip into the bathroom, happy to be using it in peace and notice that it doesn't smell like it usually does. Could it really smell like this just from being closed up for 12 hours? That's not right. Then it occurs to me. I'm likely the olfactory victim of Eau de Squirrel Piss. Great. I retrieve a scented candle and put it to work, the cleaning will have to wait until my visitor is gone. Then I retreat to the couch to finish my book and take my mind off things.

I still hear the squirrel squeaking as I read, but I've gotten used to it by now and tune it out. I've also left the balcony door wide open, just in case the little bugger wants to move on to its next conquest. I know I'm not that lucky, but it's 6:30 in the morning and there's nothing left to do.

Maintenance knocks on my door at 8:30am. I thought I'd have to call him, but no, he swung by looking for the full trap I was supposed to leave on the stairs overnight for him to collect. I break the news to him. He takes it like a man.

He says he'll be back with a broom and squirrel-grabber-thingymawhatsit to get this thing out. He returns in minutes and beats the square foot behind the desk with his broom, trying to get some movement. Nothing. Then the poor man has to get down on his hands and knees in my messy bedroom and poke and prod at all the available crevices trying to roust this thing out.

But first he has to move some things, like my oversized teddy bear, a hamper full of clothes and my big bag o' porn. (I thought he was gonna strain a bicep). It's a good thing he doesn't have allergies, or the dustbunnies and cat hair would have laid him out flat. I'm sitting on my naked mattress wondering how many dildoes I have left out in plain sight, he's on the floor searching for rodents. We finally decide it's probably under the bed and he shoves the thingymawhatsit under the bed while I bounce up and down on top of it.

The squirrel flees with a thump and a streak of gray fur.

We abandon the bedroom (I close that door behind me too) and start searching the living and dining room for signs of the intruder. After 5 minutes we decide it's all clear and congratulate ourselves for the well-run execution of our extermination campaign.

Then we remember the dryer, the likely point of entrance for my overnight visitor. Mr Maintenance man gives it a cursory inspection and says he'll be back, but in the meantime, can I clear away the extra clothes so he has full access? Not a problem I say, and start scooping up clothes as soon as he leaves.

It seems I'm not done with the squirrel just yet. I look at the newly cleared space and see my visitor has left behind a scatological calling card. A personal Fuck You for both me and my laundry room floor. Maybe the squirrel had some coffee yesterday too.

Currently reading absolutely nothing.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009


I complained about coffee today. Primarily I was irritated at the sudden energy low I was suffering, but one of the other side-effects that got to me was how it sped up my digestive system... forcing things to move that weren't quite ready to git goin' yet. (If you catch my none-too-subtle drift.)

Fast forward to two hours later. I'm sitting in my living room huddled in the comfy chair when I glance across the room where the litter-box sits. There's a squirrel sitting on the mat in front of the box.

I blink.

It's still there.

I blink again.

Yep. That's a squirrel all right.

I live on the second floor, there's a balcony, but I rarely get visitors of the wild kingdom persuasion. In fact, the last time I saw a squirrel on the balcony was about six years ago. It hung out for a minute or two, declared me boring, and then sauntered off. It certainly didn't come inside, help itself to a swathe of my carpet, and make itself at home.

This squirrel? It looked at me with a bored expression and then wandered into the bedroom.

I called apartment maintenance. Lord help us all if that thing gets lost in my bedroom. It could hide in there for weeks without me finding it. Neat I am not. I didn't know what maintenance could actually do about it, frankly I expected them to laugh at me, only to hear that this is the third squirrel invasion this week.

Seriously? It's getting positively Hitchcockian up in here.

So, even though it's about a minute before closing, maintenance agrees to send someone to help me remove the vermin from my apartment. I peeked into the bedroom, looking for a bushy gray tail, I didn't see one, but while I stood in the doorway, I heard a crash from the en suite bathroom. I reached through and quickly pulled the door closed. Then I called the cat. Her favourite place is the bathroom, so there's a chance I just trapped her in there too. But no, she comes running at my call. I roll my eyes. Isn't she supposed to be hunting this thing with whiskers a-twitter and butt a-wagging? Feh. Not my cat. She couldn't care less. In fact, she'd really like to know why I called as she was enjoying a peaceful nap in the closet.

I dismiss her.

Now I know without a doubt that the banging in the bathroom is the four-legged intruder, so at least when maintenance comes we'll know exactly where the squirrel is. As I chat with the office staff, who seem amazed that I actually saw the squirrel with my very own eyes, she mentions that they've been getting in through the dryer vents connected to the roof, and how the apartment complex has never had an infestation like this before. I've been here I long time, so I'm inclined to believe her. I ask her if they had someone working on the roof yesterday, and she says no.

Suddenly it all clicks. It was the squirrel I heard rummaging around up there yesterday. It was the squirrel I heard scratching in the walls yesterday afternoon (that I assumed was my neighbour drawing on the walls or something), and it was the squirrel I heard squeaking rhythmically yesterday morning when I assumed it was ceiling-fan motor dying. *le sigh* In fact, it's likely the squirrel is responsible for the death of the dryer I had reported to maintenance a mere hour before Squirrel Sighting '09.

Maintenance came and left a peanut-butter laced trap in my bathroom. That was at 6pm. It's after 9 now. In a 50 sq ft room, the trap has not yet sprung. Why? I suspect it's because this same squirrel has been caught twice before by the evil lure of peanut butter, and knows better now. Even more amusing? I have two bowls of water in there left out for my indifferent cat. So the squirrel can probably survive for quite a while.

What does any of this have to do with irony?
Because of the coffee I maligned so callously only a few hours before, I had taken care of all my ablutionary needs long before the squirrel hijacked my bathroom. I've had to pee only once since the door closed between us, and I braved the bathroom as any woman would - with my toes hovering in the air, and a wipe as fast as any gun in the west. The squirrel sat behind the toilet screeching and trilling at me, which I think is the squirrel equivalent of a snake's rattle or a dog's growl. I feared at any moment it would launch itself at my ass and hang on until I shook it off somewhere outside my front door. It did not.

Having survived that single incident unscathed, I won't be eating or drinking anything more tonight. God bless coffee.

Currently reading: The Graveyard Book

Why does coffee have a down side?

I love me some coffee.

I'm not an addict or anything. I don't have to have it every day, I don't need it to open my eyes in the morning, but when I do imbibe I love the rush it gives me. I love it smooth over my tongue, mellowed by half & half. I love it sugared enough to take the bitterness away and give my sweet tooth a tickle.

I love that it gets me off my backside and buzzing gently around the house taking care of things I've ignored for too long. I love that it props my brain up, knocking the internal switch into productive mode out of my normally contemplative neutral.

I like the way it smells and even though I'm 37 years old, this year is the first year I've invested in a coffee-maker of my own. In fact, this is the first time I've ever lived with such a machine. I've learned that I prefer the bold, smokey blends over the wimpy, medium roasts boasting of fruity undertones and summery notes. I enjoy all prep of measuring and grinding beans and flipping the switch to bring an instant perk of happiness to my nose and tongue.

And all of this is not even taking into account the coffeehouse coffees. I started with Mochas, the gateway drug of Starbucks. But I'm not one of those people who is menu monogamous where the staff knows your order as well as you do. Not me. I'm a caffeine slut. From day to day I don't know if I'll have a latte, or a cappuccino, if I'll add raspberry or vanilla or shake in the sugar packets myself. And lest you think it's just the coffee, I should mention that I have a long-standing affair with Earl Grey tea going back to my adolescence.

I'm the woman you hate. You're at the back of the line thinking, "just order your fucking coffee already and get out of my way." And I'm at the front of the line rubbing my hands with glee at the smorgasboard of caffeinated delights in front of me. The line behind me has faded into the background as I realize it's time to commit (if only for today) to a mighty taste sensation served up with a fake smile by a bored barrista.

I went for years without drinking the stuff. It's hell on your bones you know. As my sister says, "you might as well be pissing away your calcium." And I've always fully recognized that it's a drug, thus, my goody-two-shoes self used it as such. If I was in dire straits some grad school night and needed to finish a paper and prep a presentation for the next day, I'd turn to coffee to get me through. One cup would do the job for the entire evening. Yes, I was that much of a lightweight. The rest of the time I'd eschew caffeine in favour of a bright, happy Sprite or nice, earthy rootbeer.

But why does coffee have to have a down side? Why does it have to have such a ... ahem ... "stimulating" effect on my digestive system? Why does the high have to wear off so suddenly? Why is it that the sudden spike of energy drops away like a stone only hours after ingestion leaving me wrung out and blinking in whole notes, yet the half-life of the caffeine continues to keep me awake well into the wee hours of the night?

Why, coffee? Why???

Just finished: Dead As a Doornail
Currently reading: The Graveyard Book

Saturday, August 15, 2009

A side-note on supporting characters

I've been reading a few category books lately. In terms of satisfaction, they tend to be hit and miss, especially as so many of them are series that I either unwittingly (and unwillingly) find myself in the middle of, or find myself at the beginning of with no desire to hunt down the rest.*

But that's a discussion for another day - April 11th to be precise. What I really want to talk about is the true role of a SUPPORTING character.

I'm reading a book right now that has six rather major supporting characters. I know them all by name. And I know them all by how they relate to the main characters. That is ALL I know about them. This is something that I really appreciate about this book. If we've been told anything about what they look like, it's only a sentence, maybe two. We know nothing of their hopes, dreams, aspirations, how they grew up, or what informs their personalities.

They are fully fleshed-out, 3D characters who clearly have more depth than we are shown on the page, but that depth is revealed in their interactions with the main characters, and only in those interactions. Not in long introductions about why they are who they are, not in sidebars told info-dump style about how the H or H met them or who their spouses are or even in meandering soliloquies out of the supporting characters' mouths themselves. No, we see exactly who these people are through the well-chosen words that leave their mouths and through how their actions (or lack thereof) affect the main characters.

I'm only halfway through this book, it could tank in the second half, but somehow I doubt that's going to happen. The author is clearly a gifted story-teller and her long list of publishing credits indicate that she's been at this for a while. In fact she just threw in a twist that was so beautifully set-up I am aching to know if she's a pantser or a plotter, and if she knew she was going to have to throw in a test like this, or if it came to her in a dream or she reverse engineered it because something in the characters was telling her to dig deeper. But I'm digressing again, back to the supporting characters.

Now, one of the things that may be helping this along is that I don't feel like I'm being set up for a sequel. Sometimes these things are inevitable, and oftentimes they're heavy-handed, but I have faith in the author that this book will have everything wrapped up in a nice, neat bow for me by the time I hit the HEA Epilogue, which means her supporting characters are just that. Supporting. They're not making their debut before they take the stage themselves. They don't have to steal a single scene to whet our appetite for their own stories.

These supporters of her main characters show up to reveal the strengths, weaknesses, flaws, and qualities in our H & H. Isn't that really what a supporting character is supposed to be about? Not a single one of them is "perfect," or "zany," or "sassy." They're just real-life people in our H & H's real-life world that make things better, and worse, and challenging, and fulfilling. And, even more than that, we get to see how Heroine reacts to Hero's supporting characters, and then challenges him on being a better person with them ... and then, vice versa. It's almost, like, I don't know, a real relationship or something.

I'm going to head back to my cozy bed and finish the book now. I hope the author didn't get sticken with a deathly case of The Tropes before she finished the book. Somehow, I have a feeling she'll retain her refreshing style 'til the end and once again I'll be properly schooled on That's How You Tell A Story!

Wish me luck.

Currently reading: No Rest For the Wicked
Currently reading: Mother In the Making
Currently reading: Practice Makes Perfect

*[See IRONY: The book I'm writing right now is the first of a two-book category-length series. Cross ref:- HYPOCRISY]

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

I took some advice today

From you - from all of you.

I hit up my local Barnes & Noble and wrote. Despite not "feeling like it," despite feeling poorly today, and despite the output from my pen stinking up the place like week-old carrion.

I have been treating my writing like a hobby lately. I've had a lot of things on my plate (who hasn't?) and allowed Novel #2 to limp along on its own steam. I've added a paragraph or two here and there. I've done some typing when the spirit moves me, but the cussedness and enthusiasm that got me through the first book and through 3/4s of this one is long gone.

Instead I've been paying fantastic lip service to my 'writing' and not doing any of the work involved. Oh, I've been reading the blogs from reviewers and editors and agents and other authors, but learning about the business doesn't equal being in the business. And not a single bit of all the things I've learned is going to help me if I don't finish the book.

So today, I sat down and got to work. And the writing wasn't good. It wasn't good at all. But I did it anyway, because every professional writer out there says sometimes you just gotta work through the crap, you have to give yourself permission to let the words flow regardless of how awful those words are.

Now, in revision, these words may get cut, or I may find a germ of an idea in them that begs to be explored, or it could just be the invisible emotional glue needed to bind one tense scene to another and I'll get to leave it alone, crap and all. But the point is, I put the words on the page. Finally.

I'm declaring a moratorium on emotional turmoil (as if I have control over these things), it just detracts from my goals. From now on, it's boring, hum-drum, everyday, work-a-day, finish the effing book for me. I'm also working on moving.

I'm a Cancer. I like my safe, comfortable hermit-like world. As a result I have been in my apartment for over nine years and have packed it full of things that make me feel like my life is full. And now I have to dismantle it all and pack up my life to shift it 100 miles north. I like being lazy better, but, turns out, lazy doesn't get the job done. Kind of like writing.

Just finished: Legend
Just finished: Dad in Disguise
Currently reading: No Rest For The Wicked

Sunday, August 2, 2009

*Deeeeeeep breath*

That felt good.

I made a mistake last month. I put down my pen.

Now, admittedly, I was on vacation, and - as mentioned before - I find it really hard to work (at writing) while on vacation. I managed to scribble out a couple of pages during an hour spent alone up in the Redwood forests of Santa Cruz, but that was the last thing I did for over 30 days.

You see, I'd already been distracted before I left town. I had fallen off of my productivity wagon, but I still had enough gumption to get out there at least once a week and get some work done, whether it was typing, editing, or finishing this mother-effing book that despite my best efforts refuses to conform to category length.

Then, when I returned to town, a full two weeks later, my life fell apart. Not in any way I'm willing to share with the world (also known as the four people who occasionally read this blog), but in a real and measurable way anyway. Would that my life were a romance script. The knight on his white horse would have swooped in to the rescue a good two weeks ago. Alas, the real world ain't that pretty.

It's been a tough time and I've had to make some hard as hell decisions about who I am and what I expect of the people around me and life in general. It doesn't help that I've always been a cerebral type girl and can think myself into dizzying circles with very little assistance from the outside world. It also doesn't help that I'm unemployed and have nothing to distract me from my over-active brain. Basically I have all the time in the world to stew, and fret, and worry my pretty little head into a tizzy. And I have taken full advantage of it.

I've been so anxious that getting a full night's sleep has become a rarity. Four hours is the norm, then it's up and at 'em to fret some more. I've still been reading - though not as much. My Sudoku habit has become outrageous, but it's a great way to not think when you're awake anyway. And I've been reading about writing on a few blogs and such (I was 800 posts behind by the time I got back to my blogs, I'm down to 365 posts now). Still absorbing the "rules," still reading the publishing stories... but I haven't written a lick.

I could have. If I'd just sat down and done it, I would have found the words waiting for me, and I would have been happier for it. If nothing else it would have taken my mind off of my problems. More than that I would have taken refuge in the natural joy I find in the simple act of creation. But because I couldn't concentrate on anything else, I assumed I wouldn't be able to concentrate on my work either, so I didn't even try.

This morning, however, I woke up and was granted a small ray of hope that all this turmoil would soon be gone. That short moment was enough. I started thinking about other things again and then tried to remember the last time I left the house just for fun. I couldn't. I went out for a job interview on Thursday, but before that...? Ummmm...? Sad. Really sad.

So, me and my fresh new attitude grabbed my purse and keys and walked the hell out the door. I went to Chili's for ribs and took a book with me and my notebook too, just in case the writing bug was ready to bite me again. It did. Thank God. My characters were waiting for me, my pen was still speaking to me and I even stopped at Krispy Kreme on the way home. I got over 1000 words written this afternoon and damn it felt good.

I'm a writer, what the hell did I think I was doing putting down my pen for so long? I won't do that to myself again. It's back on the horse for me.

Just finished: The Bachelor's Stand-In Wife
Just finished: Agnes and The Hitman
Just finished: Smooth Talkin' Stranger
Currently reading: D is for Deadbeat
Currently Reading: Tempting The Beast