Monday, March 3, 2014

Recommended Reading

It's been a little while since I did a post like this and I have been reading A TON of books lately. So I figured I'd drop another post detailing my exploits into fiction.

*Disclaimer: My mind is a sieve, so forgive me if I've mentioned these before in a blog post. 

Shadow Unit: This bit of brilliance is a serial that reads like Criminal Minds meets X Files. It's a collaboration between Emma Bull, Elizabeth Bear, Will Shetterly, and Sarah Monette. The first episode is free, and every one afterward is only three dollars, but these are addictive. Be warned. 

Sandman Slim by Richard Kadrey: Angel noir at it's finest. It's gritty urban fantasy with a fast pace and a brooding anti-hero. What's more to love? The series keeps getting better and better as each book launches, instead of fizzling like so many do.

Dead Things by Stephan Blackmore: This book! So good. It has everything I think a book about a necromancer should have--their struggle with life and death, what happens to people when they die. Our anti-hero is a perfect mixture of broken and brave, and I loved how gritty it felt without feeling tired. I eagerly await the sequel this summer. Also, Stephan Blackmore is a wonderful human being and hilarious on Twitter.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman: It's gorgeous and heartbreaking, made even more poignant to me because I was reading it this summer when I went to visit my childhood home for the first time in over a decade. 

Horns and NOS4A2 by Joe Hill: Both of these books were beautiful stories about love and loss with horror at it's center. NOS4A2 felt closer to a traditional horror novel, while HORNS was more Kafka-esque. Loved both of them to pieces.

The Siren by Tiffany Reisz: This is a wonderfully well written book with rich, flawed characters. I want to feel like I'm living in someone's skin when I read, that I'm getting into a person's head. This book did that and more. It's in the erotica genre, but the sex, though somewhat naughty, only served to highlight who the characters were. If BDSM turns you off, I would suggest checking out Goodreads or downloading a sample to see where it falls in your comfort zone, because the bondage stuff really wasn't bad. It wasn't in your face, and it wasn't there to just make things spicy.

Vicious by V.E. Schwab: OMG OMG OMG! I wanted to use more than one exclamation point, but barely restrained myself. A wonderful book and a wonderful look at superheros and the nature of evil, and OMG I wish she would write a sequel. /squee
 
Also, the latest novel in Seanan McGuire's Incryptid series comes out this Tuesday so I am rabidly awaiting it's arrival via my kindle. 

Alright my lovelies, that's enough book awesomeness for one post. I have exciting books in the queue that I will soon tell you about. In the meantime, someone tell me about an amazing book they've read. 

....

And...go!

Monday, February 3, 2014

THIS

The Writing Process in Pictures

In case you're wondering where I'm at with the whole writing a book thing, THIS is the answer. Somewhere in the middle, between Jack wandering around aimlessly and the guy banging his head against the wall for the second time.

But in the immortal words of Joey Tribianni, "How YOU doin'?"

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Uplifting Links

Reporting from the daily slog here.

Life is setting into a semblance of a routine, although there's a lot of unpacking left to be done, and the floors need to be mopped again. But still. The weather is gorgeous here, with an average low of 75, and a high of 85. I take Connor outside to look at the nature and play on the playground and enjoy life in the Caribbean. 

But the writing is a slog right now, so I needed a pick me up. Happily, I found some posts I found helpful, so I thought I would share them with you, because who doesn't need a pick me up? No one, that's who.

A Season in the Show 

And this one: 

It Takes the Time It Takes 

So there's some wisdom for the beginning of your week. 

Anyone up to anything new? How's the new year treating you so far?

If you'll excuse me, I have some words to write.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Milestones and Setback for 2013, Goals for 2014

Here's a really fun experiment. 

This was my post last year, Milestones and Setbacks for 2012, Goals for 2013 

All I can think of it wow. Wow wow. The places I am now, the places I thought I would be...looking back on the year and figuring out what you could have done better, different, and what you want to never changed. It's a strange feeling, like the room is spinning even though you're standing still. 

I thought I would make a comment on my goals for this year and see what happened. I'm not going to say failed, because that's just too negative and I put enough stress on myself as it is. 

My goals for this year, and how I stacked up:

*Finish writing Zombie Road Trip before the end of January 

I did it! By the skin of my teeth, but I finished sometime around the second week of January *is too lazy to look up the exact date*
 
*Edit the pants off Zombie Road Trip
 

This sort of happened. I edited the crap out Zombie Road Trip. And then some more. And it's still off and wrong, and I can't figure out what direction to take the book it. It's just so personal and hard to read that I wind up needing long breaks away to get the distance I need to be able to actually edit it. Which sounds like bullshit, but it's the truth I am having a hard time admitting to.
 
*Query Zombie Road Trip

This so did not happen, and I need another good edit before it's ready for the betas. So yeah. 
 
*Get website attached to blog soon
 

I didn't do that, but I did revamp my blog and add the pages I wanted. It's not nearly what I wanted it to be, but in the midst of moving and packing, something had to slide.
 
*Do more active things with blog--contests, give aways, guest posts etc
 

See above.
 
*Learn how to manage time better for everything--writing, life, friends and family
 

This actually happened. I manged to get into a routinue of when to do the dishes, to sweep and mop, to write and spend time with my husband. It's not perfect, and it falls apart when something happens, but it's there.
 
*Exercise regularly
 

Not quite as regular as I want, but for awhile before we moved I was doing a really good job of going out for a walk after dinner with the kid, and stretching in the morning. It's harder to do here, since we're inside an apartment complex, not a neighborhood, but there's places for it and I need to make the effort.
 
*Attend James Scott Bell's Next Level fiction writing seminar
 

Didn't happened; no money for it.
 
*Attend RWA that's being held in Atlanta next year (2013)
 

Also didn't happen.
 
*Attend Dragon*Con and spend lots of time with Rena
 

Happened and it was so much fun!
 
*Make more time for reading
 

Done! I am reading like a mofo! Go me!
 
*Attend cousin's wedding in hometown of upstate New York
 

I went with Connor and my family. It was...surreal returning to my childhood home I'd hadn't seen in over a decade. I had a lot of fun. 
 
*Plan meals better, and experiment more

Dinner is also happening, and I feel more in control. Not that I wasn't cooking before, but I only knew how to make a handful of meals that turned out well. Out of desperation and boredom, I'm trying recipes and making things yummy. I cooked Thanksgiving by myself this year after all!
 
*Maybe start a bento blog? Or post on here about bento adventures?
 

Not happening in the near future. Just, no.
 
*Finish ripping giant collection of cds into iTunes and finish music library once and for all

I also made some progress on this, hoping to not have to pack the hundreds of jewel cases I have, and made half way progress before we moved. So I compromised, and bought a giant CD holder where my CDs now live.

Okay so. That was last year.

Milestones, Events, Accomplishments:

*Moved to Puerto Rico
*Finished rewriting Zombie Road Trip 
*Kept self and family alive (this counts! Don't laugh!)
*Read a lot of books this year
*Went to several author events 
*Went to Dragon Con and it was AMAZING!
*Wrote 50K and 20K on two different manuscripts only to have my hard drive wipe and cut that in half.

Set Backs:

*Moved to Puerto Rico. Don't get me wrong, it's gorgeous here. But it was so not part of our five year plan. Sold my car, traded in my husband's Jeep and wound up having to get a more expensive one, sold most of our big furniture. Moved to a new country and had to start over with a lot of things we already had taken care of.
*Realized Zombie Road Trip still needs lots of edits. *weeps quietly*
*Hard drive wiped itself and took the knees out of both of my rough drafts. Much pitying and weeping and gnashing of the teeth happened.

Goals:

*FINISH UNPACKING THE HOUSE OH GOD THE BOXES
*Self publish a novella. Details to come
*Really seriously get this closer to what I want out of website. It's coming. I've got things in the works.
*Edit! Edit! Edit! Lots of editing in my future!
*Query. I'm thinking about revising Ghosts Between Us before tackling ZRT again, so we're leaving this open ended. 
*Finish the two rough drafts I have started.

I feel like this list should be a lot longer, but I'm drawing blanks here. This is a good at-a-glance in any case. It's not like I don't have several major projects on the to-do list here.

So what are your plans? Any goals? Do you make lists like these, or do you prefer to live in bliss?
 

Monday, December 23, 2013

Our Stuff Came

Our stuff came on Saturday at ten o'clock. I am so very happy to finally have our stuff. 

Some of the boxes are nearly broken, but mostly everything is okay. And it's here, thank goodness. I've been unpacking like a fiend, put up the Christmas tree, and doing ungodly amounts of laundry.

We're all done Christmas shopping and the presents are mostly wrapped. So progress is being made.

What about you? How are your holidays shaping up?

Thursday, December 12, 2013

So Very Angry

http://www.troll.me

Right now, I am so angry I could set something on fire. 

Rather than commit a felony, I'm going to blog instead.

Most of you know my husband, toddler, and I moved to Puerto Rico at the end of September, beginning of October (my husband went first, hence the range of dates). We decided that it was worth the cost of shipping some of the big stuff across the ocean to Puerto Rico rather than buy all new stuff. So we decided to ship our bed, mattress, my son's crib and dresser, the kitchen table. My son's toys. You know, the big, important stuff.

We hired a well reviewed moving company to do this, but it's been nothing but a nightmare since. 

The first came when they called to resheduled the moving date. I had very carefully planned on when we would move our stuff out, and stay with my in laws so I could get the last bit of business taken care of. The walk through for the house we rented. Shutting off utilities. Stuff like that.

The movers called the day they were supposed to come and get our stuff--ie, EVERYTHING in the house was packed--to reschedule to Monday.  

Skip ahead to six weeks later, when they said our stuff should arrive. I called and they it's still not here, check back in two weeks. 

This is the pattern of the next two months. I call every two weeks, and am told to call back in two weeks.  They blow past their eight week maximum time stated, and move into three months. 

The week before Thanksgiving, we get told our stuff is caught in customs. So we call customs, with our lot number, to find out what the hell. Customs has no idea what we're talking about--they don't deal with household goods. We raise cane, talk to two different managers who say two different things.  One office tells us the cargo isn't even in Puerto Rico. The other office says the boat is sailing and it will be there in two weeks.  He assures us it will be there in two weeks.


So we wait. I called them last week and they said someone will call us on Tuesday or Wednesday to schedule a delivery date. 

Guess what? Yesterday was Wednesday and no one called. I called them, and once again, the manager in Puerto Rico says it's not here, and the office in Florida tells us that they will call us on Friday or Monday for a delivery date. I'm currently waiting on the manager to call me back. 

And I'm livid. I am so angry I am spitting angry hornets, who are also spitting angry hornets.

And the worst part, aside from them CONSTANTLY lying to us about where our stuff is and when it will get there, is the anger. I was nice and polite and understanding and that did nothing.

Nothing. Just more lies.

I get angry and tell them this is unacceptable and I need to talk to a manager, and suddenly we're getting answers. Still the run around apparently, but they're making an effort to call us back and appease us.

Why?

I just don't get it. Why? Why is it only when I get angry and yell when things get done? I hate yelling. I know most people are just trying to do their job, and it's not their fault. But when it is their fault? When they are just lazy or incompetent, and don't give a crap about your or what you need? They won't lift a finger until you show them you're not a push-over and that only happens when you become the "angry customer". You can hear the sigh and annoyance in their voice.

How simple would it be, just to, I don't know, do their job

I had the same thing happen to me when we were renting apartments and our air conditioner broke. My son was four months old, and this was the heat of Georgia and it was 85 degrees in our apartment at night. We tried to get them to fix it, but for three weeks they did nothing. It wasn't until we were in the front office, in their face and angry, did they bother to fix it. 

I say again, WHY?

This makes no sense and just makes me angrier because I don't like being the angry customer. I hate it when I'm forced to be rude and mean to get something to happen, and then I'm the asshole. I'm the jerky, bitchy customer just ruining people's day. 

They lie and jerk me around, and I'm supposed to be okay with that. I'm supposed to be okay that they've had our stuff a whole month longer than their maximum time stated, a month and a half longer than they said it would take, and have to sleep on an air mattress with a hole it in and type on a lap top that's on it's way out, and have no TV, or DVDs, or any of my books, or my cookware, or kitchen table, or any of my son's toys, and I'm supposed to just accept it when they put me off two weeks at a time. 

I'm not supposed to get upset and angry and want to talk to people who know what the hell is going on. I'm supposed to smile while they screw me over.

Because the minute I yell? The minute I tell them I want my stuff and I want it now, and I've been more than understanding, I'm the jerk. 

And I just don't get it. I really don't. I don't like people who go right to angry in stores. You know the ones. They ring you up twice for something at the check out, and this person goes straight to screaming and yelling. You watch in horror, thinking "What a crazy person!". 

But I'm starting to think there would be a lot less crazy people in the world if people would just do their jobs. If they just did what they were supposed to, to the best of their ability, the first time. Without needing the extra incentive of Angry Customer. 

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Back Up Your Stuff--Right Now!

Yesterday I suffered a devastating loss.

I've been using my lap top's hard drive to save my work because my desk top is on the boat with the rest of our stuff (still not here) and the casing on my external hard drive has popped open, and I was worried it would stop working. 

But when I booted up the lap top yesterday, the computer had reset itself to it's settings from almost two years ago. I knew it right away when I saw the wallpaper I was using at the time. I've run scans and rebooted it in hopes that all of my hard work would come back, but I don't think that's going to happen.

Luckily, I saved my work on my husband's computer about two weeks ago, so I'm only a little behind. And by a little, I mean I lost 20K words on both of the manuscripts I've been working on. Not to mention the notes, the brainstorming, the novels I've been critiquing. It's all gone. 

I'm getting a new external hard drive for Christmas, and I'm looking into a Carbonite subscription. If not for Christmas, then definitely after. I cannot think of how much worse I would feel if I lost EVERYTHING instead of just two weeks worth of stuff. 

There's also services like DropBox and the iCloud, depending on what you want to pay (or not) and how much space you need. I want more space because I have family photos to save in addition to writing. 

The point is, you need to save your stuff. Right now. If you're broke, sign up for DropBox and use the free space for the most important stuff. Email yourself your manuscripts. Print everything out and put them in a safe deposit box. Make sure that if God forbid, your computer gets stolen by a pack of rabid chimps, sets itself on fire, or disappears into an alternate universe, you don't lose everything.

I've lost work before. When I was in high school and we were still using floppy disks (the hard kind, not the actual floppy ones) I lost some disks of poetry and stories. It was just gone. No idea where it is. It always feels like a sucker punch to the gut, like something deep and important is gone and there's nothing you can do but mourn. 

There's a lot of so called negatives to living in the computer era we do. We're growing up with completely different experiences than our parents and parent's parents. One of the best things, though, is the ability to inexpensively store information. So take advantage of that, and make sure your work is safe.

If anyone needs me in the meantime, I'm going to be laying on the couch eating chocolate for breakfast.