Thursday, December 9, 2010

Movie Bitch: Skyline

So I'm mixing things up a little bit, but I absolutely HAVE to write about this movie.

It wasn't ... bad. It was entertaining, in a mindless kind of way, and PARTS of it were definitely engaging ... the first time around. I am not sure I can sit through it again without rolling on the floor laughing.

First off, it was written, produced and directed by the special effects company that did the aliens. And while I firmly believe one of the reasons District 9 was not just awesome but AWESOME is because Neil Blomkamp had 3d graphics experiance, this really REALLY should have been my first clue and I wish to god I had known this before I went to see the movie. And I will sport the team that did it. They had a very small budget (ten to twenty mil, according to Wikipedia) the effects are good and they may be okay at directing and editing. No one who worked on this project should ever be allowed to write anything, ever again, because the story is so flawed the movie cannot even function. It tries really hard to be an alien invasion/sci-fi movie and it's not. It's a monster movie in all possible respects and the monster is a fucking lens flare. They spend the entire movie running away from a Photoshop filter, guys.

Friday, December 3, 2010

My Christmas present this year

Blown glass spinning wheel.

Let me say it again. Blown Glass Spinning Wheel.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Don't live for your dreams. EVER.

Okay, this is gonna be cynical as hell, so please forgive it. The trigger was an advertisement for a new movie, Santa Paws. I don't know what Santa Paws is, other than talking puppies and Walt Disney's ashes spinning in his urn, but one of the puppies said, at the end of the trailer, "All you have to do is dream."

I've had this backbuilding annoyance with this part of popular culture. We've marketed the living fuck out of the idea that if you work hard enough and day-dream even harder, you'll get your dreams. Disney Princesses moon over lakes and water and men (mostly men) while singing about how much they want something. Books talk about Live Your Best Life Now and The Purpose Driven Life and how "God has a plan for you", implying that this plan is not right now, and God am I going to get into the Prosperity Gospel bullshit in a couple of minutes. And every single "uplifting" movie shows someone pulling themselves into success of some form or another. TV shows never follow the losers, it's always the winners and then OMG when the winners lose it's a tear fest and a showcase of character and integrity because our self-inserts the main characters only lose when they deserve to learn a lesson. The natural tilt of the universe is that we, the centers of it, shall win eventually. I don't think our parents had this level of bullshit saturation that we do right now. The result is we have a generation that believes we'll get our fifteen minutes of fame. Usually presented on a platter, but sometimes after a shit-ton of hard work that somehow falls far short of the real work involved in being successful.

This was showcased really well in a chick flick a couple years back, Julie and Julia, about the life of Julia Childs and Julie Powell. Half that movie is good, and it's the half with Meryl Streep in it. I am not going to say that Julie Powell is a waste of skin and air, because the character is based on a real human being and I refuse to believe anyone can be that bad. Amy Adams as Julie Powell is annoying, entitled and obnoxious, and there's an undertone running through the whole movie that the success both women get is something they earned, something they're entitled to because of all the hard work they went through to get there. In the case of Julia Child, that was probably true. The Julie Powell half of the movie ... guys, if you succeed at internet anything it's not because you're good at something or bad at something. It's because the internet farted in your direction today. In her half of the movie, after she worked hard, screamed, cried and threw tantrums, she was literally handed her goal on a platter, right next to her deboned duck.

And then you have Prosperity Gospel. For those of you who haven't darkened the door of a large church, picked up a bestselling Christian book or listened to Christian radio lately, Prosperity Gospel turns God into the big Slot Machine in the sky: put in enough faith tokens and you'll get a pony. The two big headliners are Joel Olstine and Rick Warren, authors of Your Best Life Now and The Purpose-Driven Life, respectively. I have not read Best Life Now because there's only so much Olstine I can take in one sitting. Purpose Driven Life centers on the idea that if you can figure out what God wants you to do with your life, he will bless you and you will be happy, or at least happier than you are right now. That God does not want his children to live a life of sorrow and despair, and if we just work with him, he'll make everything good and beautiful and reward us for our work and suffering right now.

Guys, I'm listening to a Christian album right now, one of the best I've heard in years, by Stephen Curtis Chapman. He wrote it after his adopted daughter died in a car accident. He wrote it to deal with the sorrow and quite obviously, his difficulty reconciling a loving God with his daughter's death. If you believe in the Christian God and you believe that God is in control, than you have to believe that it was his will for that to happen. Because if He didn't want it to happen that way, it wouldn't have. And that's why I find Propserity Gospel so fucking offensive. It implies that if your life has gone to shit and things aren't happening the way you want them to, there is something wrong with you. You don't know something. You're not doing something right. You haven't figured the Great Question of Reality out yet and if you just pushed a little bit longer and held on a bit further, you'd break out into the great meadow of rainbows and unicorns and everything would be alright again.

If you're a Christian, you believe that God Himself became human -- I mean, think about that for a second. You go from being God of All to being a subsistence-level carpenter, who is also a member of one of the most despised races in human history, during the reign of Emperor Tiberius in Ancient Rome. And God's will is that we prosper? Poverty is not God's will for us, sometimes? What, did he just make an exception for himself? -- and died one of the ugliest, most brutal deaths humanity ever conceived of, shortened only because he was severely tortured the day before his crucifixion. Yes, it had a point. It had a beautiful point. The payoff never came during Jesus's life, the last years of which were spent homeless. Hell, our own homeless would be a step up. They get down filled jackets and warm concrete to sleep on. According to my belief system, God's will for his own life was horrible, with an eternal payoff.

You know, sometimes things just don't work. For every uplifting story, there are a lot that end poorly. The happy stuff is remembered, not because it's normal, but because it's so abnormal, and we humans are self-centered enough to believe that if it happened to you, surely, surely eventually it'll happen to me. Surely if I sing at Simon, I'll go on to American Idol, win and get a singing contract. Nevermind that most of the people who go are fodder for our amusement, I am different. Surely I am different. Surely God will bless me. He didn't bless himself, but he'll bless me.

The best thing a person can do for themselves, in my opinion, is not to live for your dreams. Live for your family. Friends. For the weekend when you get to go fishing, or do whatever else it is that brings you joy. Living for your dreams is about as solid as attempting to eat them.

Am I saying that you shouldn't try to get them? Hell no. I'm just saying you shouldn't expect it. I'm saying that "think positive" and "keep high self-esteem" is bullshit. "Focus on your potential" is bullshit. Think pessimistically. Attempt success and plan for failure. Keep an exit strategy in mind. Prepare for failure. Maybe don't assume that something you made sucks, but assume that it could be made better. Because the thing nobody tells you about? The dreams don't die. Even when you want them to. Having a dream will eventually feel like you've swallowed burning coals, because it's guaranteed that you will fail most of the time. And your choice is either to think that there's something wrong with you -- because they always win on American Idol -- or to think that maybe it's just not going to happen this time. Either way, the coal is not going to go out. You're not going to throw it away. You might have planned that exit strategy, but you're not going to take it. Ever.

And yeah, you can give up. That has nothing to do with "living for your dreams" ... frankly I think "living for your dreams" encourages people to give up. They're not successful, so it must be their fault. There must be something they're not doing. But if you realize that most of it is just chance and persistence, the only thing you can do if you want to succeed is to keep trying and to keep trying a lot. It's like the lottery, the more tickets you have the more likely you are to win. It's also like the lottery, in that you're not really likely to win, but dreamers are compulsive gamblers.

So expect failure. Make sure you've got a landing platform. Make sure you've got a life. Don't give up, but don't be wedded to the idea of winning, either.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The Hardest Logic Puzzle Ever

I was wandering the 'net trying to find the solution to the Labyrinth puzzle (aka Knights and Knaves) and I came across this monster instead. I've embroidered it a bit to make it read better. It can easily be solved by Google, so don't use it:

You come to an island with three Gods, True, False and Random. True will answer truthfully. False will lie. Random will answer either truly or falsely, at random. The Gods understand English, but will only answer in their own language, which you do not fully understand. You know that "ja" and "da" stand for yes and no, but you don't know which word stands for which. "Ja" could be either yes or no. Random has a boat, True has a compass, False has a map. They will give these to you, but only if you petition them with the correct name. To escape the island, you must identify the Gods. You may ask three yes/no questions, and may only ask each question once, though you may ask each God more than one question.

I will probably wind up using this in my second book. Have fun!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Book Bitch: Soul Harvest

Okay, recap of series so far: Rayford Steele fails at monogamy, Buck Williams is loaded, both men are JBJ's self inserts, Hattie is a total skank and fucking annoying, HEY STUPID THE RAPTURE HAPPENED, both Buck and Ray work for the Antichrist even though they hate it, author fails at keeping track of ages, WW2 got lost for most of book 2, Chloe Williams does ... um, what does she do? Tim LaHaye upgrades his self-insert from a black theologian to a Jewish theologian, and then ... EARTHQUAKE!!!!
 So let's find out what happened to Amanda!

...Amanda who? Oh, right. Rayford's wife. Who had like, three scenes in as many novels. Who will be Ray's primary motivation for the next three hundred pages. Right.

Anybody got an aspirin I can borrow?

Friday, October 22, 2010

Dear Literary Agents,

Please stop putting compliments in rejection letters. After we get the fourth one, or so, we are going to automatically assume that it's a form, that you say that to everybody. Ergo, compliments in rejections are a waste of time, energy and space, respectively yours, mine and the universe's. If my writing were worth complimenting, you would have read more. In fact, when rejecting, start with the word "Sorry". Wading through three sentences of cheerful, fluffy false-praise (and I don't give a fuck if you really DID write something personal or not. I AM ASSUMING IT IS FORM NO MATTER WHAT) to get to the "no" does very unpleasant things with my brain and blood pressure. SAY NO, SIMPLICITY WILL NOT HURT YOU.

Also, remember dating, and how you do not say "Well, I'm sure you'll find someone (ELSE) who is very nice, eventually" to the other during the breakup process? Because this is apparently stupid and trite and it only makes YOU feel better, and not the ex-SO you just broke up with? Please transpose this information over into rejection letters. You know the phrase, "Remember, this is just my subjective opinion"? STOP SAYING THAT. IT DOES NOT FUCKING WORK.



P.S. Yes, I know we writer-types are supposed to pretend like we've never been rejected at all so you don't have to think about it. But you and I both know writers get enough rejections to fill a swimming pool, so pardon me if I want to wade in mine a little bit.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

An Honest-to-God rambling thought

So I spent part of today trying to understand the Axiom of Choice, and so far what I have gathered is this: it involves choice, and mathematicians cannot write. This chain of thought lead me to a secondary conclusion: Perhaps many of the higher sciences are difficult to understand, not because the concepts themselves are confusing, or not only because the concepts themselves are confusing, but because the people who must write about these concepts cannot write worth a damn.

I had the same problems understanding Meditations on the Tarot (BTW that is (a not actually about Tarot and (b. a really good book with some really weird ideas). The concepts themselves were difficult to grasp, but I first had to wade through the language of the book, which for a recently written book was very ... strange. And I frequently find myself going "Oh, THAT's what you were talking about. Is there a reason you couldn't just say that in simpler language?"

Writing is hard work, in case you didn't know. The primary job of a writer is to take an idea from inside of their head and phrase it in a way that a reader can easily understand. This is why (IMHO) passive voice is out of favor. "The body was placed in the cupboard" is more difficult to understand than "She put the body in the cupboard." Admittedly, the concept here (a body in a cupboard) is simple enough for anybody to grasp, but it's awkward. Awkwardness is a roadblock to comprehension. The more complicated the concept, the larger the roadblock. The more roadblocks you put between the reader and comprehension, the more blatantly you fail in the most basic job in writing.

 And before you say, "These ideas are complicated, CW. There's no way you could write them so most people could understand," There's a beautiful example of breaking things down simply in A Wrinkle in Time, one of my favorite books. In it, a teacher (who also happens to be a former star) explains time-and-space travel to a child. Specifically, how use of the fourth dimension allows the teacher, the child and their companions to jump from planet to planet almost instantaneously when the child knows it should be impossible. This is a very complex idea, and I have read several other books on the subject of time and dimensional theory which I enjoyed very much. But none of the books had the gorgeous simplicity of the Wrinkle in Time passage, and I suspect I wouldn't be able to understand any of the other concepts at all if I had not read Wrinkle as a child. So let me repeat myself: I had a basic understanding of dimensional theory as a ten-year-old, not because I was brilliant, but because someone was willing to take the time and effort to break an extraordinarily complex idea into language a child could understand. So it can be done. If you have the time, patience and intelligance to do so.

If this is true (that any idea can be broken down into language simple enough for a child to understand) than the more complex ideas are more difficult to grasp, not because they are complex but because the people who understand them just can't be arsed to break them down. It's too much work and they don't want to. Education is the attempt to find a middle ground. Give someone the basic knowledge necessary so that the "in the knows" don't have to break their concepts down quite as far. Also, breaking a complex idea into simple language requires a total understanding of the subject at hand, so that the writer knows which simple words to use. In order to describe a cerulean hemisphere, you must completely understand what both concepts mean to break them down into "half a ball, in a specific shade of blue". If you are talking to someone with the same knowledge as you, sans the specific concept, you can use more complex language. If you are talking to someone with less specified knowledge, however, then you must not only understand your concept, you must also understand language, and also understand the way people think. It takes intelligence to understand the implications of what a wrinkle in fourth-dimensional space could mean for spacial travel. It takes genius to break that concept down into the image of an ant walking across a table cloth, and what a large wrinkle in the table-cloth would mean to the ant.

And having gotten THAT out of my system, I leave you with this:

Math is so cool

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


Dear Christian America, Of Which I Am Still Nominally A Part:

Knock this shit off please.

I'm serious. This is the kind of thing that makes my teeth bleed. Kids get "exposed" to a lot of things that parents can't control. It's better for them to become aware of them in a controlled environment (school, for example) than it is an uncontrolled one (the back of somebody's car).

Reality is an ugly, uncaring, unfeeling, horrible place. Sheltering your kids from it will not work for very long. It likes to get in through the cracks. You can either let your kids know this and arm them to fight the nasty, or you can shelter them and leave them pretty much defenseless against it. I'd rather have sex education than pregnant fourteen year olds. I'd rather have books about rape than students too scared to come forward. I'd rather show my kids everything, all the beauty and all the ugliness, as high as it can get and as low as it can get, in the safe environment of childhood rather than hide the cracked spots and let my kids become disillusioned when reality bites.

Your job as a parent is not only to keep your children pure. It's also to arm them for a life that's little more than a running fight against the dark.

Thursday, September 16, 2010


Oh, it's not that it sucks eggs (though it does) but for some reason I have been DYING of boredom. My usual cure for falling asleep over the doughnuts has been buying new music. Problem is ... this is not working as well anymore. I have discovered new bands for painting (Abney Park. Holy flying awesome STEAMPUNK BAND!!!) but nothing to keep me awake while I'm making soggy, fried, teeth rotting bread (have I mentioned lately how FUCKING SICK OF DOUGHNUTS you get when you do it for a living? Because you get fucking sick of them. My dad will pick me up if I buy them for him, and I would rather walk back to my apartment in the rain than encourage the sale of teeth rotting doughnuts. I have glaze on my fucking ear again, I swear to God.)

Evil. Sugary, sugary evil.

Well, out of desperation two nights ago I discovered that my MP3 player has audiobook samples, and one of them was Duma Key. I love Stephen King and I loved the ink out of Duma Key, and I discovered that a five minute sample of a Stephen King novel is TOO FUCKING SHORT. I came very close to having to buy an eighth MP3 player, I was that irritated. So to make a long, boring OMG get me away from the computer I am too tired to be writing now, story short, I am going to test-drive audiobooks for a while to see if that can keep me entertained while I hunt down new music. Or let the old music dry off a little bit so I can go back to it once I'm done listening to Duma Key.

And my Trainee is surviving. I am very surprised. It's like having a potted plant and figuring that you're going to come back one day and find this crispy dry thing in the corner, you forgot to water it for a week, only to discover that its worked its way through the foundation and is draining the city water from a leaky pipe somewhere.

If this goes according to plan, I will only need to fry doughnuts twice a week. (please god let it go according to plan I do not want to do this anymore please). Also, somebody needs to invent wrist braces that you can wear when you're doing food service work. There HAS to be a way to sanitize them.

I'm going to go die now.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Dear Universe

Thank you very much for the multiple gifts sent my way these past few days. LOSING MY CELL PHONE has been a lovely adventure, I never knew trash bins could store so much. Also walking in the tropical storm because our parental unit is in Tulsa is an invigorating experience. Perhaps when you return our cell phone you could also send the umbrella back with it?

However, not to complain about the gift-giving you have preformed, and not to imply that I am not grateful for the new bakery trainee, but if one must provide a "new person" who is old enough to be my mother, could she at least have learned the value of LISTENING TO DIRECTIONS? I get that we only get three days together, Universe, and that it was quite important for her to get these things on her own, but my god I have never seen anybody work so hard and accomplish so little. She is going to quit by Sunday, I swear to God.

ALSO, the woman who almost ran me over because she was fucking with her GPS as she pulled out of the parking lot? AND NEVER LOOKED UP AT ALL EVEN AT ONCE? I do not wish her death, or even serious bodily injury, but can she please total that fucking red BMW? Jesus Christ people PEDESTRIANS HAVE THE RIGHT-OF-WAY, LOOK UP FROM YOUR ELECTRONIC DEVICES OR BETTER YET TURN THE FUCKERS OFF YOU CAN DRIVE BETTER WITHOUT THEM THANK YOU.

(And the cool, totally top-secret thing that happened yesterday? That's a God thing, not a Universe thing. So thank you God. :D)

Monday, August 23, 2010

Writerly ... stuff

I've been revising (again) in the hopes that perhaps people will like the revised version a bit better. Trying to get a book published is a lot like fishing, in that you get to bait a lot of hooks and reel in bupkiss while the mosquitoes suck you dry. I must repeat to myself, it's business, it's only business, it's not supposed to be pretty and they're not supposed to like you. It's just really hard not to take a form rejection personally. If writing = business, there are two kinds of product: Good, which sells, and sucky, which does not sell. A form rejection means I suck. End. Of. Fucking. Story.

But that's not what I wanted to discuss/ ramble about. In my internet wanderings I ran into Laurel K. Hamilton's blog, and one of her posts irritated me enough to rant. So here we go.

One of the fun things about revising is being able to take a scene apart, figure out what I was trying to do with it and then try to figure out how to make it better. I have no problem taking a scene and making it worse. A little more tense, a little more extreme. Something I've played a lot with the last six months or so is just using body language to convey emotion. Rather than "The blank made her nervious," write "The blank sat there with blankety running down its sides. She felt the spit dry on the back of her tongue." I have no idea how much more effective that is, but it means I have to spend a lot of time role-playing what my characters do. Even if it's just eyes closed, hands on keyboard, wandering around hallways in my mind. I have to feel something of what my characters feel emotionally so I can work out what they would feel or do physically.

One thing I have no problem doing, though, is shutting that off when I'm done with it and moving on. My characters aren't friends, my world isn't real, it's a fun box I can take stuff out of and play with, and then put everything back into when I'm done. Part of this, I think, is because I know exactly where I'm going with this, and it's hard to, say, feel scared for WBR's protagonist when I know she's gonna have a (relatively) happy ending. But most of it is, I don't go for creative bullshit.

Fiction writing is fake. My characters, all of them, are little psychological constructs that are plot dependent, just as the plot is character dependent (IE situation a requires weak link represented as character A) and if I don't have the capacity to alter them at will, as required by book/story/editor/reader/whatever, then I am not doing my job. I do not speak for my characters, I am not the voice of my own invention. In fact, I would say that when I write for somebody other than me, I am not doing something creative with words. I'm doing something creative with you.

A writer who is effective plays their audience like a violin. Or to put it more bluntly, when you read what I write and it has an impact with you, I am fucking with you. I am screwing with your emotions and your mind, making you have the reactions that I want you to have. In the beginning you become interested. In the middle, you may laugh, you may cry, you may become angry, but if I am doing my job, you are doing what I want you do to, thinking what I want you to think, believing what I want you to believe. And in the end, you ought to close the book thinking, simultaneously "That was a good ride" and "I'mbackonplanetearththankyougod (post roller-coaster ground-kiss) I wanna go again. Later. Like, tomorrow." and you wind up re-reading select passages a few hours later. Ideally, of course. The primary goal of a novel is to take the reader's virgin mind and do a great many things to it, hopefully enjoyable.

IMHO, a writer who places anything over reader reaction in the writing hirearchy has lost the plot. Even if all you're writing is a teaching manual, your goal should be expressing the idea to the reader. If you're writing horror, the reader should be horrified. A mystery ... whee, you really get to jack with your reader there. Fantasy should be exhillerating and scary as hell. Sci-fi should have a sense of wonder and speculation. Christian fiction should express Christian ideals, as should any other religious novel. 

The absolute last thing an author should do is fuck with themselves. It is not shallow to be able to set your tools down and move on. It's sane. First, because reality is a demanding, bitter, nasty bitch that requires your full attention, and who probably considers your novel to be a nasty two dollar ... yeah, we really shouldn't carry the sex metaphor any further than that. Second, because if you go pro, you have to deal with little things called "editors". Who may require you to kill significant portions of your book. I'm not talking about your darlings. I'm talking about their families, right down to their second cousins. And if you've gotten yourself so wrapped around your fictional universe you don't want to hurt your little babies, your boss might go "Well, that debut novelist is really more co-operative" (or if you are debut, "That midlister is much easier to work with"). Pro writing is a job. Half of the paycheck is to create something. The other half is earned by murdering significant portions of that something so that it is made better and more appealing to a general audience.

And for the record, I have to wonder just how deeply one really can "feel" a novel, as LKH's stuff is the shallowest stuff I've read in a really long time.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Just thought I'd share

This is cool. Completely pointless, but rather awesome in its pointlessness.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Book Bitch: Nicolae

Let's get the basic stuff out of the way fast, becasue there really is no spoiler-free intro for Nicolae.

Title: Nicolae
Author: Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins AKA Tim and Jerry
Readability: Better than Tribulation Force, but still pretty poor.

What you should know before you buy: DO NOT READ IF: you are athiest, gay, pregnant and/or considering an abortion, pagan/any religion other than Protestant Christian, any race other than White, liberal, or well versed in the mysteries of science. Because you will blow a blood vessel if you try.

Spoiler cut!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Book Bitch: Left Behind Pt 2

I was about halfway through my original draft for this thing when I realized that memory and wikipedia had failed me in one particular area I remember being especially heinous. So I broke my promise to myself. It seems I AM going to have to re-read the fourteen remaining books in order to do the job right.

The GOOD news is that the used bookstore had most of 'em for two bucks a pop. Nice, big hardcovers too.
Books that size are usually five bucks. They have so many of them they're trying to offload rapidly.

It made my day.

Title: Tribulation Force
Authors: Tim LaHaye (hereafter TLH) and Jerry B. Jinkens (Either JBJ or just Jerry, depending on how pissed I get)
Readability: ...don't. Just fucking don't. Okay?

What you need to do before you buy: If you are not a Christian, you will hate it. If you are a Christian and you have atheist/pagan/agnositic/catholic friends (Because CATHOLICS DON'T COUNT) you will want to light it on fire. If you like good writing, subtle characterization, romance that doesn't make you want to become asexual and politics that make fucking sense ... I don't think an atom bomb can solve the pain. Although you could stand directly beneath it. And this is book two.

Spoiler cut, though at this point, I really shouldn't bother.

Why Good Communication Is Important

Work Rant Ahead!

So first off, we have the Continuing Freezer Debacle, wherein the bakery freezer is still full of crap that is either not ours, or not put on the shelves where it goes. For some reason (probably because they're the most stable, least fragile boxes in any given freezer load) my doughnuts wind up on the bottom of every load, every single time. So for the last couple of days my first hour or so is spent either putting shit away or looking for the load in everybody else's freezer. Complaining does nothing, because breaking the freezer down is the manager's job, according to the handy dandy assignment sheet that nobody pays any attention to. Ever. So our managers are, officially, not doing significant segments of their job.

One of my co-workers is pretty much unpleasant all the time, and she has decided that if she gets annoyed by, say, my leaving boxes on the table (so that the other overnighters can use the empty boxes) it's perfectly fine to throw them on the floor and then not say anything for twenty minutes. Because saying "please don't leave this shit on the table" is more work than THROWING BOXES ACROSS THE ROOM. I think her problem is, she used to be a supervisor and is now no longer one. And it irks her.

But the pinnicle of work-related bullshit came today, beginning when I arrived. There were little stickers everywhere, red and green ones, with an indecipherable key stuck up on one particular station. Several of the stickers are on the doughnut stuff, which means I need to know what they are. But I don't. Then, as I was getting ready to leave, the scratch baker training guys showed up to, well, train. Except the only person trained on scratch today was me, and I wasn't supposed to do any scratch. There had been no notes, no requests, nothing, and I was freaking the fuck out (and still am, obviously) because this was something corporate had ordered done and nobody was there to do it. And due to the law of gravity (and "Shit flows downhill") I knew somehow, this would be my fault. Nevermind that the big boss lady is the one that fucked up, and that I went directly to the Unit Director to discuss options, there would be a note that never arrived OR a phone call that never got phoned OR some other way in which the manager discharged her responsibilities.

There are just days when I hate my job.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Short Post

Dear Employer/co-workers/customers (may you all rot in hell for all eternity):

1. If one has sudden orders from corporate re: doughnut case that involves rearranging shelves and cutting storage areas and otherwise doing bizzare things to my workspace, LEAVE ME A FRICKIN' NOTE, Kay? I mean, you do that every time you decide you don't want to break down the freezer load, which adds fifteen minutes because they always put the doughnuts on the bottom of a shitload of boxes. Also, explain what the mystery dough is, and what I am supposed to do with it. Otherwise it will go in the oven for 15 mins at 380 F with fifteen seconds steam, just like everything else. Because if I don't cook it you will chew me out for leaving work for somebody else (kinda like when you leave the frozen load for me to fuck with)

2. I know you only have two settings: Humming and "Where's my glasses?" What you may not realize is that both are annoying, and squeeking is not an acceptable alternative. Also, I have just worked an eight hour shift overnight, whereas you just got on shift five minutes ago. I DO NOT KNOW WHERE YOUR FRICKIN' GLASSES ARE.

3. It is three am. No, I will not place your cake order for eight a.m. tomorrow, as tomorrow is TODAY and you missed our deadline. Also, TAKE YOUR CHILDREN HOME. THANK YOU.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Happy Birthday Rejectionist + Essay

First off, if all one of you are not reading Rejectionist religiously, convert post haste and begin reading. She is funny, she is spectacular, she is an agency assistant which means I must find some way to bribe with shippable foodstuffs (Preferably whiskey filled chocolates).

 This stuff.

She's having a Birthday Uncontest, which I guess is related to an Unbirthday Contest somewhere (probably via Alice eating the wrong side of the mushroom) and has decreed that all us loyal slaves readers shall write an essay on a predetermined subject, and that subject is ... "What Form Rejection Means to Me"

Your reaction. Sorry.

And you just rolled your eyes because you already know what I'm going to talk about here. So I'm going to start off with a story I have not repeated to ANYBODY, ever. Deepest, darkest, soul buried secrets, unveiled for the universe to see, point and laugh at.

I was a huge slacker when I went to a normal school. Back then I thought it was because I was a failure and  there wasn't much point in trying. In reality, I was bored. As a homeschooler I got to read whatever I wanted, study whatever I wanted, WRITE whatever I wanted, and as a consequence, I was diagramming sentences and reading the encyclopedia for fun when I was nine, playing at what I now recognize as fan fiction, and doing many arts and crafty stuff in my bedroom, which usually looked like a tornado had gone through a Christmas wrapping plant and a yarn factory. Also, dates and names bored me, and history and science in that school were little more than a recitation on who made what discovery and why.

They wouldn't let me get away with this, either.

So when we had to choose a Project (I still don't remember what the fuck this was, exactly) I delayed until the last possible minute and settled on science fair. Initially, I was going to repeat an old experiment from a homeschooling book where you mixed supersaturated salt- and sugar-water, as well as that blue crystal stuff, and stuck them in different temperatures to see which one grew faster (salt and sugar grow fastest in fridge, the other stuff grows fastest in the oven. Totally contrary to my hypothesis. Rocking Awesome). However, I decided this was too non-creative ... and I also ran out of time. I read the guidelines I'd been given, figured out that nothing said it had to be an experimental, and spent the next week or so studying, researching and basically obsessing over monarch butterflies. My display won second, and qualified me to go to the regional competition.

Suddenly, I was excited about school. Here was something I did reasonably well, as judged by the science fair committee. Here was evidence that I had brains! Here! Was! Proof! That my family could be proud of me! Somehow! That I could do more than read! (a full sized novel a day, at thirteen, which made my mom grumble because she was tired of buying me books and/or driving me to the library) This was great!

I redid my display, made it look better, and had my mom look over everything. She assured me it was perfect. We went to the regional competition (and missed Crazy Hat Day back at school, which sucked. I had made a real crazy hat, peacock feathers and all) I stood proudly beside my in-depth study of monarchs. The judges came by, looked at the maps, the text, and the little butterflies I'd pinned everywhere, and asked me where the hypothesis was.

It turned out that I was one year too old to get away with a display sans-experiment and this fact was mentioned nowhere in the information our school had been given. I should have been disqualified at the school level and was not. I got a green ribbon at regional, an honorable mention. The only one in the entire competition. Everybody else placed. Hundreds of other students placed. I think my ribbon came off somebody's purse, now that I think of it. I threw all of it into the trash on my way back home, and I don't think I tried hard at anything else that year. I figured I'd just fail anyway. There'd be a line or something I skimmed over, something I didn't check. Even if I did do well and I was good enough, it'd get sabotaged somewhere along the line, either by my own stupidity or chance. I passed with a C average. The only time anybody in that school discussed anything with me, good or bad, was the day after my Dad kept me and my brother out of school so we could go to flea markets (his idea. I spent the whole day being sick inside the car). The principal asked me what my problem was.

Whenever I get rejection from anything, I feel like I'm thirteen and I've got that goddamn ribbon in my hand again. I feel like it will never matter how hard I try, or what I do, there will always be someone who does it better than me. Someone who has figured out what "Good enough" is. They have the training, or the experience, or that little extra "umph", and I will always be outside, the imitator, the second rate. Not worth the time for a reason. Maybe it's because I suck. Maybe it's because I read the directions wrong. Nobody cares, and they're right not to. I should have done the work, I should have tried harder. I should have revised eight times instead of just seven.

I guess my reaction is betrayal. (and I know I've discussed this before, I'm sorry) that ... you know, there's an unwritten rule that your family checks you over before you go out in public. Make sure you don't have toilet paper stuck to the bottom of your shoes.

Or, ya know, other places too.

Yet when we start doing creative stuff, our family stops doing their job. Like when I started focusing on my art, I would bring my work to my mom for critique, and she'd say it was lovely. It didn't matter if I sucked or if it really was good. It was lovely. Obviously, now I can paint. Kind of. But ... you know, can I really trust it? If they say the same stuff now that they did back when I really sucked at it ... how do I KNOW if it's any good? Yes, I'm getting more good compliments than bad, now ... but does that really mean anything? How do I know that I don't just really, really suck?

Same thing goes for my writing. I give it to my family and my friends so they can go "Hey, this part doesn't make sense. You need to fix it!" And I get it back, unmarked, with good reviews. So my little heart is glowing and my little brain is floating, and I show it to a professional, because my family made SURE that everything was wonderful. You know, they're your family. They wouldn't let you go outside in gold lame' pants, so surely they wouldn't say your writing was good when it actually isn't.

There is, of course, a natural result.

After the crying, I revise and give it BACK to my family, saying "You REALLY don't have to worry about my feelings. Just critique." And I get it back. Glowing reviews. So I show it to another professional, who kindly points out that he's getting a totally different ending than what I intended.

Dry tears. Revise. Bring it back, crawling on hands and knees, with a small supply of red Sharpie pens and a plea of "Please do not worry about hurting my feelings. Please tell me what I need to fix today." Mother leaves several messages on cell phone throughout first reading that consist of heavy breathing, the words "Oh My God" and "Bestseller" dotting the incoherent mess like islands in a sea of spooge. I seriously do not feel it is safe to listen to these messages, given that this is my MOTHER and there are certain lines our little brains ought not cross. Father reads it, opens every single conversation post-read with "So have you gotten any offers yet?" and tells me I am an "idiot" a "ding-a-ling" and "hysterical" for being less than enthusiastic in my answers ("Dad, I'm serious. I don't think anything's going to happen. Ever. It's just not ... something enough." "Well, then you're an idiot.")

Take one last shot, package everything up, and receive the by-now predictable result. Short-term kindness, short-term ego trip, long term crying jag. "You're there! You're ready! STOP WORKING ON IT AND JUST SEND IT OUT ALREADY!" *send* *rejection*. And me looking at my support system and wondering why I should even bother giving them another chance at supporting my career and not just my ego.

But wait! There are professional authors who are willing and able to give good advice! So let's go to them! And work with them! For months and months and months at a time! And they tell me it's ready, and ...

...I stop. Because if my mom would lie to me about my writing ability, why the fuck should I trust somebody on the internet/in a writer's group/total random stranger? Maybe they don't want to hurt my feelings either? Maybe they're as genuinely nice as they seem on the internet and they decided the best thing they could do is polish the shit out of that turd, except you can't really do that because then it dissolves into a lot of little tiny pieces, which makes flushing a lot easier but doesn't really help when you have a BOOK. So they lied too. Of course they would. All genuinely nice people lie. After all, my mom lied.

Okay. Hire a book editor. Surely that will help! Surely he won't lie to me.

... unless he happens to be a scam artist, and making me feel good is how he makes sure he gets paid.

So a form rejection, which basically says "not for us," leaves me wondering WHY is it not for "us"? Is it because I screwed up and you don't look at my genre? Is it because I screwed up and left a couple of typos? Is it because the plot makes no sense? Too fast paced? too slow? Too much description? not enough? Is it completely and totally nothing more than a giant, polished and steaming turd, or is it ALMOST there, and if I had just worked on it another six months you'd take it? What did I do wrong? Obviously whomever I query is too busy to explain (justifiably so, as they have another six hundred queries to answer) and I must work this out on my own. Also just as obviously, I can't see it on my own. So to whom must I go for help?

Mom. Dad. Other assorted people who have read it and told me that it's READY TO GO three versions ago.

...yeah, fuck this shit. Book, go in trash. I'll just get started on the next one.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Book Bitch: A Kiss of Shadows

Everybody's had that relationship. You know the one. All your friends say he's awful. She runs up your credit cards and empties your gas tank. He decides he wants to have sex in the middle of Pride and Predudice's upteen-millionth showing on Lifetime/WE/Oxygen, she WATCHES the upteen-millionth showing of P&P on Oxygen (instead of buying the uninterrupted DVD because dude, we all know you like it too). He drinks, she cusses in front of mom ... in short, the relationship is never going to be what you want. He will never be Mr. Darcy, she will never be Pam Anderson, and yet you keep on dating them. Because someday that person will realize the awesomeness of their potential and magically transform into your dream date. And at the end of the day you find yourself holding a bouquet of soggy roses and a tissue with a number on it, walking home because s/he's got the car keys.

This is my relationship with Laurell K. Hamilton. One more tidbit before we get to bitching: She's too good an author to write porn.

Book: A Kiss of Shadows
 Author: Laurell K. Hamilton (AKA LKH)
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Readability: Good. And poor. And really good. And really, really poor. Depends on if you like logic with your smut.

What you need to know before you buy:  LKH's narrative voice is addictive crack, but she's a con artist when it comes to writing. She baits you with a kick-ass plot and then gums it all up with boring, out-of-place smut. Sex is the answer for EVERYTHING. Also, MASSIVELY NSFW, eyeblinding in a couple of places, and I hope to god you like a healthy seasoning of BDSM with your Mary Sues.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Ovaries are coming! The Ovaries are coming!

Carol Burnett once described labor as follows: "Grab your bottom lip and pull it over your head."

I have actively considered becoming anorexic, not because I want to be skinny, lethargic, unhealthy and have my family fawn over me constantly, showering me with steak and chocolate (...actually that last part doesn't sound so bad) but because one diagnostic criteria is, your period stops. Your body becomes so unhappy with you, it begins shutting down critical functions, kind of like car manufacturers going on strike until they get health benefits and a pension. I guess your body wants to blackmail you back into compliance. The problem is that your period has stopped.

  It's basically the Ransom of Red Chief on a biological scale.

Men joke about it. "Never trust anything that can bleed for five days and not die," "she's on the rag", so on, so forth. One section of the totally awesome first Council Wars book, There Will Be Dragons (It's silly as all get out, but how many books do YOU know contain a literal dragon catapult AND Sluggy Freelance's Bun Bun?) uses period humor, where the previously artificially sterile women suddenly have periods en masse and all think they are dying. And while this may seem very fucking funny to a guy, let me point out that the female human body contains a function where your first reaction is OH FUCK I AM GOING TO DIE. 
People wonder why thirteen year old girls are so flighty and brain-dead. My proposal is, about two weeks before/after their thirteenth birthday they looked down and saw a great deal of blood staining their clothing and, naturally, screamed because they are fucking bleeding out of an orfice, and humans are trained from birth to consider sudden blood out of any biological opening as a bad thing. Naturally these terrified shreeks bring either Daddy or Mommy, who (our child knows) will sweep them into their arms, run downstairs without stopping for coffee and take them to the ER, where a CT scan will show the source of the bleeding.

So imagine our little girl's horror when Daddy backs out of the room veeeeeeery slooooooooooowly and Mommy starts laughing and cheering and discussing ways to celebrate this huge step via a large dinner. There is much cheering, and Daddy may be sent to get a stuffed bear and Baby's First Maxi Pads while Mommy shows her daughter how to rinse blood out of panties (always use cold water, kids). Our heroine here realizes one of nature's fundamental truths: Her parents want her to die. There could be no other possible reason for such celebratory behavior. They will probably put her ashes into the stuffed bear, or worse, into the maxi pads.

Then the truth hits her. This is normal. Mom does it to. This is how we get babies to continue the cycle of life. And then the cramps hit her, and she realizes she would rather cut these organs out of her stomach with a blunt button than she would ever have children, if it means she's going to feel like this more than once. And when the tears are dried, the cramps are over, and the maxi pads applied, our little girl finally sees reality clearly. She sees what life wants to do with her. She sees a future of rigorous sanity punctuated by a period of red, a celebration of womanhood preformed by women in too much pain to stand upright, and our heroine says, "Fuck it and pass me the hair gel."

Also, I'd like to address something that feminists keep bringing up. Now, I do consider myself slightly feministic, in a Susan B. Anthony kind of way. Equality, ya know? And yeah, I do the whole when-I-have-a-brand-new-hair-do thing, because there are times when I do like being girly. But there are a group of women who insist that the reason women consider their periods a curse is because the Patriarchy says it is. Which leads me to believe that the misogynist accusation that all feminists are transsexuals is correct. These women have obviously never had a period in their life and experienced the joy of severe cramps, or putting on your favorite off-white jeans and then looking down halfway through your workday, or trying to explain to a humorless male boss that your abs hurt so much you are dry heaving and you need to go home and lay down. It is not a gift, it is not the moon's blessing, I am not going to fucking paint with my menstal blood what the hell!?! I am going to go lay down with tylenol and a heating pad and a tub of chocolate ice cream and try to pretend that I am not bleeding uncontrollably into cotton batting. There is really only one picture that can fully portray what a period makes me feel like and this is it:

The chestbuster is my uterus.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Vet

Abbot, my psychotic fuzzy bundle of joy, has spent the last five days throwing up on my rug.

I am not particularly attached to the rug. It's that generic gray that stains can only improve. I am, however, very attached to the kitty. So I must now venture into that area of kitty ownership that folk don't talk about, because it is disgusting and you don't want your friends to know that you regularly handle large amounts of urine soaked clay or small, dead animals.

Abbot has always required performance above and beyond the call of duty. She was abandoned as a kitten, two days old, eyes shut, umbilical cord attached. She wasn't too sure how nursing worked, and of course, had no clue what this "bathroom" stuff was about. The first two weeks of her life were warm cuddling and cute kitten noises, punctuated by me holding a squirming kitten over a toilet and rubbing her nether-regions with a warm, soft towel so she would "go". Her first voluntary turd brought much celebratory squealing, and tuna.

Incidentally, I discovered Abbot does not like Tuna. Or any form of fish, fowl, meat, veggie, or milk, if it is not either in a bottle or part of pre-formed kibble. She will, if forced, eat canned cat food, but only if there is nothing else in the house. I gave her small chunks of turkey for her first Thanksgiving. She looked at me as if I'd just produced a whole dead rabbit kit and asked her to skin it. Also on her hate list are vacuum cleaners, rustling bags, sudden noises, me moving from my bed, at all, ever, outside, the kitty carrier and anyone human who is not me.

So on the third day of hearing that distinctive sound, I got off my lazy butt and poked through the kitty vomit to identify component parts and maybe discern what was wrong. And I found nothing, save for a little foam that the carpet quickly swallowed. In addition to barfing, Abbot wasn't eating. An attempt to hand feed her was met with temporary success, and a pile of soggy kibble and cat hair deposited in the middle of my bed five minutes later.

I check my first resort for first aid information ... the internet. Which, in reality, should be avoided at all costs when medical stuff is involved. A simple check for the words "cat vomit" summons pages on bowel obstructions, feline distemper, cancer, and a terrifying description about why pulling yarn out of your cat's throat is a very bad idea. I will never buy Christmas tinsel again. Completely freaked out, I call my step mom and get an appointment with her vet this morning.

At seven thirty, my dad calls me and lets me know he's on his way. I ask him to call me when he's a block from my house, to minimize the amount of time Abbot is in the carrier. He calls. I get the carrier down from the closet. Abbot sees it in my hands. She hunkers down, ears flat, eyes wider than a pair of shooter marbles, and her claws sink into my bed. I set it down and grab a towel off the laundry. When I turn back, she's evaporated. There are a few bits of tabby cat hair on the bed, that's all.

I find her under my bedroom table. I move it, pick her up and gently wrap her in the towel. Cooing softly, I take her to the carrier, letting her know everything will be alright.

She pees down my leg.

She also catches the carrier with one rear foot and sends it careening into my other leg, and then escapes while I try to get the cage upright again. I catch her clawing at the couch as if she could tear a hole through the recliner. I wrap her in the towel again and try to slide her gently into the carrier. She gets both back feet braced against the door and pushes back. I let go so I can brace the cat carrier and she gets away again.

My phone rings. Dad is now at my front door.

Attempt three turns Abbot into a small blue caterpillar-like creature with a cat head sticking out one end. Quick, I shove her in, let go and close the door. It takes her two seconds to shred the wrappings and peer through the cage door forlornly, screaming "LET ME OUT! LET ME OUT!" at the top of her little kitty lungs.

I repeat to myself, slowly, "Obstructed bowel. Distemper. String," and for good measure re-read the flash fiction I wrote two days ago about a dead cat. I grab purse, keys and kitty carrier and head out the door.

Abbot burrows under the towel and doesn't move.

I get to the vet. The walls are covered in photos of people's pets. Someone is depositing two kittens, I shit you not, Mario and Luigi, I think for ingrown testicle removal. I blink, because it is eight thirty and I am still trying to wake up, and I'm still pretty sure I heard the words "three testicles" attached to the kittens. Abbot hears the dogs in the vet's kennel and digs deeper under the towel. Her eyes glare at me from under the edge. If looks could have killed, I'd be a grease stain. It didn't help her cause that her shelter was baby blue.

I tell the vet tech that I am with my step-mother, because my step-mother has enough cats to keep their kids in college. They send me to a back room. I set the carrier down on the steel table and look at the medical posters, which is also something you should never do when you have an active medical concern. One is for tooth decay, one is for canine separation anxiety, and one details just what roundworms will do the feline intestine. Complete with pictures.

Abbot makes a despairing sound from under the towel.

The vet is male, a bald guy in turquoise scrubs. He looks like the Six Flags guy. I keep waiting for somebody to start playing that song so he will do the funky dance.


He asks me what's wrong. I tell him I brought him a towel, then relent and show him the kitty. He asks me how long she's been throwing up. I tell him. He asks me what was in the vomit. I tell him. He asks me if I brought any of the vomit with me, and I make the same gagging sound Abbot's been waking me up with for the past five days.

He gets a tech in and opens the cage. The towel moves all the way to the back. He reaches in, grabs Abbot and starts pulling. She plants her back feet against the front of the carrier. He gets the tech to hold the cage while he gently manipulates Abbot's pointy ends. When she's out, they dump the carrier and weigh her. All limbs have to be INSIDE the weigh station and there can't be any extra human weight attached. All Abbot wants is to go back in the carrier. Watching this would be amusing if it were not my baby scared out of her mind.

They get her weight, put the towel back on the exam table, and then get out the rectal thermometer.

Somehow, nobody required stitches when this was over.

He declares that she has no fever (102 degrees f is normal for a kitty) and starts pushing on her tummy. I wait for the buzzsaw noise to start and for the tech to run for a pair of gauntlets. Instead, he gently palpitates everything, then sends the tech for an allergy shot. Apparently her fur pulling, hairballs and scabby skin could be indications of allergy and not anxiety, and he's going to give her a shot. The whole time, Abbot is squirming and twisting and twitching and he gently pulls her back onto the table and while not precisely cuddling her,  is being very gentle while she tries to take off like the thermometer was a rocket sled. I am very impressed.

The tech comes back. He hands her the kitty. She takes her as if kitty were radioactive and holds her by the neck and tail. So much for gentle. Vet grabs a fold of skin and sticks Abbot with the needle. Abbot's eyes get even wider. Vet lets go. Tech puts carrier on table. Abbot runs into carrier and immediately shoves head back under the towel.

They hand her back to me. I go up to the front desk, give them money for the privilege of manhandling my cat, and leave.

By five o'clock, Abbot is eating her kibble and snuggling without twitching for the first time in months. I am just glad that all it cost was sixty bucks. That's the good news. The BAD news is, now I have to figure out what the hey she was allergic to.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Book Bitch: Left Behind pt 1

You know, there are books that need to be killed, books that just need a little bit of help to be good (and are thus annoying as hell because they won't ever get there) and then there are books so awful, bitching about them is just shooting fish in a barrel.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you the Left Behind series.

I shouldn't. I know I shouldn't, but I just can't help myself. I cannot bitch about bad books without mentioning the worst bestselling series in the history of Christian fiction. It just wouldn't be right.

So without further ado, let us begin.

Title: Left Behind
Author: Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins
Genre: Christian Fiction
Readability: Not Bad, but ... gah, just keep reading.

What You Need To Know Before You Buy: Starts off okay, gets progressively crazy. This is a REAL specific flavor of Christianity, REAL REAL specific, and if you adhere to a different branch you'll want to throw the books against the wall by the time you get to Apollyon. If you're not a Christian, you'll want to set the whole series on fire by Nicolae. LaHaye and Jenkins use the series as their personal soapbox and take unnecessary potshots at secular society every chance they get.

And now for the spoiler-rific cut.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

State of the CW

So the last time I posted about the Book Code Named WBR (Hey, we could call it Webber!) I mentioned that I had gutted and rewritten the fantasy sections because they focused on the wrong characters, thus necessitating the Infodumps of all Infodumps. Well, today I'm reading my way (slowly) through the whole thing, and barring some massive mistake between now and "The End" ... it's ready.

Shit. I'm actually scared now. I can streamline the prose from now until the Second Coming of Christ, but I can't do anything else to the narrative on my own. I'm ... done. It's time to start shopping it around. And hope and pray to God that it's good enough for publication somewhere.


So, plan of attack for the next six months or so:

1. Finish the Great Proofread.
2. Complete Synopsis
3. Complete and test drive Query Letter via AWWC Query Hell (I've mentioned the Absolute Write Water Cooler before, right?)
4. Compile list of first choice agents and query.
5. Compile list of second choice agents and query.
6. Compile third choice, fourth choice, and fifth choice if I have to.
7. Send query/copy of manuscript to Baen Books, because they're the only large publisher I know of who still accepts unagented manuscripts in my genre
8. Compile list of smaller presses in genre who accept unagented submissions.
9. Compile list of second choice presses.
10. Give up, because if we get this far that means the mss. pretty much sucks and the only things left are the little bitty guys who can't pay and wouldn't count as a publishing credit anyway. Or vanity, which I won't do.

Why is this "we're done" thing so fucking depressing? I thought you were supposed to go celebrate with champaigne or something. I just want massive amounts of drugs.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Book Bitch: Sunshine

I've renamed the book analysis "Book Bitch" because I've noticed most of the books I want to work up are awful, bad, horrible things and I want to share my misery with the world. You can learn more from reading a god-awful book than you can from reading a good one, and there's something about a train wreck that makes folk beg for more.

Today, however, we will be doing a good book:

Title: Sunshine
Author: Robin McKinley
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Readability: Awesome

What You Need To Know Before You Buy: Neil Gaiman says it's pretty much perfect. It makes me green with envy and gives me the gold colored fluffies every time I read it. Go buy this book. Why haven't you bought this book already? GO! GO!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Pallate CLENSER man!

So ... been working on another book review/analysis thing, only I've decided to throw out the idea of being even handed and fair. It's now called "Book Bitch", where I will STILL talk about the stuff that works and the stuff that doesn't work in books ... but I'm not going to go out of my way to find good books to work with. Mostly because I keep finding oh my GAWD awful books EVERYWHERE and if I matched every book on a level with Tale of the Body Thief to a book on the level of say, Sunshine or Lovely Bones, I would run out of good books really, really fast.

BTW my co-worker has turned up another bad paranormal romance. And by bad, I mean that it is, no shit, worse than Twilight. And not maybe kinda sorta, uh-uh. I've read three chapters, and I'm making that call right now. This is worse than Twilight. Because body glitter aside, Twilight made sense. I cannot imagine this book making sense.

So just to give people an idea of what I'm working on, in addition to gutting the first half of WtBR's fantasy sections (That's all I'm redoing. I promise. I promise) I'm trying to do a quickie on Sunshine, to prove that I actually do read good books, and probably will start one on The Lovely Bones and The Time Traveler's Wife because those two are just as awesome as Sunshine and deserve much shilling. As for the suck ... I've yet to start my review on the first Merry Gentry book, which desperately needs to be done, and I've decided to embark on a massively epic Bitch on the great, massive pile of steaming batshit that is the Left Behind  series. Because I found the first prequel for cheap at Half Price books, and oh my God. At least Stephenie Meyer stopped at four. There's fifteen of these puppies, and they all deserve it.

Also Tale of the Body Thief and if I can track down a copy, The Caterpillar's Question. Because that book was oh so very much KILL WITH FIRE.

As for the personal writing front ... I am still of the mind that the drive for professional writing credits is hopeless, as I am not writing Paranormal Romance and the requirements for a first novel for everything else is generally perfection. So until somebody tells me differently and hands me a check, this is a hobby. It's the only way I can handle it, keep revising and stay sane. Some people do model trains, some people do their houses. I do books. That doesn't mean I'm giving up on writing. It means I'm giving up on writing professionally, for now, for the moment, until somebody (with a check, made out to me) proves that I'm wrong. The odds are totally against me, and the faster I accept that and stop daydreaming about seeing my book in a bookstore somewhere, the faster I can get my sanity back. The alternative is to quit my job and get shifted back over to days, because THAT is what's really going on with me, and I can't afford to do that right now. It'll also make writing fun again, because it hasn't been for a while now.

And yes, I'm still gonna try the agent-and-publisher thing ... when it's ready. I'm just not going to hold my breath or wait for a reply that probably won't come.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Monday, May 31, 2010

Book Analysis: Bone Magic

Okay, so I've intended to do book analysis on this thing for a while. Not reviews, exactly, but taking a book apart to determine what makes it good and what makes it bad. And my intention was to start with a good book (Sunshine, Robin McKinley, my baseline for awesome) and then do a really bad book (The first in the Merry Gentry series, whose name I have completely forgotten) and then go from there.

But a friend of mine lent me Bone Magic, and while it's not quite at Merry Gentry/Anita Blake's level of book suck ... it sucks. Hard.

So without further ado, let me give you the basic, spoiler free details in case you should ever want to read it, and then on with the ripping.

Title: Bone Magic
Author: Yasmine Galenorn
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Readability: Look, this thing managed to upset BOTH Sunshine and Laurell K. Hamilton. VERY VERY VERY POOR.

What you need to know before you buy: Witches, magic, sex, vampires, fairies, dragons, demons, basically the author took the Paranormal Romance bottle of Mrs. Dash and sprinkled it over the manuscript pages. Writing is sub par, there are many, many MANY moments where I am thrown out of the book, characters are flat and uninteresting. Rent from library before you blow your money.

Review and details after the cut.

God. Shoot. Me. Now

It's memorial day today, which means it was memorial day weekend the last two days I worked. If Sunday were the only day I had ever worked, I would have quit now and forever avoided this company like the plague.

My manager is relatively new (two months and counting) but supposedly experienced and better at running large stores than the old manager, who did a much better job of keeping his employees from dying and/or quitting. Yay logic. We don't sell that here. In her great wisdom, she has decided we don't need to hire more people. We are massively short handed, and yet in the last two months have hired one person, the overnight fryer who was fired for not showing up for work. Which I think was partially the manager's fault, but more on that later. Anyway, because of our short-handed-ness, the two most difficult jobs in the department are spread upon the shoulders of two people, myself and a lady I'm going to call Sally. When we had a second overnight fryer, I would be his backup and Sally would be mine, in case I got sick or got a vacation. Sally also does scratch, so I would be her backup and the Assistant Manager would cover when I got sick.

No full time fryer means I am the FT fryer, with Sally as my backup. But I'm still supposed to be Sally's backup for scratch because the AM doesn't know how to do a couple of the breads. Which means, ladies and gentlemen, that we are SCREWED. Which was proven to me when the manager did the schedule so that I was doing scratch Sunday and Sally was doing doughnuts.

Which Sally didn't know. She says they changed the schedule on her, but I know they did not because I was pretty happy with the setup on Monday. Oh well.

There is another co-worker we'll call Ann. She has two settings while working: Singing and "Where's my glasses?". Ann actually DID lose her glasses yesterday, for real, and also twenty dollars. So she spent her breaks digging through everything in the department trying to find either, and couldn't.

Customers were everywhere. I had to make a late-shift flour run at noon, and got bombarded by people looking for the stuff on coupons, in a department I am completely unfamiliar with. I came back shuddering and frightened. In our store, the employees wear red shirts and the management+ staff wear dress button-up shirts in whatever color they want. Which means, in true Star Trek logic, that when the zombies attack they will know who to kill. My only hope is that I can defend myself with a carrot long enough to get to the street clothes I keep in my locker. Except that doesn't always work on the customers. I will walk in the store in sunday clothes to buy a pint of Blue Bell and get asked where stuff is by fifteen different people between the ice cream and the registers. Not that I mind helping, it's actually rather nice to help, but do I like have "employee of store" TATTOOED to my forehead? I'm in a dress, and it's not even red. How do you guys KNOW I WORK HERE???? Are you a stalker? Should I be worried? Are you a zombie in disguise planning for the future invasion?

Frankly, I love working for this company, it's fantastic, most of our customers are cool and make up for the customers who are not cool, but I'm gonna give the "new" manager about another month ('till my lease runs out) and then I'm probably going to transfer to another store. There is too much stress, too much stupid and OMG the schedule has reached sanskrit levels of incomprehensible. The reason the old fryer never showed up on Mondays is not because he liked skipping work (or not just because he liked skipping work) but because the way the manager schedules overnight shifts makes Mondays look as if you have it off when you don't. I've mentioned it to her and she just says "Oh, that's how I like to do it."

You also like the hiring process a lot, I take it.

Oh well, back to the hopeless treadmill of editing the book nobody will ever read. Have fun, universe!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Reasons why my book is screwed

1. The economy is killing publishing.

2. Nobody cares about it. You know. Not really.

3. The main character is a writer. The first scene is a conversation between her and her agent. No agent or editor will ever read past page two.

4. You know all that stuff they say about how "cream rises" and good writing is a book's biggest selling point? They lied. You have to have a technically perfect ms., it has to be interesting, well planned and then have something unique enough to make it stand out from all the other technically perfect ms. they got that day. And then be something they think they can sell. See number three. See number one.

5. People will steal it once it gets published.

6. It's not that good anyway. It's not The Girl with the Dragon Tatoo or Sunshine or even Twilight. Do you know how depressing it is to realize Twilight level writing is something you must aspire to? Twilight got published. I didn't.

7. Writing is a financially dead career choice. It wasn't financially dead fifty years ago, or twenty, or even ten, but it's dead now. If you exist right now with a manuscript in hand, you will never be more than a hobbyist. The most you can aspire to is being widely read by the people who still want books. There will probably never be another Stephenie Meyer, and if there is, it won't be me and it won't be you. Fact of life. If you want money, go be a doctor.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Note to Universe

Dear Christian People, of whom I am still marginally one,

When you meet a person who was raised as a Christian and has decided to explore alternative spirituality, this is usually an indication that the flavor of Christianity they were raised in no longer meets their spiritual needs. This can happen for a variety of reasons. Maybe their flavor of church let them down. Maybe they witnessed some illegal and/or immoral activity by members in good standing (see Peter Popoff, the Catholic Priest sexual abuse scandals, and anything involving Benny Hinn) or maybe they just aren't getting "fed" and want more, and because their flavor of Christianity said certain things are evil bad and wrong, even if the Bible makes NO MENTION OF THESE PRACTICES AT ALL, they've decided that it's better to be evil-bad than to go hungry.

You deal with these people by being as understanding as you possibly can, and by trusting that God is 1. In charge and 2. knows what he's doing. C.S. Lewis was both an occultist AND an athiest, by his own admission, because he got screwed over in his early years by. He equates his re-conversion to being "dragged kicking and screaming through the front gate". Sometimes you have to go through the wilderness, and sometimes it takes a really long time.

For God's sake, the last thing you should do is SCREAM AT THEM. They're at an extremely fragile point in their spiritual development. DO NOT KICK THEM WHEN THEY ARE DOWN. Be kind, be sweet, be understanding. Open a dialogue with them. Discuss belief systems, why they've chosen the path they're walking and the nature of prayer vs. magic. You might be surprised by what you find. Don't bash their tarot cards. If you really want to get brownie points, learn what Tarot cards are.  Talk to them about the Christian themes involved in Death, the Tower, the Sun and Judgment and the value of symbolism and Jungian psychology. Offer to play the actual game of Tarot with somebody's spare Rider-Waite. Hell, buy them the Jesus Deck. It's 52 cards, not 78, but it's awesome, and an awesome witnessing tool.

Accept that they're not going to see "witchcraft" as evil. Just accept it. I know it's hard. I know this comes as a HUGE SURPRISE to some of you, but they don't believe in the same things you do. Telling someone who no longer believes in hell that they're going to go to hell is not EVER going to be effective.

Realize that the knife they've got sitting on their alter is called an atheme, and is not the implement they're going to use to slaughter kittens.

"Wicca" is a specific religion. Do not use it as a blanket term for paganism. It just makes the pagans laugh and proves you don't know what you're talking about.

Do not get your information about their chosen path from Jack Chick tracts. In the name of Jesus God, do not get your information from Jack Chick ANYTHING. Not only is he inaccurate as FUCK, but half those tracts are based on books (books HE PUBLISHED, no less) that Christian watchdogs discredited when the Satanic Panic hit. Because these books STARTED the Satanic Panic, and the Christians who still had their brains installed realized the weight of bullshit they were wallowing under.

There's that part in the Bible that goes, "For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of Power and of Love and of a Sound Mind." If you are screaming at someone, and if their religious beliefs scare you worse than combat, YOU ARE NOT GETTING VISITED BY CHRIST. Because "by their fruits you shall know them" and all that jazz. Be kind, be courteous, be gentle. Show that you are Christ-like by your actions, and that means comfort, love and teaching. The only time he ever got pissed was when HIS OWN PEOPLE were screwing up.

Thank you all for completely ruining my day. God bless.


Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Daily Thought of Encouragement

So I am STILL working on a novel, whose name abbreviates to WBR if you ignore the "the" in there, somewhere. I have been working on this novel for THREE YEARS now, and it's not any closer to being query-ready than it was back in 08. Well, okay, it's less of an incomprehensable mess.

But yeah. I'm at that "Fuck it" point, except that I know there are several GLARING flaws that require fixing, and in the process of the fixing I discover whole new GLARING holes. We are now on Edit Five, and I am starting to think there might be an Edit Six before we get to the Great Proofread and get to send this sucker out upon the world.

So instead of doing what I need to be doing, which is work on WBR or do the cover for Pat Blair's new novel, I'm working on a picture of Leythorne, WBR's MC's love interest. Who is hot. And because he's also a clothes horse, he's got one of those Jareth-the-Goblin-King outfits on, with this neck ruff. First time I did the neck ruff, I did not like it. I thought "Fuck it" and moved on to his coat ... and then moved back to the neck ruff. Threw it out (six hours work gone.) and started over. And the new neck ruff looks 100% better than the old neck ruff.

Moral of the story? Never settle. Even when "not settling" means you paint till your wrist hurts or edit until your brain dribbles out your ears.

So long, my non-existant sports fans, I must go fry doughnuts for our ever-widening local population. Ta!

After extensive research ...

... on Wikipedia and Fandom Wank, I have come to two conclusions:

1. If I had watched Lost from the beginning instead of giving up halfway through season two, I would have been sorely disappointed several evenings ago.

2. J.J. Abrams is terminally allergic to closure. TERMINALLY. What the hell, dude, you've made a series where EVERY SINGLE EPISODE is open-ended INCLUDING THE FINALE, a monster movie that just ends, it just freaking ends, the people are hiding under the bridge and the sirens go off and there is fire AND IT JUST FREAKING ENDS, and a pretty good Star Trek movie that reboots the entire series and means that we get no whales, Khan or Jon Luc Picard (or Weasley Crusher, which might not be a bad thing). The Bad Robot can do whatever it wants OVER THERE. If you come within six feet of any of my favorite books I will beat you with a cardboard cut-out of the Statue of Liberty's head.

Also ... making the Smoke Monster a human was a really cool plot twist, totally and completely up my alley, and I would have watched the whole show religiously IF YOU HAD REVEALED THIS IN SEASON TWO.

What we writers can learn from Mr. Abrams is ... give your readers closure, and answer a couple of questions before you introduce new ones. You can have questions that never get answered (Ie, is Sunshine really a bad magic/demon cross? Will Sunshine fans ever get to know what kind of vampire Con was? Will Robin McKinley ever write a sequel to the awesomest book ever?) but you have to answer a whole lot more (will Sunshine get out of the chains? Why does the wound on her breast never heal? Will she and Con ever have sex? Okay, the last one isn't answered on screen but given how hot and steamy that ending was, if Con doesn't finish what he started Sunshine will kill him with a breadknife) to get away with it.

If ALL of the questions I had over season one don't get answered until SEASON EFFING SIX, I stop reading/watching/begging and go do something productive with my life.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Computer Hell

I needed a netbook. I don’t travel THAT much, but I do, sometimes, and I’m usually an hour early at work because … well, it’s nightshift. I’ve been looking at laptops for a while, and netbooks seemed like a pretty good option. Comparatively small, cute looking, and about the size of a hardcover, so I can stuff it in my purse if I need to. I decided since I have an upcoming trip and plan on going more trips, that it’s time I actually bought one.

Little did I know, I was about to enter Computer Hell.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

My Life

I work in a bakery.

Actually, I work in a bakery in South Texas, and it's May. Whenever we want air conditioning, we just open a portal to hell. It's cooler down there than it is in the bakery. Two industrial strength ovens, one industrial fryer, and the a/c unit for our portion of the supermarket is broken. They started letting us keep bottled water in the back, even though the health department would have a heart attack. Having your employees pass out from heat exhaustion is not good for your insurance premiums.

I actually have the easier job, three days out of the week. I'm the scratch baker. They give me flour, water, yeast and a whole bunch of additives (aka "bases"), let me play with them and then pay me money. We have Asiago cheese bread that could melt the heart of Genghis Khan. And Jalapeno bread that could finish cooking said heart. Two days out of the week I am the overnight fryer, chained to a vat of very hot lard turning bits of dough into doughnuts, and inventing new ways to stay upright. Even the bakery floor looks soft at 3am.

Well, today we ran out of flour. We go through about 250 lbs of flour a day (5 bags, 50lbs each) and turn it into french bread, artisian bread, sub rolls, ect. ect. Having no flour puts the break on the workday. I had JUST enough to make tomorrow's bread, and wound up scooping the last out to make sponge. I love making sponge. Flour, yeast, water, grease up a bin, plop dough in bin, shove bin in cooler and ignore until tomorrow morning. You have this nice, yeasty thing that smells like a wine vat. You put it in the artisan bread. Sponge is the last thing I make before I scrape out the mixing bowl and go home.

We also had a metric ton of cake orders, which I have nothing to do with, thank god. Lots of frosting in many pretty colors, lots of customers wanting to know why we didn't match their cake colors to their highschool/wedding dress/prom dress. People. First, we're not allowed to mix our own colors anymore because it wastes too much frosting. Second, you didn't bring us the dress/school colors. Even Picasso cannot work out an exact hue you describe to him over the phone.

And one of the sculpture cakes collapsed on itself. Mercifully the customer called to cancel just as the leaning tower of Frosting was discovered.

The one bright spot in the day was working out a major plot point for my second novel while bent over with my head in the mixing bowl (it's a 100lb capacity bowl. A grown, not particularly flexible adult could curl up inside, just as long as nobody turns it on. Scraping it out involves gymnastics and many cuss words. It does not drain, so we cannot power-wash it the way we do everything else. And we cannot use metal tools on the sucker. We get to hang upside down with the bowl's edge digging into our middle, a plastic scraper in one hand and a bucket of not especially soapy water on the floor. Chemicals are not allowed near the food equipment.)

There. Second post done.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Greetings, Salutations, ect. ect.

Like anybody's going to read the first post, ever.

So just to set this out into the Aether ... I am Christwriter, Christian, Writer, Artist, book-reader, Tarot-card reader, and ROCKING commercial baker.

I'm in the process of writing a novel. Which means it's finished, the thing is done, it just needs to be completely edited, an agent needs to be found, and then God I don't know, a miracle needs to happen to get it published. But! We will not let this stop us! We shall continue on, fighting the good fight, rescuing damsels, cutting all extra modifiers and passivity wherever it may be found!