Stranger Than Fiction, Part II

Today, while puttering under my monitor stand, Juno discovered a discarded fortune from Panda Express and dropped it in my lap: A wish will be granted after a long delay.

While doing some tidying up at my other bookshelves, I happened to glance into a bag of crystals I keep hanging around. Sitting there in the bag of crystals was a pendant I’d been missing for a freaking year. I’m guessing it slipped off its chain at some point (the chain was still safely in my jewelry box) and I just sort of swept it in with the crystals while cleaning.

The kicker? I’m wearing the exact same outfit I wore when I last had the necklace on…during my brother’s graduation party (we have pictures, hence my certainty). After which time it disappeared; following months of fruitless searching, I gave up hope and turned my attentions to finding a replacement, which also didn’t work out too well.

Weirder: Once‘s plot hinges on a pendant.

So it turned up, I reunited it with its chain and put it on, and am hoping all this serendipity will culminate in some sort of magical event.

If I tried to write something like this, it’d be dismissed as silly and overdone. 🙂

Midday Musings

Hello, September.

The heat wave has finally tapered off, and in a few weeks it’ll feel like fall. I’ve lived in this apartment for almost a year (believe I moved on October 9th). Come mid-November, I’ll have been a full-time freelancer for a year, which is startling as hell to think about.

Interesting upside of working from home: I get sick a lot less. Well, let me rephrase that. I haven’t had a proper cold since I left the office arena at the end of 2010. I’ve had food poisoning and stomach bugs, and some days I’ve felt crummy, but the only nasal problems have been my allergies. I firmly believe this is because I’m not sitting in a freezing building with recycled air and 150 people made ill by said recycled air, the bunch of us constantly reinfecting each other.

As for work-life balance…I’m happiest when I’m doing some form of work, ideally working on fiction, but occasionally editing fills in the void, too. As I get older, I become less inclined to go out dancing or partying, and prefer quiet time with a good book and the bird…provided the bird doesn’t try to eat the book.

With that said, it isn’t a balance yet, and probably won’t be for a long time. Not the ideal balance, anyway. I’m starting to think you need to be really wealthy to have the real balance…or at least more successful than I am (granted, that’s not difficult in my present circumstances).

I promised myself I wouldn’t noodle around with Once anymore, but…we know how that goes. Clarified a few things here and there. Need to change out a word for computer that came too close to the “datapad” of the Star Wars universe. The editing side of me wants to revamp, revise, redo; the writer side of me shrieks stop, you’ve done enough already! 

While we were at a cousin’s wedding several weeks ago, Aunt Tia (yes, I realize it’s redundant, but I called her Tia long before I realized it meant “aunt” en espanol) told me the way she continues to thrive is “never stop trying.” I remember reading a quote about that in one of my writing books, and it specifically had to do with revision…something about the writer always improving and never being fully happy with his work. You can be content with a book: “This is a good story” and still think of a frillion and one ways to change it, update it, fix it, kill it. The key is figuring out when something needs work vs. the inner editor just wanting to tinker for tinkering’s sake.

Clearly, I haven’t figured that out yet. I do blame my line of work; over the years, I’ve grown more critical of every kind of writing, including my own.

I did take a recent step closer to learning when to listen to the editor vs. telling it to shut the hell up. Cordeilla’s opening chapter from In Fortune’s Hall took 3.5 rewrites before I was happy with it. That’s not adding words here and there, or revising a couple paragraphs; that’s changing up all her opening scenes, moving her from one location to the next, changing who she interacts with…because it just didn’t feel right. I knew it wasn’t right.

Whereas I look at Once and want to tinker because tinkering is fun–not because something doesn’t feel right.

So if I can successfully learn to distinguish between the two with all my work, I might actually get something out there one of these days.

Taking a break from work to read a chapter of Neverland by Douglas Clegg, then it’s back into the Gulf of Paid Work. I think tonight I might run to Staples and print out hard copies of Once. Then I think I’m going to switch gears and work on my zombie story for a bit…oh, and practice formatting. Yes, that will be a hoot.

Zombie Movie Night

Read a few chapters of DWD. Picked up Petticoat Whalers to do some last-minute research for secondary project. Made myself an iced soy chai as a reward. Juno was sitting on the armrest when I took a big gulp. Too big, apparently, as I promptly spilled some on myself.

The bird looked up at me and tilted her head. It wasn’t too hard to see she was thinking “Good going, dumbass.” She’s a very expressive little creature.

I watched Severed: Forest of the Dead on Netflix streaming. As far as zombie movies go, it’s pretty clever and inventive…aside from the fact that the “heroine” (or female protagonist; I can’t call her the heroine) is a shrill, clingy, obnoxious piece of work who starts out as the worst kind of treehugger–the violent kind–and devolves into the…I guess she just becomes the standard female lead in a horror movie, shrieking and weeping and serving as eye candy for the males. She kind of wrecks it.

Aside from her, I liked it. It’s very different from the zombie fare Hollywood is pumping out these days.

Am attempting to sit through The Dead Hate the Living. Juno refuses to go to sleep and prefers to sit on my shoulder screeching while staring up at the ceiling. Wonder what she sees up there…

My Life as Reality TV

Sometimes I like to imagine what kind of reality TV show I’d have.

The opening credits would be “Basket Case” by Green Day.

Instead of dramatic verbal blowouts with frenemies, I would issue grievous insults to various writers…none of which they would actually hear, because I would shout at my computer screen. Instead of strange misunderstandings with would-be boyfriends, the episode’s tensest moments would center around me finding the right verbiage for a particular scene, or screaming over the price of printer toner. The obligatory saucy roommate would be Juno.

Deep conversations would primarily take place online via IM. A “very special episode” would entail actual human contact via meeting friends for coffee. Season finales would center around the freelancer getting tanked and not remembering if she finished a particular assignment or forgot to feed the cockatiel, and stressing over whether Gannicus will be featured on the next season of Spartacus. 

Fabulous nightclubs, glasses of expensive wine, and Botox would be replaced by cheap booze, Fresh and Easy’s Morning Roast (with hazelnut creamer), and the occasional perusal of all the shoes that I no longer wear. My friends are shockingly non-vicious people, so any catfighting will have to take place between actual cats.

Still. They managed to make Lauren Conrad’s life look interesting and dramatic. I’m sure with some creative editing, I could be introduced to society as a stressed-out, overly caffeinated, alcoholic freelancer, and my bird can come off as an abusive common-law wife that orders me around.

But “Basket Case” needs to stay on as the theme song. That’s non-negotiable.

Abstract Discussion of Coffee and Freelancing

“So,” Mom began, “Did I tell you about our break-in?”

“Why no,” I said, thinking this was the sort of subject one ought to broach earlier. “No, Mother, you did not. Please, regale me with this tale.”

Suffice to say, there’s a whackjob with a housekey running around in Old SD, and our damned dog is too mellow to do anything about it. I’m hoping my brother can arrange for them to adopt a pit bull.

I do therefore dub July the Month of WTF. August can’t come soon enough.

The novel workthrough continues apace. I’m keeping to one chapter a night; there’s been one or two I zipped through, but I feel I need to pace myself. This must not be rushed. Rushing leads to sloppiness, and I will not have that. People may not like the story, but I am not giving them a reason to complain about the grammar and formatting. Or plotholes.

Continue reading

The Sneeze Goes On

Juno is judging you

Juno sees all

Juno has taken to exploring the mysterious world underneath my computer stand. There’s nothing really under there, but she can putter for minutes at a time (maybe that’s hours to a small bird, I don’t know).

No, that is not a condom wrapper sitting in the foreground. That would be an empty Zyrtec sleeve. Which reminds me, it’s almost time to restock.

Speaking of Zyrtec…last night I dreamed I went to the pharmacy to purchase more (the Zyrtec-D is kept with the pharmacist, because people cook meth with it or something) and the guy there told me that since I had already purchased a good sum of it this year, I was banned from buying anymore. I distinctly remember telling him “But I have allergies!” and he would not budge. This angered me so much, I went to tell my pal Achilles, who was sympathetic, but he was busy stealing Hector’s armor and thus could not be bothered to wage war against CVS on my behalf.

In my dream, the Trojan War took place in the streets of a dilapidated San Francisco, and the undead were running around. This gave me the totally bodacious idea of pulling a Pride and Prejudice and Zombies trick out of my sleeve and writing The Iliad and Zombies


The heat wave seems to have eased. I’m trying to schedule my August so I can maximize work output and noveling while juggling various familial obligations. I may end up just crashing in SD for the month. I guess we’ll see.

Hostage Situation 2011

Big Machine is officially being held hostage by the repair guys.

“Yeah, it’s with another tech, he’s not the most reliable…”

Wait. What?

You gave my beloved Big Machine–a computer I upgraded WITH MY BARE HANDS–to an unreliable tech? That machine is part of me, dude. I gave it a new hard drive, new OS*, new RAM. I got a busted wire repaired when someone else would have cast the whole thing aside in favor of a Macbook Pro. You gave it to an “unreliable tech” AND YOU ADMIT THIS TO ME, THE WORRIED COMPUTER-MOM?


Okay. I feel better now.

Let this be a warning to all of you who try to make a living via computer. You may become unnaturally attached to your machinery. The problem here is that my laptop is not just a “work” machine. It is also the way I tell my stories, my research buddy, and my gaming machine. It’s a portal to the outside world when I’m strapped to my desk. That’s not to say it’s a replacement for real people (or pets) because it isn’t. But to a writer/editor/geek, it’s a lot more than just a bunch of circuits. It’s how I earn my livelihood.

It’s also the recipient of a lot of time and money spent upgrading, and if that unreliable tech harms any of its circuits…then I will blow the Horn of Gondor and summon the armies of the west, and they shall attack with the wrath of Achilles…aye, verily.I think the tech heard the ire in my voice when we were talking, because he hurriedly said they’d honor the warranty. So that’s a good thing.

With all this said, I do think I need a proper “work” machine, and hence, when I return to the parental abode, I will see if my poor desktop can be saved. My father, bless his heart, has silenced many a good machine before its time. Where’s Thoros of Myr when you need him?

*To be fair, Ben installed the OS. But I did the rest!

Ants, Ants, Ants

It’s been one of those days.

You know–the kind where you don’t fall asleep until 4:30, stagger out of bed at 8, and get sniped at by the dentist’s office. Then you get into your car in the middle of a damned monsoon because YES, it’s storming in July! and they’re working on the road so you sit at a stoplight for 20 minutes and realize you feel…itchy…and you glance down and…


I have seen many an ant invasion in my 27 years, but never an assault on a vehicle. Much less a fairly tidy one like mine. I would expect ants in my kitchen before my car.

Wound up late to the appointment. My dental hygienist, bless her heart, is a darling, kind-hearted woman and always makes me laugh (dangerous with a mouth full of sharp objects). The average cost of a dental cleaning without insurance, by the way, is $130. The medical facility my dentist is located in has also recently started charging for parking. I ended up not getting X-rays or the exam, as those would have pushed the bill over $300.

Oh, and the repairman admitted they’ve just been sitting on my laptop. They “might know more” this afternoon.

Awesome. Meanwhile, my dumb ass left the marked up version of Sailor’s Luck on there, and while I am happy for the opportunity to work on Trojan Age, I worry about my files. I am also heading down to SD on Saturday to celebrate my mother’s birthday, and I was hoping to have it back by then.

So I’m bitching a bit. Actually, the ant thing would be pretty humorous if the rest of that crap hadn’t already circled.


The Nook is here. I am already having trouble focusing on work when what I really want to do is download more books.

I’m most interested in the free stuff at the moment. I suspect a lot of it is self-pubbed, so this will be an interesting dive. I’ve picked out a variety of stuff; writing books, marketing books, a couple of novels. Hell, it’s free. Why not?

It’s a really nice little device thus far. The screen is bright and clear and responds as well as my phone. I’ve only read a paragraph’s worth of stuff, but the reading wasn’t unduly wonderful or difficult. The web browser let me log into Gmail. I can see that things like chatting and constant emailing are probably out of the question, unless the upcoming Android update is all that and a box of chocolates.

But hey, I mainly got it for the books, anyway.

While scrolling through book categories, I noticed there’s a “hard” science fiction and “social” science fiction. Is social sci-fi the new word for space opera?

Once I’ve worked through my huge stack of physical to-be-read books — at which I’m hoping my finances will be in proper order — I’ll actually buy a couple of ebooks. Until then, I’m gonna love me some freebies.