What Could It Be?

…and then THIS happened!

I was having a crappy day.

It’s hot here. Way too hot. I live in Edmonton where it’s a sport to both complain about the weather and brag about how horrible the weather is… and mostly people complain about the cold, but I deal with cold WAY better than I deal with hot. C’mon. When it’s cold outside I can mostly stay in the house, or add another layer of clothes, but when it’s hot? There are only so many layers you can take off before you’re risking arrest… or scarring someone for life. (And also, not only do we not have AC, our furnace doesn’t even have a summer fan. Seriously. What kind of furnace doesn’t have a summer fan?!)

…I’m getting off-topic.

So, it’s hot. And our chronically ill dog hasn’t been feeling well (and the chronic illnesses mean you get to play the ‘Is this a symptom of one of his diseases that means I should walk him to the vent [in the HOT] or, does he just have an upset tummy’ guessing game. Which is so much fun.*).

And Jo left today to go on a trip.

And I’m really kind of swamped with work right now and suffering from imposter syndrome coupled with ‘not enough writing time’.

And did I mention it’s hot?

So.. yeah. Having a less than awesome day.

Then the DHL dude knocked on my door and gave me this:

What Could It Be?

Hello there awesome box of mystery! What could you possibly contain? (Okay, so I had a good idea, but shh… just go with it for the sake of the story LoL)

Inside The Box

Oh. Someone was a clever little box packer, weren’t they? C’mon! What’s inside the box?!

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Mah New Ink

I just realized that, though I posted these pictures on Facebook, I never shared them here. I think my plan was to “wait and take a picture with my good camera first” but since I got this tattoo in like April and it’s September now, it seems safe to assume I’m never going to get around to having someone take that picture. Besides, Dani did a great job with my crappy point and shoot camera so… yeah.

Here are two photographs of my newest tattoo (It’s on the inside of my left forearm):

ink1 ink2

It’s not the tattoo I asked my artist (Kat Hays, from Atomic Zombie) for during our consult (the crows were meant to be the focus and circle around my arm), but in the end it was so wonderfully, perfectly me that I couldn’t have asked for anything more. The quill pen is amazing as is the murder of crows and I can’t get over all the little details in the ink pot (Do you see the shadow there, dudes? Awesome). The lines coming out of the pot and around the feather add just a wee bit more femininity to it and make it seem magical.

I love it.

Originally I was going to explain all the meaning and such behind it but really, I think it speaks for itself, don’t you?

T4T: Two Kids

Yesterday I was helping someone with a crisis* and it left me too exhausted to do anything more than breathe. So, this week’s Tuesday blog is being posted on a Wednesday 🙂

I’m going to share two pictures of kids. I took these at a recent family get-together at my parent’s house. These are my youngest niece and nephew, Jayde and Dominick.

Click on the pictures to see them as they are intended. WordPress crops them however they need to in order to make them fit.

*It’s not my story to tell so I won’t, but things are looking up.

Bad Poetry

I find myself writing a lot of bad poetry these days. I’m doing it on purpose though, so that makes it okay, right?

Several times this month I’ve taken the notebook I write poetry in and settled into my favourite writing spot (sprawled across my bed LOL) and, armed with a prompt (or prompts) and a promise to myself not to stop working until I have something written for each prompt, I’ve gone to work. Unfortunately, at least half of the time inspiration is very slow in coming. In order to resist the temptation to grab my ipod and surf Twitter or break my promise to myself and just give up, I’ve started writing bad poems. How bad? Well, I had a prompt to write a poem involving math and/or numbers and what I wrote was:

Sevren

The seventh born
of a seventh born
was the unlucky kitten

What’s more, his paws
had extra toes
so that they looked like mittens

His coat was black
as dark as night,
or sin, or hell, or pitch

And oh how he howled
and hissed and bit
the night we burned the witch.

Would I ever in a million years think of submitting that to a publisher? Um. No. In fact, I wasn’t really sure I wanted to share it on this blog LOL but I wrote it, and it served its purpose. It got words on the page and started my mind working. Right after I finished that poem I started another poem using the same prompt that was far better and once it has had some revisions I will start looking for a home for it. I’m optimistic I’ll place it, and, if it hadn’t been for the first (bad) poem, the good one would likely never have been written.

Do you write bad poetry or do you have another trick you use to help start your creative juices flowing when you’re stuck?

(The pictures are of my kitties. In order they are Eowyn, Absinthe and Indianna)

Paint and Music and Love. Oh my!

Today is my anniversary. Another year spent married to this guy. This is Jo. Jo rocks. We’ve been together for just over ten years now, married for seven of them. I love him more today than I did a decade ago and if I were to imagine my life without him it would be a dismal thing indeed.

He’s got his game face on in this picture — we were in the lab and he was pouring things into test tubes for me to photograph. He’s cool like that.

*Insert some sort of clever segue here between anniversaries and music*

Today I’ve got a guest blog over at Beth Cato’s blog. It’s all about music and stories. Check it out 🙂 Once you’ve read my blog post poke around Beth’s site a bit more. I’m the third guest blogger she’s had there recently talking about music. Also, she’s just kinda awesome.

*Insert one more clever segue*

I’m working on a collaborative project with Jennythe_reader. We hooked up via 2xCreative (which I’ve mentioned before here). We’re actually doing a couple projects together. For the first, I sent her a poem I’d written and she is writing it out all pretty-like and then embellishing the paper. I don’t think my description does it justice, but you can hear her talk about it a little bit here. Anyway, I kind of wanted to do something more. Partly because my time investment was pretty small this month (I already had the poem written and only had to send it to her) and also partly because I wanted to do something different. Whenever I work on a collaborative project I provide words in some form or another. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining, but Jenny, well, Jenny is a fabric artist. It just so happens that I paint fabric. How could we not do something that combined those talents?

I dug out my fabric painting stuff from where it was tucked into a corner of the basement and painted three pieces. I will be popping these into the mail to Jenny this week and I’ll keep you updated about what she creates with them. I can’t wait to see!

 

In other, writing-related news, though I’m not doing NaNoWriMo this year, I am doing the November Poem-a-Day challenge. My theme is going to be ‘Classic Horror’ with a focus (I hope) on ghosts.

I’ve also begun transcribing and revising Shadows. Right now I’m only working on the revision part (the first couple chapters were already transcribed), and I’m 4,785 words in. I’d love to use a word count meter of some sort here, but that’s tricky when you don’t know how many words you’re going to end up with LOL I think my last estimate was about 70k but at this point, it’s all a big question mark.

Finally, did I mention that it’s my anniversary? Happy Halloween everyone and Jo, I love you.

Building a Reputation

Pictures! Just cause. I took these at Jo’s work a couple weekends ago:

So, I need to write a blog entry this week, but I haven’t got the time. My solution? This is an essay I wrote for school. I’m going to share it in lieu of actually writing something fresh. I apologise, but it seems kind of appropriate because last week I edited a blog entry and handed it in as an essay for the same course LOL

Building a Reputation

So, you want to be a writer. I’ve got some bad news for you—getting published is easy, the tricky part to building a writing career is developing your reputation. Remember, you’re not just selling a story, you’re selling an idea about who you are. Each publication is a brick in the wall that will grow to become your brand and represent you as an author and the mortar between those bricks is your reputation.

Not only do you need to build a reputation with readers, but you will find that establishing one with editors will also affect your career. Every communication you have with an editor will flavor their impression of you. It’s important to set the tone of your future relationship in your very first email to a new editor. Make sure they know you aren’t doing anything as demeaning as submitting your work for consideration, rather you are offering them the use of it. Emphasize that you are doing this as a personal favor to them because your work is vastly superior to everything else they have published to date (even your mother thinks so, and she doesn’t usually read the genre you write in).

For example, it’s good to note that what is expected in professional correspondence is always changing. “Dear Mr. (or Ms.) Editor” may have been the traditional way to begin correspondence once upon a time but nowadays with the widespread use of email and texting, it is perfectly acceptable to start your email without a salutation. You may also skip the complimentary closing. Why bother with obsolete niceties? They take precious seconds out of your day.

If you do decide to include a salutation and address the editor by name, it doesn’t actually matter if you spell their name correctly, so long as they can figure out who you meant. Gender, also, doesn’t matter. If you address a letter to Mr. Doe and then discover they are actually Ms. Doe, at least you got the last name correct. In baseball batting .500 is fantastic. The same applies in publishing. Likewise, while it’s good to mention the name of the publication when you submit or query, if it has any unusual spellings, feel free to ignore them or, better yet point out the editor’s mistake in choosing to spell their magazine or publishing house the way they have.

You don’t need to bother making sure your work fits the genre of the publication you’re offering it to because it is so well-written any editor worth their salt will be happy to publish it regardless. If you happen to find an editor who isn’t willing to accept it because it “doesn’t fit their market” they obviously don’t know what they are talking about. Make sure you reply to their rejection letter and tell them so as emphatically as possible.

What’s more, don’t worry about following the editor’s guidelines for formatting submissions. You’ve formatted your story the way you have for a reason and they are called submission guidelines, which means they are more like suggestions than rules. On a related note, don’t worry about fixing typos or revising before you send your work in. That is the editor’s job. If you made it perfect before you sent it to them, what would they do to earn their pay cheques?

Finally, unless you want to be known as a pushover, once editing on your piece has begun it is vital you make sure the editor knows this is not an equal partnership. You are the boss. Make them fight for every comma they want to alter and absolutely refuse to budge on changing anything bigger than a single word or punctuation mark. It’s at this stage that phrases like “That’s my personal writing style” will serve you very well.

You can’t let editors mess around with your work or your style will be changed until it’s unrecognizable. Editors may say things like “This will make for a stronger story” or “But it’s nonsensical when it’s written this way” but don’t believe them. They aren’t trying to help you improve your work, they are dumbing it down and making it like everyone else’s.

You are not like everyone else. You are unique, special; like a snowflake. When you stick up for yourself, people, both readers and editors, will respect you. Don’t let yourself get pushed around and remember that no matter how many years of experience an editor has, when it comes to your work, you are the authority.

By following these tips you’re guaranteed to make an impression on the editors who work for you. That’s what you want, for people, editors and readers alike, to have an instant visceral reaction when they hear your name. That is what will help bind your work together and build a career, brick by brick, that will be beyond compare.

My grade, in case you are curious (and who wouldn’t be?) was 70% because my teacher couldn’t tell if I was being sincere in my advice or not. My original draft made mention about how editors talk to one another and compare notes, maybe I ought to have left that in to help clarify my position. Oh well. Next time I’ll make my tone a little more obviously sarcastic 😉

Also, in case you’re curious. Yes. Every example up there has happened to me when I’m wearing my Editor hat.

Lastly, in writing-related news, I have a couple zombie apocalypse poems up at Dark Chaos this week.

Miss Me?

Wow. It’s been a while, hasn’t it?

Did you miss me?

I unplugged and went here for vacation:


(in case that slideshow isn’t working for you, check out the pictures here)

It was lovely. I was unplugged, unstressed… relaxed. I learned a few things about myself and recharged my batteries and came home.

Then I promptly got sick.

Okay, so there was a little time in between the return and the sickness, but it wasn’t long, and I’m just now getting better… and re-recharging my batteries LOL

Such is life, right?

In between my last blog and now we also put out another issue of Niteblade:

It’s a fabulous issue. I say that a lot, and I’m never lying LOL This one is great and if you like fantasy and horror stories or poems (and if you don’t why are you reading my blog anyway?) it’s totally worth a visit. Just click the picture, it will take you there.

Right now I’m trying to catch up on my essay-writing course for school and I’m starting to brainstorm some ideas for this year’s NaNo novel (I’m thinking it may be a western O_o. I know, right?). In the next couple days I’m hoping to begin working on the layout for my zombie poetry chapbook and maybe some *gasp* edits.

And I sold a poem to the new Zombiefied! anthology

Also, I have a super schmexy new pen I need to take pictures of to share with you.

Oh! And I have some friends who will be doing guest posts here too.

The point I’m trying to make is, I’m back.

And I missed you.

Zombies and Swamps

You know, I’m still not happy to be unemployed, but I am beginning to feel like my life is more under control than it has been. For the longest time I’ve been doing too much and trying desperately to try and figure out how to balance things and where to cut back. Now I’m getting things done and the other day I almost managed to do everything on my to-do list. I realise how pathetic that sounds, but it’s absolutely true. And it’s progress. Could be that I’ll go back to work sooner or later, but right now I’m truly enjoying feeling like I’m climbing out of the hole I’d plunged myself into.

We’ll have to wait and see if NaNoWriMo plunges me right back into the pit. It could happen. I have a basic premise for the story and one character and that’s it. Not exactly a strong platform to go into NaNo on, but it’s what I have so I’m going to work it. My plan is to embrace this as a chance to feel out the story and find out how to tell it. I don’t expect anything good but I’m not going to resort to any of the word-padding ideas so popular in November. We’ll see how it goes.

In other news, my poem After The Storm is up at Tales of the Zombie War. They have a comment option so you can tell me how much you hate it (Kidding, please don’t. I want you to like it. Like it, I say! :-p).

Finally, World of Warcraft has recently gone through a very disruptive patch. It’s been kinda crazy and overwhelming, in no small part because I have far too many characters with too many specs that I need to relearn how to play. Still, I’m muddling through. Right before the patch, however, I allowed my WoW nerdiness and my fiction writing to collide and snuck off to take a screenshot to share.

Please note, this screenshot is rather spoilerific if you’ve not read Shades of Green. Also, if you’ve not read Shades of Green you won’t likely find it very amusing, so click with caution.

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Happy Birthday! Now with cookies!

Today is Danica’s birthday.

It’s not just any birthday though, today my little girl turns thirteen. Thriteen. Wow. So now I’m officially the mother of a teenager. And not just any teenager, a freaking awesome one.

For those of you who haven’t had the pleasure to meet Dani, let me tell you a little bit about her. Danica is clever, funny and creative. She loves rice, ice cream and tofu and up until recently wouldn’t eat a green vegetable without a significant amount of coercion. She’s a huge fan of horror movies (her favourite movie when she was 3 was Interview With a Vampire), enjoys singing, drawing and hanging out with her family. The most remarkable thing about Danica, however, is the size of her heart.

Last year at the end of the year her teacher passed out personalised presents to all the kids in her class. On each of them she’d chosen one word she thought applied to that particular person. On Danica’s she’d written “Benevolent” and I think she hit the nail on the head. Danica has got the biggest, kindest heart of anyone I’ve ever met.

I love her to pieces and I’m so very proud to be her mother, and honored to have been able to watch and help guide her as she grew up to become the wonderful young lady she is today. The teenage years are challenging ones, there is no denying it, but they are also exciting and full of potential. I have no doubt Danica will navigate through them with style and grace and continue to make me more proud than I could ever express.

I love you Goober, happy birthday!

Ever since Dani was very, very small we’ve baked together. At first she was actually so little she couldn’t sit up in her highchair without help and I’d have to tuck towels in around her to keep her upright, so she was just sort of watching what was going on. Now, she is more often than not to be the one in charge of the baking with me acting as supervisor and sometime assistant. It’s a happy coincidence then that my friend Beth is asking her friends to share some of their favourite recipes over the next few days in order to celebrate the publication of  her baking-related story in the Mountain Magic anthology coming out on the 9th.

I’m going to share my favourite chocolate chip cookie recipe. I know, that’s kinda mundane, everyone has a chocolate chip cookie recipe, but to be honest, whenever we make chocolate chip cookie dough around here odds are we’ll nom it before it ever gets baked. So what follows is a recipe I’ve found is fantastic in both the cookie and dough states. And Danica agrees. Enjoy 🙂

Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 Cup butter (salted and softened)
1 Cup packed brown sugar
1/2 Cup white sugar
1 tsp of sale
2 tsp vanilla extract (real, not imitation. It matters, honest.)
2 eggs
1 tsp baking soda
2 1/4 Cups of flour
Chocolate chips
Skor bits (optional)

If you can do this in a mixer than you get bonus points. I sometimes start out with the hand mixer and then switch to a fork for lack of a funtastic uber mixing machine.

Cream the butter and sugars together, then add the salt and vanilla and mix it until its fluffy. Add the eggs and the baking soda and give it another mix, then start adding the flour. Finally add the chocolate chips and skor bits if you’ve got them. Drop by the spoonful onto a greased cookie sheet and back at 350 for about 11 minutes.

Nom nom nom!

Check out Beth’s recipe at her blog: Catch A Star As It Falls.

Unemployed

This post is kinda depressing, so I’ve decided to lighten it up with a couple cheery pictures I took of chubby little birds. Yay birds!

My ‘day job’ is writing advertising copy and descriptions. I often joke that my job is one that any monkey (who has been taught about search engine keywords) can do, but sadly my biggest clients have come to that same conclusion as well. They are automating most of the jobs I used to do and the one huge job I had which they couldn’t automate is now done. Done. This means that I am, for all intents and purposes, unemployed.

That, frankly sucks.

It especially sucks to be replaced by a computer. It really does, no matter how much I’ve joked about it in the past, the reality sucks.

So the good news is that I’ll have more time to finish up the mountainous pile of things on my neverending to-do list, but the bad news is, no one is going to be paying me as I do it. My plan is to do that; work on getting some of these things that don’t repeat (schoolwork, colaborative projects etc.) done and then, with Jo, reassess and decide on a next step.

Unfortunately all I can get in the traditional job market are minimum wage service industry jobs. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’ve held them before and in some ways have actually really, really enjoyed them, but meh. I’ve been spoiled. Spoiled by being about to pick my own hours, to see Dani off to school and be here when she gets home again, to have time to write in the afternoons and volunteer my time at the local elementary school. All that goes away if I take a job outside my house, and if I’m doing it for minimum wage, well, there are only a few jobs I can think of that I won’t be very resentful of. Happily, those few jobs do exist and they could be fun and have advantages of their own.

So yeah, things are pretty up in the air for me right now. I guess we’ll see what happens in a few weeks when I’ve finished some of these other things. In the meantime I’ll have a little extra time and who knows, I might even get this house clean. I won’t be washing the walls anytime soon for fun you understand, but you know, a little extra attention would probably not be a bad thing. 🙂