Etudes in C#

Something Wicked...

.... wicked AWESOME that is.

You have no idea how long I've been wanting to write this blog post. I've kept it under wraps and now that ink is on paper and things are legal and binding I can finally--FINALLY--say some amazing magic words.

My debut novel has been picked up by a publisher.

That's right, guys, I've finally mastered that strange alchemy of turning words into an actual factual contractual deal with a purveyor of books.

Meet me below the jump for the details! (Cause I've been dying to tell you all about it!!!)

So, for those who don't know, my book TECHNICAL DIFFICULTIES** (Book 1 in my Etudes in C# series) has been on submission to publishers since mid-June. This means that my agent--the fabulously stellar Jennie Goloboy--sends an email &our big ass proposal document to editors at various publishing houses. If they like the sound of my book from the proposal, they will ask to read the manuscript.

As I said, the book had been out to several different houses over the course of about 4 months with various degrees of success and failure (depending on how you measure both). Tuesday, November 27 I got word from Jennie that an editor was taking the book to the acquisitions board at her publisher. (As I'm sure you can guess from the title, an acquisitions board is in charge of acquiring new books. In other words: someone was interested in buying MY book.)

Ho.Lee.Shitballs.
I spent that evening freaking out and full of anxiety and researching this publisher and talking myself out of it and basically turning myself into a ball of self-defeating tension. The next day I emailed Jennie with some of my concerns and we talked on the phone for a bit. (This is the part of agenting that I think requires the patience of a saint: putting up with my insecure ass when I'm hopped up on anxiety and caffeine.) She laid things out clearly, explaining some things that I hadn't quite understood from the email. Then she said, "By the way, she's calling me tomorrow to let me know if we have an offer."
We have just lost cabin pressure.
An offer? Soon? Like tomorrow? Oh sweet dear god! So, as you can imagine, I didn't sleep much on Wednesday (the 28th for those keeping score). I was up all night (again) with my brain doing backflips and inverting on itself and and and oh sweet lords of chai kill me for all the shit going through my brain! I woke up Thursday vibrating and messaged Jennie to tell her so. (She then told me to breathe and not have too much chai. How well she knows me.) She told me that she'd be calling later with the results of her conversation with the editor in question.
So, I went to the gym. And I puttered around the house. And I waited... and I checked my email. And I waited. And I looked at my phone... And innocent pixels died. Then it was time for me to go pick up my daughter from school."Alright," I said to my phone. "I'm leaving now. I'll be back in about 10 minutes. You know, in case anyone wanted to call. You could just...wait til I get back."
Wouldn't you know... the phone rang about a minute after I pulled out of the drive way.It was Jennie. She'd talked with the editor. We had an official offer.
We talked out all the details. I took notes. We both had a bit of a freakout because it was made of win. She had let all the other editors still reading the book know we had an offer and had given them a deadline as to when we needed decisions. Monday (December 3). By Monday we'd either move forward on this offer or have to possibly entertain others...but either way, Monday was going to be a big and decisive day.

Not much to do... other than celebrate!

I was all...

and
and
I was so freakin' happy and pumped full of mood altering hormones that I felt like I was going to vomit sparkling rainbows. So, I immediately hugged my husband. I sent a text message to my Attack Fish (my devoted Beta Readers who are epic amounts of amazing). I called my mother (yes, I do that). I called my father, but, he chose that particular week to be out of the freaking country bobbing around in an ocean, so this was the response I got from his voicemail:
I'm on a boat.
That night we had dinner plans with friends, so I took along a bottle of champagne to their house. When one of said friends saw the bottle she just looked at me and said, "Really?" I nodded because being a writer I like to show and not tell. There was rejoicing. And my friends were all like...
and...
I got to spend the weekend waiting and pinching myself. "Yup, offer of a book deal is still real." FINALLY got to tell my father and some other friends. Spent Sunday burying myself in football and housework to avoid the fact that the clock was moving too slowly. Started practically vibrating again....And then Monday rolled around.... by the end of the day I had an email from Jennie telling me that Cat and Marius have found their home. Long story short (too late), we officially accepted the offer from Entangled Publishing. And I was all...

And I couldn't wait to tell the whole freakin' planet. I wanted to grab that guy at the gym and shake him like an 8 ball telling him, "DUDE! They're going to publish my book!!!" I wanted to buy everyone daisies and write it in the sky. I wanted to post far and wide my joyous squees... but I couldn't. Things weren't legal. Ink wasn't dry. Contracts still had to be negotiated and all that fun stuff.
Honestly, it took a while to sink in. A week later, when the vibrating stopped (or at least slowed down), I just sat down and the depth of it hit me. This is really happening. This is the real deal. Oh my fuck.It's taken some time, and I've developed tremendous restraint not to just blab this all over the Intertubez, but now... NOW!... I can finally squee out loud and fill you all in. Now I can tell you that my debut novel TECHNICAL DIFFICULTIES** will be available as an ebook from Entangled Publishing.
We totally did it, guys. We got this far. We got to the part where the book gets published and you all can finally--FINALLY--read it!!! For real!I'm very excited to work with Entangled. They're enjoying a lot of successes right now and more good things are on the horizon for them. I'm very proud to be counted among their authors.So, as things get closer, we'll be pimping it and having all sorts of fun gearing up for the release. Until then, I've got some work to do, kittens.

HOLY SHIT!! :-D*bouncy happy squee*
**EDITED 16 September, 2013: This book has a new name! Henceforth it shall be called WILD CARD.

Very Merries, Gang!

Nerdmaste, darlings. Today is Christmas Eve! I've spent the past few days in various states of playing nurse-mom to a sick kiddo to being the sick kiddo. I hit a state of fever-induced delirium last night that would've made sense of any of Hunter S. Thompson's worst trips. BUT! I wake up and said fever is broken, the full-body-ache has abated and I'm ready to hit this Christmas thing very lightly. (Because I'm still tired and all that other stuff that happens when you're sick.)

I've had a few different blog posts cooking lately and little time to post them. I've got some news to share when I am able, but today is not that day. Besides, it's not a day about me, it's Christmas Eve! The kiddo is dancing around expectant of St. Nick's arrival, my mother will be over later...presents are wrapped and food awaits prepping. All that glee.

And I know that you're probably just as busy. So, I will leave you with this, a blast from Christmas past. This is a bit of flash fiction I wrote last year featuring Cat and Marius from my Etudes in C# series. A little cheer with a stayr's leer. Have at it.

Merry Christmas. Have a good and blessed holiday and know that you are loved.

Nerdmaste, my friends.

Newtown, Connecticut

I am so angry I could breathe fire. So sad I might melt into nothing but tears.

This is not okay.

I was a freshman in college when Columbine happened. I remember empathizing with both victims and shooters for that one... people pushed to their limits and unequipped to handle the rage of years of bullying. I think that might have been when I all but solidified my feelings on guns.

I think guns are cowardly weapons. Anyone with motor skills can lift a gun, pull the trigger and kill someone. Period. While yes, marksmen have tremendous skill that took years to hone... guns as a weapon are cowardly. They are an easy way out. You can take a life without thought at 800 ft/second without looking at that person's face, without watching their life bleed away. There is no ownership in gun violence...only quick (pardon the expression) hair-trigger reaction.

School shootings. The Aurora tragedy. The Clackamas mall shootings earlier this very week. And now Newtown, Connecticut. An elementary school.

This is not okay.

We have a problem.

We--as a society, as a country, as goddamn human beings--have a problem when we're more strict about 3 oz. bottles of shampoo than we are with lethal weapons that are killing children in their elementary school. How is this okay? How is it alright that kids are going to school with metal detectors, schools that are more secure than prisons? How is it okay? We've made these concessions (metal detectors, security passwords, police patrols in schools etc) to "keep our kids safe" but what we're really doing is pandering to the shooters. We're not doing anything about the problem, we're just putting a condom on it and hoping it doesn't break.

What the fuck is wrong with us?

This is a systemic problem. It's not just about gun control. It's also about mental health care, about our society's priorities, corrupt government, a glutted gun lobby, a disgusting news cycle, a furor over losing rights that were to secure citizens the ability to have a weapon that took 15 minutes to load, aim and fire. There are so many problems all linked together, so many deformities and mutations that make shit like this possible.

But no....now is not the time to have that conversation. The NRA might get pissy and raise Charlton Heston's   mangled corpse as some sort of gun-toting lich. A politician might not get to buy that new Mercedes this year. Ratings might drop.

Fuck you. A parent has to go home right now and look at presents under a tree that won't be unwrapped. A kindergartner has to learn how to process survivor's guilt.

Where does it stop? When does it become socially acceptable to have this conversation and do something about these problems?

You have no idea how hard I will be hugging my daughter today. 

Better Know A Trickster #2 - Maui No Ka Oi!

So, back in October I started a series of blog posts introducing you to the Tricksters of various pantheons. We started with the red-headed stepchild of Asgard, Loki. This time we're going to leave the icy Norse lands and sail to the South Pacific and meet that maker of mayhem, the slayer of the sun, the thief of fire himself: Hawaii's very own Maui!

Like Norse mythology, much of what we white folks know of the Hawaiian religion comes to us from Christian scholars who came to the islands and wrote about the savages they found. One of the better sources of information out there comes from David Kalakaua, the last reigning king of Hawaii. His book, The Legends and Myths of Hawaii, seeks to explain his culture to the rest of the world. This book is rich with understanding of the native religion and the tales the Hawaiians tell to this day.

One thing I've always found intriguing about the Hawaiian beliefs is how present it is in comparison to say the Judeo-Christian faiths. From what I've read--and I know that I don't know half of what there is to know, so if I'm wrong, feel free to correct me--the Hawaiians don't base their lives on the aftermath. The gods are here. They live and surf on the islands among mortals. Our ancestors remain with us as protective spirits. The philosophy is very rooted in the moment, the here and now.

Until the 19th century, the myths were handed down mostly in an oral tradition where the kahuna--wise man or priest--sang the tales. The backbone of Hawaiian mythology is the Kumulipo. This is the origin chant. To "perform" it, one needs more than 6 hours and some awa to keep the throat cooperating. Beginning with the darkest of void, the Kumulipo describes the birth of the world. Beginning with the coral polyp, populating the ocean, then the land and skies until finally man shows up. Then, the lineage of the kings is spoken. There are still those today who can trace their ancestry to the Kumulipo chant.

Like most trickster deities, Maui's birth is full of its own mystery. As chronicled in the Thirteenth and Fourteenth chant of the Kumulipo, Maui's mother Hina--goddess of the moon--wears the loincloth of a mortal chief, Akalana, and became pregnant. Now there's some subtext here about the loincloth and what she did with it. Some say that she was overly fond of the young chief and snatched the loincloth, then masturbated with it. (So, call me maybe?) However she came by the seed of the mortal, Hina was surprised when she delivered not a baby but an egg. This egg hatched to reveal a rooster.

When the goddess gave birth to a cock, the other deities feared she had broken the sacred laws--taboo. Immediately, it seems, Maui must fight to survive. His own uncles challenge him to physical combat and leave him with a bleeding head. And it just gets better from there. Ten times, Maui is tested by the gods and the circumstance of his very existence. But, as he navigates his difficulties, his guile and cunning are forged.

Among the strifes of Maui are some of his most famous exploits. The sixth test comes when he asks his mother about his parentage. While the lines in the chant are sparse, myths of these trials have bloomed like the islands themselves. Hina sends Maui to be with his mortal family and he acquires a fish-hook from his grandmother. The hook itself is made of her bone, and the line from her hair. She has given Maui a powerful object indeed! While he is very lazy and leaves the actual work of fishing to the mortal sons of Akalana, Maui casts this hook into the sea and draws up the islands! However, he never finished the task of uniting them, and thus we have the chain of them dotting the Pacific.

Like other tricksters, Maui is known for his mastery over the elements, specifically fire. He stole the fire from the mudhen and snared the sun because it crossed the sky too quickly. Summer is dedicated to him for slowing the sun's passage for the people of the islands. The constellation of Scorpio is also known to the islanders as Maui's hook.

The Kumulipo chant itself calls him trickster, revering his cunning ways. "Maui-of-the-loincloth/ The lawless shapeshifter of the island/A chief indeed." (Beckwith, 136.)

The last island that his hook drew from the water was the verdant isle that we call Maui. He claimed it for his own and to this day the natives insist that Maui no ka oi! Maui is the best. I'm inclined to agree.

If you like the artwork in this post, please visit the artist Brittney Lee at her Etsy shop. Show her some love and buy a print. She is a rock star! I've got two of her pieces in my house and if I had the extra bank I'd give her all the monies for more awesomeness.  Also, a special thanks to Kanila Tripp for fact-checking me and making sure that I don't sound like a lame haole girl. 

No Substitute For An Actual Post

Wow. What a week. So, let's for a moment forget the flurry of Thanksgiving and the terribly satisfying gluttony that followed (because all of that in and of itself was exhausting). We hosted 10 people at our house and had enough food for probably twice that. Either that or we just weren't all that enthusiastic about our stretchy pants. Anyway, it has been a whirlwind that only feels like it's dying down today because I am not physically in motion.Sunday I got word that my Grandmother fell and broke her hip. Multiple fractures. Now, the woman is 92 years old with osteoporosis and has been living on her own since before my grandfather died in 2004. She's a tough cookie. That being said... well, I was scared to death. You see, two years ago I had this dream that my Grandma told me the exact day she was going to die. (Why yes, I do remember a dream I had two years ago. I also remember one I had when I was 4 with more clarity than I remember last month. What of it?) November 26, for those curious. ALSO, I had this really creepy feeling about a week and a half ago (a week before she fell, that is)... just this weird, "Oh God is Grandma alright" feeling. Turns out both of my aunts had the same kind of ookiness on the same day. So, Sunday, Grandma falls and gets to the hospital. Surgery ensues when? Monday the 26th of November.  *facepalm* I was on pins and fucking needles all. damn. day. Because I was certain she wouldn't make it out of surgery. "This is it, this dream is coming true."  Long story short (too late): Grandma came through surgery with rainbow unicorns. She's got some hardware in her hip and her chances of winning a championship pogo-stick competition are minimal, but she is on the mend. She starts rehab this week and will then be moving in with my aunts. She was sitting up and even took a couple of assisted steps yesterday. Go Grandma! Beyond that, there's all sorts of crazy shit going on. My husband and daughter overruled my desires to sit and sulk and worry on Sunday by forcing me to deck my halls. Our house is full of fa and la and all ready for Christmas.

I've been putting the finishing touches on getting a short story ready for submission for potential publication in an anthology. Had to write up a bio for the thing. I hate writing bios, especially short ones because (let's face it) I ramble. All the bios I read for comparison/ideas were basically, "So and so has a OMGWTFBBQPHD from Wooptieshit University and has spent many years gaining credibility. S/he was published in Big Bad Monthly and the coveted Epic Awesome quarterly. S/he has something pithy and clever here about living in a fantasy land with a cat that thinks it's a panther."  I don't have any of that. I have no nifty degrees. I have no publishing credits to my name outside of a school newspaper and possibly a bathroom wall somewhere in the Midwest.  Bios are where I freak out and feel inadequate.

So when I mention on my personal Facebook page that I'm doing this bio thing and how much I hate it, I got all sorts of suggestions from my beloved (and disturbed) friends. My favorite involved the line, "She lives in the American Southwest with 2 hobbits, 2 cats and a small thermonuclear device she bought on Etsy.com." Classic. Gold. Right there.

But, I think I've got that submission cocked, locked and ready to rock some stripey socks.

Two more things started falling into place. I can't talk about them just yet, but soon I will be able to spill it here. Because these gears are moving, others that have been at a standstill for months can get back to rolling as well. And soon Damocles will take his leave of me. Right? RIGHT?!

So yeah, I was hoping to get the next installment in the Better Know A Trickster series out to you this week, but due to crazy shit happening in my personal space, I'm going to ask for an extension of goodwill. Maui is coming, don't you worry.

Love and peaches, gang.