I promise nothing from this blog, really. I was sick for 2 weeks straight and the kiddo was on spring break last week. I've had nightmares the past two nights and they're the kind that scar the soul. I've tried applying chocolate and chai to cure what was clearly a dementor attack, and am administering episodes of QI as we speak. Oh, and that brand new website? I got it all nice and shiny for you with hopes of the official roll out this week. Loki, however, has other ideas, because somehow I fucked it up and it's buggered. Right to hell. I've got minions working on it when they're not at their respective day jobs and hope I don't have to completely re-do the whole thing. Why would that suck? Because after importing this blog to the new site, I had to go through every single entry (all 212 of them) and fix links and formatting. Sweet muppety Odin, I will never get those hours of my life back.

Anyway, I have lots of things that I'm thinking about right now. Books and stories I want to write. I'm hoping to have some flash up for you later this week.  The Steubenville rape case is on my mind. (Short version: What those boys did was heinous. The media's coverage is despicable. Our society needs serious help.) I turn 33 in a few weeks. My backyard is full of weeds and my brain feels full of holes.

It's all a jumble in my head and I need a penseive or something. So, rather than try to untangle those thoughts here, I will give you a story from last week's Thursday Night Dinner. Okay, 2 stories...

1) Apparently Disney is re-releasing the Little Mermaid into theatres this summer. In fintastic 3D no less! My friend Alicia said that she's totally going. Eric responded that he wanted to go with the squirt guns and sit in the front row. When I mentioned he should go armed to the teeth with Super Soakers and water pistols I realized that in the current social climate, Eric is likely to get shot for such a thing. Thanks, Aurora shooter, for ruining actual fun for everyone because you were a cock.

2) So, my friend Jeremy has a habit of talking over movies and television shows. His natural volume is also loud. It's just him. I mean, I've *seen* Iron Man 2, but I've never heard it. (Except Mickey Rourke saying, "My bird" in his accent.) So, the other night, we watched Wreck-It Ralph. Afterward, Jeremy wanted to watch the deleted scenes, but Alicia, Eric and I were talking. He got upset and said, "I'm just waiting on you guys to be quiet so I can hear it."

"What's that like?" I asked. Alicia grinned at me. Jeremy got a little more peeved. I said, "Still haven't seen Iron Man 2. GOODNIGHT!" Everyone laughed except Jeremy. It's all in fun, hon. You are loved.

I guess you had to be there.

Anyway, this is honestly what my life has been the past few weeks. A scramble of grey matter, pink eye and allergies. And bad dreams. Seriously, I have a dream catcher and cats that usually swat away the nightmares, but I need a security guard over my psyche tonight if I'm going to get rest.

Love and kisses, gang.

Forget Regret?

Watch 1994 Madison Scouts in Music  |  View More Free Videos Online at Veoh.com

That right there? That video was the first exposure I ever had to Drum Corps. Some Friday night in October '95 I was sitting in the high school band room. (Go Ben Davis Marching Giants! Animals Forever!) Anyway, twas the night before State Finals and the drumline was busy changing out drum heads, wrapping sticks with tape, tuning the drums, making them sparkle and shine for the big show the following night. Someone put on a video of Drum Corps International finals from the previous year and that served as background noise to our regular chatter and the thumping/hacking of high school drummers.

I didn't notice anything on the tv until ^THAT^ appeared on screen. If you watch the above video, you might understand why at 3:20 the entire room back in '95 stopped what it was doing and stared. It's been a long time since that night. I've seen and done a lot of things in the last 18 years (dear gods, 18 years?!), but I remember the electric awe of that moment. Cymbals, snares and holy god! My jaw was on the floor, and it certainly wasn't the only one. We begged our band directors, our percussion instructor... we hounded them. Please can we do that? Teach us. Can we do it? Please!! 

I said to my percussion instructor, "I want to do that!" "You and everyone else," he slurred. "No, not just the stunts, but THAT. What is that?" "Drum Corps. That's the Madison Scouts." "I want to do that. I want to be in that group." "You can't," he said. "You're a girl. They don't let girls into the Scouts. Men only." "Are there Drums Corps that let girls in?" I asked. "I want to do it!"

He never responded.

I never did Drum Corps.

You know how people always say, "If I knew then what I know now?" or they talk about the one that got away? Drum Corps is my white whale. For years I thought it was something I couldn't have. A teacher told me I couldn't. By the time I realized he was wrong--that I was wrong--and learned how to audition, and had the confidence to do it... I was too old. There's an age limit and I'd exceeded it. I'd waited too long to even try.

I learned from that mistake. This might be why I look fear square in the yellow eyes and say, "Fuck off, I'm doing this!" I don't want to run out of time waiting to be better, stronger, the stars to align or other such rot. I take the shots I'm given even if it's foolish to do so.

If I knew then, though... I totally would've done it. I would've auditioned for every corps I could find.

But I didn't.

I can't tell you how many speed limits I broke listening to that show (particularly with the soul-piercing trumpet at 10:53. Gah! Love it!!) I know that it's been a long time and people have improved upon drill and stunts and all sorts of other things that make this video chump change to some people. But for me, when I see it or hear it, I'm still 15 and wrapping my bass drum mallets with tape...my jaw on the floor.

Damn I love that show.

Nerdscape: An Evolution

So, fellow Arizona author Kevin Hearne is hosting a photo contest for a worthy Nerdscape. A nerdscape, as Hearne puts it, is a place for you to let your geek flag fly. I took a picture, thinking that would be the end of it, however, as I was soon to find out, capturing one's Nerdscape can often become a sojourn into one's self... So my desk in its natural state is its own altar to geekdom. I didn't have to do much at all in the way of meeting Hearne's criteria for a Nerdscape. One of the qualifications is "junk food". I sent him a quick tweet to be certain that booze was not considered "junk food". (Kevin says that booze, like coffee, is a vital fluid and therefore cannot be considered "junk".) So, I added a bag of Dove chocolates to my desk, artfully arranged a couple of books and took the first picture. Again, other than the chocolates and the positioning of the books, this is my desk in (pretty much) its natural state.

Represented above you will find 4 moai, the sunflower from Plants vs Zombies, a poker chip, a random duck, a d20, Dianna Wynne Jones's "Castle in the Air", Batman EGO, "Little Richard" from the webco
mic "Looking For Group" (wearing Tigger ears from Disney World, I might add), the above mentioned chocolate, a red frog, my extra monitor, external speakers, slave drive and laptop sporting the Dr. Who/Pulp Fiction mash-up as a desktop, and my framed reminder to Keep Calm and Carry On. (It sparkles!)
Now, I looked at this and thought, "Well hell, you can't tell there's a Doctor Who reference on the computer with that...maybe I should condense things and get a closer shot."  I did... but you still couldn't tell the desktop was Whovian. So I switched to a desktop of multiple TARDISES (TARDISII?) and this was the result:
I looked at this one, prepared to fire it off to Kevin, when I realized that something was missing. What about my love of Firefly? So, I thought I should dig into my box of joy that I keep beneath my desk and pull out the Firefly sticker. Whilst going through that box, I found a few other things... and so, here is my Nerdscape.
Includes all of the above as well as one of my many Timmy (Think Geek) stickers, my Firefly sticker, my Volunteer badge from Phoenix Comic Con and a miniature Cthulhu.
I won't call it finished, because it never is, is it? This is so not comprehensive. Even now I'm thinking, "DUDE! I should've gotten my daughter's Ocarina Of Time to put in that pic!" But no, if I keep going it will just snowball into an obsession. I have enough of those. Clearly.

Thinking of You

This week has been full of silly shit, crazy shit and annoying bullshit. My brother-in-law was finally able to slay the dragon of Bureaucracy and sort out the title issues on my late sister-in-law's car (which means I get my car back and get to start going to the gym again WOO!). It should not take 4 separate trips to the MVD and long phone calls to be told in no uncertain terms what documentation you need in order to take care of this particular legal transition of power steering, but oh look, it did. Seriously, I wasn't even with him and I was tempted to punch someone square in the face when I heard the bullshit they put Zach through. A man shouldn't have to jump through so many hoops to put his dead wife's affairs in order. So, AZ MVD? Eat a bag of cocks.

Thankfully it's done now. Anyway, want to hear some funny shit from my week? Meet me after the jump!

Anyway, what else...? OH! Did you know that once someone from Australia ships something to the States they stop tracking it and it is lost forever in a sea of postage stamps and sadness? Found that out yesterday.

My daughter has asked Sean and I to teach her chess, so we've been doing that a bit every day. Last night she made me proud not just by holding her own at chess for a bit longer than expected, but also because when a friend of ours threatened us that he would bring "crazy" into our house, my 7 year old raised her hand and asked (very clinically), "How crazy?" She might as well have followed it up with, "Bring it on, dude. I got this."

Got a text that made me squeeful. It's always nice to know that something you wrote made a professional editor cry. (Your tears are ambrosia. Your screams the sounds of angels.)

One of the best parts of the week, though, was last night's conversation on Facebook. My friend Mel posted to my personal wall that Johnny Weir had been on Celebrity Cook-off and that it made her think of me. I thought, "Yay, always nice to be in someone's thoughts but... um... why?" I'm not a Johnny Weir fangirl (although I do appreciate the Lady Gaga of men's figure skating for his talents) nor do I watch Celebrity Cook-off. So I asked, "Why?"

Mel: You're a Loki fan, right? Didn't he play Loki?

Oh dear gods, how I cackled at this. I had friends over at the time, too. We all laughed hysterically at this. It was fantastic. So, here's how things shook out in that conversation.

Me: BWAHAHAHAHAHAHA Tom Hiddleston played Loki. Johnny Weir is a figure skater. Mel: Oh my lord... I quit Me:  I kinda wanna pet you on the head right now. Mel: Now I don't know if it was loki or johhny weir. My mom and {daughter} are laughing hysterically now Me: A quick Google shows me it was the Ice Princ(ess)... Loki WAS the son of a Frost Giant... Johnny Weir IS a very pale ICE skater... I suppose that some sort of argument could be made that they are related. Also, they both have very interesting tastes in fashion. Mel: Do they at least look alike? Someone said something about conjuring the inner loki....I was watching from my bathroom mirror while brushing my teeth. The re aren't enough excuses. Do they at least look. Little similar?

I'll let you decide:

Johnny Weir, on the show in question.
Tom Hiddleston as Loki in THOR.

(I went with THOR Loki because AVENGERS Loki looks nothing like Johnny Weir. Likewise, any other picture of Tom Hiddleston ever taken does not resemble Weir.)

Here's the rest of my conversation with Mel.

Me: There's enough of a resemblance I could see that a ... no, I'm sorry. Hiddleston is a god amongst men. Mel: So take it as a compliment that seeing someone out of the corner of my eye that remotely looked like loki made me think of you....also now when I see this ice skater dude I will also think of you. I think I need to go to bed. Me: This totally made me giggle. *hugs* Mel: Ok...so seeing it again and not from a room over via mirror...I'm having a serious what the hell was I thinking moment. I should also clarify that I do not (obviously) know actors by their names....even extremely famous ones....except morgan freeman for some reason. Example...that one bald dude in die hard is known as "die hard" in my home. So when someone said something about his inner loki (which I'm still trying to figure out unless I can not see OR hear) I assume it was loki....not Loki's genetically challenged distant half cousin twice removed. I'm still dying laughing. Thanks for loving my ridiculousness lol

Me: Just understand I may be blogging this tomorrow.

And so I am.

I hope you guys were as entertained as I was by this little foray into mistaken identity. Also, because I love you, I'll add another picture of Tom Hiddleston being sexy as hell. Have a great weekend, gang! Stay tuned! I might have an announcement over the next couple of weeks. *waggles eyebrows* Alright, loves. Here it is, your moment of zen:

Warning For The Future

So, it's 2013 and there are several people in this world who have made the resolution to finally write that novel, to get published or other variations on this theme. For those people I have a word of warning: QUIT NOW! Get out while you can. Just walk away. Really. This industry is so chock full of mind-boggling dichotomy and confusion, arcane rules and bylaws that no one talks about. Save yourself the trouble, the heartache and the endless boxes of Kleenex (you know, for wiping your tears of despair and anguish). Just quit. Now.

No? You won't be deterred? Fine, let me warn you about a few things that are frustrating as shit about this business. Meet me after the jump, if you will...

I've been actively pursuing traditional publication (ie, not self-publishing, although I have looked into it enough to know it's not my path) for the better part of 5 years now. Since mid 2008 it has been my job to learn the ins and outs of this business, to hone my craft, make connections and friendships and tear out my hair because Publishing is annoying as fuck. You hear all sorts of advice around the Intertubez and some of it is not worth the ethernet its saved to. Some of it is gold. In the end you have to decide which is which. While we joke that you are not a beautiful and unique snowflake, little writer, your career IS. No two are exactly alike, no two people necessarily have the same goals or paths to get there. Gah! That's what I'm talking about. Both are true. You aren't special and yet you are. What the hell? Annoying isn't it?

Well, I kinda wish someone had warned me back when I was dewy-eyed and fresh to this world that Publishing is rife with these kinds of both-truths. Here are a few of the more frustrating that I've collected. Take them with a full rim of salt and an extra squeeze of lime.

1. It's Not Who You Know...

We hear this chestnut in several industries insisting that you don't need a special friend, fuckbuddy or other such contact within to get access to the clubhouse. You can make it on your own merit and you should make every attempt to do so. Besides, you don't look at people in terms of where they fit in your Rolodex.  Right?

And yet...

You must network. Your sanity will (at some point) depend on forging friendships with other writers (see #2) and you can only learn about this industry from people more experienced. Talking to writers, agents, editors, critics, slush readers... it all helps you learn more and grow. Trust me, there are people in every category I've just listed who have helped me over hurdles, made suggestions or upped my chances of success just because they were willing to give me the time of day.

It's odd, at least it was for me. We're not supposed to look at people in terms of what they can do for us. We're supposed to build friendships and connections based on commonalities and what's inside the person. And yet, here we are building networks with at least some level of "how will this relationship help me in the future?" I don't like knowing that that voice is there that calculates the 6 degrees of the Big 6 or something, but it *is* there. Learn to deal with it. Make friendships. Help each other. Be there for others. Pay it forward. That kinda thing.

  by Zaratops (deviantart)2. The First Rule Network! Make connections and friends! Have a social media platform! Put yourself out there and be part of the community. Share your journey.

And yet...

A lot of writing is solitary. Trying to get published is a slog of misery that loves company. So we use Twitter and Query Tracker and Book Country and any number of message boards as our water cooler. We talk about everything! We blog about query letters, query rejections, revisions, getting the call. But once you get to a certain point you are expected to tighten the lips and let the publishing happen behind the curtain. Submission, for example. I've been told by many people that it's best to just not discuss your submission period with your blog/Twitter audience. Editors like to think they are your first choice, or it's not professional to complain (I agree).... really, this is where those writer friends are helpful. Set up a Google hangout, open a bottle of something at least 15% and kvetch, moan and otherwise pour out your soul about how agonizing the wait of submissions are.

But this is one of those times where it would be so nice to be able to do what you did with querying agents... read other people's stories to know you're not alone. Sorry, dude, we don't post that kind of thing. You have to learn that one on your own and suffer. You just don't talk about being on submission.

3. Don't Judge A Book Don't judge a book by it's cover. Right?

And yet...

We totally judge books by their covers.

4. Don't Take It Personally When an agent or editor rejects your book, you're told to not take it personally. It's true. It's not a judgment of you, Joe Schmoe. It's not even necessarily a critique on your work. Sometimes rejections come even when an agent or editor likes you and thinks you're quite talented. You want someone who is ablaze for you, so it's okay. Keep working and putting yourself out there. It's not personal...

And yet...

You're expected to write from a place of truth, to bleed on the page. Your writing has to be not just personal but visceral! When you put yourself into your novel so much it is difficult to see how a rejection could be anything other than personal. I get it. But really, it's not about you. Unless it is.

5. The Next Big Thing

Have your own voice. Write like YOU.

And yet....

"Publishers want the next George R. R. Martin/Hunger Games/50 Shades"... So write like you, but be like them.

6. Things Take Time

Above all things (not craft-related) a writer must learn patience. The whole process is a sticky, sluggish waiting game that will drive you to lunacy if you don't have proper coping mechanisms. (Believe me, my agent knows how impatient I can be... and that's after I've been working on being more patient for years!)

And yet...

you can get a query rejection in less time than it takes to make a cup of chai. Seriously. My first ever rejection to a novel came less than 10 minutes after I sent the query. And when things get moving in a positive direction, things happen REALLY FAST. This agent loves you and wants to talk, but you have to call this person, and this one emailed on the same day requesting a full and holy shit avalanche of awesomesauce. But then you have to wait. People need time to read. Phone calls have to be scheduled. Contracts have to be drawn up and sent across the country via snail mail. And that's when a blizzard hits, wouldn't you know it?  Even when you think the roller coaster is about to speed up, it's not, kids. Just be prepared to hurry up and wait.

There are infinite frustrations along the road of traditional publishing. You have to ask yourself if the end goal you've set for yourself is worth all that trouble. It might not be. Then again, it might be just the forge you need to help you become Excalibur.

What about you? What are your gripes? This is a safe place to bitch so let it fly.