Saturday, October 31, 2015

Blessed Samhain

Samhain is a night in which time pauses: a crossing point between what has been and what is to come. A time to remember and honor those who have passed before us, and a time to look forward to a new cycle of the year.

Grandpa Ron, who left us suddenly and too soon but will never be forgotten. I still smell your cigars occasionally at the farm.
Grandpa Lars, who came from Norway in 1923 to become a successful silversmith and always had a joyful twinkle of mischief in his eye.
Grandma Ruth, who quietly encouraged me to eat another serving and calmly argued with Lars about Swedes being just as good as Norwegians.
Aunt Christine, who defied all norms to run her own business and paid for my ballet lessons as a child to ensure I was exposed to art. I follow in your footsteps now and hope to be an aunt as influential.
Grandma Evelyn, my niece's namesake, who made absolutely the best fudge ever, and who spent a great deal of time in the nursing home reciting her extremely large family's descendants to keep her mind sharp.

Robert, who never failed to joyfully take up all the space in a room with his generous laugh and wildly perfected costumes.

I remember you with love and will spend time with the shared stories of our pasts tonight.

I will remember that in all endings, including jobs, moves, and relationships, come the seeds of new beginnings.

Tonight isn't about sad dwelling upon the end,
But allowing endings to pass in peace and love,
So to begin anew tomorrow.

May your Samhain be blessed, and may tomorrow bring your next grand adventure.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

I Might Be A Jerkface

This is a little ranty...I'm not sorry.

I'm sort of inundated with books to review right now (two for a magazine, two for a website, and another one on the way, plus I still want to review Furiously Happy in a more meaningful way)...which is why I've been all incognito-like on my own blog. It's a sad thing, but I haven't had much funny this month with all the extra work.

Today, I submitted the review for THE BOOK. The most horrible thing I've read in quite some time.

Sigh. I actually told the editor to feel free to ask me to revise the review if I was too harsh, and that's after I spent more time revising a 400 word piece than I really should considering the time/pay ratio.

I may be a totally judgmental asshole here. I'm not against self-publication. Hell, I'm considering it as a possible path toward my own authorship. But for all that is holy AND unholy, if you choose to go to the trouble of formatting your work correctly, finding cover art, digging up an ISBN, and self-publishing it...HIRE A GODDAMNED EDITOR. At the very least, have a couple beta readers who aren't related to you and have no sexual or parental relationship stumbling blocks preventing them from telling you the truth. Seriously, it doesn't require sacrificing a goat or your firstborn (um, if it does, you may want to review other editorial ads out there...MOST editors and proofreaders just want money, not souls)...just accepting that writing is a process and someone needs to give you the truth.


If you cannot write a sex scene, I totally get it. Too embarrassed, not sure how to write it without being either prudish or porny, firmly believe sex should be private, your church/parents/children/boss might read it, whatever. I don't care WHY you can't write it: all those reasons are totally valid. But if you can't, don't try to gloss over it by saying stupid shit like "and they did what came naturally."

Breaking the fourth wall and addressing the reader directly is really fucking hard to do successfully. I can't do it, and I don't know of many authors who can. Don't wink at your readers (no, really, DO NOT TYPE "WINK WINK" at your readers).

None of that made it into my review, because I totally get that this was a passion project for the author and I don't want to rip it all apart publicly. I actually think the bare bones of the story were pretty good: she just needed better tools to help revisions...because I felt like I was reading a first draft with notes to herself instead of an actual book.

And so I might be a total jerk who has to redo another version before the review gets into the magazine. In the meantime, I get to write about Vikings (the people, not the purple), and Carthage, and sex in the Roman world.

And that's just a fucking awesome lineup to wash the taste of bad writing out of my brain.

Friday, October 02, 2015

Cold Medicine Induced Hallucinations

I think I may have spelled "hallucinations" incorrectly.
Huh. Blogger says nope. Well all right then.

I've been a miserable coughing shell of an actual human for the past three weeks or so, with a cold or allergies or a malicious and truly disgusting phlegm alien taking up unwelcome residence in my lungs. I'm tired. I'm on every cold drug known to man and and an allergy deterrent...and I'm still sucking cough drops like mad (none of which does me any good). This is not a plea for pity: this is an explanation for the possibly-drug-induced weirdness lately.

Blogger says I've had over 25,000 views in the last month, and yesterday for the first time ever I had over 1000. Because Blogger's stat tracker doesn't count traffic to the other pages of the blog, and 99% of the more-than-50 views are on my "about me" page and not on an actual post, I suspect it's a bot. Still, I did a double take today, having been too tired or sick to even look here in the past week. This could be cough-drop drunkenness, after all.

I flew to Houston to meet The Bloggess on her book tour at midnight on Thursday and home at 6am on Saturday because I'm fucking insane cheap and had limited PTO, but I didn't want to miss it. I'm sorry to all the people on the plane who might have thought I was sicker than I am (I coughed hard enough to break some capillaries in my cheeks, so I looked like I had the measles, which is SUPER ATTRACTIVE you guys...I DO NOT have the measles or anything else worse than a cold and allergies, and my cold was already in the non-communicable stage).

Friday night my super awesome friend Jodie and I sat in a very warm (90 degree) back parking lot in a mini-mall, next to a dumpster, behind a medium-sized metal chicken and various curler-headed red dress wearing fans. If you aren't a Bloggess fan that entire run-on sentence made absolutely no sense to you, and for that I'm sorry (not that it didn't make sense...I'm a sorry you aren't a Bloggess fan, because you're missing some serious excellence). I'm not kidding, I thought the chair might collapse under me. The crowd gave Jenny Lawson a standing ovation when she crawled out of the dumpster walked onstage. It was awesome. Her reading was awesome. And I finished my copy of Furiously Happy in two evenings. It's that good. Go get it. And if you meet her, don't be a dick and make her cry like I did (by accident!! When she found out I flew from MN to TX for the signing she teared up, and I said "Oh god, don't cry! I CAN'T BE THE ONE WHO MADE THE BLOGGESS CRY!").

Seriously...all those metal chickens angry with me? No, thank you.

Colds turn me into an 80 year old: I'm utterly wiped out by 6pm. In the last three weeks I think the only reason I saw darkness at all was because it's fall and the damn sun is disappearing. It's pathetic. All that sleep gives me ample opportunity for all the most horrific dreams to replay in cinematic glory in my brain.

I've been eaten by sharks twice ( all fairness that one may be my own fault. I HAVE been looking into doing a great white shark dive off the coast of San Francisco...but that's another post).

My eyeballs have been taken by spiders as web decorations. WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK, BRAIN??

The dogs have died in front of me in such varied and horrifying detail I wake up shaking and crying, and I break all the rules and bring Thor up on the bed (even though his panting shakes the whole fucking thing and makes me think of those creepy vibrating beds in movies and D minus hotels) just so I can be sure he's breathing.

I've fallen off cliffs into a black abyss with no bottom six times. I know this one sounds the least terrifying. It is not. This is the one that sticks with me for hours after I wake up, and on the really fun versions I'm joined by some sort of people-are-tasty-snacks type cave creature.

I think it was just my body's way of forcing me into preparations for October's Halloween extravaganza, but seriously...I'm so damn tired. 

Also, the spider eyeball thing was just over the top. Really.