Friday, July 26, 2013

I Have A Day Off (And Other Celebrations)

So this is going to be a bit of a lengthy post, and I'm sorry for that, but it couldn't be helped. Proceed at your own risk...

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, Celebrate The Small Things is a weekly bloghop hosted by VikLit in which participants, well, celebrate the small things. Or the big things. Or the things in between. It doesn't mater what it is. We celebrate whatever good stuff happened during the previous week. (click HERE for a complete list of participants)

Here's what I'm celebrating this week:

—In my last post, I lamented my lack of a day off this week. I was looking at more than seven straight days at The Store. But then yesterday, I was given today off. Sure, Management only gave it to me because (in a completely freakish accident I will never be able to replicate, regardless of how many more years I work there) I bruised the hell out of my ribs at work on Wednesday and currently lack the ability to properly reach, bend, twist, and take deep breaths, but hey, it still counts. I have a day off. And a perfect excuse to lay in bed all day and watch TV.

—My metabolism. One of the things I hate most about my day job (besides, you know, everything) is that I just eat so horribly when I'm there. Not that I have the healthiest eating habits the rest of the time, but whenever I'm in The Store, it's so much worse. I go through junk food like water. For example, one day this past week, I ate about 80% of a chocolate-frosted chocolate cake my co-worker made (it was soooooooooo delicious). The next day I ate an entire bag of peanut butter cups and half a box of twinkies. Yesterday I finished off the twinkies and started on a bag on kit kats. I should seriously weigh as much as Babe the Big Blue Ox. Maybe even more.

—And last, but not least, I'm celebrating this song (it inspires me):



Next up is the Cephalopod Coffeehouse, hosted by The Armchair Squid, where participants post about a book they've read and enjoyed over the last month.

My selection this month is another YA novel: Rats Saw God by Veronica Mars creator Rob Thomas.

From Goodreads:

For Steve York, life was good. He had a 4.0 GPA, friends he could trust, and a girl he loved. Now he spends his days smoked out, not so much living as simply existing.

But his herbal endeavors -- and personal demons -- have lead to a severe lack of motivation. Steve's flunking out, but if he writes a one-hundred-page paper, he can graduate.

Steve realizes he must write what he knows. And through telling the story of how he got to where he is, he discovers exactly where he wants to be...


So, I enjoyed this book, but in the interest of full disclosure, there was an excellent chance that I would've loved it even if it had been about sparkily vampires because I'm pretty obsessed with Rob Thomas. He's not quite at the level of my Joss Whedon obsession, but he's damn close.  Veronica Mars is one of my all-time favorite shows; I watch reruns religiously and I contributed to the Kickstarter campaign for the big screen version (by the way, THIS is hilarious. I love Ryan Hansen.) and if I'm not referencing Buffy or Firefly or Gilmore Girls, I'm referencing Veronica Mars.

Anyway, this is about the book. I liked the characters, and I loved the voice. That's really the most important element for me in anything I read. If I don't like your characters, nothing else matters. But, moving on...The story jumps back and forth between the past and the present, which is not an easy technique, but Rob Thomas does it well. It's funny and sad and sweet and, quite simply, a good read.  

That's gonna do it for me today...I'm off to do my best impersonation of an inanimate object.  Thanks for stopping by, and I hope you have a great weekend.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Snapshots

Today My Pet Blog is pleased to play host to indie YA author Patricia Lynne as she celebrates the birthday of her book, Snapshots, and its main character Cyc.

Take it away, Patricia...

My nephew, Arik, was born with a cleft lip and palate. It seems every time I talk to my mom, she has a new diagnosis of something wrong with him. And yet, I have never seen a baby smile so much. I like to say it’s because he knows he’s loved. I have a picture of my sister holding him and the look on her face is pure love.

Whenever I think of Snapshots and Cyc, I also think of my nephew. Cyc has that same tenacity. He has gifts that set him apart from the people around him, he’s been bullied and mocked, and his childhood was full of pain and fear. Yet he finds reasons to smile. He doesn’t give up. He adapts - his gift causes painful visions and he finds away around it and still see. 

He keeps fighting. 

Snapshots is dedicated to Arik. It will be years before he can read it, but I wanted to give him something that will show him hope. Cyc’s life isn’t easy and he has to fight to be his own person. Arik has his own challenges he will have to face, but he can overcome them. Keep fighting.

Keep smiling.

§§§


Snapshots is available at:

Amazon


Amazon UK


Barnes & Noble


Smashwords


Kobo


iTunes


Sony eBooks



About the Author:


Patricia Lynne never set out to become a writer. In fact, she never considered it an option during high school and college. She was more of an art and band geek. Some stories are meant to be told and now she can't stop writing. Patricia lives with her husband in Michigan, hopes one day to have what will resemble a small petting zoo and has a fondness for dying her hair the colors of the rainbow.

Find her on:


Twitter


Facebook


Goodreads


Happy book birthday, Patricia and Cyc! Thanks for stopping by today!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Store Stories

I haven't blogged about my day job for a while. The reason isn't because things have been dull. It's more that I've been spending so much time squinting at the train wreck in front of me as I attempt to make sense of it all that I haven't been able to put it into words.

So, here for you now—in bullet point form because I lack the brain power to create paragraphs and the transitions between them—is a sampling of what's been going on:

—Much of the staff has quit. And this is not an exaggeration in any way, shape or form. There was this mass exodus, and now we're running on a truly bare bones crew. Which is terrific because it's summer and we're a little busy. Double shifts for everyone!

—You should understand that the staff at The Store is made up of two groups: the veterans (six or more years) and the newbies (three months or less). The veterans have been at The Store so long they can't afford to quit and work somewhere else because (even though our pay is laughable) it would mean taking a significant pay cut. Which, apparently, is a good thing because the newbies seldom make it past the three month mark. One recent new hire didn't even make it through one month before she quit saying, "I can't see myself working here another day." End quote.

—But then there was the new hire who quit just minutes before her first shift was set to begin. That's the new record, and it's gonna be pretty tough to beat. But I don't blame them. Seriously, if I were a new hire and I had to sit through The Store's orientation (which has evolved quite a lot since I first started), I'd quit before the first hour was up.

—#2 Boss quit. She moved on to an amazing opportunity and, while I'm happy for her, I am sad to see her go because she was the one member of Management that everyone could tolerate working with. I ran into her shortly afterward and she said, "I'd forgotten how much I enjoyed not working at The Store." End quote.

—#1 Boss and #3 Boss spend more time at each other's throats than is probably healthy. Their biggest blow-out fight to date happened when #1 Boss took away #3 Boss's vacation (at the last minute) because of #2 Boss's departure. This was a Big Deal because #1 Boss had been given more than a month's notice and chose not to start looking for a replacement until after #2 Boss's last day. So #1B and #3B had a screaming match right outside The Store. Because nothing makes customers feel more welcome than Management screaming at each other in front of the entrance. Come for the deals. Stay for the uncomfortable public arguing.

—I was recently reminded once again that I am still no longer eligible for raises because I have reached the maximum hourly wage for someone in my position. You know, in case I'd somehow forgotten that I am working the textbook definition of a dead-end job. (Note to Management: I didn't forget.)

—#1 Boss told me this after she'd woken up from the nap she'd been taking on the stockroom shelves. Because she was tired. Good thing none of the rest of us ever get tired.

—She then stuck me with the training of the new #2 Boss. Lesson #1: the stock girl is always right. Management is always wrong. Lesson #2: The stock shelves are for stock, not sleeping. If anyone is going to be napping on the stockroom shelves, it'll be me. Lesson #3: You know what? Just don't touch anything back here. Doing so will just piss me off. Here endth the lesson.

—New #2 Boss seems nice. Earnest and hardworking, even. I charitably gave her three months before she ran away screaming (my co-workers only gave her two), but then she had to go home early the other day because she had a panic attack. This is bad because (a) she had a panic attack and that is never good, and (b) if she's panicking over things now, she'll never survive our true busy season (October-December). I have since lowered my estimate of her time with us. Two months. If we're lucky.

—#1 Boss told me I didn't have to fill out a self-evaluation form this year. I attribute this to the fact that last year, I wrote "What, exactly, is my motivation for doing this? I already know I'm not getting a raise, so what does it matter?" on my form and called it good.

—This week's schedule wasn't released until last Friday afternoon, and when I showed up to look at it, #1 Boss ran away and hid (true story). I didn't understand why until I saw my hours. Then I said several not-nice words, took a breath, and said several more not-nice words. Here's why: I don't have a day off this week. #1 Boss has three days off. I have zero. I am working at least the next seven days. #1 Boss is not. We are not amused.

Anyway, this means my blogging will be ultra light this week, but my work-themed haiku will be plentiful. And chock full of sarcasm. And perhaps not-nice words.

Have a great day, all.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Celebrating The Small Things

TGI Friday, am I right?

With Friday comes another installment of VikLit's weekly bloghop, Celebrating The Small Things. (Click on the link for a complete list of participants)

The rules are simple. Mostly because there aren't any. The point is to share your achievements from the past week. No success is too small, which is good because that's the only kind I've got.

Anyway, here's what I'm celebrating this week:

—I did not kill anybody at my day job. It's truly amazing how ridiculous things have gotten at The Store. Just...epic-ly ridiculous. I've worked in retail a long, long time now, and each and every place had its own special brand of stupid shenanigans, but The Store has truly taken the cake. I spent much of the last week looking like this:


—On my one day off this week, I spent a pleasant day at the beach with my mother and my niece. I never get to spend enough time with them, so I was thrilled by the opportunity. Plus, the snack shack had fried dough. And I love fried dough.


—My current WIP is presently sitting at 126,571 words. I'm still waaaaaaaaaay behind where I was hoping to be this month (stupid day job), but I have knocked out some scenes that were giving me trouble, meaning I think I may have (knock on wood and hope I haven't just jinxed myself) solved that big plot problem that's been plaguing me since, you know, time began or whatever. Here's hoping I can continue my slow crawl toward whatever's supposed to happen next in this monster of a novel.

So that's going to do it for me today. What might you be celebrating this week?

As always, thanks for stopping by. I hope you have a fantastic weekend. And since you'll not be at The Store's staff meeting this Sunday, I'm certain you will.

Cheers!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

The Ghost And Mrs. Rains

Today on My Pet Blog, we're turning the floor over to author Christine Rains as she celebrates the release of her latest novella, The Ghost, the final book in the 13th Floor series.

Take it away, Christine...


IF JOSS WHEDON MADE THE 13TH FLOOR SERIES INTO A TV SHOW


I'd make certain it wasn't on FOX.

This is my ultimate dream. A movie would be nice, but to see the 13th Floor series as a TV show would be the best. Joss would make my dialogue wittier, my characters deeper, and my plots twistier. I spend way too much time fantasizing about this already. I'd leave the casting to Joss. I know he'd do an excellent job. I don't mind if he brings in some of his favorites either. Here are a few possibilities:



Marc from 1301 – (Adam Baldwin) As much as we imagine Jayne going down in a blaze of glory before he becomes an old man, Adam is fifty now. The perfect age to play Marc. He can glare, grunt, and growl with the best of them. And he looks damn good in a beard.


Mae – Gina Torres. Give her that Jasmine sort of peacefulness and Zoe's fierce heart.



Stefanie from 1302 – (Rose Leslie) I could imagine a young Eliza Dushku playing my werewolf. Sexy and dangerous. Since we can't have Eliza, the only redhead in her early 20s I could think of that had enough grrr to her was Rose Leslie who plays Ygritte on Game of Thrones.



James – Here we have a version of Xander. Again, I don't know many young actors these days. I trust Joss to cast Stefanie's mate appropriately.



Xan from 1303 – (Chris Hemsworth) He looks fabulous in a suit and shirtless. Nothing more needs to be said.

Lois – Charisma Carpenter. Chatty, relentless, and leggy.



Meira from 1304 – (Morena Baccarin) Beautiful and exotic. Meira has wings to fly instead of a traveling in a spaceship, but they have the same air of elegance and courage.



Sam – J. August Richards doesn't quite work for Sam, but Joss will find us a hunky hero.



Harriet from 1305 – (Amanda Seyfried) If Amy Acker were younger, yes, she'd totally be Harriet. I tried to cast someone sweet looking, but again, Joss will know what to do.



Kiral from 1306 – (Jim Sturgess) I wanted a gorgeous young guy, but not one with too many muscles. He has to be lean and able to pull off the messy hair look.



Chiharo the ghost – (Brenda Song) Sweet, innocent, and young with Willow's brilliance. If Willow was dead. Well, I guess evil Willow was undead. I should clarify Chiharo would be like good Willow.



Jeremy – Toby Hemingway. A young Spike with a dirtier mouth.



Bonus casting:

—Nathan Fillion as Zeus. Hilarious! I think he could pull off a beard.

—Tom Lenk as Vetis. Let loose with the crazy!

—Alan Tudyk as Governor Whittaker (the dragon!). I'd like to see Alan as Vetis, but he's a bit too old. Yet he'd make one heck of a villain!

—Felicia Day and Summer Glau with cameos as goddesses.

§§§

Interested in purchasing The Ghost? Here's where to find it:

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

Smashwords

Kobo

About the Author:

Christine Rains is a writer, blogger, and geek mom. She has four degrees which help nothing with motherhood, but make her a great Jeopardy player. When she's not writing or reading, she's having adventures with her son or watching cheesy movies on Syfy Channel. She's a member of Untethered Realms and S.C.I.F.I. The 13th Floor series is her first self-published series. She has eight novellas and twenty-one short stories published.

Where to Find Her:

Website

Blog

Facebook

Twitter

Goodreads

§§§

Thank you to Christine for her post today. For the record, I'd watch any show that included that cast. Congratulations on The Ghost!!

And thank you all for stopping by today.


Sunday, July 14, 2013

Pop Goes The Travel

Today on My Pet Blog, we're celebrating the release of Tara Tyler's novel, Pop Travel.

From the back cover...

In 2080, technology has gone too far for J. L. Cooper. He is happily hidden in his simple, secluded life as a private detective in a small town, far from any pop travel laser teleportation stations. Until he takes on a client who insists pop travel made his fiancé disappear.

When Cooper investigates, he finds evidence of pop travel's deadly flaw, sparking a series of murders, attempts on his life, and threats to his brother. He’d like to pass off the evidence but knows he’s being watched and can’t trust anyone. And who would believe him? 

The only way he can save his brother is to fool his observers while looking for a way to expose the problem. He decides to go to the source and confront the Creator of pop travel. On his way, Cooper meets Southern siren, Geri Harper (an undercover FBI agent) who tags along despite his protests. When they reach the Creator, he has plans of his own and leads them on a wild detour.

Here's where you can find it:

Amazon

Barnes & Noble (available both in print and for the Nook)

About the author:

Tara Tyler started out as a math teacher. After having a hand in everything from waitressing to rocket engineering and living up and down the Eastern US, she finally found some roots, writing and teaching in Ohio with her three active boys and Coach Husband. In addition to her novels, she has published short stories and poetry in Science Fiction, Fantasy, Thriller, and Humor. So many stories to tell!

Where to find Tara online:

Blog

Twitter

Facebook


That's going to do it for me today...Congratulations to Tara, and thank you all for stopping by!

Monday, July 8, 2013

In Which I Review Books

It's been a while since I've done a monthly book review. I think the last one was back in April and only covered books I'd read in March, so I have a lot of titles I haven't yet reviewed. And there are entirely too many for me to list them all, so what I'm going to do today is give you the highlights.

Here we go...

Smashed- Lisa Ludeke- (YA) I didn’t really care for the main character, so it made it hard for me to like this book. It was all right, but it didn’t wow me, or move me all that much.

Wonderland- Ace Atkins- The second Spenser mystery written by someone other than Robert B. Parker. I was really wowed by Lullaby, Atkins's first Spenser effort, so I was looking forward to this outing, but I didn't love it as much. It's not a bad read, by any means, though, and there's a bit at the end between Spenser and Vinnie that makes me concerned for future novels. Vinnie Morris is not someone you want mad at you.

Reconstructing AmeliaKimberly McCreight- Nice set-up and non-linear storytelling. Wishing there had been less tell and more show of the relationship between the two main characters. I also wish the pay-off, the resolution, whatever—I wish that had been better because I was left disappointed that I had invested all this time into this mystery and these characters and that was all I got out of it. But up until then, I enjoyed it very much.

A History of Weapons: Caltrops, Catapults, and lots of other things that can really mess you up- John O'Bryan- A funny and informative read that explores some of the “freakiest” weapons in history. Also discusses such important topics such as “Which is better? Scalping or Head Shrinking?”

Maguire's Corner- Heather M. Gardner- This story did not waste any time getting to the action. At the end of the first scene, I was going, "Wait...what just happened?" I enjoyed the characters  There was some clever, funny banter, and the story didn’t end where/when I thought it would. Always nice to be surprised and kept on one’s toes. Interested to read what'll happen next in this series.

Stormbringers- Philippa GregoryThe second book in her Order of Darkness young adult series. I vastly prefer her adult books. This particular book was filled with dialogue that made me cringe. It was flat, it was forced, it was…not good. In addition, one of her female characters became incredibly unlikeable in this outing.  And I think the UK cover is much better than the American one.

Grave Mercy- Robin LaFevers- Book #1 in the His Fair Assassin trilogy. A very cool book that I highly enjoyed. The premise (Assassin Nuns) was pretty damn awesome, and I really liked the characters. There were even lines that made me laugh out loud. The very second I reached the end of this book, I ran down the hall to get...

Dark Triumph- Robin LaFevers- The second in the His Fair Assassin trilogy. Another great outing. Love Sybella. Disappointed that I have to wait until 2014 to read the last in the series.

Where'd You Go, Bernadette?- Maria Semple- I wasn't sure about this story for a long time. It's well-written and the characters are interesting (if not likeable) but a lot of it is told through emails between characters and I found that format tiresome, but I got to the point where I just really wanted to know what happened. I wanted to understand the mystery behind everything, and I was pretty happy with how it all turned out.

The Shadow Spinner- Andrew Leon- Well, Chapters 1-22 anyway. As this is a serial novel whose ending has not yet been published (unless you want the physical book), I haven't yet read the end and so am not yet writing a review for it, but I did want to give Andrew a shout-out. I'm curious as to where this story will end up. I will say, however, that I'm not a fan of the serial novel. This isn't a reflection on Andrew's storytelling abilities, rather my own lack of patience.


So, that's gonna do it for me today. I'm off for another action-packed double shift at The Store. Yay. But on the plus side, my paycheck won't be nearly as embarrassing for once... Thanks for stopping by, and have a great week!

Friday, July 5, 2013

Celebrate Small Things, Come On!

Celebrate the Small Things is the weekly bloghop hosted by VikLit where participants simply share what they're celebrating from the past week—however minor. (click on the pic to the left for a complete list of participants)

Here's my list for the week...

—The Red Sox are still in first place in the AL East. And the Yankees are six games back.

—I wrote an opening to a scene that needed an opening. I had started it in the middle because I had no idea how the scene should begin, but it just clicked one day, so I scribbled it down. It's only a few paragraphs long, but it's still three more paragraphs than I had last week. Yep. We're celebrating baby steps.

—I also wrote the most brilliant line ever: "We were somewhere doing something when something else happened."  I'm all about the details, you know. (And maybe I'll have those worked out for next week...)

—It's now July 5th, and I live in an area where fireworks are illegal except for the 4th of July and when the Red Sox win the World Series (true story). I'm celebrating this because my poor sweet Gator Girl is terribly afraid of fireworks, and now I won't have to worry about them again for a while. October, if things go well.

—I've run/walked 18.5 miles so far this week, and I still have two days to add to this total. My Year-To-Date total is 228 miles. Still behind the pace I had wanted to set, but I'm gaining ground.

That's gonna do it for me today. Thanks for stopping by, and I hope you have a great weekend.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

What's My Line? (An IWSG Post)

It's the first Wednesday of the month which means it's time once again for Alex J. Cavanaugh's Insecure Writer's Support Group. (click on the link for a complete list of participants) I'm sure by now I don't have to explain the purpose of the group, so I'm just going to jump right into it.

Outside of this blog and select social media forums, I do not advertise myself as a writer.

When people I meet in the world ask what I do, I generally tell them I do nothing. I'll admit to working in retail, but I don't tell them I write novels.

Because it leads to questions. And questions always lead me to panic.

What's your book about?
Is it published?
Can we read it?
When are you going to publish it?

And suddenly I am a deer caught in headlights. I am a feral cat trapped in a corner, preparing to fight my way free. I am freaking out. My chest gets all tight and my pulse is racing, and all I want to do is crawl into a hole and cease to exist.

Healthy, right?

And I know I should be glad there are people out there who are interested and curious enough to ask these questions, but hearing them always makes me feel claustrophobic. I could be in the Grand Canyon, but the second someone says "Oh, you're a writer?" I'm in the smallest car in the world, and it's packed with clowns.

I hate clowns.

This is not to say that no one out in the "real world" knows my secret identity (slower than George R.R. Martin, more incapable than...something really incapable (sorry, I've currently got nothing...which actually makes this part kind of ironic and hysterical), and able to gingerly step over large stacks of books with a single, slightly unbalanced step, it's M.J. Fifield!) because there are those that do. I have attempted in the past to correct this problem through practice, practice, practice.

But the problem only seems to be getting worse. As my writers' group witnessed yesterday when I was surrounded by five members with rapid-fire questions surrounding the current status of my manuscript.

I stumbled, I stammered, I set a small fire to divert attention elsewhere.

Just kidding. I didn't stammer.

Just kidding. I didn't do any of those things. I made some noises that probably sounded like I was choking on my own tongue before apologizing for my lack of social skills and ability to talk about anything. Then I hightailed it out of there and went to bang my head against the wall for a while.

Definitely not a good sign of things to come.

Anyway, I think that's going to do it for me today, and because I have a double shift at The Store coming up shortly, I'm going to be late getting to your posts. But I will get there.

So thanks for stopping by today. It's always appreciated.

Monday, July 1, 2013

The Write Stuff

First of all...how is it July already? I mean, c'mon! It seems like just yesterday I was blogging about how I couldn't believe it was already June.

And now it's July and time for another installment of "How much did I NOT get done during the previous month"... otherwise known as Are You Writing Now? the writing support/accountability group hosted by Patricia Lynne.

Here are the goals I set for myself last month (If you remember, they were eerily similar to the goals I set in May. And April.):

1. Solve the major plot problem that is holding up all progress in Effigy's sequel, Second Nature.

Well, I don't know if that particular problem is solved, exactly, but I have a plan and there has been movement on it, so I am awarding myself partial credit. But the even better news is that I've since managed to develop a second major plot problem, and there's no solution in sight. Yet.

2. Seriously stop ignoring Effigy's blurb. You need something more than "It probably won't be the worst thing you've ever read!"

I didn't do this at all. I gave the blurb a passing thought a couple of times but mostly just ignored the damn thing all together. The brilliant Callie Leuck wrote for Effigy what is possibly the greatest blurb ever created (especially when you compare it to what I've actually written) but I think it may only be suitable/appropriate  to hang on my wall. Still, thanks for the inspiration, Callie!

Now, for the coming month, I am going to switch things up a bit because I desperately need new goals to look at. Sure, they're pretty much going to be the exact same thing as the above, just worded differently. Maybe I can trick myself...

1. Stupid blurb. You're making it much harder than it needs to be, so knock it off and knock this goal out.

2. Rough out a draft of Part Two of Second Nature. It doesn't have to be perfect beautiful prose or anything, just finished. You know where Part Two starts, and you know where you want it to end. So now figure out the stuff in the middle.

That's gonna do it for me today. As always, thanks for stopping to see what I'm rambling on about this time. Be sure to tune in again on Wednesday when the IWSG takes the stage.

Oh, and if you're participating in Camp NaNoWriMo this month, I wish you all the best with your goals. Write, write, write!

Happy Canada Day!