Thursday, August 13, 2015

What I'm Reading (and what I'm Not)

OK, depending on your opinion of how many books it is appropriate to read at once, your opinion of me might be about to change.

I like to read more than one book at a time.

Stop throwing things at me.

Seriously, I have met people who have gasped out loud at the notion of reading multiple books at once. I know I'm not the only person who does this, but they act like I've just told them about everything my husband and I did in bed last night.

Which was nothing, because I convinced him to let the dog sleep in our room and she snuggled the fuck right up between us like the coziest cuddle buddy you've ever had.

But hey, people follow more than one TV show at a time, which is basically the same thing, so...yeah. Take that, gaspers!

A lot of the time I end up splitting my readings between physical books (or eBooks) and an audio book (what up, Audible!). And if you now hate me even more for my love of audiobooks, I don't care. As per this article I wrote, they rock, and they will always rock.

Anyway, my physical read right now is How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe by Charles Yu, and so far it is as fantastic and wonderful as the title and cover promised it would be. I found it at Bookman's, our favorite used bookstore here in Tucson, and it immediately went to the (almost) top of my to-read list.

There's math, physics, time-travel and AI bosses who have no idea that they're little more than some code in a piece of software, but still enjoy using phrases like, "Yo dog."

My audio-book (which I listen to while driving, running, at the gym and while unloading the dishwasher if everyone would just be quiet for like two seconds) is You're Never Weird on the Internet (almost) by Felicia Day.

And oh my god, she is wonderful. I first discovered Felica Day through her web series The Guild, and she's been in other internet sensations like Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog and the Dragon Age: Redemption web series.

In short, she's wonderful and hilarious and has just enough social anxiety to make me feel like we could totes be best friends. 

So what are you reading (or listening to) right now?

Monday, August 3, 2015

Schedules aren't Just for Toddlers Anymore

If babies and toddlers are indeed creatures of habit (which, according to every pediatrician, parenting book, mom blog, and that weird lady at the park that one time, they totally are), then count me in as a fit-throwing, Ninja Turtle-loving three year old.

I am a creature of habit.

I wish my desk looked this nice.
Which is useful since I telecommute.

Sure, there’s a lot of freedom with working outside of an office, but I still follow a schedule that changes a few times throughout the year depending on my classes.

Right now I have a few weeks before class starts up again, so my morning schedule is fairly simple:

  • Wake up and shower.
  • Drag protesting kids out of my own bed (don't you have your own?) and get them downstairs and fed.
  • Tell them for the last god damn time to put their clothes on or they can't watch Ninja Turtles when they get home.
  • Drop kids off at daycare. Try to act like I enjoy listening to the same song for the millionth time.
  • Come back home, eat breakfast while listening to an audiobook or podcast, and guzzle coffee.

Five days a week I start my day off the same way. I have the same thing for breakfast, the same thing for lunch, and eat the same snacks at the same time of day.

OK I sound really boring.

But there’s a good reason behind it, I swear. All of these little things that go into my routine get me ready for a day of work filled with writing, editing, and pacing my living room when I hit a roadblock.

If I rolled out of bed and plopped down in front of the computer still in my PJs, guess how much work I’d get done? Well, my Twitter feed might look busy, but that’s about it.

The same goes with writing. You know, my own fiction writing, not work writing.

When I was just a ball of hormones and energy and cigarettes I could write whenever, wherever. Now, I like a bit of habit before settling into some productive writing time. (Right now, it’s in the afternoon after I take a lunch break.)

Struggling to commit enough time to writing is a burden that most writers carry, and that’s one of the reasons that I find routine and habit so incredibly important.

I mean sure, those visions of the innately perfect writer who puts pen to paper and produces brilliant works of art any time the fancy strikes is nice and all, but for the most part writing takes an enormous amount of dedication and hard work.

Do you have any pre-writing habits or rituals that get you into the mindset to write?

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Staycation 2015: Our Tucson Adventure

You know what sucks about vacation?

The driving there. Oh, and the driving back. There's also staying in hotels with kids who insist they need to share your bed, splitting a single toilet between 4 people (2 of whom either don't have to pee or HAVE TO PEE RIGHT NOW OR OMG I'M GOING TO DIE), and paying crazy amounts to eat out for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

So we didn't go on a vacation.

While staycations are actually pretty trendy right now, our motivation to take one was less from a desire to be cool and based more on our bank account and the lingering mental trauma from last year's cross-country move.

Plus, our city is pretty awesome anyway. Who needs to go somewhere when Tucson has so much to offer? And no, we didn't take any hikes, because going to the mountains or canyon any time after sunrise during the summer months is pretty much the most awful thing I can think of, and mama ain't getting out bed that early during vacation staycation.

Here are the highlights from our 3-day Tucson staycation.

The castle-themed arcade:

These awesome miniatures from The Mini Time Machine:

Eegees. 'Nuf said.

The surprisingly active animals at the Reid Park Zoo. Except for the rhino, but that dude's always pretty chill.

Oh, and this, because life hates us, and we've already blown enough trying to fix a problem that everyone totally promises they fixed this time.

Overall, it was wonderful. We only ate out once (except for the Eegees excursion, but c'mon, that's pretty much mandatory), used our annual passes to get into the zoo, swam at the YMCA with our membership, visited our local used bookstore, packed snacks, drinks, and lunches for while we were out, and ate dinner at home.

And I only had to set my alarm clock once, even if I did sleep right through it.

Have you gone anywhere fun this summer? Or are you chilling at home?

**If you haven't entered yet, you've got about 7 hours left to enter Coffee Copyediting's giveaway!

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Giveaway Alert!

In need of a professional editing for your manuscript? Head over to Coffee Copyediting to snare a chance at a free editing.

And if you're not interested in possible free editing that's OK too. Instead, here's a funny picture perfectly depicting how fed up this mom was with people's bull shit. Seriously though, imagine all the questions people asked.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Surviving Night Classes

I'm in the homestretch of my summer courses, meaning that I only have 4 weeks left of my 4-days-a-week, 3 hours and 20 minutes night class. Phew. For real ya'll, I'm tired. Luckily I like math, or this would really suck.

Except you would expect this type of class to fly by. After all, it's only a 5 week course, and the first summer session I took went by in the blink of an eye. In reality, this class is draaaagggging because, apparently, no one else has ever heard of a pre-requisite. On the first day of class one girl raised her hand and very loudly announced that she hadn't had math in 7 years, and that she needed to know what subjects to brush up on.

Trigonometry. This is why we're all here.

OK, I admit it, I had a very bad, judgey moment. If you haven't had math in 7 years, you should not be in this class. Period. When I returned to college I hadn't had math in over 7 years and so I started at the bottom and worked my butt off to get to the level I'm at now, and instead of moving forward I'm stuck in a class with people who don't understand how to put all the terms of a function under the same denominator.

But my saving grace has been my teacher who, with infinitely better fashion sense and a masters in electrical engineering, is hilarious. During the half hour intervals in which she has to re-explain all of the principles that should have been learned in college algebra, I spend my time doodling in the margins of my notebook, jotting down notes for stories, and writing down all of the funny things my teacher says.

For best effect, please read in a heavy Greek accent.

Wisdom from my Precalculus Teacher

"If you could be a number you should be zero. It's chaos! Multiply by zero, it annihilates everything. Divide by zero, BOOM! Everything blows up."

"The circle is your friend. You're gonna love that little circle. Girls you want someone to treat you right? Get a circle."

"I try to tell her, but I'm 30 and she's 11, you try telling her she's not the boss."

"When we get to trigonometry that's party time. That's time to bring the pizza and beer."

"It's all just stuff. Just this is X stuff and this is Y stuff."

"Be careful because these look very much the same. This is a drunk 8. When 8 becomes drunk, it falls down and becomes infinity."

"'Hey brother, you have some weed?' And brother does, because it's the 60s."

Monday, July 6, 2015

On Hating the Process and 2D Characters

Earlier this week, I left the planning and outlining phase of my most recent work-in-progress, aptly named: WIP #Bazillion. And no, that’s not a hashtag you young hooligans with your fancy words and Twitter machines.

I was thrilled to start, even if kiddo #2 was home sick from daycare and camped out on the couch next to me. (Side note, I’m now completely caught up on the first season of the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle cartoon.)

But the thing is, that excitement didn’t last long. It lasted approximately half of the first paragraph, and then it died as suddenly and devastatingly as climate change’s impact on Texas’ weird rain thing. (Too soon?) I’ve never had the love and joy and excitement of starting a new novel die as quickly as it did then, and I thought, “OK, this is just a fluke. Keep going.”

And I did keep going. For three, miserable pages.

Guys, it was awful. I didn’t just not like writing it, I hated it like I’d been working on it for four god damn years and was on my seventh round of edits. First drafts aren’t for hating, they’re for loving.

I decided to close my laptop and give the experience some thought. I’d spent so long thinking of this story and playing it through in my head before I ever sat down to outline or plan out any scenes. Character sheets with my characters’ information, back story, and other little tiny details were stored on my computer, I’d organized my sequence of events, parceled out some chapters, and yet there I sat, hating the process.

It took my three days before I realized why. My main character? She’s as flat as a freakin’ pancake. There’s no substance to her, no reason for the readers to like her. Honestly, I don’t even like her.

Instead of embarking on the adventure of starting a new manuscript, I’ve been spending a little more time with my main character, getting to know her better, understanding her past in an intimate fashion, discovering the motives behind her actions.

And if you need any further evidence that 2D characters suck, turn your attention to Paper Mario, and never forget that Nintendo thought that would somehow be an awesome game.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

You can't Play Soccer with a Football Rule Book

Imagine, for a moment, that you and your friends are enjoying playing a game of soccer. You're at a public field where you are all permitted to be, but before you can finish a game a group of people wave you over.

You take a break from your soccer game and jog over to see what's wrong.

"Excuse me," the leader of the group says, holding up a book, "But you're playing wrong. According to my rule book, you shouldn't be kicking the ball up and down the field. No, you need to use your hands to hold the ball. Cradle it, really. And where is your safety gear? You need helmets and shoulder pads. Why on earth are you playing like this? It's clearly against the rule book."

Confused, you ask to look at the rule book and immediately spot the problem. "Ah, I see what the issue is." You say. "This is the rule book for football! That's a great game, I hear a lot of people like it, but it's not quite for us. We prefer soccer, where kicking the ball is allowed. It's a public field and we're almost finished up, so if you'd like to play football we'll be done soon."

"No, you don't understand!" the person replies. "This is our rulebook and it says that you must play this way. I cannot believe that you're going to continue going against the rules when it clearly states that you cannot just kick the ball back and forth."

Again, you try to explain that you're not playing football. You point out that you and your friends are just enjoying a game of soccer, and you even bring over the soccer ball to show that it's definitely not a football. A friend of yours even happens to have a soccer rule book on hand, which you show the other people.

And yet they're not satisfied. They keep insisting that it's OK if you want to play soccer, but that if you're going to play, you need to play according to their rulebook.

. . .

This is why I celebrate the Supreme Court ruling that made gay marriage legal in all 50 states in the United States of America. If you believe that gay marriage isn't OK according to the rule book you live by, then the simplest answer is to not marry a person of the same sex.

However, remember that not everyone follows your rule book. Many people just want to live and love and be happy and do good, but they're following a different path, and that's OK.

Let's dispel the hate that has filled our country over the smallest of differences. Over skin color, over who we love, over what rule book we think is right.

Because my heart is both full of joy and hurting right now.