The Proper Care and Feeding of Blogs

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I have not been diligent, I confess. I thought that I could walk into school like a boss and Hermoine my way through the quarter effortlessly. This attitude brought me my downfall in spades. With my wounded pride I had to cancel every social event I had, shoulder more responsibility than I thought possible, and finally pull myself out of a grade tailspin.

Somehow along the way I’d forgotten that the majority of my early school career was spent being taken care of by my parents. I didn’t have to cook, didn’t have to do my own laundry, or even worry about anything further than Friday night.

Then, to add insult to injury, my washing machine flooded like mad, ruining the floor that my husband only installed two years ago. This led to much time spent with flood mitigation, getting estimates and dealing with repair people to prove my innocence.

Nevermind the fact that it’s Nanowrimo and I’m trying like mad to keep my word count up.

Ever since school started, it’s been one challenge after another, and November seemed to throw everything in a pressure cooker to add to the difficulty. I’m surviving all of this, I’m not doing too bad in all honesty, but it’s made blogging a bit of a challenge because I don’t want to whine on every post about my first world problems. I tentatively believe that the worst is over for now, so I can give a summary and then move on from this topic.

The upside has been that I have kept up my Nanowrimo word count thanks to my kind and supportive husband. My sequel is shaping up. I’ve still got a lot of work to go but November is definitely shaping up for a hefty chunk of the first draft.

My son is doing well in school this year, which I’m excited about, and my husband is doing well at work. If we can keep all of this up in the face of adversity, it will be awesome to see what we can manage when we’re not pelted with challenges.

Back to the Future

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If I had a time machine, I would go back in time and tell 1998 me to go to the Financial Aid office and ask for the 411. I would explain to nineteen year old me that not having a kid, or any major debt, or a life to speak of, was the perfect time to attend college. And that as present me, I would take it as a serious favor.

Of course, that would change everything and break the space time continuum, but I’m not going to dwell on that. Instead, I’m dwelling on hindsight being twenty-twenty.

The irony of this being that I went to school to get better at writing, and have had almost no time to work on my craft.

I steal what I can. Last weekend my father-in-law came up and took Toby swimming with my husband, and I soaked up two hours and wrote 3200 words. Next week I’m taking a continuing education class on copy editing, which may sound boring but will definitely improve my craft a lot. I’m excited to be taking the class with two of three in my writers group. I think it will be a great exercise for everyone.

I can feel my life changing on a daily basis. I thought I was prepared for school, but I wasn’t. For the past three years I worked full time, got home, ate supper and spent time with family, and then when Toby went to bed I wrote. I thought that school couldn’t possibly be more work than that.

I was so naïve.

I got so tired that I bailed on a signing event a couple weekends ago because I couldn’t even. The thought of driving for two hours alone made me want to curl up and cry. I wanted to go, but the level of homework and exhaustion combined grounded me.

Knowing I have two years of this to look forward to, before moving on to my BA and other challenges, are hard facts. Knowing that my future books are slowed to a crawl is tough to accept. No matter how many times I try, I still cannot do ALL THE THINGS, and it still frustrates me.

Limitations are what help us grow, though. I keep thinking that growth happens when we have unlimited time and resources. Honestly it’s when we’re stopped from growing that we push the hardest. Even though it’s hard, and things crop up outside of school and test you, and then things in school crop up and you realize you’ve been doing it wrong, you go on. You just dust off and try harder.

And sometimes, if you’re very clever and your son and your husband are playing a video game together, you may have time to write the occasional blog post.

School Daze

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When I started school, I had an optimistic mindset. I remembered being an excellent student. Hermione Granger had nothing on me. I was confident about learning and absorbed facts quickly, while being able to organize the facts for easy access later.


That was all true, but when you’re a student at 17, you live at home, you don’t have to run a household. Your biggest concern is generally what you are doing on Friday night. Being a mother, a wife, and an author, becoming a student tore a hole in my nice, shiny set-up. My friends have often made comments about the way I Tetris my schedule to squeeze every last usable minute out of my day. Well, I did not compensate for the demands of the day, and nearly ran my brain over a cheese grater in the process.

Like a drunken pilot seized by a survival instinct, I blindly grabbed for the controls and brought everything to a halt. My clockwork precision in ruins, I had to scramble to bring it all back to a medium pace. Lesson learned.

Everything is riding on college right now. I spent six months looking for work, and I barely scared up a pre-screening phone call. I got a lot of nice rejection letters, which is better odds than the last time I was unemployed. That said, I’m getting sick of being unceremoniously dumped out the cargo bay when a corporate entity feels the need to lighten the load. I’ve topped out on my customer service skills alone. I need something with more depth and more challenge.

The irony in the swirl of all this change is that I had just come to a point where I’d accepted my lot with my ex-employer. I’d been looking for jobs and hadn’t caught any breaks. So, I decided that I could keep doing what I was doing – work all day, write all night, live in the margins. It wasn’t a month after I made that decision that I got the boot treatment.

Back to school. I love it. I still have the ability to absorb information quickly. I’m still good at taking notes, organizing them, and turning them back around. I’m not doing as well as I’d like, but just imagine Hermione pulling a ‘B’ in a class. There are stakes. I hold myself to a high standard, and anything less than an ‘A’ isn’t a good grade in my book.

Sadly, I’ve had to put that model to bed, because life. I’ve had to adopt a more realistic model of things, one that gives me time and space for family and writing and sleep. It’s been difficult to adopt that model instead. I’m a perfectionist at heart, but perfection is a state attained only in one’s mind. It’s better in your head, Tina.

I’m hoping that with these adjustments college will be a smoother ride. Ah, platitudes. How would we manage without them?

Bound & Gagged

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When I was in 7th grade, my friend Ryan Fivecoat told me, “Never write anything you’d want the whole world to read.”

That was a heavy load to drop on a 7th grade skull, but I kept it close to me, because it resonated with me. I wasn’t like the other kids. I wouldn’t write notes that I worried about the teacher finding. I wouldn’t commit my serious thoughts to paper, because God only knew who might find my writing and judge me.

Honestly, given the judgmental nature of the city I grew up in, and how quickly people were to pounce when they caught a whiff of weakness… it was probably the best advice anyone could have given me.

Fast forward 20+ years. I live in a different state, with different values. I’m a grown woman, have a child and a husband, and a slew of petty past infractions such as imperfect ex-boyfriends and wonky career paths. I should be beyond that feeling that I need to protect everything I have to say, to sanitize my words for others comfort. I should be comfortable in my own skin, revealing these truths that are self-evident.

I don’t though. To this day, the words of my friend still rattle around in my skull. “Never write anything you’d want the whole world to read.”

Except, who am I to determine what that is? Who am I to know how you’re going to take these words?

I had a hell of a summer. I was torn free from my anchors and dropped down on the shore, left to find new points of stability. It wasn’t one large pull from a storm wave, but instead the gentle, insistent tug of the tide.

I had to watch my kid all summer long. I wasn’t prepared for his proximity, he’s been in daycare since he was 3 months old. I love my kid but anyone who’s had an uncouth roommate can tell you that even if you care about the person, there are habits that will drive you to biting the heads off of nails. I lost faith in myself at some point, I wasn’t sure I could do it. Fortunately I pulled myself free of that defeatist notion, and kept on going.

I had to confront my trust issues. Certainly a girl whose mantra is laced in paranoia couldn’t have trust issues, but I am a poster child for it. Obviously there are those whom I do trust, who have spent years whittling away at my armor to get inside the shell. They are few, they are far between, and up until now I didn’t even recognize my problem.

So, I did a little renovation over the course of the last few months. I’ve started to peel away some of the layers that don’t suit me. I’ve started to confront those demons that we all collect on a long enough timeline. I don’t know how to verbalize some of what I’ve accomplished… but even saying what I’ve said is a considerable amount of putting myself out there that I don’t do.

Hopefully this work will continue, and I can tell you more of my story soon.

What I Did On My Summer Vacation

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Hi everyone.

Let me preface this blog post by saying that Summer jumped me like a mugger in an alleyway, and I kept trying to get away but my cries went unheeded and eventually everything went black.

I wish I could be less visceral with the comparison, but nothing has hit me as hard as this summer. I was full time Mom, part time writer (which became no-time towards the end.) I juggled swim lessons, laundry and the budget. I looked for work and signed up for class and tried to get my shit together.

I did manage to publish a book and have a reading for it. I need to work on my marketing. Thus far I’m relying on word of mouth, and barely anyone knows me. I’m trying different things, marketing-wise, but I’m an author, not a spin doctor, and everything I try feels awkward.

Sadly, the truth is that marketing is for extroverts. People who can look you in the eye and feel every ounce of their self-worth, in the face of rejection. I’m an introvert. The only thing worse than rejection is attention.

Admittedly, I may be in the wrong industry.

However, this is an industry where I can shamelessly write a story about a vampire dealing with ancient gods and have a lot of fun doing it. Where I can sit down with a group of my friends for a round of “I’ve been there’s.” An industry where writing a letter of appeal to Amazon, whether it does any good or not, is a worthwhile task, as opposed to just a customer complaint.

I have a life outside my writing. It consists of my son, and my husband, and my tiny condo, and my neighbor’s dog. I go to backyard barbecues, catch blockbusters in the theater, and indulge in one too many glasses of wine. It’s a lot less interesting than my imagination, which has a mind of its own.

Recently I had a chance to read to my fans at a local comic book shop. It jazzed me up. Being in a room full of people who have read, or wanted to read, my book. People who had questions about my world, who wanted to know more about what I do. I was terrified but when I noticed there were no pitchforks or torches, I fell into a groove of listening and sharing, and it was a marvelous thing.

I want more of it, and it’s not coming fast enough. I think if I can keep ahead of the self-doubt and the rigid terror, I think I could possibly make a living doing this. I wrote a short story in one day, the first time I’ve ever written that much word count in one sitting.

Ah, and here’s the other thing. That group of friends.. they rely on me for the same thing. They want my opinion on stories and query letters. They want a trustworthy source to tell them their stories are on track, or off the rails, or in-between. I need that just as much as I need to succeed for myself.

It’s going to be an interesting Autumn.

Original Bento Box – Flash Fiction!


Okay, fans, this was the piece that launched a novel. Almost none of this made it into the book, but that’s what inspiration does. It takes you where you don’t expect.


The emergency induction port funneled strawberry ice cream shake into her mouth and chilled her tongue. It was too sweet. She longed for a Tequila Sunrise, but the body she wore had an abysmal fake id. Younger bodies were by far more flexible, which she preferred. Carnelia hated being treated like a child; it was the tradeoff she made.  To keep up appearances, she couldn’t turn down the generosity of the older woman with the voice that sounded like cigarettes and whisky. So, here she sat, infusing herself with sugar and waiting.

A trilling noise incited no interest. Everyone in the small diner had a cell phone. She slipped a peek at her locator tracker. The LT showed a red dot, slowly approaching a blue dot. A smile touched her lips as she clicked the LT shut. She did the math and estimated that he would arrive in six minutes.

She stuffed her hand into her purse. It brushed past sharp objects, dangerous items, ammunition, a lipstick, and finally the grip of her LazrGn™. It was sized perfectly for smaller hands and had the benefit of looking like a toy.

The door to the tiny diner swung in, setting a bell set above the door in motion. The tiny chimes drew people’s attention. The figure stepping through the door held it. He filled the door frame at seven foot two. His hair was shaved on the sides, and a noxious green Mohawk flared upwards. His heavy black coat swirled around his ankles. He held a bento box, and had a wonton halfway to his mouth when he barged through the door. He flashed a toothy grin to the horrified folk inside.

She pulled out her LazrGn™ and aimed it beneath the bar. She whispered in her throat mike. “Orochi confirmed.”

Orochi seemed to be enjoying the horrified looks on everyone’s face. He popped the wonton in his mouth and chewed thoughtfully, his gaze strolling over their mingled fear and growing concern.

“Got any soy sauce?” He asked the nearest waitress.

The older woman appeared unimpressed. “You get outta here, son. You got trouble in you and I don’t want it in here.”

“I just want some soy sauce. Is that really so much to ask?” He gave her a wounded look. Then he drew a BFG 300 from his side holster, concealed by the big leather coat. He aimed his gun at the ceiling and shot it, deafening the closest patrons and causing panic to erupt.

Carnelia dived under the table, taking cover behind a booth. She aimed, but a panicked civilian ran for the door and right in front of her path.  The civilian was rewarded with a BFG 300 clipping him in the temple. The civilian crumpled at Orochi’s boots.

The big gun went off again. “Shut up!” Orochi yelled.

At the sight of one of their number going down, the civilians had found cover. They huddled in small groups in the booths.

Carnelia had an idea. She slipped her gun into the waistband of her panties and hid the bulge as best she could under a hoodie. She grabbed her Hello Kitty backpack and peeked at Orochi over the booth top. Her blonde and pink hair stuck up like two antenna.

Orochi saw her and smiled. “What’s your name?”

“Carnelia.” She pushed herself up, leaned over the booth. “What’s yours?”

“Call me Orochi.” He looked down. “My bento box broke.”