Friday, November 30, 2012

Scenes From The Store

I HAVE A DAY OFF!!!  I HAVE A DAY OFF!!!  It feels like forever since I was able to say that and I'm so gleeful I hardly know what to do first: dishes, laundry, or watch The Avengers.  Again.

But before I do any of that (and let's face it, The Avengers is totally going to win.  Again.) I thought I would share with you some of the soundbites from this latest stretch of work, starting with Black Friday and ending with yesterday.  It mostly features me being a brat but that can't possibly surprise anyone anymore.  Tragically, however, I seem to have lost my Black Friday haiku list.  And they were good too.

One important thing to know is that The Store was running a "everything in the store is 30% off" sale and had big giant signs hanging up all over reiterating this fact.  And yet it still led to this...

Customer: Is this shirt part of the sale?
Me:  Yes.  Everything's on sale.

Customer:  Are those jackets part of the sale?
Me:  Yes.  Everything's part of the sale.

Customer: Is this pair of socks part of the sale?
Me:  No.  You found the one thing that isn't a part of the 'everything's on sale' sale.
Customer:  Really?
Me:  No.

Customer: So is the 40% off the price?
Me:  No, it's off the sleeves.
Customer:  What?
Me:  Yes, it's off the price.

#1 Boss:  MJ, will you help me write an announcement for the PA?
Me:  Go away.
#1 Boss:  Something nicer.
Me:  Please go away.
#1 Boss:  Never mind.

#3 Boss: Are you here?
Me:  No, it's an illusion.
#3 Boss: Huh?

#3 Boss: (looking at some fallen product) What happened here?
Me:  Gravity.
#3 Boss:  Well, thanks, Isaac Newton.
Me:  That's Sir Isaac Newton to you.

New Guy:  What are you doing?
Me:  Looking for something.
NG:  What do you mean?
Me:  Well, I don't know what it means where you come from but where I come from, it means I'm looking for something.
NG:  Oh.  Need any help?
Me:  No.

Me:  Can I be fired?
#2 Boss:  Why? What did you do now?

And, last but not least, these haiku:

Everything's on sale
So you don't have to ask if
that shirt is on sale.

It took five minutes
for New Boss to annoy me
must be a record 

I don't know who is
screwing with my stockroom shelves
but they will be stopped

Don't answer the phone
with a mouthful of candy
it doesn't end well

Watching a man twirl
batons in the parking lot
can he juggle geese?

I'm headed home now
please don't call me tomorrow
I won't take your call

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Now I've Got The Look (And a Song Stuck in My Head)

What??  Two posts in two days?  That's crazy!  Did the earth start rotating backward or something??

Anyway... Earlier this month, C.M. Brown tagged me in the 'You've Got The Look' meme.  This meme has been going around the blogosphere for a while now so you're probably all very familiar with it but, in case you're not, here are the rules:

Participants are asked to do the following:

— Go to your current WIP
— Hunt down the word 'look'
— Post the surrounding paragraphs
— Tag five other people

and today my excerpt comes from Second Nature


“Where’s Dana?” James said finally.

Faolan was surprised by the question.  He knew the subject of Dana’s whereabouts would be inevitable but he hadn’t thought that, at that particular moment, Dana’s would be the first name off James’s lips.  Faolan looked to his right where, leaning against the wall, was Dana’s sword.

“Dana’s gone,” Faolan said.

“Gone where?”


“What does that mean?” James asked, bringing up his head to look at him.

“It means he’s not here,” Faolan said.

“Where did he go?”

“I don’t know,” Faolan said.  “Neither do I care.  He’s not my concern.”

“He should be,” James said.  “He should be here.  He should be the one doing this.”

Faolan had thought the same at first.  He had even said as much to Dana as he rousted the rebel leader from the homestead.  But meeting Cate, being in that room with her even for that short amount of time, had convinced him otherwise.  Now, somehow, he thought there was no one better suited for this task than James.

“No,” Faolan said.  “He shouldn’t be.”


And now comes the part where I am supposed to tag five other people but I never do that part.  As always, I invite you to tag yourself.  Just make sure to let me know you do it so I can be sure to check out your stories.

That's going to do it for me today as I have a shift at The Store.  Thanks to C.M. Brown for including me in this meme and thanks to my readers for stopping by... it's always appreciated!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Down and Out and Back Again

I've been trying to figure out how to start this post for a while now.  Like, a long while.  Hours.  Days.  Weeks.  But not months so I guess that's something.  I write a sentence, think about it for a while and then delete it.  And then after about thirty or so attempts at typing a single sentence, thinking about it and then deleting it, I just shut down the computer and go do something else.  Only 'something else' these days either involves a shift at The Store (Retail, thou art the bane of my existence) or staring aimlessly at a wall because I don't seem to have anything left right now.  I am an M.J. shaped pile of nothing.

So, hey, aren't you glad I'm here to blog about all the nothing?

And I don't want to be a drama queen and I don't want to make excuses which is a big part of why I haven't blogged in so long.  Because everything I would say feels like an excuse.  Yes, I received Bad News at the start of the month and it took me down.  I let it take me down and I let it keep me down.  I should have been stronger.  I should have been more resilient but I wasn't.  And as I can't change this, I'm going to try something new where I don't beat myself up over it.

Just... don't ask how that's going.

Instead let's talk about NaNoWriMo.  This is something else over which I am not going to beat myself up.  Probably.  Maybe.

And why is that, you might ask?  Well, I'm going to lose this year.  This is my fourth year participating and it'll be my very first loss.  I'm currently sitting at just over 14,000 words which is just about... 31,000 words behind where I should be at this time.  According to the stats page, at my current rate of production, I'll be crossing that finish line in February.  Of 2013.  Not my best NaNoWriMo performance.  Not by a long shot.

And I'm going to be okay with that.  Someday.  Maybe.  In February.  Of 2023.

But enough about my failure.  I see from my Buddies Page that some of you are already winners and many of the rest of you are agonizingly close.  I applaud those who have already won and I am rooting for the rest of you.

And I'm happy for the people whose books I've recently purchased (Jolene Perry, Michael Offutt, Gwen Gardner, Andrew Leon and more!).  Your accomplishments are awesome in every sense of the word and I look forward to reading your stories.

And I look forward to getting back into the swing of things.  Or, at least, making an effort toward getting back into the swing of things.  And in the name of doing just that, I am going to end this post with a life's philosophy posted on a Facebook page by a woman much wiser than me (I don't know from where it originated but her page is where I found it):

Laugh when you can... Apologize when you should... And let go of what you can't change.  Love deeply and forgive quickly... Take chances and give your everything... Life is too short to be anything but happy... You have to take the good with the bad... Love what you have and always remember what you had.  Forgive but don't forget... And always remember that life goes on.

P.S... I hope everyone celebrating Thanksgiving had a good one!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Worry Wart (An IWSG Post)

The Insecure Writer's Support Group is the brainchild of blogger extraordinaire and Ninja Captain Alex J. Cavanaugh and takes place on the first Wednesday of every month.  It's an opportunity for the insecure writer in all of us to get out and stretch our legs and get a little love and support from our fellow writers.  For a complete list of participants, click on the logo to the left.

Back in high school, I ran track.  Of course, me running track looked a lot like me hanging out on the bleachers eating Cookie Crisp while watching other people run track.  But there was one day, early in my track career, where every member of the team participated in every event that would take place at a meet.  Our coaches did this in order to decide who should focus on which events.  I managed to hold my own until we got to the last event: the 100m hurdles.

I'm sure you're all familiar with this event but, just in case, here's what you're supposed to do:

Here's what I did:

Only I wasn't nearly as graceful.

Needless to say, I did not run any races that involved hurdles because I just couldn't quite clear them which was kind of an important detail when competing in such a race.  In order to win the race, one needed to be able to do that.  In order to finish the race, one needed to be able to do that.

And I couldn't even finish the race.

This is what publishing is proving to be for me.  A straightaway littered with hurdles that I just can't quite clear.  But unlike high school track, I can't just shrug it off and scarf down some sugary cereal while I watch everyone else cross the finish line.  Instead, it's making me sad.  It's making me worry.

Not that worrying is something new for me.  One thing The Man always says to me (besides "would you stop buying books?!?!?") is "you've got to stop worrying."  And it's not bad advice.  It's probably even wise, smart and all that but here's the thing... I don't know how.

I don't know how I don't worry about this.  I mean, publishing a book— publishing Effigy— is one of my life goals.  It's the life goal.  It's Number One on the list (followed closely by 'fly in the invisible jet') so how do I not worry about my inability to make this goal happen?

I set two dates this year as The Date.  And then I watched them sail by.  Well, the first one sailed by.  That one never had a chance; it really was a pipe dream but I was too uneducated (What? Me, uneducated? Surely you jest!) to realize it at the time.  The second one I really thought would happen but again, I didn't pull it off.  Obviously, right?  Because if I had, somehow, managed to not screw this up, I'd probably be writing a much different post.


And none of this should be construed as me giving up because I am not giving up.  I will admit to having those thoughts— to thinking that it's just not meant to be—but I am not giving up.  Yes, I am sad.  Yes, I am discouraged.  Life would probably be a lot easier if I wanted to be a professional precision folder but I don't.  I want to be a writer and so, come hell or high water, I will find a way to get over those hurdles.  I will find a way to get across that finish line.  I will build a bridge or a jet pack or a molecular transportation device (just as soon as I earn my degree in advanced starship technology...).  I will figure out how to sprout wings or learn to levitate or something.  I will figure it out and I will get over those hurdles and I will cross the finish line because failure is not an option.  It may be my current reality but it will not be my future.

But until then, I'm going to worry.

Friday, November 2, 2012

In Which I Review Books

Today's picture was supposed to be of books but I accidentally clicked on the brownie picture instead.  Easily fixable, I know, but I decided to leave it because (a) brownies are delicious and (b) it made me laugh, so what the hell.

These particular brownies came from Mike's Pastry on Hanover Street in Boston.  If you ever have the chance to go, you really should (bring cash).  And don't let the long lines fool you (last time I was there, the lines were out the door and down to the end of the block)... they move fast.

Now, with that PSA out of the way, let's talk books.  This isn't going to be a very long list today.  I didn't get a lot read in October except that's not exactly true.  I read both of my novels, Effigy and Second Nature (or what exists of Second Nature anyway) in order to make a new punch list of errors.  But I'm not going to review them for you today because I'll be too hard on myself (way too many errors!) and then spend the rest of the day crying under my desk because that M.J. Fifield's just so mean.

But here's what I will review for you:

The Raven Boys- Maggie Stiefvater- So last year around this time, I wrote a review of Steifvater's novel The Scorpio Races and I gushed over it.  A lot.  And then I gushed over it some more because I freaking loved (and still do) that book.  So this year, I pick up The Raven Boys and I bring it to the Keys with me and I start reading it on a beach and because I get so sucked into the story, I forget to turn over and I end up with a partially sunburned ass which affects my ability to sit properly the rest of the vacation and I don't care (much anyway) because the book is freaking awesome.  Her character creation, her writing style, the damn ending, all of it just blew me away.  The worst thing about this book is that I don't have the next one and I have to wait for the next one and  I don't want to wait because I want to know what happens next because I love these characters.  Blue and her Raven boys (Gansey and Adam and Ronan and Noah)— beautiful, just awesome.  I want to become best friends with Maggie Stiefvater so I can read everything she writes as she writes it.  Down to her grocery lists because I figure they have to be pretty damn awesome too.

Reflected In You- Sylvia Day- I read the first book in this series sometime ago.  This is the second.  It continues the adventures of damaged lovers Eva and Gideon.  And I found it to be kind of repetitive.  Very repetitive.  There was a lot of "I love you but I don't trust you so I can't be with you anymore. Wait, I do trust you, I guess I can be with you. No, wait, I don't trust you so I can't be with you anymore" going on and it got very boring.  There's a Big Event that's revealed toward the end that does make me wonder how that might affect their relationship (which is on again by the end) in the third book.

Dead To You- Lisa McMann- So I've read a few of her books and outright didn't like the last one (Cryer's Cross... something about a haunted desk? Whatever.) but the premise of this book I found very intriguing.  Ethan was abducted from his family when he was seven years old and finds his way back to them nine years later.  Things are all right at first and then things start falling apart.  So let me just say... I love 99% of this book.  I love the way it's written and I love the characters.  So, so good.  I worried during the whole of this book, worried about how things were going to turn out for the characters because I wanted good things for them but I knew something was going to happen that wouldn't be good, and this is always a mark of how good a book is.  But then there was the ending.  Yeah, I'm going to harp on the ending again (and I still need to write my post on good versus bad endings, I know) and without getting into too many details... It stopped where I thought the story was just getting started.  And as far as I know, this is a stand-alone novel and there is no more story to come but I desperately want to know what happens next.  I needed more.

Thursday, November 1, 2012


It's November 1st.  You know what that means?  Yes, it means that I'm procrastinating on my NaNoWriMo project (more on that in a minute) but it means that another NaBloWriMo has come to an end and that I, once again, managed to blog all thirty one days October had to offer.

I'm a little blogged out and I'm sure y'all are sick of seeing me pop up in your blog feeds.  The good news for all involved is that while I'm intending to scale things back to two or maybe three posts a week, there's an excellent chance that I'm going to fall off the face of the earth all together.  Again.

So I'm a little bit surprised that I'm posting today.  Maybe I shouldn't be.  Surprised, that is.  I am, after all, procrastinating on my brand spankin' new NaNoWriMo project and what better way to do that than to write something else, right?  As of the moment I'm typing this sentence, the project in question is a whopping 544 words long (only 49,456 more to go!).  There's no plot, no set genre, and my main character doesn't have a name but other than that I think it's going very well.  It's going to be interesting (possibly maddening) to see where this thing goes because I honestly don't have any idea.  I have absolutely nothing planned out.

In my previous NaNoWriMo years, I started with a main character (with a name) and a genre.  For example, the first year I wrote a chick lit/romance novel which had certain elements I knew were needed.  Heroine?  Check.  Love interest?  Check.  Boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl back, boy and girl ride off into the sunset together?  Check, check, check and check.  So while I didn't exactly know how I was going to get there, I at least knew where there was.  The second year I wrote a YA urban fantasy about a sixteen year old demon hunter so I knew there would be some demon fightin' scenes and a world in peril plot which would eventually lead to a resolution where the world is saved.  So again, while I couldn't see the entire path to the end, I still knew it was there and approximate where it was going.  It's that whole headlights at night metaphor.

But this year,  I don't even know what I'm doing.  This year, my headlights are out completely.  This year, I'm fumbling through the woods and I don't have a working flashlight.  I mean, it kind of feels like a contemporary fiction piece, free of any supernatural elements and set in an everyday place, but I'm only 544 words into the damn thing and the only thought I had before I started was "I want to write unhappy people" (as if I ever write anything else, I know) which lead to my first line.  There's still plenty of time for this thing to careen into something completely different.

And you know what?  I kind of can't wait for that to happen.