Monday, December 30, 2013

Year In Review (The 2013 Edition)

Well, we've arrived at the end of another year here at My Pet Blog (and, you know, everywhere else, too.) which means it's time, once again, for that annual rite of torture where I take a look at the year-long goals I set for myself back in January and admit to just how poorly I did with them all.

And you might look at the following list and think that I'm being too hard on myself because I (a) do tend to do that and (b) it's probably not as bad as I think it is, but I like achieving my goals, and I don't like not achieving them. Letting myself off the hook doesn't really send the proper message, I don't think, and so I am going to give myself a serious scolding and very possibly take away my Firefly DVDs until my performance improves.

And on that shiny note, here's how 2013 went:

1. Publish Effigy.

Nope. That didn't happen. Last January I was so convinced that I'd be able to make it happen. 365 days in which to make it happen...and I didn't. Again. We are not amused. Not even a little.

2. Participate in NaNoWriMo 2013.

I did this, and I even managed to win. But I'm still not sure how that happened. Maybe I should demand a recount.

3. Be a better blogger.

As it turns out, I was actually a worse blogger in 2013.

4. Walk, run or bike at least 500 miles.

According to my activity chart, I logged 667 miles this year. 

5. De-clutter.

While I wouldn't consider my effort in this area a rousing success, it wasn't a total failure, either (unlike goal #1) so I hereby award myself partial credit.

6. Read 60 books.

According to Goodreads, I've read 75 books this year, and I know there were some I didn't bother listing on their site, so I guess that goal went all right.

So if I did the math correctly, this gives me a success rate of 58%.

Nope. Definitely not amused.

Now would come the part where I list my goals for 2014, but I haven't actually nailed all of them down yet. I know one goal that's bound to make another appearance, though, so there's that to look forward to, right? If you're interested, they'll be posted Friday. Or next Monday.

Until then, I'd just like to say that we here at My Pet Blog (my multiple personalities and I, I mean...) have truly appreciated your visits and comments and kind words over the past year (as well as all the other years). 

I hope y'all have a wonderful New Year. Please celebrate responsibly! It may seem like a good idea to open that fourth bottle of wine, but take it from me—it isn't.

See y'all next year. 

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The Rise of Mercenary Guy

On November 5th of this year, I officially created a character named 'Mercenary Guy.'

Because that's the kind of quality creativity one can expect from an M.J. Fifield story.

Just kidding. Well, maybe just kidding. I suppose the jury's still out on that one.

Anyway, Mercenary Guy came about because of a pair of comments from a pair of Effigy beta readers in 2012. (I have NEVER been accused of rushing anything.)  Each of them expressed a desire for a certain character's (sorry...trying to avoid spoilers where possible) horrible painful death. I was okay with this because this certain character is one that people are supposed to hate. He's not a villain that you're supposed to like in any way, shape, or form. He's not Loki.


This certain character is an evil jackass who deserves to have a piano as well as every other instrument ever made dropped onto his head. Twice. And then twice more, just for good measure.

And because of this, I had made plans to have Karma come and bite this character right in the ass in Effigy's sequel, Second Nature. The comments from my betas didn't change this. What they did change, however, was the manner in which I intended to see it done.

While I am not a complete pantser these days, I'm not a complete plotter either, and so I had only the barest of outlines for a karmic payback scene in mind, but still, it was a plan that involved two certain characters being in a certain place, and all of a sudden, one of them wasn't going to be there anymore.

The change, I think, is quite good. Or, it could be. It'll lead to a very important catharsis for a central character who really needs a catharsis in this book. It's kind of awesome. Or, rather, it could be kind of awesome provided I don't royally screw it up. And since that scene isn't yet complete (and possibly never will be, knowing me the way I do),  I suppose the jury's still out on that, too.

But the change, as potentially awesome as it might be, left a big, gaping, black hole right smack dab in the middle of Lineage (part two of Second Nature), and I needed someone to help fill it.

So I went through the roster of available characters looking for someone to take the place of that one certain character. Second Nature is an epic-ish fantasy (sorry...I'm uncomfortable with labeling this as 'epic'...feels boastful) and, as such, has a large cast of characters. Not Song of Ice and Fire large, but there are still a fair amount of characters—and all of them, every single last one, had a prior engagement and no real reason to be where I needed them to be.

So I thought about it for a while. A long while. Hit the fast forward button (Finally, I know!) until we come to November 5th, and the birth of Mercenary Guy.

Hey, look what someone (not me) made!
He started out as just an experiment. I didn't know if he would suit my needs, but as one of the tenets of NaNoWriMo is to (to paraphrase Dory) 'just keep writing,' and I was short a whole bunch of words, I decided to just jump in and see where I landed.

When I write, I generally create dialogue first, then go back and layer in setting and action and whatever else needs to be added. Almost every single scene I've ever written began with two or three lines of dialogue. I'm just a dialogue girl, I guess, and in the first scene I wrote for Mercenary Guy, it only took about five lines of dialogue between him and Second Nature's main character for me to decide that I really liked this guy.

So I think I landed in a pretty good place. I think he just might work out. Which is nice because I do love to fill plot holes. Besides, I like him.

And that statement is pretty weird because (a) I still don't know everything about him and (b) I do know a lot of the horrible things he's going to do. It leaves me feeling conflicted—but that's another post for another day.

Here's what I do know about him:

Mercenary Guy is a man of mystery. Known as The Black Wolf in professional circles, he's the man you call when you need something done ( lame was that statement? Another example of the quality writing found in an M.J. Fifield creation!), but not something like cleaning out your gutters or painting your house. He's the man you call when you want to overthrow a sitting king—or queen, as the case may be. Need to obtain the impossible? Call Mercenary Guy. Sherlock would call him a consulting criminal. The men in Shawshank would call him a man who knows how to get things. Anything.

And while his rates are high, the quality of work is, too, so you can rest assured that if Mercenary Guy takes on your job, you will get what you want. Morals aren't a concern, so there is no line that Mercenary Guy will not cross to make your most evilest of dreams come true.

Moriarty is not impressed.

He is brilliant, cold, calculating, cruel, terminally amused, and a shade sarcastic (but of course he is. I wrote him). It turns out that I like writing this character quite a lot. Which is why Mercenary Guy—who was slated to burn brilliantly but briefly in Lineage and die in a sure-to-be-exciting sword fight or something like that—got himself a lovely stay of execution instead. Considering I still need the sure-to-be-exciting sword fight, and considering Mercenary Guy still needs to (just barely) lose this fight, I don't know how that's going to be possible yet (maybe Sherlock series three will provide some inspiration?), but I feel like he's too fun a character to kill off at this point, and I want to have him available for future storytelling purposes. I'll just have to make it work.

But it's open season on every other character. Well, maybe not every other character. But definitely some that readers wouldn't expect.

And there I go again—getting ahead of myself. I guess the point is that Mercenary Guy is another example of how very little I am actually in charge when it comes to my characters and the writing of this series. Even though I strive for the opposite, my characters always just come in and take over. They scoff at my calendars and storyboards and just do whatever they want.

And I let them. Because—for the most part anyway—I think they know best. But know this, Mercenary Guy: if you outlive your usefulness, I will end you.

And now I shall end this post because it's gone on for a very long time now and has been, quite possibly, the most boring thing you've ever read (assuming you've even made it this far—and if you have, thank you). So I thought about closing out this post with a snippet from the first scene I wrote for him, that conversation between him and the MC. I combed over this scene and dismissed posting the vast majority of it because it was too spoiler-y. So below is what I finally decided on. It's not overly long (unlike this post, I know) and doesn't even tell you Mercenary Guy's true name (though he does have one. More than one, actually), but it's still a first draft and it still cracks me up to see things like 'Mercenary Guy drank some wine.' I'll fix it later...



"You're going to be sorry," Cate said.

Mercenary Guy drank some wine. "I'm going to be rich."

"And that's your guiding star?"

"Easier than morals, I find." He looked at her for a moment, then sighed. "But despite my better judgment, I do like you, my lady, so please allow me to offer you some advice."

"Never hit a man with a closed fist? Never get involved in a land war in Asia? Never wear white after Labor Day?"

Mercenary Guy's mouth quirked with another smile. "Give them what they want," he said. "Now. Or yesterday, even, if you can find a way to accomplish that."

"Angling for a bonus, are we?"

"Angling to avoid doing to you what I'm going to do."

"Well, thanks for the concern, but I'm not very inclined to do you any favors."

"The favor would not be for me," Mercenary Guy said.


So thank you for stopping by today and slogging through this monster post. It's much appreciated. And, as always, I'll try to do better the next time. Until then, take care, everyone.


Monday, December 16, 2013

In Which Things Return To Normal

Or whatever passes for that around here...

The Not-So-Great Shift Deluge of 2013 has ended. Mostly because I am an enormous brat evil diabolical genius who stayed late every single extra shift last week in order to bankrupt payroll. I figured Management can't use me if they can't afford me.

Which they can't.


So I have time off. Yipee!


And I know y'all must be excited, too, if for no other reason that I just might publish a post that doesn't contain the phrase "time off."  I've been very boring lately (or maybe just always), and for that, I apologize. I'll try to be more interesting in the future.

(What I imagine y'all are like right now.)

But as the future is not today, I'm going to bore you with my goals for the week. Looking at them now, I think I may have gone a little overboard with them all, but I just couldn't help myself. It's so exciting to not have to put "Go to day job" or "don't kill co-workers" on a to-do list. Anyway, here's what I've got:

1. Write out and MAIL Christmas cards.

2. Start Finish Christmas shopping.

3. Read over the crap words written last month for NaNoWriMo.

4. Do NOT delete ALL  words written last month for NaNoWriMo and make a plan of attack for moving forward.

5. Write and publish post about Mercenary Guy. 

6. Complete at least 3 30-minute work outs.

7. Play some Legend of Zelda. Because it's awesome.

8. Sleep. Because it's awesome.

I went completely overboard, right? Well, you know what they say...go big or go home.

Anyway, what's on your agenda this week?

Monday, December 9, 2013

Just When I Thought I Was Out

...Management takes away my time off. Again.

I thought I'd be writing today about how I finally have some (well deserved, if I do say so myself, which apparently I am the only one saying so because they took away my time off again. Jerks.) time off because I really was supposed to, but according to Management, I am too indispensable (even with all the attitude) and they can't afford to not have me around this year. True story. (Sadly. But funny how they never seem to remember saying these things at review time.)

I knew I made a mistake not becoming independently wealthy.

Anyway, despite the fact that I've had only one day off since Thanksgiving—and haven't even left on time since...well, since October, probably—the holiday customers coming into The Store have been pretty good, almost pleasant, even. The one exception (you knew there had to be one) was the customer who apparently was too damn lazy to walk to the public restroom a few stores down so decided to just use the fitting room instead.

Thanks, buddy. I truly hope there's a big lump of something in your stocking this Christmas.

So I don't really have any good customer stories for you. But here is my favorite exchange from the weekend:

Co-worker: You write books? Are you famous?
Me: Yeah. I'm incredibly famous. That's why I work here.

So the extended and continued scheduling means that my attempt to get back on track with...well, life outside of The Store has been once again curbed, and this blog has taken the biggest hit of late. I missed December's IWSG post and a pair of Blog Blitzs, not to mention every post all of you have put out there, but this is the first time I've even turned on the computer since before Thanksgiving. And I'm sorry for that. Please just know that it wasn't anything personal. I'll do better in January.


Anyway, not that you asked or anything, but here's what else (non-store related) has been going on with me (and some of this stuff has already been on Facebook and/or Twitter, so I apologize if it isn't news to you):

—I won NaNoWriMo. And I did it with three days to spare. I'm still not entirely sure how that happened, but it did, so I am now the proud owner of this following badge:

I ended up with 50,399 words, which means that Second Nature's word count is currently sitting at 195,725 words. And it still isn't finished. This makes me panic a little—but only a little. I wrote a scene that made me cry while writing it, and became concerned that my characters were going to kill me in my sleep because this story has taken a seriously dark turn—and this is coming from me who doesn't exactly write happy stories to begin with, you know? And the mysterious nameless Mercenary Guy took a very interesting and unexpected turn. I'm going to have to devote an entire post to him a little later on (It was scheduled for Wednesday, but The Store ruined that. Maybe next week?) because it was so interesting. At least I think so. It's possible you won't agree. But anyway, I won NaNoWriMo.

—And I just realized that I don't really have anything else to write here. Between my day job and my NaNo-ing, I wasn't doing much else. (My poor family.) How pathetic is that? Anyway, thank you for stopping by today. I always appreciate you taking the time, and I'll try to do better the next time (which, not that you asked this either, will probably be Friday, unless they take that day off away too.).

Happy writing, all.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year

I've been working a lot lately. Going in early, staying late, and busting my you-know-what in between.

Today is, as a matter of fact, only my second day off this month. Seriously. I have been in such a haze that I barely can keep straight what day it is. What week it is. What month it is.

Wait...Is this still November?

Just kidding. I know it's still November because next week is the shopping weekend to end all shopping weekends. Black Friday. Yay.

But in the short time between Veterans Day weekend (the second busiest shopping weekend of all) and Thanksgiving weekend comes the most wonderful time of the year. The time when Management has gone over on payroll because of the first holiday weekend and therefore has to scrimp and save on payroll in order to have it available for the next holiday weekend.


As you read this, my phone has been turned off, placed in a box and buried by my dogs somewhere in my back yard. A two mile perimeter has been set around The Store to prevent me from accidentally being caught in a sinister tractor beam wielded by #1 Boss who, no doubt, will look at the shipping report, see the number of boxes expected and try to do everything in her power to get me to come in. I know she'll do this because I looked at the shipping report, saw the number of boxes expected and then high tailed it out of The Store before anyone could realize what a mistake letting me leave was.

Because I am damn tired. And because I'm going to have to work the following seven days in a row, so I'm going to soak up as much non store time as I can.

With this in mind, here's my agenda for the next five wonderful days in which I will NOT go into The Store:

1. Win NaNoWriMo

I'm just over the halfway mark (25k) and with Thanksgiving coming so late in November, and the weekend running right through to the end of NaNoWriMo, it is imperative that, if I'm going to win, that I do so in the next five days because it'll be virtually impossible to do it in the final days of this month. This will require me to write approximately 5,000 words a day for the next five days. Which will be no problem at all considering my current average is about 1,300 words a day. Yep. Got this thing in the bag. (Ha!)

2. Oh, who am I kidding? Did you see #1? Like I'm going to have time for anything else. Sorry raking. Sorry laundry. Sorry eating. Maybe in December.

3. Okay, well, maybe I'm going to see the Catching Fire premiere Thursday night with my sister. It's tradition. We did all the Harry Potter movies at midnight, and now we've moved on to this franchise. Not sure what we'll do once this one is over, but I'm sure we'll find something. 

4. And if I get all of the above done...Sleep. Because I really am damn tired. 

Hope y'all are doing well, and thank you for stopping by today. I'll try to do better the next time!

Friday, November 15, 2013

Splitting Up Is Hard To Do

Today on the woefully neglected My Pet Blog, we are pleased to play host to Misha Gericke and her newly released novel, The Vanished Knight.

Take it away, Misha!

Splitting stories 

I woke up one morning with a contract offer. It thrilled me to bits, but at the same time, I was terrified.

The reason was that I’d submitted my 107k word novel (Doorways) to a publishing company, whose guideline word count is about 65k words for a YA book. Luckily for me, my editor wanted to give me a chance, but that chance came with one ultimatum:

I had to split Doorways in half.

Now, I’d spent years and years working just to get to the contract, and having to divide what I’d written… Just felt impossible. And yet… And yet, I got the feeling it could be done. Technically, I mean. I knew I’d written the thing in ebbs and flows, so in theory, I could turn some major event earlier in the story into a climax of its own. So I said I’d do it.

It took me a week of calming down, rereading and creating a timeline to discover that mercy above mercies, my story actually had two natural halves. And the first half was in fact finished at one chapter short of Doorways’s middle chapter.

So I copy pasted the first half and let my editor know the split had been accomplished.

This was far from the end, though. Everything in Doorways’s first half was written to lead to a climax in the second. Now I had to shift the focus so that everything went towards a much earlier point in the story.

It took some trial and error, but after having some suggestions from my crit partners, I realized I’d lucked out yet again. My series has five main characters and multiple plot-lines. In Doorways, I’d mainly written to follow Callan’s plot, but in the half I’d now split off, Darrion and Gawain’s plot was more complete. So I wrote in more scenes to bring their story to the fore and voila, the the first half became The Vanished Knight.

Anyone else ever need to split a manuscript for a publisher? Thanks for having me over, M.J.!


Since the death of her parents, Callan Blair has been shunted from one foster family to another, her dangerous secret forcing the move each time. Her latest foster family quickly ships her off to an exclusive boarding school in the Cumbrian countryside. While her foster-brother James makes it his mission to get Callan expelled, a nearby ancient castle holds the secret doorway to another land...

When Callan is forced through the doorway, she finds herself in the magical continent of Tardith, where she’s shocked to learn her schoolmates Gawain and Darrion are respected soldiers in service to the king of Nordaine, one of Tardith's realms. More than that, the two are potential heirs to the Black Knight—Nordaine's crown prince.

But when the Black Knight fails to return from a mysterious trip, the realm teeters on the brink of war. Darrion and Gawain set out to find him, while Callan discovers there is more to her family history than she thought. The elves are claiming she is their princess.

Now with Darrion growing ever more antagonistic and her friendship with Gawain blossoming, Callan must decide whether to stay in Nordaine—where her secret grows ever more  threatening—or go to the elves and uncover the truth about her family before war sets the realms afire.

About the Author:

M. Gerrick (AKA Misha Gericke) has basically created stories since before she could write. Many of those stories grew up with her and can be seen in her current projects. She lives close to Cape Town, with a view over False Bay and Table Mountain.

If you’d like to contact her, feel free to mail her at warofsixcrowns(AT)gmail(DOT)com, Circle her on Google Plus or follow her on Twitter. If you'd like to see her writer-side (beware, it's pretty insane), please feel free to check out her blog. You can also add The Vanished Knight on Goodreads.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Writing With Abandon (An IWSG Post)

The first Wednesday of each month is devoted to The Insecure Writer's Support Group in which writers everywhere can voice whatever worries they have and receive some words of encouragement in return from those who have been there and done that. It was started by the Ninja captain, Alex J. Cavanaugh, himself and has done so well that it now has its very own website and Facebook page. Click on the above link for more information and a complete list of participants...

So, like many writers around the world (280,977 according to their site), I am participating in NaNoWriMo this month. If you're unfamiliar with it, the idea is to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days. That's an average of 1,667 words a day. It can be occasionally insane. Well, at least the way I do it. Maybe I'm doing it wrong.

Anyway, I do it because despite the (occasional) insanity, it's ultimately fun. It's ultimately exhilarating (especially when you do hit the finish line on time), and at the end of it, I have a brand new story. Sure, the 50,000 words never seem to include an ending. Or a proper beginning. Or the vast majority of the middle (wait...what the hell am I doing with these 50,000 words??), but I still have a story.

And the best part is, I even like it. The story, I mean. You know, in addition to having had written it.

One of the NaNoWriMo taglines is "Write With Abandon" and it's a philosophy I want to carry with me into December and every month after because I'm realizing more and more that it's a good one. A lot of the time I think I get too bogged down with trying to make a first draft a perfect draft, and for whatever reason, I let myself off the hook in November.

Maybe it's because in NaNos past, I've used those thirty days to experiment in genres in which I normally wouldn't write or haven't written. So maybe subconsciously, I feel there's nothing to be lost, so why not go for it?

Or maybe it's because I'm a complicated freak. But that's a post for another time.

This year, I'm a NaNo Rebel and am working not on a brand new novel, but rather striving to add 50,000 new words to my current WIP, Second Nature. And I have found myself itching to hit that delete button and wipe out entire sentences, paragraphs, and even scenes because I don't feel they're good enough. But what I should be thinking is that they're not good enough yet.

The following Nora Roberts quote kind of sums it up perfectly for me:

So even though I'm somehow perpetually 2,000 words behind the daily target, and am missing huge chunks of plot, and actually have a character named "Mercenary Guy" because I haven't gotten around to giving him a proper name or, you know, anything else (though I suspect he may be a mercenary...) yet, I'm having a blast. There is some really horrible prose to be found on these pages, but it's getting easier to accept that and move on. Even with all that moving on, I may fall well short of the 50,000 words in 30 days goal (according to my stats page, I won't be finished until December 12th), but I'm enjoying the journey.

And that's what really matters.

Here's hoping I can keep that going all year round.

Happy writing, all.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Everybody Gonna Be Happy

All right, so despite the title of today's post (a song by The Kinks) I'm not particularly happy at the moment. I know you're thinking "Really? What else is new?" But The Store managed to strike again last night, and I'm starting off my work week in an even worse mood than usual.

But I'm trying to avoid that, or at the very least, minimize that, so today's post is devoted to all the things recently making me happy. This would normally be more of a Celebrate The Small Things Friday post, but I'm in need of it today.

And I'm guessing no one will mind not reading another post in which I lose my mind over whatever Management's done this time.

So here are the things on which I am choosing to focus:

1. NaNoWriMo

Sheer luck sees me actually on track and just a tiny bit ahead. (Very tiny bit) And last night I started crafting a scene about which I am very excited. It's one of those big, pivotal scenes that's a real catharsis for one of the main characters (and, strangely, me). The funny thing is (Well, funny to me anyway) that it's also a scene that didn't exist in my original conception for this novel. It came about from the comments given to me by a couple of critiques on Effigy. I've been thinking about it for a good long time now, and just decided to dive in last night (when I was desperate for 500 words) and see what would happen. And you know just feels right. Not exactly sure what that means for domino effect it'll have on the rest of the novel, but the catharsis really has proven to be too damn vital, so I'll make it work.

2. The Red Sox won the World Series

Yep. Still riding that high. And I really am sorry for all those tweets the night of Game Six. Obviously I wasn't sorry enough to stop at the time, but I apologize if I was overly annoying. You know, more than usual.

3. The Patriots beat the Steelers 55-31.

Of course, I missed the second half of the game because of a stupid staff meeting, but I'm thrilled by the final score. And I have to wonder if maybe I should avoid watching more games. Maybe the Pats score more when I'm not witnessing it. Now I'm conflicted. But if you've ever wondered what it's like to watch a game with me, there's this commercial that The Man says portrays it pretty well:

And in case it wasn't clear, I am Ramsey, and the little dog hiding under the couch is my German shepherd, Big. Big does not particularly enjoy game days because his mommy loses his mind.

Sorry, Big.

That's going to do it for me today...I'm headed off to work. Thanks for stopping by. I'll try to do better the next time...

Friday, November 1, 2013

The Plan (NaNoWriMo Edition)

It's November 1st, and that means so many things, but fortunately, they all kind of run together. And they all involve goals. Which normally happens on Monday, but I guess it's a special bonus Friday. Or maybe 'special' and 'bonus' are the wrong words to use here.

Anyway, first up is a review of the goals I set for myself last month:

1. Complete first draft of Part Two of Second Nature.

Yeah. I didn't do this. Again. Still. Maybe it's a bad excuse/reason, but my day job kicked my ass and all my writing efforts were ground to a near halt. It's seriously been two weeks since I last opened my WIP.

2. Finalize Effigy Blurb.

Didn't do this either. I didn't even attempt it. I am neither proud nor happy to admit this, but I was suffering from a pretty severe attack of "It's [publishing] never going to happen, so what's the point?"-itis. I like to think I'm now out of this mindset, though. (However long that lasts...)

3. Walk/run 50 miles.

The only goal I accomplished last month. I logged a total of 88 miles in October. This means that I have officially exceeded my year-long goal of running/walking (and it's all walking, even if I like to pretend otherwise) 500 miles. Yay me.

Next up are my new goals for November. Well, goal. It's just the one goal:

1. Win NaNoWriMo.

My original goal for this month was to write Part Three of Second Nature (hereafter known by its proper name Reckoning). My inability to complete Part Two (hereafter known as Lineage) has made the original goal slightly more difficult. I supposed I could just write Reckoning based on where I project Lineage will end up, but that idea makes my stomach hurt (yeah, it's the idea and not the ten pounds of Halloween candy I ate last night making my stomach hurt), and I don't think I want to do that.

So here's the revised goal: write 50,000 words. In Lineage, in Reckoning, or some combination of the two. I mean, for all I know, I'll need 50,000 words to finish Lineage. But that doesn't matter. What matters is the goal:

50,000 brand spanking new words for Second Nature.

This WIP is currently sitting at a whopping 145,045 words (47,542 of which belong to Lineage). I'm still having a bit of a hard time imagining another 50,000 words, but if all goes well this month, this WIP will be at 195,045 words come December 1st.


That's going to do it for me today. As always, thank you for stopping by, and have a great weekend.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Small Things and One Incredible Book

Well, it's been a few weeks, but I'm back to participating in VikLit's weekly Celebrate The Small Things bloghop where participants post about the little (or large) things they're feeling good about from the past week. Please click on the above link or the pic to the left for a complete list of participants.

Here's what I'm celebrating today...

—I have a day off from The Store. Of course, that day off isn't until November 1st, but at least I know it's out there (and, conveniently, the first day of NaNoWriMo!). I also have a half day of work coming up this next week. It's the day #1 Boss's boss is coming for a visit, and for some reason, #1 Boss doesn't want me around when she gets here. Can't imagine why...

—I read on Entertainment Weekly's website that the U.S. premiere of season three of Sherlock has been set for January 19th at 10pm!!!!! I'm so excited by this news that I am forced to re-use this gif:

Sorry, but this gif just cracks me up.

—My beloved Red Sox (you knew this was coming, right?) won the first game of the World Series in a very exciting fashion. I had hoped to be writing about how they had won the first two games of the World Series, but that didn't quite work out. Still, I'm celebrating the fact that we're there at all. And that the Yankees aren't.

Up next on My Pet Blog, is the latest installment of the Armchair Squid's Cephalopod Coffeehouse (I'm pleased to report that I can now almost spell 'cephalopod' without looking at the badge to the right. Almost.) where participants post about the best book they read over the previous month. Click on the link above or the badge on the right for a complete list of participants.

The book that I've chosen to feature this month is Fault Line by Christa Desir. Here's the synopsis, courtesy of Goodreads:

Ben could date anyone he wants, but he only has eyes for the new girl — sarcastic free-spirit, Ani. Luckily for Ben, Ani wants him too. She’s everything Ben could ever imagine. Everything he could ever want.

But that all changes after the party. The one Ben misses. The one Ani goes to alone.

Now Ani isn’t the girl she used to be, and Ben can’t sort out the truth from the lies. What really happened, and who is to blame?

Ben wants to help her, but she refuses to be helped. The more she pushes Ben away, the more he wonders if there’s anything he can do to save the girl he loves.

So, I've been thinking about this book ever since I finished it (almost a week ago, now) because it's the kind of book that stays with you. And I want to write a beautiful and eloquent review of this story because it truly deserves it. However, I doubt my ability to do it justice because whenever I attempt to write a proper review, I get a tad emotional—the kind of emotion which causes water to leak from my eyes— and I have to go hide in a cave until I can once again deny that I have emotions other than angry and angrier.

(I do like to pretend I'm a badass. Pretend being the key word.)

This novel is dark and raw and emotional and doesn't pull any punches. And though I love it for that—really love it for that—it broke my heart. It still breaks my heart. It presents a difficult subject, a sensitive subject, and I suspect there will be readers who won't be able to finish the book because of these things.

But I want people to read it and talk about it. I want teenagers to read it and talk about it. I've long been a supporter of dark YA because I feel the world is a messy place and avoiding that which is uncomfortable does no one any good, and maybe—just maybe—these dark books with their taboo subjects can lead to understanding.

Fault Line is a brave novel, and I think author Christa Desir is both amazing and brave for writing it.

So that's gonna do it for me today. What are you celebrating and/or reading? 

Have a great weekend, everyone, and thank you for stopping by!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Ramblin' On

I'm just going to start off by saying...


Actually, that wasn't what I had intended to start with, but that is what came out. I have to admit that I am pretty damn pleased (to say the very least) by that and was left rather hoarse on Saturday night (Sunday morning) when my boys (yes, they're mine.) booked another trip to the World Series. It was a very high high.

But what I had actually meant to say was that this post is going to be rather ramble-y because I am all over the freaking emotional map. There was the highs of  THE RED SOX GOING TO THE WORLD SERIES and the lows of...well, pretty much everything else.

Including the Pats losing to the freakin' Jets.

And I want to talk about all of these highs and lows, wins and losses and make them all nice and neat and organized, but I'm not sure I can do so successfully. So I'm going to ramble a bit and see what kind of hot mess comes out. Please consider this your warning and my apology.

Shall we begin?

Not to be overdramatic or anything, but my day job is just killing me these days. (That's not overdramatic at all, right?) I'm drained, just absolutely drained. And I'm not sure why. I mean, this is our busy season. It's been our busy season for the 10+ years that I've worked at The Store. And it was the busy season in every other retail setting in which I've worked too, but I don't recall ever feeling this exhausted and defeated before.

The problem is not that we're busy and I have to work much harder this time of year than others because I actually prefer to be busy and I'm not afraid of hard work (no, really). I think at least some of the problem (though maybe not—what the hell do I know about anything?) can be attributed this particular crop of Management and to the fact that I've never been this angry this long at #1 Boss before. It really wears a person out, and there's absolutely no sign that it'll abate any time soon. Though I did actually speak to her this week for the first time since the beginning of August. Our conversation went like this:

Her: Why are you so mad at me?
Me: Do you remember that time when you completely screwed me over?
Her: (long, long pause): Yes.
Me: So do I.

And then came Friday when #3 Boss pissed me off so much that I stopped doing what I was doing, screamed some not nice words at #3 Boss, and just walked out (without quitting...for now) and went home.

When I got home, I wrote approximately 3500 words because writing (overall) makes me happy (happier?) where retail does not. So there's that. Which conveniently leads into my next segment.

The 3500 words is a part of a series of scenes that have been bouncing around in my head for quite a while, but I hadn't added it to the WIP before now because it happens later in the story and I haven't written the lead-in to it yet. I'm not sure I'm even getting close to writing the lead-in, but I wrote those 3500 words because I wanted to be not mad for a while, and you can never go wrong with torturing your characters.

Huh. *blink, blink*

Anyway, it's like I'm at Point A and these scenes are Point C, or maybe even D. I think I know how to get from A to C (or D), but I'm not having a lot of luck getting it out on the page because none of my approaches have worked out so far. This, of course, makes me wonder if I'm completely wrong about the plot, and I don't like that because I really, really love those 3500 words—and not just because it's 10x the progress I made last week.

But as much as I love them I don't want to cling to them at the expense of the story, so I may have ultimately done absolutely no writing this past week. But I won't know until I write the stuff that connects where I'm at to where I want to go.

This means I'm frustrated and irritated and lacking anything in the way of confidence. Which is probably attributing to the exhausted, defeated feeling in which I'm currently drowning.

But I'm still not being overdramatic.


So this brings us to the part where I would normally set goals for the week, but I'm not going to do that this time. For obvious reasons, I think.

I need a break and I need to let myself off the hook. That feels like a cop-out, and maybe it is, but that's what I'm going to do anyway.

And that's gonna do it for me today because I have another action-packed shift at The Store with which to contend. My co-workers are now placing bets on how soon I will just lose it and quit for good. Our bets are never for money, just bragging rights, so if you'd like, feel free to place your own bets below....

Have a great week, everyone. Thanks for stopping by.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Bossy Haiku

According to my calendar, today is National Boss Day. Don't know who came up with it, or why, but according to Wikipedia, it's a day for employees to thank their bosses for being kind and fair throughout the year. (If you're interested in the actual history of this day, you can click on that link to Wikipedia's page.)

So in honor of this prestigious holiday, I am going to share some work haiku written for and about The Store's management trio. Some of these haiku you may have read before on Twitter or Facebook or even this blog. Some are new, never-before-seen creations. And maybe you know this already, but none of them will be thanking Management for being kind and fair. That doesn't really happen a whole lot at The Store. It's actually the root cause of why I haven't even spoken to #1 Boss since the beginning of August.

Ah, good times. Well, shall we begin?

my boss is napping
on the stockroom shelves today
when is my naptime?

boss is still sleeping
I want to write a haiku
but I'm too damn mad

message for my boss:
don't bother being nice now
it will not help you

boss just called to say
her clothes aren't dry yet so she's

going to be late

my boss promised that
she would be on time today
I suspect she lied

pisses me right the hell off
please stop doing it

my boss is proof that
a poorly trained monkey could
succeed at this job

boss is freaking out
thinks we all want her to quit

should i tell her yes?

to my manager:
I can't be bribed with candy
try brownies instead

on paper you're boss
but it's better if you don't
tell me what to do

my boss wants to know
why i am so mad at her
where do i begin?

So that's going to do it for me today—I'm off to work another action-packed shift. Thank you for stopping by and perusing my madness. I'll try to do better the next time.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Hell Week, Part Two

All right, so today's post is going to be short and sweet—Well, maybe not 'sweet' per say. It is about goals and my almost complete lack of progress on the most important one. Bittersweet maybe? That sounds better. Today's post is going to be short and bittersweet today because my day job is being a major pain in my you-know-what. It does this every once in a while, takes over my life completely I mean, and I know it will, but I'm still always irritated when it happens.

Of course, you could probably make the argument that I'm just always irritated. But anyway...

Here are the goals from last week:

1. Do not kill any of my co-workers, no matter how many times they ask if I'm having fun yet.

I'm happy to report that I did not kill any of my co-workers. (and yes, I do mean to imply that this was not the most important goal...) And the temptation was strong, too. Especially that one morning I arrived to find that my co-workers had completely undone all of the hard work I had put in the previous day. Boy, was I mad. And disappointed, as well, because it was then I realized I truly did not have the power to kill people with my brain.

2. Keep plugging away at Part Two of Second Nature.

At the time of my last post, Part Two of Second Nature was sitting at 41,840. It's now at 42,145. Which is a gain of a whopping 305 words. This was not what I had in mind when I said "Must Move Faster" thing. Damn my day job. It just killed me last week.

And since Hell Week was, in a surprising twist of events, extended to this week, it'll probably kill my word count again. Yipee.

So on that happy note, here are my goals for this week:

1. Do not kill any of my co-workers. Even if you do miraculously develop the ability to kill people with your brain.

2. Write more than 305 lousy words in Part Two of Second Nature.

Seriously, if I don't get Part Two done this month, my entire plan for NaNoWriMo will be in smithereens. Must. Go. Faster. That's all there is to it. Still. If anyone knows how I can accomplish this, please let me know.

That's going to do it for me today. Thanks for stopping by. What's on your agenda this week?

Monday, October 7, 2013

In Which Hell Week Commences!

This week at The Store is what has come to be known as Hell Week because the number of cartons we receive explodes into the triple digits. A day. Into a stockroom equipped to handle half that number. And since the stock staff is comprised of...well, me, this is my busiest week of the year.

Which means I have several conversations like this:

Boss: Oh my God, M.J., what are we going to do?
Me: We are not going to do anything. I am going to do it, and you are going to stay far away from me when I do.
Boss: Sounds good.

It also means that this may well be my only post this week as something will likely have to give, and that something will likely end up being this blog. Unless something hysterical happens at The Store, of course. But just in case that doesn't happen, I'd better make this post a good one...

Oh hey, it's Monday. It's goal day.

Guess we'll have to settle for a kind of okay post.

Last week's goals:

1. Finish reading Warlord by Angus Donald

Done. Finally. Boy, it took me a long time to get through this book. It did not capture my attention as well as the rest of the series has.

2. Keep plugging away on Part Two of Second Nature

At the time of my last goal post, Part Two was sitting at 39,780 words. At the time of this goal post, Part Two clocked in at 41,840, which is a gain of just over 2000 words. Not too bad, I suppose, and technically I have reached this goal, but I need to move faster. I need to write faster. Part Two needs to be finished by the end of the month if I'm going to stick to my NaNoWriMo plan, and my current pace will not get it done. Grrr. Arrg.

This week's goals:

1. Do not kill any of my co-workers, no matter how many times they may ask if I'm having fun yet. 

Seriously, I swear that part of the new hire orientation includes a tutorial on how to maximize stock girl irritation with the fewest words possible. And those words always include "Are you having fun yet?" while I'm drowning in cardboard. Just go away, people, and let me do my job without your clever commentary.

2. Keep plugging away on Part Two of Second Nature

Must go faster. That's all there is to it.

Which, interestingly enough, is going to be my mantra for the week ahead. Thanks for stopping by today. What's on your agenda this week?

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

And Now For Something Completely Different... (An IWSG Post)

The Insecure Writer's Support Group is the brainchild of uber blogger and ninja captain extraordinaire Alex J. Cavanaugh. It offers writers everywhere a safe place to express doubts and concerns and receive some support, guidance and words of wisdom from other writers. Click on the above link for a complete list of participants...

As you can tell from my fancy smancy special badge (as seen above) we're doing things a little differently here today. Instead of me telling you about my rampant insecurities, I'm turning the spotlight over to fellow blogger and author Christine Rains who is celebrating the upcoming release of her 13th Floor Collection.

Take it away, Christine...

One year ago today, I was working on the first book of my series. I'd been working on it for a few months. Marc, the stubborn protagonist, didn't want to talk. He stood there with his big arms folded, glaring at me. Maybe I'd get a grunt or a growl, but trying to get his story was like wrestling a bear. I didn't think I was going to be able to do it. This whole grand idea I had for a series of novellas was going to be smacked down because the first guy wouldn't talk.

The villain of the book, Vetis, loved to talk. In fact, he wouldn't shut up. While that helped, he's a bit crazy. And as much as he insisted, it wasn't his story.

Thankfully Mae Hopkins came along, offered me a cookie, and sat down to talk. She's sweet, patient, and understanding. It wasn't her story either, but with her help, I started to hear Marc's voice. The book wrote itself very quickly after that point.

The characters in the next five novellas spoke loud and clear, but with each story, I stumbled at some point. (Or at several points!) My confidence faltered. I never thought I'd finish the series. With supportive friends, nagging characters, and quite a few cookies, I made it through the six stories. I'm still in shock that it's complete.

If I can do it, so can you. With each story, you'll face a different set of obstacles. No two will ever be the same. But if you're persistent, you will find a way. Maybe it will be with the advice of a critique partner, a chatty secondary character, or an inspiring article from your favorite author, but you can do it!

Curious to know more?

Title: The 13th Floor Complete Collection
Genre: Paranormal Romance


Six supernatural tenants
Living in a haunted apartment building
On a floor that doesn't exist.
Six novellas telling their tales.

A retired demon acquires a price on his head.
A werewolf is hunted by her pack.
A modern day dragonslayer misses his target.
A harpy challenges Zeus for the soul of the man she loves.
A vampire is obsessed with a young woman he can't find.
A banshee falls in love with someone who's death she has seen in a vision.
And a sweet ghost must battle a primal monster to save them all.

All the stories take place at the same time intertwining their lives together on the 13th Floor.

Includes “The Shadow,” a bonus short story.

Places to Find the 13th Floor Collection:

Barnes & Noble

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.

Other Places To Find Her:


So that's going to do it for us today. Thanks to Christine for sharing her words of encouragement with us. And thank you, readers, for stopping by. It is, as always, very much appreciated.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Missed It By That Much

It's the beginning of the week AND the end of September, so that means today I will be reviewing and setting weekly and monthly goals.

Can you stand the excitement? I know I can't.

First up are the monthly goals...

1. Walk/run at least two miles every day.

I had to change the wording of this goal to "walk/run at least sixty miles this month" because about a week and a half into September, I was sick a couple of days and unable to exercise. I hate not accomplishing my goals, so I cheated just a little so that I could make up the miles another day and still count the goal as reached. Anyway, as of this posting, I've logged a total of 61 miles, and I have a shift at The Store today which will probably net me about five miles.

2. Take donation piles to Goodwill.

Despite failing at this three weeks in a row, I pulled it off on that fourth week. Now I can start a new donation pile. did all this stuff get in my house?

3. Complete first draft of part two of Second Nature.

Did not make this. You already know the trouble I had with a certain chapter at the beginning and middle of this month so I won't rehash it all again, but it held me up. A lot. I made progress on this though, so that's something at least.

4. Complete workable draft of Effigy blurb.

Brace yourself...I actually did this. I still don't know if it's any good (and suspect that it isn't), but there is a workable draft in existence. Which means a final draft must be close behind. Right?

Goals for October:

1. Complete first draft of Part Two of Second Nature.

Part Three of Second Nature is my intended NaNoWriMo project this year, so it's very important that Part Two be finished by the end of October.

2. Finalize Effigy blurb.

Self explanatory, I think. I'm tired of it, so it's time to be finished with it. I'm pretty sure my poor brother feels the same way since he's probably tired of reading every draft I send him. He'll be happier than I'll be if I manage to pull off this goal.

3. Walk/run at least 50 miles this month.

And now for the weekly goals...

Last week's:

1. Chapters 18-20 in Second Nature.

Chapters Eighteen and Nineteen are done. Chapter Twenty didn't quite make it. There were seven scenes between these three chapters that needed to be finished, and as of this posting, all but two crossed the finish line. And I think I need to add another scene to Chapter Twenty. But I'm not sure yet. Anyway, I only get partial credit here.

This week's goals:

1. Finish reading Warlord by Angus Donald

It's taking me forever to get through this book, mostly because I've been spending a lot of time writing lately. And when that happens, it makes me happy, but still, I want to finish this book because I have several new releases coming out in October (Just One Year!, Perfect Ruin!, Fault Line!) that will be jumping immediately to the top of my TBR list, and I want to have this book out of the way when they get here.

2. Keep plugging away on Part Two of Second Nature.

Not exactly sure how I'll measure success on this goal, worded the way it is, but (again, as of this posting) Part Two's word count is sitting at 39,780. So I guess we'll see where it is this time next week. With any luck, it'll be higher.

That's going to do it for me today. What's on your agenda this week?

Friday, September 27, 2013

Small Things And One Awesome Book

First up today is VikLit's Celebrate The Small Things weekly bloghop where participants share good things from the week. (Click on the pic to the left for a complete left of participants.)

This week I am celebrating the kids in my life. They constantly amaze me and amuse me, and I love them all to death.

First up is my almost 10 year old niece. I didn't actually get to see her this week as she was home sick the day we usually visit, but I thought I'd share these snippets of conversations we had during our visit to the Ren Faire.

Her: You don't need a corset. You're too skinny.
Me: Okay.

Her: Who wears a hoop skirt anymore?
Me: Half the people here?

Her: A choker is like a corset for your neck!
Me: *helpless laughter*

Her: Pretty soon we'll be able to wear each other's clothes!
Me: Yes, I guess that's true.
Her: You can borrow my clothes if you want.
Me: Okay. Do you want to borrow my clothes, too?
Her: But we should go shopping sometime. I'll pick out some clothes for you.

And then there is my 12 year old goddaughter was recently cast in a production of The Nutcracker. I'm just so proud of this kid. I've been watching her dance since she was three years old, and the leaps and bounds she's made over the years astound me. She's one lovely, talented young lady. Seriously, I'm not sure I could be more proud of her.

Next up is The Cephalopod Coffeehouse hosted by the Armchair Squid. This monthly bloghop asks participants to simply share the best book they've read over the previous month. (For a complete list of participants, please click on the pic to the right.)

My selection this month is Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein. Here's the synopsis, courtesy of Goodreads:

I have two weeks. You’ll shoot me at the end no matter what I do.

That’s what you do to enemy agents. It’s what we do to enemy agents. But I look at all the dark and twisted roads ahead and cooperation is the easy way out. Possibly the only way out for a girl caught red-handed doing dirty work like mine — and I will do anything, anything, to avoid SS-Hauptsturmführer von Linden interrogating me again.

He has said that I can have as much paper as I need. All I have to do is cough up everything I can remember about the British War Effort. And I’m going to. But the story of how I came to be here starts with my friend Maddie. She is the pilot who flew me into France — an Allied Invasion of Two.

We are a sensational team.

So, I loved this book. Like, seriously loved. And I want to gush about character and voice and story and the plot—because, in my humble opinion, they're all pretty freakin' brilliant—but to do that would be doing a disservice to any of you out there who haven't yet read this book and intend to.

It's one of those stories where it's one million times better if you don't already know the ending or the big twist. So I'm not going to tell you anything about it except that I loved it so much that I immediately went out and bought its companion novel (not a sequel) Rose Under Fire.

Haven't had the chance to read that companion novels yet, but I can't wait to get to it.

That's going to do it for me today. Thanks for stopping by, and I hope y'all have a great weekend!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Follow Fest

Today I'm participating in the Follow Fest hosted by Melissa Maygrove. The purpose of this bloghop is to help writers build their platforms and connect with each other.

Please click on the pic to the left or the link above for a complete list of participants.

Here we go...

Name:  M.J. Fifield

Fiction or Nonfiction? I mostly write fiction. But all of my work-themed haiku are nonfiction. Seriously, I couldn't make that stuff up.

What genres do you write? I forgot to add this part when I signed up for this blogfest. I had it all written out and everything, just...forgot to add it. Anyway, I write adult and YA fantasy (epic and urban) as well as adult and YA contemporary. Once I wrote a romance novel just to see if I could. It was fun. Some day I'd like to write a spy novel just to see if I can.

Are you published? Not yet. Maybe next year. Or the year after.

Do you do anything in addition to writing? Well, I juggle, weave baskets and play the pan flute. Just kidding. I don't do any of those things. I sing in the shower, work in retail, and watch entirely too much television. But as far as writing related things go, I occasionally beta read for people. And sometimes they still talk to me afterwards.

Where can people connect with you? Here on My Pet Blog, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, Google+, Linked In, and NaNoWriMo (all under M.J. Fifield)

Anything else we should know?  I'm always happy to help with cover reveals and blog tours and the like.

That's going to do it for me today. Thanks for stopping by today, and Thanks to Melissa for creating this event! Cheers!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Success And Stress

So last week, I set one goal for myself:

Work out the problems with Chapter Nineteen

because Chapter Nineteen had become the undisputed bane of my existence. Something was wrong with it, something was off, and I just could not figure out what that something was.

And I know that if you happened to read last Friday's post, or follow me on Twitter or Facebook (and if you did or do any or all of these things, Thank You!) you already know where this story is headed and are probably wishing I'd just shut up about it, so that's what I'm going to do—Well, right after I say this:

Last Wednesday, I worked out the problems with Chapter Nineteen.

And the even better part is that after all these days later, the solution still holds up.

Of course I had that moment early Thursday when I was looking at the storyboard on my dining room wall, still glowing from the sanity (well, what's left of it) saving revelation, and realized that it was truly the only solution to be had. And that it was (now) so blatantly obvious that I really should have thought of it sooner.

But whatever. I still accomplished my goal (finally) and I still get to feel like this:

And I get to set new goals for this week.

Which leads me into the second part of today's post. The stressed part. See, I was looking at the storyboard on the dining room wall (I've been doing that a lot since I put it up) the other day (Friday, I think) and it occurred to me just how much more story there is to tell in this particular WIP because there is just so much more story to tell.

And it overwhelmed me a bit. And by 'a bit', I mean 'a lot.'

I mean, the manuscript's already over 135,000 words. It's over 350 pages long and I still have so much more that needs to come out. Back in May, I guesstimated that it would end up being around 220k when finished. I have no idea if that's lowballing it, but that's what I feel like. Second Nature is a monster of a book, and it's because I'm juggling a lot of characters and a lot of storylines (they don't call it epic fantasy for nothing, I guess), and it needs to end in a very specific spot and the story is taking its sweet old time getting to that very specific spot.

Then, because I am an idiot bold, I announced to the public (well, the 75 people who 'like' my Facebook page anyway) my intention to have this draft of this WIP finished in December. Of this year.

Which led to a very small freak out. Which led to this week's goals:

1. Don't get ahead of yourself.

I think that's pretty self-explanatory. And, considering the fact that I'm me, potentially impossible. But, I'm going to do my very best. The story needs to be told how it needs to be told (how's that for deep?) and if it takes another 100,000 words, then so be it. Gack.

2. Chapters 18-20

As a result of the Chapter Nineteen Solution, there are now seven scenes under construction between these three chapters. My mission this week—should I choose to accept it—is to finish those seven scenes.

And if I do all that, you'll never have to hear about Chapter Nineteen ever again.

Cue the dance of joy...

What are your goals for the week? Have a great Monday, everyone, and thanks for stopping by.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Celebrating Up A Storm

Celebrate The Small Things is a weekly hop hosted by VikLit where participants, well, celebrate the small things from the past week. Or big things. Anything goes, really. Please click on the link above or the badge to the left for a complete list of participants.

Here's what I'm celebrating this week:

—The Red Sox clinched a playoff spot last night with a 3-1 win over the Baltimore Orioles (my father-in-law's team). And there was much rejoicing.

—I SOLVED MY CHAPTER NINETEEN PROBLEM!!! If you've read this blog any time during the last month or so, you'll know for how long this problem has plagued me. And if you follow me on Twitter or Facebook, it's possible you already know about this momentous occasion, but I'm just so damn happy (read: relieved) about this that I'm still doing a happy dance. Like, a literal happy dance. If I were less gleeful, I'd be embarrassed because if there's one thing I can't do (and let's face it, there's many, many things I can't do) it's dance. Anyway, all rambling aside, I feel like a real weight has been lifted off my shoulders. It'll probably be back in a couple of days, but, for now, I feel great. Invincible even.

—On a semi-related note, I am celebrating The Man (my significant other). Because not only does he continue to live with a completely insane wannabe author who walks around talking to herself in weird accents, plays with medieval weaponry, and doesn't sleep at night, he also didn't even bat an eye when he came home this week to find that I had transformed our dining room walls into a massive storyboard in an attempt to help me solve my chapter nineteen crisis. Thanks, honey!

—And last, but certainly not least, we here at My Pet Blog are thrilled to be celebrating the release of CassaStorm, the third installment in the Amazon best selling series, created by the Ninja Captain himself, Alex J. Cavanaugh.

A storm gathers across the galaxy…

Commanding the Cassan base on Tgren, Byron thought he’d put the days of battle behind him. As a galaxy-wide war encroaches upon the desert planet, Byron’s ideal life is threatened and he’s caught between the Tgrens and the Cassans.

After enemy ships attack the desert planet, Byron discovers another battle within his own family. The declaration of war between all ten races triggers nightmares in his son, threatening to destroy the boy’s mind.

Meanwhile the ancient alien ship is transmitting a code that might signal the end of all life in the galaxy. And the mysterious probe that almost destroyed Tgren twenty years ago could return. As his world begins to crumble, Byron suspects a connection. The storm is about to break, and Byron is caught in the middle…

Where to find CassaStorm:

About the author:

Alex J. Cavanaugh has a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree and works in web design and graphics. He is experienced in technical editing and worked with an adult literacy program for several years. A fan of all things science fiction, his interests range from books and movies to music and games. Online he is the Ninja Captain and founder of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group. The author of the Amazon bestsellers, CassaStar and CassaFire, he lives in the Carolinas with his wife.

You can find Alex on Twitter, Goodreads, and his blog.

Congratulations, Alex!! We wish all the best with your new release!

What are you celebrating this week? Have a great weekend, all!