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.