Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Writing Wednesday - Writing while sick?

I was going to write about something else for this week's Writing Wednesday, but after spending a day sick in bed I thought I'd write about writing while sick. Do you write while sick, or not? I tried to get up at 5AM and write, but felt so lousy that I was back in bed after only 500 words, and didn't get up again until after 10AM. Yeah, I felt really lousy. However, I was still able to pull my laptop in bed with me after I got up the second time and I did get some work done. It was mostly things like answering e-mail and writing blog posts, but not the heavy duty stuff like fiction writing.

I suppose I could have worked on a story. After all, I felt better after I'd had some sleep. But I also had other work that I knew wouldn't tax my brain quite as much, so I focussed on that instead.

I can write while sick, and will write while sick if I've got a deadline coming up. Among other things, I have a weekly deadline with the podcast, and I can't afford to miss that. Plus, while it may tax my brain to write, it doesn't tax my body that much. If I can sit upright with a laptop and not have to worry about heaving my lunch all over my keyboard, then I can certainly write. It's just a question of whether or not I want to.

Today (which is Tuesday for me, since I tend to write blog posts in advance), my weekly deadline wasn't so pressing, and I had other, lighter work I could do. So I gave myself an easy day, and why not? Most days I'm on the go from 5AM until 10PM. Some days I could use a day in bed.

What do you think? Do you write, create, or work, while you're sick? Or do you take a break?

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Episode 37 - Something smells funny around here.

True story. Honest to god, Pixie came up to me one day and said exactly this. And it does not surprise me to hear this news, given the amount of stinky accidents we've had in the last couple months.

First, there was the poopie incident at the pizzeria in Chicago. Then we had an accident last week while she was home sick from preschool. Then yesterday, I hear a bunch of yelling coming from the upstairs bathroom. It wasn't clear what was going on until I got halfway up the stairs and smelled that smell. Sure enough, there was a turd the size of a dinosaur egg sitting in the bathroom floor. Less than a foot away from the toilet. And there was a tiny little shoe print in it. With matching little brown shoe prints all over the bathroom.

According to Pixie, she did not reach the potty in time because it was dark in there. Yes, dark, as in the light was off. Of course, this happened in the middle of the day, which means the upstairs bathroom was dim, at most. Sigh. I just keep reminding myself that she will not be pooping her pants when she walks down the aisle on her wedding day.

I hope.

So how's things with you all?

Monday, September 28, 2009

Move It Mama Monday - Hai Karate!!

Damn, I own a lot of weapons. That picture you see above is all my gear for kobudo class. Kobudo is a form of martial arts weapons training, closely related to Okinawan karate. Last Saturday, Hubster and I tested for our 2nd degree black belts in kobudo, and I'm happy to say we passed.

The Hubster and I have been taking martial arts classes for about eight years now. In addition to our shiny new 2nd degree black belts in kobudo, we also have 2nd degree black belts in karate. We study both karate and kobudo under the same instructor, and Princess trains at the dojo as well. Pixie is chomping at the bit to get started. I think she may begin classes this January. So we're obviously a karate family.

When we started karate classes eight years back, Hubster and I were still pre-children, so we had the luxury of being able to go to six classes a week together. Hey, we were young, we were excited, and we were all fired up about having the chance to beat the snot out of each other in a fun, friendly environment. I trained all through my pregnancy with Princess and had a blast in the process. Then after my first child was born, Hubster and I kind of slowed down on classes. We switched to each of us going to four classes a week, with one of us in class each evening and one of us at home with the baby (there were two classes on Saturday, so we both took a class that day and just handed off Princess at the door).

After Pixie came, things slowed down even further. Let's face it, taking care of kids takes a lot of time, and can make it difficult to keep to a regular schedule of exercise. These days, I try to make it to 3-4 classes a week, but many times it's only two. Between doctor's appointments, sick kids, and work deadlines, it can be hard to make it to class. Thankfully, our current dojo offers day time classes, which is good for me because I pretty much shut down physically and mentally after 5PM each day.

I also have trouble these days finding the motivation I need to practice. But this past week, I discovered once again the truth of one of my rules for doing exercise when I feel like crud. Just go out there and do it. I don't have to do it for long. If I go out with the plan of doing just five minutes, then that's great. Usually, if I get out and do five minutes of any activity, that five minutes will likely turn into twenty, thirty, or even forty minutes, and before I know it, I'll have done a whole workout. And on those days where I do five minutes and I still feel like crud, then I'm obviously not feeling well and I can call it a day. But I have to do five minutes first. This works for classes too. If I can just get to the class and do five minutes, I'm usually good for the rest of the hour. In fact, I don't think I've ever left class once I've gotten there. I just turn off the brain and do what my instructor tells me to do until class is over and then hey, look at that! I worked out for a whole hour.

Anyway, I followed the five minute/go to class rule all last week, and got in enough practice to do well on my kobudo test this Saturday. And now that I've got my shiny new 2nd degree black belt, I've suddenly got a little more motivation to practice and go to class on a regular basis. So if you happen to see me walking around, carrying any of the instruments of destruction shown in the above picture, you know what I'm up to.

Hai, karate!!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Sunday Contentments - Recovering

Once again, it's Sunday. Hubster and the kids are off at church, while I, heathen and Zen Buddhist that I am, laze about at home. I had a killer week last week, and I feel the need to just become one with the couch. That makes it the perfect time to contemplate the zen that is contentment. Today's list includes:

Missions accomplished - among other tasks last week, I finished recording and producing the longest episode of the Heat Flash Erotica Podcast. The story in question, A Room With A View, was 12000 words long. That meant a lot of recording and editing time. However, in addition to getting that out the door, I also finished up the cover art for the same story, along with three other stories I produced for the show last month, and all four will be coming out as e-books later this month. So I have that contented feeling of satisfaction at a big job well done and out of my hair.

More missions accomplished - yesterday was a busy day. Princess had her karate test at 9AM. Hubster and I tested for our 2nd degree black belts in kobudo (karate weapons). Then at 3, Pixie and I had to hotfoot it to another town an hour away for a birthday party. Needless to say, I was drop dead tired by the end of the day. I'd been dreading yesterday all week, and I am soooooo glad that I finally got through it and can now breathe a sigh of relief.

Surprises for the girls - Princess and Pixie don't know it yet, but we're going to Disney on Ice this afternoon. Hubster found out he could get tickets last night, so we made the quick decision to go see the show. We're not even going to tell them where we're going; we're just going to climb into the car and head out. I can't wait to see the looks on their faces when they see their very first ice skating princess!

Coffee and soft boiled eggs on toast - it's the breakfast of champions, seriously. Combined with the Sunday paper, it's a great way to just kick back and enjoy the morning. Add some hot sauce to really make things good (but add that sauce to the eggs, not the paper, otherwise you've got a mess).

A rainy morning - I love rainy days. I use them as an excuse to curl up with a cup of tea in my papasan chair or on my couch and do some reading. Think I will try to squeeze in another chapter of Drood today ;)

Mood music - it's Fall, my favorite season of the year, and every Fall I pull out the same albums to enjoy: Enya, Loreena McKennit, Great Big Sea, Young Dubliners, Warren Zevon. An odd mix, I know, but those are the CDs that really bring out the nip in the air and make me want to curl up by the fire, again with a hot cup of tea.

I think that's it for today. Hubster and kids are still out, and I've got some laundry to do. Going to clear the clean clothes that need folding out of my papasan chair so I can curl up with Drood for a bit. See ya later, and enjoy your Sunday ;)

Friday, September 25, 2009

Freaky Friday! Why I write about sex

Don't you just love this pic? I do. I wonder what was going through the male mantis' head right before the female bit it off. "Hey baby, see? You ain't such an uptight bitch after a---!"

Welcome to Freaky Friday, the day where I explain a little bit about the weirdness that is me. I know, I know. I was doing Fiction Friday, right? But ya know, much as I love to read and write, writing about other people's books just hurts my brain for some reason. I spend so much time and effort into my own fiction writing that dissecting other people's fiction isn't really that much fun for me. There are some things that I just want to sit back and enjoy without any fuss.

So I won't be doing any fiction reviews for a while. Stop crying. I know those are crocodile tears. What I will do instead is talk about what it's like to be a freak mama in the great land of Suburbia.

I think in some sense, we're all freak mamas. We all have our little idiosyncrasies that make us different from the so-called "norm." But some of us stray further afield than others, especially yours truly. I know I am not the only stay-at-home mom and erotica writer, but I am probably the only stay-at-home mom and erotica writer within a 100 mile radius of where I'm standing, so I do feel... shall we say, a little unique? At times, anyway.

Why do I write about sex? When I started writing, I wanted to write science fiction and fantasy, my two favorite genres, and I spent a lot of time struggling to write stories about goddesses, robots, aliens, dragons, etc. But nothing ever really clicked, except one 20K word novella that I was never able to sell to anyone because even though editors liked it, digital publishing just hadn't taken off yet and so there was very little market for 20K word novellas. Maybe I could get it published now. In fact, I might try sending it out in the next month.

But anyway, back on topic. I wasn't able to write very well in my chosen genres of fantasy and sci-fi. Then one day, a girl friend and I went on a rampage through town. This was years before I had kids, and I still had the J-O-B working for the Man. I was really crazy back then (and yes, I know I'm really crazy now, but this was a different kind of crazy, okay? This was 'young twenty-something with too much money who hates her J-O-B but doesn't really know what she wants to do with her life' kind of crazy. See? Totally different!). So my girl friend and I left our husbands at home and took an entire day to plunder and pillage the local shopping malls. We ate lunch out, hit the fabric store, the craft store, the cafe, the book store... It was while we were at the bookstore that I picked up a copy of PlayGirl. Hey, I was crazy, twenty-something, and sans the Hubster, so why not? Turns out the magazine was pretty much crap. The models were all plasticky looking and scuzzy, the photo shoots all had this horn dog vibe. Disgusted with the pictures, I decided to read the articles (yes, I actually read the articles). They were just as bad. Then I got to the readers' fantasy forum, which was just down right awful. I read through every story, and when I got to the end, I thought, "Jeeze Louise! I could write better than that!" Then I noticed a little note at the bottom of the page that said, "Can you write better than this? We pay $100 for the story of the month!" And I said, "Hell yeah, I can write better than that!" And so I sat down to write my first pornographic story.

I was very proud of my first effort, and I sent it in, hoping I'd get story of the month. I didn't. I didn't even get into that lousy crap ass magazine! But after I finished fuming over my form rejection letter, I sat down, re-read my story, and said, "What the hell was I thinking? This is crap! I can write better that this too!" And so I sat down and wrote my second pornographic story. And I slaved over that damn thing, and I did research on it, and I spell checked it and grammar checked it to within an inch of my life, and then I slaved and sweated and swore over the damn cover letter too! And then I sent the thing and I waited. And waited. And waited.

Two weeks later, I got a letter from PlayGirl that said, "Congratulations! Your story has been selected for Story Of The Month!" And suddenly I was walking on air! I signed the contract, got my $100 check (they do not pay nearly that amount anymore, from what I understand), and waited for my story to come out. A couple months later, I marched into the bookstore and bought a copy of PlayGirl with MY story in it. And I opened it up right there in the store and....

Started swearing up a blue streak, because instead of putting my name on the story, they gave the byline to my main character, Cindy. Man I was pissed. My first publication, and I didn't have a byline to show for it. How the hell was anyone supposed to know that I was the person who wrote it?! It was then that I swore that ALL my stories would be published under my REAL name, so that nobody would ever have any doubts about who wrote that amazing piece of porn! (I kid you not, I currently have around 150 stories out there, between print publishing, e-publishing, and podcasting, that bear my name, Helen E. H. Madden.)

After seeing the results of my first success, I immediately ran home to write another story for PlayGirl (yes, I knew I wouldn't get a byline for that either, but hey, $100?!). I wrote up a hum-dinger, based on my then J-O-B, which I hated so much, and decided really needed to be the setting for a pornographic story. It worked very well. I wrote this wonderful tale about a conference room and a public speaking engagement... Anyway, I wrote the story and sent it out to PlayGirl. And waited. And waited. And waited. Two months later, they still hadn't gotten back to me, so I started looking for other markets. There was one place, an online multi-media magazine called, that was doing audio recordings of stories that people could listen to online, and they gave bylines to their authors. I sent the story in, and they bought it! About three months after it was published there, PlayGirl contacted me saying they'd like to publish the story too, but they were too late, so nyah! (PlayGirl didn't take previously published stories for their readers' forum, so I couldn't have sold it to them as a reprint. Whatever.)

I sold another story after that to a website that I cannot now remember. The money was only $25, but it was a sale. And after that... nothing. I stopped writing porn for a while. I was bored, to be honest. Those first three stories were fine, but they were pretty much typical erotica stories - girl meets boy, girl wants boy, girl and boy get naked and have sex in the bedroom, the public library, the conference room, whatever. I did sell a story to Marcy Sheiner for an anthology called Ripe Fruit. That was my first older woman/younger man story. I'm very proud of that tale. Marcy wrote to me to say 'thank you for not sending in a story about some poor bereaved widow who needs to get laid, because I'm overwhelmed with those kind of stories right now, and by the way, you're in the anthology because you were original.' That was my first clue that I really needed to do something different.

Well, somewhere in the midst of all that, I got pregnant. Toward the end of my pregnancy, I wasn't doing much of anything except be pregnant, so I thought maybe I should start writing again. I had this perverse idea to write a fantasy story about a tribe of Amazons were the women had multiple husbands to serve and entertain them. It involved m/m sex, the first time I'd ever ventured into that arena, and another of my favorite themes, older dominant woman/younger submissive male. I knew nobody, I mean NOBODY, was buying this sort of thing. I didn't care. I sat down to write the first few chapters, which I let a friend read. She told me my male characters needed a good spanking for being so wicked. I think that was a complement. I was about three or four chapters in, and then it was time for my C-section so I went to the hospital one day and had a baby.

I don't know what happened, exactly, but not only did I come home with a new baby; I also suddenly had the burning need to WRITE. Maybe it was post-partum hormones. Maybe it was the thought that I was going to spend the rest of my life changing diapers and breast feeding, and if I died, my tombstone would read, "She breast fed her baby a lot!" But nobody would remember me for anything else. So I decided I had to do something, make something of myself. I remembered the trashy porno story I'd been working on before I had the baby. I set up a table beside my nursing chair, set a notebook and a pen on it, and every time I sat down to nurse, I picked up the pen and started writing. I wrote every day, five and six times a day, for over a year. At the end of the year, I had several hundred pages of chicken scratch. The story was complete trash. But I also had a) a well-fed baby, and b) the discipline I'd been lacking before to write every single day.

Some time after that, I joined the Erotica Readers and Writers Association. I wrote four short stories that first year. The second year, I wrote a couple more. The third year, the year I was pregnant with my second child, I wrote my first real erotica novel, Demon By Day. I recall the day I mailed it out for submission, I walked out of the post office with Princess and said to her, "Well, now that THAT is in the mail, I can have the baby anytime now." My water broke a few hours later, and I had child number two at 2:34AM the next day. Woof!

And I've been writing pretty steadily ever since. Yes, it's all been erotica. It's what I write. I figured out how to write stories that didn't bore me, and I figured out how to sit my ass in the chair every day to make that writing happen. I have a weekly podcast now, for which I must write a story every week. I write other stories beyond that, and I'm hoping to get back to work on another novel within the next few weeks.

So, I'm the stay-at-home mom and erotica writer. And that's your freaky fact about me for this first Freaky Friday. Huzzah.


BTW, if this blog post wasn't long enough, or freaky enough, for you, I'm over at Oh Get A Grip today, writing about "self-love."

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Recipe: Bacon Muffins and Black Bean Soup

I made these recipes on Sunday and got a lot of requests to post them here. They come from my two favorite cookbooks, BH&G 5-Ingredient Slow Cooker Recipes and Muffins by Francesca DiPaolo. This makes a great meal, and both recipes make enough servings to last a while, though the muffins last longer than the soup.


Bacon Muffins

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Prepare muffin pan with cooking spray.

In a medium bowl, blend well:

  • 4 large eggs

  • 2 cups sour cream

  • 1/2 cup butter, melted and cooled


  • 1 pound lean bacon (cooked, drained, and crumbled)

  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh chives (I used small green onions from my garden)

In a large bowl, sift together:

  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

  • 2 tablespoons baking powder

  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

  • 1 tablespoon ground black pepper (optional)

Combine the two mixtures just enough to blend. Spoon the batter into a prepared pan (makes either 10 really large muffins or 24 regular-sized muffins). Bake for 17-20 minutes. Remove the muffins from the pan, and cool on a wire rack. Serve warm.

Black Bean and Kielbasa Soup


  • 2 19 oz cans ready-to-serve black bean soup

  • 1 14 1/2 oz can diced tomatoes with garlic and onion, undrained

  • 1 pound cooked, smoked Polish sausage, halved lengthwise and cut into 1/2 inch slices

  • 1 cup frozen whole kernel corn

In a 3 1/2 to 4 1/2 quart slow cooker, stir together the soup, undrained tomatoes, sausage and corn.

Cover and cook on low-heat setting for 6 to 8 hours or on high-heat for 3 to 4 hours.


My recommendation, start the soup early in the morning, then bake the muffins later in the afternoon. Serve for an early dinner. If you like to watch football on the weekends, this makes a nice easy meal to enjoy during the game. I can't stand football, but I do like lazy afternoons, so I have Hubster and the kids watch the game while I collapse on the couch with my muffin and soup and a good book or craft project. Enjoy!

Writing Wednesday - Time management for writers

A week or so ago, I mentioned on Twitter that I was working out my daily and weekly schedule, using a spreadsheet. The responses I got back on this ranged from, "Holy cow, are you anal retentive organized!" to "Hey, I do the exact same crazy thing!" to "Please don't post an example of that spread sheet. I really don't want to see how you obsess over handle your work schedule!" In light of such glowing responses, I felt I had no choice but to share. So here's a quick screen grab of my daily/weekly schedule, with an explanation of what the hell is going on.

Okay, here's a small screen shot of the spread sheet. I keep my schedule in Google Docs, so I can access it from anywhere I can get wireless. This is handy in my house because I typically float between three computers all day long. That's right. I'm so crazy I have to have three computers to get my work done. One computer is a large, super powerful desktop where I do most of my writing and computer graphics as well as all my podcasting and audio recording. That's in the room above our garage and it has it's own separate flight of steps from the rest of the house. Then there's the laptop I often work on in our bedroom, in a sort of mini-office I set up years ago so I could work while breastfeeding my youngest daughter (yes, again, I am crazy). That's up the other flight of steps. Between the two computers, I've got the netbook, set up in the kitchen. This is where I do a lot of my tweeting and web browsing during the day, so if you see me on Twitter, it's a good bet I'm goofing off in the kitchen. In any event, it doesn't matter where I am in the house or what computer I'm on, I've got access to my schedule.

Now take a look at the schedule. Across the top are the days of the week. Down the side I've listed blocks of time in half hour chunks. I rarely do anything that takes less than half an hour of time, and I've learned the hard way not to schedule my time in blocks any smaller than that. Whatever I'm doing, I don't care what it is, it's going to take at least half an hour of my time.

Also note what time my day starts - 4:45 AM. This is the only time on the calendar that is not listed by the half hour, because it usually only takes 15 minutes for me to actually wake up and roll out of bed, then stumble to the shower. Unless I fall back asleep and then this whole schedule thing is just crap for the rest of the day.

At the very top of the schedule, I've made some notes about each day, a sort of quick guideline to let me know what my priorities are for that day. What kind of exercise am I doing that day? Is there any special tasks to accomplish that day? What blog entry is due that day? I'm anal, and very busy, so I like to keep this check list handy at the very top of the schedule.

You may have noticed, the page is color coded. My special notes and goals at the top are in blue. Regularly scheduled items are in green. Those items in black are the ones subject to change on a regular basis. For example, under "Podcast - writing" is a block labeled "Lustcraft theme stories." That's the name of the story theme for next month's podcast. I'm writing the stories this month, so I just put in what them I'm working on, or occasionally what specific story title I'm writing that day.

Here's another shot, further down on the schedule:

Pretty much the same thing going on here, except later in the day. I include everything I know I will be doing on a regular basis in my schedule, so in addition to what time I want to wake up and go to sleep, I also include my workout schedule, my karate class schedule, when to take the girls to the bus stop and when to pick them up, when to do my physical therapy, when to get the laundry in the washing machine and when to fold it, etc. Anything I need to do on a regular basis, weekly or daily, goes into my schedule, thus the need for the spread sheet. You'll also notice at the bottom that this page with the actual schedule on it is not the only page in the spread sheet. I've also got pages for weekly goals, routines (because sometimes it's just easier to list a routine in the schedule and then go to that routine on a separate page), my blog schedule, shopping lists, etc. I have a lot going on, and I like to keep track of things, so I use the additional pages to help me do that.

Feeling overwhelmed yet by all this scheduling? It's okay. Let me say up front that there is no one way to do a personal schedule, and don't worry if you don't want to do your schedule how I do it. YOU DON'T HAVE TO! This is really just a peek into how my crazy brain works.

So where did I get this crazy method of making schedules? From my days in the Army Reserves. I used to be a training officer for a very large unit, and was responsible for schedule all the training events for everyone in the unit. I had to decide who was doing what, when, where, why, and how. The schedules I created for each drill weekend look rather similar to my personal schedule today, only I don't have to list anybody as the trainer for a specific event, nor do I have to quote which regulation and training manual to reference.

How do I come up with this schedule? This, I think, is the important part, and the part I really want to share with people:

I start by making a list of all the things I'd like to do in a day/week.


I start plugging items from my list into my schedule. The important things get the biggest blocks of time, and are usually scheduled early in the day. Did you notice what was the first thing on my schedule after waking up, showering, and starting the laundry? Yeah, the podcast, either writing for it or recording and editing the audio for it. The podcast is a weekly deadline. It has to get done every week, and so it gets done first!

I only schedule things in half-hour blocks. I refuse to break down my day into 15 minute segments, or 10 minute segments, or what have you. I know I could list 10-15 minutes of house cleaning a day, to ensure that my house cleaning gets done. But you know what? It never works for me. I've learned the hard way that when I start nickel and diming my day away like that, I lose sight of the important work, the work that actually requires me to focus for half an hour. So I don't bother putting things on there like house cleaning that would only take 15 minutes, because house cleaning isn't a priority (getting a shower and folding laundry are, however! At least to me).

I try the schedule out for a few days. I usually end up realizing I forgot to add something in, or I need to take something out. Sometimes I realize that a particular task would be more likely to get done if I scheduled it for a different time during the day. For example. I prefer to workout first thing in the morning after I get the kids to school, but recently I realized that I was getting the workout done, but not the other stuff I had planned in the morning. So I flipped things around. Now I work in the morning on my major projects - the web comic, writing a book, redesigning the website - and then take off around lunch time to swim, attend karate class or go for a run. I was surprised at how well that worked out. I actually got a lot more done, and I still got my workouts in.

I realize that past a certain point in the day, things are not going to get done. That point in the day is 3:30PM, when the girls come home from school. At that point, my time becomes their time. So I make sure to fit in things like my physical therapy before they come home, and I don't plan to do anything serious after they get here.

If the schedule does not seem to be working, I start a new schedule, or I copy the old one and make any changes as I see fit. My schedules are not written in stone. Things happen, plans change. Schedules need to change too.

So that's my schedule in a not-so-small nutshell. It's detailed. It's anal. It works for me.

It usually takes me a day or two to write the basic schedule out, and then another week or so to tweak it until I've got everything I want on it. Then I'll be able to work with that schedule for a few months, up to six if I'm lucky, before needing to change it for some reason. If you're having trouble getting stuff done during the day, my suggestion is to pull out a spreadsheet, or even just a pen and a piece of paper, and start making a list of things you want to get done, and figure out when to get them done. You don't have to be as anal detailed as I am, but a simple schedule could help you go a long way toward accomplishing your goals.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Episode 36 - What I didn't do on my summer vacation

So, how was your summer?

Honest to god, I thought I would get so much more done this summer, but I feel like I barely managed to limp to the finish line. I was sooooooooo happy when school started and I finally had all day to myself. That was two weeks ago, and I am only now catching up on everything I didn't get done while I was busy chasing after two kids.

I'm finally settling into a regular schedule, and I hope to be a little more productive with this cartoon. I also hope to start work on building a new website, combining all my various sites and blogs into one easy to find spot where you can get all the cartoons and blog posts and other goodies at once. There will be the usual Cynical Woman madness, plus maybe some new stuff (i.e. some ADULT stuff). So stay tuned. I'll get that done. One of these days ;)

Monday, September 21, 2009

Move It Mama Monday! When the kids are sick.

Yes, I'm getting this post out late today. My apologies. I had planned to get it written yesterday and then schedule it to run first thing this morning, but I got hit with a ton of deadlines. I have four e-chapbooks (smaller than an e-book, bigger than a breadbox), coming out in the next week or so, and I had to get a lot of stuff done to make sure that happens.

So today's post is late, but that's okay because the whole day was sort of thrown out of whack when Pixie woke up this morning sounding like she'd swallowed the granddaddy of all bullfrogs. My poor little pooter has a mild fever, a runny nose, and a nagging cough. None of this is slowing her down, mind you, but it is enough to keep her out of preschool for today and tomorrow. Can't be too careful with the H1N1 virus running around, I suppose.

So I unexpectedly have a child home today, a sick child whom I cannot take to the Y nursery anymore than I could send to preschool, and that puts all my carefully laid out plans for the day into the trashcan. Or does it?

I actually look forward to the days the kids are home sick. It somehow lifts the burden off of me to meet any other responsibilities beyond bringing my baby warm ginger ale to sip and watching Disney movies on the couch with her. I call these days "Blow Off Days," because I have the perfect excuse to blow off work, exercise, what have you. Depending on the severity of illness and my desire to take a break from the usual routine, I may blow off everything or just a few select items on my daily to-do list.

Since Pixie's really not all that ill and since I'm gung-ho to catch up on a lot of stuff I've been putting off all summer, I opted to only skip a few things today. Rather than hit the Y this afternoon for a lengthy karate practice, I pulled out EA Sports Active (yes, my one month moratorium on that game is up) and did a short 20 minute workout. Then I popped a Disney movie in the DVD player for Pixie and hit the office. While she played downstairs and watched her movie, I worked on finances, e-mail, and other odds and ends. I took a break every now and then to check on my little poot, but she was doing fine, so I let her be.

At lunch, I decided to pop Pixie in the jog stroller and I took her for a nice walk around the neighborhood. Nothing too fast, just a chance to get outside for some fresh air. We stopped at the local playground for a bit and played there, then returned home. Pixie is in bed now with some of her Barbies while I finish up more work in the office.

I did not get the hard-charging workout I had planned for today, but that's okay. I had other options, and I think that's what's important. It's hard to keep up with kids, work, AND exercise if you don't give yourself options. And while I might miss the sweat inducing activity I had planned, let's face it. If my kid is sick, I may be sick too soon. Taking a bit of a break right now instead of running myself into the ground might not be a bad idea.

Pixie will be home again tomorrow; she has to be fever-free for 24 hours before she can go back to school (again, can't be too careful). But that's okay. She'll be well enough that I can take her to the dojo with me tomorrow for kobudo class. I have a kobudo test coming up this Saturday, so I need the class. But I won't be staying for the class of open-hand karate following afterward.

After all, I got a sick kid, and we could use the break.


I believe on October 4th, Nintendo releases the new Wii Fit Plus. I'm chomping at the bit for this one. I love Wii Fit, but I've done it almost to death at this point. I need something new. EA Sports is also releasing an update to EA Sports Active, which includes new exercises and workouts. I had thought about pre-ordering this, but decided I'd rather look into some other Wii fitness games instead, like My Fitness Coach. This game actually looks like it might include some stretching exercises, something that both Wii Fit and EASA have so far ignored. Although, maybe the new Wii Fit will surprise me in that aspect. One can hope.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Sunday Contentments - Running!

I have had a very long busy week, made even busier by the sudden realization at the last minute that I had a story that needed major proof-reading and correction yesterday, in time for a deadline today. Between that rewrite and producing next week's episode of the Heat Flash Erotica Podcast, I ended up spending most of the day in the office, working. I didn't get to bed until around midnight, then woke up half-dead this morning. I was so foggy headed, I actually put the coffee grounds in the coffee maker before I put the filter in. Yeah, it was that kind of morning.

However, I did manage to get things turned around after that, and I'm now enjoying a nice Sunday afternoon. I've still got work to do, but it's at a level I can handle and still get some time on the couch knitting and reading later today. With that in mind, here's this Sunday's contentments:

Running - I was a cadet in ROTC during college, and had to run at least 3 times a week in formation for four years straight. I hated it. I never ran before college, and I spent a lot of time in college yakking up my guts after going miles with my fellow cadets. It wasn't until after college, when I was out on my own, that I discovered the joys of running. When I could run at my own pace, choose my own route, and not have to listen to someone scream at me to "Pick it up, cadet!!" I used to do a lot of running, prior to having the girls. Then after the third knee injury, I stopped. Running just hurt too much. Recently though, I've been getting back to it. Maybe it's because I've been keeping up with my glucosamine supplements and physical therapy, but my knees no longer ache after going a couple of miles around the neighborhood. This morning, after my disaster with the coffee maker, I threw on my sweats and sneakers and headed out the door. The sky was a perfect Autumn blue, the weather was cool with a light breeze, and a few of the neighbors were out gardening. Perfect running conditions. I love it.

Reading - I've had the opportunity to sit down with my netbook most nights the past few weeks and do some serious reading. I know I'm staying up waaaaay to late, devouring horror stories and such, but I'm enjoying the hell out of myself. Drood by Dan Simmons is excellent, as was The Mystery of Edwin Drood by Charles Dickens. Once I get past this month, I'll put up a list of recommended reads for October.

Time to myself - both girls are in school, and I've got most days to myself now. Yeah, I miss having the munchkins run around the house, screaming and giggling and generally tearing the place apart. But I've got plenty of ways to fill those hours. I've been catching up on e-mail and work, and can actually now look forward to starting work on some new projects, maybe even this week. It's so amazing what I get done in the few hours I have to myself each day!

Swimming - this one goes right up there with running. I never did a lot of swimming until I realized it hurt too much to run. Then I really got into it. I didn't go swimming this summer, not laps at the Y anyway, because I had my hands full with the girls. I went back to the pool for the first time on Friday. Since I didn't have to drag anyone with me, I wasn't restricted to the hours that the Y nursery is open. That meant at noon, when they've got the most swim lanes open for lap swim, I had a lane all to myself. Heck, I almost had the whole pool to myself! It was nice.

Getting published - sometime in the next week or so, I'll have four short stories out from Logical Lust. These are the stories that I've been running this past month on the Heat Flash Erotica Podcast, and they include some of the best pieces I've ever written. I'm hoping more published work will mean more sales. Help a mother out and buy my books!

I think I'm going to leave it at that today. Princess is playing with the Wii right now, and Pixie is out shopping with the Hubster. I've got some artwork to finish - the cover art for my upcoming releases. I'm going to go play with my graphics programs now, and enjoy the rest of the afternoon. You have fun today, too!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Writing Wednesday - Are E-books Any Good?

I had a couple of folks express an interest in my idea of doing a semi-regular writing post, and since both writing and Wednesday start with W...

Anyway, I wanted to start with a general topic today, e-books. I've had the opportunity to read a lot of e-books lately. I love my netbook, and I love reading e-books on it. I've enjoyed a lot more books since getting the netbook than I have in a while. E-books don't take up a ton of space in my house, and they're very transportable, and hot diggity-dog! Barnes and Noble has made it every easy for me to get e-books from them online!

Of course, Barnes and Noble, and that mega-giant of e-books, are not the only places to get e-books. There's also, which offers some pretty nice deals, and carries a lot of small e-press published books. And just about every e-publisher sells their own books on their website. My publishers do, I know that. So there are lots of places to go buy e-books.

Still, in spite of the availability and the ease of buying, there seems to be this perception that e-books aren't as good as "real" books. I can say from experience that reading a book on my netbook is just as easy as reading one in print. So I don't think the problem is the digital format per se, but the perception that e-books are not as well written. I'm not talking about the books that are e-published as well as print published by the big New York publishers, but the e-books that are put out by all those small e-publishers, the books that usually don't come out in print.

Is the reputation of poor quality one that's been earned by these small e-publishers? Maybe yes, maybe no. We've all seen the major New York publishers put out books that suck rocks, and I've personally seen small e-publishers put out books that kept me up reading all night long. But I've also seen the reverse, more times than I care to admit.

The fact is, there are some publishers out there who don't edit books as well as they should. Granted, most e-publishers don't have the near the staff that the New York publishers have, so frequently you'll find one editor doing the work of three. In that case, editing mistakes are bound to happen - the occasional misplaced comma or dropped word - and I understand that. But what about the books I read that I can't believe got published? You know the ones I'm talking about. They're riddled with bad grammar, punctuation and spelling errors. The plot isn't so much a plot as it is an excuse to string together sex scenes, or horror scenes, or action scenes, depending on the genre. The characters might as well be cut out of cardboard, they're so two-dimension. In fact, the entire story reads like really bad fan fiction (nothing against good fan fiction; I LIKE good fan fiction, and frequently the good fan fic writers go on to become good original authors). When I run across bad books like this, I wince, because I know these books are the reason many people perceive the e-publishing industry to sub-standard and filled with crap. And there are far more of these kinds of e-books out there than there should be. Certain publishers are intent on churning out as many e-books as they can, and I get the feeling they will sign anyone who can string more than a few words together. Quantity over quality is never a good deal. Thus I'm always wary of buying books from a small e-publisher I've never bought from before. Will I get a treasure, or a dud? Even reading reviews doesn't help, if I don't know the reviewer. Many is the time I've seen an e-book with great reviews, only to discover that there are some reviewers out there who like everything and anything they read, while I, a rather picky reader, can not get past the first chapter of this book with the glowing reviews. For some reason, I always figure this out after I get the book and start reading. I hate that, because then I've wasted money and time, two things I really hate to waste.

So here's my thought. I like to read e-books, good e-books, and I think there are plenty of good e-books out there put out by small e-publishers. But there's also a lot of dreck out there too. If you're a reader, I do recommend you search out some e-books and give them a try. Get books from the big publishers and the small, and be willing to do a little research to find books you'll like. There really are some gems out there, if you take the time to look. If you're a writer, do your readers a favor and write the best book you can. Don't just knock out a quick draft and boot it out the door, thinking your editor will catch all your mistakes and fix them for you. You need to do that before you submit, not after. And please, for love of Pete, don't treat plot and characterization like afterthoughts, something to be added in after you write all the hot sex scenes (erotic romance writers, I'm looking at YOU!). Finally, if you're an e-publisher, do EVERYONE a favor. Demand quality books; publish quality books. Publisher fewer books if you need to, to make that happen. But make sure the books are good.

I'm not the best writer in the world, but I am a reader, a reader with a wallet, and I know how I want to spend my money - on quality stories. The publishers and writers who produce those stories are the ones who are going to get my hard-earned bucks.

Last Night I Dreamt...

I've been tweeting my nightly excursions in slumber land lately, and people seem fascinated that I remember my dreams. I can recall dreams back to when I was around 5 years old, and usually I remember 2-3 dreams a week, sometimes more. Since people seem interested, I thought I'd post them here.

Last night I dreamt I was at college, sort of. I was away somewhere. It was Autumn, and time to head back home for a break. I lived in an apartment, or in part of a house with some other people. Everyone else in the building had already gone off, a few at a time, and it was just me in this big lonely place with one or two other people. We wandered around, trying to get our stuff packed so we could get out the door. For some reason, the place looked like a slew of office cubicles, and I realized I didn't just live there, I also worked there too, which I hated because that meant I could never get away from this lousy office job I had. I was pregnant, and I really wanted to get in my car and head out so I could meet up with Hubster, but in the course of wandering through the cubicles, I came out into the lobby of a hotel where they were serving a continental breakfast. The place looked an awful lot like the Embassy in Chicago where we stayed this summer. Hubster was there, talking to some people that I was supposed to impress. Maybe they were friends of his from work. But all I could think about was how I had to use the restroom, so I excused myself and went to find one. There was a men's room on the lobby floor, but not a ladies (apparently it was still under construction or being renovated), and I had to follow these detour signs that led to the ladies room up on the fourth floor. But when I got there, that ladies' room was cordoned off too, for repairs, and more detour signs led to an elevator that I knew went 27 floors up. The elevator was one of those glass jobs that ran along the outside of the building, so you could see yourself shooting up into the stratosphere, and there was no way in hell I was getting on that thing and going up that high. I had this terrible fear that it wouldn't be safe, and that maybe I'd somehow fall out of the elevator and plunge to my death. So I abandoned my quest for the ladies' room, and headed back down to the lobby, where I had to explain the whole ladies' room problem to everyone there.

And then I woke up.

For some reason, being at college while living in an apartment figures into a lot of my dreams. This is odd, because I lived in the dorms all four years I was at Tech. I didn't get an apartment until I went for my MS at Radford.

Toilets, and the inability to find one or get into one, also show up a lot in my dreams. I have no idea why.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Opinions wanted - Updating the site

Okay, people, I'm looking for opinions. I need to update the website, but I have small problem. I actually have multiple websites - the Cynical Woman blog at, my erotica website at, and the blog for The Adventures of Cynical Woman web comic at (and yes, I know I need to post a new cartoon! I'm working on it). That's too many websites in my opinion. I can easily fold the web comic into the Cynical Woman blog, but I'm wondering if I should also combine the erotica blog as well, so that I'd only have to worry about one website and not two or three. The erotica blog and the Cynical Woman blog are sort of two different creatures. I don't know if they'd work well together or not, so I need help deciding. Here are the reasons for and against combining ALL the websites/blogs.


  • Only one blog to deal with. I can easily write 3-4 blog posts a week... for one blog. Maintaining two blogs takes a lot more time and effort.

  • The combined blog would more accurately reflect who I am. I've always billed myself as the "stay-at-home mom AND erotica writer," and people remember that. It's an accurate, and successful, branding of me as a writer.

  • It'll be easier to find me on the web. Rather than go to a couple of different sites to see what's going on with me, you've got one stop shopping. I can post all my info on free reads, the cartoons, and the usual day-to-day lunacies in one place.

  • More content. I've been holding back posting certain things here because I need something to post on the erotica blog. However, I don't usually have a ton of stuff to post on the erotica blog. I do a lot more posting here than there, so the erotica blog looks pretty sparse. I wouldn't have to worry about a sparse blog if I combined the erotica blog with this one.

  • I already own (and I would really like to replace the website that's there with the CW blog, plus other stuff). I can easily redirect to that URL so that typing in either URL takes you to one spot.

Now the cons:

  • Sexually explicit material. I'd like to post some free erotica reads and excerpts. Is this blog really suitable for that? Or do I need to keep it on a separate blog?

  • Male nudes. One of the things I'd like to start doing is pin-up art. Male pin-up art (I'm a rabid feminist, remember). That would mean images of full frontal male nudity. Does it belong here, or again does it need it's own forum in a separate blog?

Hmmm. Looking at my pros vs. my cons, I'm thinking maybe I should just combine the two blogs. When it comes to the explicit stuff, rather than put it right there in the blog, I can post a link to the stories or images in question. Then people can choose to follow the link or not.

Yeah, I think this will work. BUT I'm still interested in other people's opinions. So give me some feedback! I'm hoping to get started on this in a couple weeks ;) Thanks!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Move It Mama Monday! I'm Free!

Ah, school is finally started! Both Princess and Pixie are out of the house all day, and I have the place to myself. Once I get the kids off to their respective schools, I can take off and do whatever I want. And what I want to do is...

Huhn. Good question. What do I want to do, now that I can go exercise without being saddled with two kids?

Well, for starters, I want to get in a lot of karate practice. I've got a test in a couple weeks, and I need to brush up, rebuild my endurance after so many weeks of vacation and visiting relatives and other general discombobulation.

What else would I like to do? Get back on track with my physical therapy. My knees are better than they were when I stopped doing EA Sports Active, but they still crack and pop too much for my comfort. So back to daily therapy we go!

Get back on EASA. Yes, I actually do miss that knee destroying game. I'm hoping if I eliminated the lunges, I can get back to using the game on a regular basis, maybe a couple times a week. It's got a lot of fun games, plus upper body exercises, and I do work up a sweat on that game.

Actually, I'd like to get back in the habit of doing two workouts most days; a main, hour-long workout in the morning and a mini cardio workout in the afternoon. This is for two reasons. First, I really do need the activity. Without the kids to chase around, I will probably spend a lot more time on my ass working at the computer. Not good for me in general. Second, I get the sleepies in the afternoon. That extra 20 minutes of aerobic activity, whether it be walking, DDR, or the elliptical machine, will help combat that, and hopefully keep me perky and alert all afternoon.

I considered adding "lose weight" to my list of goals for the fall, but I'm thinking no. Rather than be concerned about how many pounds I'm packing, I'd rather focus on how much (healthy, non-knee destroying) activity I get and on how much healthy food I can eat. I am trying to move more to a vegetable focused diet, with two out of three meals having fruit and vegetables as the main course, and fruits and vegetables as snacks during the day. Besides, I can lose weight, but invariably, sometime around mid-cycle, my body packs it back on in water weight. So I'm wondering if I should take a slightly different approach to my workouts.

Maybe, during the middle of my cycle, when I'm most likely to pack on the water weight, I should do mostly cardio activity - karate, running (yes, I have found I can run again), elliptical, DDR, swimming, etc. Then during the rest of my cycle I can split my workouts between cardio and strength. I'm hoping the extra sweat I get from the extra cardio will help me fight off that water weight, but again, I don't want to focus on losing weight, just on being healthy.

So that's the goals for the next couple of months. Next Monday, I should have something to say about finally having a week to get back to the Y!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Sunday Contentments - Football!

I know, I've been a bad blogger. I haven't posted here all week. All I can say is, I've been busier than usual. But now it's Sunday, and I'm taking the afternoon to relax and chill. Here are this week's contentments.

Football - I swear to God, I can't stand the game. I spent way too much time in high school and college being forced to sit in the bleachers and watch a lot of football, and I loathed every minute of it. So it's pretty ironic that I'd call it a contentment now. But! There's always a but(t)... I married a man who really enjoys the game. Early in our marriage, he used to spend all day Sunday watching the games. He's a Redskins fan and a Virginia Tech fan (we both graduated from Tech). I used to loathe those days, because I'd completely lose him. Then slowly, I discovered that if he was watching the game, I could do other things, like commandeer the dining room table to sew or make jewelry. Game days got to be lazy afternoons for both of us, and for certain games, we'd invite friends over and whip up a lot of comfort food. The men (usually) watched the game while the women (usually) made jewelry, worked on costumes, drew, etc. We got out of the habit of doing game day after Princess was born. Hubster said he just couldn't justify spending hours in front of the TV when there was so much to do, and a baby to explore the world with. But I've been run ragged this summer, what with all the travel and work and getting the kids back to school, and I want a break. So I've re-instated Game Day. This afternoon, the Redskins play... someone. The Giants, maybe? I don't care. It's not the game itself I'm interested in. It's the excuse to sit on the couch with my sketch pad and pens, or at the dining room table with my beads, and do something creative that isn't work-related. Speaking of which, the next contentment is...

Beads - I've had to make a lot of trips to Virginia Beach the past few weeks, and there's a Michael's craft store down in the area I've been visiting. Since traffic coming back on that trip is always the suck, I decided one afternoon to stop in at Michael's and pick up one or two items. Just one or two, mind you. Then I walked in the door and ran smack into the bed section and that was that. I found some really chunky orange nugget style beads that I just had to have. Then I found a pendant with a Tibetan Buddha on it. It was all in oranges and dark greens, and it just so perfectly matched the orange chunky things I had picked up, and oh! Look over there! Dark green glass beads, slightly marbled with orangy red, and several strings of various shades of green beads next to that, and... And I walked out of the store with enough beads to make a new necklace. A nice, chunky, ethnic style piece, very Tibetan in design. Tres cool! I haven't been in a Michael's in years, mainly because I couldn't leisurely stroll through the place with two small children kicking each other all through the store. That day, I was on my own. I don't think I'll go back again for several months, though, because I'm so starved for new craft supplies, I think I'd go waaaaaaaaaay overboard.

School - School has finally started, and this year, Pixie is in preschool and Princess is in first grade. That means yours truly is on her own most of the day. I had one day last week when I wasn't traveling to appointments, a day when I could stay home, and I was so frikkin' amazed at how much stuff I got done! Tomorrow is Monday, I can stay home again, and I expect the day to be peaceful and productive.

Foooooooood - Yummy, yummy fooooooooood. For the game today, I made a big pot of chili, with rice and corn muffins. I'm salivating just thinking about it. I think I'll grab myself something to eat as soon as I'm done here.

Fall weather - It's no secret, and in fact I may have mentioned this last week or the week before, but I can't stand summer weather. It's too damn hot and sticky. The last couple of weeks have been just beautiful. Cool enough for jeans, and I love that.

New patio furniture - We've been in this house 14 years, and have only owned a couple of second hand plastic chairs and a tiny plastic table. Then last spring, one of the chairs collapsed under Hubster (and he is not a large man). It was obviously time for new patio furniture. Hubster waited until this weekend though, to get a nice set on sale. We've got six chairs and a nice long table. We can have guests and eat outside! WIN!

T-shirts - had a sale this week! I love Threadless t-shirts! I bought three. I can't wait until they arrive. SQUEEEEEE!

Yeah, the entire list is pretty materialistic, but you know, sometimes simple things like t-shirts and craft supplies really do make the day brighter. The game is starting soon, so I'm going to get some chili. Have a very content Sunday, folks!

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Sunday Contentments - When Life's a Disaster

Well, my week has been a complete, COMPLETE train wreck. The whole family is massively off schedule, trying to cram in that last bit of summer fun before school starts on Tuesday. In addition to this, which would be enough madness in and of itself, I've got several doctor appointments right now. Nothing's wrong, I just have something I need to see a specialist about, and it requires several trips, almost on an every-other-day basis. It does not help that the doctor I'm seeing is an hour's drive from my home. Nor does it help that a few minor mis-communications have resulted in me having to return to the doctor's office, or to a special pharmacy near the doctor's office, twice in the same day. And it helps even less that the road I have to travel is notorious for traffic jams and cluster fucks galore. I've had two days this past week where I've done nothing but spend all day in the car, shutting back and forth from my house, to the doctor's office or pharmacy.

Top this off with the story I've been trying to write this week, which I really wanted to have done before midnight last night so I could turn it into my critique group for the weekend. I blew my deadline by two hours, and at 2AM this morning, still didn't have a good working draft. In times like these, there's only one thing I can say, folks. FIDO: Fuck It, Drive On.

But enough of all that crap. Today's blog post is about contentments, and yes, in spite of the upset and general disasterousness of my week, I do have a few things I can point to and say, "Yep, that gives me that warm and fuzzy feeling but good." Here's this week's contentments:

Music - I don't often listen to music these days, mainly because I'm not the kind of gal who can write while music is playing in the background. I prefer peace and quiet. I would listen to music in the car, but I'm not in my car that much these days, and rarely if ever make long trips. But we know I made a few this past week, don't we! So what did I listen to? The soundtrack to River Dance, which always gets my spirit pumping, The soundtrack to Fellowship of the Ring (I LOVE that movie), ABBA Gold, and a mix CD the Hubster made for me aeons ago when we were just engaged. It was all good stuff, and it kept me humming along when I got stuck in traffic over and over and over again this week.

Kids - I got two of the little twerps, and they never cease to amaze me. I get the giggles just watching Pixie run around the house. She's so in charge of whatever she's doing. Meanwhile, Princess continues to delve into Egyptology with a vengeance. We spent this afternoon, after I returned from yet another trip to the doctor, drawing pictures of the artifacts she found in her excavation kit. She says she can't draw. I explained she couldn't draw perfectly. But she could draw well enough, and she'd get better with practice. She did quite good when she finally settled down.

Cuddling and tickling - nothing boosts my mood like a cuddle with the girls, or a long hug with the Hubster. I've been bitching all week because Hubster bought scented laundry detergent and now we all smell Spring Time Fresh! I can't stand it. But today, either we all dug out pre-new detergent clothes or my nose has finally gone numb, because I could hold everyone without getting a massive headache. I've also had the opportunity this week to curl up with one child or the other for a nap or late morning snooze, and to chase after the kids and tickle the stuffings out of them. Their laughter is the best medicine ever. And Hubster? Nothing makes me happier than to spoon up behind him in bed, and know that I'm not going to get up until the kids roust us from delightful, golden sleep.

Books - there just so happens to be a Border's near my doctor's office. I got a coupon last night for 40% off, and had an appointment this morning. I decided to stop in and get myself something I wanted. My purchases included two birding books, The Long Tail by Chris Anderson (and it was on massive discount to boot!), and the latest installment of one of my favorite mangas, Bizenghast. I can haz reading material, LOL!

Birds - I've gone nuts lately, trying to figure out which species are visiting the bird feeders in our backyard. Ever since I put the squirrel baffle up, we had tons of birds show up. I checked out a birding book from the library, and of course, bought two new books today. I can finally tell a purple finch from a cardinal, and a gold finch from a black capped chickadee. We've even got a tufted titmouse showing up, plus several others I can't quite pin down yet. And we've got two regular visitors to the humming bird feeder, a male and a female ruby throat. I never in my life would have guessed I'd be so entertained standing at my dining room window and watching the birds zip in and out of our yard. I have truly gone round the bend.

Manga - as I've mentioned, I picked up the latest installment of Bizenghast. If you haven't heard of it before, it's an OEL (original English language) manga, drawn by M. Alice LeGrow. The art is very spooky, delicate and gothic, and the story is bizarre. Right up my alley, of course. I've been waiting for this book for a while, and I'm delighted I found it today.

My lousy first draft of my story - hands down, a lousy first draft beats no draft at all when it comes to writing. I was pissed as hell last night when I blew my deadline, but there was nothing for it. Then I dreamt all last night about the subjects I was writing about - Lovecraft, nuclear bomb tests, and mermaids (are you intrigued yet?). This morning, bits and pieces of narrative have been filtering through my brain. I haven't caught all of them on paper yet, but I did get some key ones down in my notebook while I was waiting in the doctor's office. I think I'll be able to finish this story soon, AND I've got ideas for four more to write for next month's podcast. I hope you guys like horror };)

Finally, the weather - I loathe summer. Really, I despise hot sticky weather, and the clothing that goes with it. I much prefer cool autumn days where I can wear jeans and a light sweater or jacket. All my favorite clothing is fall clothing. It's still summer, but the weather this past week has been so cool and nice, I've been able to break out my beloved jeans and enjoy. It's a very simple thing, but I love this weather. Love, love, love it!

And that's the contentments for this Sunday. I've got a story to work on, and hopefully finish, today, plus more blog posts to plan for the rest of this week. Hope you all are doing well, and have a contented Sunday.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Fiction Friday - Gojiro by Mark Jacobson

I'm amazed at how much reading I've done this summer. In addition to books I've already mentioned here, I've also read quite a few others, more than I've read in a long time. Enough in fact, that I can do a weekly Fiction Friday post for a month, at least, if I can just keep up with blogging.

The last book I read before heading off to Chicago was Gojiro by Mark Jacobson. I will say up front this was both one of the strangest and one of the best reads I've had in a while. The story is told from the point of view of the radio-active behemoth himself, only instead of unintelligible roars, this Gojiro is a hip-talking, Jack Kerouac-like philosophizer addicted to fine grades of plutonium. His companion is Komodo, the Coma Boy, a young man who's life was obliterated by the Heater, that nuclear weapon of Armageddon that ripped Gojiro from his natural place in the universe and transformed the Monitor Lizard into the King of Monsters.

The plot circles around Gojiro's attempts at suicide and Komodo's desire to save his one true friend. The two victims of nuclear disaster live together on Radioactive Island, along with the Atoms, children malformed and mutated by radioactive energy. Gojiro is tired of his life as a freak, and can't abide the suffering that abounds in his quad-cameral brain. Somehow, he's hooked into the universe, receiving messages and please for help from fans around the world, and he has no idea how to answer them. He's also tired of being ripped from his position in the natural order of things. He was never meant to be a monster, let alone King of Monsters, and now, bereft of the comfort of his species, it takes everything he has just to hold it together.

Only he's not holding it together. If not for a sacred promise he made to Komodo and his pesky invulnerability, the big green 'zard would snuff himself in an instant. Komodo knows this, and is doing everything he can to keep his friend going. They strike upon a deal - in a year's time, if they haven't found a way to relieve Gojiro's depression and pain, the great lizard will be allowed to kill himself, and Komodo will help ease his way.

That's when the note shows up, a letter from the mysterious Sheila Brooks, daughter of Joseph Prometheus Brooks, the scientist who invented the Heater. A critically acclaimed film maker and all around nut-case, Ms. Brooks desperately needs Gojiro's help. She wants to make a movie, entitled "Gojiro Vs. Joseph Prometheus Brooks in the Valley of Decision," and suddenly Gojiro finds he must once and for all confront the man responsible for his tortured existence.

It's a long strange acid trip of a book, and the first few chapters may seem rather slow until you get into the rhythm of the language. Gojiro has a slang all his own, and it takes a while to decipher what he means. On top of that, there's a great deal of philosophy in the book on the nature of species and their interconnectedness and the place of the individual within the whole.

I bought this book waaaaaaaay back in the 1990s, probably 1993, when I was still in grad school. I've had it on my shelf ever since then, just gathering dust. I finally reached a point this summer where I determined that I either needed to read the book or get rid of it. I made a deal with myself to read the first two chapters, and then decide. Fortunately, the I found it slow at the start, I was hooked enough to keep going and eventually I reached a point where I couldn't put the book down. In fact, on more than one night, I stayed up waaaaaaaaaaay to late because I just didn't want to stop reading.

So Gojiro has earned a permanent spot on my shelf, I'm happy to say. I'll get rid of some other namby pamby book if I need to clear things out. This one's got too much style, too much plot, too much mind-boggling entertainment for me to give up.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Artsy Fartsy Thursday - Knitting!

This is a semi-regular post that I do intend to do, as I have a huge love for all things crafty, and finally may have some time to do some crafty things. My most recent venture into the world of the Artsy Fartsy has been in the field of knitting. A friend of mine, Mich, got me started in late June. I had been bemoaning the fact that Princess' teacher told me she didn't concentrate as well as she should in school, and Mich offered to teach Princess to knit. She thought it might help Princess learn to focus on a complex task, and give her something fun to do with her hands.

Well, you know if Princess is going to learn how to knit, I was going to have to learn too. Otherwise, how else was I going to help her out when she got stuck? My mom sent Princess a knitting kit, complete with a set of needles, yarn, and basic instruction book. I went out to the local craft store and picked up some needles and yarn of my own. The end result of this is that I have since created a pot holder, a belt,, a dish cloth (with a skull knitted into it!), and now a pair of wrist warmers. I'm most proud of this last accomplishment. The wrist warmers are the first knitted thing I've made for myself, and they won't be the last.

I love that I can make clothing items for myself. I'm very particular about how I dress, though you might not guess it from looking at me. But I flatter myself to think I cultivate a certain sort of goth/punk mommy aura with my tattered jeans and fitted t-shirts, and I like my accessories to reflect that. The wrist warmers will look perfect this winter, giving me a certain radical chic while all the other mama-jamas stand around the bus stop wearing boring old gloves.

Seriously, though, I liked how these turned out, and they got made very quickly, which is also a plus. I'm hoping to make a matching scarf and maybe even a hat for myself as well. I've never really had a winter hat that I liked, so this would be a first.

The pattern for the wrist warmers, if you're interested, comes from Teach Yourself Visually: Knitting, available on You can also get it here from Barnes and Noble.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Writing Wednesday - Would You Be Interested?

I'm thinking about what I'd like to do with this blog, and among other things, I'd like to do some more semi-regular topics. So I was wondering. I have Move It Mama Monday and Fiction Friday, both of which are about things near and dear to my heart (exercise and reading, respectively). But would anybody here be interested in hearing my thoughts, however strange they may be, on writing? I figure I must have something to say on the subject, since I've written over 100 stories in the past two years.

I'm toying with the idea. On the one hand, there are thousands, maybe millions, of websites out there that discuss this very same subject, and I'm wondering what I can bring to the topic that would be original. Would you like to hear about what it's like to write erotica, or what it's like to be a write-at-home mom? Or would you like to hear how those worlds collide?

Let me know what you think. I'll keep playing with the idea. If I get any feedback, I may get started on this sooner rather than later.