Give Me Something More….

It’s kind of nice to be tackled first thing in the morning with the following question: “Where was your Calico Writes entry from yesterday?” I’ve actually done a crap job updating over the holiday weekend, as I spending lots of time catching up on LOTS of reading. I finally finished the VanderMeer trilogy, and to that end, I’ll say that I want to read the whole trilogy again. The first read is to experience without spoilage. The second, eventual, read will be with a different, more critical eye, now that I have a sense of how the story fits together. If you ask me what it’s about, I still couldn’t tell you specifically: reading the Southern Reach trilogy is an experience, and the comparisons to the television show Lost aren’t unfounded, if you’re someone who likes conspiracies and mystery and crazy science. Whatever faults Lost had, if it inspires more fiction like this, I’ll be a happy camper. A slow reader, mind you, but still happy.

I’m also working on some administrative things relating to my writing. I intend on making BIG CHANGES soon, and those changes will deserve their own special post. In the meantime, I’m pre-planning. One of the results of that is that I’m in the process of shuffling Codename: Magic Twins to the back-burner. Reasons being that it’s a complex world I’m building and I don’t have my arms wrapped around the rules nor all of the characters. It’s something that, while I’ve said it before, I really to to plan out in great detail before I start writing in earnest. I churned out another 495 words over this weekend, but by and large, I think my time will be better spent focusing that energy into a major brainstorming piece: something that breaks down the characters, the magic as I understand it, and then I’ll have some people critique the shit out of it so that I can move forward with a more solid direction in mind.

Besides, the world that Codename: Telepathic Soulmates is in is calling me, and I’ve got some serious work to do.

So I may not be writing every night. Not new fiction or new words, but I solemnly swear I’m up to no good, and I’ll try to keep the blog posted on my progress on a regular basis.

Let’s see, what else? We finished watching the first season of Penny Dreadful over the weekend, and while I enjoyed the hell out of watching it, I couldn’t help but notice some of its more problematic qualities: notably, while the show attempts to empower its female characters sexually, I can’t help but notice those same characters are also thoroughly punished in the narrative. How direct that correlation is depends on the character in question, but for one particular character, the correlation between having sex and BAD SHIT HAPPENING is disturbing. It’s something I’ll be watching with a close eye on when season two premieres, because of course I’ll watch. I heart the werewolf.

I also finally got around to watching Divergent, which was an enjoyable adaptation and makes me want to re-read the trilogy. I almost caved in and watched Beautiful Creatures, because I heard that was also enjoyable, but I promised a friend I’d help on a project, so help I did.

Today was back to the grind at work, and it was definitely a stressful grind. But that’s what happens when there’s a holiday during the workweek, and with any luck, hopefully today was the worst of it.

This post brought to you by a very bruised but healing ankle, an innate distrust of this unseasonably warm and sunny weather, and the sounds of the latest Marilyn Manson album filtering down the hall. Damn, that does not sound like the Manson I heard back in the nineties. It might be sacrilege, but whatever he’s doing now, the sound’s a huge improvement to my ear.

Today’s headline brought to you from Lacuna Coil’s album, Trip the Darkness. You can hear “Give Me Something More…” here.

Playing Ketchup

Rather, catch-up. 😉

I didn’t post on January 14th, and I didn’t write that day either. That’s okay, because sometimes life happens and you need to do that instead. So today, I wanted to give you Tuesday’s and Thursday’s stats, because adding Tuesday’s figures to the tribute to my uncle just seemed hideously inappropriate.

Currently Writing: Codename: Magic Twins
Tuesday’s word count: 299 words
Thursday’s word count: 487 words
Total word count: 10,811 words
I’ve officially given up any pretense that I’m writing a workable draft. Instead, I’m trying to figure out my world-building through narrative and dialogue. If this were in a published book, the info-dumping would be so awful you couldn’t get away from the stench. But I figure it’s okay for now. I’d rather feel may way through some shit now and then come up with a workable outline once I have the rules and world-building figured out.

Currently Reading: Jeff VanderMeer’s Acceptance
I know, I know. It’s taking a while. I’ve been busy, yo! But I’ve made a dent, and I’d love to finish it over the weekend, but there are chores demanding my attention, as well as a stack of comics that’s getting dangerously high again.

Next up: THE WEEKEND. YAY FOR WEEKENDS. Who’s with me?

New Rules

So I know Bill Maher is a controversial figure. However, my husband likes to watch his show, and if I’m in the vicinity, I’ll perk up for the final segment of “New Rules,” because, by and large, there can be some interesting observations about human behavior and its hypocrisy. Who hasn’t witnessed something and wanted to shout, “You are NOT allowed….” or “You must ALWAYS….” because they’re dealing with something surpassing common sense?

Today, I came up with a few:

1) If I call you and it’s not a good time to talk, don’t answer your phone. If you feel like you MUST answer the phone, even if it’s legitimately a bad time, you have to be as polite and courteous as possible and tell that person you’ll call them back. Don’t be rude and don’t tell THEM to call back later: how do they know it’s not a good time?

2) If you’re returning my call, return the call at YOUR convenience. Don’t call me and tell me it’s a bad time to talk. If I call you and it’s a bad time, there is some leeway for being rude despite New Rule #1. However, if you call me and then tell me it’s not a good time for whatever reason? Rudeness, curtness, and being brusque is not allowed. You called me, remember? Either call me at a good time, or suck it up and be polite despite said bad time.

3) If you happen to be a member of any kind of clergy, if you’re a preacher or pastor or seen as a respected religious figure in your community, you are NOT allowed to be rude EVER. I get it, you’re human, and you have bad days like the rest of us. So if you slip up, we’ll forgive you…. but only if you recognize the error of your ways and apologize to us directly. Jesus forgives and all that, but you’re the face of your church, and if you’re rude to me, that speaks louder than words.


Currently Writing: Codename: Magic Twins
Last night’s word count: 1404 words
Total word count: 10,027 words
Hey, I broke 10K! The words are crap, mind you. I’m basically brainstorming through narrative. Or it may be more accurate to say I’m brainstorming via info-dumping dialogue. Whatever. I ended up writing more last night than my start time would’ve have foreseen, and I had to stop myself so I could actually get sleep. Go me?

Currently Reading: Jeff VanderMeer’s Acceptance
Ugh… where did my reading time go? I want it back!

Next up: I think tomorrow will be a normal day. I think. I hope. I plan. I’m contemplating some major schedule changes, and I’ve bounced those changes by a few people and so far the response has been positive. The more I talk about it, the more I’m convinced I’ll do it. There’s a few details to be ironed out though, so for now, I shall not blog about it directly. Yet.

Ending an Era

Today, author Carrie Vaughn announced the end of her Kitty Norville Series. I’ve actually known about this for a few weeks: over at All Things Urban Fantasy, they featured the latest cover in the series in their Cover Art Coverage series, and my first reaction was, “Oooh, I love the cover!” and then my second reaction was, “Wait, Carrie said that was going to be the title of the last book in the series. Oh shit!”

kitty-saves-the-world-mmThis was before Low Midnight came out, and I didn’t want to prematurely spoil anything by freaking out online, so I private messaged Carrie on Facebook and she confirmed that yes, it was the last book in the series but that she was going to hold off on the announcement until Low Midnight was released and had a chance to shine. So I held off talking about the series until her announcement, which ended up being today.

Urban fantasy is a genre that’s had quite the boom since I started reading SF/F in 2002. Lots of series have come and go, some never got their start, but the genre is always seeking to improve itself, and it’s a genre I very much enjoy, though if I’m not careful, I can read too much and give myself a metaphorical tummy-ache.

Carrie Vaughn’s Kitty and the Midnight Hour was the very first urban fantasy book I read. And I do mean very first. And for a while, it was my favorite UF series out there, but because the genre is so addictive and so fast paced, and always seeking to better itself, other series have taken the mantle of favorite (I don’t want to name them, for fear I will jinx their awesomeness by naming them). That being said, I’ve followed Kitty Norville since her novel debut, I pick up every book and devour it the moment it’s released. So while it’s no longer my favoritest UF series, it is the longest-running UF series that I’ve stayed on top of, and I’ll be reading the last installment with relish. I love getting the endings to things, I love seeing how stories wrap up. Carrie’s announcement is exciting because she’s done with the series as is, but she’s not done with the world, which means I’ll likely get my wish for more Cormac novels, but I’ll get stories about other characters too.

Some readers are upset when series end. I usually get excited, and in this case, it’s no different, if only because I want to see what else Carrie Vaughn writes, because I want to see her stretch her muscles beyond the urban fantasy world of Kitty Norville. I read somewhere that she’s got a YA space opera she’s working on, and that excites me to no freaking end.

The book, Kitty Saves the World, won’t be out until August this year, so who knows how the series will end. But I’ll be there. I’ve been there through the ups and downs, and I can’t wait to see how it all wraps up.


Currently Writing: Codename: Magic Twins
Last night’s word count: 392 words
Total word count: 8,622 words
I didn’t churn out a lot last night. My evil-genius idea means that I have to be careful with the narrative before I commit to whatever I’m going to do, and I Skyped with one of my daily readers tonight and talked about the premise and the evil-genius idea and realized, pretty quickly, there are a lot of holes I need to fill in this idea. The main this is to figure out the magic system, get the guidelines and follow the rules, the rest will follow. So we’ll see.

Currently Reading: Jeff VanderMeer’s Acceptance
No time to read today, unless I manage a page or two before bed. Sadness.

Next up: Tuesday looks to be a normal day. Got a few shows to catch up on thanks to tonight’s National Championship, and I’ve got errands to run. Yay, errands?

Nice is Different Than Good

I’ve mentioned it before, but during my senior year of high school, the music and theater department produced Into the Woods. As a member of the top choir, participating was part of my grade, and while I auditioned for the witch, I was sick and wasn’t able to sing worth a damn that day, and I ended up as Cinderella’s step-mother. Into the Woods was a fun, challenging musical, but I daresay it was the best musical we did during my four years there (which included Once Upon a Mattress, Music Man, and South Pacific). When I was auditioning for vocal performance scholarships, one of the professors was quite surprised we’d performed the musical, and I could hear the incredulity in her voice and the unasked question, “And was it any good?”

It was damn good.

But it’s funny, because as Red Riding Hood so aptly puts it, “I know things now, many valuable things, that I hadn’t known before.” While I understood intellectually some of the themes of the musical when I was in high school, watching the film adaptation nearly fifteen years later put some things in stark relief. The Baker’s Wife’s “Moments In The Woods” has a far deeper meaning than it did when I was in high school, and while I always got the innuendo in Little Red’s “I Know Things Now,” there were other things I simply couldn’t appreciate about the story and its themes until I was indeed older.  In high school, I loved the mishmash of fairy tales and how musical explored what happens after happily ever after. As an adult, I appreciate so much more.

The movie was fun. Great. I absolutely loved the voices of the cast and promptly downloaded not just the soundtrack, but the special edition soundtrack that’s the movie’s entire score (at least, that’s what it looks like: I haven’t started listening to it on repeat yet). If you’re a fan of the musical, you should know the second act has been heavily adapted. Some things happen that weaken the power and the motivation of the Witch’s “The Last Midnight,” and the movie doesn’t do the proper time jump between acts, which would’ve helped a lot for the uninitiated viewer, and helped really drive the themes home at the end. Be that as it may, I went with a friend who’d never seen the musical (or sang in it), so we had a good discussion afterwards. She enjoyed it, and I made her promise to see the stage production with Bernadette Peters on DVD/BluRay because it’s amazing and it’s what we all memorized when we did this back in high school.

And while I downloaded the movie’s soundtrack, I really want to dig through my old boxes and find my copy of the original Broadway recording. Hearing the music just brings back memories, and this musical is a delight.

To be fair, I would really love to see if anyone has a video recording of my high school‘s performance of it. Because that would be hysterically awesome and scary to watch. Scary, because hey, looking at an 18 year-old-version of myself, and also the fear: what if we weren’t as good as I thought we were? There is an inherent weirdness in high schoolers playing all the roles, where watching the movie, the age difference really helps drive the points and themes home. But still: it’d be awesome to watch.


Currently Writing: Codename: Magic Twins
Last night’s word count: 688 words
Total word count: 8,230 words
If you’re a writer, do you know how you get those moments where you think of something for your plot and you realize you’re actually an evil genius? I had one of those moments today, but the trick is how to make it work without completely deflating and depressing the reader. Must ponder.

Currently Reading: Jeff VanderMeer’s Acceptance
I got to read today before and after chili consumption. Good deal. I’ve just hit a plot detail that has perplexed me, and I want to keep reading to find out what this crazy story is all about. Damn those Golden Globes for distracting me…

Next up: Monday, work day, yay? I have a counseling session tomorrow, and I know my husband will be engrossed watching the National Championship Game. Fun times. Oh, it’s gonna be a crazy week….

Today’s headline brought to you from — you guessed it! — Into The Woods. You can hear Lila Crawford’s rendition of “I Know Things Now” here. Damn, this girl is good.

The Whole World Is Watching

So it’s been a long, entertainment-filled day, and I’m rather brain-dead, which is unfortunate, as I still have a page to hammer out. And since muses wait for no man (or woman), and it’s nearing midnight, I’m going to share a song in lieu of a more substantial entry.

The song: Within Temptation’s “Whole World is Watching” featuring Dave Pirner. It’s on my playlist for Codename: Magic Twins, and when it started playing Friday night (I always put the playlist on shuffle), I was struck by how perfectly these lyrics fit my hero’s and heroine’s journeys. So perfectly that I suspect I may be a wee bit influenced by the number of times I’ve  listened to this song on repeat, over and over and over.

I’m sharing the lyrics first, because I’ve never watched the video until tonight and I think the lyrics of the song are more important than the video’s interpretation of them (I always have that trouble with music videos: I’ll hear a song, see a story clearly in my head, and find the video just does not match up with what I take away from the song at all). I’m going to put everything behind a cut too, so that this post doesn’t take up so much space, so behind the cut you’ll find 1) the lyrics, 2) the music video so you can hear the song (if you don’t want to watch the video, that’s cool), and 3) my daily stats.

Continue reading

All Hail the Furminator!

I’ve been following author Cherie Priest for a good many years now, and by following, I’m talking about the legal, read-the-blog-and-all-her-books kind of way, not the stalker kind of way. At any rate, some time ago, and it’s been so long I don’t remember what year it was, she posted about a handy little cat brush that her cat adored, which was impressive since — if I remember correctly — her cat didn’t like being brushed.

This caught my attention. Obviously, because I have a cat, but also because at the time, I’d only get to brush Storm Shadow for so long before he decided the brush was his mortal enemy and he’d turn around and attack it.

I figured if this brush worked for Cherie Priest’s cat, maybe it’d work for mine too. So I bought the Furminator.

And it did not disappoint. In fact, I was so happy with the the product I bought brushes for my family members who also had cats. I’ve heard that dog owners who’ve bought the brushes have been thrilled as well. Of course, with any product, you can’t make everyone happy, and the version I use is quite old, not the one that’s currently for sale on the website.

I should note this post is not meant to be a shill for the product. No one’s asked me to post this, I’m not getting paid for it, etc. No, the reason I’m talking about it is to tell a little story about my Friday evening.

You want to know how much my cat loves being brushed with the Furminator? When he sees me get it out, he will literally run over and jump in my lap to get brushed. And while getting brushed, he will also drool.

That’s how much he loves the Furminator.


Currently Writing: Codename: Magic Twins
Last night’s word count: 1,113 words
Total word count: 7,013 words
Ended up writing far more than I expected last night, and I ended up really liking the scene that came out. When you’re discovery drafting, sometimes characters surprise you. I’m starting to wonder if my hero’s love interest is actually who I thought it was when I began.

Currently Reading: Jeff VanderMeer’s Acceptance
This is only taking a while because I’ve had very little time to read. This weekend doesn’t look promising on the reading front either, but I’m enjoying it so far. I swear this trilogy belongs in the same category as the television show Lost and the comic book series Morning Glories, and I hearby declare that category as “Weird-Ass But Fascinatingly Wonderful Shit.” I mean “shit” in the best, coolest way.

Next up: Saturday, I shall finally go see Into The Woods, which I’ve been dying to do ever since I heard this movie was coming out. My expectations are in check for the second half, but I still can’t wait to see the whole thing on the big screen. When I was in high school, we did this musical my senior year. I was Cinderella’s step-mom. We also hope to finish watching the final season of Boardwalk Empire. Two episodes left!

Oh, and also on Saturday? I shall make lemon pie.

Haunt Me Senseless, Haunt Me Sane

So it’s that time of year when I really, really need to figure out how to allocate my vacation days. There’s a few writing weekends I’ve got on the ballot, and my husband and I usually do SOME kind of big trip together. Last year was Minnesota, and previous years have been Atlanta. This year, we don’t have any plans.


A couple writer friends of mine talked about doing the ghost tour at Missouri State Penitentiary. There used to be overnight tours, which is what we were discussing, but even with what’s available now, I have to admit to a singular thrill at the idea of visiting such an old prison, learning about its history, and learning about its ghosts. I’m starting to recognize the need in myself to have eccentric vacations, so that I can command a conversation by saying stuff like, “Oh, I went to prison voluntarily,” so I can get the weird looks, the double-takes, and then I’ll double-down on the weirdness by saying, “Oh, and it’s haunted.

I’m not saying I believe, mind you. I’m not saying I don’t believe either.

I’m saying this is a very, very tempting vacation.


Currently Writing: Codename: Magic Twins
Last night’s word count: 883 words
Total word count: 5,900 words
I surprised myself by my word count last night. It was Info-Dump-R-Us, but the momentum rolled longer than I expected. But it did impress upon me the need to sit down and lay out my characters, my magic system and world-building to date. If only to keep it straight in my own mind. This story is a weird one, because I’ve been wanting to write an urban fantasy for years now, and my brain’s been testing ideas, running them through, coming up with new ones and mixing and matching and everything’s this synthesized mess in my head. In previous discovery drafts, I had such vague broad strokes that it made sense to discover it as I wrote. Or I knew my world so well that all I was discovering was my characters’ stories. This, not so much. I think I need to discover things outside of the drafting process, if only to ground things a bit, which will allow room for other discoveries.

Currently Reading: Jeff VanderMeer’s Acceptance
Hoping to get more reading done over the weekend. It’s been a tough week for reading-time.

Next up: FRIDAY!!! YAY FOR FRIDAY!!!! Does anything else really need to be said?

You’re On To Me, I Know

Today, I bring you something slightly different. I’m working on an extensive post about writing and what it means to write for fun, for money, or for both. Because of that, I’m going to keep the daily down to a single song. It looks like it’s a video, but it isn’t, so you can press play and keep reading.

The song in question is “Lost” by Kris Allen. I stuck it in my playlist for the current project, and every night, I put the playlist on shuffle and this song keeps popping up randomly. So now, I’m passing along the earworm to you, in hopes that you enjoy it.


Currently Writing: Codename: Magic Twins
Last night’s word count: 294 words
Total word count: 5,017 words
I know, last night was crap for production, but that’s okay. I had two LONG days in a row, and I started writing later that I would’ve liked. However, since the goal is one double-spaced page a day, I’m doing quite nicely. Also, it’s hard to concentrate when 1) the cat is being adorable with his toys and 2) the cat wants to be in your lap.

Currently Reading: Jeff VanderMeer’s Acceptance
I was finally able to read on my lunch break today. Yay! The kitty helped by keeping my lap warm.

Next up: busy evening, but nothing like the past few days. Grabbing dinner at Subway with the hubby, then doing a quick run to the grocery store. Then home for… Sleepy Hollow? Watching the hubby play Dragon Age: Inquisition while I blog? Writing? Reading the VanderMeer? All of the above? Only time will tell. I do know that my main goal for the evening and going into tomorrow is not to freeze my ass off. Because seriously, it’s getting cold.

Today’s headline brought to you from Kris Allen’s album, Horizons. You can hear “Lost” by clicking the “video” above.

Look Ma, No Cavities!

So today was my first dentist appointment of the year, and fortunately, it was nothing exciting. It’s not often you hear, “I don’t want to see you again,” and that be a good thing, but I’ll take it. I never developed any cavities until I was 19, when I got a spur of them, and then again when in 2008, when I got another spurt. I’m always glad to leave the dentist’s without a follow-up appointment for dental work of any kind.

Today was another full day, and I hate how late I’m getting to the laptop to settle down and write. I’m hoping the rest of this week will be better, but it’s easy to recognize how easy it would be to look at the late time and decide to go to bed instead of write. Not that I’m staying awake for hours and hours churning out the next Great American Novel, but I am toiling, and writing and blogging are always easy things to put off when it gets too late in the day.

Fortunately, I’m resisting the temptation.


Currently Writing: Codename: Magic Twins
Last night’s word count: 887 words
Total word count: 4,722 words
Honestly, better production last night than I thought there would be, considering I got such a late start. I can’t say the wordage itself is anything awesome — in fact the words left rather lumpy when they left my fingertips, but writing is writing, and that is good.

Currently Reading: Jeff VanderMeer’s Acceptance
Not enough time to read the past few days, but I did manage to sneak a chapter while at the dentist’s office!

Next up: nothing? I hope? Wednesday looks like a normal day: no appointments, no errands, and no epic things to sit down and watch. We’ll probably watch Monday night’s Sleepy Hollow and then curl up with our various evening activities. I’ll let my hubby kill dragons, while I go to work in the Word Mines, as Chuck Wendig would call them.