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Have maybe officially decided to forget keeping up with the reading list. If I actually want to keep track of what I've read, I'll start using that Goodreads account I've had forever.

I'm currently doing The Artist's Way with a fantastic group of women. One local to me, the others much longer distance. We're only on week 2 and it's already having an effect. Not so much with my writing, but it's helping me branch out into other creative areas I've always liked and enjoyed, but never let myself believe I could do anything with.

So now I have a PROJECT. Broadly collaborative (with anyone I can drag into it), generally unscripted (but directed) film shorts (currently episodic in conception, due to logistical constraints) in a post-apocalyptic setting. I just created the Youtube channel for it. No, we haven't even started filming. But tomorrow, my partner-in-crime and I are heading out to explore thrift stores for costumes and to hammer out more details.

I may also be getting back into singing...which I haven't really done since high school.

And I'm applying to Clarion West. A 6-week intensive writing workshop in Seattle. Applications go live in a few days. If I don't get in, I have some cons to go to for writing.

Speaking of, the World Fantasy Con was AMAZING.

...This whole day job thing is really starting to get in my way. Even though I'm only part-time...

So excited!

I applied for that job I was debating over. I still have time to debate, as I have a couple weeks at least until they make a decision.

I have one story out for submission in a writing contest/anthology submission. Another should go out before I head to bed tonight.

The floor of our basement has been poured.

I have a disgusting amount of books to update my reading list with. This is not happening tonight (and only under cut), unless I go into full avoidance-mode for this other story sub.

My oldest friend had her baby shower yesterday (she's due in about 4 weeks). I also went to a casting call for a movie.

I now have a presence on Tumblr, though I'm not sure if I'll really use it or not. If you have one, let me know! I'll follow you!

And I have spent way too much time with my new professional-ish blog: http://mjkingwrites.wordpress.com
Please follow me! And comment!

...One of these days, I will make a proper post. Promise!

Happy death day

In other news, I am a prophet. My last post of crazy was nearly 2 months ago. I predicted the trend of crazy would continue. And it has. Don't worry; you'll only get a few of the highlights, as I really can't remember much of anything more, at this point.

Going in reverse order: today's post title. Yes, it has been officially 2 years since Dad died. All together, a pretty fantastic day to think of Dad and do something to celebrate his life. The weather is gorgeous. The Husband of Awesome and I went to our house site and made a few more decisions with a couple of our contractors. Tonight, we go see my youngest niece graduate 8th grade.

As for the house, we have officially ordered it. The eta is July 25. We're crossing our fingers for everything to go smoothly.

Katy and Tiffany's wedding in MA last weekend was amazing and beautiful, and everything weddings are supposed to be. The brides looked phenomenal and everyone had a fantastic time.

I'm officially getting a new little sister. A lot of you have met her before, either at my wedding or since. It's a little different--a bit simpler and easier--now that she's a legal adult. We're all wicked happy and excited because she's a wonderful person.

Smith Reunion was also amazing. I'm so glad I could go. And Jane Lynch gave an amazing commencement address. If you haven't watched it, DO.

And now, there's a job opening at the place I volunteer. I mostly qualify for it, and I think my chances of getting it aren't bad. I love the time I'm there, I can even relate it to my major, and it would be an awesome opportunity to break away from retail. But I don't know if I'm going to apply. I don't know if I can handle a full time job, AND get a house built, AND get anything done on the estate (yes, that's still going and not likely to end any time soon), AND get anything published. Thoughts? Opinions? My own aren't being exactly helpful right now...

My last 7 days...

I know I haven't updated in a month, but for now you're only getting the 6 days I just had off + today.

4/20: Volunteering (2 hrs), errands. Ok, so not too bad.
4/21: Up at 6am. Leave for Gram's by 8/8:30 to start laundry. Just barely have time to switch laundry. Book it to the university for the Hope Festival where I end up staffing the table an extra hour than I was scheduled for. Book it to Mom's. Eat lunch, drink coffee, attempt to make up (in 2 hours) the weeks since I last saw her. Head back to Gram's. Fold laundry. Go to the Bangor Home Show. At some point, eat dinner. Home around 11pm.
4/22: My one day wholly off.
4/23: 9am eye appointment. End up leaving my glasses with them so I can get new lenses, which relegates me to my contacts or blindness. Since I had to order contacts, too, I've been on my last pair of contacts, with no back-up should I lose or rip a lens. Hang out with Jen. Narrow down choices of major appliances for our house.
4/24: The day from hell. Up at 6am. Car into the tire place at 8 to get new tires on. Chiropractic appointments for us both at 11:30. Lunch at Jordan's (yum!). Ice cream date in Bar Harbor around 4 (yum again). Book it to the fundraiser event planning meeting.
4/25: Lunch with the In-Laws of Awesome. Haul the very last of the stuff I remotely care about out of Dad's house. Get friends' help burning Dad's business files that I have to destroy. Over 35 years' worth. Leave sometime after 2am.
4/26: Work! OMG FINALLY! Only I get a call from Dad's neighbor that the fire didn't really go out (no damage; just smoking still) and the wind is blowing not-wholly-burned papers all over the place, so have to run over there to fix it.

The amazing good to come out of this bat-sh*t insanity? 1) Our house a step or two closer to eventual completion. 2) Cash offer made on Dad's house. 3) This fundraiser is going to be on a scale I can hardly imagine, so fantastic experience. 4) My glasses will--when I get them back--cease to have a giant crack through one lens. And...

5) I won a raffle at the Home Show. I entered one for a gift card, and I didn't win the card, but I won a secondary drawing they hadn't even advertised. It includes airline tickets (international--not this continent--destinations available), free and/or seriously discounted hotel stays, and a gift card. So still a card, just a little smaller. We just have to drive at least an hour to pick it up at the resort sponsoring this package of crazy.

Honestly not sure whether or not this is just the universe's way of laughing at me at this point, because I'm having some serious trouble figuring out when we can squeeze that quick trip in.

I have the unfortunate, sneaking suspicion this week has set the tone for the next couple months...

Links, books, and procrastination!

Check out this amazing Kickstarter project to publish a shared world/mosaic anthology with some fantastic authors and artists.

Why the rest of the world thinks we're nuts.

Your brain on fiction.

Well-articulated thoughts on feminism and what's problematic in our culture.

So I took the weekend off from doing much productive. I saw the Hunger Games with my nieces, nephew, and half-sisters. Have to say, it's the first time I've read the book beforehand and not been disappointed somehow with the movie. But today? Today I am busy procrastinating on stuff I have to do. Because there's still tomorrow (which will be a crazy Bangor day, but I've been known to multi-task like that) and Wednesday before I'm back to the day job.

18. Gifts from the Sea, Anne Morrow Lindbergh
Not quite a memoir, not quite self-help, not quite philosophy. It's reflections on a woman's life and the balance between her various roles, and how those roles change over time. A bit dated, I find too much assumption that woman=mother and roles defined within the home. But making allowances for that, I really enjoyed it and would like to read it again, in a while. She has a lot of good things to say about being female in our society, but most of it can be applied to being human, in general.

19. Lost Voices, Sarah Porter
A dark YA novel where girls who have been abused reach a breaking point and turn into mermaids. It's hopeful, at the same time as it's dark, and the main character has a beautiful character arc and development. It doesn't shy away from the horrible things or mention it in euphemism, it just is. And it very, very nicely deals with the theme of the abused becoming the abusers.

20. The Hunger Games
21. Catching Fire
22. Mockingjay, Suzanne Collins
...Do I need to go into this trilogy? I held off on it because I tend to distrust and avoid fads in books, but I like what I was hearing and a copy kind of fell into my lap. It lives up to the hype: dark and heartbreaking, with hope at the end (even bittersweet). A few minor characters, I found unbelievable, even though I understand how she used them and why, but for the rest of it the characters' actions and reactions were wholly realistic to me.
Had an amazing time in Seattle and really wish we'd had more time ('enough time' just doesn't exist in the real world...ever). We're making progress on the house. Reading has fallen off with the return of writing, so not too many to update this time. In less than a month, I'm about a third of the way through the newest first draft, and newtypeshadow is helping me brainstorm better titles for the novel whose fourth draft I just finished. So that's all going well. I auditioned for the full production of The Importance of Being Earnest and didn't make it, so I am going to Smith Reunion this year. Really excited!

Good things all around. How are you?

14. Fear No Evil, Allison Brennan
Romantic suspense, fun and fast paced. But I probably wouldn't read it again.

15. Japanese Dreams: Fantasies, Fictions, and Fairytales, Sean Wallace, ed.
Short stories by Western authors, all with a focus on Japan or Japanese people. Definitely an eclectic mix, and I'm glad I have it. Also, this is the first full book I've read on my Kindle. :P

16. Vs. Reality, Blake Northcott
The second book read on my Kindle (and after this, I promise I won't keep counting!). Flawed superheroes--interesting characters, unexpected twists, good plot development excellent pace.

17. Crimson City, Liz Maverick
Paranormal romance, I guess. I can tell these characters are a one-shot deal. The world is interesting and stratified...literally. Vampires live in skyscrapers, humans on the ground, and werewolves below ground. Though the romance was pretty central to the plot, it still felt more like a peripheral thing--like Gothic/paranormal urban fantasy.

Still here!

Things writers need to stop doing. So true.
Current YA lit and the good it's doing for girls.
How not to write what everyone else is.
Vote! 2012 Teen Choice Book Awards. Some fantastic books on there, so weigh in!

I can't tell if this is a fast or slow year so far. Nothing all that huge has happened yet, but a lot of little things. I finally finished the *insert superfluous expletives here* fourth draft of the novel. Ok, so that's not so little, but it's not done yet.

A few weekends back, I dragged the Ashley-sister away from Mom's to celebrate her 20th birthday and visit the Shawna-sister in MA (and had an absolutely amazing time). In just over a week, the Husband of Awesome and I leave for a Seattle visit. (SOOO excited!) In May I have my 5-year college reunion. I June, a couple friends of mine are getting married in MA. July is a trip with the In-Laws of Awesome. November I head to World Fantasy Con in Toronto. (Other places I need to travel in the near-ish future: CO, FL, DC; Ecuador, Istanbul, and Japan. Ideally in the next year or 2, probably needing to stretch to 3. No joke.)

And if nothing is thrown too far off-schedule, we should have our house and be moved in by my birthday this summer! Crazy is a good word for it.

To you wonderful folks who are familiar with websites and all: I need some advice! I'm thinking of setting up a site for me-as-a-writer, but I have absolutely no knowledge of coding. I'd like to have a blog on there, links to awesome people and distractions, and things along those lines. What do you use? and why? What do I need to learn? What books should I hunt down at the library? Help! (Have I ever said before? I hate being ignorant.)

And this is why I really should have learned by now not to skip updating at least once a month: Because I like keeping track of what I read...Collapse )

A year of catching up

This year blew last year out of the water. Not difficult, I'll admit. 2011 did a lot of making up for 2010 while I struggled to get my head on straight, reclaim my life, and deal with things. I talk about Dad because he was so formative of my life, and his death doesn't mean I should avoid those anecdotes.

Things get awkward when I mention his death because other people then feel the need to apologize and give their condolences, even if they already have. But I'm not mentioning it for pity or sympathy, but because that single even has become a defining pivot around which the rest of my life now swings. I don't want to resort to euphemisms (they feel cheap and fake to me) or avoid the subject altogether (avoidance is unhealthy, and Dad would be the first to say it's impossible to make me shut up).

So spread the word: death is a necessary part of life and it will occasionally come up in my conversation. Don't try to walk on eggshells or feel sorry for me because my dad died; I'm hardly unique that way. There are plenty of people out there who need that sympathy and empathy. Please, give it to them.

Months back, I started keeping one of those lists of 101 goals I hope to complete in 1001 days. The list is incomplete and I've never quite figured out when the 1001st day falls, but I've managed to cross quite a few items off it over the past couple months. It's an excellent feeling. And no, I won't post the list here.

But I did manage to read 100 books this year. Over 100, in fact.
Skip the paranormal romances; they're good, but the rest are FANTASTIC.Collapse )

What happened to last month???

I think I had an entry I meant to post last month and never did. Oh, well. November was a month of transcribing, editing, and writing. And Thanksgiving. We had a fantastic Turkey Day, and it sounded like the rest of you did, as well. The almost-foot of snow on the ground for the holiday has long since melted, and now I'm not sure what the season is trying to be. It certainly doesn't feel like the holidays when it's been mostly sunny, occasionally rainy, and I've managed to ignore the existence of my jacket. We'll be paying for this in another couple months, I'm sure.

Work is work. Family is surprisingly crisis-free for the moment. The Husband of Awesome has been to DC and back (leaving me home alone for more than a couple hours for the first time in over three years of marriage). I auditioned for a staged reading of Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest and landed the role of Cecily. Two weeks later, we performed with a grand total of two rehearsals and a total lack of anything resembling a full run-through. With props and blocking. We killed it, received a standing ovation (it probably helped that no one really expected much), and now I'm just itching for another show.

Yesterday, I spent five hours volunteering with these lovely people and I go back again next Monday. They work with folks in Central America, giving them the resources to break out of a poverty cycle, as well as preserve their tropical forests. I even studied these issues of development and conservation in my anthropology classes. How awesome is that? My In-Laws of Awesome introduced me to this organization, and I'm so glad they did. Can't wait for Monday!

Last month was slow, reading-wise. I have to wonder how much my reading habits will change when/if ever I leave the Barn...

92. Don't Kill the Messenger, Eileen Rendahl
More urban fantasy than paranormal romance, but that line is so blurred now. This was a fantastically fun book, rife with the usual sexy vamps and werewolves (yet she sleeps with neither!), and complete with Chinese zombie-vamps, tai chi ninjas, and a rather irritating fertility god. Yep, it's that awesome.

93. Succubus Blues, Richelle Mead
I've been wanting to read her Vampire Academy series for a while, but I'm still waiting for someone to bring those into work. This book makes me want to get my hands on those even more, because I am officially a fan of this woman's writing. The MC is a succubus who falls into the prostitute-with-a-heat-of-gold archetype, and I want to read the next book to know what happens to her next.

94. The Japanese Mind, Roger J. Davies and Osamu Ikeno, ed.
Non-fiction. A collection of essays by Japanese college students about aspects of Japanese culture, written in English for a non-Japanese reader who may know little to nothing about Japan. If I ever teach (I know, I'm not a teacher, but if it were ever to happen) a high school intro to Japan course, I'd definitely be using this book as a touchstone.

95. Enna Burning, Shannon Hale
Yep. I still love this author. This book is in the same universe as The Goose Girl, and continues after that first book leaves off, only with a different main character. Very well done, and I wholly recommend anything by this woman.

96. The Wicked Duke Takes a Wife, Jillian Hunter
A return to Regency romance. He's a duke, she's a former thief who now teaches at a ladies' finishing school. Definitely fun with laugh-aloud moments, and a whole lot better than it has any right to be.

97. A Highlander's Homecoming, Melissa Mayhue
I generally avoid time travel romances, but this was another that was much better than it should have been. Fun and occasionally witty, and the dialogue written with the Scottish accent didn't slow it down enough to matter.

Tabs to close and happiness to share

Lately, life has thrown a lot of suck at people I love, and I'm totally not cool with that. I feel almost guilty that things are going well for me (at the moment, anyway). But I have happy to share and want to send some of that positivity out.

After a special level of Hell, the estate finally feels like it's moving--almost too fast. House plans are progressing and taking better shape. The Grand in Ellsworth is attempting a restart of its community theater program with The Importance of Being Ernest, which might only be a dramatic/staged reading, but I'm still auditioning. My nieces may have me over for a sleepover soon. Also, it seems like I'm the awesome [insert familial relation here] to just about everyone. I can live with this.

Best of all? I just pre-registered for the 2012 World Fantasy Convention in Toronto!!! (I think I'm going to hyperventilate from the SQUEE!) Next year has a dual theme of gothic and urban fantasy, with guests like Charles deLint and Tanya Huff. Tomorrow, I call to reserve the hotel room.

Now for the links I promised...
How to talk to little girls...without teaching them that how they look is so fantastically important. It's harder than you'd think.

Lemony Snicket offers his observations on Occupy Wall Street.

And this one has been going around. Smith College Intro. to Logic does exactly as intended and riles up the campus. This time, they made national news. I loved that class for a reason.

Oh! And a few books, too! Absolutely nothing educational, though. :P

88. Bonds of Justice, Nalini Singh
Paranormal romance in a world of changelings (weres) and psi (specific abilities). It was very well done and I'd love to learn more about the universe. I wanted less of the romance since I have a feeling the characters are only the focus in this one book and I wanted to follow them more.

89. Archangel's Consort, Nalini Singh
Paranormal romance again, same author. She really is amazing. And in this book, I got my wish. The characters get an actual series (of which this is the third, sadly). It's set in a different universe, but it's no less fascinating. It's a world of angels, and vampires, and hunters who are born with the ability to track the vampires and an instinct to fight. I can't wait to read the rest.

90. Odd Thomas, Dean Koontz
I've never read Dean Koontz before, so I wasn't expecting the paranormal thriller. Excellent characters, description, and pace. I'm still upset about his curveball at the end, but it was one of those curveballs you willfully ignore until it brains you.

91. Doctor Illuminatus, Martin Booth
YA; two kids move with their parents to a house in the English countryside and meet a boy who is somehow both 12 and over 600. He's a master alchemist whose father built the house they have moved to. They have adventures, there is evil and blood-sucking butterflies. I love how smart he made these kids. I'm keeping my out for the next book.