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Last weekend was a blast from start to finish.  On Saturday I went to a Princess Bride themed costume party and got to meet a fantastic bunch of people.  I dressed as farmgirl Buttercup from the beginning of the movie and won best female costume of the evening.

She was actually really rude.

“Farm boy, polish my horse’s saddle.”

I made (Peanut)Buttercup cookies for the occasion, which turned out well.  Most cookie recipes call for a mixer, which I don’t have, so I just stir until my arm gets tired and hope for the best, an approach that has so far been moderately successful.

On Sunday I went to the farm for a visit and got to meet tiny little James!  Confession: I’ve never held a baby before (except for my brother when I was a toddler), so this was an earth-shattering experience.  What if his head falls off??  There’s no warranty on this thing! But I survived, and baby James survived, and it was a lovely morning.  Afterwards I spent hours shooting (archery) with a friend and playing with dogs in Willow Spring, so the day was basically perfect.

My roommate, who is super cool and talented, was co-starring in one of a series of one-act plays at State, so I went to see All in the Timing by David Ives last night.  I enjoyed myself immensely, and now I want to read everything he’s written.  I highly recommend The Universal Language in particular.

All that fun, however, meant that I was horribly behind on my editing clients and on my own revisions for my story, so I’ve been playing catch-up all week.  Revising is remarkably like pulling teeth without Novocain, in my experience, and I thought it was over…but it isn’t.  Back to work.


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Books: I’m working on Shadow Hand by my friend Anne Elisabeth Stengl, though sadly I’ve been so busy that I’m creeping along at a snail’s pace through the novel. What I’ve read so far has been great!  I’ll post a full review once I’m finished.

The big, chubby, brand-new news of the week is the arrival of my best friend’s baby!  I think/hope I have been conferred honorary aunt status.  To say I’m excited would be an understatement.  I’ll get to meet the little squirt on Sunday, and I’m sure we will be the best of friends, if he’s anything like his parents.

I was excitedly awaiting the aforementioned news while getting headshots taken in Pullen Park.  Yes, you read that correctly.  I needed a picture for the Five Glass Slippers anthology, and my mother talked me into getting it done properly instead of taking a selfie.  She has a point, though.  I’m hoping to use these suckers for everything for the next ten years.  I’ll post one on here once I get them back from the long-suffering photographer, who didn’t mind me leaping at my phone every time it buzzed innocuously, hoping it was baby news.  It wasn’t.  It was my dentist.  SO anticlimactic.

Other highlights of the week included lunch at Neomonde‘s and a walk in the arboretum with friends, hot chocolate and macaroons with more friends at La Farm, and dinner with friends at Mellow Mushroom.  This makes my life sound very eventful, but all of this was squeezed into one day, so it’s all an illusion.  The rest of the week consisted of me bashing my head against the brick wall that is Revision, attempting to get my story into publishable form.  I don’t know, folks.  We’ll see how it goes.




Books: This week I read Working Days: The Journals of the Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck.  Anyone who doesn’t think writing is hard work should read this collection, taken from Steinbeck’s daily writing notes.  The poor man sweats bullets the whole time and pours blood, sweat, and tears into his manuscript.  Even though Steinbeck had quite a few published works by this point, he angsts constantly about how he’s not a real writer, and soon everybody is going to find it out.  He alternates between thinking his work is crap and hoping that it’s brilliant.  He has to psych himself up to write each day and most of the time ends up bullying himself into cranking out a page even though he doesn’t feel like it.  In short, he expresses the rollercoaster of emotions that every writer seems to go through during the writing process, and I felt tremendously encouraged by that.  His excitement when his wife came up with the perfect title for the manuscript he’d been slaving over for months was touching and so…relatable.  Hey, I know that feeling!  This is a great read for fans of Steinbeck, or for any writer, regardless of whether they enjoy Steinbeck’s works.

In spite of editing like a maniac all week, I somehow still did not find time to even begin making revisions on my story, which are due in just over two weeks.  I’m petitioning for 28-hour days.  I’ll let you know how that turns out.

I have to confess, part of the reason I haven’t started (aside from the fact that they’re daunting) is that I was off having fun instead of working.  I went to a great Call the Midwife viewing party at a friend’s house, in which I ate a ton of chocolate chess pie and we commiserated over the unexpectedly tragic episode.  (Brace yourself, American viewers.)

The rest of my time was spent dealing with SnOMG, as it’s been dubbed.  My office closed shortly after the snow began, and I still just barely made it home, after the most exciting commute of my life.  I spent the afternoon helping my neighbors push eight or nine cars out of the road, and at night I went for a walk down the middle of the road.  This area of Cary is NEVER quiet, so it was an unearthly experience.

Except for a drunk guy just out of frame.

Walnut Street without a soul in sight.





Books: I usually give an author a couple tries before giving up on them (with a few exceptions–I’m looking at you, Proust).  So even though I wasn’t enthralled by the Alan Dean Foster books I’d read before, I gave Voyage to the City of the Dead a shot.  Unfortunately, I’m going to have to stick with my first verdict: this dude just isn’t for me.  The plot could’ve been good, but I really, really couldn’t stand the characters.  All of the remotely likeable ones died miserably or (spoilers) turned out to be villains or incorporeal beings in disguise.  The protagonists who made it to the end were the most obnoxious of the initial set.   Sorry, Alan!  I tried.

This week was crammed chock-full of editing assignments, writing assignments, and good talk with friends.  I’m still tap dancing on the line between pleasantly busy and insanely hectic, but I can’t say that I mind too much.

I’m working on a costume for a Princess Bride-themed party coming up, so I went to Dorcas thrift store with a friend from work to find something to work with.  If you’re in the area, I recommend checking it out.  They have so many unusual odds and ends; you never know what you’re going to run across.  The real gem of this expedition was a 1994 book called How to Use the Internet, which was utterly hilarious and a little terrifying–in only 20 years, our lives have been changed so drastically by this funny little network.

The anthology in which my story will be published is on Goodreads!  And real, live (presumably) people want to read it!  Little bit giddy right now.

I finally finished decorating my new office!  Check it.

That's a floor lamp, not the Second Coming.

All spruced up with art and everything.

My lovely doorway view of more offices.  There's natural light somewhere around here.

It has four walls! And a door! That closes!



Books: I’ve read tons of books by Ursula K. LeGuin, but somehow I had never read her most famous series, Earthsea.  I picked up the first book, A Wizard of Earthsea, for $1 somewhere and finally dove into it this week.  The experience was almost ruined for me by whichever Philistine soul owned the book before me. “Metaphor” scribbled next to things that aren’t metaphors. “Simile” scrawled next to things that aren’t similes. Heinous highlighting in multiple eye-straining colors.  TORTURE.  Once I forced myself to ignore the ignorant marginalia, though, I loved the book.  LeGuin writes with a reserved, matter-of-fact style that nonetheless punches you in the gut at just the right times in the story, and as always, her world-building is amazing.  I want to find the rest of the books in the series now.

I thought I’d casually read the first few chapters of The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood last night, and I suddenly found myself finishing the entire thing at two in the morning.  I had no idea what the book was about when I bought it at the library book sale, nor did I have any idea before starting it yesterday; I just liked the Chaucerian title and heard it was worth reading.  The first person present and unconventional punctuation is guaranteed to make me cringe, but these quibbles were quickly forgotten as I got into the story.  It was certainly compelling (as evidenced by my night-owl read of it), but as to whether it’s worth reading, I think it depends on the individual–I know a few for whom this book would be more damaging than useful.  It made me look at things differently, which was the point, and it also made me uncomfortable as a Christian–which may also have been the point.  The book isn’t exactly anti-Christian–anti-fanaticism, definitely–but neither is its warning tone friendly to religion in general.  The book is ugly and deeply offensive in parts, occasionally unrealistic in terms of plot (societal change can happen fast, but THAT fast?), a little bit dated, sometimes reeks of the preachy, man-hating brand of feminism, and is overly simplistic in its evaluation of both genders. At the same time, Atwood is incredibly talented, the book is extremely well-written and thought-provoking, and her treatment of the subject even made me understand the pedestal oppression of women in the Middle Ages in a new, clearer way (whether or not that was her intent).  I’ll definitely be reading more of her work.  Just…not for a little while, maybe.

I am ridiculously excited to announce that my novella, A Cinder’s Tale, will be published in the Five Glass Slippers anthology from Rooglewood Press in June of this year!  Click the cover for more info.

The story description is a tiny bit off, but you’ll get the general idea.  Cinderella in space, kids.  Hang on to  your helmets.


Had a wonderful dinner at Chuck’s with a mob of friends last Saturday!  Afterwards several folks came over to the apartment for tea, coffee, and delicious coffee cake made by a friend.  Sunday was just as lovely, since I hosted Literary League at the apartment.  I made bowtie lasagna, and we read winter-themed poetry and stories, including “The Snow Queen” by Hans Christian Andersen.  I can’t think of a better way to spend an evening!

I was on pins and needles all Tuesday night, hoping for enough snow for a snow day.  Wednesday morning brought triumph!  I spent the day tromping in the snow, making snow angels (the snow was too powdery for snowmen), drinking tea, and editing.  Blissful.

Apparently I was eligible for the Campbell Award (no relation to my university) and didn’t know it.  I only found out because another eligible writer contacted me (along with everyone else on the list) to do a super-short questionnaire.  Mine can be found here, such as it is.



Books: Sam gave me an exquisite copy of The Tin Woodman of Oz by L. Frank Baum for my birthday, which called for an immediate reread of the story.  The twelfth Oz book, it was the last to be published before his death in 1919 (the two remaining stories were published posthumously).  All of the Oz books kind of blend together for me since I read them all together many years ago, so this was almost like reading it for the first time.  The book follows the Tin Woodman, obviously, on his adventures with the Scarecrow and Woot the Wanderer, which include becoming enchanted by a giantess, running into Polychrome, the Rainbow’s daughter, and finding the Tin Soldier, among other hijinks.  Dorothy and Ozma pop in for a brief hello, and in general the book is a delightful romp through Oz.  Baum’s outlandish creatures could easily be made creepy (watch the terrifying Return to Oz movie as proof of that), but he tells things so matter-of-factly and sweetly that they aren’t disturbing.

You seem to have stumbled upon a storytelling of ravens. Watch for falling collective nouns; you may find a wing of dragons or a charm of hummingbirds caught in your hair. Hardhats are recommended.

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