Wasting Time

Howdy, howdy! How’s everyone doing this week? Things are good here. Dad got a new toy (the big Kamado Joe, an egg-shaped smoker), so I got brisket and pulled pork. Yum! Other than that, everything is about the same as it has been. I’m lazy. All I’ve really done is review edits for a story coming out early next year (I’ll post about it after the official announcement, which is supposed to happen later this week), annoy people with shameless self-promotion (keep an eye on my social media for more of that next week for Love Letters to Poe), read, and slush (I’m an associate editor for PseudoPod, which is a fancy title for first reader). Otherwise, I’ve just been wasting time. I had no idea what to blog about, so I searched for ideas for September. One of the lists of ideas that I usually find helpful posed a question to answer in a post, so I decided to use that for today.

Agree or Disagree: “The time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time.”

I both agree and disagree with this statement. Most of the time, I don’t really feel like I’ve wasted my time if I enjoy something, unless it eats away more time than it really should. Reading doesn’t count, because it’s actually work. At least that’s what I keep telling myself as I binge read webtoons/manga/manhwa. Okay, that’s not technically work, but it gives me stuff to think about when I can’t sleep, instead of having my brain home in on every stupid mistake I’ve ever made. Crocheting or drawing never really feels like wastes, because there’s actual proof that my time has been productive. Even just staring into space and thinking doesn’t feel like a waste of time, because that’s what writers do. It’s weird. But as long as it feels productive (even if it isn’t), I don’t feel like I’ve wasted time.

That said, watching more TV/movies than usual feels like wasted time. Playing mindless games for five minutes and realizing it’s an hour later feels like wasted time. It doesn’t mean I’m going to stop doing these things, but there will always be the feeling that I should’ve been doing something else. I enjoy wasting time. I understand that taking time to do stupid things is important, especially when you’re feeling burnt out or whatever. That doesn’t mean it’s not a waste of time, it just means you needed or wanted a break. And that’s okay.

Oops.

So, do I agree that wasted time you enjoy isn’t wasted? Eh. Not entirely. But I do recognize that it’s an important part of self-care. I know that people are going to scoff and call me a capitalist and argue that not everything has to be productive. I’m not saying it does. I’m just saying that unproductive wasted time feels like an actual waste of time to me. That’s not a bad thing. Embrace the waste! (Please don’t hug your garbage). I accept it for what it is: a much needed rest.

I guess hugging human trash is okay, but why would you want to?

I just wasted time writing this. Apparently, it’s my 350th post. I’ve wasted your time with 350 posts. Anyway, what’re your thoughts on wasting time? As always, feel free to share your thoughts or comments here or on my social media pages!

The Best Weird Compliments

Howdy, howdy! How’s everyone doing this bright and beautiful day? Things are finally slowing down here, doctor appointment-wise, though Dad does keep bringing home more of them. At least the newest one is a month away. All of my doctors seem to be retiring. It makes me feel old, but that’s okay. Just means I get to meet people like Dr. Lucifer. Her name is actually Lussier, but the guy who left the message telling me she was my doctor didn’t enunciate and my ears heard what they wanted to, so she will forever be Dr. Lucifer. And since there’s a chance she could read this, I totally mean it in a Tom Ellis way, not a Mark Pellegrino (Supernatural) way. Anyway, I’m rambling and off topic. I’ve recently been thinking about weird compliments I’ve received. I even posted about it in a Facebook group in order to socialize a bit. But I thought I’d share a few of the ones I’ve received for you to laugh (or cringe) at.

1. So, I was hanging out with a friend and some of his friends when he stops mid-sentence, stares me in the eye, and says “I never noticed before, but your eyes are like blue crystal. I want to cut them out and hang them on my wall.” And, as you know, I appreciate all of the creepy things in life, so this was basically the best compliment ever. It inspired one of my serial killer stories (“Lying Eyes”). Who doesn’t love friendly serial killer-esque compliments from friends? To be fair, it came from the guy who also once told me that he keeps forgetting I’m creepy too after he apologized for some other weird remark. Creepy friends are fun.

2. Another time, I was texting a long-distance friend when I got bored and asked if he had any single friends. He told me that all of his friends were either married or assholes and he wouldn’t give me to an asshole. I still don’t know if that was weirdly sweet or just super unhelpful. I’m going with sweet just because it’s him, but I’m still single so it also wasn’t helpful at all.

3. During grad school, one of my fellow pop ficcers sent me the best feedback ever. He told me that my story had the potential for EVA-level mindfucks. Being the Neon Genesis Evangelion lover that I am, I admit I squeed. I squeed hard. I can only aspire to EVA-level mindfuckery, but to think someone had that much faith in me was super sweet.

I can probably think of other weird compliments, but this post is feeling a bit awkward. I’m not used to nice things. What are some of the weird things that have been said to you? Were you creeped out or did you think it was sweet? As always, feel free to share your thoughts and comments here or on my social media pages!

Love Letters to Poe: Vol. 1

Hello, hello! It’s September 1st. Where has the time gone? How is everyone doing? Other than having to remember all of our doctor appointments, things here are good. This week’s post is just a short one. You remember when my story “Poisoned Honey and Pickled Pigs’ Feet” came out in volume 1, issue 8 of Love Letters to Poe? Volume 1 is coming out in its entirety (all 12 issues in one book) on September 20th. There will be both a print version and an ebook, so there’s something for everyone! Also, there will be a sale for the 20th through the 25th. Look forward to it on Amazon, Apple, Kobo, and other stores. For now, I’ll leave you with the recently revealed cover!

Wouldn’t that look lovely on your coffee table, desk, shelves, etc.?

Thoughts on MURDER IN THE VILLAGE

Howdy, howdy! It’s the last Wednesday of August. Can you believe it? It’s basically 2022 already. Anyway, I don’t have to think of anything to ramble about because it’s book review time! I couldn’t figure out what I felt like reading this month, so I decided to fall back on the good old trusty genre of cozy mysteries. Murder in the Village is the first in Lisa Cutts’ new Belinda Penshurst mystery series. It was released today (August 25th) from Bookouture. As usual, I must thank them and NetGalley for access to an ARC in exchange for an honest and unbiased review. Let’s get to it!

Cute cover, but feels off. It’s not wrong for the book, but could be better.

Murder in the Village follows Belinda Penshurst as she tries to settle back into village life after a bad break up. She prides herself on knowing everything happening within Little Challham, but when she discovers a dead body and finds out there have been a series of potential dognappings in the village, she quickly realizes how little she actually knows. In order to solve both cases, she teams up with village newbie and ex-detective Harry Powell to investigate everything going on.

It’s pretty standard cozy mystery fare. A nosy lady (though she’s in her 40s instead of the usual younger protagonists) stumbles upon a murder scene and finds a reason to investigate. She’s trying to protect her brother, whose stupid ideas have gotten him in trouble in the past. Throw in Harry Powell who takes over both the best friend and potential love interest roles and things get more interesting. He and his dog food delivery job make the whole story more fun, but mostly because dogs make everything better. And Harry is basically a giant pupper in human form.

No wonder Harry and Colonel get along so well.

When it comes to the characters, I’m definitely more a fan of Harry than Belinda. He’s more down-to-earth and a little doofy and an all around interesting dude. Belinda is rich and very much expects things to go her own way without regard to what other people want, unless it’s her brother. She coddles the crap out of him which is probably why he’s such an idiot. I just didn’t connect with Belinda the way I like to with protagonists. But that’s just me. The rest of the characters were potentially suspects, so I didn’t even try to get attached to them in case I was wrong about what was going on.

My biggest complaint about this book is that I hate when bad guys are only mentioned in passing, then surprise! This person who was just thrown in as an afterthought did it! It’s annoying. Don’t get me wrong, the murderer in this story was fine and had a decent role. It was just the dognapper who sucked. When the big reveal came, I literally asked myself “who the hell is that?” And apparently the author figured that would happen because she immediately explained who it was. I don’t even remember if they ever actually talked to this person or what, but I was too lazy to go back and check. That always feels like a cheap trick that people use when they can’t figure out how to tie everything together. It’s just disappointing.

Me at the big reveal.

The writing itself was nice. Everything flowed pretty well. There were a couple of spots where the pacing slowed a bit too much for my liking, but it wasn’t something that really bothered me. And there were some cute lines sprinkled throughout.

Ultimately, Murder in the Village was okay. I probably won’t go looking for the sequels, but that’s just because I didn’t connect with the characters enough to care what happens to them. It wasn’t bad, though.

starstarstarstar outlinestar outline

Overall, I gave it 3 out of 5 stars. If you enjoy cozies and have time, check it out. You might like it. If you don’t have time, I don’t think you’ll be missing anything.

All The Small Things

Hello, hello! How’s everyone doing? August is on the wane. Next week is the monthly book review. Can you believe it? I have no idea where the time is going. But I do know that I’ve been feeling annoyed and angry and just generally blah. It happens every August. I don’t really know why. I mean, I’m annoyed most of the time, but I can usually pinpoint the reason. In August, I can rarely figure out why things get to me. I’m just irrationally upset a lot of the time. So, I’ve decided to try that self-help crap of writing about a few good things to try to improve my mood. I’m not doing it every day. Not that desperate. But here are some things that make me stupidly happy.

Watch it. You know you want to.

1. Daniel Radcliffe as a preacher doing the campiest drag rendition of She’ll Be Coming ‘Round The Mountain When She Comes that you will ever see. It’s from Miracle Workers: Oregon Trail. I cannot share this enough. I knew Harry Potter had a secret side, but this is just glorious. Watch it and you too can be stupidly happy for a minute and a half. If you haven’t seen it, you’re welcome.

2. Any book that mentions alcohol describes that slow burn as it travels down the throat, but what about when you’re drinking something icy cold? Like when you’re warm, verging on uncomfortable, and you take a long drink of something super cold. The iciness travels down your throat and blooms across your chest and you keep drinking and it gets colder until it’s almost unbearable. Then you stop and it’s gone. No? Just me? Well, that feeling makes me happy.

Enema of the State

3. Singing along to stupid pop-punk songs as loud as they’ll go. I haven’t really been in the mood for loud music the past couple of weeks, but when I do crank it up, it’s been for bands like Blink-182, Eve 6, and Lit. How can I not be momentarily happy when singing All the Small Things or Jet Pack or Zip-Lock. Yeah, yeah. A lot of those types of songs are immature and crappy, but they’re fun. Judge me all you want. My music tastes range from wtf? to awesome. It’s just the way I am.

4. The different shades of coffee. I don’t drink it too often because I like sleep, but I enjoy looking at it and how it changes colors as cream is added. The way the coffee and cream swirl together to form strange little galaxies in the cup. I mostly have to watch it in GIFs or whatever, since my thermos isn’t clear, but it’s still cool. One of those weird tiny pleasures in life. Except now I feel stupid for even sharing it. Whatever.

5. Looking at houses that cost millions of dollars and totally judging the owners’ interior design preferences. So much zebra print. And the higher the price, the more gaudy gold cherubs. It’s creepy. And they either paint all of the walls white or super dark jewel tones. There’s no in between. But there are occasionally really beautiful places with gardens and lots of wood in the house and fireplace mantles that aren’t monstrosities. I know. You’re not supposed to judge people and all that crap, but I do. And I enjoy it. It’s not my fault so many rich people have bad taste. But I normally keep my thoughts to myself or between myself and a few people who understand.

Now you know some weird little things that make me happy. What are some things that make you happy while the world is burning? As always, feel free to leave your thoughts or comments or questions or whatever here or on my social media pages!

Arguing With A Brick Wall

Howdy, howdy! How’s everyone doing this bright and beautiful day? It’s that time of year where all of the doctor check ups/appointments seem to pop up together. Dad and I had the one with our PCP last week, he has one with a shoulder specialist this week, I have a dentist appointment that I’ve been putting off since the pandemic began next week, at the end of the month I see the pulmonologist, then early next month we both have at least one more appointment. Anyway, it has me thinking about masks and how people refuse to wear them. It’s annoying. It’s idiotic. It’s just people being assholes. And I’ve already ranted about it before, but I guess I’ll do it again.

I laughed.

Despite what people say, there’s no reason not to wear a mask. Other countries have been wearing face masks for years. In Japan, it started about 150 years ago as a way for miners to cut back on inhaling dust. In 1918 they became more popular to help stop the spread of influenza. And from there it’s just become a normal part of life. It’s common courtesy to wear a mask, especially when sick, so you don’t spread your germs. Yes, having to wear it every time you go somewhere can be annoying if you’re not used to it, but that’s no reason to flip out about it. So, why are Americans so opposed to the little piece of cloth? It’s ridiculous.

I even got bored enough that when a friend made a snide comment on another friend’s Facebook post, I engaged in a stupid argument that ended up being about how masks are bad for kids, physically and mentally. I asked for sources. He sent three articles and a YouTube video. I didn’t watch the video (I had stuff to do and I prefer to read), but I did go through the articles. The first one quoted a study, but the study they link to is for something completely different and doesn’t mention the quote at all. The second article made claims without research to back it up (the research papers it did reference weren’t horrible, but left a lot of questions open), didn’t mention that solutions have been found for many of the issues, and was obviously skewed in what it mentioned or neglected to mention. The third article wasn’t even relevant since the study it was based on has been formally retracted due to questionable methodology. It took me a few clicks and some light reading to see how many holes these articles were full of. I didn’t even have to Google anything. I just followed their own links. Why don’t other people do that? It’s not usually hard, unless the sources and effort put into the article are legitimate. If everything is legit, it’s much harder to find flaws. And yet people still insist on using this stuff as “facts.” Just stop.

Yeah, I know. It’s all a conspiracy by the Left to control people. Right? Just like pants and shirts and shoes and every other item of clothing. That’s all masks are. New clothing. Why don’t you run around naked if you’re so against a piece of clothing? It’d be more entertaining than hearing another rant about civil liberties. Or is it because you don’t believe in Covid? I guess people are just dropping dead for no reason. Seriously. I don’t understand people. And it’s like arguing with a brick wall. Non-maskers are fucking idiots and that’s all I’m going to say on the matter.

I’ll try not to go off on a rant next week. Feel free to share your thoughts or comments here or on my social media pages as usual, but I will be monitoring any arguments and intervene if things devolve too far into chaos.

5 Things I Should Be Doing

Hello, hello! How’s everyone doing? Can you believe it’s August already? That means Christmas is some time next week, right? Time just won’t stop. But I did find out the world still exists. Had a doctor’s appointment, so I had to leave the house. I have to do it again later this month. There were people without masks. It was annoying. But I expected it. Anyway, I should be doing things besides worrying about the state of the world. And since I have nothing else to ramble about, I figured now was as good a time as any to try talking myself into being productive again.

1. Start writing again. I haven’t written much of anything aside from blog posts since mid-June. I know. Shame on me. I just have to decide whether I want to jump back into my last novel attempt or finish up some short stories. Probably the latter, so I have new stuff to submit. Just have to make myself do it.

2. Catch up on submissions. I’m three weeks behind, so I need to submit to six places on top of the two for this week. No idea why I started slacking on this. Yes, it’s getting more difficult to find paying markets to send these stories to, but not impossible. Also, writing a few new short stories or flash fiction pieces will help make submitting easier. I know this, yet I’m still lazy. Motivation is hard.

I haven’t had this happen yet, but I check at least ten times before I send anything and a couple of times after I send it. Just in case.

3. Query some more agents. I think I’ve waited long enough for the “only responds when interested” agents, so I can send out the last ten or so agent queries for DS1, then wait a while for replies before trying publishers. Or maybe I should just go right for the publishers? I don’t know. I’ll figure it out.

4. Get excited about reading again. I read every day, but it’s felt like a slog for the last month. It doesn’t seem to matter what I read. Nothing holds my attention for more than a few minutes. It’s weird. Maybe I’m just burned out. No idea. Hopefully something will grab my attention soon.

WIPs = works in progress.

5. Finish something. Anything. A story, the shawl, whatever. Sometimes, I think if I could just feel the accomplishment of finishing something, my creativity would start flowing again. I know that’s not how it actually works, but it’s how I feel. The biggest problem is forcing myself to do the thing.

There you go. Sorry I didn’t come up with anything better to ramble about. Blogging is even harder than writing stories. As always, feel free to leave your thoughts or comments or questions or whatever here or on my social media pages!

Thoughts on JUST ONE LOOK

Howdy, howdy! How’s everyone doing on this lovely day? Can you believe it’s already the last Wednesday in July? That means it’s book review time. I wasn’t really sure what I felt like reading this month, so I just browsed through late July releases until I found something that seemed interesting. That happened to be a mystery/thriller called Just One Look by Lindsay Cameron. It was released on the 27th from Ballantine Books (an imprint of Random House). As usual, I must thank them and NetGalley for access to an ARC in exchange for an honest and unbiased review. Let’s get to it!

It’s pretty colors.

Just One Look follows Cassie Woodson who is trying to find her way back to normal after an epic break up with a coworker gets her fired and forces her from her upward trajectory in a prestigious law firm down into the basements of another firm with all the other temps just trying to scrape by. That’s where she finds the perfect man. Not in person, but via his emails which have mistakenly been included in a high profile case’s discovery files. Her job is to sift through that information for anything relevant to the case, not to snoop through personal emails. But he’s perfect and she’s in love. What could go wrong?

Characters: meh. The only one we really get any insight into is Cassie and she’s super unreliable. Don’t get me wrong. Unreliable narrators can be great as long as we can look back and see where they twist things and where the truth shines through. There is no truth with Cassie. She gets black out drunk just about every night and doesn’t remember doing creepy stalker things. And by the end, she hasn’t changed or evolved at all. The perfect guy ends up being a douchenozzle (who didn’t see that coming a mile away?), though I admit things escalate quickly and beyond what we’re set up for in the story. And the only dude with any potential at being a normal person ends up being the mystery death in this thriller. In other words, there wasn’t enough character development to make me feel one way or the other about any of them.

Me to everyone in this book.

Plot: about what you’d expect. I haven’t read many stalker stories, but they all seem pretty much the same. Girl falls for perfect dude despite never officially meeting him, finds ways to insert herself in his life, confirms/encourages the exit of any significant others, ignores all warning signs, finds out perfect dude is a douche. And if the story is a thriller, there’s usually some kind of murder or abuse involved. That’s what we have here. It gets boring fast, which is why I don’t read many books like it. But that’s just me.

Pacing: not great. The first two-thirds of this book are a slog. Sure, we get a ton of information, but no real progress. And the information we get doesn’t give any hint to the escalation in the last third of the book. If you don’t automatically assume people are asshats, there’s not really anything on the page to suggest things will go the way they do. It’s annoying. It also makes the last third of the story feel super rushed.

Yup.

Writing: nothing special. It was fine, but nothing that stood out. The problems with the pacing made it harder to read than anything. If it wasn’t for that, the writing itself could’ve made for a smooth, quick read.

Ultimately, Just One Look was okay, but not something I’ll ever think about again. I’m not mad I wasted time on it, I just wasn’t impressed by it. That’s all.

starstarstarstar outlinestar outline

Overall, I gave it 3 out of 5 stars. It was fine. People who are into the whole stalker thriller genre will probably enjoy it and should check it out. If that’s not your thing, you aren’t really missing anything.

Good News, Everyone

Hello, hello! How is everyone this beautiful day? Things are pretty much the same as they’ve been around here. Lots of slacking on all fronts. You know how it goes. Anyway, if you follow my personal Facebook, you already know this, but today’s post is just to let you know that my flash fiction piece “The Water Horse” will be appearing in Improbable Press’s forthcoming anthology. Right now, the only release details I have is that it’ll be coming in early 2022. I will post my usual shameless self-promotions when I know more. But I wanted to let everyone know that writerly things are still happening even though I’m slacking. I’ll be back next week with my usual end-of-month book review!

Murder Mysteries Because I’m Out of Ideas

Hello, hello! How’s everyone doing this week? I’m still slacking on most things. I have zero desire to do anything. Even reading is a slog, despite both books I’m currently reading being halfway decent. I’ve been sitting here for over two hours, trying to figure out what to blog about. I’m trying to think of summery things. That’s not working. Writerly things are eluding me. No one wants another list of books or goals. I even considered making a list of a few summertime crochet things I can try making when I finish that shawl I’ve been working on forever. But I don’t have any examples handy and it’s a little overwhelming to try to find examples on short notice. Maybe I’ll do that next week. So, what am I going to blog about today? I’m still thinking. All I’ve really been doing is watching murder mystery shows. I guess I can ramble about the three I’m currently watching with Dad.

1. Agatha Christie’s Poirot. It’s on Britbox (except for series 7 and 8, both of which just left AcornTV and haven’t landed anywhere else yet). We’re still in series 3, I think. It’s an okay show. The old cars and stuff are pretty. It started out where an hour episode felt like 2 or 3 hours, but it’s gotten better. Things seem to move more smoothly. There are some laughs. Poirot kind of reminds me of Monk (the American show with Tony Shalhoub). Actually, I guess Monk reminds me of him since he came first. It’s probably just the OCD thing. Anyway, it’s getting better and it’s cute.

2. Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries. It’s on AcornTV. It’s set in 1920’s Melbourne, so the vehicles and clothing are interesting. There are cute moments. And, of course, she’s a strong, independent woman. She also has a habit of collecting people. It’s weird. We’re still in series one (there are 3, plus a movie and a spin-off), so it’s still early, but it’s another one that’s cute and entertaining. Plus, it doesn’t seem to drag too much so far, so there’s that.

3. The Brokenwood Mysteries. It’s a New Zealand show, also on AcornTV. It’s got some laughs. I’m not sure what I expected out of New Zealand scenery, but this (basically reminds me of small town America) was not it. It’s set nowadays, so the only old car you get to see is the main dude’s 1971 Holden Kingswood (it’s not pretty, so I have no feelings one way or the other about it). All of the episodes are about an hour and a half, so it’s a little long, but I’m enjoying it so far.

There you go. That’s what Dad and I are watching lately. I know. I’m a boring person. But I’m okay with that. I’ll try to think of something more exciting for next week. As always, feel free to leave your thoughts or comments or questions here or on my social media pages!