Category Archives: Series of Sorts

Those “Repeat Features” that show up from time to time

Weekend Coffee Share: Is that Sunshine?

If we were having coffee I’d tell you that I actually started to write this post a week ago, and never got past the title. It’s been a bit of a rough week – just a lot going on, a lot of thinking on my part, and a lot of trying to get myself organized and put some things into place (it feels like I’m always doing that… but I do think that each time I try it does a little something!)

Next week is a busy week at my work, so I’m trying to spend this weekend getting things all set up so that the week can be a relaxing one outside of work. I’m hoping to do some sewing – which I haven’t gotten to do in a while – and also some editing and writing. I’ve missed doing my writing, and need to push myself to write more – be it blogging or fiction, the longer I let myself go without doing it the more challenging it becomes.

I’ve spent a lot of the week (and probably will spend more of the coming week) cuddling with the Midnight Monster.  While he’s returned to his usual, crazy, self (thank goodness! He took a while to get there and I was a bit worried), he’s also been a bit more willing to cuddle than he had before. I’ve been taking full advantage of that to steal some cuddle time. He’s got a great purr and I love when I get the chance to hear it!

I’ve been excited to see the sunshine a little more – even though we’re still getting plenty of rain (at least it isn’t snow?) there has also been some bits of sun which makes me super-happy! I am not a fan of super-warm weather, but I do like when I can wander outside without getting soaked.

What have you been up to in the past few weeks?  What does the spring have in store for you? Any plans?

 

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Weekend Coffee Share is a weekly chance to check in with our blogging community.  Hop around the internet and enjoy the hospitality of this great community with a casual chat. Started by Part-Time Monster, and now hosted by Nerd In The Brain this is a lovely community and a fun weekly check-in. Check out the link-up, and feel free to join in the fun!

 

 

Passionate Geeks: The Animals in our Lives.

Last week I realized I’d become a bit more of a cat-lady than I had thought.  Midnight Monster took off and was gone for 6 days – 6 days where I was a pretty major mess, and went to extremes such as waking up at 3 am to wander the area near my house to see if I could find him, and going out after work, out in the cold rain searching for him.

I love that cat, he’s become an important part of my life and things felt very different without him.  So I wanted to take this week to dedicate to the animals in our lives!

I asked my friends on Facebook to share their favorite pictures of the animals in their lives. Here are just a few!

I’d love to see what animals are dear to you!

Cuffy says “I am the commander of this ship!” in his best Gene Hackman voice

The grand-kitties of Corina of Wasted Days and Wasted Nights 

Crazy Mini Monsters!

Beardy Love

Tank of the Part-Time Monster family

His Royal Highness, Tank

 

Wilbur (Willie aka Chubby McChubs)
From the Write On Sisters family “Miss Marbles, I love how she holds her own foot.”
One of Allison Maruska‘s writing buddies
Jonsey of one Portland.
And a different Jonsey of another Portland!
Molly, the Miracle Cat – one of the much-missed cats that’s been in Corina’s life.

“Sometimes OakLeah is a model” (he has his own hashtag!)
Hodge
Pip, who is still very much missed by Hodge and the family.
Carolina
Zoe, miniature poodle.
Ziggy, poodle/schnauzer mix
Before & After Chewy’s adoption.
Chewy snuggled in bes
Leo! (Who now has to share Stephanie’s Instagram feed with baby Marcella).
Rosie!

Torenne
“Busted”
“She’s looking pretty intense here but this is Madeleine, aka Maddie.”
This is Nari (on the left) and Dante (on the right) brother & sister 🙂

Mr. Noche and his favorite scratcher
Shadow
Bandit
Flower
Onyx
Lupa
Nerd In The Brains Frank
More, the loyal companion of Hannah, of Hannah Reads Books
Jubilee and her papa Blitzen
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Merlin has his own tag over at Comparative Geeks
And so does Shadow

 

And, Finally, for now… Midnight Monster Cat, the day after he came home.

 

Weekend Coffee Share: Waiting

UPDATE: Saturday Night, 8pm…. Midnight got caught in the trap I set for him and is now home and safe!  So, my imagined coffee share later in this post can be real 🙂
Honestly I don’t even know how to write my coffee share post this morning. I like framing it like we’re sitting down and chatting, but my hope is that the situation is different soon than it is right now. As I write this it’s about 4 am Saturday morning and I am sitting on the ground of my front porch. Waiting and hoping. And it is not the first early morning watch I’ve kept this week..

 But, let me tell you the coffee time I’d like to.be having.

I’d like to say:

If we were having coffee I’d have a Midnight Monster Cat curled up on my legs. He had an adventure this week, but finally decided to come home this morning and now is safe and sound. Last Sunday we tried to go out in a new harness for some fresh air – but he did crazy cat acrobatics, slipped his harness and darted.

I spend the week searching and waiting and hoping. It was a rough week, I kept hoping he’d just come home and he kept not appearing.

I walked the neighborhood a few times,.I searched in yards and distributed flyers. I put his litter box and bed outside as I could (in breaks.from the rain) and I waited.and I worried.

And friends lent support, helped me search, said prayers, gave advice and shared stories of their own pet returns.

It’s been a rough week, and I haven’t slept much.

But Thursday there were two sightings. Both in, or right next to, my yard. Friday morning I put out food for him and it was eaten something between 4:30 and 5:30 am.

So Saturday morning I went out and waited. Quietly sitting and listening and watching.

And now, as we sit together for coffee I hope I am able to say that he has come home.

Weekend Coffee Share is a weekly chance to check in with our blogging community.  Hop around the internet and enjoy the hospitality of this great community with a casual chat. Started by Part-Time Monster, and now hosted by Nerd In The Brain this is a lovely community and a fun weekly check-in. Check out the link-up, and feel free to join in the fun!

Weekend Coffee Share – February 4 2017

We had another ice day this week – Friday turned out not at all like I had planned.  For a while the weather had been predicting that we would have ice on Friday, but then it started to look like things would warm up and we wouldn’t see too much. However, I woke up Friday morning to find ice hanging from the leaves outside my window.  Work was delayed for a few hours and I spent that time resting and getting a few things taken care of (bills…yay…). and headed out to work about two hours before I had to be there. Since I commute by bus and train, and I had no idea if those would be running on time or what my connections would look like I wanted to give myself some extra time – plus my commute normally takes an hour to an hour-and-a-half.  I ended up waiting for the first bus for about 20 minutes.  In the cold rain.

In retrospect I probably should have looked at the schedule for when the bus was supposed to pass by and then at least use that as a guide for when I went to catch the bus.  However, I’m kind of glad I didn’t – because I would have likely made the decision to catch the earlier one which would have put me even further away when the next part of the day happened.

I had on the bus for about two minutes – less than a mile down the road – when I got a text message that work was going to be closed for the rest of the day. So I got off at the next stop, hit the store, and then went to wait for the next bus that would take me back home.

So… I’d already been out, I’d had coffee, and breakfast, and an early lunch. I’d been walking, and moving about and should have probably found the energy to sit down and do some work.  Writing, Jamberry work, blogging, editing, SOMETHING.

And I tried. I really did. I wrote the rewrites of two whole sentences. I created a word document for a project I’m hoping to start on.  I recorded a little video (five minutes, which I’ll probably have to re-do because I’ve changed a few things) for a Jamberry “Party In A Box” that I’m sending out on Monday. It took me about an hour to get all that done because I kept distracting myself with other things. So I decided to call it a wash. I wasn’t going to get any work done on those projects originally, anyhow, today because I would have been at work so….

I spent the rest of the day curled up in bed, with Midnight Monster sleeping on me, as I binge-watched Netflix. It was awesome.

A surprise evening trip to Ikea with a friend resulted in finally getting an actual desk chair for myself (been meaning to get one – my entire body will thank me for better posture here) and a stop by 7-11 to get Slushies (because, random cravings are fun!  I think we all need at least one friend in our lives who will hear you say “You know, I kinda want a Slushie” and will help you procure one).

The weekend is looking pretty busy for me.  Saturday at least.  Today I get to take Midnight Monster to his annual vet-check-up. It’s been about a year, and I’m hoping that he’ll behave himself as far as letting me get him in (and out) of his crate.  Last year it was a bit of an ordeal.  Then Saturday night I’m attending an auction fundraiser that got rescheduled from mid-January due to weather.  Looking forward to it – it should be a fun time!!

Sunday is going to be spent writing and working – I hope I’ll have gathered up enough of my energy to make some real progress by then.

What have you been up to this week?  Any fun or interesting weekend plans?

The Importance of Sensitivity Readers

Representation Matters is a series that explores topics of representation in writing and art. Our first guest-poster, who will explore the topic over the next few months, is Rebecca Croteau. Rebecca is an avid writer, reader and knitter, who is also quite active on twitter.

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If you spend much time in the #ownvoices and #diversityinYA tags on Book Twitter, you will very quickly bump into the concept of a sensitivity reader. A quick Google search is not telling me where the term originated, but I’ve seen it used by both women of color and disabled women throughout the last year. Here’s a quick breakdown on why you need a sensitivity reader – even if you’re writing about your own marginalization! – and how they’re different from a regular beta reader. Towards the end, we’ll talk about how to find a sensitivity reader for your manuscript.

What Is A Sensitivity Reader?

So let’s start from the basics. What is a sensitivity reader?

Ideally, a sensitivity reader is a specific sort of beta reader who is brought in early in the process. Your beta reader generally reads for flow, storylines, themes, and big plot hole issues. A sensitivity reader is also working to address high level concepts in your story, although they may also be willing to look at microaggressions, line-level issues, and other specific problems.

A sensitivity reader should be a person from the marginalized group that is being represented. For example: when I wrote a story that included a non-binary person in a space romance, I asked a trans friend to look it over. They identified a few points where I’d screwed up a pronoun, or where I’d said something insensitive without realizing it. I was able to fix them. Another example; I’m writing an erotic romance novel where the love interest is a fat guy; during one scene where the guy actually discusses his weight, I ran the scene by a friend who is heavier than me, and we revised it together until it said what I wanted to say, and it wasn’t hurting her with its words.

These are the sorts of things sensitivity readers can help you address.

Sensitivity Readers: New Twist, Old Idea

As long as I’ve been a writer, there have been people fact checking manuscripts. There are entire TV shows based around the idea of (some kind of celebrity) gets involved with (some profession) in order to learn more about it for (their art). Castle and Lucifer are two recent examples. Virtually any fiction novel where a character has to deal with a profession or expertise with which the author themselves are not familiar, they consult with an expert. You see them mentioned in acknowledgements frequently: “Thank you to Jane Doe for sharing her expertise with me regarding taxidermy and animal husbandry. Everything I got right was because of her; any mistakes I made were my own.”

So the basic concept of checking your manuscript with someone else is not new. Where people seem to get squirmy around the idea of sensitivity readers is that they seem to feel that this impinges on their “art” in some way. If you stop to check whether or not you’re – to use a recent and admittedly controversial example – hurting Indigenous teens with your portrayal of scarification and coding of darker skinned peoples as more violent, you are somehow not being true to your art.

If your art is more important than hurting actual living human beings…well. I don’t have much of anything nice to say to you.

This is probably because my writing styles and beliefs were pretty well formulated before people could post virtually anything online without any kind of professional feedback, but to me, the idea that anything I published would be presented in its unedited and unrevised form is utterly horrifying. I don’t know about you, but my first drafts suck.

When Should You Bring In A Sensitivity Reader?

This is a complicated question.

What we’re starting to see in YA publishing is that editors and publishers have realized that sensitivity readers are important to the YA community, and they want to get on board with that. I appreciate their commitment to doing better. Unfortunately, the primary practice that we’re seeing is sending out books to sensitivity readers at what seems to be the same time as early review copies.

That is way too damn late. If your book is about to be published, and you’re just now thinking about representation, this isn’t going to work out well.

I argue for bringing in sensitivity readers at several specific points.

  1. When you are creating scifi or fantasy, spend an hour going through your world building with someone experienced in your genre and the marginalizations you’re specifically working on. For example, I’m working on a near-future superhero novel with a friend, and we are committed to building a society where racial divisions are minimized and where people with disabilities are visible in the communities. When we’ve got the rough sketch of our world building together, I’m going to talk this through with two separate sensitivity readers to make sure that we’re not accidentally perpetuating microaggressions or outright racism/ableism.
  2. At the same time you solicit feedback from traditional beta readers. My writing process is that I draft something, I revise it, and then send it to people who are trusted to give good feedback. Including a sensitivity reader at this stage gives you the chance to look at any worldbuilding issues or plot level issues before you dive in to your final revisions.
  3. Before publication. Yes, this is way too late, but it’s still better than never. Here’s the truth of writing, especially when you’re writing for young adults and kids: when you perpetuate racist microaggressions, fat phobia, homophobia, and so forth, you are actively harming those kids who identify with these groups. If you write YA and you aren’t worried about that…again, I dunno what to say to you.

How To Find A Sensitivity Reader

Write in the Margins (FANTASTIC SITE you should check them out) maintains a list of Sensitivity Readers. You can also put out calls on your social media channels, the same way you would for regular beta readers. Sensitivity readers are often paid positions, so be prepared for that. They may cause you to have some hard conversations, with yourself, and with them.

Next time, I’ll talk more about why those conversations need to happen, and how to confront your privilege with grace.

 

If We Were Having Coffee… Birthday Weekend!!

If we were having coffee I’d tell you how excited I am about my birthday weekend!

It’s been a strange week – but I’ve been loving it! We had a bit of a delayed start to the week due to ice and grossness. Then, on Tuesday night we got SNOW. Lots and lots of snow (particularly for this area). In about 12 hours we got 9 inches of snow at my house. Some places got over a foot in a 24-hour period.

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The beautiful view of snow-covered… everything… in my neighborhood.

Wednesday was a snow day, and I got to play in the snow and enjoy being inside for much of the day. Thursday was also a snow day, and I took a walk through the snow to buy some needed cat food for the Midnight Monster. Luckily the sidewalk on the road I had to walk had been pretty packed down so it was a fairly pleasant walk.

The temperature stayed cold, so the only melt that’s happening is due to the sun – and then it’s freezing again. Friday I had to venture out to go to work, a delayed start but… it was still just 5 degree’s (Fahrenheit) outside when I left to start my commute.  It was NOT a fun trip – the “sidewalk” on the way to my bus-stop was pretty much non-existent – just a large pile of snow.

 

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There IS a sidewalk under there, somewhere. But walking on it was NOT fun – and stepping into the bike-lane was not a safe option.

The one great thing about having to venture out on Friday was that I was able to stop by the story to pick up some materials for my BIRTHDAY PARTY! I had to cancel a few of my Birthday Weekend plans because the snow is not moving much (other than turning to ice in some places) so it just isn’t safe to be out and about too much for some of us. The car I have access to can’t get out of the driveway at this point, and I just don’t want to deal with the headache of public transit this weekend!

But enough of my friends are close enough in and are going to be able to make it over so I’m still going to have my Mac-And-Cheese party! I’ll have a few different kinds of Macaroni and Cheese, and folks are bringing their own versions (and trying new kinds with different kinds of cheese). We’ll sample them all (and vote, of course, because we can!)  I don’t often have actual parties for my birthday, and am looking forward to this year and glad that the weather isn’t going to have to stop it from happening.

Today I have to do some prep for the party – looking forward to trying to create some new mac-and-cheese flavors!  Then there’s writing (I am ridiculously behind in my writing), and some Jamberry work…. I’ve managed to fill my empty weekend pretty well!

What do you have planned for the weekend? How is the weather where you are? Have you had a good week?

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Passionate Geeks: Fairy Tales and Once Upon a Time

Passionate Geeks Ad

Today’s Passionate Geek is Sarah E. Boucher, a lover of fairy stories, romance, anything BBC and Marvel, and really, really cute shoes. On weekdays she wears respectable shoes and serves as Miss Boucher, the Queen of Kindergarten. On school holidays she writes stories about romance and adventure. And wears impractical super cute shoes.  Visit Sarah at SarahEBoucher.com or connect with her on TwitterFacebookInstagramPinterest, Amazon, or Goodreads.


Hi, I’m Sarah and I’m a Fairy Tale Addict.

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Actually it’s worse than that. I’m a 40-year-old woman who believes in magic, happily ever afters, and the power of sassy heels. The only problems I’ve encountered are the following:

  1.  I’m not a princess in a tower with flowing blonde hair and birds for friends. Mostly because birds are creepy and I’m pretty sure they have a vendetta against me. Blech, beady bird eyes . . .
  2. I refuse to while away the time waiting for Prince Charming to carry me off into the sunset. If he had to pack me off on foot, I’d be worried about giving the poor idiot a hernia. And it turns out I’m allergic to horses.

So I guess what I really am is a Fairy Tale Realist who can’t get enough books, movies, and merch.

The series Once Upon a Time grabbed my interest from the beginning. Even so, there’s at least once per episode when my bestie and I give each other that look and say, “Nope.” and “Seriously, what are they thinking?” and “Yeah, I could have written that better.” Because in addition to Hobbitses, Hogwarts, and Han Solo, Hans Christian Anderson is well represented on my shelves. If only to provide evidence to support my arguments.

That clash between reality and fantasy pushes me to create my own brand of Fairy Tale Fan Fiction. I take the characters I’ve loved since girlhood and drop them into interesting situations to watch the squirm. Because there are always new aspects of a personality to explore.

Here I am, publishing my second Young Adult fairy tale and planning the next one. Or two. Or fifteen. That’s what happens when something captures your imagination for the better part of 40 years. You can’t shake the magic.

And hey, I’ll continue to believe in the power of hot shoes too. Because maybe, just maybe, Prince Charming has a thing for redheads in red peep toe pumps.

 

web-only-promo-book-coverSarah’s second book, Midnight sisters is available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle editions.

What is it about?  Well, how about a blurb and excerpt?

The words rattled around Jonas’s head. What was the punishment again? Death? Dismemberment? Jonas, the newest addition to the gardening staff, couldn’t recall the exact penalty for breaking the rule. What does it matter anyway? He would never dream of meddling with the Earl of Bromhurst’s haughty daughters.

Until he comes face to face with Lady Ariela, the eldest of the Master’s daughters.

Her elusive smile and open manner cause him to question his convictions. In no time, he’s drawn into Lady Ariela’s world of mystery and intrigue, a world where she and her sisters will do anything—including leaving twelve empty beds at midnight—to escape their father’s strict rules.

Only Jonas can uncover the truth and save them from their father’s wrath and their own folly, if he is willing to risk everything he’s ever worked for.

***

“Jonas—”

I could see the words growing in his eyes.

“You know the cardinal rule.”

I wanted to roll my eyes, but kept my expression bland instead. Showing impatience had consequences for an undergardener.

“Do not meddle with the Master’s daughters.”

I had heard the words so many times my ears felt like they would start bleeding. If Higgins knew how pointless it was to fire them at me time and again, he’d save his breath.

“Understood?” Higgins asked with one eyebrow cocked.

The thought of running back to my family became more appealing with every upward slant of that eyebrow. “Yes, sir.”


blog-tour-bannerHer first book, Becoming Beauty, is a retelling of Beauty and the Beast. Find Becoming Beauty on AmazonBarnes & Noblebooks & thingsiTunes, and Goodreads. For the duration of the blog tour (January 9-20) Becoming Beauty in eBook will be 99 cents!

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