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19 January 2017 @ 12:48 am

Indy and I had a splendid day today.

We stopped at the local Pokemon gym and claimed it on the way home from school, and walked enough candies to evolve our Abra into a Kadabra, which was pretty darn exciting. He did his chores and homework cooperatively, and we went through ALL our Pokemon and found our Grimer only needed ONE CANDY to evolve. So we went for a bike ride/Pokehunt. He’s learning to ride his bike, and there’s a nice little housing estate next door that has a big loop perfect for such things, and I thought if we did three loops plus home and back again, we’d have walked far enough to get the candy. And if the distance marker was better, we probably would have, but as it was we got the Grimer to like 2.3 out of 3km walked to earn the candy. Indy was exhausted by then. *laughs* We brought the bike home, and I proposed we walk down to town centre, which would theoretically give us not only the Grimer candy but ALSO hatch our 10K egg and the 5K eggs we had running.

We got the candy but not the eggs! Woe! We switched to our Digglet, which needed like 13 candies, and ended up with .2 and .4km to walk, respectively, to hatch the eggs. We had dinner out, took a taxi home, and Indy, who was staggering with exhaustion, thought we should go straight for a little walk and try to hatch our eggs. So we did, except the phone was at like 13% battery when we started walking, and about 7% when we hatched the 10K egg (I don’t even remember what we got out of it!). Then we had .2km left to hatch the other eggs and 6% battery, and we were walking faster and faster and faster, and Indy said, “We’d better RUN!” so we did, and he’d shout, “How much battery left?” and I’d try to read it while running and with my glasses bouncing on my nose, not exactly the easiest thing to do, and I’d yell, “Five percent!” and then he’d yell, “How much now?!” and I’d yell, “FOUR PERCENT!” and we RAN and we RAN and THREE percent and TWO PERCENT and ONE PERCENT AND WE WERE AT THE HOUSE AND THE EGGS HATCHED

and the phone went dead!

We were laughing so hard we could barely stand up. We ran into the house and plugged the phone in, and as soon as it had charged enough we turned it back on to find out WHAT WE’D HATCHED

and it turned out we’d hatched a Digglet, which gave us ENOUGH CANDIES to EVOLVE OUR DIGGLET, TOO!

So we got three new evolutions today and set Clefairy as our buddy and had brownies and watched My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic and that was our lovely day. ♥ ♥ ♥

(x-posted from The Essential Kit)

16 January 2017 @ 04:47 pm

I started a novella on January 1. It was gonna be a quick & dirty little retelling of Beauty and the Beast, and it was gonna be 25-30K and written in a week, and I was gonna slap a cheapie cover on it and fling it up onto the interwebs in a Surprise Novella Drop!

When, at the end of a week’s writing and 23.5 thousand words, I had only just gotten to the Beast, it was pretty clear that this was not going to be a novella, and that in fact it had gotten entirely out of hand and maybe it would be worth getting my magnificent cover artist, Tara O’Shea (Fringe-Element.net) to do a proper cover.

At the end of TWO weeks, it was 60,000 words long, a proper (if short) novel, and *finished*.

I sent the dreadfully rough draft off to some beta readers last night and by this morning was convinced I had made the worst mistake in the world, giving it to ANYBODY in that format. But then I had email from one of them, who’d made the mistake of checking her email after midnight when she’d gotten home from an event, and stayed up all night reading it. She said, “It is utterly charming and completely engrossing and very difficult to put down,” and that made me feel better. :)

I’m giving it a week to rest while a few other betas have a go at it, and then it’s going to go through the fastest revision process known to me, and then I’m gonna start the year off with a bang:

ROSES IN AMBER drops on or about February 1!

(x-posted from The Essential Kit)

13 January 2017 @ 09:48 pm

Picoreview: La La Land: either too much reality or too much fantasy, but either way, a total failure to succeed.

La La Land is billed as “the kind of movie Hollywood doesn’t make anymore.” This is not accurate. This is the kind of movie Hollywood never made. It is not a slick, charming Hollywood movie musical. Neither is it a Hollywood style dreams-meet-reality drama. It attempts to be both, and succeeds at neither.

I’m not much of a Ryan Gosling fan. I understand he’s apparently an extremely nice person, which is wonderful, but I find his screen presence somewhat less compelling than that of, say, mashed potatoes. I went to La La Land anyway, in the hopes that this would be the movie–because it was a movie musical, how could it not!–that would convert me to Gosling fandom.

I was instead reminded of a review my father once endured, which went something like this: “Murphy played the part quietly. So quietly, in fact, that occasionally one looked at him on the stage, and wondered what he was doing there.”

I cannot imagine, save for the fact that Gosling is apparently a really nice guy, and evidently plays the piano well, why anybody has been inspired to nominate him for awards for this movie, much less actually give them to him. He danced moderately well and could perhaps have done more, given the chance. He sang in a range between poor and inadequate, although I’m given the impression that Gosling *can* sing, so I have no idea why he didn’t do it well.

Emma Stone, of whom I’m quite fond, was slightly better, if for no other reason than, as an aspiring actress, we got to see her go through several auditions and thus perform a wider range of emotions. She had one knockout song, but performed the rest of her songs in a tiny breathless little voice that I can only presume was meant to set us up for a Big Wow when she belted out the good song, but which in fact made me spend most of the movie feeling like they should have cast somebody who sang a lot better than that, if they were going to do a movie musical.

There are a handful of very nice scenes. The big opening number isn’t one of them. The obligatory dream scene dance at the observatory (which delighted me going in to it, because movie musicals should always have a dream scene dance if they possibly can) *was* one of them, except for the fact that the entire *dance* part of it was done in cutaway silhouettes, leaving me feeling like Gosling and Stone had probably not actually been the performers in it. I mean, they may have been, I don’t know, but the impression left was that they were not.

The final number was *exactly* what La La Land is pitched as being: a movie like Hollywood doesn’t make anymore. For five minutes, Gosling had charm, he and Stone had chemistry, the production quality was slick and musical-like, and I had hopes that they were going to have a last-minute hail mary that would make me almost (almost) forgive the rest of the movie.

They followed it up by blowing it entirely. What they did was fine for the romantic drama film version of the movie they were making. In the dramatic film version of that movie, I would have really enjoyed the way they ended the story.

It was an utterly shite ending for a musical, totally failing to understand the structure and payoff of a musical movie structure.

Aside from what I’ve seen described as the self-congratulatory-Hollywoodness of it all, I cannot imagine why the film is on the awards circuit. It felt like a misfire from beginning to end, and I wish they’d made one of the two movies they tried cramming into this one. Either would have been a lot more satisfying than what they ended up with.

(x-posted from The Essential Kit)

10 January 2017 @ 11:59 pm

I see I’ve managed to get ten days into the new year without posting. In my defense, I’ve been writing, which is a nice change of pace. In fact, I seem to have been taken by an Attack Book, so I’m going to run with it to the end and see how that goes.

We’ve finished watching season 3 of Miss Fisher, and were horrified to find that it was only 8 episodes long! Which we found out when the 8th episode ended and Netflix flipped to “what would you like to watch next”. We shrieked in horror and have been flailing about ever since.

What a wonderful show. I want to cut my hair into a bob and do a million pushups so I have arms like hers and wear fabulous clothes. I don’t necessarily need to solve murders, but flirting outrageously with Nathan Page sounds pretty good. What a great show. What great costumes. *flails* :)

Other than that, I’ve read a couple books so far this year, which is off to a good start. I haven’t started doing anything amazingly fitness-oriented, like losing the 10 pounds I’ve regained or even, y’know, some pushups. I seem to have no willpower when it comes to sweets, and I know the answer to a lack of willpower is “do not put temptation in your grasp” but I keep doing it anyway.

I haven’t started doing more art, or coloring, or studying a language. I haven’t begun listening to more music (and you’d think that one would be easy). There are, to quote a certain modestly popular musical of the day, a million things I haven’t done.

But just you wait.

Just you wait.


(x-posted from The Essential Kit)

31 December 2016 @ 06:36 pm

A couple days ago my writer friend Tim Pratt said he couldn’t do his year-end round-up of what he’d written yet because he might still get that last short story finished. I was working on a comic script and felt similarly.

I managed to get the script done, in fact, just now. It’s for my artist nephew whose birthday is tomorrow, and I genuinely don’t know if he’ll draw it, but I promised him I’d write him something and now I have, so mission accomplished.

I got a huge amount of work done in 2016, but not a great deal of writing, and while that’s splitting hairs it’s also a source of frustration, because I really only feel like I’ve gotten things done if I’ve WRITTEN a lot.

I did finish the REDEEMER manuscript, and got it through its first round of revisions. Second round will be starting…well, tomorrow, if I’m very good.

I wrote an attack novella, RAVEN HEART, which is a shapeshifting billionaire romance and was great, great fun to write.

I wrote five Old Races short stories (completing the Year of Miracles short story collection and one Walker Papers short story.

I *drew* a web comic that makes me laugh, and which went out to my Patreon crew this month and will go out to the world in general in January or February.

I didn’t read very much, although at 28 books I managed to do better than my 15 book nadir of 2010.

I hope next year will be better.

(x-posted from The Essential Kit)

28 December 2016 @ 04:53 pm

2016 in review is a work related round-up, because it’s been an absolutely awful year personally. The other day somebody sent around a “some good things must have happened at least on a personal level in 2016, please post them!” and I honestly couldn’t think of anything actively good enough to stand out.

So, this year in publication review: startingly good, actually. I had 5 books come out, including the graphic novel of TAKE A CHANCE, which we’ve all been waiting for forever. :)

To wit:

mm_frontcover</a>MAGIC & MANNERS
An Austen Chronicle
A retelling of Pride & Prejudice, where the sisters have too much magic instead of too little money!
Kobo || Kindle || Nook || Amazon (print) || Audible & at bookstores near you! (ask them to order you a copy!)




atlantis fallen coverATLANTIS FALLEN
The Heartstrike Chronicles: Book One
Immortality, ancient grudges, powers beyond the ordinary…familiar grounds, but I hope you’ll like what I’ve done with them. :)
iBooks || Kindle || Kobo || Nook || Audible




Cover for Raven Heart, a Murphy Lawless NovellaRAVEN HEART
Alaskan Totems Billionaire Shifters
A sudden fun delve into writing billionaire shapeshifter romance, which turns out to be a thing!
iBooks || Kindle || Kobo || Nook




Take A Chance graphic novel coverTAKE A CHANCE
A vigilante without superpowers in a world that now has supers! My 2009 comic book in long-awaited graphic novel form!
Amazon || Nook || Comixology
(& at nearly any comic shop or bookstore, just ask them to order it in! ISBN 978-1909276628!)



cover for Old Races collection Year of MiraclesYEAR OF MIRACLES
Collected Tales of the Old Races
A return to the Old Races universe with the titular novella plus a dozen new and republished short stories!
iBooks ||Kobo || Kindle || Nook


To my intense dismay, due to year-end postal slowness, neither YEAR OF MIRACLES nor ATLANTIS FALLEN has a print edition yet, but they should both be available early next year.

I have two books lined up for next year: the 1945 urban fantasy REDEEMER, and a Regency romance called BEWITCHING BENEDICT, which, despite the title, has no magic in it. :) It’s charming, though, and I’m looking forward to finally getting it out to readers.

Tentative plans for other books include PROMETHEUS BOUND (the next Heartstrike Chronicle), at least one Murphy Lawless novella, and, with any luck, a second Regency to follow BENEDICT. The second Austen Chronicle, SORCERY & SOCIETY, is slated for 2018, and we’ll see what else I manage over the next year. ♥

(x-posted from The Essential Kit)

24 December 2016 @ 07:55 pm

Once in a while I manage to have my act together enough to present a holiday short story to my readers. This year’s story was inspired by visiting North Carolina for the first time, and driving some of those twisty twisty roads that Joanne is so fond of.

Slaying the Dragon is set five years after the end of SHAMAN RISES, and as such, contains, if not outright spoilers, certainly spoilers by association. :)

Slaying the Dragon (pdf)
(turns out wordpress won’t let me upload epub or mobi files, sorry. you can always subscribe to my Patreon if you must have the e-reader friendly files. :))

Story behind the cut!

Read the rest of this entry »Collapse )

(x-posted from The Essential Kit)

21 December 2016 @ 09:23 pm

wrap gifts
put tree together
hold my head still so snot doesn’t swirl around & make me dizzy
work on leah’s comic

so far i’ve:
emptied dishwasher
cleared wrapping table
gotten laundry going
fetched wrapping paper
located indy’s gifts

have now:
wrapped, if not ribboned, indy’s gifts

must now:
store them
find ted’s gifts
wrap them
eat something besides sugar cookies

have now:
found ted’s gifts
disovered i hadn’t [redacted]
proceeded to [ redacted ]
wrapped MOST of his gifts despite delay
did not shower
ate fudge

have now:
cleared away evidence of gift-wrapping
did another load of laundry*

*by which i mean there is a giant pile of unfolded clothes in a chair

have now:
got child from school.
bought honey for hot toddy.
lost pokebattle at gym.
ate some real food.
cleaned kitchen.

Do Something about the tree soon…

have now:
left house, got stuff for dinner
made dinner
lit solstice candles


must still
tidy, vacuum, possibly rearrange living room
put tree together

have now:
tided, vacuumed & rearranged living room

…still need to fold a huge chairful of laundry…

do not believe i will get to leah’s comic tonight. i may, however, get to that hot toddy…

(x-posted from The Essential Kit)


Indy had a dentist appointment today. The dentist, who is a woman, and who keeps up a pretty constant stream of chatter to reassure her child patients, made no fewer than four separate comments to Henry about how “girls talk a lot.”

By the third I was livid. What I do not need is a woman–perhaps ESPECIALLY a professional woman, A DOCTOR–reinforcing stereotypes that my six year old son has *certainly* never come into contact with from me, and which I wish him to be armed to resist when he does. When she did it again I obviously looked disgusted enough that she began to backtrack, but it was too late by then.

“As a matter of fact,” I said, sharply, “statistically, in groups, men talk a great deal more than women, and if women speak as much as *thirty percent* of the time, they’re percieved as dominating the conversation. *Seventeen* percent is regarded as *equal* time. Study after study has backed this up.”

She backed down but then she *said it again*, although she also instantly called herself out on it–“At least, *this* girl talks a lot,” she said, but HOLY SHIT I DO NOT HAVE TIME FOR YOUR UNEXAMINED PATRIARCHAL PARTY LINE.


(x-posted from The Essential Kit)

16 December 2016 @ 02:20 pm

I have terrible knots in my shoulders, and a perpetually over-stretched subscapularis nerve under my right shoulder blade. I mean, like, this is a decades-old injury. My friend E, who is a massage therapist, used to tell me she wanted to spend some quality time with her fingers in my armpit, which I always thought was a joke until she got her hands on me and spent some quality time with her fingers in my armpit. Turns out that, since the subscapularis is entirely covered by bone, the way you get to it is not by digging around the edges of the shoulder blade, but by going through the armpit. I spent a magnificent day and a half without a knot, when she was finished with me. (Then I got on an international flight, and, well, that was that.)

Anyway, it turns out one of the women at the massage centre I go to is a PT, and I mentioned the knot and E’s stretching instructions and she, the therapist, leapt up and ran to the wall to demonstrate (the same) stretch, that she give people for that injury. And then a friend of mine happened to mention that she goes to the PT regularly and thinks she’s wonderful. So I thought I’d go see her for a proper session. We talked about my injuries, and I repeated what I had learned from E, and said my goal was to, well, not undo, because I’m not likely to stop typing for a living :p, but to mitigate and alleviate the injuries and the tension and to do my best to work to minimize the exacerbation of them. She was like “yay let’s go!”

She basically smashed my back around for a while, finding all the really bad spots (by which I mean my entire back, pretty much), and had a go at the Rock Solid Knot in my trapezius that nobody can loosen, then said something like, “Most massage therapists don’t like going through the armpit because it’s really not very comfortable, in fact it can hurt, tell me when you can’t take any more and I’ll stop.”

And then she utterly murdered me, OMG. I did a lot of deep breathing and hissing while she worked on my left armpit, but my trapezius was *noticeably looser* when she got done. Then she went after my right, which was much much much worse and I got through that with groaning and whimpering and gasping, “you…should tal..ook..oh god…*breathebreathebreathe* to my fri…*wheeze hoo hoo hoo* my friend E, you’d..*gasp* have a…*wheeze* lot…of…oh god…fun OH GOD,” which she thought was funny. She also thought I was remarkably tough, as, she said, most people would have stopped her LONG before she stopped (of her own volition) working on me. I was like, “…*wheeze* i can…*gasp*…*pantpantpant* put up with…*whimper* a lot if…*wheeze* it’s OH GOD OH AH HAHAHA OH GOD OW going to do…long…term…oh god…good…” :)

She also rolled me around and mashed my hips (which are a disaster) and stretched me and all kinds of things which were very uncomfortable but good for me and boy do I need to start doing yoga and/or ballet barre and/or pilates and/or just STRETCHING some, omg.

By three hours later my armpits were so sore I was walking around like C3PO, but my head turned a lot farther than it did before, and surprisingly, today, the day after, I’m not NEARLY as sore as I was last night.

I’m going back, obviously. She said her experience is that usually to really loosen up a long-term repetitive stress injury like this usually it takes 3 once-a-week sessions and maybe a follow-up session or two 3 to 6 weeks later, which, hey, well, if I can mitigate this injury, that would be well worth it.

And as for today, while it would be an overstatement of dramatic proportions to say my shoulders are not *tight* this morning, they’re so much looser they actually feel weird. That PT had magic hands.

(x-posted from The Essential Kit)