Time to Have The Talk

Probably not the one you think. I would just like to urge everyone to talk to their at risk loved ones about the scammers that call and try to tell you that their computer has a terrible virus and they need to pay them right now to fix it. If I hadn’t called at exactly the right moment, my stepmom might have bought it. They can be very convincing. Not only is that not how it works but, if she did have a virus or malware, we’d have that taken care of locally by people we know and trust. So, consider this a PSA, please talk to your at risk loved ones – anyone who might fall for a telephone based scammy scammer or a popup scammy scammer and put a plan in place so that they know what steps to take in the event of a virus. Even if they forget about the scams, they aren’t going to pay someone over the phone if they know to call your local fixitallperson first.

Seriously, why do people have to be awful to each other? It’s not like my poor stepmom hasn’t had enough to deal with this year.bah. I do hope karma has something to say to them eventually.

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Nerves in Advance

I have many days, a few weeks’ worth in fact, before my first ever table at an anything. I’m starting small, at a local craft fair to sort of stick my toe in the water and see how I do. I’ve got the books in. In fact, the last box arrived today. I’ve got some geeky crafty type stuff ready to go as well. If you liked my Nazgul or my sorting hat, and you’re going to be near Weirton on the 30th, here’s your chance!

The fact of the matter is, I’ve never done something like this before and I really am quite nervous about the whole thing. I shouldn’t be. I come from two people who could convince most people that dihydrogen monoxide was polluting our water supply. My children have that gene too – the performance, the desire for applause. I have it too in a far more introverted way. I realized the other day that I might not be as gregarious, charming, or loud as my parents or my children but ultimately, I’m after the same thing – validation from people I don’t know! That’s really what writing books is, isn’t it?

I far prefer sitting back here, on this side of my computer screen instead of on a stage or behind a table, but, it’s a little hard to get my crowing heard from inside my house, shouting into the storm that is the Internet and full of people just like me. So, out into the world I must go. Maybe it won’t be as bad as I’m expecting. Maybe it’ll actually be fun and I’ll sign on to do more. Maybe a lot of things.

So, I’m sticking my toe in the water and maybe I’ll find myself at Steel City Con or Parsec down the road a bit.

Just for a head’s up – if you haven’t liked my Facebook page, now might be a good time as I’m going to be having a giveaway on April 30th (the day of said local fair). What I’m giving away will be revealed on that day.

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Busy Girl

Today was IEP day for my youngest kidlet. It went well, as it usually does, but that doesn’t mean I’m not a twist of nerves and flooded with research in the days leading up to it. There’s a lot going on with him and, even though he is getting better at speaking neurotypical, he’s not there just yet. There are still things he needs a little bit of help with. I’m fortunate to be in a district willing to work with me, even when my ideas maybe aren’t the most orthodox ones. I know a lot of other parents have had problems working within the system, even specifically this system, and I am so grateful that I have had such a comparatively easy road for both kids.

I’ve also been helping my stepmom go through my dad’s things. Some things hit me harder than others. I was doing pretty well with the whole thing until I started looking through his slides. He was a phenomenal photographer who had such an amazing artistic eye for framing and focus. I may be looking into what it will take to do something interesting with some of those – maybe pairing his art with mine. I wish I’d seen some of these images before – I’d have suggested this project directly to him. But it’s a long way off and there’s a lot I’ve got to do before I can do a project like what I’m thinking about.

There’s one image in particular that I’m just struck by. We were in Spokane, WA then, I think I might be four in the picture. I’m wearing a bright red winter coat and it is the only real color in the image. I’m feeding the ducks and swans in Riverfront Park with the pavilion and the clocktower in the background. There is no one else in the picture. Not the old lady with the bag of breadcrumbs. Not a single soul on the grass on the other side of the river. No one on the bridge. I cannot remember a time when there weren’t people milling about everywhere there. It was always one of our favorite places to go on his weekends, puttering around with those birds. Oh, how I loved those swans. It’s a striking image and I really want to do something interesting with it. But I suppose I need to get a print first as it is only a slide.

I’m not getting a lot of usable writing done – it’s all a little too maudlin right now – so I’m doing more editing. I’m polishing up a few things to get ready to send out. I think being in this weird zone is actually making the editing easier because I’m not being drawn to five or six other projects I want to write also.

Dad’s Nikon is a lot different than my Pentax but I think I’m going to dust them off, load them up, and teach the kids how to take proper pictures this summer. If I knew how to do developing, I might just do the whole shebang but I’ll settle for lighting, color, and composition matched with shutter speed, exposure lengths, and that sort of thing. I think it’ll be a nice thing to be able to pass that along. Plus, we’ll maybe figure out if the cameras have any appreciable difference in quality.

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What’s in a Name?

I picked up a little snippet of an idea I jotted down a couple of years ago and am running with it. I see it growing up to be a short story, just this side of novelette most likely. It’s a rough length but once it’s done I can muck around with it until it’s a more saleable length. The problems I’m running into are all in the names. I do not like my placeholder names at all. It does not fit this woman at all. It does not fit her boss or her friend. I did get two names right but the rest will not work.

Sometimes names are easy. Sometimes I use a baby naming website. And then there are those other times when a regular name just isn’t going to cut it. I like to use ingredient lists for my fantasy characters. Take a syllable of this chemical and a syllable of that chemical and bang, you’ve got Tenorack (from Eldercynne Rising) and Ketryl (from a story that may never see daylight).

I suppose for this one, I’ll go back to a baby naming website since, even though it’s fantasy-ish, it is earthbound and contemporary. Have to find a name for a bad-ass government agent that doesn’t sound too happy. The name she has right now is much too happy to keep calling her.

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Trying to get back to things

I’m finding it very difficult to get back into my routine, into the swing of things. For the last several years, it was not unusual to get a text or three during the week to see how many words I’ve written, what projects I was working on. As much as it might have been a little frustrating because when I’m rolling, I’m rolling pretty quick. I appreciated the fact that he was interested.

He was pretty much my only cheerleader. I have other supportive people but most of them don’t read and especially don’t read the genres I write. He didn’t read fiction much until he started being my first reader. He is, was, the only person who has read all of my books, all of my stories.

I’m not exactly sure what I’m supposed to do now. He was my sounding board and my fact checker. I have all of these suddenly open positions and no applicants to fill them. Nor would I really want to right now, they wouldn’t stick a random “d” in the word genre or lecture me on the proper naming genders in Russian families or ramble about whatever crazy random bit of information that is absolutely integral to whatever story I’m editing.

I’m not very good at this grieving thing. I get all the steps mixed up and somehow there seem to be more of them in my stairway. Funnily enough, acceptance seems pretty low on the climb, just after blank and before irrational what-ifs. I know everyone is different but I’m a wallower. Not really in my grief, because the actual grief part is mostly done-ish, but in my memories. Certain things become so intrinsically tied to a person that you can’t do them, go there, see that without thinking of them.

I’m trying to get myself put back together and there will be brighter, shinier, happier things here soon and eventually there will be new words. I don’t quite know what to do with them now but I’ll figure it out. I was writing before he took an active interest (before I started taking it seriously) and I’ll write again soon – other than poetry which is just coming to me faster, muddier, and sloppier than usual. I’m just going to have to restructure my rituals now.

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RIP Joe McBride

Joe and Kathy McBride

Joe and Kathy McBride

Joseph Boyd McBride, 68, of Weirton, WV passed away February 24, 2017.

Born in Levelland, TX on July 31, 1948, Joe was the son of Cecil Elmo McBride and Geraldine (Williams) McBride. He graduated from the University of Arkansas with a BSA in Agricultural Economics and later from the City University of Seattle with a Masters Degree in Business Administration.

He was a jack of all trades having worked in bookstores, pet stores, direct sales, and as a teacher. He was an accomplished motivational speaker and corporate trainer. He traveled the world with his wife, Kathy, with Toastmasters, BNI, and Spokane’s sister city program, making friends wherever he went.

He wrote training guides, speaker guides, and marketing strategies including work in Master of Sales and Master of Networking. He joined Toastmasters International in March of 1983 and remained active in the organization until his passing.

He loved to cook and experiment with different styles of food, different techniques of preparation. He enjoyed gardening, telling stories, reading and watching Jeopardy.

He is survived by his loving wife Kathy, his daughter and son-in-law Sarah and Rob Wagner, his grandsons, Dakota and Logan, his sister and her husband Sandra and Charles Whittington and nephews Barry and Wade and their wives and children, and many aunts, uncles, and cousins.

He will be missed.

His Toastmasters district posted a memoriam online.

If you would like to hear a little speech, his district posted a video a while back from, I believe, one of the Toastmaster competitions. It should be set to start at his portion. If not, it starts at approximately 11:36.

In 2000, after a viral heart infection, the doctors said he wouldn’t get another five years. It’s a very good thing for those of us who love him that he never did much care what the doctors said. We were very lucky to get almost 17 years more. So, even though we all would have liked another few decades, we’re glad to have gotten what we did.

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Monsters and Mayhem

 

Fall 1997's Threshold containing my first ever published story.

Fall 1997’s Threshold containing my first ever published story.

I love writing about myths, monsters, and the mayhem they leave in their wake. Which, if you’ve read Hunter’s Crossing, Guardian of the Gods or Eldercynne Rising, should be pretty clear. All the main characters are monster hunters in their own way.

 

I’ve been writing about monsters from the very beginning.

My first few non-school lit-mag publications were all in the same local zine. And technically, the first fiction in that school lit-mag was monster related too – she was a Scottish death goddess, yes, but very much a monster. Apart from her, I started with vampires like any good Poppy Z Brite and Anne Rice fan. A tragic, miserable vampire in his last moments before committing suicide by sunrise because his love is dead.

At the time of its publication, I hadn’t even met my husband yet so it is under my maiden name but, I think there are only a handful of publications under McBride. I was young and the writing definitely shows it. It’s all very purple and flowery and very different from the style I’ve grown into in the last two decades.

My first fiction publication (1997).

My first fiction publication (1997).

I have always been a mythology junkie. I’ve read up on the mythology from all over the world. Mythology speaks to the primal part of me, the stories still waiting to be told that live in my brain. I cut my literary teeth on the old Grimm fairy tales and all the books I could get my hands on about Greek, Roman, Scottish, Irish, and Native American mythology. Later I’d find Japanese, Chinese, and Mongolian myths.

Not all of my monsters are actually monsters – Leilani’s BFF is a very old vampire after all – but I do love a good monster. I like to find more obscure creatures or, on occasion, create my own entirely.

We all know vampires, werewolves, fairies, elves, and djinn but what about Kitsune or an aswang (and yes, that one is just super fun to say)? Old school sirens, harpies, and Russian style mermaids. There are so many neat mythological critters out there that sometimes I  wonder what it is about the vampires and werewolves that draw us all in so. Probably because, at least on the most basic level, nearly all cultures have something similar to a vampire or a werewolf.

Do you have a favorite underused monster? Something you’d like to see in a future story?

 

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Best Misheard Lyrics

At the bus stop this morning, one of my mom friends and I were talking and I’m not sure exactly the evolution of the conversation but we got on the subject of misheard lyrics that reminded me of my favorite misheard lyric ever.

To set the stage, we have never censored much music, we have had lots of discussions about when it’s appropriate and not appropriate to use certain words (in some case, that is never) but we do give a lot of leeway where music is concerned. Also, music is very nearly always on when we are in the car.

My oldest son was about three and we were driving around. It happened that we were listening to a little Cypress Hill. Suddenly, we realize that the boy is singing. I was a little concerned for about half a second. The words he was singing were not exactly the words of the song. I turned down the volume just a little bit so my husband could hear the rousing rendition of “Kids in the Barn.”

I’m pretty sure it was more than a few years before he realized he’d been singing it wrong. It’s one of those moments where I really wish we’d had a video camera. That would be one for the highlight reels.

What are your favorite misheard lyrics?

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Twenty Years and Counting

I don’t have an exact date for this particular anniversary but it’s sometime in the beginning of February. Around this time twenty years ago, I sent out my very first submission packet. I sent a jumbled mess that very clearly showed my age, I’m sure. This was in the days before I had a proper email address or consistent access to the Internet so the big envelope was mailed off with a little envelope inside it. It was about a month later when I received my very first rejection from a publisher (and rightly so! That poetry may have been good for my age but I cringe reading most of it now!). Two weeks later, I got my first acceptance (for two poems and a short story) so that softened the blow, even if it was a local zine that didn’t pay, everyone else in that publication was much more established than I and it was a balm to my ego.

From 1997 until 2004, I didn’t keep very good track of submissions at all. There were a handful of acceptances in that time, almost all poetry I believe, but mostly there were rejections. Rejection after rejection. On at least two occasions, I very nearly quit. Until I remembered that there isn’t much else I’m good at or passionate about. In late 2003, after accidently sending the same poem to the same market twice, I started my tracking spreadsheet so it never happened again.

From 2004 until now, I’ve had acceptances, rejections, withdrawals, and dead markets. I’ve had more failures than successes but those successes make it all worth it for me. So, in the last 13 years, I’ve sent out 769 submissions, not including query letters or work for the blogs I write for. Of those, 14 markets went dead while they had my submission, 12 got lost in the ether, 6 were withdrawn, 624 rejections, 76 acceptances, 1 rewrite request, and the rest are currently under consideration. The types of publications and publishers vary ridiculously widely. There are many “normal” magazines but there are ezines, experimental publications, gimmicky publications, and audio publications in there also. They run the spectrum of genres, I think I’ve done a little bit of everything actually.

The types of publications and publishers vary ridiculously widely. There are many “normal” magazines but there are ezines, experimental publications, gimmicky publications, and audio publications in there also. They run the spectrum of genres, I think I’ve done a little bit of everything actually and I don’t see myself narrowing that too much. Except with my novels – I will probably stick to genre work because I enjoy it more.

Let’s break down the acceptances. Some submission packets had more than one item in them, at least with the poetry, some things have been published more than once. I’ve had 25 short stories (plus at least 2 prior to 2004) and 1 short story collection (Hardwired Humanity). 8 essays, mostly about my mother. 51 poems (plus at least 6 from prior to 2004). And last, but certainly not least, the three novels: Guardian of the Gods, Hunter’s Crossing, and Eldercynne Rising.

Maybe it’s not where I had imagined I’d be in 20 years, but it’s not too shabby either and it’s not like I’m done yet.

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Perhaps Poetry

Alfred on Christmas Rug

Sleeping Dog at Christmas.

Hello to 2017! Given that this is my first post of the year (sorry about that!), I should probably get my first of the year stuffs out of the way…

I don’t really do resolutions so much. Goals, yes, but I find resolutions never really work out for me, at least not in the year that I make them.

Last year’s goals were pretty simple and the only one I managed to accomplish was to read 12 good books. I almost had a year without a panic attack. Almost. I had 3 little ones. However, I DID have an entire year without a super big, knock me down, push my head through the floor and pull my heart out of my throat panic attacks and that’s not nothing. I’m planning on doing better this year.

 

 

 

Writing Goals:

  1. Write Hunter’s Hell (Leilani and Blake #2)
  2. Find homes for Demonborne, The Soul Eater, and Purgatory’s Queen
  3. Rewrite The Long Way Home
  4.  Write 50 new poems
  5. Submit at least 5 things every month

Personal Goals:

  1. Lose 40 more pounds (I managed 50 last year. I can do another 40!)
  2. Have a year without any panic attack
  3. Keep up on housework better
  4. Learn a new skill.

I have been writing this year but so far, I’ve been writing nonfiction type stuff and poetry. I just find myself with snippets in my head that deserve paper and then these snippets decide they need to be real poems and not just pretty lines I keep in my journal to never see again. My fiction is there and I do need to get back to it but there’s something in the air for me so far this year that speaks in images and rhyming couplets and words that speak like they’ve always been meant to be in that order. This year is simple, purple, and in need of beauty. At least that’s how it feels for me.

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