Other Patreons to Consider

Supporting me and want to support my friends? Not supporting me but looking for other people who'd be worthy of your money?  Here's three Patreons I support not just because they're my friends, but because they're out here doing amazing work and are WAY more prolific than I am so you'll really get your money's worth.  This list is alphabetical, not ranked.

Billy Martin. Billy used to write fiction under the name Poppy Z Brite but now he's currently working on a non-fiction study of religion and spirituality in the works of Stephen King. Deep stuff.

Kill by Kill just started their Patreon and it's worth subscribing to it and to their podcast. The podcast is pretty specific -- discussing the characters and deaths of every Friday the 13th movie (with some bonus episodes for things like Student Bodies and Commando) and doing so with great one-liners and some really questionable phrases. Hashtag - getbunked

Lorena Haldeman is writing science fiction/space opera stuff as only the daughter/niece of science fiction writers can. That is to say, with excellence. There's also posts about her cats and her OTHER work -- knitting and ceramics. She makes me feel like a total slacker.

Please check them out. I think you'll like them.

Freebie Fiction


There’s a post over on my Patreon that’s available to everyone, patron or not. It’s a short story I wrote back in 2009 or so. It’s one of my mom’s favorites. Check it out! Become a patron if you like, because I’ll be posting fiction there.

You can also just bookmark it to read it because I’ll be updating that more often than this poor, neglected blog.

If anyone knows how I can import my Patreon feed into a Squarespace website, let me know. I’d love to keep everything in one place.

Christopher Robin: A Review (Contains Spoilers)

Ian and I saw Christopher Robin on Sunday August 5th. It took me a while to put this together because I had to process it.

One review I read said "We just had 'Goodbye Christopher Robin' last year. Did we really need another movie about him?"  This isn't about Christopher Milne. This is about Christopher Robin, the boy in the stories. It's not meant to be even a little bit biographical.

It's gorgeous. The locations are just fantastic. The toys are beautiful and worn and show signs of being well-loved.  They're not the bright and flashy cartoons. They're real.

Ian and I both cried at parts, and I'm pretty sure we were both tearing up at the very start, where Christopher is saying goodbye to everyone because he's going to be sent to boarding school, and there's no time for toys and exploring there.  Neither Ian or I are fans of the trope of having to leave the magic place. 

It's honestly a great movie, but not a particularly unique one. But that's because it's a movie for kids. It follows the formula of a lot of kid movies.  Dad works too much. Child misses him. Child ends up in peril. Dad realizes how important family is.

With a little bit of a twist.  The daughter is never actually in peril. She's six. She's competent, intelligent, practical, and is never captured, kidnapped, threatened, or terrorized. She makes her own choices and takes care of things on her own. Still, Christopher learns his lesson - family is important. And he saves his job and earns a vacation.

Pooh is voiced by Jim Cummings so he's the voice most of us associate with Pooh. Peter Capaldi was Rabbit and played him as simultaneously prissy and gruff, which is perfect. Owl, Kanga, and Roo don't get a lot of lines.  Rabbit doesn't get a lot either, but at least he had a distinct personality.

I don't mind Brad Garrett as Eeyore, but I still think Eeyore isn't actually that gloomy. I think he's sulky and stubborn but ultimately a realist. I would love to hear him voiced by Christopher Eccleston or Karl Pilkington.  Eeyore should be a Manc.

The CGI is amazing. Partly because there didn't need to be any large effects. I really think it works best when it's used for fine detail rather than huge robots or explosions.  There are times in the movie where Pooh looks at Christopher and manages to convey utter trust with a stitched nose and button eyes. Piglet has eyebrows that show how worried he is. It's fantastic.

Eeyore is (always was and always will be) my favorite though.  He gets some of the best lines. Tigger is about to go into his song (The wonderful thing about Tiggers) and you hear a quiet, off-screen "Oh no. Not the song" (or words to that effect).  When he's done, Eeyore apologizes and says "He does that a lot." He sounds mildly embarrassed and mildly done with the whole thing. Christopher introduces Eeyore to his wife with "This is Evelyn, my wife" so for the rest of the time Eeyore calls her "Evelyn My Wife". It's adorable.

It's rated PG, and I think that's smart. There's one scene where Christopher yells at Pooh and it's pretty intense. It's followed by Christopher falling into a Heffalump trap that fills with rainwater and it's seriously a little worrying (and at the same time, if you're familiar with Ewan McGregor's body of work, a little bit funny). So it might be too much for kids under 8. Especially more sensitive kids.

Summary: I loved it. I'm going to buy this on DVD. I'm also keeping an eye out for any toys that look like the ones in this film. (The Disney website has an Eeyore, but it's sold out until October)

My Best Human Friend is Sick

So a month ago I posted about me getting the flu/strep combo and then the partner-in-crime getting sick.  It turns out to be much worse than just the flu.

My best (human) friend in the world is incredibly sick now.  In about two weeks I will go with him to talk to doctors about getting him on the transplant list for a new liver.  I don't even really want to think about the whole transplant process. The fact that a match might take forever. That he could possibly be turned down for a transplant (unlikely, but the fact that the possibility exists is terrible). 

Right now he's still in the hospital getting his chemistry sorted out and getting physical therapy because as if liver failure wasn't enough, he also managed to wreck his back to the point where he's hunched over like Golem and walking is hard (this may also be due in part to his liver not working correctly, so toxins are building up and affecting his muscles, but he also has a history of back problems that go all the way back to the late 1980s/early 1990s when he was a jock type).

Long story short... even with insurance, this is expensive. He's hit his deductible, but a lot of things still get charged at 15%.  The specialist visits and lab work for the transplant will cost something

So if you still haven't read The Pardoner's Tale, now's a good time. If you buy it in paperback, get it for Kindle, or even read it for free through Kindle Unlimited I will get paid.

If you have read it and want to kick a few bucks my way just out of kindness, I have a Ko-Fi account.

I have really got to start writing again.

I Feel Like I'm Cheating

I'm doing pretty good on the POPSUGAR Reading Challenge so far. Mostly because I've double-categorized two of the books I've read, and that feels like cheating.  It also feels like cheating that for at least one category I'm going to re-read a book.  

I've also only written one review for Cannonball Read and I feel like I'm falling behind, even though I only signed up for a quarter Cannonball (13 reviews) and it's only the 25th of January. I think it's because this month has felt about three years long.

I spent five days dealing with a combination of strep throat and the flu. Considering I slept through three of those days you'd think I'd think less time had passed, not more.  Just as I was getting over the worst of "The Sickness" the significant other landed in the hospital because he was sick before me and didn't bother going to the doctor and didn't get antibiotics and was too sick to eat and got dehydrated and the moral of this story is don't be stupid. If you feel like crap, go to the doctor. The flu is really bad this year and it's not going to be something you can just wait out.

Also, get the flu shot. Even if you still get the flu (because it's a different strain or a mutation of the one you were vaxed against or whatever) it will be substantially less awful. This is straight from an EMT who's been spending her time taxiing people to the ER because their flu got that severe. 

Both our cars are having trouble, too. His keeps going dead and I'm driving around with a portable jumpstart box in the passenger seat. I'm driving his car because I have a flat tire. In a tire that I just bought a month ago. (I can get it fixed and they'd better fix it free, but between being sick and then the Pain-in-the-aaaaiiii mean... What's-his-face getting sick, who has the time?)

So I'm all "How is it only January 25" because I feel like I've had about 600 days already (One of our cats got out. Have I mentioned that? Luke, the grey cat that actually belongs to the dog, escaped the house in the middle of the night one night and threw everyone and everything into a panic. He came home the next day, in the middle of the night, suitably ashamed and terrified. He won't even go out into the back yard with supervision) and I've read three books and half of another (and then started another book)  and I feel like I'm not getting enough stuff done.

Maybe I just need to be reading more to take a break from the chaos that is my reality. 

Whatever. I'm gonna reread The Hot Rock and put that bad boy in two categories of the POPSUGAR challenge and no one can stop me.

The End of 2017

Around about August my left hand started to feel weird. This is something that happened before so I knew what it was -- the ulnar nerve was pinched. Four years ago I had surgery to fix it, but it came back.  This is not unheard of, but it's rare.  The surgeon said I was one of three people he had to repeat the surgery on.  Yay, for being a statistical outlier?

Anyhow, through September and October it was awful and awkward and I had no feeling in my left pinkie or ring finger. It felt like they were wrapped up in tape.  I could move them, but it didn't feel like anything. I could see my fingers curl but it didn't feel like that.  And by October the pinkie was so sensitive to temperature that five minutes outside in 40 degree (Fahrenheit) weather made it feel like I'd stuck my hand in freezing water.  I started wearing one glove at that point.

The surgery to fix it was in November. I ended up not being able to type for about three weeks -- except on my phone, since that was all thumb-based. I was off work for four weeks because even by the end of the third week I could type, but more than an hour of it would make my hand ache. It's now five weeks post-surgery and the tip of my ring finger is numb and my pinkie alternates between dull ache and pins-and-needles. But that means the nerves are waking up again, so I can tolerate the pain.  I'm still wearing one glove when I go outside. It's not quite cold enough for two, but that pinkie is still sensitive.

If you see someone in Baltimore wearing one glove, who had blue hair and is also covered in cat fur, that's probably me.

I skipped NaNoWriMo this year because I knew I'd be down for about half of it. I did do some writing (by hand! So retro!) but I can't read my own handwriting and it's all scribbled over with arrows and things everywhere so I really need to get back to typing-to-write. 

I also fell down on all my reading challenges for the year. I did manage to surpass my 26 books on Goodreads, but only managed one review for Cannonball Read 9. I am terrible at writing reviews.  Maybe for CBR10 I'll do a quarter cannonball and hopefully motivate myself enough to go beyond that.  I'm probably not going to pick up as many reading challenges as I did this year though. 

I really want to start writing again - for real and not just casually saying "Oh, I feel like writing". I like the part where people give me money for my books. 


Fan Mail!

Name: Paul Lastnamewithheld

Subject: Pardoner's Tale Sequel?

Message: Hello,

I love The Pardoner's Tale. It's on my short list of favorite books because of Nichola's honest and humorous voice. I also really like that the story is first foremost an urban fantasy story with the romance on the sidelines. Too much of contemporary gay fiction is centered on the sex and romance, so Nicholas's relatively virginal bachelorhood was a refreshing change of pace.

This brings me to my question: is there going to a be a sequel? I can't wait to read what Nicholas will be up to next.

Thank you Paul!  Thank you so much for the kind email and the nice words. 

The big answer: YES. Yes there will be a sequel.  I had actually written a draft that was done a little over a year ago, and was giving me fits during the editing process. Between a full-time job and general life nonsense I kept putting it off.  By the time I'd gotten through the first round of revisions I realized I had a lot of plot holes that needed to be fixed before I could even think about sending it to my "beta reader/editor" for outside opinions. 

And then... while I was working on patching the holes, I read a short story that covered a lot of the same ground mine was going to and I decided I needed to step way back and start over. (The story is called No God is Safe and I recommend it!)

So yes, there will be more of Nick and Alex. I've got a bunch of short stories that I'm either going to flesh out into a full book or add to the pile and release a short story collection.  Honestly, that second one is looking more like the thing that's going to happen.  I'm actually happier writing shorter stories. 

And Paul, your email came at the perfect time. It really mean a lot to me when people take the time to send me a note or a comment or a retweet or a review. Thank you for taking the time to read and to respond!

A Canadian Werewolf in New York

Cannonball Read 9 - review 1

A Canadian mystery writer lives in New York city and gets involved in some supernatural/criminal hijinx. Also, he’s a werewolf (which is kind of obvious right from the cover, so, like, not a spoiler).

This book started life as a stand-alone short story called “This Time Around”. I read that and totally loved it. The author has a nice touch and a good sense of humor so I was interested to see how the whole story played out.  The short story serves as the start of the book, rolling into the continued action.

Michael Andrews (the werewolf) wakes up naked in a park with a bullet in his leg. Apparently something unusual happened during his wolf out the night before. A few little misadventures and he gets home, to find his old girlfriend waiting for him. She needs him to snoop around and find out what her fiance is up to. He agrees to do it, despite the fact that he has a deadline from his agent and an appointment to be on Letterman that night.

You’re going to need a little suspension of belief to get through it. Not because of the werewolf thing but because of all the events Andrews has to go through in the space of a few hours.  There is a LOT of action crammed in there and a few times when it’s a miracle he manages to disappear from places before the cops show up.

There’s a few things that bugged me.  I’m not sure why it had to be Letterman specifically he was appearing on. Not only does that date the story, but the scenes that take place during the taping don’t really match with how Letterman runs.  A generic late-night talk show might have been a better idea. I suspect the only reason it was Letterman was for the whole “all Canadians know each other” joke with Paul Shaffer. And maybe Mark Leslie is just a huge Letterman fan.

The other thing that bothered me was a pretty huge typo that made me laugh.  At one point there’s a newspaper headline about a “vicious wolf attack” only… it says “viscous” instead. Wince.

Also, for me, it was a little hard not to picture Nathan Fillion as Michael Andrews.

This isn’t a stellar book, but it’s short and fun and sometimes funny, and I would happily read anything else Mark Leslie decided to write in this series.

I've linked both the book and the original short story below.

A Love Song for a Cat

(to the tune of Jolene)
O-ween, O-ween, O-ween, O-WEEN
I'm begging of you please don't take my ham.
O-ween, O-ween, O-ween, O-WEEN
Please don't take it just because you can.

Your beauty is beyond compare
With shedding strands of raven hair,
Your ivory chin, and eyes of yellow-green
Your breath is just like cat food, man,
Your voice is like a rattling can,
And I just can't come eat with you,

(Owen is fine. I just got this stuck in my head because we were calling him "O-ween")

How is it May Already?

The last time I wrote anything it was March and it was snowing. The snow amounted to nothing. Early April was still cold. On April second I had to turn the heat on. By April 29th I had to turn the air conditioning.  Now it's May first and the weather is back to being a little more springlike. It was a little humid this morning, but not in a bad way. It made the neighborhood smell like damp wood and dirt and leaves and it made me think of camping.

I haven't been camping in about 18 years. Certainly not in the last 15 years, because I have been living with Ian (the partner-in-crime, the other guy, "him indoors", etc.) fifteen years as of April 20th or 21st or so.  FIFTEEN YEARS. Anyhow, he doesn't camp. He would probably go "Glamping". At 46 glamping might be a better idea for me. I might be too old and soft for sleeping on the ground. Also it'd  be easier to keep the dog from wandering off. But there's a part of me that doesn't recognize that as actually camping.

I'm still doing all my Reading Challenges. I haven't written a single Cannonball Read review yet, but it's still early.

I don't know if I'm going to any cons this year. Financially it's not a good idea.  Ian still has medical bills outstanding, and potentially more medical bills coming. I had so much fun at Balticon last year and learned a lot -- but there were also a lot more authors I really like. I keep trying to talk myself into joining the Baltimore Science Fiction Society because they aren't that far from my house, but ahhhh - social anxiety.

American Gods started on STARZ last night. If you haven't read the book, you really should. The show won't match it exactly, but the book is something you shouldn't miss.

It's Finally Snowing

We're a week away from the Spring Equinox and it is snowing. I've just spent the last three hours making sure my computer is set up to log in to my work computer in case I can't get in.  I don't get snow days. It's the curse of being able to work from home. 

My coworkers work from home most of the time. I'm the odd one. I prefer going into the office. There's free coffee and I have two monitors which makes it a lot easier for me to work on documentation. Source on one screen and my version on the other. At home I have to switch between tabs a lot and that slows down how much I get done. There are also no cats at work. You would think this was a drawback, but when you're writing technical documentation and suddenly "kkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkaaaaaaaa88888888888" appears in the middle of it, it's annoying. It's worse when you're messaging with your boss or in a chat meeting and suddenly "kkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkaaaaaaaa88888888888" shows up. So unprofessional.

Another problem with working from home is that my "office" is connected to my "bedroom" so there's the constant draw of the bed. "Come naaaaaap. Come naaaaaaaap. It's so warm and cozy in here....!" I am not one to ever pass up a chance to nap.

Snow in March isn't unusual for Maryland. People forget that every year.  Saint Patrick's Day two (or maybe three) years ago there was enough snow that I had to work from home that day, too.  We've "prepared" for this snow. And by that I mean I made sure I can work from home, the outside cat shelters were higher up in case there's accumulation on the porch, and that we have plenty of pet food. The Guy is Canadian and claims that snow isn't a problem, so if we "humans" need anything I can make him hike to the nearest convenience store.

We do have six pounds of coffee in the fridge, and another three unopened in the cabinet, so I think we'll be able to get through this.

Some Wise Advice from Facebook

This has been going around on Facebook. I'm not the original author of this list.

Some Wise Advice Circulating:

  • Don't use his name;
  • Remember this is a regime and he's not acting alone;
  • Do not argue with those who support him--it doesn't work;
  • Focus on his policies, not his orangeness and mental state;
  • Keep your message positive; they want the country to be angry and fearful because this is the soil from which their darkest policies will grow;
  • Be careful with helpless/hopeless talk*;
  • Support artists and the arts;
  • Be careful not to spread fake news. Check it;
  • Take care of yourselves; and
  • Resist!
  • Keep demonstrations peaceful. In the words of John Lennon,
"When it gets down to having to use violence, then you are playing the system’s game. The establishment will irritate you - pull your beard, flick your face - to make you fight! Because once they’ve got you violent, then they know how to handle you. The only thing they don’t know how to handle is non-violence and humor."
  • When you post or talk about him, don't assign his actions to him, assign them to "The Republican Administration," or "The Republicans." This will have several effects:
    • The Republican legislators will either have to take responsibility for their association with him
    • or stand up for what some of them don't like.
    • He will not get the focus of attention he craves. 
    • Republican representatives will become very concerned about their re-elections.
*I changed this from "no more helpless/hopeless talk" because that's not possible. We're going to get tired. Let people know when you feel helpless or hopeless and let them help you. Take care of yourself. Take care of your fellow rebels. 

Hufflepuff is Angry

Here's the thing. I don't like taking sides. I stay apolitical. Trump made me take sides. I am angry about it.

I don't want ANYONE to feel unsafe or threatened.

  • I don't want people to worry when they get pulled over by a cop.
  • I don't want people to worry when they go to work because they ARE a cop.
  • I don't want people harassed because of the color of their skin,
  • or their gender,
  • or their gender presentation.
  • I don't want people harassed because of who they love,
  • who they marry,
  • what they wear,
  • how they do or do not worship,
  • where they work,
  • when they work,
  • why they can't work,
  • what medications they take for whatever reasons,
  • and for the millions of things that make us all individuals.

We're not all out of the same mold and that's a good thing. I'm angry that people want to take that away from us. I hate the "us against them" idea. I hate that it's come to that for me. I am against. The badger is awake. Hufflepuff is angry.

The Week Between Holidays

I don't really like making New Year Resolutions because it just sets meup to fail. One year I decided to make a list of things I would never do so I could claim to have accomplished something.  Still haven't joined a gang! Still haven't started smoking! Still haven't killed anyone!

That said, there are some things I'd like to do more of.

I'd also like to knit more. I'd like to actually finish things that I start I guess, rather than knit more.

We saw Rogue One: A Star Wars Story on the 25th.  It was not as amazing as The Force Awakens, but Rogue One is absolutely better than all three previously released prequels. I'd really like to say a lot more about it, but I don't want to spoil it for anyone who still wants to see it. If you've already seen it you should listen to the We Hate Movies podcast OnScreen for it.

2017 Reading Challenge

I don't know if I'm going to attempt to do a full Cannonball in 2017. I'm terrible at writing reviews. I may go for a quarter Cannonball. If I go further than that, it's only a bonus.  But I am kind of interested in PopSugar's 2017 Reading Challenge list:

  1. A book recommended by a librarian
  2. A book that’s been on your TBR list for way too long
  3. A book of letters
  4. An audiobook
  5. A book by a person of color
  6. A book with one of the four seasons in the title
  7. A book that is a story within a story
  8. A book with multiple authors
  9. An espionage thriller
  10. A book with a cat on the cover
  11. A book by an author who uses a pseudonym
  12. A bestseller from a genre you don’t normally read
  13. A book by or about someone who has a disability
  14. A book involving travel
  15. A book with a subtitle
  16. A book that’s published in 2017
  17. A book involving a mythical creature
  18. A book you’re read before that never fails to make you smile
  19. A book about food
  20. A book with career advice
  21. A book from a nonhuman perspective
  22. A steampunk novel
  23. A book with a red spine
  24. A book set in the wilderness
  25. A book you loved as a child
  26. A book by an author from a country you’ve never visited
  27. A book with a title that’s a character’s name
  28. A novel set during wartime
  29. A book with an unreliable narrator
  30. A book with pictures
  31. A book where the main character is a different ethnicity than you
  32. A book about an interesting woman
  33. A book set in two different time periods
  34. A book with a month or day of the week in the title
  35. A book set in a hotel
  36. A book written by someone you admire
  37. A book that’s becoming a movie in 2017
  38. A book set around a holiday other than Christmas
  39. A first book in a series you haven’t read before
  40. A book you bought on a trip
  41. A book recommended by an author you love
  42. A bestseller from 2016
  43. A book with a family-member term in the title
  44. A book that takes place over a character’s life span
  45. A book about an immigrant or refugee
  46. A book from a genre/subgenre that you’ve never heard of
  47. A book with an eccentric character
  48. A book that’s more than 800 pages
  49. A book you got from a used book sale
  50. A book that’s been mentioned in another book
  51. A book about a difficult topic
  52. A book based on mythology

So I'm taking suggestions and recommendations! A few of my own:

4. Any of the Neil Gaiman audiobooks. "Anansi Boys" is read by Lenny Henry and is amazing. The ones read by Neil Gaiman are magical.

48. "Winter" by Marissa Meyer (Although it's the 4th book in the Lunar Chronicles so you might wan to read them all. If you haven't read any of them...)

39. "Cinder" by Marissa Meyer - first book in the Lunar Chronicles.

41. Any of these books count because you love me.