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,
O-ween.

(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.

 

 

 

Porchcat Dave

Porchcat Dave nearly moved in tonight. I was carrying my Kindle, picked up the packages at the front door and was holding Cardiff's leash. As I tried to get everything in the door, Dave just walked on in. Luke sniffed him but didn't react. Owen growled a little. Cardiff just looked resigned to having another cat who likes to headbutt and snuggle him. Charlotte glared from a distance.

I gently shooed Dave back out onto the porch. He gave me this sad, hurt look. I offered him the red plastic shelter. "The door is too small" he said. I brought it back inside and cut it larger. "It's still too small" he said, even though it wasn't. He went in, turned around, came back out again and looked at me again. "I thought this would be the night you let me live with you."

"Sorry sweetie. Not tonight."

"I'll just sit out here in my little red tub and eat my Woe Crunchies, then."

"You do you, sir." Meanwhile I really want to bring this guy in.

Anyone interested in him? He's really sweet, very soft, and is probably a father/uncle/cousin of Charlotte and Owen. He's been neutered and had at least the basic shots through a TNR program, but he's really not happy being a street cat.

A Serious Bullet Journal Attempt

Some friends were discussing bullet journals on Twitter. One friend admitted she's always afraid to write in a new journal because she doesn't want to mess it up.  I said that's why I decided to make Excel pages for mine.

I am not artistically inclined. I have terrible handwriting unless I really focus. I also get upset when something that is meant to look exactly like something else doesn't match.  Hand-creating pages for a bullet journal would stress me out, which is the exact opposite of what I want.

So I was searching for Bullet Journal page layouts and found "printables" for them. Basically templates that you can print out and paste into your journal.  Then I thought "Why not just use a binder and printed pages? Then I can add more as necessary and not have to sit around with gluesticks and scissors?  I'm getting pretty handy in Excel, and that has nice, neat grids, so why not try it?"

So here's what I have.

The pages are 8.5"x11" for a standard binder. They can easily be sized to A5 for a smaller binder like a Dayplanner or something similar.  

First I did my bill page.

This is actually A5 size. 

This is actually A5 size. 

You don't need to see exactly who I pay, but I wanted to show the basic setup -- the first cluster is for the things that absolutely have to be paid every month: utilities, mortgage, and such.  

The second cluster are things that have to get paid every month most of the time, but not necessarily EVERY month - credit cards, store cards, etc.

The third cluster is things that get paid every month but are optional and could be cancelled. 

The last two lines are things that don't get paid every month but are vital to remember to pay on time.

I don't care about tracking the exact day something got paid or how much I paid them. What I want is a quick, clear reminder of what I have and have not yet paid.

Next. Habits I need to keep or start.

Plenty of room for more habits if I get any good ones.

Plenty of room for more habits if I get any good ones.

Print it out, write the name of the month up there with "Daily Habits", black out the last few days of the month that don't apply for that particular month, and go on. Color in the date each time you accomplish something.  See how I even stuck "writing" in there in an attempt to make it a daily habit?  

I copied the layout and changed the habits to the medications I take.

And then there's the most important page.

This one is harder to get to A5 size.

This one is harder to get to A5 size.

Month and date can be written in next to "Daily Life". This way it's nice and generic and I can print out as many as I want and use them over and over again. (I may drop the 2017 from the title line because it seems kind of silly to me now).  I can record the weather, what time I went to bed the night before, what time I got up, how I'm feeling on a scale of 1 - 10.  

I have nightmares (which don't bother me) and anxiety dreams (which do) so I thought I'd track those, in addition to whether I have dreams in general. 

Blood sugar and carb tracking because Go Team Diabetes. I figured I'd also track water just because I really should drink more of it. I kept the scale 1 - 10 just so it was even with the rest (did I mention I don't like it when things don't match?). This exact page is also duplicated directly below it so I can print it out double-sided. Save some paper and some room.

So that's it. Easy, clean, flexible, adaptable... the beauty of using a binder is knowing I can add sections and pages as needed.

Now I just have to use it....

Prepping for the New Year

2016 has been a bit of a clusterfluff hasn't it. 

So far this year the partner-in-crime has had several serious bouts of illness. My car has been in the shop a few times. One of our cats has had some health issues. Everything is disorganized.

Now that it's December I'm starting to get things organized for 2017.  Let's do better next year, right?  I did start seeing a therapist this year about my out-of-control stress levels and it's starting to help. Getting things organized may also help. Should help. In theory.

I'm going to make another attempt at Bullet Journaling. It really helped me at work and maybe it'll be good for me at home to keep things from getting out of control.

As far as other kinds of journaling...

My reading journal is on Goodreads. (Dear CannonBallRead6 - I have been reading! Just not reviewing! (that totally doesn't count, I know.))

My movie watching journal is on Letterboxd (and I saw almost no movies this year. igh.)

I'm going to try to be better about updating this "blog". More stories about my critters. Things that might invite feedback (because hi? I hope you're out there reading this and you're someone other than my mom?) and a little interaction with people.

 

 

NaNoWriMo Day 25

This year started strong.  I did a pretty good job of staying close to my daily wordcount and I had a good run of days in a row where I wrote. I finished the first chapter. I liked what was going on. I wasn't sure where it was going to continue to go, but it was going at least.

And then the internet went out in the house for a week. That was irritating.

And the election happened. That was heartbreaking and scary.

And then work got unexpectedly busy. That was kind of okay but tiring.

And then my significant other got incredibly sick.

We spent the night before Thanksgiving in the ER. He was admitted. Until today he was in the ICU. He's getting better now but I've been stressed and worried and trying to take care of the stuff that he usually does, the stuff I usually do, and trying not to fall apart completely because we are talking scary, incredibly sick. The good news is he's moving to a regular room today and hopefully he'll be home by Monday.

So as far as NaNoWriMo goes, what I'll probably do is edit what I've written, call it a short story, and release it on Patreon.  If you're not already a patron, now would be a good time. You're guaranteed a short story of about 3000 words that no one else will have read or will ever read.

I'm really hoping that starting in December I can get back on track. Maybe it's time to try something new with the writing - put the Pardoner stories back in the trunk for a while.

NaNoWriMo Day 5

Word Count: 616

Soundtrack: VNV Nation again.

Research: Waterfront Promenade

No writing happened yesterday. On Thursday my home internet was starting to crawl so I used my phone's data to connect.  I didn't want to do that yesterday as well, so I spent the entire night trying to troubleshoot the connection. Nothing worked. I spent about 90 minutes on the phone with my provider today and they finally determined that it may be the line coming into the house.  They'll have someone out here on Monday.

So tonight I'm back to using my phone data. I didn't want to lose another day, especially considering I may not be able to write tomorrow. I'm going to Pennsylvania with some friends to see a band.  If I don't write in the morning before we leave, I'll be even further behind.

Today's effort wasn't the best, but it was something at least. And now I'm done while I still have some data left.

So Many Cats

There are a lot of feral cats and indoor/outdoor cats in my neighborhood. There are several people on my block alone who will feed them, and one neighbor who seems to routinely take them in to be neutered/spayed and vaccinated. Or at least there was, because there are a few unaltered males in the neighborhood now.

All four of my cats were rescues.  Three of them came from this neighborhood.  The two youngest cats are siblings that were born in the window well of my basement window. They're called Charlotte and Owen.

Back when Charlotte and Owen were baby kittens there were three adult cats in the neighborhood that were clearly related to them. Their mother (obviously related, and called "Mommacat" back then and mostly "Emma" now) and what I assume were her two siblings: her brother Porsche (they are nearly identical except for size), and a third cat that looked identical to Porsche, only with a moustache (Dave - because back then they were "Vera, Chuck, and Dave").

Dave disappeared for the longest time. I assumed Dave was the least feral of them and had gotten adopted off the streets. Dave showed up for dinner tonight - looking great. Fat, shiny, ear-tipped. So maybe Dave has found a home and just came around to visit the family

(note: Dave may be a girl. I haven't been able to get close enough to check. For the longest time I thought Porsche was (and he was Portia) because he had been neutered and I never got a good look at his back end until very recently).

Other frequent visitors include Charles (presumed to be the father of Charlotte) and Owenfather, who is obviously the father of my Owen.  There's also an orange cat that shows up every three or four days that I have creatively named "Orange" (Ori for short).

I really think I want to try to catch Orange and take him to BARCS (the local shelter). He's so affectionate and sweet, but clearly bothered by some kind of eye infection/irritation/cold (there is always much scrubbing after petting him to keep my cats safe) and recently a limp. He's just too much of a love to keep living out there. I can't afford to get him patched up and neutered, and he would not do well with my cats.

Anyone want a slightly raggedy Orange cat?