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

https://www.patreon.com/MorganFerdinand

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.

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. 

 

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.

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.

 

 

Orlando

Today my twitter feed has been full of horrible news: the mass murder in Orlando; the guy packing weapons heading to Pride in Los Angeles; a bomb blast in Beirut; people accusing Muslims, Christians, terrorists, domestic terrorists, and mental illness for all of this.

I don't talk much about politics or religion.  I'm apolitical and an atheist. I am also Not Good at dealing with the real world and real-world tragedies.  Sometimes this probably comes across as shallow or self-involved.  I'm not. I'm absolutely not. I'm a distraction. I'm the comic relief.  I can only be the voice of silliness in the back of the room that is desperately hoping that someone will notice and remember that there are still good people in the world and we can't let hate win.

Don't let hate and sadness win.

So I googled "the funniest picture ever."

I hope this helps.

ternus.jpg

 

 

Things I Learned at Balticon

It's actually things I learned or had reinforced at Balticon, but that isn't as snappy a title.

  1. Joe Haldeman's wife is a very sweet lady and I get the honor of calling her "Aunt" now because the whole Haldeclan is a fantastic bunch and will do things like "adopt" friends of the family. I'd never met her before this weekend. I still haven't officially met Joe.
     
  2. Several different people on several different panels said it's really important to read bad books and watch bad movies. Sometimes several times. Watch them and try to find what didn't work. Why is this a bad movie or book? What could fix it? Was their potential in it?
     
  3. There are a lot of highly acclaimed books that are actually pretty crap, and that's OK too. 
     
  4. There is nothing wrong with writing in the second person. 
     
  5. At least one person should hate a choice you made in your writing style.  But if the majority hates it, it was probably a mistake.
     
  6. Never kill the "dog".
    1. If you're going to kill the dog, don't do it by surprise. Foreshadow it so when people go back and re-read they'll realized they should have known all along.
    2. And by "foreshadow" they mean shadow. Don't make it obvious. Make it so the reader goes "Ohhh... that's what <that thing> meant" or "Crap. All those times they made heart attack jokes...".
       
  7. You can always go back and add foreshadowing in a later draft.
     
  8. Reading, researching, listening to music or podcasts, and watching TV can count as "writing time" so don't let people make you feel bad about that.
     
  9. Social media also counts as "writing time" because you're making connections and interacting with your audience. 
     
  10. DO NOT TEAR DOWN OTHER WRITERS.  That can hurt you professionally in so many different ways.
     
  11. DO NOT ARGUE WITH YOUR CRITICS. That can hurt you professionally in so many different ways.
     
  12. Writers' groups are brilliant things.  Also, people who really want to write professionally will not steal your ideas so don't be afraid to share. See rule 10. 
     
  13. You should write every day if you can. If you're in the middle of a depressive episode or totally fried from your day job or due to family stress/commitments, read instead. Watch TV.  Listen to music. See rule 8 and 9. Also rule 12.
     
  14. If you have a full-time job, take a serious break between ending one job and starting the writing. Especially if you work from home and your work space is also your writing space. Go write somewhere else if you can. 
    1. Connie Willis writes at Starbucks.
    2. Panera is also a popular choice.
       
  15. Writing longhand can sometimes help your brain switch between full-time-job and writing. It's also good if your day job involves a lot of typing, or to prevent you from getting stuck in a revision loop and not moving forward.
     
  16. Read the submission guidelines. Every time. Even if you've submitted to the place before because things may have changed. Follow them. Gimmicks or rule-breaking will get their attention, but not in a good way. It can hurt you professionally in so many ways. 
     
  17. Someone out there in the world made an incredibly amazing Dalek costume.

You Know You Don't Update Enough When You Can't Remember Your Password

Over on my Patreon page I'm doing a series of posts for patrons-only. For as little as a dollar a month you can get 30 short stories or scenes. It was supposed to be one a day for 30 days, but this week the non-writing life got a little stressful and while sitting down to write would have been a great stress reliever, sleep was also a pretty tempting stress-reliever. Also on Wednesdays the channel ION has a Law & Order (mothership) Marathon.  I'm still going to do the 30-topic challenge, but it's obvious that it's not going to be a daily thing.

I do a lot of writing longhand when I have some downtime at work: waiting for SQL queries to execute, while processes are running, and during lunch. So when work is busy I don't always get those chances.  When it's busy at work I don't really have the attention span or the energy to spend more time at a computer typing things. 

This means I'm also way behind on my Cannonball Read reviews. I'm only seven books behind in my reviews because I'm not reading a lot either. So I'm actually fourteen books behind, because I have seven to review and I have seven to read to catch up with where I should be in order to read 52 books this year.

The year is just about half over. Time to finally start all those New Year's resolutions and keep moving forward.

Patreon Reminder

Don't forget. I have a Patreon page. Right now the Spouse is off work recovering from surgery to repair a broken collarbone. If he doesn't work, he doesn't get paid (he's part-time). So throwing a little extra income in this direction will really help. Even just a dollar or two a month!

I'm working on figuring out what to do for rewards for patrons. Normally, if you pledge $10 I'll write you a short story about almost anything you ask. They'll be made available to all the patrons. Right now, in an effort to get some more support going, if you pledge $3.00 or more I'll make you the same offer -- make the pledge and then tell me what you want me to write. It'll then be made available to all patrons.

My Patreon Page is here: https://www.patreon.com/MorganFerdinand

Patreon

I'm on Patreon now. 

I'm really hoping that knowing that people out there are interested in seeing what happens with Nick and Alex will get me back into the writing groove. I fell out of it last year and it got much worse through the last quarter of 2015 when the spouse fell ill. Focusing on work and worrying about him left me little time to think about writing. 

He's improving now and I have a little more time for myself and the urge to write is coming back. 

And let's not mince words -- money is a strong motivator. People can talk about writing for the sake of art or writing because their soul demands it, but being able to pay for meds and cat food, or being able to replace the broken coffee maker is also a great incentive. 

There are rewards for different donation levels, but every donation gets something.  You can donate a dollar a month and still get the short stories, character sketches, and other weird little things. 

If you can donate, thanks!  If you can't, I totally get it. I can't afford to back all the creators I want to, either.  But no matter what, please share this if you can.

We Have Mice

We have mice.

Not on purpose. I would love to have mice as pets, but I live in a house with a terrier and four cats.  The terrier and two of the cats are excellent mousers. We found this out at about the same time we found out we had mice. 

You know what's not cool? Nearly stepping on a dead mouse that's in your bedroom doorway.

You know what's even more not cool? Finding a mouse with its tiny feet chewed off. Or finding just the head of the mouse.

You know what is the most uncool thing in the history of uncool things?  Thinking your cat has a dead mouse in his mouth and finding out the hard way that the mouse is only playing dead and has just bitten you.

It was on that day that I learned that my tetanus shot was up-to-date, teeny little field mice generally don't carry rabies, and that telling a doctor and/or nurses you've been bit by a mouse will get you some really strange looks and a lot of questions like "how did you manage that?" and "in the city?!"

Fortunately that issue was resolved with antibiotics and a cat that eventually re-captured the mouse and ... well ... that might have been the severed head. I like to think that my cats have a sense of justice.

Several of the mice were caught humanely, in a no-kill trap, and released far, far away from our house. Near a Dumpster(tm) by a Dunkin' Donuts. (Feast well, little mousies!)  Some of the mice didn't fare so well (see decapitation, above). They were humanely thrown away. (I would bury them, but... Terrier.)

The number of mice we've seen/they've caught has dropped off dramatically, but not entirely. I blame the constant rain and the incredibly warm winter. The mice are probably reproducing like crazy, and getting flooded out of their mouse-y houses.

Honestly, having mice in the house doesn't really bother me that much. I would be more bothered if we had a problem with goats. Although that'd be a lot more fun to talk about. Probably easier to trap, too.