Can You Vague That Up For Me?

Welcome to the corner of Quirky and Kinky where you'll fall in love every time you open a book.

Archive for the category “Uncategorized”

A Genie Grants Me Three Wishes for My Writing Career–What Are They?

aladdin-genie-robin-williams-1108x0-c-default

Okay, so…three writing career wishes…what would I wish for…

  1. To make enough off my writing to support myself and my family–some bestsellers would be great.
  2. To have time to write all of the stories I want to tell and to tell them to the very best of my ability.
  3. To have multiple annual writing retreats all over the world so I could hang with all of my friends and continue to grow as an author.

What three wishes would you want a genie to grant you?

And be sure to check out Jess and Gwen‘s wish list, too!

I’m Thankful For…

I'm Thankful for...

I’m thankful for a lot of things, so let’s get to it.

I’m thankful I don’t have to cook Thanksgiving dinner (other than fancy green bean casserole). Because I really hate to cook (but green bean casserole is easy). And tasty. But I do get to eat Thanksgiving dinner. Which is great because I like to eat.

I’m thankful for my amazing family–both immediate and extended. These are the most amazing, hilarious, loving and supportive people on the planet.  And despite our wild differences, we’re incredibly close and I love them so much.

I’m thankful for my friends–my family of the heart. I’m so lucky to have these amazing people in my life. Without their love, encouragement, creativity, silliness, support, acceptance, understanding, honesty, strength, and therapy I wouldn’t be the mostly functioning person I’m attempting to be.

I’m especially thankful for my husband and kids. They’re the pieces of my heart that live outside my body. Sometimes, they’re lucky to continue living… *strangle strangle strangle* but I wouldn’t trade any of them – even when they drive me nuts.

I’m also thankful to have cats. They’re warm and cuddly little assholes. But I love them. And they make me laugh. Even if they do run away with my knitting needles.

And finally, I’m thankful to and for every person who reads this blog whether it’s the super rando flash fic, the stock photo rants, or the personal milestones and fuckery of life–whatever you’re here for, I’m thankful for you. And I’m thankful to all of you who read my books, too. I appreciate that more than I can adequately express. It’s a gift to be able to do what I love best, and I’m so incredibly grateful.

I’m sending you all love and hugs and wishes for contentment and happiness. Be sure to check out Jess and Gwen’s blogs and see what they’re thankful for.

WTF Stock Art Sites?!: An Open Letter to Stock Art Sites (and Photographers Who Sell Their Work There)

Dear Stock Art Sites and Photographers who Sell Their Work There,

What are you even thinking?

No, really. I mean that in all seriousness.

What the actual merciless fuck is the matter with you?

Have you seen some of the weird shit that ends up on royalty-free photo sites?

Look, I get it. Not everyone who uses your site is trying to find appropriate looking models or images for cover art and promo for books. I realize that a lot of pop psychology articles and/or think pieces feature a good many of your photos. As do myriad advice columns, and blog posts (including yours truly) but dudes, I’m mostly there for photos that my brilliant cover artist can turn into cover art for my books. Honestly, a lot of people are there for that reason. So, we need to talk. There are some things you guys need to cut the fuck back on.

Unless you’re new here, you won’t be surprised to learn that I have a list of things that annoy me we’d all like to see a lot less of. So, let’s begin, shall we?

Why are there so many photos of people taking selfies and/or using phones in inexplicably weird ways? Yes, I’m aware that many think pieces have been written about people’s selfie fixation. Then, there are the memes and bitchy, self-righteous facebook posts. The people making memes are usually using actual selfies, not stock art. And while I have no problem with people taking selfies, (Do it up! I wish I had that skill.) as far as the stock art goes, literally no one needs hundreds of pages of photos of people taking selfies. No. One.

Cheerful bearded young man showing thumbs up and taking selfie

So, this douche…

While we’re on the topic of phones, I feel like I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the plethora of photos of people talking on their cell phone at weird and unlikely times.

Smiling woman talking on mobile phone in yoga studio

Yoga: You’re doing it wrong. 

If you really want to show people using their cellphones in their natural habitat, there would be page after page of people sitting on the toilet chatting or playing Words with Friends while waiting in a school parking lot for their kids.

While we’re on the topic of people doing inexplicably weird things whilst on the phone, we need to talk about the preponderance of Santa hat photos. No really. There are so many. Like…a terrifying amount. I mean, I like the holidays as much as the next person, but the sheer volume of models in Santa hats makes literally no sense. You guys, there are thousands.

Friends in santa's hats with phones

Are you showing him his gift? Do you have porn on your phone? Is porn his gift? What is even happening here? I NEED ANSWERS! 

sexy man Santa Claus

Dude. This NOT what your mother meant when she said “Put a hat on.”

Another common stock art standard is the thumbs up pose. I picked this one because Santa hat. (See? They’re everywhere.) Maybe it’s just me, but I tend to use the thumbs up pose sarcastically. Like when my husband asks me how the story’s coming.

But all the people on the stock art sites seems so damn earnest in their thumbs up giving. Why? Why are you people so earnest about it? Is the photographer blackmailing you? Is that what’s going on here? Are you signaling for help? (Oh, and the selfie douche? Scroll back up – he’s also giving the thumbs up. What the hell, man?)

Cheerful young woman in santa claus hat showing thumbs up

Awkward. 

In keeping with the technology theme, I’d like to address headphones. You find a model that you’d really like on a book cover (not this guy) and bam! giant headphones  lousing up your cover art vibe.

Man in living room watching television and wearing headphones

Everything in my house is white because I make poor life choices. 

Look, I like being outside. I even like working outside. However, you can’t sit in direct sunlight and expect to be able to see anything on your screen. Also, what the fuck is with this guy. Have you even computered before, dude?

Man working with notebook in the park.

Now, how do I get to the Facebook, again?

There are also an alarming amount of pictures of women posing “seductively” with their blowdryers. I am…not sure what’s happening here. Or why. But I do know that I’m profoundly uncomfortable.

Pretty woman blowing on hairdryer

Anthropomorphizing has gone too far.

Also, please stop with the stupid hats that ruin otherwise cute-ish photos that could work for cover and promo art. Just lose the damn hats. They’re ruining everything.

 

See? This kid knows the pain of a bad hat.

Happy Girl Having Great Fun And Wearing A Multicolored Hat

I feel you, kid. I feel you. 

We need to talk about all the hearts. They’re everywhere on stock art sites. Paper hearts. Puffy hearts. Dough hearts. Rock hearts. Balloon hearts. They’re like a flea infestation in a dairy barn. Weirdly, the majority of the hearts are hiding people’s faces. What does that mean? And why are so many people hiding behind hearts? I need someone to explain the psychology of this to me.

 

Please just stop already with the hearts.

Apropos of nothing, what is with nearly every couple having a Jack and Rose pose on stock art sites?! That shit needs to stop.

young couple  on beach have fun

There’s only room for one of you on that hunk of wood. 

While we’re talking “romantic” images, what the hell is it with one partner looking really into it, but the other one looks…

Sexy passionate couple

…regretful of her life choices and possibly nauseated.

 

Depositphotos_75376493_original

…like he thinks he’s entirely too cool for this trendy European street scene.

Beautiful sexy couple portrait. Model man with girlfriend posing

…about to fly into a murderous rage, but not before ascending to the throne in Hell.

attraction

…bored, now.

Speaking of couples, are these two about to get it on in their kid’s preschool classroom?! What the actual merciless fuck are we supposed to get from this photo besides a deep sense of discomfort and shame?

Flirtatious couple enjoying breakfast

Look, I don’t want to kink shame, but…

Speaking of kink…

I guess…

I would very much like someone to explain the absolutely baffling fuckery of this photograph.

Tiny apartment sized ironing board? Check.

Itty bitty travel iron? Check.

Portrait of judgmental cat? Check.

Late 80s bridal lingerie? Check.

Dude with sardonically arched eyebrow and buttchin? Check and check.

WHAT IS HAPPENING HERE????

Young attractive couple and british cat in a dark room

Ironing out the kinks in their relationship…?

Then…there’s this. I have zero words for this super low-budget ren faire photo, and that’s coming from someone who actually enjoys ren faires.

Folk musicians and woman dancer.

The Minstrels of Misrule, slaying their cover of “Mr. Brownstone” while Lady Eowyn performs her interpretive dance piece. 

I could go on for pages about stock art.

And probably days.

No, I could definitely go on for days. There are just so many inexplicable photos there. Which stock art photos baffle you the most?

Wordless Wednesday – Autumn Where I Live

wordlesswed

Autumn, in Michigan, is stunningly gorgeous. And it’s my favorite season.  Though, there are days that I’m not sure why, since every year, it actively attempts to murder me.  (All photos taken by me.)

IMG_8654

Local apple orchard. 

IMG_8664

Farm near the orchard. 

IMG_2474

Autumn road. 

IMG_2176

Reflections in the pond. 

IMG_2540

Faery gold on the water. 

IMG_4813

That weird autumn light. 

Autumn roses in my mom’s garden. 

Changing leaves. 

IMG_2494

Changing colors under an autumn sky. 

IMG_2418

Peering through the reeds at Merlin’s Place. 

IMG_2498

Patchwork sky. 

IMG_2462

Secret woods.

IMG_4871

Autumn moon. 

IMG_3684

Homemade split pea soup. 

IMG_8690

The autumn survival kit: nebulizer, albuterol, inhaler, allergy pills, airborne, and Gypsy Cold Care tea. Oh, and Kitsune looking very concerned. 

Be sure to check out the other bloggers’ photos of autumn where they live.

Jess * Gwen * Paige

 

Spookiness for a Cause

Right now, I think we can all agree that the world is a pretty shitty place. There’s so much unrest and misery everywhere we look, and honestly, sometimes, it’s so overwhelming, I don’t know where to put the time and energy I have available into fixing it. I know a lot of the people I talk to feel the same way. So, I’d like to share a low-effort, impactful way you can help at least one group of people.

In August, I went to the Rust City Book Con, and I was lucky enough to meet Marie Piper. She’s a fabulous author, and all around awesome person. She’s also part of a project that’s raising money for Chicago-area charities who provide services for area’s homeless population.

Winter is coming, and winter in Chicago is absolutely brutal. Marie and eight other authors donated their time and talents (as did the cover artist) to put together a spooky anthology that releases on October 17th. All proceeds are going the above mentioned charities.

I just bought my copy. I hope you’ll pick up a copy, too. Every little bit helps, so I hope that you’ll help R. Diamond, Harley Easton, Gregory L. Norris, Randi Perrin, CM Peters, Marie Piper, S.B. Roark, Sienna Saint-Cyr, and Katey Tattrie help the Chicago-area homeless.

 haunt1

Pre-order Haunt today! 

 A shadow at the window…A creak in the floorboards…

The air is getting colder and the leaves are beginning to change. Halloween is just around the corner. This October, let R. Diamond, Harley Easton, Gregory L. Norris, Randi Perrin, CM Peters, Marie Piper, S.B. Roark, Sienna Saint-Cyr, and Katey Tattrie give you the shivers with HAUNT, a collection of nine brand-new and wide-ranging tales of haunted dwellings.

 

Roommates by Katey Tattrie

Redemption Hill by Randi Perrin

By Tethers Bound by S.B. Roark

The B Room by CM Peters

Error by R. Diamond

The Shut-In by Gregory L. Norris

Jessie by Marie Piper

Possessed by Sienna St. Cyr

People who live in Glass Sanitoriums by Harley Easton

 

*All proceeds from HAUNT will go to Chicago-area charities that provide services for the homeless population.*

Available October 17th, 2017 via Amazon.

For more information, visit Marie Piper

What I Gained–or Lost–by Taking a Risk

This bird is my Patronus.

So, I’m not really big on risk-taking, really. I like to be comfy. I like warm sweaters and toasty slippers. I like cwtching up under blankets and reading books. I like tea and toast. I like rainy autumn days.

I guess I’m basically a hobbit. I think that explains everything, because I also like second breakfast. And elevensies.

But anyway, like I said, I’m not into risks. Which isn’t to say I haven’t done stupid things that were also risky. But typically, I only realize the risks after I escape certain death. (Crossing the Mackinac Bridge about 45 minutes before the poor driver of the Yugo was blown over the side in her car, hiking on the rock formation that makes up Devil’s Wash Tub on a high wind/heavy wave day, driving through a stretch of road that Lake Superior was in the process of washing out at the time. All risks–all stupid as fuck because I am so, so bad at math.)

But, I guess I’ve also taken some intentional risks, though they’ve mostly been the emotional kind. Like this whole writing gig. No, not all of my books are written from personal experiences–I’m not out banging ghosts or lesser known Celtic deities, or killing vampires, or dealing with bad tempered Scottish authors who look like Aidan Turner. Though, I’d totally sign up for that one. But I think there are always elements of every writer in the stories they tell. I think that someone who knows me decently could easily pick out the bits and pieces of me that end up in any given character.

A lot of writers have a cool public persona. I hate to disappoint anyone, but I’m not one of them. What you see is what you get. Mostly, because I don’t have the time or energy to cultivate anything else. You either like me or you don’t. And that’s absolutely fine. I don’t imagine that I’m everyone’s cup of tea, and I’m okay with that. After all, not everyone is my cup of tea, either. But it is a bit of a risk to put myself, my feelings, my opinions, my whatever, out here like this on the regular.

But here’s the the thing, even though sometimes I feel awkward and exposed and self-conscious, the benefits outweigh the risks. Depending on the prompt and what I’m motivated to write about on any given day, some posts end up working as an online journal. Some posts end up being therapy where I learn new things about myself/life/etc. And some posts end up forging connections and friendships, and those are things that I wouldn’t trade for anything.

If I hadn’t taken the risk to pursue publication and put myself out here, awkward weirdness and all,  I never would have met so many of my fantabulous friends. Absolutely amazing people that I only get to see once or twice a year. Some even less than that. Some that I haven’t met IRL yet,  and some I may never meet physically. But these are all people who are very dear to me, and I’m grateful for all of you.

Being oneself as unapologetically as possible isn’t always comfortable, but the risks are more than worth it when the result is the friendship and camaraderie of some of the best people I’ve ever encountered. In addition to a career that I love, I got a tribe that I love just as much, if not more. No, more. Writing wouldn’t be half as much fun without you. So, I’ll probably continue to do stupid shit and realize later it was risky, but I’ll also keep on taking this particular risk. The gains are too great not to.

Be sure to check out Jessica and Paige’s risky behavior, too.

The Most Rebellious Thing I Did While Growing Up

I feel as though this blog post is going to be an overwhelming disappointment. Of the five of us kids, I was really the least rebellious.

For instance, I  wasn’t the sibling who relandscaped a neighbor’s lawn with my car and relocated their patio furniture (also with my car) into their inground pool. That wasn’t me. That was my brother who’s two years younger than me.

I also wasn’t the sibling who ended up on Cops (and virtually every news station in the U.S.) because we got pulled over and my girlfriend stole the cop’s car and ran multiple barricades and had to have the tires shot out. That was my brother who’s thirteen years younger than me.

Nor was I the sibling who staged a fake hit and run accident that alarmed the old lady down the road who then called the cops. That was my brother who’s fifteen years younger than me.

Lastly, I wasn’t the sibling who cut off a huge chunk of below-the-ass length hair from the top of my soon to be sister-in-law’s head. That was my sister who’s eighteen years younger than me.

Most of my rebellious transgressions were the civil disobedience kind. And interestingly enough, most of my rebellious acts featured the same person…

  • Protesting and pushing the limits of the flagrantly sexist dress code at the Catholic high school I attended. (I spent a bit of time in detention for that.)
  • Protesting the preferential treatment the football players received at said Catholic high school by staging a walkout of my religion class with my forever friend, Alex Kourvo.  (More detention.)

    10869551_10153034786068851_9137629484745093052_o

    These weren’t our detention outfits. This was just us being cute af.

  • Starting a literary magazine, with Alex and some other friends, and getting shut the fuck down by the administration. Yes, that happened. We put together a chapbook type collection of original fiction and poetry. We all contributed, someone’s dad bought us paper for printing and cardstock for the cover, and we distributed it to students at the school. And we all got in trouble. We were called into the office and reamed out. There was nothing offensive. Nothing problematic. But there were six or seven kids who dared to be creative, and that was a transgression that wouldn’t be tolerated.

    IMG_2443.JPG.jpeg

    Recently found a copy of contraband literary journal.

  • A final bit of rebellion was the garage band I was a member of–again, with my girl, Alex and several of our other friends. Our name? Rebell and the Ions. (If you put it together, it spells, Rebellion – get it?)
    15418585_1539301312752173_8578900914851362142_o

    For some reason, the grouper fish was our mascot.

    You may have noticed a bit of a theme here. We’re still amazing forever friends, we’re both still writing, and we’re both still rebelling.

    Also? Neither one of us has been on Cops.

Be sure to check out Jess, Jessica, and Deelylah’s post and see what kind of shit they got up to.

Brain Dump

So, it’s brain dump time–we blog about everything rattling around in our heads. So, if you read further, please don’t expect a lot of coherence or cohesion. In addition to fighting with ADD, I’m also too tired and depressed and stressed out to try to do much beyond dump. So…here’s the unloading.

I’m tired, depressed, and angry. Lately, it seems the only news is bad news, and it’s not just bad, it’s catastrophically bad. It gets harder and harder to see hope beyond the latest horrific shitshow members of our “government” are pulling.

My house is a wreck a mess–too messy for the houseguest I’ll have Sunday, but trying to get everything organized seems almost insurmountable at this point. I know she’s coming to see me, not judge my house, but as I look around, I’m still freaking out about it.

Honestly, I’m stressed and sad about literally everything from school  issues to job issues to this country’s rapid slide into fascism. And if I actually take the time to write out all the thoughts I’m having about these things, I’ll probably end up in a fetal position in the bathtub.

So, I’m going to move on to other random thoughts in my head.

I really need to get rid of the rest of the wedding dress that was the base for the new wedding dress I made.  It’s ginormous box is taking up too damn much space in my house and my brain.

My feet are ugly and my toes need to be painted desperately.

I have two audio preps that I need to finish this week for a client.

I really want to finish the chapter of my book that I’m writing.

I wrote over 10K while on vacation and still managed to do family stuff.

I’m sick and tired of being the one who has to decide what stays and goes in the big house purge.

I really want some popsicles, but we’re out.

In five more sleeps, I’ll be driving to the U.P. to pick up Jess.

I still need to write my blog about this year’s writer’s retreat.

Jess Jarman, Jenny Trout and I are going to be at the Rust City Book Con during the first weekend of August, and I still need to do ALL THE THINGS for that.

Jen and I are going to go see Billy Joel in Chicago in a few weeks.

I have awesome people in my life who make me realize how lucky I am to have so many people who love me.

I need to remember to bring fabric and scissors when I babysit my niece Saturday so I can use their table to cut out tops after I put her to bed. It’s the perfect height. and I don’t have to fight with cats there.

Cutting out fabric with cats is a nightmare.

I still want popsicles.

Sometimes, I feel like I hate everything, and that makes me feel like a terrible person.

I’m tired of constantly feeling like I’m trying to swim upstream and getting nowhere.

I’d like to go to bed right now, but I have too much to do.

I bet that Gwen, Kellie and Jess have heads full of better thoughts. You should go read theirs.

Looking for for great kids books about LGBT+ families?

Unless you’re super new here, you know that I love me some great picture books. Despite the fact that my kids are in their early twenties, my children’s book collection continues to grow. I get some to read to my nieces and nephews, and some are just for me.

Because books.

The It’s Fundamental – Children’s Book Blog is a fantastic resource for all things picture books. Run by a former educator (though, trust me, she’s still educating) named Crystal, this blog features fantastic booklists (carefully and thoughtfully curated by topic) as well as book reviews.

Some of her booklists include: Shark Week, World Changing Women, Trains, Juneteenth, Ramadan, Women in Science, Books for Kids Who are Afraid to Swim, Civil Rights, Star Wars–and this is just a small sampling of the topics. Seriously, this blog has it all!

But, I’m not blogging today to talk about Sharks or Star Wars (and now, I have Queen stuck in my head) but to share It’s Fundamental‘s amazing LGBT+ Families booklist.

When I was a kid, books featured families that were comprised of a mother, father and kids. Or the parents were dead and the kids were orphans. There was no inbetween. I remember wondering why there were never divorced parents like mine in books. We all know that representation is incredibly important, and as a child, when you never see your reality represented in stories, it leaves you with a feeling of disconnectedness. The sense of being “other”.

That’s why I’m so happy to see books like Morris Micklewhite and the Tangerine Dress by Christine Baldacchino and I Am Jazz by Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings and A Family is a Family is a Family by Sara O’Leary.

Please take a few minutes and check out this fantastic list Crystal has put together. And if you’re on social media, enjoy books, like to give books as gifts, like hanging out at the library and/or representation and inclusion, be sure to follow It’s Fundamental‘s Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest pages. Oh, and duh…the blog.

You won’t be sorry!

An app mysteriously appears on your phone and does something amazing. What does it do?

#writelifeapril (2)

Any time a politician betrays the ideals of our nation, (points if you heard that in Daveed Diggs’ voice) the app updates with one of those annoying little red numbers. In order to make the number go away, you have to open the app and hit the eject button. This jettisons the greedy, self-serving, treasonous assholes deep into into space where they’ll get exactly what they deserve.

Let’s see what kind of apps the other bloggers discovered on their phones. Deelylah and Kris (and Jess, too!)

Post Navigation