Three Things That Have Pushed My Happy Buttons Recently

Thing the 1:

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Okay, sure, fitzsimmons. FITZSIMMONS. Oh, man. But besides that, the whole business of Skye/Quake/Daisy’s powers. Every time they get into the stuff about quantum physics and resonant frequencies, my piano-tuner self just SQUIRMS with delight. Seriously, I do physical flailing. It makes me So. Damned. Happy.

Thing the 2:

The Martian.

Yes, yes, everyone is going ON about this movie. But not without reason. I expect it to sweep the Oscars. More than that, of course, was the book. And Andy Weir himself. I mean, his personality really kind of made that book, because it gave that snarky, witty, but not too presumptuous edge to the character voice. Layer that on top of the frankly brilliant science-splaining and epic problem solving of the whole plot, and it’s golden.

Still, that’s not my major happy button. My big, giant, sparkly silver happy button was the feeling of communal enthusiasm in the audience and in everyone who’s read the book. It woke up the little girl in me that dreamed of being an astronomer, or even an astronaut. It rekindled the wonder and love of the study of outer space that I think has been kind of lost for a while, now. Happy. Button.

Thing the Final, which made me super-happy-squirmy just last night:

Dreams of Gods and Monstersthe third book of Laini Taylor‘s Daughter of Smoke and Bone series.

I’ve been intentionally taking forever to read this, because I’m pretty deeply in love with this series and I don’t want it to end. Okay, also because I’ve frankly been in a serious reading slump for like, a year now. But I’m “letting” myself read at a snail’s pace, anyway.

Last night, though, I was in bed with everyone around me sleeping, and I reached a point in the third book where she started getting all complex and pretty about multiple universes and reality and just – YUM OMG I LOVE THAT SHIT SO HARD. SQUIRMY SQUIRMY HAPPY.

Seriously, Laini – you already had me with your gorgeous prose and world building and magical creatures, but you had to go THERE, too?! Marry me, please.

Other shit:

NaNoWriMo is coming up, and it’s apparently turned autumn here in Georgia (knock wood. Seriously, I don’t expect this shit to stay). Time for hot tea, hot coffee, hoodies, and fuzzy socks. And pleading with myself to get my shit together and seriously tackle my word count issues. Are you doing the NaNo?

I finally womaned-up and got to the pool today. I think the last time I swam actual laps was when I was learning to swim at the tender age of five? What the hell took me so long, though? People at the aquatic center are largely there for the same reason I am – because their bodies don’t want to cooperate enough to do other exercises, and because swamming is great. Somewhere along the line, however, I seem to have forgotten how to handle submerging my whole face, breathing, and swamming at the same time. It’s okay, I worked around it today, but man. Derpiness.

That’s about it for now. I’m sure I’ll have something to say once we go see Crimson Peak.

xox,

CC

Mish to the Mash Update: Rants and Raves

Been a while, I know. I’ve been working on a few large things, both in authorland and pianoland. Which means a lot of head-down working and a long stretch of nothing to show for it for the foreseeable future. I’m a-okay with that. Hopefully it’ll pay off in the end, and the happy part is that I’m actually excited about both writing and pianos again, despite the overwhelming parts.

Apparently, this is the year of Steinway for me. It’ll be interesting. Fingers crossed.

It helps my focus that the internet is so full of shit lately, I’ll say that much. Or maybe it’s the other way around. Maybe stepping away from the internet and all its commentary and bitchery has made me less tolerant of it. I don’t know. What I do know is that, for me anyway, there are bigger things to advocate for and against than author bullies and problematic fiction.

Don’t get me wrong – I think it’s a great thing that so many people (myself included) have been educated and changed for the better with regards to racism, bigotry, sexism, and just general human kindness and understanding. But lately, the few times poke my head in on the blogs and tumblrs I usually follow, I get this feeling of stale disgust.

The two main issues I personally have are:

a) We’re really still whinging about GoodReads meanies? I swear to christ, some of these authors and their boohooing need to spend three active years immersed in a large and critical fandom, be put through the wringer multiple times on fanficrants and fandomfail, and have to submit their work to sites like Petulant Poetess. When you put your shit out there, whether as an author, blogger, musician, artist, whatever – you are putting a product out that is no longer in your hands. And when it’s in the proverbial hands of a consumer (reader, listener, whatever), they have any and every right to respond however the fuck they want. Also? That fact is NOT “victim blaming.” Your publicly sold/posted material isn’t akin to “wearing too short of a skirt,” and blog trolls are NOT “rapists.” Jesus fucking christ. That was easily one of the grossest things I’ve seen in a month, and no, I’m not going to link where I saw it.

b) Fictional characters are fictional. And frankly, as a reader, I don’t want to read about or watch perfect people who never say, think, or do anything problematic. While I think it’s important and valuable to point out the problematic shit, the characters and stories are not the author. Just as a story is no longer “our baby” when it goes out to readers, the story a reader gets isn’t the author. That said, I’ve seen both reviewers and authors lose sight of that. All I can say is: if/when I publish a story with some sexist, racist, homophobic, and/or slut-shaming character flaws, when that criticism comes, I will be happy to agree that said characterization is problematic, and that’s kind of the point. No one is perfect – even the best, most socially conscious hero or heroine would be fucking boring and unrealistic as fuck if they didn’t have their idiot moments. And said idiotic moments absolutely should be criticized, not celebrated.

Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, RAVES.

OMG, y’all. The Martian by Andy Weir. Can I tell you about this? I discovered Andy Weir, not from the bestseller hype, but from a tumblr meme that spoke to my agnostic self. Unfortunately, I can’t find the actual jpeg that went with it, but it was basically his short story, The Egg. Go ahead, read it.

…right?

Anyway, I was so blown away, I looked into his other stuff and nabbed The Martian. Funny enough, I haven’t actually finished reading it. Because it’s so damned good, I don’t want it to end. So I keep stopping myself and setting it aside. Seriously. Just read the first page, and you’ll see.

More exciting, it’s being made into a movie for release this fall, with a slew of awesome actors, and I CANNOT FUCKING WAIT OMG OMG OMG. Seriously, THAT CAST. and THAT STORY. GUH.

Speaking of Jeff Daniels, the husband and I just recently finished binge watching The Newsroom. More fantastic writing and acting. And yeah, yeah, typical middle aged white male hero, blah blah see point #2 up there.

I also finally broke into Orange is the New Black, which again – fantastic writing and acting. So many monologues, and they’re all good.

Game of Thrones? What is that? I don’t want to go there. We’re still watching it. I’m not happy about several obvious turns it’s taken, but no one is. It’s all been said, and whatever – DRAGONS.

Okay, that’s about all I have to throw into the void for now. Time to get back to job estimates and time travel. ❤

That Review Thing. (for like, the 132nd time)

Oh, look – an actual blog post!

Yep, I’ve let myself just drift away from blogs and social internetting from an authorial standpoint. Today’s commentary on Dear Author about Online Reviewing has me thinking and blog-writing, however.

See – and I may have mentioned this before – I’ve gotten burned out on the whole book blog circuit. Both writing blogs and book review blogs, and blogs that discuss everything in between. Hell, I’m still burned-out. It’s depressing as fuck for me to peek in and see the same shit, different month. And it only appears to be getting worse. Whether it’s plagiarism, the debate between trad-publishing and self-publishing, buying reviews, author-reader/reviewer-interaction, or plain butthurt-authors-behaving-badly, it all just brings me down. I have better things to spend my energy on, like writing. Or hell, just looking at pretty men.

But I guess it begs to be said again, at least here, since this is the only place I have control over:

Review whatever the fuck you want. Snark all you want. Did I get butthurt about the one DNF review of The Switch I saw? Sure, but on my own time and in private. As a writer, once you publish, it’s no longer your baby. It’s a product that is on the proverbial shelves, and if someone wants to just line a birdcage with it, then that’s their right.

Seriously, I don’t get where these authors have the time to spend campaigning the review circuit. I wish I were that independently wealthy.

And for what it’s worth, I also agree about piracy. Please, advertise my books, spread my name around via word of mouth for free. It’s not like I’d be making enough money to pay mortgage from those books, anyway. But if my name shows up on enough file sharing sites, maybe someday I’ll be well-known enough to see some actual income. Or at least gain enough traffic to show to a trad publisher when I shop out my Big Damned Novels.

Updates. And my first bona fide book-blog review!

Last weekend I took several days to house- and pet-sit for my mom, so she could visit with my brother (and go sailing with him on his boat in the beautiful weather, damn them both, but not really).

Mom lives in the mountains. Not where I grew up, although I grew up in the Blue Ridge mountains. And while I always claim Boston as my “home”  – the first place I ever really felt at home and comfortable, something about those mountains always sings to me. And right now? Right now I’m in none of those places.

We live in the ‘burbs because it’s cheaper and more comfortable than living in a tiny place in the city. We also live in the ‘burbs because it’s evidently convenient to the city. And yet – we never actually go to the city to do much of anything.

I’m tired of the noise. I’m tired of the asshole drivers. I’m tired of the self-entitled jerks, be they trophy wives or soccer moms or lawyers or hipsters or whatever – for some reason, the rude and self-centered vibe spreads across all walks of life where I live.

Spending a long weekend in the mountains and rural areas, where valleys and fields and forests stretch and sprawl more sweetly than the suburban strip malls of where I live now – I don’t know, it just gave me that boost to set some long-term goals that I’ve been putting off for a while.

I hate it here. The one thing firmly holding me to this area went out of business a few years ago. Everything else is potentially mobile – dog, piano, husband, piano business, writing. I want out. And whether that means downgrading to some smaller suburb with less sprawl in a more rural and more beautiful area, or upgrading in geography (but downgrading in size) to the family digs in NYC (neither of us want that, though), I’m now looking ahead rather than trudging along with my head down, stuck firmly in a location I do not want. It’ll take a while (years), but I/we can do this. Especially after realizing, in the mad rush of tax-filing, I made about half what I should have made last year. Some of that’s on the economy. A lot of it is on me.

Being self-employed is a bitch. And if that wasn’t hard enough, I had to go and decide to build a “backup plan” out of writing – an even more dubious and fickle source of income. NOT that one should bet on writing for money. But it sure would be nice to have enough success to keep that ball rolling, to have it as a backup, so that when the time comes to relocate, I’m not biting my nails about starting over from square one as a piano technician with no other means of income.

And again, ALL of this is 100 percent on ME. Being self-employed *and* a disorganized, hedonistic, artistic-creative lazy fuck is a shitty combination, to be certain. My bed – it’s just so damned comfortable, you know? But something about setting that long-term goal, of saying, “my income last year was completely unacceptable, even in this shitty economy,” of realizing that I am no longer too mentally exhausted to even consider packing up, selling my house, and starting over again somewhere new – it’s the push I need.

It also helps to have friends who are setting good examples, btw. (On that note, my dear Rhys Astason has started her new series, The Ingenue over at the Asylum. She’s also gotten herself on an early wakeup schedule, which, silly as it might sound, is a huge inspiration to me as well, and I am trying to copy her now.)

And last but not least, it also helps to get a little impartial encouragement. Like this review of The Switch over at BDSM Book Reviews. My first ever blog-based review! And it was lovely! 🙂 Thanks, BDSMBR!

Also, since I mulligan’ed this week’s humpday toolbox hottie, have some serious-ass smolder:

Tell me, Mr. Kodjoe, how did you get to be so gorgeous?

Tell me, Mr. Kodjoe, how did you get to be so gorgeous?

White Noise / Grey Matter / Monochrome Blahs

1235309_346397408829435_1956492259_n

This was bouncing around my FaceBook feed recently. It’s just something I need to remember.  You know, the reasons why we write.

The other morning, I woke up briefly from dreaming about listening to this man. And made a very strong mental note to go back and listen to more Kevin Gilbert again.

It’s just – I’ve been so disconnected and scattered and numb lately. It’s really fucking hard to make yourself write, or practice piano, or even read or listen when you’re in that place. And the problem compounds itself, for me, anyway, because not listening, not reading or playing or writing just makes it worse until I spiral out into a space of vast, grey, blahness. It’s almost like depression, but not. Just – flatness.

What I’m trying to say is that it’s important – music, headphones, beautiful things, art. These things are so important to living. Turn off the internet, turn off the tv. Go back to the beginning.

Friday Random Joyness! Serials, Hotties, and HP-verse!

First up – Keep your eyes peeled here at my beastie’s spot for an exciting her serial, The Ingenue! 

(I totally can’t wait!)

I’m also stealing this yummalicious link she shared with me: Can You Get Through This Post Without Needing a Moment? (I couldn’t. Especially that… oh, Mark Ruffalo. *fans self*)

RDJ Sums it up perfectly.

And finally, if you’re not under a rock, you’ve already heard about the new contracts/plans between Warner Brothers and J.K. Rowling for “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.” My immediate fancy was that they’d cast Andrew Lee Potts as Newt Scamander. I mean, can you not totally see ALP and his British adorkableness being just perfect?

Andrew Lee Potts, the definition of "adorkable."

Andrew Lee Potts, the definition of “adorkable.”

Maybe they could even cast his girl Hannah across from him, since they’re so perfect together! Ah, we can all dream…

Mondays are for Smutting, Fighting, Writing.

I absolutely loved this post at SmutWriters likening sex scenes to fight scenes. Especially since it clued me in to some lectures by the great Brandon Sanderson! I’ve only read the first of his Mistborn series so far, but man, what a book. What world-building. His magical system was so inventive, and I love his characters.

Watching his ten-minute lecture about writing fight scenes got me thinking about my own strengths and weaknesses. Sex scenes always take forever for me to write – not because it’s so uncomfortable or hard, but because I always want to get it just right. And also because if I’m doing it right, I have to take frequent cooldown breaks and/or attack the husband. Hey, the whole point is to write it hot. And if I don’t find it hot, then you probably won’t as a reader.

Also, though, my sex scenes tend to be epic. Or, at least, they used to. I hope I’ve succeeded at reining them in some, but then the tradeout is evidently briefer sex scenes, but more of them. I mean, have you read The Switch, yet? It’s mostly smut and sex. But rather than one very long, drawn-out sexual encounter, we have one long, drawn-out night of marathon smut. Okay, so I’m still learning.

Anyway, hope your Monday is going well! I’m off to tackle more of The Beard. I’ve quickly fallen in love with these characters, and suddenly Will is playing the piano. WHAT a cliche, right? Let’s hope not.

Also, I’ve been watching Deadwood a lot lately. I know I can’t be the only one who gets twitchy about the way everyone says ‘anyways’ in the wild west.