Time to Pub That Themeless Series of Flash Fics

I haven’t self-published anything this year and for pretty good reason but with NaNoWriMo looming, I’m starting to feel bad about that.

I mean, I shouldn’t. I… had a child. I… suffered from postpartum depression. I… was the primary caretaker for two young children while also working two part-time jobs. The fact that I wrote at all is amazing.

But I’m so much about moving forward, especially in my writing career, that this past year feels like a limbo time suck of cognitive dissonance.

I really just want to feel like I completed something. And I didn’t. And it’s disheartening.

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I Never Dream of Flying

Do only the briefest of moments pass between the end of one NaNo and the prep for the next or did I really spend that entire time binging Agents of Shield and reading books I hated and ultimately gave up on?

I’m already getting emails from the good people at NaNoWriMo asking me to announce my novel and here I am all, what day is it again?

I do have an idea, though! Based on a dream I had and a reality I see a lot of my students living, it’s a YA adventure about the appearance of perfection. Sounds derivative, yes. Might be. Don’t know yet because my “prep” is usually like, “remember that dream I had one time about that girl and it felt like I had to lie to everyone all the time or clowns would eat me? What would that story look like? Who’s that girl? What’s the real life equivalent of feeling like clowns would eat me at any moment?”

It’s a strategy that’s worked for me in the past:

“Remember that dream I had where I was sitting on a bench with Daniel Grayson from Revenge and we had these two kids we needed to figure out how to take care of but they definitely weren’t like OUR kids and some really bad shit was happening like fires and destruction and apocalypses and whatnot?”

homecomingThe Homecoming Effect

What starts as a meaningless fling between Bunny, an emotionally-conflicted older woman who just left her battle-scarred husband and Daniel, a hopelessly infatuated younger man recently graduated from college, is curtailed by a series of explosions that destroys schools and hospitals sending the couple 200 miles from home with three children in tow. When the found family seeks safety in a strict religious community, they are forced to concoct a web of lies to appear legitimate and avoid being exiled, or worse. Can they maintain their ruse to avoid suspicion and keep their family together or will the secrets they keep from each other drive them apart? And how much of the trauma they discovered her husband and his father shared upon returning from war was ultimately responsible for the tragic events that lead to their new lives?

Ultimately, though, I imagined Daniel Grayson as the young Daniel and Derek Hale as the older Daniel and… it was a fun book to write.

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Now we’ve got the Noah Centineos and Cole Sprouses of the world to imagine playing our characters. Not the same, or maybe I’m just old and stuck in my ways, but it helps to imagine an adorable smile shining down on your characters as motivation to keep writing.

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Point being, it’s a strategy and it works for me and I might change my mind six times before I get there but at least I’ve got a starting point, right?

Cull It, Cull It Real Good

Squatting in a corner of my living room the other day, on Danger Baby patrol because my girl is a stunt woman in training, I googled “how to cull toys” on my phone.

Not “how to organize” not “how to cut down on”. I asked the all-knowing google how to CULL!

to reduce or control the size of (something, such as a herd) by removal (as by hunting) of especially weaker animals; also to hunt or kill (animals) as a means of population control. The town issued hunting licenses in order to cull the deer population.

 

Apparently, I wanted those bastards MURDERED. I must CONTROL the population. I must DESTROY!

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It’s how I’m feeling about everything these days. There’s too much and most of it is some sort of waste and the best thing to do is open a giant trash bag and shove it all in.

That’s why I had to stop reading one of the books I was trudging my way through. I’m seriously considering erasing the second from my Kindle cloud storage as well. Because they are a waste of my tiny precious reading time.

Zeroes by Chuck Wendig. I’m sorry but I do not care. I’m 70% through the book and I couldn’t POSSIBLY care less about what happens to these characters. What are their names again? Why shouldn’t I hate them for being mostly human garbage? What could I be reading instead of sighing and opening the book like it’s a toilet-cleaning chore?

Ishmael by Daniel Quinn. Yes, this is what I’m reading instead. I read this as a 20-something and it blew my damn mind. It is no longer brain-splattering revelation to me so much as proof that the world is bullshit but Daniel Quinn had no idea what kind of vapid corn puffs would pass for leadership in 2018.

Neanderthal Seeks Human by Penny Reid. “A smart romance” it calls itself. Dangerously misogynist, I’d correct identify it. Stupid girl with a penchant for Jeopardy-winning memorization of facts wooed by stereotypical rich white guy who “just wants to protect her” but, as far as I can tell, just controls her without her awareness of… like, anything, seriously. The main character is so unbearably negligent when it comes to personal safety which, I think, makes the author complicit in the perpetuation of patriarchal mistreatment of women as naive, self-conscious, entirely lacking in self-awareness, and helplessssssss. So helplesssssss. I hate it with a fiery passion and just now, I realized I didn’t even pay for this trash (I did pay for Zeroes so I feel like I have some obligation) so TO HELL, I say. I’m done. DELETE FOREVER.

Instead, I have to decide between Gone Girl and Wild. Either one backwards and upside down would make more sense than that “smart romance”.

Bad books, consider yourselves culled.

Now, what to do with all those freaking LEGOs.

Wakandan Woman

I finally saw Black Panther and YES! YAAAAASS! This is the revolution I was looking for in Wonder Woman and didn’t get. This movie Is It.

I am not a person of color so I can only imagine what it meant from that perspective but from mine, from that of a woman, it was transgressive! And the most radical concept from a female perspective happened toward the end, during the civil war of sorts between the tribes of Wakanda over whether or not to accept the new king.

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W’Kabi asks his lover, Okoye if she would chose her country over him and she says yes.

She’s a patriot, yes, but not in the same way any American woman could ever be. Any American woman can love and serve and support her country–as a politician, public servant, member of the military, diplomat, public school teacher, first responder, you name it–but her country historically, demonstrably, undeniably does not love her back.

Wakanda does.

Wakanda values its women. It places them in positions of power and authority and respect and influence. Women aren’t special interest groups to be catered to when those in power want something and manipulated or oppressed or regulated when they don’t. Wakandan women are just… people.

Themyscira was a magical wonderland of woman power too, of course, but most of the Wonder Woman movie took place in Europe, amongst the men who couldn’t handle seeing Diana’s bare ankles or focus on work when she was in the room. She went to war with a group of men and yeah, she crossed No Man’s Land like a boss, but she didn’t bring any other women with her. She served as a role model to the girls and women in the audience but not the ones in the story. She was the odd woman out. The special one. One IN a million who deserves recognition and respect because she’s actually better and stronger than the men not one OF a million who deserve respect because they just freaking do.

What I saw in Wonder Woman was a woman taking the traditionally male role in the Hero’s Journey. She showed that she can do what a man can do. Um, yes, hello, some of us were already aware of that. What I wanted to see in that movie was a story of woman’s strength.

That’s what I got in Black Panther.

Okoye, Nakia, Shuri, Ramonda, the Doras. Not one special woman but a country full of them. Not one woman rising above to disprove the stereotypes but an entire culture!

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This is the crowd Wonder Woman should be chilling with. That is the peer group she deserves. Batman? Pfft. Superman? No. Give me a movie where all the female superhero characters band together and fix the damn world and I will give you ALL MY MONEY AND ALLEGIANCE.

I’m serious. I’ll buy the extended version with digital download and I won’t even use a coupon.

I Can’t Handle the Truth

I had jury duty for the first time yesterday and I was really looking forward to finding out how much truth there was in TV tropes. Will there be a Rouge Juror? WILL IT BE ME?!?!

Chalk this one up to another disappointment, just like how New York City isn’t ALIVE WITH ENERGY so much as it REEKS LIKE ROTTING KETCHUP because all I did all day was sit in a big ole room with a bunch of other jerks all bored out of our minds and wishing we had brought more snacks because the coffee cart was hardly the Hogwart’s Express Trolley of treats we were led to believe it was.

Color me disappointed.

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Come At Me, Aunt Ethel

I’m having one of those days where I can’t or shouldn’t say what I’m thinking to the person I’m thinking about saying it to so I end up having very intense fake conversations in my car. With faces. And gestures. And I’m either sorry for confusing my fellow commuters or graciously accepting their thanks for entertaining them.

These are the conversations that become the dialogue that we make our fictional selves say to our fictional antagonists so our real selves don’t get fired or arrested or knocked unconscious.

“Yes, Aunt Ethel, it’s true. My son is struggling with potty training a full year after your granddaughter gave up diapers for good. But here’s the thing, and let me say this loud enough for your daughter to hear: potty training a child is not an event in the Mommy Olympics. It’s not something you do to prove your own worth. I would rather treat my child like a real person with real problems and real feelings instead of as an accessory to show off to impress people. I don’t care if you’re impressed or not. I care about the health and well-being of my son, which seems to be something your daughter struggles with. And if that wasn’t obvious by her constant attempts to get away from her daughter or by the quick-fix schemes she’s always coming up with to make parenting easier for herself, how about the empirical evidence we are presented with right here, right now. Your granddaughter is currently trying to set flame to her napkin with the centerpiece votive and your daughter is too busy scowling at me to notice. Clean your own damn house, Aunt Ethel, before you come after me about mine.”

I mean… it could use some editing. And context. Some character description and grounding in a location.

But MY GOD, does it feel good to write it down.

 

 

And That’s How I Ended Up in Some Smug Kid’s Anti-Customer Blog

I live in a small city that borders an affluent suburb and given a choice between two Starbucks this morning, I chose the closest to where I happened to be when I found the gift card in my car: the suburb.

You know who works at Starbucks in my city? Grownups. Responsible people who got a job there because they offer health insurance and paid time off. People who do the damn job and then go home to their graduate studies or children or other responsibilities. The same people work at Subway and Burger King and Dunkin Donuts. These are the places to go when you want the food you ordered.

You know who works at Starbucks in the suburb? Well… seven white affluent teens visibly stressed out by the responsibility of serving multiple customers (for real, it was not THAT busy).

I waited in a line of ME for almost 10 minutes while every one of the seven employees said they were too busy to serve me. When one young woman finally came over, she ZONED OUT as I was ordering. She then apologized and admitted that she zoned out, asked me to re-order and then zoned out again. She didn’t take my name, she didn’t take the correct order, and as soon as she was done, she complained about being too tired and not wanting to help any more customers.

Just a hunch but… what if all the people who think only lazy teenagers work at minimum wage jobs live in suburbs?

Demi Lovato Has Feelings Too

Can we all just agree that the best response to “I’m sorry” is usually “thank you” NOT “that’s ok” because it’s usually NOT ok?

My boy was traumatized this week by another boy–a stranger at least 2 years and 12 inches taller than him–who got all up in his space before yanking off his hat. I took the hat back and led my son away from the other boy so I could soothe him and talk to him about what happened. Several minutes later, the other boy ran up to me, got in my face and yelled, “SORRY!” Then his mom gave a little embarrassed wave from further away and mouthed “sorry” as well.

I mean, it was pretty obvious that the other boy was on the autism spectrum, that personal boundaries aren’t terribly clear to him, that he definitely didn’t intend to do any harm, and other than being a little overwhelmed by the experience, my son was fine.

But I still feel like the right response to their “sorry” was “thank you” but it wasn’t ok. My son was scared, he had his space and property violated and he deserved an apology. Which he got. And we appreciated. So… “thank you”.

Saying, “that’s ok” to someone who apologizes for hurting you dismisses the hurt and absolves them from wrongdoing. And if you think of apologizing as a way of asking forgiveness, saying “that’s ok” sorta denies them that as well.

It’s a compassionless response. “That’s ok. This behavior is ok. Hurting me is not a problem and neither is your guilt. Let’s all just rush back to a level feeling of okness instead of acknowledging everyone’s feelings.”

But “thank you” is acknowledgment. You made a mistake, it hurt me, you feel bad. “Thank you” is for admitting your mistake, for recognizing my feelings and “thank you” because in light of that admission, I forgive you and we can all move on from this.

Whew.

All that being said, “it’s ok,” I said to the barista who apologized for not having the sandwich I ordered. She wasn’t really that sorry (it wasn’t her fault they were out) and I wasn’t really hurt (I can order something else). No harm, no thank you.

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What’s the right response to sorry not sorry? Probably an obscene gesture. 

Am Reading, Not Writing

This is how it is and how it’s been with these NaNo adventures: I write like crazy pants for a month and then I spend the next month doing ANYTHING ELSE.

This month, I’ve been reading, cleaning out closets, and redesigning my work website. I don’t believe in that whole A WRITER WRITES EVERY DAY thing. A lawyer doesn’t lawyer every day. A scientist doesn’t science every day. And sometimes, you just need a freaking break.

So here’s what I’ve been reading:

The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom. I don’t know what I believe about an afterlife, if anything, but books like this make you feel like you don’t have to worry about that so much.

 Talking As Fast As I Can by Lauren Graham. I love reading memoirs of women with hustle because after I feel super lazy, I feel super motivated.

Zeroes by Chuck Wendig. I haven’t finished this yet because I almost always read several books at a time and this is the one I’m least invested in but only because I don’t care about hackers. I do care about Chuck Wendig and I like his writing style but perhaps I picked the wrong book for my first encounter with him.

Love and Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch. Reading this now. It’s ok, I guess. I’m not far enough in for a real opinion but I keep reading it so it obviously doesn’t suck enough for me to put it down.

Let’s Sign, Baby! by Leo Landry. Reading this nightly with my preschooler who 1) had no interest in signing as a baby and 2) has an incredible vocabulary and command of syntax so I think maybe he’s just trying to challenge himself?

Feminist Baby by Loryn Brantz. My baby girl could have been the model for this book. She also says NO TO PANTS! But I read it to both of my children because rigid gender roles are bullshit.

Be a Star, Wonder Woman by Michael Dahl. My kids just got this as a gift but we love it! LOVE IT! We can all be heroes with the right attitude, ya’ll.

The Berenstain Bears’ Trouble with Money by Stan BerenstainJan Berenstain. I bought this for my son last week but haven’t read it to him yet. Kid needs to chill with the constant requests for toys but this book mentions allowances which, if I even want to do such things, we’re not ready for yet (like, DAMN kid, Mommy only works part time right now. She ain’t GOT money for herself, never mind to be paying you).

 

Up next in my Kindle queue, I’ve got Ishmael by Daniel Quinn which I read a long time ago and it was a perspective shifter to say the least but now I can’t remember anything about it, and Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow by Yuval Noah Harari which I read a good review of and then impulse purchased when it was on sale.

Goodreads deals are legit, ya’ll. Make sure you fill up your “Want to Reads” because those lovely people will email you when a book on your list is on sale. Same with Amazon wish lists. Discount books are what I spend my allowance on.

 

 

Tracy Says Slow Down

Between finishing Camp NaNoWriMo and realizing that Wynonna Earp season 3 started a couple of weeks ago, I haven’t been writing much. Also, those children. Those children take ALL my time. And work, I guess. Not sleeping, so much. I don’t do much of that.

But I had an idea for a something new–which always happens before I actually finish most of the old–and since the process of writing is a lot more fun than the process of editing or self-publishing, I think I’d rather dive into that than finish anything else.

There was a guest post on Chuck Wendig’s blog recently about the thrill of a new idea and slowing down when you have no deadline. It’s good advice from someone who wrote/designed “Iron Edda” which, honestly I have no interest in other than it sounding like the me I imagine myself to be every time I do three push-ups. But it’s a good reminder to the self-published and the hobby novelist that if this writing thing is for myself then I should just do what works for me and to hell with all expectation.

So I’ll just let those other projects simmer, especially the two super personal ones I’ve written in the last year. Let’s start something new for funsies and see where it goes.

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A long time ago, in a suburb far far away…

Now… time to research some weird shit like… who invented mowing lawns and why?