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Jul. 11th, 2013


Metrics, after a very long time

And more symbolic than anything. But after months and months, I've returned to a serious project and written words on it. May they continue.

Words today: 8
Words total: 8
Darling: None yet, since I have a grand total of one sentence. This is a narrative voice I'm wobbly in--but then, I always am, at the start of stories. I just need to keep reminding myself, It will get better.


Jul. 4th, 2013


(no subject)

Wow, our local firework show's finale was fantastic. My mom and I go every year, but they outdid themselves this time. High-five, Anaheim Hills.

This is my unofficial midpoint of the year. I've recorded every novel I've read so far in the intention of writing a proper mini-description of each, but it's time to acknowledge that's not going to happen. I'll just list them, with comments as I feel inclined.

JanuaryCollapse )
FebruaryCollapse )

MarchCollapse )

AprilCollapse )
May and JuneCollapse )


90. Changeless, 91. Blameless, 92. Heartless, and 93. Timeless, by Gail Carriger. I read her first book, Soulless, some time ago, and was thoroughly annoyed at the ending; unfortunately, I got to the end of the whole quintet and was thoroughly annoyed at its ending. Hmph.

94. The Coldest War, and 95. Necessary Evil, by Ian Tregillis. The sequels to Bitter Seeds, and equally good. I read them in March and April, and somehow missed both as I was going through my calendar tonight. I am too lazy to go back and change all the numbers to add them into the proper places.

96. Behavioral Adjustment Training: BAT for Fear, Frustration, and Aggression in Dogs, by Grisha Stewart. It's all based on teaching replacement behaviors by using functional rewards, which is much more effective than trying to punish away problem behaviors (and also much less stress on the dog)--you're teaching them how to make good behavioral choices and self-soothe rather than react to triggers in default ways like barking, lunging, growling, etc.

There've been other dog-training books over the last few months, but I forgot to write them down. Lots of Jean Donaldson, Patricia McConnell, and so on. Speaking of BAT, I really want to try out the techniques in practice. If you're in the Orange County area and know a reactive dog whose owner wants help, let me know; I'd be willing to volunteer my time to try out desensitization and behavioral techniques with them. (The owner-wanting-help part is important because many of these issues involve feedback loops between owner and dog, or environmental management.)

May. 18th, 2013



I feel like I just woke up from a week underwater. The culprit, of course, was allergies--but for days I couldn't figure out what. Nothing is blooming right now that I'm allergic to, I felt better at work (usually the bastion of all allergens), and I felt nauseated and congested every morning when I got up.

It turns out that my grandmother gave my mom a bamboo-reed diffuser with some type of fragrant oil in it. My mom, innocently, put it in the spare bedroom next to mine. As soon as we took it outside and let in fresh air, I started feeling like a human being again instead of a miserable puddle of goo.

I have to say, whatever was in it smelled nice. Oh, allergies.

May. 6th, 2013


Adventures in Cooking: Anzac Biscuits

I sold a short story to Electric Spec! Let's celebrate with the account of last autumn's baking saga.

It started with alaurens sending me a recipe for anzac biscuits. Let me note that she is innocent in the following events.

So anyway, I looked at the recipe. Coconut, oats, golden syrup, it all seemed fairly straightforward. I did conversions for the ingredient amounts, and gathered the supplies.

First was the coconut. The local store only had baby ones, but I figured baby coconuts should still have flesh inside; one should be enough. I set to work brutally destroying said coconut.


Tender baby flesh was achieved, although not quite enough for the recipe; I decided to halve all the other ingredients. A half-batch would be fine for the first test, anyway, or so my logic ran.


This would have worked out perfectly well if I hadn't forgotten, partway through measuring the liquids, that I was supposed to cut their amount in half. Oops.

So my batter ended up a little...soupy. Fine, whatever, I thought; I'll just pour it over the paper-covered cookie sheet and bake the whole mass, then cut it up. Australian oatmeal bars, as it were. Onward.


I put it in the oven. I putter around the kitchen. Soon I notice that air smells strangely like...birthday candles? My mom wanders past, curiously.

ME: Does that smell like birthday candles to you? Like melting birthday candles?
MOM: It does.
ME: So...just a question...parchment paper and wax paper can be used the same way, right?
MOM: No. No, they can't.

So we took the festive-smelling pan from the oven and tasted the half-baked oatmeal/coconut mass. In case you are wondering, the taste of burnt melted wax in cookie batter is truly vile.

So Attempt One was thrown away.

I gathered the ingredients for a second batch. New coconut (a full-size one this time), oats, parchment paper, etc. I mix everything up, put globs of dough on the cookie sheet, put it in the oven. Everything smells fine. I am on my way to success!

I pull the pan out at the appointed time. The cookies are...flat. As in, run together and melted into a mass resembling the prior picture of the cookie sheet, except with little tectonic-plate lines where their edges cooked slightly before running together. I did not get a picture of this step, because I was too busy staring in baffled despair. They tasted fine, coconuty and sweet and chewy, they were just...flat. Like, paint-spill flat.

I email alaurens to doublecheck the ingredients and proportions. Everything seemed right, though; I couldn't pinpoint anything I mis-measured. She suggested refrigerating the dough before cooking. That reasonable advice did not seem quite drastic enough to counteract whatever was causing this. I went and flopped facedown on my parents' bed.

MOM: It's like you're adding too much liquid. You're sure all of those are right?
ME: Yep.
MOM: Let's go over the other ingredients.
ME: Oats, golden syrup, coconut--
MOM: Fresh coconut?
ME, WARILY: It said coconut.
MOM: But did it say fresh coconut?
ME: It said coconut.
MOM, SMIRKING: I bet it meant dried coconut.
ME: What? Why?
MOM: Because that's the kind used in baking.
ME, INDIGNANTLY: Why wouldn't they say dried coconut, then?!
MOM, GLEEFULLY: I dunno, everyone just knows.
ME: That makes no sense!
MOM: *peals of laughter*
ME: If a recipe calls for tomatoes, no one assumes dried tomatoes! They get fresh unless otherwise specified!
MOM: *more peals of laughter*
ME: This is clearly inconsistent, and illogical, and I object!
MOM, WIPING EYES: I'm so glad I had children. It's worth it just for the entertainment.

I sulked away and gathered the supplies for a third attempt. There was a bag of dried coconut used. I put the results in the oven, with trepidation.


Victory, at last. A rather bewildered and bedraggled victory. BUT VICTORY.

Apr. 25th, 2013



I made it through my training period, whew, and am back at my home store. Tomorrow I start shadowing the trainer I'm replacing and taking over her classes (I rather wish I could move to Hawaii with her, but sadly that is not on my menu of options. My allergies probably contraindicate Hawaii, anyway).

Also I met a twelve-week-old red merle Aussie puppy last night, and my desire for one is thoroughly renewed. Our girls are getting older! We need to start raising the next generation. That's my argument and I'm sticking to it. So far my parents are not convinced. But PUPPY.

Also also, I read Jen Kirchner's THE FOURTH CHANNEL, which is a light funny urban fantasy that does not involve a love triangle. Reader, I hugged my Kindle. And then laughed some more about the fireballed kitchen. I hope there is a sequel, and I hope it has more rockband in it. Rock, explosions, necromancers, and meddling friends. That is what I like to see in my UF.

Continuing my lucky streak, I next stumbled across Karen Lord's THE BEST OF ALL POSSIBLE WORLDS. It's a science fiction novel that is altogether warm, bright, and charming. Despite the underlying tragedies, these characters were just wonderful to hang out with. (Delarua is way up there in my list of favorite narrators. I finished the book at 2:30 am, then immediately went back to the beginning and reread it when I woke up this morning. I would run around telling people, "Read it! It's adorable!" except when you tell people something is adorable, and then they read a prologue containing desert meditation and news that ROCKS FELL, EVERYONE DIED, they tend to be very confused and wonder if you have overdosed on the good allergy meds. I stand by my conclusion, however!) Bonus points: Caribbean-based setting, multitudes of interacting cultures, and secondary characters with desires and personalities of their own.
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Mar. 17th, 2013


It's almost Nowruz!

Spring is in the air: all the very nice Persian grandmothers are coming in to buy goldfish for the New Year celebrations. They've explained to me that the fish are for happiness and good luck, and particularly want very dark gold/red ones. They insist on not one speck of black or white on the fish. If it's the next generation of women, they don't usually mind some white markings so long as the fish aren't wholly white. Ladies a further generation down tend to be young enough they're coming in with little kids (these would be great-grandkids of the first ladies), and they let them pick whatever colors they want.

(They all look amazed and amused when I ask them unprompted if they want pure red fish, probably because no one looks less Persian than me; my coloring brings up associations like, well, St. Patrick's Day. My sister, meanwhile, got the southern-Italian set of family genes and has had customers mistakenly address her in Farsi)

Also, my parents were accosted by a baby hummingbird the other day. It was apparently the size of a large moth, had very brown coloring, and buzzed around them at dusk in a really confused and confusing fashion (they thought at first it WAS a moth, possibly one on drugs, given the exceptional speed and maneuverability. What kind of hummingbird assaults porch-goers in near-dark? Apparently a new fledgling who has not yet learned Hummingbird Etiquette*). I am deeply envious of this sighting.

So: spring! Baby birds and sunlight! The conclusion of Serious Job Discussions too, thankfully: I got the dog trainer position! Now I just have to pass my own training for it, which will take most of April. The lady who will be training me has a widely-known, one-word reputation, which is "hardcore." I understand why, having met her (she interviewed me for the spot). But she Knows Her Stuff, so I will do my best to learn everything to her high standards and prove I was a good choice.

In the stress of spring allergies and job upheaval I went on a month-long vacation from writing and read a gazillion books**, so now I feel Rested and Refreshed and ready to leap back into the novel-in-progress.*** Also I shall strive to climb back on the long-forgotten wagon of booklog posts. I particularly want to discuss the Flora Segunda books; they have some really interesting flaws.

How is spring going for all y'all, as one of my co-workers might say?


*A very aggressive and chirp-filled code of conduct, it must be admitted. For several years we had a resident Anna's hummer we named Little Soldier. Ahh, the aerial dogfights of summer.

**Okay, 35, if you count the Shadow Unit e-book rereads.

***Mentally, at least; physically I am tired and snuffly and prone to glaring at the hostile outdoors. Still, it's progress!

Feb. 28th, 2013


O frabjous day!

I am pleased to announce that I've sold a short story to The Colored Lens! "In Glamourglass Court" is slated for their spring issue; I will definitely post a link as soon as it's up.

I must thank mercwriter and ada_hoffmann for beta reading on this one. The story's set in a world Merc and I have been writing in for years, so I'm really excited to share it!

Jul. 7th, 2012


And *draft.*

Title: "Redwing"

Words today: 400-ish
Words total: 6,873

This is my "half-dinosaur warlocks of the American Revolution" story. I was so certain I would finish it the 4th of July. That day I confidently told mercwriter it'd be only be a thousand more words or so. I wrote and wrote, and around 1 am I realized...I'd written 850 words, and there were several hundred more to go. Hm. Sadly my body requires sleep, and my workplace has a strange insistence that I show up, so I had to stop and do that. The next evening, I wrote 400 more words. At 1 am, I realized...there were still several hundred left. What madness was this?! Sleep and work had to happen again. Finally, today, I wrote the last 400 and finished the blasted thing. I am pretty sure 850 + 400 + 400 does not equal a thousand, but I will not argue with a finished draft.

I sum up my feelings with this excellent diagram from Tetrapod Zoology:


Jun. 5th, 2012


(no subject)

We don't name animals at work, there being so many, unless one develops an issue and needs to see the vet (otherwise we could never keep track of them in the vet's computer). Nevertheless, we end up naming a lot of things. Usually on the spur of the moment. It sometimes leads to conversations like today's:

Me: And here's the chinchilla. His ear's looking a lot better, it's cleared up almost entirely.
Vet: Good! What was his name again? Harrison?
Me: Hadrian.
Vet: What's that from--wait, like Hadrian's wall?
Me: Yup, from the Roman emperor.
Vet: *contemplative stare*
Me: It was a long day.
Vet: It must have been.

Jun. 1st, 2012


New story out!

I am beyond excited to announce that "Eliza Jane Goes Into Town" is up in the newest issue of Ideomancer!

Some of you may remember this story--I wrote the first draft three years ago, in a happy midnight-fueled blaze, and then it was a slow teeth-grinding journey before I managed to cut it to strips and sew it back together in the shape it needed. Also, leahbobet is amazing. One could ask no better editor for one's first.

....I have finished all the professional adult part I can manage and now am going to go dance little circles in the corner saying coherent things like "Eeeeeeee!"

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