Words Are Hard

Writer, Messenger, and Professional Weirdo

Freedom!

I have completed the gauntlet that is the end of July and the beginning of August! A winner is me! My voice is cracking, and I’ve spent the majority of that time battling a migraine, but I managed to not call in and will have about 38 hours of overtime pay coming to me on Thursday. Now I have two glorious days off before heading back to my regular four days on. Once I get through those I have vacation! Twelve days, most of which will be spent in Stratford, Canada, watching the Stratford Shakespeare Company do their thing. And then it’s back to my normal four on, four off with however much overtime I want to pick up in between.

I cannot tell you how much I am looking forward to it.

But today is my Friday! Which means I get to come home and transcribe the new Chapter One. I’m actually mostly happy with the way it turned out. It needs some tweaking, of course, but that I can do on the rebound. I also threw together a possible prologue, but I’m not sure if I’m going to use it as a prologue or a flashback, since it would work both ways. I am stupidly happy with how it turned out, so I may toss it out here to see how people react. We’ll see if I’m still happy about it when I get it transcribed into a computer.

The problem with working as much as I have is handwriting things. When I’m up, the words don’t wait for me to get home to a keyboard I can actually use for the Project. As a result, my wrist is a bit sore. Oddly enough, my throat isn’t sore, I’m just losing my voice. That should make the raid tomorrow night interesting (I can raid!).

But first things first: Sleep. I haven’t gotten as much of that as I’ve wanted to the past couple weeks. And tonight? Real, honest to goodness, cooked food. Nom.

Oh, and guess what I found on sale at Walgreens last night?

It works! And it cost less than half what I was expecting to pay for it!

Considering it’s a cheep knockoff brand, I don’t expect it to last long, but hey – it works for now so I’ll take it.  This is my cheap “Congrats on nearly working yourself to death” present to myself.  My more expensive “Congrats on nearly working yourself to death” present will happen when PayPal gets off its duff and finishes recognizing that money exists.

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I’m just calling to give you a heads up…

There is no other phrase that I hear while working that makes me cringe quite as much. There are times it’s fine, but most of the “heads up!” calls amount to the caller waking someone up at three o’clock in the morning for no good reason. This is especially true if the deceased is at a facility with access to a morgue.

Most of the time when I get “heads up!” calls, it’s because the nurses will call before they even arrive at the home of the deceased. They want to save themselves some time because they don’t want to wait around for the removal people to show up.  They’re trying to time it so that the removal people show up about fifteen minutes after the nurse does. To the best of my knowledge this is rarely, if ever, successful and is only really appropriate in the following situation:

  • The funeral director will be making removal personally.
  • The funeral director is more than an hour away from the home and will be traveling there themselves instead of calling a more local funeral home to make the removal (otherwise known as a trade call). This is common in very rural communities.
  • The nurse is less than an hour away from the home, will be there early enough to get the paperwork done, and has made sure that the family is ready.

That’s it, really. In that case, by all means, get the director up and moving. If, however, the director is local, or they’re using a local funeral home or removal service, then chances are you’re waking them up to say: “Hey I’m going to be calling you later about this one body that hasn’t even been pronounced yet.”

They can’t do anything in that case and, chances are, they’re just going to go back to bed, grumbling under their breath and calling you names. Many places I answer for have instructions in place that say if the body isn’t ready (and if it hasn’t been pronounced, it isn’t ready) that we don’t even bother calling it out until it is. The only exception to that rule is if the family wants to talk to a director, but if you’re not at the home, how do you know if they do or not?

A lot of the time I’ll hedge when I get these calls and say something like, “Well, I can take the information now and get it to the director, or we can hold off until you get to the home and everyone is ready…”

Every time.  Without fail.  The nurse will (obviously not thinking this through) have me wake up the director who will then growl, “Okay,” and go back to bed.  I’m getting the impression that the nurse thinks the director doesn’t go back to bed, but I can assure you, when we get the second, “Okay ready now!” call, I’m waking them up again.  I know this because just waking up people have a distinct, groggy tone in their voice and a tendency to go “Mrfff,” “Grphf,” and “Fffstphk.”

Any hospice nurse worth their weight in student loans should know that a body cannot be moved from the place of death until it has been pronounced. In fact, five seconds with Google will tell you the same thing. Guess what can’t be done if you’re not there to do it? Right.

I also notice that a lot of nurses who do this (call before even getting to the home) will just sort of assume that the body will be ready shortly after being pronounced. Never mind any family members that are coming from a ways away that want to view the body before the funeral home arrives. Never mind any religious or cultural concerns. Never mind a husband or wife who just wants to spend a few more hours with their dearly departed for whatever reason. Never mind actually bothering to ask the family any of that. Just come and get the stiff!

This often ends in several calls back and forth saying the body is ready, then it’s not, then it is, then it’s not. Trying to jump ahead in the queue often leads to things getting messed up and wires getting crossed. It’s unprofessional. It makes the director look unprofessional and it puts a couple extra bucks in our bank account because we charge for every call we take and every one we have to make.

…On second thought, go ahead and make all those calls. Momma needs a new Playstation.

Life Is Sorta Funny

I’m trying very hard to stop flaking on this writing thing, but it’s sorta difficult.  Apart from making snarky posts about my work-life, what have I been up to?

Not a whole heck of a lot, really.  I mean, I’ve been working.  Yours truly is now a supervisor and if THAT doesn’t fill you will fear and dread, then you may need to get your doom meter checked.  It’s just one of the many reasons I haven’t been able to really DO anything.  I’m winding down my only day off this week while writing this and when I wake up tonight I have a whole six days back on, two of which are thirteen hour shifts.  It’s also been somehow busier than normal so every day I leave work wanting to punch kittens.

Did I mention I quit smoking in April?  I’ve been on the razor edge of a relapse for the past two weeks now.  I still have some of the medication I took to help me stop, but it makes me very ill so it’s not really an option at this point since I haven’t called into work in over two years and I’m not about to start now.  So far, so good though.

So LOTS of reading has been happening and up until yesterday I was on a sorta kinda forced sabbatical from The Project.  The beginning has been throwing me left, right, and center and I think, given a little bit of poking (and prodding from the spousal unit), that I know how to fix it.  So yippee!  I get to do that this week – maybe.  Writing at work isn’t really an option unless I’m writing by hand (ow ow ow ow), so we’ll see how much inspiration I have after coming home from a night of not being able to strangle nurses who think calling before the body is actually ready is a good thing.

But all that being said: Hooray for upswings!  The fun part about being me is that I have a very, very mild type of mood roller-coaster.  I was diagnosed manic depressive before it became known as bipolar, but I don’t really think of myself as bipolar because it’s been so long since that diagnosis was handed down and things have changed (like puberty – puberty happened).  I’ve gotten very good at picking out when the downswing hits and when the upswing starts so when I’m feeling crappy and teary and whiny for no good reason and I can’t find plot for love nor money, I can recognize it.  It doesn’t make it better, per se, but at least I know that it’ll pass.

I just started the climb back up the coaster so I’ve got at least a month or two (if I’m lucky) of productive good times before I dive back down into the miasma of self loathing.  The medication I’m on isn’t strong, so it takes the edge off, but that’s about it.  I don’t get as high, but I also don’t get as low, so it evens out and, frankly, I’m lucky.  It could be much, much worse.

Anyway, babble babble babble, and apart from sorting the beginning of the story out somewhat, I’ve also got a new set of plot bunnies in the back of my head.  Technically, I suppose, they’re old plot bunnies, but like all things, I finally have a plot to go with the characters.  I started up that bible (lower case ‘b’) last week so maybe when I’m done with this book I can take a break from The World Outside and throw together something (not sure what – whether short-ish novella/story or novel) about lesbians in the circus.  There might also be vampires involved because I don’t like vampires much these days, so if I get to make life hell for a pair of them (the vampires, not the lesbians), I’m going to take that opportunity.

So I’ve been scrambling for books about both the circus and technical theater and in doing so, completely and totally forgot that I’d promised the spousal unit that I’d beta his former student’s sci-fi novel.  There’s also a book a co-worker lent me, as well as a newly acquired steampunk story with skypirates in it, Let The Right One In, and a couple other books recommended to me by way of this post that I wrote back when I didn’t have anything on my plate.

I need to learn how to read faster.

It would also help if this game weren’t so much fun. Nothing free should be this addicting.

Anatomy of a Death Call

1:04am: “I’m just calling to give you a heads up. The family isn’t here so the body isn’t ready yet. We’ll give you a call when they leave.”

1:08am: The director is called and the call is cleared.

1:31am: “Okay!  The body is ready for pickup.”

1:33am: The director is called and the call is cleared.

1:40am: “Hi, I’m with the donor network/eye bank. We will be approaching the family regarding donation. Please hold off on removal.”

1:42am: The director is called and the call is cleared.

2:00am: “Hi, I called almost an hour ago regarding Mr. Doe. Do you have an eta? I’m sorry? Oh. Yes. Well we’re ready now.”

2:02am: The director is called and the call is cleared.

2:05am: “Hello, I’m with the donor network/eye bank. Just letting you know that the family has declined donation and the body is ready for removal now.”

2:06am: The director is called and the call is cleared.

2:45am: “Um hi, yes, um. I called regarding a Mr. John Doe about two hours ago. So it turns out the family gave us the wrong number and will be using a different funeral home. You can disregard the call. Sorry about that.”

2:46am: The director is called and has a nervous breakdown.

Oh. That good huh?

This is going to be a short post, mostly because the upswing hasn’t come ’round yet and I’ve spent more time dramatically sobbing into a pillow than actually being productive. That may or may be hyperbole, but when one of your beta readers is asked the question, “Would you read past the first chapter?” and their resoundingly honest answer is a very blunt, “No.” it sorta bruises the ego.

Thing is (and this is why I haven’t posted any teasers of the first chapter), I know that bit is broken. It’s (no seriously) attempt fourteen or fifteen (or more, I lost count) at starting this dumb thing and every time I try to fix it, the entire story ends up getting changed. Tweaked. Fixed. Rearranged.

That’s not bad, and it’s not that I don’t appreciate it, but it is exhausting. Eventually I’ll be head over heels thanking dog for honest editors, but right now all I have to go on is a no and a vague idea that the info dump is too much, but not where or how. What makes it worse is this particular reader works days while I work nights, he lives an hour away, and has a small toddler at home. What this means is that I am astonished and humbled that he’s actually taken the time to go through my mess, but it also means that sitting down and talking through where the weak spots are and what about them makes the weak is just shy of being a massive headache.

This upsets me because he is actually qualified to tear the ‘script apart and the novel would (will, I suppose because I will figure this out) benefit from every blow he can throw at it.

The silver lining: the Editor (capital-I-am-being-paid-for-my-time-E) is working on it and she is equally qualified to rip it shreds. Obviously. I mean, I wouldn’t be paying her otherwise. She’ll also be much easier to get in contact with.

The second silver lining: People, if you’re going to marry someone, marry someone whose job it is to teach other people how to write. My wonderful husband took a gander and gave his professional assessment:

I think I know how fix it and no, you probably won’t have to rewrite the whole thing but I need to, like, show you because trying to describe it is hard. But like I need to go to rehearsal (did I mention he’s also an actor?) and you need to go to work so we’ll go over it in the morning.

Seven years of wedded bliss people. This is why. Of course now the big jerk won’t wake up…

A quick update post

June was not a good month for me.  July is shaping up to be not much better.  On the upside: I found an editor that will professionally tear apart The World Outside and that includes copy-editing!  And I won’t have to take out a massive loan to make it happen!  I am so excited!  More emotional black eyes!  YAY!  Additional upside: My mom made scotcharoos for the fourth and I, like, snagged a bunch before I left so NOOOOMYAY!

I’ve been working a lot, and there’s a lot of new things for me to do at work now so that’s sapped any and all energy I’ve had.  So while I have been reading a lot (dear Hitchhikers Guide: you have been defeated!  Love, me), no creative juices have been flowing, really.  At least, not many.  Bear with me here kids.  Hopefully the upswing is coming.  It usually does.

So anyway, because I’m keen to prove that I have been really busy the following is a paraphrased conversation I had earlier this morning with a guildmate:

Her:  Yeah, I’m gonna log off and go play this other game now, k?

Me: No worries!  How is that anyway?

Her: I love the events!  And since it’s free–

Me: Wait.  It’s free now?  As in, the whole game is free?

Her: …Yes…

Me: ……..

And then a co-worker had to go and post a screenshot of a raid or instance or whatever that was happening in a game I used to play where, to quote a mutual friend: “Warcraft and Cthulhu had a baby.”

So I’ve been really busy with work and stuff.  Really.

This is somebody else's desktop.

This is somebody else’s desktop.

A Quandry

Sorry about flaking on Friday.  Last week was something of a busy and not very good week for me.  Erk.

Anyway, I come to you this morning looking for some help!  I read my escapist stuff sort of fast, so having finished Y: The Last Man I’m on the hunt for something new.

As for Y: The Last Man, I enjoyed it, actually.  I only had two issues with it:

Evolution doesn’t work that way and shock! deaths always tick me off because there was absolutely no reason for the deaths that happened other than the author wanted to tug at the proverbial heart strings.  It’s 99% of the reason I don’t really watch anything Joss Whedon puts out these days unless it’s been vetted to be Not Typical Joss, because it’s sort of pointless to get invested in his stories and characters because they’ll all just randomly die whenever Joss gets bored.

Why yes, I did find end of the Harry Potter series to be as satisfying as a cake made out of dirt, why do you ask?

*cough*

Anyway, seriously, I could’ve taken any other explanation for the “plague” – anything!  I’ll buy aliens, fairies, magic artifacts, A Wizard Did Itany bloody thing but pseudo-magic-science that they used.  When you try to have a real world explanation for something that is obviously absurd, try to make sure it’s something that can actually happen or at least reasonably believable.

/end rant

I’ve got the rest of Fables to catch up on, and a couple “new” series – Unwritten and Locke & Key – in the to-read pole.  They’re all comics and I’m sort of comic-ed out at the moment.  I’m slowly, painfully slogging my way through The Ultimate Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy and while it’s fun, I don’t remember it being this much of a chore the first time through.  I’m eying Neil Gaiman’s new book but while I acknowledge that Gaiman is brilliant and ten times the writer I will ever be, the books themselves are hit or miss for me.  I’m not quite up to paying almost thirteen bucks for a book that I might end up loving as much as American Gods, but could just as easily end up bored with it ala Stardust (confession: one of the few times in my life where I’ve enjoyed the movie more than the book eek).

So what I basically want, at this point, is fun, escapist easy read stuff that I can get through in a night (so anywhere from 200-300 pages) and after looking at this and this (or hey, even closer to my own genre: this) I’m totally open to suggestions because what the heck.

I’m sure some of those books are actually very good but does there exist a book in the urban fantasy/modern-ish supernatural genre that does not have on its cover a sultry white woman (matching white dude and his washboard abs optional)?  Because they’re all appearing the same to me and that makes me sad because variety, spice of life, etc.

Here’s (essentially) what I’m lookin’ for:

  1. No vampires.
  2. If the main character is a woman, that she not only be able to save her own damned self, but is actually the one saving the dude and not the other way ’round.
  3. Romance is fine, but see point #2.
  4. If the main character is a dude can we please not with the washboard abs and the brooding emotional maturity of a sack of rocks disguised as him being deep and mysterious.
  5. A gay/lesbian/transgendered MC would be a definite plus.
  6. No vampires.
  7. Creative use of zombies is acceptable and encouraged.
  8. Werewolves will be considered on a case by case basis.
  9. No vampires.
  10. Fairies/Arcadia/changelings are pushing it but will be considered.
  11. Angels and demons are awesome.
  12. If the main character is female she is not allowed to be described using the following adjectives: clumsy, plain, boring, average – because we all know she’s not.  Additional unacceptable adjective: pale because every heroine is a boring average pale girl, can I please read about something else?
  13. A Wizard Did It?  Yes.  Anything in the vein of Harry Dresden would be super-awesome.
  14. Oh let’s stop being around the bush: If the MC is not white that’s not only fine, but encouraged.
  15. Cheap!  Anywhere between .99 cents and 5 bucks – most suggestions that fall in that price range will be indy and that’s cool.
  16. No *&*#ing vampires.

The floor is now open to suggestions!

Review: The Pull by Rob White

So there are few things more exciting than being able to sit down and think thoughts and then put a loudspeaker up to your mouth and shout them.  There’s also nothing quite so terrifying because I am a firm believer in the rule that says “people in glass houses shouldn’t throw badgers” …or was it ducks?  Anyway.  Bear with me here, because I’m a little bit scared!

The Pull is a novel by Rob White (just like it says on the tin cover) and according to the blurb on Rob’s site:

The Pull is an epic Urban Fantasy tale nearly two decades in the making.  Part fantasy drama, part heroic action tale and part journey of self discovery, The Pull is an unrelenting roller-coaster of a novel that hooks the reader with mystery from page 1 and never lets go.

Nick wants to believe he is an ordinary nineteen year old boy.  He wants to believe he’s nothing special; but the sword in his hand, the metal monster at his back and the Pull in his heart towards a mysterious and frightful destiny tell him otherwise.

There are things to love and things that I thought could’ve gone better. Obviously I liked the book or I wouldn’t be here, sitting at my computer after work, getting blinded by my screen because I keep forgetting to turn the brightness down.

Er, one sec.

…Okay, we’re good.

I want to get this out of the way before I dive into the meat of the story itself.  This link is an article from Cracked.com writer David Wong (speaking of books people should read…).  I’m linking the second page specifically because the point I really want to get to is in #1.

Specifically this part:

Right now I’m reading a book from mega-selling fantasy author George R. R. Martin. The following is a passage where he is writing from the point of view of a woman — always a tough thing for men to do. The girl is on her way to a key confrontation, and the narrator describes it thusly:

“When she went to the stables, she wore faded sandsilk pants and woven grass sandals. Her small breasts moved freely beneath a painted Dothraki vest …”

That’s written from the woman’s point of view. Yes, when a male writes a female, he assumes that she spends every moment thinking about the size of her breasts and what they are doing. “Janet walked her boobs across the city square. ‘I can see them staring at my boobs,’ she thought, boobily.” He assumes that women are thinking of themselves the same way we think of them.

I am a fan of George R.R. Winter Is Coming Martin.  I’ve read the books.  I cackled a couple weeks ago when the Red Wedding Happened and the internet exploded.  At the end of season one I was rolling on the ground, schadenfreude coursing through my veins like heroin.  But Wong has a point: we here in Estrogenville really don’t think like this in real life.  I don’t raise a stink over it because this is something that I default into assuming I’m going to run into when a dude writes from a woman’s point of view.  Women trying to write from a male point of view (HI!) run into similar things.

But you will not find that in this book.

Seriously.

The women are the most well rounded, beautifully flawed, wonderful characters in the book.  The other trap that Rob White avoids is sticking one “strong” (and by strong we mean “sassy but at the end of the day still needs a man to save her” S’up Zombieland?) female character in amidst a sea of testosterone and calling it a love interest day.  We are given three women who couldn’t be more opposite each other if they tried.  They are fleshed out and even though a love interest is a thing, apart from one throwaway comment about how sex probably doesn’t even cross Melissa’s radar, ye ole horizontal tango is never mentioned.

Spoilers for the book follow.  If you’re okay with that, hit the jump and read on!

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Why Wasn’t There A Post Yesterday?

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See you Wednesday!

Happy Father’s Day!

In honor of Father’s Day have a short story about a divine dad’s quest to find a babysitter for his precocious offspring so he can go to the Olympic Games.

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