Halloween/Samhain/Day of the Dead Slouchy Skull Hat!

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What have I spent the better part of a week working on?

A Day of the Dead hat!

It took me days of working on this hat in bits and pieces for me to be able to finally finish it up. It was one of those moments where when I finally finished it, I almost wanted to take it on a run around the block with me, holding it above my head and screaming in exaultation the whole way.

I have never been so glad to finish a project!

Now… What to do next?

Banned Books Week was somewhat of a bust for me. I finished up J.R. Ward’s The King (which would surely be banned from any school library that accidentally let it in, so it should count!) and then visited the library to find something good for the week. I picked up Animal Farm to reread and Nine Stories by Salinger. I’m almost midway through Nine Stories and I’ve found it to be offbeat but good. :) It’s actually my first Salinger read (I believe) and I’ll probably be picking up more in the future.

A Little Musing on Banned Books Week 2014

Someone somewhere in the world picks up a book and within pages is horrified. Perhaps they didn’t read the book themselves, they just read the jacket or heard the horrified murmurs of parents at their child’s school.

“Have you heard of Harry Potter! Blaspheme!”

“Hunger Games dares to ignore my preferred religious sector! BAN IT”

“Captain Underpants is disgusting! No one should be reading that filth!”

In my mind I see these conversations taking place in a dark back room filled with whispers and furtive glances. Later, there are pitchforks and burning pyres of books.

I laugh in the face of these people. First up, let’s address the whole issue of ‘banning’ a book. As we live in the land of the free, home of the brave, no one can tell me or mine what to read or rather, what not to read. Can they take it out of the schools? Absolutely. After all, schools are a place where one has to ask for permission just to void one’s bladder, I don’t expect to find broad, open-minded quests for knowledge within a standard institutional school.

But by removing these books from schools (and their libraries) we do our children a disservice. If we all read the same books, we’ll hold the same conversations, and think the same thoughts. Reading books that don’t sit well with our delicate sensibilities helps us to grow as a species. How can one think outside the box if one doesn’t even know it exists?

But therein lies the issue for many on the banning books bandwagon. After all, we should all think the same, dress the same, carry on our lives in the exact same manner. By melting pot, we truly mean one is to lose sense of self in the vast majority and become a carbon copy of the status quo…

Don’t we?

I have to hope not. In history the minds that we laud as the greatest have always pushed the boundaries of (what was then) contemporary thinking. To take that away is to take away one of the most basic freedoms that every person should enjoy: The freedom to hold within one’s mind the thoughts and ideas of one’s choosing. To silence a book is to kill an idea. Eradication is a terrifying word.

Next up, what exactly is the goal of banning these books? As one opposed to any type of oppression or censorship so long as all parties involved are consensual, I admit that I may not be the right person to expose the thinking of one who doesn’t like something and then deems it unworthy for the general population to partake.

I feel pressed to address the issue of ‘banning’ though. We all know exactly where that leads. From the time we are children, the forbid fruit has always been imagined to be the juiciest, most flavorful of all. Why then, would one attempt to blanket ban something in order to encourage children to not partake in it? It seems contrary to the idea behind it. If in fact, one wants to ensure that the book dies before it is read by more than a handful of people would it not in effect be better to simply ignore it as opposed to fanning the flames of fame by attempting to remove it from the figurative bubble one mistakenly believes their child inhabits?

I think so.

Yet and still we have books that have been banned for one reason or another. Hunger Games apparently upset the ‘only my religion is the religion’ folks. Captain Underpants was deemed offensive and too old for the age group (to which I’d question, who exactly should read this offering if not the age group for which it was written?) while Thirteen Reasons Why was obviously banned by persons who have never met a teenager in their lives. Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye… Well even I’m not sure why that one was banned. For truth, it doesn’t seem to me that it is a bad thing to address beauty standards and how that affects our youth. I haven’t read that one so I’m going to have to add it to my list. :D

See that? A book I didn’t even know existed is now on my ‘must read, have to buy’ list. Thank you, censors, for giving me another reason to visit the bookstore or library. Your plan is working! People everywhere know about the books you deem unacceptable (Google will let you know exactly which places are the ones to spark the ‘ban this’ craze for individual titles) and this week, we’re all taking a moment from our regularly scheduled reading to ensure these lovely authors get paid more so that they may go on to read books that ruffle your delicate feathers.

Banned Books Week 2014

banned books

Over the years I’ve read a multitude of banned books. Sometimes this is with the purpose of making sure I’m reading what someone, somewhere has deemed ‘unacceptable’ and sometimes I just happen upon a read that intrigues me and find out later that others find it unacceptable.

This year I decided to take a gander at what has been banned recently. The ALA has listed out books by year. Funnily enough two of the series I have given to my kids to read have been on the banned lists: Bone and Captain Underpants.

Now, I’ll go ahead and admit here that Captain Underpants has never been my favorite kid series. Frankly, I found it a bit gross but when my kids show an interest in a book I just can’t say no. Reading is fundamental, people. So my boys have read pretty much every one in that series. Bones was something I threw their way because it was recommended on Goodreads based on another series they loved. They didn’t particularly care for it and read only one or two from the series. No sweat off my back, I’m only the provider of reading material. I learned awhile back that there is no use forcing oneself to like a book. There are too many fantastic books that have been written to waste time plodding through something that doesn’t capture your interest.

So it looks like I’ll have to delve a little farther into the past years to find something banned for the chits to read. As for myself… Well there are a ton of great books that might call for a reread this week or I might pick up something new. I’m currently entrenched in J.R. Ward’s The King but as the next book in the series isn’t due to publish until next year I want to savor this one a bit so I’ll probably put it down to pick up something tantalizing for BBW. I’m leaning towards a reread of George Orwell’s Animal Farm as I haven’t read it in years and absolutely loved it the first few times I read it.

What are you reading this week in honor of Banned Books Week?

Paranormal/Fantasy Writing Sample

Paranormal/Fantasy

The shock of light that had emitted from her hands as she clapped them together alarmed her. Her mood immediately shifted from white hot anger to extreme curiosity merged with not a little fear. What kind of disease came with spontaneous bursts of blue electricity? She had never seen such a ludicrous color combination in the natural word, not in the form of any type of energy. Then again, she’d never actually seen lightening first hand. Maybe it was a vibrant blue and she’d just been viewing it wrong this whole time.

Or maybe fucking sparks had just emitted from her body. “I have to go.” She managed to say into the phone sounding no more than just annoyed. Since FedEx obviously didn’t care about her happiness, as was obvious by the package that had yet to arrive to her customer, she doubted that the abrupt end to their call had fazed them much.

She rubbed her fingers together a bit before taking off her Bluetooth. She’d just bought it and there was no way that she was going to ruin the expensive device by shocking it with whatever leftover current may or may not be running through her body. The moment she’d set down the item she was examining her hands. Nothing seemed to be off about them, beyond the fact that she might need to refresh her manicure.

The knock on her door was brisk and for a moment her inner hippie ran through the list of bad reasons for a cop-like knock to be sounding through her apartment. As she strode towards the entryway she called out, “Who is it?”

“Darla.”

Of course, it had to be somebody that Titan knew as he was currently padding past her likely on his way back to his food bowl that was full of freshly killed deer, his favorite.

She opened the door after checking the peephole for a second.

“What’s up?” She was trying to sound chipper but her inner self was in turmoil at the odd occurrence that had just happened.

The music blasting in the background hit her in the face as soon as Emma opened the door. Her appearance was framed by a screaming man proclaiming that he had a thing for love.

As she glanced her over Darla was surprised that though her energy was foggy she showed no signs of a struggle. The burst of power that she’d felt had led her to believe she would be walking in on at least a few wizards, though how they’d found her she was unclear.

“Are you alright?” She asked as Emma stepped back in invitation.

“Yeah…” As Emma trailed off Darla took a closer look at her.

“Did something happen?”

©2014

Romance Writing Sample

Romance

He grunted as he crossed the threshold in her apartment. Bumping into a table wasn’t the best feeling when carrying an injured person. Running with her had been great until the whole snake incident.

But they weren’t talking about that.

As he felt his way to the counter she continued to argue with him.

“We are in my house now. Put me down. Now.” She was agitated as she looked at him but little did she know that all he could focus on was her slightly reddened cheeks and narrowed eyes. She looked cute when she was mad… But he wouldn’t bring that up because she’d already gone on a long tangent when he’d pointed out that her pissed off face when he had first scooped her up was kind of sexy. He hadn’t realized that was considered a bad thing. He’d dated some women who made faces that were ugly when they were mad. He didn’t want to ever wake up to that. He could imagine waking up to her angry face in the morning. He liked to start his day off on a humorous note and that face would certainly spark his interest.

**

She glared up at his smirking face. She saw the mirth in his eyes and instantly began to struggle. He easily pinned her arms to him as he almost cuddled her to him. Nope. She thought instantly, panic setting in. I will not like this man.

“Right now you are holding me against my will. I’ve asked you to put me down and you’re… ignoring my request.” She stumbled over the last bit as he suddenly jerked to a stop. She marveled as he set her down gently and wondered why she hadn’t tried that earlier.

“I would never want you to do anything… against your will.” He murmured in her ear as he tucked a piece of hair back. The shiver that went through her was thrilling.

She tilted her face up towards his and leaned in as she breathed in the scent of him. It was funny how weird smells worked. She’d dated men in the past whose smell when they were working out completely turned her off but a whiff of him sweaty and she was ready to drop to her knees and get to work.

His eyes burned bright as he read her body language. “I guess you’re not as hurt as I thought you were.” His baritone rumbled from his chest on the verge of a growl. His eyes raked up and down her body as he spoke.

©2014

Bubblews

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I was recently overcome with the need to write articles under my own (pen)name again. Mainly because one of the places I used to write for has closed its doors and I need a new place to host my writing samples. I decided to look into Bubblews and you know what I found out? I can publish anything there. Anything.

This goes for content that I’ve already published elsewhere (so long as that doesn’t invalidate the other publishing rights). That goes for blog posts. Book reviews. Insane ramblings in the middle of the night that no one wants to entertain except for other insomniacs on the interwebz.

Oh, the possibilities…

Oh yeah, you get paid for views, likes, and comments. Not much, but still residual income ftw! :D

Check me out: http://www.bubblews.com/account/382452-muttix

I’m Not Racist

Small Dogs Need Training

Not much content atm but if you know me, you know I like a good place to ramble away. More to come! :D

Make yourself an account, create some content, and link up with me there. I’d love to read what you write!

Houston, We Have a Problem

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Of course, the week when I am most dependent upon technology, it fails me. My computer crashed at the beginning of this week (I desperately need a new one) and it was only brought back to life last night. Thank goodness for techie boyfriends!

So this has pushed everything back a week. No fear, the ebook is still coming out! I just need to catch back up with life…

Speaking of catching up, looking at my reading stats on Goodreads one would think I’m woefully behind and never going to catch up. According to GR, I’ve read 38 measly books this year. My goal is 150! Usually I’d have upped that count a bit with the 48 Hour Book Challenge but as I had to skip that this year, I didn’t get that bump. Still, I read a lot and it didn’t make sense that I’ve read so little. Then I looked at the content that I’ve been reading. The number is even lower than that as some of those books are the chits’. Sigh.

It seems as though life is interfering with my reading once again. Where is my fairy godmother to bless with me with infinite resources so that I might enjoy a good book again?

Working From Home

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I often get the question, “What do you do for a living?” At the grocery store, when I shop at one of my old workplaces (I spent years in retail, but that’s another story… Or rather conglomerate of times I successfully did not punch people in the face for the atrocities they committed), when I pick my kids up from school, basically whenever I enter the bubble of another human being I get asked this question.

The reply is always tough for me. What I technically do is freelance. That answer tends to confuse people or encourage conversation (both of which I try to avoid while picking up apples and bread) so all over town I’m known as a person with different professions. Running into two people I know in passing could result in an interesting conversation regarding my source(s) of income. Some people think I’m a writer, some a transcriber, others know me from my crafting. Then there’s a small subset of people who know what I truly do: wear all the hats!

Working from home, in my experience, has been a conglomerate of jobs. While I’m based mainly in those three fields, I’ve also been known to do data entry in the slow times. I almost took a phone job with a big distribution company (great company to work for but not sure about what NDA I signed so I’ll refrain from mentioning the name) until I realized at the last moment that it isn’t feasible to work for them with three hellions *ahem* children running around in the background. I’ve done marketing for people, set up websites. I know a smattering of HTML, a little CSS, and dabbled in JavaScript. Open source software has been my friend and I’m not opposed to bartering services. I suppose I really should have ‘Jack of All Trades’ listed on my business card.

However, that’s in the past. As I’ve aged (so gracefully, if I do say so myself) I’ve come to the realization that I don’t want to do it all anymore. My chits are getting older and with that comes even more time constraints. Plus, I’m a single mama now and that means that every single second of every single day counts. Continuing to attempt to run in all directions at once simply isn’t the way that I envisioned my life at this point.

So I sat down and made a list. I actually made numerous lists. I took numerous ‘what kind of cheese do you like’ (I’m lactose intolerant) and ‘when throwing your body from a plane, what color do you want your rear-saving gear to be’ (I’m afraid of heights) tests and they all pointed to one thing. I’m a writer.

Surprise, surprise, right? I’ve been a writer since before I could actually write. I remember scribbling my stories down in my own language that was influenced by Asian and ancient Egyptian writing styles when I was in elementary school. In high school I sailed through my classes (though I couldn’t be bothered to show up) based solely on my ability to write well. Yet, I never considered that as a career. Long story long, I’ve been focusing on moving the majority of my income to that field. I’ll still transcribe and craft (at least until I start seeing a few more zeros tacked on the end of my writing checks) but that’s what I’m going to do with my time.

Which is my (wordy) way of saying: I’m writing a work at home book. You’re tired of the rat race, aren’t you? That’s why you’re reading this post right now. Bosses, traffic, boring suits, all of those things can disappear forever. Working online is no longer for the lucky few. Anyone, anywhere can do it. I’m going to show you how.

So no, this post isn’t showing you how to work at home but before you click away make a note to come back this time next week when I’ll have my ebook on working at home ready and most importantly free for a short period of time.

Birds Hate Me

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I stopped in a little, locally owned pet store. As I was checking out the gerbils and hamsters, this white parrot began mocking me. Hold on, let me back up…

For those who don’t know, birds hate me. They run into me while flying, chirp in the middle of the night outside my window, and generally just try to ruin my life. My aunt’s bird used to cuss me out and when she’d laugh and say it did that to everyone, it would wait until she left the room to crawl on the side of its cage and rattle the bars as it hungrily reached for my eyeballs with its disgusting talons. However, no one ever sees this ish because the little bastards are sneaky. You have no idea the pain of having a mortal enemy who no one else sees as threatening. Let me just say this: If a bird ran into you beak first or dive bombed you when you stepped out of your apartment, you’d hate the squirrels with wings as well.

Yep. Squirrels are also on that hate list. But that’s another story and likely one I should share with a therapist.

Anyhow, I was running errands when I saw this little store and as Christmas is coming up (don’t tell me it’s only July. You’re gonna blink and the next thing you know, you’ll be elbow deep in crazy crowds trying to get to that last roll of holiday paper. Meanwhile, I’ll be in front of a warm fire sipping eggnog and laughing at your misfortune), I stopped in to see the offerings for my nephdog.

I was immediately greeted by birds on each side, sizing me up. I realized that it was one of those bird stores (bad news for me, the one common enemy of every type of bird known to man. Except hummingbirds and owls. We’re cool.) but hustled to get past the hoopla. Toward the back of the store there were hamsters, mice, gerbils, and the like so I stopped to take a look at their cute, fuzzy selves.

That’s when it happened. I heard the tinny, forced voice that haunts my dreams croak out, “Hello”. I laughed nervously and said hello back to the little bastard and you know what he did? Started mocking my laughter. I know, I know. This sounds like I’m overreacting. The person I was out with thought so as well until the next bit. The guy running the place had drifted over to make sure we weren’t stuffing hamsters down our pants and then he lazily strolled back to his post, holding up the counter lest it hit the ground. I turned back to the cute little hamster who was busy attempting to beguile me with the cute way it could high five me through the glass (a trick that made me make the horrible mistake of buying a pair of mice a lifetime and a decade ago) when the white devil of a bird started getting cranky. He first tried to get to me through the bars and when that didn’t work, he began trying to pick the lock. That’s right. He started shaking and picking this lock like a psycho. I pointed it out to my companion who stood back in amazement.

I felt vindicated. I felt freed. No one had ever witnessed the blarney that birds put me through. At least the squirrels had the decency to kill my cat in front of witnesses. Squirrels don’t give a shit. They’ll murder your beloved family pet in front of your eyes, drop his lifeless body at your feet, and piss on your Wheaties before they flip you off as they go back to polishing their nuts. I respect that. They’re like the mafia. They’re gonna do what they want to do and no one is going to stop them.

Birds though… They’re bastards. I’d put some flowery words around it to pretty it up but it comes down to that. They’re little rat bastards of the sky who will sneakily haunt your days and screw up your nights. Owls and hummingbirds are the only good ones of the lot, the exceptions to the rule. Pigeons, parrots, those little tiny balls of fluff that like to tell me dawn is coming and I better prepare for it a full hour before the first rays hit the horizon? Those are all pieces of excrement. They’ll stalk your life, wait for you to relax enough to accept them as part of the scenery, then take a crap on your head when you’re on your way to an important meeting with no access to fresh clothing or even water.

So finally having a witness was a pivotal moment for me. For once someone saw the extremes of which these feathered sociopaths were capable! The piece of living foundation heard the commotion (bird rattling cage whilst I pointed a shaking, accusatory finger in its general direction stage whispering, ‘See?!? SEE?!?’) and came back in the room and it stopped. The moment he left, the overpriced feather pillow started again. We went through three or four rounds of this before the lock started to give way and I quickly fled to the reptile room (at which point the open cases made me almost have a heart attack and that was the end of that).

What’s the point of this story? Vindication.

Wednesday Seems to Roll Around Every Week…

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Is it just me or is time moving faster? When I was a kid time seemed to stretch on forever. A week was a lifetime. Now I blink and a week has zoomed on by with no consideration for me or my feelings.

Anyhow today I’m working with crochet thread and I have the hand ache to prove it.

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These are earrings. The anchors will be my first attempt at blocking anything, ever. So we’ll see how that goes. The tropical flower (that for some reason I keep wanting to call a lotus) is a bit on the big side but I like them. Calls attention to the face. :)

I’ve yet to finish last week’s bag, still need to weave in the ends and make a strap, because I’m fickle like that.

I’m reading Lover Unleashed

which is #9 in the Black Dagger Brotherhood series. I’m working through it slowly because of an excess of work (about which I’m absolutely thrilled!) and the need to wait for the next to come in. I deeply dislike finishing a book before I have the next one in my hands so I might put this one down to revisit Hearne or Frost.

Make sure you click the WIP Wednesday link (the pic up above) to visit the post today as there is a raffle that is going to be benefiting animals in need. PLUS you might get some cool socks out of yummy yarn from it! Or you could just click through to check out the other cool creations in this week’s WIP Wednesday!

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