When The Reverie Breaks

Things I think about when I'm not thinking of other things.

Bittersweet

On April 2nd, 2016, I received some very bad news. An old, old friend – and a large part of my (misspent) youth – had died suddenly from back surgery complications. We’re not young anymore, but we’re not old either, and this was a blow to the group of us that lived that era.

Most of us are still reeling, quietly, in moments when the truth hits: there will be other losses. BH was the first. He will not be the last.

When we started trading memories, pictures, and stories, the scenes that flashed into my mind became the first part of the following poem. I’ve been trying to write it since BH’s death; the emotions were there, but the words weren’t. I’m not sure that it’s completely right, not yet, but it’s true. My truth, through my eyes, from that period of my life, and the people that shared it.

Bittersweet
We were young,
feral,
beautiful.
Drunk
on our own wild arrogance,
we prowled dark streets,
smoky clubs,
the corners of our own lives.

We built ourselves
word by word,
note by note,
from stories and songs
shared
you to me,
me to her,
her to them.

Stories end,
songs fade,
youth vanishes.
Some lives end,
the rest go on as best we can.
We change,
not really understanding
how we became
this
Other.

When we see the children,
young,
feral,
beautiful,
our lips form smiles
bittersweet
as dark chocolate.
Because we know.
“That was us,
once.”

~for Mopey~

Resurrectionists or Perhaps, Burkers

Der Mann is desperately looking for a two-player game – something besides Trivial Pursuit. He says he’d occasionally like to do something a bit different, and I understand that. Traditional gaming/games – RPGs and such – aren’t fun with just two people, and the usual card and board games also pall quickly. And for some odd reason, he’d rather play Call of Duty on his XBox, instead of Sonic the Hedgehog. I don’t get it.

I think we’re going to have to make up our own game. As Herself put it, “A Calvin-ball card game.”

We have some ideas. For instance, last night (that would be 7/5/2016), Der Mann wanted to stop by Fun For All to look at the games. He asked the clerk if she had any recommendations for two-person games and she gave us Patchwork. Apparently, you make a quilt? Anyway, it didn’t thrill me. As we were walking out, Der Mann remarked that I might have been more enthusiastic if the point of the game was to patch together a Frankenstein-type creature, and I agreed. And thus was the idea for Resurrectionists (Burkers?) born.

I’m thinking a card component for building your creature. Roland thinks a dice component for the fighting part. Now – how do we integrate this?

We discussed “durability rolls” after your creature is built to establish your hit point threshold. Plus extra decks for creature upgrades (say, clockwork “bionic” arms or metal skeletons). It could get convoluted, but then, so is Magic, right? I like the idea of having your creature laid out in front of you (the cards) and then taking bits off when it gets damaged in a fight. Perhaps, if we really want to complicate things, you can rebuild your creature after a certain amount of damage is sustained and if you have the capital (cards).

And should there perhaps be a board component? The fighting arena, perhaps?

Finally, there is the most important part: naming the game. I’ve got two favorites right now; Resurrectionists (after the Victorian-era Resurrection Men that dug up corpses for medical students) and Burkers (for the resurrection gang called the London Burkers that killed people and sold the corpses to medical schools). I like them both. Burkers is a bit more ominous, but most people are more familiar with resurrection men. Or perhaps we could go with Victor, a double play on the victor in the fight, and Victor Frankenstein, the most famous creature-maker/resurrection man of all.

If we can work out the specifics, it could actually be fun. However, knowing us, we’ll get so involved in making the card decks that we won’t ever get around to actually playing the game…

Book Review: Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge

Last Call Book Cover

Author: Paul Kreuger

Category: Fantasy, New Adult

Sid thinks: If you like lighthearted, quick reads with drinks and demons, then read it!

Der Mann picked this book up on a whim. I was looking for something to read, something a bit different, and as I read faster than he does, I sneaked Last Call out of his TBR pile.

Bailey Chen is our narrator. She’s a fresh Ivy-League graduate with no job prospects, that takes a job as a barback to tide her over while she looks for her career. Of course, she gets much, much more than she thought. While I found her annoyingly short-sighted and self-centered at first, I came to like her more in the end. And to be honest, who isn’t short-sighted and self-centered at 22? I know I was. She rang true, and she grew a bit over the course of the story, which is what we love in a main character.

Then there is Zane, the geeky best friend/high school crush-that-wasn’t, who knows more than he’s telling and has grown up more than Bailey thought. Zane isn’t as developed as he could be; he seems to be there more for Bailey to angst about and fawn over, but he is a demon-fighting bartender in his own right, where Bailey is not. He’s grown past her in this regard, and could have gotten a bit more credit (and page time) for it.

There’s a bit of political infighting, and a lovely character that trains Bailey in demon-fighting, and some interesting side characters, including a woman of color and a trans bartender,  that I hope show up in later books or stories of their own. Honestly, some of these secondary characters were more interesting than Bailey and have far better backstories (and I want to see them!).

As for the demons themselves, or “tremens” as they’re called (and yes, a group of them is a “delirium”), their motivations aren’t quite clear. They’re not intelligent, and their reasons for hunting people aren’t really spelled out. Bartenders hunt them because that’s what bartenders do. Good enough, I suppose. There aren’t any deeper motivations, except for the draw of the magic of the fabled Long Island Iced Tea…honestly, it gets a bit garbled. Tremens are ugly, eat-you things and bartenders fight them. Yay bartenders!

It isn’t great literature, or even an enduring fantasy for the ages, but it’s well-done, light, and fun, plus it has some fantastic drink recipes (the Mixology inserts are some of the best parts of the book)! If Mr. Kreuger writes another novel set in this universe (maybe about baristas?), I’ll be picking it up.

Dreaming of Snakes

I dreamed about snakes last night.

Initially, I dreamed that Der Mann was cleaning the snake cages and adding features – he put some large rocks around their hiding huts for them to lounge on (not a bad idea – I might suggest this to him). This actually needs no interpretation – Natasha has shed, and Roland said yesterday that he was going to clean their cages and feed them, probably today (Tuesday, 6/21/16).

But then I dreamed that someone told him there were two more snakes in a stream outside, so he went and rescued them. They were yellow-brown (much like Boris and Natasha), non-poisonous, and both female, so he put them in the same cage. It turned out that they were escaped/released lab animals, so he kept them.

And then there were four snakes, two twined together like a caduceus, but all happily in their cages, lounging about in the sun. And I wasn’t scared of them. Per my reading, it seems important that I did not fear them.

As for meanings – well, there’s the traditional Freud interpretation, but I’m disregarding that one. Four phallic symbols is just too much – especially as three of the snakes in my dream were female (Natasha and the two wild ones).

I’m thinking more that these snakes are symbols of creativity, change, healing and transformation. Hopefully, this means I’m stabilizing, and perhaps about to launch into a wild, wonderfully creative period. The tranquil stream where we found the snakes seems to mean that I’m at peace with where my life is going – and if, as I hope, the snake dream means I’m about to enter a creative period, then yes, yes I am totally at peace with it. In fact, I embrace it – which may be symbolized by my allowing Der Mann to rescue and keep the other two snakes.

Other interpretations:

  • catching the snakes = economic fortune (this is true – I just landed a full-time job!)
  • keeping the snakes = calm judgment
  • snakes in water = appearance of a friend (maybe Mickie or Janie or Barbi is coming to surprise me!)

All in all, I see this dream as a positive one.

Now, I need to harness that creative energy and work on Eek this evening!

REVIEW: Ex-Isle by Peter Clines

Disclaimer: I love this series, mostly because it isn’t a typical capes-and-tights superhero series. This one has zombies.
What makes it even more different is that the superheroes can (and do!) become infected with the Ex-virus, becoming zombies themselves. 

So – superheroes fighting zombies…meh, okay; but – superheros fighting superhero zombies (that retain their superpowers, even after being zombified), all the while trying to rebuild society in the wake of a global zombie plague…where the zombies are still walking around years later? Now, that’s interesting*.

While I would consider this book a solid entry in the series, it has some problems. The author readily admits to these issues, and gives an explanation in the afterward; he had a shortened deadline, and messed with his process. It didn’t end well for the book, and it shows. There are some weaknesses in this book that I’m not used to seeing from this author. For instance, there is a flashback scene that goes all the way back to Ex-Heroes, but isn’t germane to the current book. It’s just hanging there, and is never referenced again, nor is it necessary to the denouement. It leaves one feeling vaguely unsatisfied; what was the point?; did I miss something? (I actually went back through and checked, and can’t find a reason for this particular scene).

The rest of the book runs true to trope; other survivors are found, but have become xenophobic and suspicious of outsiders, especially superpowered outsiders. Lies are told, battles are fought between outsiders and supers, and then supers/outsiders vs. exes.

I think the people of the Mount were/are far more interesting than the new settlement discovered by Zzzap, honestly, probably because we’ve spent four books so far with them. They’re growing and evolving, while the new settlement people seem to have closed off and stagnated. 

Which makes me wonder – very little is mentioned of new births on the Mount, and if there have been, have any new superheroes been born? Or has anyone suddenly manifested powers, someone that wasn’t super prior to the Ex-virus? Also, I really want to know what happened to Regenerator. I’d love to see these questions addressed in the next few books.
Still, if you’ve read the others, I’d recommend this book. It’s good to discover that there are other survivors out there, other superheros, and even a supervillian or two still wandering around in what’s left of the world.

Other books in the series:

Ex-Heroes

Ex-Patriots

Ex-Communication

Ex-Purgatory

*Plus, the constantly-clicking teeth motif gives me the serious heebie-jeebies. It’s an awesome conceit.

Update, But Not Really

I’ve been a bad blogger. I haven’t blogged because I somehow let myself get derailed; one of the bad patches hit me, and I’m scrambling my way back. It’s slow and hard. It’s also demoralizing to see how fast and easy I can be thrown into The Pit.

So I’m trying some new things to calm my mind when I start going in those unproductive, self-sabotaging circles. Der Mann got me some new art things (always a help) and I’ve been meditation doodling. I’m not exactly Zentangling, because my doodles aren’t as repetitively patterned as they should be for a proper Zentangle. Still, I find that it helps. 

I’ve also begun two art journals – one virtual, one hard copy. I’ve discovered that I love taking the paper pages in a sketchbook and coating them with gesso or Modge Podge or paint, or a combination of those, because I adore the feel of the pages when they dry. I think paging through, feeling the textures, helps as much as filling the pages. I’m going to prep some pages today, perhaps make some backgrounds. And I’m going to do it on the art bench Der Mann made for me that I haven’t used yet. 

I do have a partial blog post done, but it’s a book review for a duology, and I’m only partway through the second book.

I have a Wattpad posting goal for Vlad, I have a good flow going (or did, before this stumble) on Ruby Lovebone, and I’m into the final chapter of Perfect Coven 2: Cursebreaker’s Dance. Now I just need to climb out of this hole and carry on with my work and my life.

Mermaid Dreams

While walking the dog this morning, I smelled the ocean.*

I thought, “I wonder if I’ve been having mermaid dreams again…

…or if I’m a mermaid having human dreams?”

As I walked with Vinny, I wondered about the paucity of mermaids as opposed to the plethora of humans. Then, because I live with a scientist (a biologist, among other disciplines) I began to wonder about population ebb and flow, breeding cycles and hibernation…and if that is the reason we don’t see mermaids anymore.

In the era of sailing ships and long voyages at sea, sailors used to see mermaids – if not regularly, at least enough for the legends to persist. Manatees, dolphins, whales, in uneducated and possibly scurvy-ridden, hallucinating minds, yes, I know the theories, but what if?

What if the beings of legend and story are real? What if, as we evolve and progress, the legends sleep? Humanity develops and regresses in cycles. Perhaps, as we become more enlightened and science clarifies the world, we need our myths and legends less, then, as the mysteries unravel, we need them ever more.

Or maybe they need a rest from us. Humanity is demanding, after all. Maybe they need those long years of sleep to recover from our needs, our desires, our expectations.

Perhaps they’re all asleep, deep beneath the waves, or in caves, or ancient, crumbling castles. Sleeping, and dreaming of us, so that we dream of them. And when we’re aware again, when we start writing and dancing and dreaming again of all the “myths” that are gone, perhaps then they’ll wake up and the world will be refilled with wonder and magic.

So, listen for a song on the wind, or the soft footstep behind you in the dark. Watch the phases of the moon, and look for wild-eyed girls in the hurricane waves. They may be out there. We just have to wait for them to wake up.

*No, we don’t live anywhere near the sea. We live near a park with a pond, but it’s not saltwater.

Blue Mermaid e-painting, one of my own; I've always loved mermaids.

Blue Mermaid e-painting, one of my own; I’ve always loved mermaids.

Wattpad is Live!

In the interest of giving myself ever more projects to work on, I’ve opened a Wattpad account. I intend to serialize a YA novel I wrote years and years ago, well before Harry Potter revitalized YA into the wonderfully viable genre it is today. While the book was cute and fun way back then, it does need some refreshing. I’ll be doing that for the Wattpad version.

The plan is to post a chapter at a time, and I hope to manage a monthly update. We shall see how that works out, since I’m also in the process of job-hunting. Securing full-time employment will cut down on the time I have to devote to my long, ever-growing list of projects. Good thing I can be quite good at time management. I have a feeling I’m going to need that skill.

Also, my writing partners and I have opened a Wattpad for our Perfect Coven series here. We’ll be posting short bits, stories, outtakes from the books. We may continue to publish these simultaneously on our blog, but we are considering some Wattpad exclusives down the line. Again, more projects for the list, so we’ll see how and if that comes to be.

To finish, here is the cover for the novel I will be publishing via Wattpad:

Starshine-on-the-Nightlilies a/k/a Vlad, The Unicorn Starshine and Elizabeth are typical teenagers. Their parents misunderstand them, disapprove of their personal choices, many of their peers don’t share their interests, and their worlds are too small and confining. There is one major difference between Starshine, Elizabeth, and other teenagers. Starshine is a unicorn. Beth is a vampire. When the two meet, and realize how much they have in common, mayhem ensues. Join Starshine (nicknamed – by himself – Vlad) and Beth as they defy parents, explore new ‘verses, break curfews, and build a friendship that will last through the ages.

Starshine-on-the-Nightlilies a/k/a Vlad, The Unicorn
Starshine and Elizabeth are typical teenagers. Their parents misunderstand them, disapprove of their personal choices, many of their peers don’t share their interests, and their worlds are too small and confining.
There is one major difference between Starshine, Elizabeth, and other teenagers. Starshine is a unicorn. Beth is a vampire.
When the two meet, and realize how much they have in common, mayhem ensues. Join Starshine (nicknamed – by himself – Vlad) and Beth as they defy parents, explore new ‘verses, break curfews, and build a friendship that will last through the ages.

My Morning, in Tweets

Well, here I am. Still looking for a job, without much success, and coming up with even more projects. At this moment, I have so many projects in the works that I’m getting up a half hour early every morning to get some work in on one of them.

So, six a.m. rolls around, I stumble out of bed and into the guest room where I have my laptop set up for writing. I’m going to spend a half hour each morning working on Perfect Coven 2: Cursebreaker’s Dance, because I need a completed draft by the end of the month.

Oh dear gods. That’s really…soon. Eep.

I boot up, open my files and am going merrily along and then…!

@Sid_the_Redhead
So, got up 1/2 hour early this morning to do some word-making on the #perfectcovenseries, only to have Word crash. Lost it all. #amwriting

@Sid_the_Redhead
Rebooted, rewrote, only to realize new words written were for a previous, already finished, scene. #perfectcovenseries #amwriting

@Sid_the_Redhead
Also realized Chapter 8 needs to be restructured. Completely. Upsetting, but it will be stronger. #perfectcovenseries #amwriting

@Sid_the_Redhead
Went to husband for sympathy. Unexpected response? “Welcome to the writing life.” My reaction: ⁉️ Hm. #perfectcovenseries #amwriting

@Sid_the_Redhead
Made him breakfast anyway. #perfectcovenseries #amwriting

@Sid_the_Redhead
Also, this tweet series has gone much smoother than PC2CBD this morning. 😩 #perfectcovenseries #amwriting

Yeah, and that’s how my day began.

So, today’s grand total for PC2 was 108 words that apply to the scene I should have been writing. There were more actual words written, but see above. Yeah. Still, there’s tomorrow, which is Skype-&-Write Wednesday, so there will be more actual writing done, unless I spend the entire time on the restructure. I hope I won’t; I am going to attempt to rough it out ahead of time, so I can just go in and plaster the holes. I also hope that some of what’s in there already that has to go can be moved to another chapter instead of trashed. We will see, I guess.

In other news, I have a Wattpad account!

This is another project. I’m going to begin serializing a novel I wrote years ago, before Harry Potter, when no one was buying YA. I got some interest, and good feedback, but always with the caveat: “We’re not buying YA, it doesn’t sell.” Well, it does now, thank you J.K. Rowling! I’m uploading the cover soon, and then I plan to upload a chapter each month, shooting for uploads on or around the 15th. I hope you’ll check it out.

We also have a Perfect Coven Wattpad. We are going to put up short stories, outtakes, that sort of thing. We have been featuring those on our shared blog LINK. This may or may not continue, depending on how the Wattpad readership is/responds. These uploads won’t be as regular, unless, like I said, there’s enough readership to demand it.

Spring Is Here, Things Are Happening! (except it’s really not Spring, it’s stupid cold today)

Let me tell you a story.

When Der Mann was helping pack up his lab for the Great Northern Migration, he told me he found two boxes of small, glass petri plates that were going to be thrown away. He put them aside, because he thought I could maybe use them in some way. I told him, “Yes, please! That would be awesome!” So he tucked them into a box and they went with the First Wave in December. (Der Mann and I went with the Second Wave in March.)

However, the First Wave unpackers decided they’d throw away everything that wasn’t geared to them, personally, so Chucklehead told Der Mann he’d thrown away my petri dishes. Never mind that they were in a box with Der Mann’s name on them that they really had no business (a) going through, or (b) tossing items without checking. I mean, would you throw something away that had someone’s name on it, without bothering to ask said person about said item? I wouldn’t, but I’m a Southern girl, and we’re taught courtesy (or else you deal with Granny, a fate worse than, well, anything).

I’ve stewed about it for weeks, because well, Chucklehead isn’t my favorite person and it was rude.

Then, yesterday, when Der Mann was doing a walk-through to make sure everything is unpacked and properly placed so they can get inspected and then be able to gear up the research, he noticed a box kicked out of the way and under a bench. He fished it out and there were my petri plates! Apparently, Chucklehead didn’t actually bother to toss the boxes of “junk”; he just stuck them out of the way and forgot about them. So, now I have boxes of petri plates.

Photo Apr 23, 6 55 50 PM

Yay! I can make stuff!

This ties in with a wonderful idea Der Mann had the other week when he was indulging his latest obsession, Pinterest. He’s got a board for Ikea hacks. (He designed a cat tree for Boon-chicka-meow-meow based on something he saw on there. It’s awesome.) Anyway, he’d been going through his pins and decided that he could make me a crafting bench that I could keep in the basement.

Oooooohhhhhh! I’m so there with that idea. If his plans turn out (and they usually do), I’ve told him he should make a second one for his Lego city.

So this is what we have:

  • a 2 x 4 Kallax cube system (in pieces)
  • Photo Apr 24, 10 18 28 AM

    In pieces now, but not for long! You can do anything with Ikea Kallax (formerly Expedit) cubes!

  •  pegboard for the back for extra hanging storage
  • I love pegboard. You can do so much with it.

    I love pegboard. You can do so much with it.

  • bars for the sides for hanging paper towels, rolls of paper, or baskets to hold brushes, etc.
  • 3 sets of wheels
  • Bars, baskets, wheels; I have ALL the accessories!

    Bars, baskets, wheels; I have ALL the accessories!

  • and storage inserts for the cubes, which I forgot to take pictures of, sorry!

Need I say how excited I am about this, especially now that he recovered the glass plates?

On another note, I had a job interview Wednesday that has me shivering with anticipation. It’s something I’d love to do and I think I would be quite good at it. Though I’m all excited, they still have to go through their process so I won’t hear anything for a while. Therefore, the job search goes onward; I can’t just sit and wait for them to realize that they need me – because they might not. Still, wish me luck!

Last but not least, writing is going well, especially the Perfect Coven series. The weekly Skype-&-Write sessions are paying out in numbers of words written for all three of us. I’ve also started a new regime of getting up a half hour early in the morning to get some writing done, in anticipation of better time management when I’m working. I only made it up once this week, but once is better than none. I’ll do better next week.