Work

My Commute was Saved by Books

I commute just under an hour to work every day. More than once early on I wished I could be using the time for something more productive than simply driving and listening to music. At first I listened to “Welcome to Nightvale” the twice monthly podcast put out by Commonplace Books. It’s weird and awesome and I recommend it if you think you’d like a modern take on Lovecraft (there are also so many other good things about it that I could do an entire blog post on why you should listen to Nightvale, but that’s for another time). After I finished going through their archive, I was at a bit of a loss as to what to listen to next. I thought about trying to find another podcast, but finally decided to try audio books.

I, like many people, have an enormous “to read” pile. In fact, I don’t even own every book in my “to read” pile (and I own a lot of books). I’ve wanted to read books by certain authors but have never had the time, money or will to buy yet another book to add to my stack of things to read. That’s where the audio books come in. So far this year I’ve listened to four books and am about to finish a fifth. Not bad for time I would have otherwise been using to listen to the same CD another 50,000 times (Seriously, I don’t get sick of music as fast as most people).

It did take me a bit to get into the first CD. I’m used to listening to radio dramas, which are far more like television than books–all the action is done by sound effects and dialogue cues, where as with an audio book you’re listening to someone read, dialogue tags and everything. That is not to say that a good voice actor doesn’t perform when reading a book. On the contrary, they must have a multitude of different voices for characters as well as read a text without throwing off cadence or flow.

I started out with Duma Key by Steven King because that was what arrived first when I ordered a bunch of books. Perhaps part of my trouble getting into the books on tape had to do with the fact that the beginning of Duma Key is very introspective. We get to know Edgar Freemantle while he’s recovering from a serious injury and he’s withdrawing from society. Maybe if there had been more action in the beginning I would have been drawn in sooner. Either way I kept listening and soon enough I couldn’t pull away. Without spoiling anything I will tell you I ended up yelling at my car stereo a couple of times. Good thing no one was riding with me.

The only real downside to listening to books on tape, especially when read by the author, is that it has a way of getting inside your writing if you’re not careful. Listening to someone talk for long enough, especially someone who is either a powerful speaker, or read a powerful writer, and you can find yourself slipping into that person’s tone and voice. Yes, I’m looking at you, Neil Gaiman. I did love Neverwhere, though.

So there we are, my summer driving in a nutshell. Stay tuned next week for (probably) another chapter of Our Party.

PS-I’d take audio book gifts for next year.

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A Slightly Late GISHWHES Post

Hi, everyone. Your wayward author is back with another update. In my last post I told you about how busy I’ve been. I’ve got good news; I’ve been working full time for the National Park Service for more than a month now. My stress levels are way down, and I’ve been able to get some writing done (as well as my editorial jobs). In fact, I was able to participate as an author in GISHWHES 2014. I’m sure most of you know about GISHWHES, but for those who don’t GISHWHES stands for “Greatest International Scavenger Hunt the World Has Ever Seen”. The contestants do all sorts of wacky fun stuff for charity. One of those things this year was to ask a published scifi author to write them a tiny bite of fiction. The stories had to be 140 words, and include Misha Collins, the Queen of England, and an Elopus (an elephant/octopus hybrid). I wrote two myself and two with Sarah Hendrix. I’ll post them here for your reading pleasure. Be warned some of these are pretty weird.

GISHWHES #1 With Sarah Hendrix

It was a vast, black ocean they raced across, skimming the oily surface as their skiff ran from the ships of the royal navy.

The Dread Pirate Collins sneered at his prize. He knew that if he could just get away from the navy, he’d be able to ransom the clockwork Queen for quite a bit of money.

The Queen, for her part, stared back impassively. Her automaton brain knew that this was her fault. If she had been more fair, and just, as she was programmed, then no subject would be forced to into piracy.

The pirate’s ship was pulling away as something huge rose up from the waves smashing his ship. Mechanical tentacles snaked across the deck.

The Elopus cradled the Queen in it’s many arms. “I love you.”

End

GISHWHES #2 With Sarah Hendrix

She sat alone at a back table in The Elopus. A piano tinkled, out of tune, near the stage. There was a glass of something strong in her hand and her hat was tipped low over her eyes.

Sheriff Misha took a deep breath and looked up to the sky but the faded sign with the odd creature was in the way. He wondered exactly how things would play out.

She seemed to know he was there before entered; her gun was already pointed towards him as he turned to her.

“You ain’t wanted here, Sheriff. Leave me be. I’ll be gone soon enough, just here on family business.”

He nodded and sat across from her, his hands far from his gun. “Sorry about your momma.”

“The queen is dead,” she said quietly. “Long live the queen.”

End

And now my solo stories:

In the Cave of Ganesh

Misha paused at the opening of the cave and pulled the tattered letter from the back pocket of his trousers. The handwriting inside was still legibly the Queen’s.

Dmitri,
I have no words for how sorry I am for what I must put you through. I know you understand, the beast must be destroyed. My sources tell me you will find it in the Cave of Ganesh. Please, be careful. I cannot lose you.
~V

He shoved the note back into her pocket, wishing for more information. There was only one map in the entire royal archive marking “the Cave of Ganesh”. He was here, now, though. After weeks of searching, he’d found it.

A rock clattered towards him. He looking into the cave and there it was. The beast, writing, huge, and reaching for him.

“Sorry, Vicky,” he murmured.

End

Misha and The Queen vs. Dr. Elopus

Misha and The Queen crouched atop the roof of “Elopus Inc”. Their target was coming around the corner. He was a middle aged man, balding on top and dressed in a lab coat.

“Now?” Misha asked.

“Now,” she confirmed and jumped from the rooftop, using her Scepter’s power to land safely.

Misha unfurled his wings and followed her to the sidewalk. “Dr. Elopus,” he said. “You’re under arrest for crimes against humanity, cruelty to animals, and several hundred municipal code infractions.”

The Queen pointed her scepter at Dr. Elopus. “Come quietly and we won’t have to hurt you.”

There was a moment of silence before the man began to laugh. As he did, he began to transform. Tentacles sprang from under his lab coat and his nose distended to become a trunk. “Not today!” He cackled, swinging towards them.

End

Where the Hell is Kelly?

Here’s a fun game for all of us. It’s like “Where’s Waldo” but with more swearing. Where am I? What am I doing? Why the hell haven’t I updated this blog in forever? Well, in the first place, I’m still alive, working two jobs, and for a three week stretch (23 days, but who’s counting?) I didn’t have a day off; I was working at either one job or the other. During this time I’ve been continuing my work as an editor and trying to do normal human things like “laundry” and “bathing”. Other things, like this blog and most human interaction outside of work, have fallen through the cracks. I’ve had two weeks in a row, though, where I’ve been able to get a day off and the trend looks like it will hopefully continue.

I don’t really have much more to update than this. I haven’t been writing much, editing less of my own work, and I’ve only recently started to catch up on the back log of reading I have waiting for me (though I did finally get through my email). If by some chance you need to contact me, you can leave a note in the comments, email me, or send me a message on twitter. I am going to try to get back to updating at least semi-regularly. Well, we’ll see how that goes.

Announcements and Some Other Things

I suppose since I’ve turned in my forms, it’s time to make an announcement. I will not be going north this year for work, and will therefore not be going to Readercon this year. I’m sorry to everyone I had hoped to see this year, but in the long run the park I will be working for is probably a better career move on my part (yes, I will still be working for the National Park Service). I have not yet decided whether I will be trying to go to any cons in the Washington, DC area, so there is a chance you might yet get to see me (or you could see me if you come to Shenandoah).

Other news, some of you might have noticed a lack of my presence on the net at points this winter. Sorry about that. I can’t say it won’t happen again, because it probably will, but for now I’m back.

If any of you are Facebook friends with me, you probably saw the photos of my trip to Denver. Just one of the things I was doing this winter. I might post some of those pictures here later.

My cat is another reason I’ve been off for a bit. He has a thyroid problem that we think we’ve finally gotten under control, but not before he lost a third of his body weight. He was a small cat to begin with, so that was scary. It also gave the vet a chance to feel the small mass in his abdomen. He’s getting shots for that as its probably cancerous. The only good thing is that he’s acting more like his old self now that we’re treating that and the thyroid.

Randomly, here is another reminder, I am much more active on other social media. I have twitter, tumblr, Facebook, and Pinterest. All of those accounts are way more active than this one. There should be links in the side bar if anyone wants to check me out there.

One more piece of news: be on the look out for a big announcement from Goldfish Grimm’s in the very near future.

I think that’s all for now. I’m going to try and make my next post one of the long neglected chapters of Our Party (I haven’t stopped writing them).

Updates, Announcements and General Mayhem

I might have been neglecting this blog. Alright, really there’s no maybe about it. I haven’t posted in quite a while and I am sorry about that. I do have some (if not good then possibly adequate) reasons, though.

My first reason is that I am back in Virginia. The Park Service job was a seasonal job, and while it paid more than my job here, it ended sooner. So I’m back in Virginia, working for the concessioner while putting in more applications with the Park Service for winter jobs. It’s now the middle of our busy season, and while we were closed for two weeks for the shut down, October is back with a vengeance.

The second reason I’ve been neglecting the blog is that I am now one of two editors for Goldfish Grimm’s Spicy Fiction Sushi. Michael, my co-editor, and I have been working for a month now to get everything in order and running smoothly. Well the first issue we’ve edited is out now, and looks great! I’m really very excited about all of this. It has, however been taking a lot of my time. I am also still working with Dagan Books, so I’ve been trying to balance my time between the two publications.

My third reason is a lot less exciting than my previous one. While we were laid off my brother and I were prepping a house to be painted. We actually started the painting, but were called back to work before we were able to finish. Thankfully the paint we have can be used in low temperature weather, so we’ll probably finish sometime in November (after the worst has passed at work).

I guess that’s it for now. If you have any questions, feel free to ping me here or on twitter. I’ll see you a little more frequently now, I hope.

PS-For anyone waiting, there will be a new Our Party soon.

An Announcement

As some of you might know, either from following me on twitter or from conversations you’ve had with me, I am not happy in my current job. I love the people I work with, but the job itself is taking a toll as we struggle to make improvements and move forward under the direction of a new company.

That is part of the reason why I am so pleased to announce that I will be working with the National Park Service, beginning in late May. I have been offered a job at the Sandy Hook Unit of Gateway National Recreation Area in New Jersey.

Even better, this is very close to where my grandparents live, so I will be able to stay with them and help them with their home.

I will be in New Jersey all summer, and may or may not go back to my current job in September; we will have to see what the future holds.

A big thank you to all my friends who have helped hold me together until this job came along, and a thank you to everyone for your continued support.

If you think you might be near Sandy Hook (or the Rumson area in general) this summer let me know so we can meet up.

Just a Few Updates

I should have updated this a week ago and I didn’t. Life got busy, blah, blah, blah. I’m updating now.

I suppose the first thing I should tell you is that I have a job. Not a new job, my old job (though surprisingly I did get a slight raise). I am happy to have a job, that is one less worry for me. I am not, however, particularly pleased to go back, even if it is with a new company. The last season made me very wary of the job and I imagine we’ll all be jumping at old shadows.

Speaking of new jobs, I am now officially a reader for Goldfish Grimm and we need submissions! Things have been a little sluggish since we started up again.

Next up I have some pretty, pretty journals for you to stare at.

IMG_0048

I made this for Jaym Gates(Mornara) as a belated birthday/yule present. She assures me she likes it.

This was made for my grandmother. She specifically asked for it the previous year (but didn't remember she had). Now she likes it, but doesn't know what to write in it!

This was made for my grandmother. She specifically asked for it the previous year (but didn’t remember she had). Now she likes it, but doesn’t know what to write in it!

Oh, if you like there are a couple of good kickstarters going on right now that need some help. Fireside Magazine pays well to put out quality writing: http://kck.st/WprHBT

Long Hidden is an anthology full of speculative fiction from marginalized people of history: http://kck.st/15nchjG

Finally I will say a little about my writing. I have been trying to submit more, and while I have been on a couple of short lists, I have yet to get another piece published. It is discouraging, but I will continue to write, revise and submit. Writing is mostly practice anyhow.

Remember, the journals are for sale!