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16th-Mar-2011 12:59 pm - Retiring the LJ

The time has finally come to retire the LJ. Not that I've posted here frequently as of late, but I've been working on MY NEW WEBSITE. *bounces*

If your posts are public, then I'll still be reading only from my feed reader rather than from here. If your posts are private, then I hope you shoot me a friend request over on Facebook. Or Twitter. I'll still be logging in to comment, but otherwise... THAT'S ALL FOLKS.

The end.
I don't spend a particularly large amount of time looking at statistics, but every once in a while I like to indulge myself in a game of Search Term Roulette, in which I flip through to see what strange things people have searched to find my sites. The winner of this round is "impenetrable fortress of chlorophyll" followed by "poke someone right in the eye" and "right poking eye effect". Also, I am really sorry to the person who got to my site by searching "do you have to attend college to be a snake handler?" because I'm pretty sure I never actually answer that question.

          Overall the episode is an improvement. The plot twists were interesting, although they failed to hold up if you poked at them even a little.

          Warning: Spoilers. All over the place. You should probably go watch the episode before reading this or you’re just going to end up hearing my voice narrating over the episode and you probably don’t want that.


Read more...Collapse )

It's that time of year again, the time when the weather starts to get cold and I prepare to hibernate in the Cassandra Cave with lots of heaters and food for the winter months. This usually entails me reading a lot and vowing to finish what has become known as "That Stupid Book I'm Going to Finish Even If it Kills Me" and preparing for National Novel Writing Month. Last year I chose to skip NaNoWriMo and instead focus on the James Ray scandal, which was a perfectly sensible decision but didn't get my book done. Years before I thought maybe cutting down internet time would get this stupid book finished, but this year I have a new approach. This year my plan is only internet, all the time. Because I can write while I'm online and I do, so this is fair warning to everyone - I'm probably not available IRL for social calls for a while. It's not that I don't love you all and enjoy your company, far from it. In fact, if you want to join me in isolation for writing marathons fueled by caffeine and sugar I will welcome you to the cave. Or to Twitter if you live really far away.

There is one thing that will be exciting about this winter seclusion of mine, which is that I plan to go through my book collection when I do need a break from the computer. My goal is to make my books fit into the nine bookcases I already own, because quite frankly I do not have room for more bookcases. This means I will be giving away a lot of books. I don't really WANT to, because I hate to part with books, but it is necessary to prune my collection so keep an eye out for posts offering books. I suspect I'll be mass posting the titles that are up for grabs and if nobody wants them they will probably end up at a used book store or the library.

*rolls up sleeves* Now I'm going to go make that freaking chapter work already.
29th-Sep-2010 11:28 am - Accidently set my face on fire
You know how you get to that almost afternoon slump when you're all "I just need food and caffeine and I'll be able to pretend I'm huuumaaaan" but you're actually melting into a puddle of useless under the desk? So then you kind of blindly shuffle into the kitchen to slice some tomatoes and haphazardly throw whatever condiments/spices stumble into your grasp first on top while chugging down some liquid energy? Yeah. So now I'm sitting here trying to figure out which part of these tomatoes has whatever is making my lips feel as though I kissed a blowtorch. BUT I AM AWAKE NOW.

Just yesterday I declared I was going to post frequently, and I WAS. Except then I found out I actually had to go to Philly and only have gotten time to post now. So instead you get a meme while I finish reading Zombies vs Unicorns.

Directions: Tag whoever you want and answer if you feel like it...

1. First thing you wash in the shower? Your mom.

2. What color is your favorite hoodie? It's not the color that makes it my favorite, its the fact that its made out of hemp and recycled plastic. 

3. How are you feeling RIGHT now? Supercalifragilisticexpealadocious.

4. Tell me about the last dream you remember having?  A random assortment of unconnected people that I've known throughout my life were all cast in a play with me. I was cast as Sir Isaac. I don't actually know what play it was, but feel free to leave SUGGESTIONS.


And some other stuff...Collapse )


38. Can you hula hoop? Hula hoops are surprisingly popular as a workout activity around these parts. Not the flimsy kind, mind you, thick ones made out of PVC piping and decorated with various multicolor tapes.

39. Have you ever crawled through a window?  Obviously.

15th-Sep-2010 01:09 pm - Diagnosis Mockingjay

I'm fairly certain I've got a bad case of Mockingjay Flu, or possibly Post Traumatic Mockingjay Disorder. Symptoms include a crippling inability to write more than 140 characters as well as general lethargy combined with an overall sense of impending doom. That combined with the amount of stuff that's piled up for review and how I still haven't finished blogging about my trip and a dozen other things has left me feeling exactly like this Hyperbole and a Half post - This is Why I'll Never be an Adult. Yes. This exactly.

So. Yeah. That doesn't stop this pile of work behind me from continuing to grow. I thought that putting it behind my computer chair would make me want to jump in and wade through it, but instead it has started to loom. And it's not that I don't want to wade into it, it's filled with awesome books I want to read... but... I have this compulsion to write things chronologically and since I haven't finished blogging from my trip to everywhere I feel like I should finish that but that actually takes forever because I have to sort through a million pictures and random scribblings I tucked away while on the road and then I get all "Oh maybe just one more episode of Law and Order: SVU and then I'll do it" and then before I know it, it's next Tuesday.

So my new plan is to give up on any sort of order or timeliness and hope that nobody cares too much. Then I am attacking the Pile of Loom with short but frequent posts, as well as a new book review format. I seem to have the idea in my head that a standard format will make book reviews easier and less daunting when I know I have a million of them to do - at least that is how it works in my head. What do you think of standard formats for review, yay or nay? Now would be an awesome time to make suggestions. Also consider this fair warning that I will be playing around with this on Examiner and that it may take a while for me to settle on a format. Now would also be an excellent time to bring me caffeinated beverages. Or caffeinated marshmallows.
8th-Aug-2010 12:17 am - Music from the road...

These are basically the songs that got me through the driving-all-nighters, in case you were wondering. I fully admit I have ecclectic tastes in music. Don't judge me.

1. God's Country by Ani Difranco
      This is just... yes. On repeat. All the time.

2. Half Acre by Hem
       I'd not heard this one before, but now I'm positively addicted to it. I'm also fairly certain that the lyrics I sing are not the actual lyrics of the song.

3. The Blood of Cuchulainn by Mychael & Jeff Danna     
       I generally don't like songs without lyrics, but for this one I make an EXCEPTION.

4. Blindly by Kina Grannis      
       This song snuck up and crawled into my ear to make a nest in my brain and I am never letting it go.

5. Cold Missouri Waters by Cry Cry Cry
       I probably surprised myself the most by setting this one on repeat. I inexplicably adore this song.

6. Because the Night by 10,000 Maniacs
       I forgot how much I loved this song.

I've also been listening to a lot of Cranberries, Sinead O'conner, Rachael Sage, Lady Gaga, and Glee versions of songs. What other songs/artists should I check out?
16th-Jul-2010 12:33 pm - I can never...

"I can never read all the books I want; I can never be all the people I want and live all the lives I want. I can never train myself in all the skills I want. And why do I want? I want to live and feel all the shades, tones and variations of mental and physical experience possible in life." - Sylvia Plath

I stumbled over this quote the other day while playing on the #dearpublisher hashtag over on Twitter. Harper Perennial has random quotes pop up on their blog, and this was there when I was peeking. It's been floating around in my brain ever since.

I never really got into Plath before, mostly because she didn't write fantasy and I was under the impression she was kind of depressing, but some of these quotes are making me want to re-evaluate that decision.
15th-Jun-2010 04:40 pm - Cassandra’s Bardic Blogging Tour

          Many of you may have been wondering why I’ve been chained to my desk lately and now I’m going to tell you. I have always wanted to drive across the country. Always. Even before I could actually drive this has been a dream of mine. So when I was informed that my presence was required in Vancouver, British Columbia this summer I said “You know what? Now is the time. I’m just going to do it and blog the whole thing.” So that is what I’ve been doing - planning this epic trip.

          At this point you’re probably wondering about the “Bardic” part of the tour and that is the fun part. In exchange for a home-cooked meal and a place for Chocobo and I to sleep for a night or two, I will tell stories. Surprisingly, this offer has been quite effective.

          So, this would be an excellent time to send suggestions on things I absolutely must see, although keep in mind I am not going further south than Arkansas… this time. Advice on what I should bring is also welcome. So are snacks.


               I promised y’all FREE THINGS from Book Expo America and the Book Bloggers Convention and then my computer went and promptly died. Obviously my computer is a selfish book-hog that doesn’t want you to have free things. Luckily I had some resurrection spells tucked away in my hip flask, so despite MANY OBSTACLES I can now bring you not one, not two, but THREE GIFT BAGS.

               The thing about these bags is… they are filled with books I don’t want. It’s not that they aren’t DESIRABLE books, it’s just that none of them are young adult fantasy novels. This giveaway is specifically for people who look at my reading list and want nothing more than to run screaming from the room, because, you know, I love you too – even if you DO have weird reading tastes. For those of you who do enjoy similar tastes as mine, I will be giving away many of the books after I have read them, possibly along with my review or something.

               But anyway, without further ado, THE GIFT BAGS:

Gift BAG 1: young adult, realistic fiction

                - The DUFF (Designated Ugly Fat Friend) by Kody Keplinger (ARC)
                - Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles
                - Fixing Delilah Hannaford by Sarah Ockler (ARC)
                - Wild Roses by Deb Caletti
                - 1 bag from Book Bloggers Convention 

GIFT BAG 2: health and new-age

               - Shamanic Breathwork by Linda Star Wolf (includes CD)
               - Perfect 10 Diet by Michael Aziz 
               - 1 large bag
GIFT BAG 3: I have no idea what your getting into here

             - The Great Lover by Jill Dawson
             - The Secret Lives of Husbands and Wives
             - In the Belly of Jonah t-shirt (Sandra Brannan)
             - The Monkey Bible by Mark Laxer and matching mouse pad (ARC)
             - Think of a Number by John Verdon (ARC)
             - For good measure I threw in a copy of the Declaration of Independence
             - 1 messenger bag, patch, and pin from Fidelis Books
             - 1 BEA lanyard

               If you want one of these bags just leave a comment specifying which one and don't forget to sign it if you don't have an LJ account (screen names are fine). Giveaway ends Monday at midnight. Leftover giftbags are going to be donated to the library, so feel free to enter your library if you prefer.

As you might have noticed I've been scarce around LJ for the past year or so, basically since I got the paid gig over at Examiner. This is going to change. Here is a break down of where I will be hanging out online, feel free to mix and match at your pleasure.

Here on LiveJournal I suspect I will mostly be talking about the more personal side of writing, although I am still likely to post less here overall. My LJ posts also cross-post to facebook, so feel free to friend me over there if that is a more pleasing platform to you. I rather suspect I will also be doing more posts on the technical details of blogging, like software, how to respond to crazy reader mail, etc. I completely understand if this bores you and you are forced to wander away to hang out with me somewhere less annoying. I will still be checking in with my friends list, but I will be dropping anyone who isn't f-locked. This isn't to say I won't still be reading public posts, I will just be doing so in Google reader.

My favorite place for you to hang out with me is at my Philadelphia Speculative Fiction column or my National Social Change column, because Examiner.com pays me to write over there and you know, I really like that. But besides the fact that I enjoy being paid, that is where I talk about things I am the most passionate about - the magical worlds that only live in people's heads and the actual world I keep all my stuff in.

Perhaps your attention span is not long enough for blogging, or maybe you just want to see what links I'm reading, or perhaps you think it's really funny how completely insane I sound when reduced to 140 characters, or maybe you just want to waste time and hang out with people online... well then Twitter is the place to find me. Twitter basically lives in my pocket. I am always there, lurking in the corner of the Twitterverse. Twitter, my preciousss. Ooh, my precioussss!

As I mentioned before, I can also be found over on facebook, although it has become such a jumbled mess that I can only guarantee I will see things that are directed at me. I still read the feeds, but I miss absolute tons. I'm sorry and I don't really know how to resolve that other than to acquire a time-turner for myself.

So that is the general breakdown of where to find me and why. Over on the Spec Fic site there will be a lot of event coverage throughtout summer and fall, and I will be trying to work in book reviews and relevant discussions from Book Expo America. The Social Change column will feature reviews on the very few non-fantasy books that I read (seriously few. So few I'm not sure I should mention it, but I have enough in my TBR pile that I'm sure it's bound to come up) and any current events that happen to catch my fancy.

Last, but not least, giveaways will be happening soon so if you like getting free stuff with little to no effort, stay tuned. I have 3 gift bags of books from BEA that are in need of a good home and I will be giving them away ABSOLUTELY FREE, SOMEWHERE ONLINE in the very near future. I haven't decided WHERE yet, so there is at least one good reason to hang out with me everywhere online. That and because we LIKE you.


        These pics were supposed to be for a slideshow for my latest Examiner.com article, but the site is having some technical difficulties and I'm not loading these pictures a seventh time, so HERE THEY BE. If you are so inclined to read about how the Steampunk World's Fair 2010 pleases me, it's over here. All links to merchants goods displayed can be found over there as well.


Picspam of the Steampunk World's Fair 2010Collapse )


7th-Apr-2010 06:09 pm - Writer's Block: Pet talk
If your pet could talk, what is the first thing s/he would say to you?

I don't think I've ever answered an LJ writing prompt before, but HOW COULD I RESIST THIS ONE?

Chocobo CAN talk and the first thing he said was "peekaboo" on Christmas morning.
30th-Mar-2010 08:47 pm - "I forgot people do that to you"
      This weekend a friend I hadn't seen in a ridiculously long time came to town and being the good friend that I am, I dragged her around on errands with me. While we were out and about she commented "I forgot people do that to you, that strangers come up to you out of the blue and just start talking." (I had recently wrapped up a conversation with a random shopper who came up and offered me marshmallow recipes). I'm always a little taken aback by this realization because it's true, people DO talk to me ALL THE TIME. It's also true that it gets pointed out to me fairly often enough that I shouldn't be surprised by it, but I am. EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. It's because I have no idea why. I have no idea what it is about my appearance that screams "I'm approachable, tell me your crazy stories!" but it's either that or some kind of weird, stunted superpower that's only good for learning things like how to make Bertie Botts Every Flavor Marshmallows or getting free hair consultations next to the avacados.
4th-Feb-2010 07:47 pm - I've had some weird jobs...

I have this theory that all writers are required to have a diverse employment history of things they convinced people to pay them for; things which they may or may not have been loosely qualified to do professionally. I think this is so that a writer is prepared for the inevitable circus that comes along with freelance checks.

I'm sitting here pondering things like "which fantasy creatures are best adapted to a life in the desert?" and "What would the American Southwestern pronunciation of Japanese words sound like and how would you SPELL that?" and yet somehow, people all over the place are calling me a "journalist" just because I took a break from pondering such things to point out that James Ray killed a bunch of people in a horrific manner.

People keep telling me I could be a "real journalist". I'm sure these people mean well, but I'm also equally sure that what they mean by "real" is "doing what those other people are doing". It's kind of like when I tell people I'm writing a Young Adult fantasy novel and people ask why I don't write in *insert any other genre here*. It's not that I don't appreciate the feedback, but unless this statement is accompanied by a paying job offer, it's pretty much just food for the brain monkeys. Sure, maybe I could write those other things, but unless you're offering to pay me, then I'm probably going to stick to writing what I want and then convincing people to pay me for it. This is just how these things work.

This is pretty much as good as it gets people. I AM LIVING THE DREAM. If your dream is seriously, seriously weird and maybe a little drunk.
28th-Jan-2010 04:36 pm - Open letter to makers of parrot toys

Dear Maker of Parrot Toys,

Feel free to contact me if you make some sort of individualized snack packs. Preferably the food items would be healthy and stored in a challenging package for parrots to chew through. If you don't make this kind of product, you should totally consider it.

See, I was using one of these little individualized butter packets and Chocobo really, really, really wanted to chew on that butter pack. So much so that he is now in trouble for misbehaving. I was thinking it probably wasn't a very good idea to just let him chew on butter, I mean that doesn't sound healthy at all.

Then I got to thinking how it would be cool if I had a little pack like that filled with red palm oil because surprisingly that is healthy for him to chew on. It's a little messy though and bright orange, and it also might not be good for other types of parrots, I'm not sure on that.

BUT a snack pack is still a cool idea and someone should make that happen.

14th-Jan-2010 11:24 am - Adventures in Spanish
I am becoming very fond of the little Hispanic corner store at the end of my block. It's always an adventure when I go there because I don't speak Spanish and not all of them speak English. After an embarassingly long pronunciation lesson I can stumble through the phrase "Dulce de Leche" and get my request across with minimal jumping and pointing at the container labeled "May Contain Peanuts". I get the impression they are confused by my enjoyment of this, as if it is unusual behavior from someone who has the kind of healthy glow that only hours upon hours in front of computer monitor can give you. I am seriously considering walking in and buying the entire huge container, you know, just to mess with them a little.
28th-Nov-2009 01:27 pm - Belated Happy Turkey Day
Apparently I have a habit of posting this late. It's from last year, but it is still mostly accurate.

Ten Years Ago

Also, remember this Sarah Palin Thanksgiving video?

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to spend more time with the family. I haven't had enough yet.
22nd-Nov-2009 11:53 am - In which Choco outsmarts Mommy
Like any parent, I often hide the "good toys" and save them for times when I really need Choco to entertain himself for a while. This is rather easy because he often likes to play with gravity (by throwing everything he possibly can onto the floor). There are staple toys in his cage, of course, which I rotate when he gets bored with them, but those are a whole different story. The best distraction toys I've found are empty chapstick tubes. They are durable enough to last a couple of rounds with Choco's beak, and it takes a while to go through chapstick so he doesn't get them too often.

Normally I give Choco an empty container and he chews on it for a while before throwing it on the floor. Once it's on the floor its gone again until the next time I am desperate to get some work done or something. Well, the little doot figured out a better plan this time. Yesterday, when he was done with it he HID IT IN HIS CAGE. I noticed this because he is in there RIGHT NOW being punished for misbehaving and he is happily playing with his favorite toy.

5th-Nov-2009 09:44 am - Writing is not like architecture

      I cannot remember who was comparing writing books to building houses (if you remember, please tell me) but the point was something along the lines of "you don't want a writer to build your house" because, as a rule, writers are prone to doing things like building the attic before the basement, and then switching the second and third floors a few times before settling on a decision. We also have an uncanny ability to pick window treatments without ever once noticing that the kitchen is on fire. (I can think of any number of people I read that could have said something like that, I just can't remember which one actually did...)

     Today I am rewriting huge chunks of what has at times been chapters three, two, and seven. I'm also trying to fix the math so it's consistant throughout and I am finding that the only thing consistant about it is that it's always wrong. Not just wrong because I moved the timeline, but in fact wrong because from the start I somehow added 1 + 9 and came up with nine. 

     If you're feeling at all sympathetic because, yanno, one math mistake in the beginning throws off the whole equation... well, you should stop. I actually made EXTREMELY DETAILED CHARTS so as not to have this happen. I pretty much just fail on this one.

4th-Nov-2009 07:50 pm - Pitturs! because I'm all writed out.

I've been PRETTY BUSY lately, so instead of words, you get pictures from stuff I've done in the past month or so. Enjoy. 

 Hyde Park:


Cut for pictures...Collapse )

I also put up a slideshow of a recreation of Diagon Alley that I visited on Halloween over on the spec fic site, if anyone's interested.
23rd-Oct-2009 03:51 pm - Dear Beverly Bunn

Dear Beverly Bunn,
You are doing an amazing job and displaying the kind of strength and beauty that led people to seek out James Ray in the first place. What he did to you was not right, not fair, and we will not allow it to happen again. I know how hard you and the other participants tried to not only prevent this, but also how you fought every step of the way to help after. James Ray may have abandoned you, Beverly, but the rest of the world has got your back.
Thank you,

I think it would be pretty awesome if everyone could take a minute to write a public note of support to Beverly Bunn and any of the other participants. Let's use the internet to spread some good. What Beverly is doing has got to be really freaking hard. She and the other participants are not victims of some distant, faceless leader, but are akin to victims of domestic violence. James Ray has set up his connections with people to feel very deep and personal, but in reality he demonstrates that they are shallow. He knows what he's done to these people and he cowers in fear of them speaking out. Yes, James Ray cowers in fear of what all dictators know - they will fall when the people unite.

Let's help these participants by talking about every last aspect of this case. Let's dissect and display every last aspect of James Ray's mixed modality so everyone can see how he did this.

     I'm not an investigative journalist, so it never occurred to me you guys wanted a copy of the supply list and ridiculous waivers that James Ray sweat lodge participants had to sign before they were accepted into the retreat. I'm sorry. It's already out there now though. The thing is, I'm not sure the disclaimer is damning in and of itself. I will ruminate on this more later over at my spec fic site.

     People are flailing in seizures; others are vomiting violently, or foaming at the mouth. Bodies are lined up unconscious, some are blue from lack of oxygen, but for some it is too late, they are already dead. Survivors that are barely able to stand struggle to help the others, they have had almost no food or water for nearly three days, even longer without sleep. It looks like a war zone, but for the incongruent figure of James Arthur Ray (a contributing author to The Secret) who exits the sweat lodge and stands tall with a big smile, the only one able to stand on his own volition. He is not concerned with the medical emergency going on full swing around him. He is not worried about the health and well-being of his followers who have paid $10,000.00 (tack on an additional 5,000.00 or so if you include flights, room and board, and camping supplies) to attend his retreat. In fact, he and his team urge people to stop taking care of others and focus on their own journey, assuring them they are fine and only “purging”. Someone finally realizes James Ray is not in control of the situation and calls 911.

Read what it was like in the retreat leading up to it and my inexpert-but-researched opinions on the real reason James Ray had a tragedy at his sweat lodge.

     Guys, you read my transcript of James Ray's secret call to the survivors of this tragedy and I asked you to help me spread the word. I get teary eyed when I see what an amazing job you have all done. I mean, seriously, I was contacted by CBS and the Assosciated Press! My transcript was the top google result that day! Thank you all so much. I don't even have the WORDS to describe my thankfulness. 

     When I spoke with AP and CBS I did come forward as the one who listened to the call and did the actual transcription, which I was rather vague about in the original article. That was my secret to tell, and they are big enough names in media that I was willing to come forward. (by the way, I am so not doing this for the money - but I AM getting paid for it and I think it was rather rude of the AP not to link to me. I want people to know the truth even if that means sacrificing a bit of my paycheck, but I mean, seriously, would it kill you to link to me after interviewing me and then talking about my transcript in your own article, Felicia Fonseca?). When I posted my second article, I was contacted again. Again I was asked for my sources. You can see where this is going, can't you? Yep, you guessed it. They aren't covering it because I will not release the names of unwilling sources. The AP's behavior then began to exemplify the exact reason I will not release confidential information - they asked a completely seperate third party to bug me about it. Now, I do not blame this third party at all, I'm sure we've faced similar ... interest ... from the media lately, but I'm still going to be curt with anyone who asks me to reveal an anonymous source. Regardless, this is the exact kind of behavior that the survivors DO NOT NEED right now. You guys know that and all your kind words and support mean A LOT (CBS got Shawna Bowen, by the way,  who is a licensed therapist saying things that sound remarkably like what I am saying, only nicer, so they are on the right track).

     I ask you ONCE MORE to help get this info out into the world. Bloggers do not need the backing of "traditional" media, we can spread a discussion all on our own, and that is what I ask now. If you can spare a few moments to comment on this on your own blog I would be grateful, no matter what you choose to say. I appreciate a well thought out discussion as much as anyone and I will be working on putting a link list on my Examiner.com page for all articles that want to seriously discuss this tragedy and think about the whole problem from every angle. I will include all links that contribute positively to the discussion - even that means giving love to James-I-might-as-well-eat-babies-Ray. Rayluv is fine, so long as you have some facts, proof, or critical thinking to add to the equation. For example "I love James Ray, he would never hurt people!" is not going to help convince anyone. A better idea might be "Well, you know, I was reading about this coercive persuasion thing, and it seems like it isn't fully understood and some people have doubts about it" will have far more impact. I mean, sure, I might come back and say "Well, yes human psychology is freaking complicated, which is why James-yum-yum-babies-Ray uses multiple techniques from differing schools in a brilliant example of a self-created mixed modality.", but let's face it, that is a far more interesting discussion EITHER WAY. Shoot me an email with a link to your article fitting above description to be sure it gets posted. 

     Even if you decide not to post about anything, thanks for reading me blather this long. I will EVENTUALLY talk about something else, but y'all know how I am. When I have a minute I have some great pictures from my visit to Hyde Park today!


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