Sunday, July 14, 2013

A Fish Eulogy

Once upon a time, almost three years (it was three, sorry, Twitter. Apparently I can't count) ago, Baby Sister did some sort of class science experiment. To be honest with you, I don't know exactly what the experiment was, and whether or not it involved radioactive substances. Which would totally make sense if it did. But I doubt it, because she's in elementary school.

At the end of said experiment, she came home with a goldfish.
Now, our family history with goldfish is not particularly a pleasant one. Any time anyone would bring home a fish, usually from a carnival of some sort, it would be a miracle if the fish lived a week. We have a little fishbowl, which we would fill with water, put the fish in, and put it somewhere where small children couldn't reach. And inevitably, at some point shortly after it coming home, it would die.

We aren't really a pet kind of family. My mom says it's because there are so many of us, that she doesn't need another mouth to feed :) Which is true, I suppose, but the options of animal are fairly limited, due to the allergies floating around in the family, and a certain parent's hatred of any rodent-like creatures.

So, for the vast majority of my life, I've had no pets, but siblings.

All of that changed that day in October. I wasn't even home when the fish came- I was living in Israel. My mother mentioned it to me in passing- "Oh, Baby Sister brought home a fish."
"Cool," I said. "Is it dead yet?"
"No, but it's only been three days."

And then I forgot about it. Because it was a goldfish living in my house. They don't live.

Two weeks later, Baby Sister mentioned him to me. "And the goldfish..."
"Wait," I said. "He's still alive?"
"Yeah. Isn't that weird?"
It was. It was really weird.

It's not like we killed them, they just didn't live long. And so the fact that this fish had made it to two weeks was cool. And then one month passed. And another.
"I don't know what to do," my mom said one day. "I should probably buy fish food, but I'm scared that if I start feeding him dead worms and octopus and whatever else is in that stuff, he'll die. He's doing fine with matzah meal."

I'm not an ichyologist- I had no idea what to tell her. But in the end, she bought real fish food, and miraculously, the fish lived.
Being six thousand miles away from said little dude made me kind of forget his existence a bit- I had never seen him, and he was a goldfish.
You can't cuddle goldfish. There's not really much you can do besides watch them swim in circles. But somehow, I started getting attached to the little nameless fish who lived on the kitchen counter.

I started getting fish updates- at first because, DUDE! We hadn't killed this one yet! And then because... well, it was the family pet.
Psycho Fish, as he was soon to be named, was just that.

Not that any of us are trained animal psychologists, but y'all? He was the weirdest fish ever. Just swimming around, as a fish does, and suddenly he would go into these psychotic seizuring episodes. And then he'd keep swimming around like nothing happened. He'd stare at us randomly, as if he was actually watching us. As if he knew way more than we gave him credit for. Sometimes I thought he was plotting something evil. He probably was.
Passover came and went, and Psycho Fish survived the change of fish food.
It was summer time, and I finally came home, and Psycho Fish was still alive.

That was two years ago.
My, how things changed.
Psycho Fish became a permanent fixture- swimming in his little bowl on the kitchen counter, keeping us company through every dinner preparation. He'd get an occasional earthquake when the Kitchen Aide would be used, and it never really seemed to faze him in the slightest. Nothing ever really seemed to faze him- until he'd spazz out for no reason.
But he was Psycho Fish- and that's what Psycho Fishes do.

And the trauma the first few times I bathed (a word which means clean out his fish bowl and relocate him temporarily to a different bowl until his fishbowl was clean) Psycho Fish- because apparently he thought bathtime meant time to attempt suicide. Although there were times when he was just swimming in his fish bowl where it looked like he was trying to jump.

We had theories about Psycho Fish. About how he was living so long. About why he was so flippin' weird.
Animagus. Animorph. Posessed. A reincarnation of someone, although we never could agree on who. Radiation.

All the Finding Nemo jokes were made. All the Animorph and Harry Potter jokes were made. And Psycho Fish swam on, being his weird self.

Friday morning, Psycho Fish was lookin' like his normal, fishy self.
Friday afternoon, I went over to the counter to give him his bath, and nearly had a heart attack. Psycho Fish was flopping near the top of the water in his fish bowl.

He couldn't be dead.
He couldn't.

I put the bowl down as fast as I could, and he started swimming again.  Not regular swimming- downward, in circles, like he was being sucked into a tornado.
I couldn't watch.

My mom was just coming home from work. "Mommy," I said, close to tears. "I think Psycho Fish is dying."

We've had a few Psycho Fish death scares, but this looked like it was for real.
Nobody wanted to watch- and there was nothing we could do. I never really understood why people would put their pets to sleep until this weekend.
Psycho Fish was dying- he was probably in pain- and there was nothing we could do for him. Nothing.

Saturday afternoon, his gills stopped moving.
He lay there, flopped near the top of the bowl. Not straight, because even in death Psycho Fish was weird.
I don't know who did the actual 'burial'. I couldn't watch. But it's Sunday, and the fishbowl is gone.

It shouldn't hurt to walk downstairs this morning and find an empty spot next to the Kitchen Aide. But it does.

Rest In Peace, Psycho Fish.
You made a lot of people happy in your little bowl on the counter.
I hope there's such a thing as Fish Heaven. I know if there is, Psycho Fish is swimming around, probably weirding out the other fish.
Swim on, Psycho Fish. Swim on.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Frankly My Dear... (Review: Eyre House by Caitlin Greer)

Once upon a time, a while ago, Caitlin Greer was a terrible tease.
See, Cait was taking her grrrrrand old time to do the cover reveal for her upcoming book, Eyre House. It was very mean.
You may have figured out by now that when it comes to books, I have approximately no patience for waiting for anything ever.
So when Cait did the cover reveal (and I drooled in envy, as one does) and I wanted to read Eyre House right freaking away.
So I pouted and eyelash fluttered, and God bless Cait, she sent me an eARC of Eyre House to read and brag about to y'all if I like it.
Be jealous.

Eyre House is the reimagining of Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre.

Evan Richardson is an 18-year-old orphan, which means he's now free of the foster care system. Hired to work at the Eyre House on Edisto Island, Evan's plan is to work for the summer and get the hell out of Dodge.
What Evan doesn't expect is Ginny- His boss's daughter. His every wet dream.

'Ginny Eyre goes through guys like tissue. She don't take no for an answer, and she'll rip your heart out when she's through. I think Jamie's death cut such a big hole in her, she don't know how to fill it.' loc 322 eARC

Evan has enough to worry about with Ginny being very up front about wanting him, her being boss's daughter and all, and then things start happening around the Eyre House that make Evan wonder if all the ghost stories everyone is telling are true.
Like stabbings and murder and mysterious threatening notes.
And now Evan is thrown in the middle of a summer job that's a lot more than he thought it would be- and the relationship with Ginny, which although she won't admit it, he knows is something more than just a summer fling.

Thoughts & Feelings from the Peanut Gallery:
And I thought I loved the South before. Uh uh.
This was a perfect combination of mystery, old South, and some summer lovin.
If Scarlett O'Hara would have shown up in the middle and started singing Grease's Summer Lovin'.... Well, it would have been weird, but that's kind of went down.

You know how people say if x and y had a baby it would be whoever?

Imma starting a new trend.
If Gone With The Wind, Jane Eyre, Grease, and the mystery section in my library got together and had some motorcycle sex, you would have a nice baby Eyre House.

Okay, that sounded better in my head.
But anyway!

Hiiiiii Evannnnn.

People? Y'all need to stop writing such magnificent male characters because my list of Book Boys I Like has reached harem levels of cray cray.

'for a bad boy, you're really kind of...straight-laced.'
'Maybe I'm not the bad boy you think I am.' loc 647 eARC

*fans self*

Dressed as a bad boy, complete with the rough past, motorcycle and tattoo.
Secretly a charming, well mannered, good hearted boy who is all kinds of sexy.

And motorcycle sex.


Eyre House is told from Evan's point of view, which was fascinating. It's rare that you find a NA written from the male point of view only, and it was a refreshing change.

Oh, Ginny, Ginny, Ginny.
The psychologist in me wanted to pull out the therapy couch almost immediately for her, but Evan, God bless his soul, kicked ass, took names, and dealt with it all.

Ginny uses sex to distract herself from the many many complications that seem to show up in her life. She's flawed and vulnerable and hurt, and she wears her I'm okay mask like a champ. The girl has a backbone of steel, and a marshmallow heart, which is a fabulous combination.
Ms. Catherine, her mama, is also on the butt-kickin-team of Southern ladies.

Will I ruin the end for you?
I'm not THAT horrible.
But let's just say the surprises kept a coming, and I was hanging on to my figurative seat (I was reading on my bed, not a seat. I was hanging by my pillows? Sounds weird.) until the end.

Should you read it?
Why, of course y'all should! (to be read in the thickest southern drawl you can attempt)
Eyre House is being released July 2013, and I will definitely remind you then, but for now, toddle on over to Goodreads and add it to your TBR pile.
(JULY 9 UPDATE: IT'S HERE!!!! CLICKY CLICK AND PURCHASE YOURSELF SOME EYRE HOUSE.) Then make yourself a note to make sure you have sweet tea ready for release day. It would be a perfect combo.

Hmmm. Should I start book and food/beverage pairings?
Eyre House+sweet tea (spiked if you like)+Benne seed cookies.
Praise the Good Lord.

And, as always, go find Cait and say hi. And tell her how much you're looking forward to that southern summer literary goodness.
But hands off Evan, he's mine.


Now, I'm off to go see who wants to road trip with me down to Virginia Beach and the Carolinas.
Unfortunately, said trip will only take place in my mind.
*long suffering sigh* *curses lack of money*

Check back maƱana, when I will be posting a super magical surprise.
(I know. Two days of posts in a row. What is this world coming to?!?!)
Happy Monday!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

What's UPPPPP, Wednesday?

The magical idea of Jamie & Erin: a way to let your friends know what's up with you! Add your link HERE

Harry Potter!!!!
Sister was at the library again on Friday, and this time, they had HPs 1-4. And GOD BLESS HER, she took them out for me.
I can not even begin to tell you how happy I was to reread them. I don't remember how old I was when I read them the first time (okay, by Order of The Phoenix, I could tell you), but rereading them all again now is just buckets of happiness.
I'm currently in the middle of Order of The Phoenix now, and Umbridge is making me ragey, as expected.
I'm debating about whether to watch all of the movies after I finish the series, especially since I haven't watched the last three. I was accidentally at the London premiere of Deathly Hallows Part Two, but that is an entirely different story.
Other Books I'm Reading:
CP/Beta reading, which makes me SO HAPPY, and so grateful that I know such magnificently talented people.
The Impact of You by Kendall Ryan and Playing For Keeps by Emma Hart, two fabulous books written by fabulous people.
I haven't made progress on Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter, but hopefully this weekend I will.

But mostly this week has been

MS1- and DEAR GOD, I've written a lot. Many, many thanks to the sprinters at #writeclub, and specifically J. Elizabeth Hill, for running the sprints.
Smart me remembered to write down my wordcount from last week, and I now have an exact number of words that I wrote.
21,490 of them, to be exact.
When I said I wanted to hit 25k, I did. I am long past that now, darlings. :)
I didn't really do any work on MS2, nor did any revisions happen. I got back some of the most wonderful notes on a previous MS, and I'm letting it all percolate for a while before I start revising.
I may just hold off on revisions 'til I finish this MS.

Okay, Crazy KK wants to finish the first draft of MS1. We'll see what happens, with it being July 4th and all. (You would think it's been the fourth for around two weeks already- the neighbors have been setting off fireworks regularly since the middle of June.)
Find a job! Yes. STILL.

#MSWL, Manuscript Wish List. The brainchild of the lovely Ms. Jessica Sinsheimer.
There was a huge Twitter party last Thursday, and I've been posting on Tumblr like a crazy person to have all agent's and editor's wish lists organized and labeled so everyone could know what everyone else wants.
There are over 550 people following the account, which is slightly terrifying but mostly thrilling. We've already heard stories of agents requesting partials and fulls, and possible sales to editors, and it makes me SO SO HAPPY. All the warm and fuzzies.
Other things that happened?
Friend got engaged, Aunt had a baby, so all the happy things :)
I went with Baby Sister to the Metropolitan Museum of Art yesterday, and we had ourselves a marvelous time. Baby Sister is hilariously precocious, so going anywhere with her is entertaining, but the Met was particularly fun. We ended up spending a big chunk of time in the American Wing, because, as she said, "I think I just don't appreciate most of modern art."
(She's eleven.)
The American Wing is full of gorgeous furniture and other magical things, and if I'm not too careful I'm going to be adding a historical fiction to the list of SNIs.
We played Guess-The-Year-That-Piece-Of-Furniture-Was-Made-In, and she is scary good at it. History nerds FTW! :)

Well, tomorrow is the Fourth of July, which means ALL THE FIREWORKS! Which means we get to watch everyone attempt to out-firework each other, and hope none of the neighbors lights our trees on fire with their illegal fireworks.

Happy Belated Canada Day (*starts singing* Oh, Canada, our home and native land!), Happy Early Independence Day, American folk, and to all the non-North-Americans?

Monday, July 1, 2013

The Writer's Diet

Many moons ago, in my previous life, I went to school for health coaching. I've always been a bit of a health nut (although not always a practicing one), and the thought of learning about how to help people live happier and healthier lives was one I was all for.
Health Coaching school was wonderful and great, but after a while I realized that I really didn't want to spend the rest of my life telling people that they shouldn't eat sugar and they should juice every day, and etc. etc. etc. Life is infinitely more complicated than that. And a million other reasons, too, which I will save you the headache of having to read.

A little while later, I decided that I was going to actually write the words THE END in the year 2013, and the rest is history. (No, seriously. You can just go back and read my posts.)

And so off I dived into Writing Land, and it is a magical place. The thing is, I kind of neglected myself a tad in the insanity known as writing the first draft. And I decided that perhaps it would be a good idea if I put all that vast education back into use.


"HAHHAHAHAHA!!!" I hear you cackling manically. "SLEEP? PFFT! SLEEP IS FOR THE WEAK!!"
Sleep is also the time that your body rejuvenates itself for the next day so your brain doesn't melt into a pile of useless gray goo.
I'm not saying, I'm just saying.

I know. Your poor heart will never make it to tip number five at the rate we're going. But here's the deal. For the vast majority of the people reading this blog right now, it's summertime, which means temperature goes up, and up, and up a bit more.
And sweating happens.
And pools. And beaches. And picnics and barbeques and air conditioning, thank God.
Coffee may indeed be the staple of your writerly diet, but it will not hydrate you. In fact, coffee is known to actually be dehydrating- which means, after you drink it, you will need to drink even MORE water than you would have before.
Dehydration is pretty nasty business, and as someone who's been there and done that, I do not suggest dehydration as a fun summer afternoon activity, especially if you want to be writing the next great and awesome novel.
Speaking of your next great and awesome novel, you will find dehydration will not enhance your creativity in the slightest. In fact, dehydration is probably your brain's sworn enemy numero uno (besides all those mind-altering substances and stuff).
Dehydration will effect your short term memory, possibly your long term memory, your mood (hello, anxiety, fatigue and tension! So good to see you!), and your cognitive abilities.
(This does not mean you should never drink a cup of coffee again, it just means you've got to throw some H20 into rotation.)
What about when you don't want to drink any water, because you hate it/insert your reason here?
Flavor that water up, yo.
Slice up either a fruit or vegetable (or more than one fruit and/or vegetable), put it in your water pitcher, and let it sit there for a while. The water will absorb some of the flavors from the fruit, and your water will have a tad more flavor.
Some fruit that's great to add to your water: Lemons, limes, apple slices, oranges, grapefruit, strawberries, pineapple.
Cucumber is also a great water addition, especially if you throw in some mint and lemon.

I know, I'm just filled with shocking information today.
We don't have to go through the whole song and dance of why eating fruits and vegetables are a fabulous idea for you, because they teach that in kindergarten.
Well, not the complicated vitamin-iron-mineral-nutrient thing, but whatever.
Eat more fruits and veggies. A lot of things are in season now (YAY SUMMER!), which means that it won't taste like freeze-dried nothing, and will be relatively decently priced.
Eat them plain, dip them in hummus (okay, not the fruit, that's kind of gross), and eat them when you realize that oops! You haven't eaten anything at all today! Which may explain your growling at people, even when there is no full moon in sight.
On second thought?
Pack yourself lunch, even if you're staying at home and writing. Because starving yourself for art is not really a smart idea. And then when it's lunchtime, all you have to do is grab your attractive brown paper bag and eat.

Okay, not really, but you need to use more muscles than just the ones in your arms. The rest of your muscles will not be pleased if you just ignore them for ridiculously long stretches of time.
A great solution is a treadmill desk, but most of us don't have room for one of those. If you do? Go for it, and make the rest of us jealous.
But there are other ways to use your muscles! (Surprise!)
And many of them include procrastinating instead of writing!
Let's see: you can turn on your happy music and dance like a lunatic, you can prepare for the zombie apocalypse by running, you can have light saber duels with your pals, you can swim (if there's a pool nearby), go rowing, canoeing, kayaking (if there's a large body of water nearby, and no, that doesn't mean your neighbor's Jacuzzi), and of course, you can procrasticlean (a term coined by the lovely Kelsey Macke).
Non-atrophied muscles! WOOOOO!!!

This is more of a mental health aspect here, which most certainly affects your physical health.
Being a writer kind of paves way for all the neuroses in the universe to come and take up living space in your brain, like some demented plague of parasites.
I don't even have to tell you why letting them stay there is not a good plan.
The absolute worst thing to do when you're drowning in self-pity is to do it alone. Find your friends and ASK FOR HELP. It's nearly impossible to pull yourself out of the pit of self-doubt all by yourself. Billy, don't be a hero.
The writing community is filled with incredible people- some of the most supportive and encouraging people I've had the pleasure of meeting.
Find your people.
Hug something fluffy.
Let yourself cry.
In. Out. In. Out.
It's going to be okay.

Now, spike your green juice with vodka and call it a day. :)

Happy Monday, y'all!