Sunday, March 27, 2011

Laundry

Why it seems one sock is always missing when you finish doing laundry.

~xxx~

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Speak No Evil

The blogosphere is an amazing place, isn't it? Anybody can start a blog about anything, and say whatever they want. Freedom of speech is a beautiful thing. It's something that's easily exercised, and it seems everybody wants to have their say. 

Where it's allowed, it's taken for granted. Stories like the thirty-two Chinese women being detained for writing gay sex stories make me thank whatever deity pushed our forefathers to have the forethought to protect it.

Having the right to say whatever pops into your mind, no matter how arrogant, ignorant, or intolerant it  makes you sound is one of the cornerstones of our society. You can stand on a soapbox and yell whatever you want at the top of your lungs. And you can wrap your ideas up in the "Freedom of Speech" banner. 

Just remember: freedom of speech also means I have the right to have my say, too. Are you prepared to have me vehemently disagree with what you say? Are you prepared to accept that no matter what I say, no matter how much I disgust you with my beliefs and thoughts, I still have the right to say it? Are you ready for me to call you out on what you say? Do you have the facts to back up what you claim?

Because "Freedom of Speech" doesn't mean you get to cram your ideas down my throat. It means I have to accept you have the right to say it. And it means you have to accept I have the right to respond. Can you handle that?

~xxx~

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Weigh-in Wednesday #12

I paid the gym memberships for another year. That counts, right? Right?

~xxx~

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Friday, March 18, 2011

Tales of the Geek Stable, Part VI

It was probably a shitty thing to do, but Milton waited until after picking up York to fill his gas tank. He knew how York felt about gas stations - going so far as selling his car and only going places he could get to on foot or bicycle. But he also knew that York would never get over Haydn's murder if he never confronted his demons. He could see York ball his hands into white-knuckled fists as he shut off the engine.

"It'll just be a minute. I don't want to run out of gas on the way out to the lake." Milton pulled out his wallet and used the pay at the pump feature and filled the tank. He watched his passenger carefully, but York never moved. Milton wasn't sure he was even breathing until he climbed back into the truck and started it up. "Ready?" 

York barely moved. If he hadn't been watching him closely, Milton would have missed the tiny nod. He put the truck in gear and headed out of town, letting York stew for a few miles in silence. His passenger still clenched his fists, but his jaw had relaxed a bit. That muscle wasn’t ticking as he ground his teeth anymore, at least.

“You know,” Milton said, his voice loud to his ears, after driving in silence. “You can’t keep going on like this.”

“Don’t.” York’s jaw was tightened again, and his knuckles were turning white again as he tried to control his anger.

“I’m just trying to help.”

“What do you know about it? Huh? Nothing. So just shut up.”

“I know Haydn wouldn’t want this for you.”

York’s fists slammed into the glove box. “Don’t say another word. You have no idea what I’m going through, so just shut the fuck up, all right?” He felt like shit for yelling at him, but York couldn’t bring himself to stop. “Just shut up about it.” He threw himself back against the seat and stared out the passenger window, hoping Milton would take the hint.

For a few more miles, Milton simply drove. York may hate him after this, but someone needed to shove him back into the living, instead of allowing him to wallow in grief. Two years was too much time lost to simply existing. He took a deep breath before speaking again. In the corner of his eye, he could see York tense.

“When my master got sick, I begged him to get me sick, too.”

York’s head whipped around to stare at Milton. In the year and half he’d been working with the man, that would have been the last thing he would have expected to ever hear from him.

“Well, I guess he was sick the whole time. He just didn’t show symptoms. That’s why he never fucked me.” Milton laughed, but there was no humor in it. He settled back in his seat, relaxing a bit, as if he wasn’t dropping the biggest bombshell York had ever heard. “I mean, why else would you take in a stupid fifteen-year-old drop-out runaway in and train him to be a good boy, but never fuck him?” He shook his head.

“Milton…” York couldn’t form any words. Milton was always quiet when they sat around, getting raucous, trading tales of getting tail. And he had never heard the big man cuss.

“When he wouldn’t do it, I tried get it myself. Tore up my fingertips and my knuckles trying to get into the biohazard box to get to his syringes. Got whipped for that one.”

“Milton, I-” York started, but Milton continued in that toneless way that was scaring him.

“Got the cage for a month when he found me drinking drain cleaner.” Milton laughed again. “He had tried to introduce some new masters. Ones to take his place. I fucking hated him for that. Screamed and clawed at the bars for hours. I sobbed, begging him to take me with him. To just let me end it so I could be with him when he went.”

“Jesus, Milton.”

“That was when he decided he needed to do something. I was all of seventeen, and completely finished with life. Trying to cash it in because the man I loved was going to die. And he knew that I would do it if he tried to give me to someone else.”

York twisted in his seat and pulled one knee up to lean against the door. “Why didn’t you tell us?”

Milton snorted. “Tell you what? The big, dumb hick was a worthless slave boy his master couldn’t bring himself to fuck? A fucking virgin slave boy. Can you believe that shit? Nah, you guys already think I’m a dumbass loser. Why prove it?”

“We don’t-”

“Save it, York. I know what you think. It’s in the way you guys act. The way you guys talk. Or don’t, actually. How y’all shut up when I walk in.”

“I’m sorry, Milton. We just thought….” York didn’t know how to finish his sentence. “You know what? I don’t think we ever really thought about you like that. You’re always so quiet, we just figured you were a sheltered country boy who didn’t know anything about what we were talking about.”

“Figured that much. Haven’t been sheltered in a long time. Hard to come out on a farm and keep the peace.”

“What? You mean….” York waited, but Milton didn’t say anything. “They kicked you out because you came out?”

“No, they kicked my ass because I came out. Then they kicked it again, and again. Figured they could beat the gay out.” He looked over at York and smiled. It was one of the coldest smiles he’d ever seen, and coming from the sweet country boy, it was bone-chilling. “They never could have figured I liked it. Almost came in my pants every time.”

York just stared at him. He tried to reconcile the man next to him with the images his story presented. This huge, innocent looking man-child, beaten bloody by his so-called friends and family. Or locked in a cage, crying. He started to shake with fury, wanting to do anything to make things better, to fix anything he could.

Milton shook his head and continued. “That was until they damn near killed me. If the branch hadn’t broke, I’da been a goner. I figured it was time to get the hell out of there.” He shrugged one huge shoulder. “Master Drake found me a couple of days later, still bruised and bloody. He brought me to his house, gave me food, clothes. A shower. Fuck, that shower felt good.” He chuckled a little and smiled remembering it.

“I can’t believe you never said anything.”

“What’s to say? ‘Hi, I’m a masochistic high school drop out with a dead master who never wanted to fuck me?’ No, that’s not something you just say. And no one ever asked. Just formed opinions based on my look. Figured it was better to just shut up and let you believe whatever you were going to.”

York couldn’t argue with that reasoning. He couldn’t remember any of the team ever asking Milton about his past. They knew he’d gotten out of school just before coming to work with them, but he looked so young and, hell, innocent was the only way to describe him. A fresh off the farm fresh-out. No way he could understand all their ways.

“Wait, you said you’re a drop out?” Milton nodded. “But you were a fresh-out when you came to us. How’d you get into school?”

“Master Drake set it up. After the poisoning incident, he knew he had to do something. I was going to do whatever it took to get myself killed. He wouldn’t allow that. While I cooled off in the cage, he set up tutors and classes for my G.E.D., then started working his connections to get me into computer classes.”

“Why did you go? If you were so set on dying, I mean.”

“Truth? He ordered me, so I went. And he ordered me to do well, so I did.” This time, there was humor in Milton’s laugh, and York joined him.

“That’s all it took? He ordered you?”

“Yep. It never occurred to me to disobey him.” Milton’s smile faded. “I went to class, did well, started living like a normal person. He started getting worse, and he prepared me for it. Finances, cooking, my classes. When he died, he planned to leave me everything, but I wanted to do something to help other runaways like me, to keep them from getting killed on the streets. He put the money into some kind of trust and the house is some kind of shelter now. I don’t know a lot about it. Not the specifics or anything. I just know they exist. Someone’s taking care of it.” He shrugged again.

“Jesus, Milton. We never even knew.”

“Ain’t no thing. We work, we live, we go on. That’s about all you can do.”

“Is that why you’re telling me all this now? I’m supposed to just go on? Like nothing happened?”

“No. Not like nothing happened. Shit happened.”

“So what do I do now?” York asked quietly, really wanting an answer.

“Would it help if I ordered you to snap out of it?”

“Probably not.”

“Figured as much. Slave boy and all. Don’t have much weight behind my orders. How about just asking that you try? I never met Haydn, but I know he would be disappointed in you. He’d want you out there. Living. Not just breathing.”

“I know,” he whispered, eyes burning. “I know.”

“I know it’s easier said than done, but if you do nothing, it won’t ever get better. You’re more than the tragedies you’ve faced. You’ve got to stop defining yourself that way. It happened. You can’t change it. You can’t fix it. All you can do is live with it. ‘Cause the alternative sucks. And trust me on this – drain cleaner tastes like shit.”

York laughed. “I’ll take your word on that one.”

They pulled into the campsite, and Milton parked next to Ogilvie’s Jeep. Milton started to get out, but York stopped him. He turned, raising an eyebrow in question.

“Thanks, Milton. And sorry we never asked.”

“’Welcome.  Now, let’s go have some fun.” He smiled, and he looked like such a school boy, York couldn’t help but laugh. When he got out of the truck, Milton shocked York once again by stripping down and leaving his clothes in a pile next to the truck, a huge, mischievous grin across his face. “Race ya’!”

“What are you doing?” York yelled at Milton’s broad back as he took off running, bare ass almost glowing in the twilight.

“Last one in’s a rotten egg!” Milton shouted as he raced past the campfire Ogilvie had started.

“What the hell was that?” he asked as York dropped one of the empty chairs set around the fire. They heard a splash in the distance, then a surprised shout.

“That was one complicated man.”

“Huh?” Ogilvie looked at York, the confusion clear on his face.

“Nevermind.” York stood and started laughing, feeling lighter and more free than he had in months. “Nevermind, man,” he repeated, dropping the last of his clothes and taking off for the lake, still laughing as he shouted at Milton. “Wait for me, you big oaf!”

~xxx~

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Family Portrait

Well, it's not my family, but it's amazing that they couldn't even get everyone to smile for this one.

~xxx~

Friday, March 11, 2011

WINNING! is

... all those heroes on the ground, taking charge during tragedies. Organizing their small groups, pulling in those they can reach, and providing whatever support they can to those who need it. Whether that support is food and water, shelter, first aid, or just a smile and reassuring touch to say "Yes, I see you. You're still here."

... all those heroes the press is going to root out for us. The ones they're going to introduce us to, the ones they're going to put up as examples of the human spirit persevering.

... all the others the press will never find, that we'll never get to know. The ones stepping up to do what needs to be done, then going about their lives as if they did nothing special. We know differently, but we'll never get to tell them how much they mattered during these hours.

... all the lives that will be saved, all the people that will come out the other side of this to say "We made it." Every person recovered to be around tomorrow, next week, next year.

... a celebration of the lives of those who were less fortunate. An remembrance that they actually lived, of the things they accomplished, and of the lives they touched. A sharing of the love they held, and continuing to pass it on to those you meet.

... no longer a cheap potshot at people too consumed with themselves to realize the world is a big place, full of amazing humans, every one of them with something special to offer, if only we're open enough to accept it.

Pass the WINNING! on.

~xxx~

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Weigh-in Wednesday #10

The treadmill and I are becoming reacquainted. Interesting - I don't hate it. Never have. Actually, I really like the treadmill. I like walking uphill, singing silently at the top of my lungs along with whatever's on my iPod at the moment. Dancing around, wiggling my ass and flailing about like I'm having some sort of spasm that threatens to throw me off the belt. I get lost in that hour, reading on my kindle, dancing, and belting out noiseless tunes like a diva that was visited by the coordination fairy.

It's the getting off my ass and interrupting my busy day of doing nothing that keeps me from it. The apathy that makes me whine about not wanting to do it. All the stuff from my desk or my couch to the belt starting that gets in the way. But for now, I've started moving.

I've also refrained from ordering any pizza or bringing home any grease-spotted bags over the last week. Still have a ways to go to eliminate all the crap, but I'm baby-stepping that way. Maybe next week...

~xxx~

Monday, March 7, 2011

Where do stories come from?

There's no such thing as the Story Stork. I wish there was. How nice would it be to have complete stories just delivered to my laptop? Unfortunately, I have to actually use my brain. That's easier said than done most times. After all, I ain't all that smart. I'll get an idea, but making it into a fullly-formed thought and turning that thought into a fully-realized story worth sharing takes effort. It's a balance between the left brain and the right brain. 

You rely on the right side of your brain to come up with the ideas, the characters, and all the little pieces of flair that appeal to the escapism stories give. But, you need the left side to temper all that fantasy. You need plausible story lines. Things need to be logical, no matter if it's a contemporary police thriller or a science fiction opus. Superman can fly, because he is from another planet, where the forces of gravity affect his body differently. Wonder Woman's Lasso of Truth was made by Hephaestus from Aphrodite's girdle. Gordon Gecko studied economics and took huge risks that paid off for him.We buy these facts because they're presented as logical extensions of creative expressions.

Too much right brain, your story will fail because your readers simply will not buy it. You cannot expect to say your character has purple horns growing out of his head just because he does. You need to tell them that it's a common trait of his species, which was descended from aliens that crash landed 500 years ago and managed to cross breed with humans, which gives him a humanoid appearance.

Too much left brain, and you've written a manual, not a story. Six hundred pages detailing the shell scripts  and compile switches the plucky computer hacker used to infiltrate the evil corporate empire's databases to expose their corruption with turn off all but the most die-hard of nerds. (10 PRINT "I ROCK AT BASIC" ;  20 GOTO 10 ; RUN)

You need to balance both worlds to be an effective story teller. I would say it's almost more important than grammar and spelling. After all, those can be corrected. Plot holes can get filled with a little work. But poorly-devised characters and situations, requiring wall-to-wall suspension of belief, or providing a dissertation or sermon is just insulting to the reader, and a sure-fire way to make sure your book will wallow in obscurity or ridicule.

Just my 1/50th of a dollar.

~xxx~

Sunday, March 6, 2011

It's All in the Editing

It's not just the words - it's the order in which you say them.

~xxx~

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Respect My Authoritah

When is it time to move on? At what point do you say "I'm out"? 

I work in a male-dominated field, supporting  male-dominated fields. I try to play nice with the boys and gently assert my will on them. I've got a group of users that love me. Such is the delicate balance of IT and High Tech. I say no, you listen. After all, I have the magic password to lock you out of the systems.

But lately, a few are pushing it. Coercing me to do a little more; nudging the boundaries beyond what's 'in scope'. Walking all over me. And complaining when I don't capitulate.

I've killed them with kindness, and now I think my pool is tainted. Maybe it's time to climb aboard my Big Wheel and roll on down the road.

Too bad my writing isn't a safety net.

~xxx~

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Weigh-in Wednesday #9

Another month down. How'm I doin'?

Stop Eating Crap?  This is going to sound like a "check's in the mail" excuse, but I really did start working on this today. Got up, had a protein shake for breakfast, staying away from fried foods for lunch. Great plans - we'll have to see about the follow through.....

Start Moving?  Started moving yesterday. New month, new goals, yeah? Hitting the treadmill for an hour at a time. Today my thighs and butt are yelling at me for doing lunges on the treadmill. But, I'm ignoring them and plan to make it worse later today.

Blogging? I'm still here. Most days. And, I've joined twitter. I solemly swear not to post my bathroom habits to @xaraxanakas.

What Did Work?   I got published! My first short story was published by Dreamspinner this month.
 
AND! They've also accepted a follow-up novella with expected publication in July/August. Yes, my cock-blocking sheriff found a home. I'm just reworking the story a little to get to the required pieces of  flair to get him is own cover now.

I wrote a short story that I believe has redefined blasphemy. A saga so sacrilegious, it is destined to become the caboose on the Fetish Express to Hell anthology I'm planning. At least I'll have a comfortable trip with the steampunked-out train I'll have. Two words: Bar Car.

My were boa is out in the big, wide world. Spouse hit the send button to help me submit Snakeskin Boots. I'm gnawing the legs of tables waiting to hear back about his fate. Tick. Tock. Accept my WereCock, already! Wait - that's going to be Were Menagerie, Book 3: Why Did the WereChicken Cross The Road?

What's Next?  My geeks got the short end this month. I really need to do something special to make it up to them. They have left the office, at least. York's having a rough day, but things are about to look up for him. 

Lastly, my spider monkey has a new friend. And he's going to get a new name, once I get back around to working on him.

Does it sound like I have a plan? Time will tell. Plans change and fall by the wayside. Blessed are the flexible, for they shall not be bent out of shape.

~xxx~

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Uphill, In The Snow, Both Ways

Once upon a time, books were made from paper. You physically had to turn the pages. 

By hand! Imagine that. 

It's almost like having to get up to change the channel on the TV. Using a dial! ~shudders~

Quaint, ain't it?

~xxx~