How to Use a Pumice Stone (and How Not To)

Back in 2005 when I started my first blog and began dating Stoker, he had a run-in with a pumice stone. And I wrote a mildly decent post about it (linked, if you’re interested in reading the original), because why not?

It still cracks me up, that pumice stone incident. And I confess that I still find the improper use of pumice stones hilarious, especially when it involves Stoker, as an adorable 22-year-old.

Anyway, so apparently people really have a lot of questions about how to use these little chunks of sandpaper, because that post gets loads of regular traffic.

So, I’m revisiting the topic! And I’m also going to do everyone a solid and share new info, like the PROPER WAY TO USE A PUMICE STONE as well as give you the best clips of the old post here, because it makes a great format and I really like great things. Love the great things. Like, a lot.

Let’s get on with it. Let’s really dig into my in-depth tutorial on using a pumice stone! Here goes:

The other night Stoker scrubbed the inside of his elbow too vigorously with the pumice stone. He was taking a bath, reading his book on recording engineering, and he got this itch on his inner elbow. You know, the soft, pale part of your arm just below the bulge of round joint. I don’t know what he was thinking using a pumice stone there. But he did. He’s new to pumice stones, I suppose and didn’t realize that you should only use them on tough, calloused skin like the bottom of your feet and elbows.

  1. NEVER USE A PUMICE STONE ON SOFT SKIN.

    An innocent-looking pumice stone. Should be fine on my skin, like all over my entire body, right? WRONG.

The itch flared up and the light blue, foot shaped pumice stone was resting on the edge of the bathtub, innocently minding its own business. Stoker’s eyes fell on its white flecked beauty and the idea struck him. He grabbed the light stone and scraped it lightly across the tender skin. It felt good. Deceivingly good. With a sigh, he brushed the skin with the pumice stone, effectively eliminating the itch.

2. WHEN CONFRONTED WITH A POWERFUL ITCH, EVEN WHEN A PUMICE STONE IS PRESENT, DO NOT USE THE PUMICE STONE TO SCRATCH SOFT TISSUE. At first, of course you might slide the pumice stone across the skin and find relief. OK, one soft stroke is fine. But as everyone knows, an itch doesn’t often go away with just one scratch. In order to avoid the inevitable scenario of too much pumice-stone-scratching, do not even engage in JUST ONE SCRATCH.

Later, the skin turned red. Raw. That’s when the whole story came spilling out: itch… pumice stone…I scrubbed it and it was great, at the time. But now it hurt. Like a burn. Poor kid. I truly felt bad for him, felt a little guilty for not warning him about the potency of a pumice stone. Though, when you think about it, I’m sure he knew. How could you not? I mean, it’s like sandpaper. No one rubs their skin with sandpaper, right?

3. PUMICE STONE USE SHOULD BE RESERVED FOR PORTIONS OF THE BODY WITH THICK, TOUGH CALLOUSES, LIKE THE HEEL, THE BALL-JOINT OF THE BIG TOE, OR, WELL YEAH, THAT’S ABOUT IT. And you know, just rub the pumice stone on the callous. It’s not rocket science (although, it occurs to me now, that maybe it is, and I’m just ignorant of the highly complicated process of pumice stone operation. Maybe I should do a Google search!).

So, to sum up, this is a bad idea, even for body hair removal [Note: this statement is not backed by any peer-reviewed studies]:

You want to do that to remove all your HIDEOUS BODY HAIR? Fine. Go for it. But we all know this body-hair removing use of pumice stones was started by pumice stone companies looking to have a new way to market their callous-removing tool.

To be safe, reserve the pumice stone for officially sanctioned (by the Pumice Stone Society of America) pumice stone activities. You don’t want to denude the top layer of your skin in some weird effort to rid yourself of body hair. Accept it! You’re a mammal. A beautiful animal that grew hair for a billion biological reasons, and mother nature doesn’t make mistakes (except for when she does, like accidentally).

If you really want to get rid of your arm hair (and stuff), consider a safer alternative, like burning it off with a curling iron, ah! Wait!

New use of curling irons!

Just a second . . . I’ve got Revlon on the phone now . . .

I Can’t Go On . . . I’ll Go On: The Grief of Loss

So, my cat died four weeks ago. Still hard. I still keep thinking I hear the cat door open and close while the other cats are clustered around me. There are just two, now. The house seems empty without Bastet around.

One night I’d been playing Destiny PVP waaaaaaaaaay too late. Like, till maybe 2 am (shhhh, keep it a secret). And I was probably killing it in the Crucible. Because I do.

Anyway, that’s just some slang to show how IN I am in the hardcore gaming world. (I mean, I’m not. Not really.)

So I finally had the willpower to not play just one more match, and I got into bed. When I closed my eyes, all I could see was the heads-up display radar flashing red at me.

That’s fine. I mean, who hasn’t overdosed before on a video game and while trying to sleep has the jitters from holding their arms too close to their body for long periods of time? Common problem.

But as I tried to sleep, still seeing the game in my head in a sleep-deprived fog, I realized that maybe I’ve been immersing myself in the fantasy construct of the game to numb the painful and loud absence left by my old companion, Bastet.

With my eyes closed, I thought of her. I flashbacked to the vet’s office and holding her as the doctor gave her the barbituate.

And I couldn’t get my head around the fucking idea that she’s gone. And that I held her tight in that moment, and now she’s in the ground and what I knew of her has fled–the light that made Bastet, Bastet. The animation. The purrs. The sounds. The fragrance of her fur. The blinky-eye kisses that she’d give me from across a room.

My sleep-deprived brain settled on the grotesque image of her body, a white skeleton in the ground (though yes, I know it will be some time before that actually happens), a strange entity that bears no familiarity to the cat I knew.

And I suddenly understood elephants. I mean, you know how elephants are said to revisit the bones of a departed family/herd member? I GET THAT NOW (it’s not necessarily true, however, see links). I felt like an elephant, in my head, wrapping myself around the rib bones of my cat, keening about my loss.

Do elephants keen? I could be making this up, this info about elephants. Don’t use this as a source for your biology report on elephants.

This is kind of psychedelic and is likely a result of the black maw of sorrow in my chest and the aforementioned overdose of Destiny PVP.

But let’s all be unflinchingly honest for a moment about American culture–there is no built-in method to channel grief. To deal with grief and the struggle to move on when a loved one passes on.

Bear with me here.

We have a funeral. And . . .

That’s it, guys, a FUNERAL. We close the casket or scatter the ashes and boom, that’s it. Good luck moving on, friend. And then those of us least affected by the death do tend to move on well enough.

But if you’ve lost a lover, a child, a cat or a dog (let’s face it because they’re with us as often as humans), how the hell do you deal? How do you get your instinctive, animal-brain around that sudden, malicious absence?

I say that it’s the old part of the brain that really struggles, because I think it is. I’m sure there’s likely research or info out there to back me up, but this isn’t a research paper. This is my OP-ED piece. It’s my opinion. And I’m saying that it’s the old part of the brain because I think the newer parts of the human brain grasp death, in a way. Those are the parts that comprehend time. The past. The future. The present. And they’re all trying to mix and mingle in the middle of the brain, the part where we live.

But death, death is confusing, and it goes against the old part of the brain, where we live in the now. That is the part of our heads that looks around to find our friend, and then the other parts of our brain are like, “Dude, get a grip! They’re GONE.” And we are like, “What does that even mean? How can they be gone? They were just here! I JUST SAW THEM.” None of this is making sense. But consider that it doesn’t make sense because DEATH DOESN’T MAKE SENSE.

In other cultures, there are complicated funeral rites that sometimes last up to 100 days after the death of a loved one. These traditions aren’t meant for the dead, though it’s said that they are–they’re for the living. They’re designed to channel grief into something meaningful, into a roadmap of how to make it the hell out of the valley of the shadow of death to where you can manage to move on without wanting to collapse in a waterfall of tears, implode into a blackhole of rage and sorrow.

And we have nothing like that. We have our shared American religions that tell us our dead friend or lover is living again with God or Christ. But that’s not really enough. Because it doesn’t involve us in doing something that means something. To help us move from the space of catastrophic sadness and loneliness and “I can’t go on” to the place of “I can deal, I can go on, OMG I don’t want to, but I will.”

In any case. That’s all. I’ve been using a game world to find solace. And it’s working.

I think.

But still. I miss her. So much.

She loved cuddles. And playing “kill the bird” with cat toys. She was HUNTING perfected. Yet, incongruently enough, was also a master of the cuddle-fest.

And see, here are these quotes from The Unnamable, by Samuel Beckett, which is how death and grief feel to those left behind:

If I gave up! If only I could give up! Before beginning, before beginning again! (What breathlessness! That’s right, ejaculations! That helps you on, that puts off the fatal hour. No? The reverse? I don’t know.) Start again, in this immensity, this obscurity: go through the motions of starting again – you who can’t stir, you who never started. (You the who?) (Go through the motions? What motions? You can’t stir.)

You launch your voice, it dies away in the vault. (It calls that a vault – perhaps it’s the abyss: those are words). It speaks of a prison (I’ve no objection), vast enough for a whole people, for me alone (or waiting for me). I’ll go there now, I’ll try and go there now.

I can’t stir.

And then this clip:

I don’t know: perhaps it’s a dream, all a dream. (That would surprise me.) I’ll wake, in the silence, and never sleep again. (It will be I?) Or dream (dream again), dream of a silence, a dream silence, full of murmurs (I don’t know, that’s all words), never wake (all words, there’s nothing else).

You must go on, that’s all I know.

They’re going to stop, I know that well: I can feel it. They’re going to abandon me. It will be the silence, for a moment (a good few moments). Or it will be mine? The lasting one, that didn’t last, that still lasts? It will be I?

You must go on.

I can’t go on.

You must go on.

I’ll go on. You must say words, as long as there are any – until they find me, until they say me. (Strange pain, strange sin!) You must go on. Perhaps it’s done already. Perhaps they have said me already. Perhaps they have carried me to the threshold of my story, before the door that opens on my story. (That would surprise me, if it opens.)

It will be I? It will be the silence, where I am? I don’t know, I’ll never know: in the silence you don’t know.

You must go on.

I can’t go on.

I’ll go on.

 

A Letter to My Cat Who Died Monday

Screen Shot 2017-01-18 at 9.19.39 PMMy cat, one of my oldest friends, died Monday. She had a fast-growing cancerous tumor in her mouth, which I basically discovered in December. It was kind of sudden. Yesterday I wrote her a letter. I want it out there, in the universe, circulating. I don’t know why, I guess because maybe she’ll be reincarnated as an awesome human who will–through a genetic/atomic mutation (possible? Thank you Brandon Sanderson for giving me this idea via Legion: Skindeep), she’ll remember she was once my cat, and she’ll be able to read this letter, and know how much I loved her and how hard it was for me to put her to sleep. I’ll never forget that moment, and how difficult it was. I’ve never felt such a deep grief, and I hope I never have to feel it again, for a long long time.

Maybe I’m a huge wimp–totally possible. But I’m still recovering from her being gone so suddenly. I usually don’t post confessional stuff on my website . . . or anywhere, for that matter. I guess I’m sort of Victorian like that. I don’t know. I tend to feel ashamed for my strong emotions.

Messed up and kind of weird. I know. I don’t even get it, because I was raised Mormon/LDS, where crying at the podium as you talk about your feelings about God and the Mormon church is totally normal.

But feeling this sad and grief-torn and then posting about it online . . . isn’t. I guess. No idea. Anyway, this is raw and real and could definitely be considered sharing too much information with the world-at-large. Read at your own peril.

So. I hope this post finds Bastet wherever she ends up.

Bastet,

My heart is so, so raw.

I keep feeling like I betrayed you. I don’t think I’ve ever made a more grueling decision in my life, being faced with your suffering and what to do for you. I would have kept you alive forever, if you could have done it without suffering and I had that kind of power.

I keep telling myself that I killed you. That I let the vet kill you, but I know that the cancer was killing you, slowly, agonizingly. You couldn’t eat. All day long you drooled and could barely bathe yourself. You hid under my bed, scared of everyone and everything.

I keep replaying yesterday over and over in my head. I told myself Sunday night that you might be okay and that I wouldn’t take you into the vet on Monday, because you ate almost half a can of albacore tuna fish. So maybe you were ok!

But then Monday morning, you came downstairs and I put out some of the Feline Greenies treats that you love, and you didn’t eat them. That never happens.

And my heart shattered. I went upstairs and held you for a long time, even though you didn’t want me to. I wrapped you in the red plaid blanket that you always loved and listened to “Songbird” on vinyl and I cried and cried. “For you, there’ll be no more crying . . . For you, the sun will be shining.” I tried to wipe up all the drool on your fur and I brushed you, and tried to make you feel clean again.

I hate myself, in a way, for betraying you, because I know in some way only a cat-owner can understand, that it wasn’t fair of me to take you to the vet and release you from your body like that. But who should I be mad at? Myself? Or the universe? For making us live. And then suffer. And then die. Why the hell are we even alive anyway? Out of some perverse electrical accident?

You found Stoker and me so long ago, calling out to us as we swam at that pool in Mesa. And I saved you then, from the kids who used to throw you in the pool. And then I saved you again from those stupid people who lived next door to us and adopted a million cats, but then left all of them behind when they moved. They were the worst. I hid you from my landlord and then drove you across the country, keeping you safe, feeding you and loving you. I protected you and you gave me so much joy, and that was why it was so hard to let you go yesterday.

My heart has been raw since I first saw you drooling in December and the vet said it might be a tumor. I used to imagine how hard it would be to let you die when you were younger and healthy. My life and heart were bound up in you from the moment that boy at the pool in Mesa told me the kids would throw you into the pool and laugh. I knew I had to shelter you from the cruelty of the world, but I couldn’t protect you from the flaws written into our genes.

Yesterday was one of the most awful days for me. Ever. Before I took you to the vet, I kept having this vision of you going to sleep with your name on my voice, echoing in your ears. I don’t know what is beyond death. But I hope that you awoke, bodiless, without the pain of cancer, still hearing me speak to you, telling you how much I love you and will miss you. I hope so. I hope there is a “me” molecule, that carries us into the light, that lets us live again in another beautiful form, and that we do not forget, entirely, who we have been.

I held you as tight as I could, and you laid there, trusting me, as the vet injected your tiny arm with the barbiturate, and I didn’t even know you’d gone, until he stopped, and listened to your heart. You were gone. And then I howled in pain. My girl, I’ve never lost someone so close to me. A constant presence in my life. A little friend, who I communed with daily, crossing the boundaries that separate us as different species, bridging the distance with love and cuddles. You vocalized for me all the time, a thing that I have read cats only do for their human companions.

I hate it that time will heal this wound. I hate it that the memories of you will grow faint as I move away from this time and place. I hate it, but I need it. Because I feel like I can barely go on. I feel a despair at the futility of loving anything and trying to make any kind of mark in this world, because time erases everything. You gave me a reason to live, and you are gone now, and I could never explain to you how much you meant to me, and how hard it was to make the decision to let you leave your body. Did I even have that right? I am human, and I am an ass, and I made it anyway, because I thought it best for you, rather than the slow death of starvation.

Fuck cancer. Fuck the universe.

I have to leave you behind, though. I have to let time move me forward, and I have to let you stay here, in my past, because my heart can’t take the pain of reliving how your body felt in my arms that moment you left me. Your tiny gray body, helpless in my arms. Oh my girl. My sweet Basty.

I hope you are somewhere out there still. I hope you became a beam of light. I hope you haven’t forgotten me.

Losing you, seeing you destroyed by cancer, has been so hard. I have been so despondent and crushed. I’ve struggled to know how to move on and keep wanting to live. Grief has been eating me alive. It’s hard to not want to give up. It’s been difficult to see why trying to keep living is even a good idea. But I realized last night, in my darkest moment, the answer. Why should I keep living? Because of the living. Because of the people and friends who are still with me.

Death is primitive and scary and inexplicable. Our animal brains can’t grasp it. We are as confused by it as an animal whose best friend simply vanished one day, leaving no body or trace behind (like for Polly, your cat-sister). I know you are gone. I saw the shell you left behind. And it still makes no fucking sense, that you were here, and now you are gone. And I can’t touch you or talk to you or see you.

I feel like your ghost is following me. I saw my mom’s cat sitting on the bed in a dark bedroom after we buried you under the cherry tree in her yard, and I thought it was you, looking out at me with your owl eyes. I thought you were trying to play with Polly last night as she and I played with the yellow feather toy. I keep accidentally calling Polly, Basty. I hear a noise that sounds like the cat door shutting, and both Sobek and Polly are sitting with me, and I look up, expecting to see you trotting into the living room.

It still feels like you’re there.

Fuck you, Universe. Fuck you, Cancer. Fuck you, Time, who takes everything away in the end.

Basty, I will find you again someday. Even if I have to find a way to stuff my conscience into a single molecule when I die, and hitch a ride back into the time-stream in the body of another human. I’ll surf the waves of time until I find you. Look for me, girl. I’ll be looking for you.

Five Ways to Find Time to Write

Regularly, someone asks me how I have time to write, let alone write a book.

Look at what I’m doing now! I’m at my sister’s house, writing! CW is playing with his cousin and baby Z is in the exer-saucer! I shouldn’t be writing this post at the moment, I should be chatting with my sister and watching the kids play because it’s fun! And there are rainbows and unicorns and kittens prancing around the house because that’s what life is for a stay-at-home-mom/career mom/freelancer/author!

Right. So there is never time to write. That’s the key. There is always something else to do. If it’s not re-mopping the kitchen floor for the fiftieth time because SOMEone spilled their milk, it’s doing the laundry again because it never goes away. Something is always dirty, and it’s usually a pile of clothes, somehow (how? I just washed them!). It’s never just one item, it’s always like twenty shirts.

Anyway, this is a topic loads of writers have tackled. I am not the first. But I’ve been giving advice to a few people with aspirations of the writerly sort, so I want to put my thoughts into a blog post that I can quickly point them to.

When I say that you have to make time to write, that’s precisely what I mean! Here. I’ve boiled it down to a list of five very important things:

1) Figure out your distractions. Sometimes things are more important than writing, like being a parent, taking your kid to school, picking that same kid up from school (I have writer friends who sometimes forget to do this because they’re writing! Haha!) Showering, eating, paying the bills, possibly working. Those are all necessities. But other things, not so much. Playing Destiny or Grand Theft Auto V? A distraction. At least, for me. I love video games, but they suck the time away as well as the urge to tell a story. I get lost in those stories and lose that primal instinct to sit by the fire and weave a tale. Is it the same for you?

2) Get rid of things that qualify as a distraction. This is really part of number one, but it bears repeating because it’s so important! I recently deleted Facebook from my smartphone because I’d spend an irrational amount of time chasing links on it and commenting on other people’s life stories. I should be living life, not remarking about it from the sidelines. Right? Granted, some would think writing a book isn’t really living, but it is for me. I also had to shove aside my video game addiction. You might need to do that. Whatever your distractions are, figure out which is more important: writing or messing around.

3) Write when there’s downtime. For me, this just barely opened up as a possibility because my 3.5 year-old began going to preschool two days a week. Stoker drops him off on his way to work and baby Z takes a nap. I can potentially get 600 words in before she wakes up and I have to go pick up CW. When is YOUR downtime? Do you have a half-hour or hour lunch break everyday? When I was working as an editor, my lunch hour was my writing time. I snacked and scribbled. Figure out your free time and focus. Some nights I can work once the kids are in bed. Can you?

4) Think about what you’re going to write before you sit down to write. They say writers live two lives, the one they’re living and the one in their head, which is carefully taking stock of everything and caching it away for material later. Something like that. Whatever. I don’t remember exactly, but the point is, it’s helpful to be aware of your story all the time. For that scene with the characters in the rain? You really want to pay attention to the rain that’s happening today, right now, as you drive/walk to work. This way, when you finally sit down to write, you don’t waste a single minute searching for material. You’ve got it. Burn that keyboard up! Type! (Or scrawl it, if pen and paper is your thing.)

5) Write. Every. Day. Everyone always says this. They say it because it’s true. Getting a schedule is important because humans are creatures of habit. Our brains are tiny (everyone always says huge, but they’re lying). There are a few things that we don’t have to do habitually to remember, like riding a bike, reading words once we’re literate, etc. But things like remembering the details of a story? We forget. If you put aside a book you’re casually reading and don’t pick it up for a month, sometimes less, generally you won’t remember what the hell is going on in it. That same thing happens with the book you’re writing. You don’t want to waste writing time re-reading your entire story because you put it down for a year. So set a daily word limit. Make it simple at first–100 words, 300, 500. Whatever works. Make it reachable so that you have the pleasure of accomplishing the goal. That way you don’t give up immediately. If you write more than your goal, great. But don’t beat yourself up if you don’t go significantly over it.

If you can follow at least four of these, you too can write a book. Or a short story. Or whatever it is you want to write. Like anything in life, you simply have to want it. The best advice? Take the Nike slogan to heart: “Just do it.”

Like most people, I don’t have time to write. I create time, then I make it work for me. Make time work for you! The above five steps have helped me manage to continue to work (for the most part) through having two kids. Babies are needy. Kids are needy. And of course my kids are of the utmost importance to me, but . . . so is my work. I actively create the time to do it. And you can as well, if it’s what you want.

Writing a Sequel to Feed

First things first, I just discovered this gem. It’s so good. And, confession, something about the vocalist reminds me of Tracy Chapman. Weird! But it’s lovely and brooding and pensive. It makes me want to break up just so I can have a bit of drama. Haha!

 

So, anyway, I’ve been thinking about how working on a book now, for me, is different. Like, oddly different. Other-worldly different.

When I first wrote Feed, it was built on a short story called “Life Feeds.” I liked the damn thing so much, I wanted to do more with it. So I did. It was great. No one was waiting for me to finish. No one cared but me. I could write at the pace that worked for me and I did. I only had one kid, a baby, and when he napped, I could scribble off a thousand words no problem. Sometimes more, sometimes less.

I published it when it was done and didn’t do any marketing at all. I had no idea how to even approach that. I didn’t research that stuff because I didn’t know that marketing my indie book was even a thing!

So, because of that, it made absolutely no splash. It slipped into the water like Greg Louganis: nary a drop. Hardly anyone read it. It snuck under the radar and pretty much stayed there. Forever. Even now it only has something like 15 reviews on Amazon.

But that has never deterred me and it didn’t then. So I began working on Blue Hearts of Mars right after that and worked hard on it, sometimes feeling like someone else was doing all the work because it came so effortlessly to me. I loved the story and I just did what felt natural.

I published Blue Hearts a year after Feed. And I didn’t market that one either. It was January, and I put it up for a short free period on Amazon. That helped a bit. But not much.

Then, I met my friend and author Megan Thomason, because her YA book Daynight was also running a free promotion and Blue Hearts couldn’t knock hers out of the number one free spot. So of course I emailed her to razz her for beating me (I’m competitive like that). Well, she’s awesome and went out of her way to teach me about marketing and much of what I learned for her I’ve implemented. It helped with Blue Hearts, but that’s still the only book of mine I’ve ever pushed.

Why? I don’t know. Confidence, maybe. I’m still insecure about my abilities and my stories, despite loving the hell out of them. At this point, I’m working on a sequel to Feed even though I never planned one.

Feed ended in what some have called a cliffhanger. I get it. In today’s world, it seems like a cliffhanger because everyone writes sequels, and the best way to do a sequel is to leave room for one. But Feed is a dystopian story, modeled after something like Eugene Zamiatin’s We, which was one of the first dystopian books, along with Jack London’s The Iron Heel and E.M. Forester’s “The Machine Stops.” If you’ve read We, you know that the end is just sort of mundane. There is the hint of hope and change, but it’s not totally certain. Nothing is. The protagonist is ruined by the One State and the real hero is revealed to be I-303.

When I wrote the end to Feed, I saw that I left hope for the reader. My original ending was that [****former plot spoiler alert****] Ramone died, but the resistance lived on, which is hopeful, right? Well. A few people read it and got REALLY REALLY REALLY PISSED. So I changed it.

People are still pissed. It didn’t seem to help that I altered the ending. Some people still find reasons to get pissed! It can be discouraging.

And so, here’s what I’m getting at: I like the world and the characters in Feed, so I thought, what the hell. I’ll write a sequel.

That’s what I’m doing.

But I’m still torn about how I’m responding to readers. Lord knows I didn’t want them to hate the ending of Feed, either of them, the controversial death included. I want to them to appreciate the story and feel something: rage, relief, whatever. I don’t want them to hate me for not fulfilling them in some way.

The rub is: I’ve learned that I can’t make everyone happy. Or anyone, even, possibly. Maybe? I’m experiencing a bit of external pressure to perform, to write the story and do it well and keep it exciting and thoughtful. I’m not sure I’m doing that. They always say, “Write for yourself.” “Write what you know.” Nice little pieces of advice, those are. But what the hell do I know? And what does that even mean? If I’m writing it, you can be damn sure I’m writing for me.

But that just doesn’t change the pressure and the knowledge that people are waiting. Patrick Rothfuss wrote his first book over the space of something like ten years. And it went viral (can books go viral?). Working on the second was a huge ordeal for him. He’s published some of the emails he’s gotten where people beg him to finish the second and tell him to get to work rather than playing around with his son and such, which just show that some people are huge dicks. Where do they get off telling him to write his book and how fast? That’s not helpful.

Luckily no one is really doing that to me, either because my fan base is the size of a sample cup at Costco (not to diminish how awesome my fans are! I love you guys!) or because they’re an unusually quiet bunch. Whatever reason, I’m not under direct pressure from them. Just from what I perceive, I think. I want to be past this. I want to move on. But I’m in this limbo spot where I have to tie up loose ends. I can’t move on. Not yet. I have to do something first.

 

 

 

Mixing Pregnancy and Writing a Book? Can It Work?

Answer: for me, no.

I’ve been trying to work out a plot for Feed 2. Or Feed 2.0

Feed, an Addendum.

Feed, the Followup.

FEED THE REVOLUTION.

Also working on a name. Because Feed 2 is lame. Suggestions welcome.

The problem is that I’m to the point in this pregnancy where I can’t sit comfortably. I’m worse than Jabba the Hut right now, as in, I have to sit at an angle in a normal chair just so I’m not crunching my stomach up into my esophagus.

jabba the hut
This is how I look when sitting. Notice the huge bulge just beneath Jabba’s fat rolls. We’re like twins. Our bellies even match colorwise. I feel like I’ve made this joke before, but I never tire of it.

Here’s something you never think about until you experience pregnancy yourself — the huge bulge in your torso is NOT flexible . . . you know, like how fat is? So pregnant women are not obese. Fat moves around and changes shape like some kind of amazing product that hasn’t been invented yet, but if it were, it would totally revolutionize important things like couches and beds and bird’s nests and whatnot.

If you need to bend over to pick up a toy car that you just stepped on because you didn’t see it (limited visibility due to huge stomach) or to clean up cat vomit or whatever totally normal items you often have to pick up off the carpet, your belly shifts all your internal organs up into your chestal region, where you nearly 1) stop your heart; 2) break your rib cage; 3) annihilate your lungs; 4) burn your esophagus with the heat of ten suns that comes from your natural stomach acid. Normally stomach acid is an awesome thing because it aids in digestion and other life-saving techniques known only to wise medical doctors, shamans, and nutritionists. The usual.

But right now, I curse stomach acid with the strength of one hundred ripped gladiators from the Roman gladiator era. They can raise their swords to my stomach acid right now, and I really wish they would. Currently, I sound like a smoker in both my husky, dry voice and persistent cough. People love thinking that a very pregnant woman is a smoker. You should see the glares I get . . .

But hey! The cough comes from kicks from the baby and the shortness of breath and raspy voice come from stomach acid spurting up into my throat.

Where was I going with this? I got off on a whining tangent….

Oh yeah. I can hardly be expected to sit and plot out a book. I’m trying. But my thoughts persistently wander forward in time to the joy I’ll feel the day the baby is healthy and on the outside of me.

How can I think about things like, “What would be really awesome? I mean, as this chapter ends, what would be freaking thrilling to read next, if I were a reader? A sudden betrayal! A knife in the back! A twist! That would rock!” Thoughts like those are interrupted by a baby foot in my rib. Yeah, who could have ever conceived of propagating the race like this?! Babies in bodies!! I mean, why not do it the way kangaroos do it? That would be so much easier!

But no. It’s like nature felt that the best way to further the species would be to torture women for almost a year. I hate you nature…

I have moments where I can really visualize the story, but I’m not usually in a position where I can write it out. It’s usually when I’m driving in a daze or showering or laying in bed, unable to sleep (and move), and therefore not in a literal position to get it out on paper, so to speak. Moving quickly is not one of the strengths of an extremely pregnant woman.

maternity_running_skirt
Damn. But I doubt this is even a REAL pregnant woman.

I know it’s weird that I can manage a blog post here and there and music reviews this pregnant, but they don’t require a marathon of daydreaming, or whatever you want to label plotting. Writing a book is more like that and less of a jaunt into someone else’s artistic work and what makes it good.

The worst case scenario will be that I have the baby and don’t care to write books, like, ever again.

Oh my hell! WHY WOULD THAT HAPPEN?

And why did I even imagine it for a second? Total idiot, here.

Breathe. Breathe.

It’s fine. It’s fine. That won’t happen.

I’m soooooo not superstitious. This is all going to be OK.

Who here thinks “400 Lux” is a better song that “Royals”? Raise your hand! Yeah!

And Beck’s “Heart is a Drum”! Total save. Everything’s going to be OK. Yeah. Really OK. Follow the drum, dude.

June Baby

If you’re wondering where I’ve been, I’ll tell you. I’ve been off being a hero. No, a saint. A real unselfish creature.

Except all the times when I’m grumpy and ornery and selfish…

Anyway, sometime in June, we’re expecting a new arrival. Oh man. I sound like some kind of 1950s ad, avoiding the insinuation that I had sex and am, *gasp* pregnant!

But really, yeah, a baby. A baby girl. So as some people might understand, pregnancy is no leisurely stroll through the park. It’s total misery. For me anyway, which is why I’m a saint. Because EVERY woman who goes through pregnancy is a saint. I honestly have no idea how some ladies do this four or five times.

And I’d like to punch those ladies who have easy pregnancies. What’s the deal with that? Some weird fluke of evolution? Because I’ll tell you, it’s not like that for me. No. During the first trimester I basically want to kill myself. I can barely eat. Everything stinks. I get a little crazy and I hate everyone.

Second trimester is a bit better, but still a nightmare because clothes don’t fit and I start to look like a swollen beast. And I’m still moody.

Third trimester I want to kill myself again. By this time, I haven’t felt like myself for ALMOST A YEAR. I want to punch my husband half the time and there are moments when if he comes NEAR me at all, I might claw his face off. Especially if he’s eaten something like garlic recently. And I take that personally, usually. Because he KNOWS things smell stronger than normal and there he goes engaging in some type of passive aggressive war where he eats garlic! Why!? (Not rational, I know. Pregnancy-induced irrationality, that’s my excuse).

During the entire pregnancy I have extreme ligament pain (WTF? Seriously. It’s like I pulled a muscle in my groin the entire time!) and that dysgeusia thing where there’s constantly a bad taste in my mouth–metal or something worse depending on what I’ve eaten (cardboard, if I ate some Cheerios because I crave them constantly). That’s a real fun one. Imagine, if you will and you’ve never been pregnant, not being able to eat certain things because of bad aftertastes. Murder. Pure murder.

Yes. I know. First world problem. I should just be thankful I’m not forced to boil grass for nutrients. That sounds kind of good right now. Boiled grass. Or just grass chopped up with some olive oil, lemon juice, and salt. I could go for that right now. Throw in maybe a couple of grape tomatoes and chopped avocado and you’ve got yourself a stew (salad, but I couldn’t resist the Carl Weathers reference).

Screen Shot 2014-04-30 at 9.09.19 PM

So. That’s why I call myself a hero and a saint. Because I was stupid enough to think that pregnancy once more was a good idea. Sure, sure. The minute I see the baby, I’ll think it was all worth it. But right now, my life has been on hold since the first second I got sick during the first trimester.

I haven’t been able to focus, let alone write. In fact, I suspended sales of Boat Made of Bone because I got so slammed by reviewers that I figure it must suck ass. But can I tell? No. Because my brain is scrambled by pregnancy hormones. So thank you, pregnancy.

And yes, it’s harder than crap to not feel immense amounts of pressure to perform. I watch other indie-writers shooting up the charts and developing their followings and whatnot and I cringe in frustration. I can barely manage to deal with being the size of a lopsided whale AND taking care of my almost-3-year-old, let alone sit in a chair (ligament pain!) and brainstorm the plot to a super interesting book where robots evolve into guardians of the humans against swarms of zombies. I hate that book already. I hate zombies. And robots would never deserve to be mere guardians of humans. I’m not going to write it.

That’s what I mean! I can’t plot while pregnant. It’s impossible. Because the only thing that matters is getting through this shit-time. Once I have my body back…hold on world. Just you hold on. I will rain blood and destruction down upon your heads and the heads of your children.

Wait. That sounded like a curse…

What I really mean is that I’ll be myself again. I’ll be able to eat. I’ll be able to move. I’ll be able to get out of a sitting or laying position without my pelvic floor being crushed into the equivalent of a fine-grain salt, and then I’ll be able to sleep and my husband will smell good to me again and patience will be restored and when my son does something ridiculous like throwing a roll of toilet paper into the toilet, I’ll be able to laugh (inwardly) and move on. Kids! I’ll say. Aren’t they cute?

Right now things aren’t super cute. Because it’s usually a major mess that I can barely bend over to clean up.

Crap. I hate being pregnant.

But still. My son is totally adorable. I just wish I could ENJOY it a tad more.

Anyway, I just wanted to update everyone. Feel free to suggest girl names in the comments. I’m really struggling with names. I’m the worst at picking names.

 

p.s. Once the babe is born, I’ll launch full speed into Feed 2. That is, if the plot I’ve come up with isn’t total crap. I won’t know till I’m not pregnant any more.

What the Hell Is My Blog, Anyway?

Confession. I still don’t know what I want my blog to be. If you knew me, you’d know that I’m notorious for being indecisive. The problem is that I have too much passion. Some days I want my blog to be a spot for me to assist fellow indie-authors and help them spread the word about their cover reveals and book releases. Other days I want to write confessional posts like this one.

Or I want to post an awesome song or playlist I’ve discovered or made for my current book. Like today. I’m going to post a playlist and maybe a couple songs from it.

If you stick around a while with me, I can promise you that you’ll get the full effect of my indecision in the form of whimsical posts, news related posts, and cover reveals. Possibly some drawings (literal drawings and giveaways, BOTH . . . why not BOTH?), music reviews, and other fun shiz.

Sometimes I say shiz. Sometimes I say shit. That’s just a function of my indecision (should I be upstanding or real? Should I be classy or fun? Why not both?).

Why not both?
My life encapsulated in a MEME.

 

So, regarding music. When I write a novel, I tend to listen to specific music–dream pop, chillwave, aggressive rock, etc–that helps me visualize a scene. Eventually I move past certain songs and can’t listen to them anymore EXCEPT when I’m working on that scene. Other times the song translates to later scenes and works for other places in the book with a similar feel.

Later, during editing, I generally have to find new music because I can no longer listen to those first songs. They’re overdone. And I need to feel something new or different when I’m revising.

This little playlist is a mixture of both:

OFFICIAL PLAYLIST OF ABMOB:

1. “Flickers,” London Grammar (this has been good for editing, and if I was making A Boat Made of Bone into a film, this song would clearly be perfect)

2. “Guilty,” The Bee Gees (inspired the disco skating scene. What? What’s the disco skating scene? Mwah ha ha ha. Read the book!)

3. “The Cold,” ExitMusic (inspired pretty much the whole book. If I was making A Boat Made of Bone into a film, I would personally BEG Aleska Palladino and her man to do the soundtrack. Effing amazing.)

4. “Storms,” ExitMusic (I did a teaser with this song in it. You can listen here)

5. “An Artist’s Song,” Lost in the Trees (inspired a lot of the mythical type scenes in the last half of the book….)

6. “Demons,” The National

7. “I Should Live in Salt,” The National

8. “Tomorrow,” Niki and the Dove

9. “Hysteric” Yeah, Yeah, Yeahs

10. “Wedding Song,” Yeah, Yeah, Yeahs [Holy shiz. This song….kills. IT. AND ME. I love you Karen O.]

11. “Never Again,” Lightning Dust

12. “Atlantis,” Ellie Goulding

13. “Anything Could Happen,” Ellie Goulding

14. “Dream,” The Boxer Rebellion [No, I don’t watch Vampire Diaries. Total accident.]

15.  “New York,” The Boxer Rebellion

16. “You Belong to Me,” The Boxer Rebellion

17. “Amsterdam,” Daughter

18. “Human,” Daughter

19. “Post Script,” Typhoon [Beautiful love song.]

20. “Young Fathers,” Typhoon

21. “Prosthetic Love,” Typhoon

22. “Bravado,” Lorde

23. “Heart Beats,” Hey Marseille [Crap video, good song. If you can ignore the guy’s enormous features taking up the entire picture.]

So, as you can see, this playlist would not fit on an 80 minute blank CD. That’s how I used to create playlists and trust me, it was quite a personal achievement today to overcome the habit of cutting off the playlist at 80 minutes. Remember the good old days when you could totally just buy a blank tape that was 120 minutes long? Yeah! The problem was that they wore out faster . . . because of the thinner magnetic tape.

Right? I don’t know. I might have made that up.

You can also see from this playlist that I have a type of music. It’s not death metal. It’s not hard core. And if you can define it accurately, I’ll give you some . . . chocolate. A firecracker chocolate bar from Chuao. Because that is my new favorite. Also, the definition has to be spot on enough that my immediate response is, “Yep. That just about does it.”

Pretty much I consumed Daughter, The Boxer Rebellion, Lost in the Trees, Exitmusic, and Ellie Goulding in large quantities as I wrote A Boat Made of Bone.

I’m posting a couple of my EXTREME favorites below.

an artist's song

 

 

“An Artist’s Song,” Lost in the Trees

 

Typhoon-White-Lighter_Border-550x550

 

 

“Post Script,” Typhoon

 

yeah-yeah-yeahs-its-blitz-album-art

 

 

“Wedding Song” Yeah Yeah Yeahs [Note, this is not the album cover. I officially loathe the album cover. This is the “Hysteric” cover.]

An Untimely, Horrible Accident, or: Laptops and Water Don’t Mix

Two-year-old
Two-year-old

So I got a little cocky, flew a little too close to the sun (“You let him go to the sun?!!”), and now my Macbook is sitting in front of a fan with the bottom panel removed. Yes, I have no idea if this will work. My main hope is that at the very least, my hard-drive made it. Because then I can still recover the files that WEREN’T uploaded to my Dropbox folder and that haven’t been saved by Time Machine since May 7th.

What happened? I mean, besides the obvious?

Well, I have a two-year-old, see, and I plugged my laptop in and left it for five seconds, and there was this cup of water (one of those BIG cups) that I leave on the bleeping nightstand for the princess cat who won’t just drink out of her water dish, but requires a constant supply of “human” water in order to stay hydrated. And my son, he hasn’t cared to mess with it for about two months.

He’s got this devilish streak, I’m noticing. It’s like there’s a demon just waiting for any kind of electronics and water to be in the same place. Any water. And when it’s available, the whispers flood into my son’s ear. Like, he’s never been too enticed by the toilets (we keep the doors shut and the toilets have those kiddie proofing things on them), but in March when my sister was visiting for my dad’s funeral, my brother-in-law left his iPhone 5 sitting on the arm of the couch for three seconds. And then . . . well, someone else left the bathroom door open because they’re not used to having a toddler around lately. What can I say? The planets aligned. The ingredients combined to make a delicious cocktail of mayhem and destruction.

My son was there and then gone in a flash.

And yes. Yes, he did. My son threw Jason’s phone RIGHT INTO THE TOILET. I felt awful. Horrible.

But my sister has four kids and well, there’s always the bowl of rice trick. Which EVIDENTLY doesn’t work for laptops. It works like magic for iPhones, however.

Anyway, I will not be daunted. My Kickstarter will still launch in a few days and I will still publish my book(s). This year. Sometime. Even if I have to begin working on my ancient Acer laptop. It’s ANCIENT. But neither hell nor high-water will stop me. MARK MY WORDS.

And demons, begone!

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