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February 2011

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Feb. 4th, 2011

Me

(no subject)

 For quite awhile even though I had started using Blogger and liked many of its features better, I was still cross-posting to livejournal every time I wrote something. I loved the communities on livejournal, and that was one of the big reasons I stayed at both places. 

Despite using this journal since 2007, and my previous LJ for at least 3 years before that, the time has come to close it. I'm redesigning my website and have almost finished. When I am done I will no longer crosspost. I will probably leave this journal here until LJ deletes it and frees up my user name. In the mean time, I can be found at my blogger version.

Jan. 10th, 2011

Me

Recipes

Originally published at Little by Little. You can comment here or there.

I love cooking. I love that thrill of trying some new recipe, something you’ve never made before. I’m always a little disappointed when it doesn’t turn out or it’s just not to my tastes. But! When something new turns out well, when you take that first bite and you know this a new favorite, and OMG! how did I not know about this, I made something great today. That, my friends, is one of the best feelings in the world.

I bring this up because A: I made this last night. It was AMAZING! I’ve never had the dish at all, let alone made it at home. And, even though chicken and pasta are far from Oliver’s favorites (he complains loudly whenever I announce I’m making one or the other, let alone both), he was blown away by it. We stuffed our faces with it the last two nights. That’s how good it was, he ate leftovers without complaining. He still talked about how great it was. Go forth, make yourself some. Now. Well, not now, because it’s 9:30 at night now, but soon. You will not regret it. Unless you’re vegetarian. Then go make it with some eggplant slices dredged in egg and coated with panko  (japanese bread crumbs). You’ll still thank me.

And, finally, B: Because I’ve come to realize how similar writing and cooking are. Bear with me. You have a recipe for either. I know, I know, everyone hates formulaic fiction. But there’s still a recipe that’s followed in good fiction. You need characterization. Enough to make your characters feel real. And part of that is making sure their motivation is visible and understandable, even if the reader wouldn’t react in the same way. You need worldbuilding. Enough to suck the reader in and make them feel like they’re living in the pages of your book. You need a plot. Even if it’s about a person changing, there still has to be a plot. You need conflict to drive that plot, lest it fizzle out. Proper grammar allows the story you are trying to tell to be understood. There are a dozen more things.

Just like cooking, they can be combined in different quantities for different effects, but there is still a base formula to follow. And just like cooking, when you write something new and it falls flat there is the disappointment. Maybe you can fix it with a few tweaks, maybe the dish needs to be dumped out and remade from scratch (hello, completely rewriting the book), but at least you probably know where you went wrong and have an idea of how to fix it this time. You might not. It might take four or five tries. You might never get it right, or vow never to make it again. Much like me and pork chops until this last year.

But in both writing and cooking, maybe you should give it another shot later on. Don’t give up on something forever. Just because you don’t have the skill to make something now, doesn’t mean you’ll never have the skill needed. In the last five years both my writing and my cooking skills have steadily grown. Every time I do either of them a lot, when I get to the end of a big push I can look back and see how much better I am than I was before.

And just like cooking, when you get it right there’s that stupendous thrill when you take a bite/reread a section and realize, not only did it turn out, but it turned out really well. Especially when it’s something new, some new experiment you have tried before. Fried rice when you’ve never made asian food, or a science fiction short story when you’ve written few short stories and no sci-fi. Man, that feeling really is the best. So off I go, with a belly full of a delicious new recipe, to work on that sci-fi short story that’s turning out better than I ever would have expected.

Jan. 4th, 2011

Me

2011, so far we’ve had the good and the bad. Must we have the ugly?

Originally published at Little by Little. You can comment here or there.

I jinxed my kitty by talking about him. The day after my post he ate my roommate’s peace lily. Which is apparently highly toxic to critters. But, after a scary stay at the vet’s, he just came home. He may also now be the most expensive thing in said house. ;)

That was the bad. What was the good? My new nephew was born this morning!

Landon was this morning, bumping Oliver and I into the double digits for nieces and nephews, though he is the first on my side of the family. We got to stop by the hospital this afternoon and see him before we had to go pick Baal up from the vet. He is so cute and tiny. Also he has super long fingers. I wonder if my newest nephew is destined to be a pianist.

Personally, 2011, I’d be perfectly happy if you’d skip on the ugly. So, I mean, feel free to save yourself some time and just skip it. I’ll bask in the good.

Jan. 1st, 2011

Me

2010/2011

Originally published at Little by Little. You can comment here or there.

What a crazy year. Lots of unexpected family stuff. My kitty nearly died. But we saved him. It was a very frightening month or two.

We were worried we might lose my grandfather, and after a few scary months things are looking up. I got married! Didn’t see that one coming, even though Oliver and I had been together 9 years. My little brother got married. My little sister got pregnant and is due any day now. Our house was broken into. Our neighbor’s was broken into and Oliver and I called 911 and chased the burglars. We adopted a dog.

Like I said, a crazy year.

So, my resolutions/to do list for 2010:

  • revise Queen of Freaks Done! Approximately 7 times.
  • write Queen of Freaks synopsis
  • revise Queen of Freaks synopsis
  • draft Courting Death
  • revise Courting Death
  • submit Courting Death Only to Writer’s of the Future, but I think it counts. It needs some editing before I submit again.
  • send Queen of Freaks to betas
  • revise Queen of Freaks for feedback Trunked Queen of Freaks instead of moving forward with it. It was the right move. Maybe I’ll come back to the idea some day, but I would need to rewrite the entire thing from scratch, and I just don’t have it in me currently.
  • query Queen of Freaks
  • draft adult urban fantasy  Began working on Feral instead. Have not completed Feral, but I have made good progress…after scrapping everything three times and starting over until I found the right story and the right starting place.
  • draft 12 short stories  Just 1 completed. A half a dozen more started. I have hopes of coming back to a few of them this year.
  • read 100 books  Nope. Only 34 this year. I had trouble finding things that I really fell in love with this year. My tastes were changing and it was hard to pin down what I needed in books afterwards.
  • blog 200 times Ha! Try 51, plus drafts for 12 more that were about topics that it was difficult to articulate my thoughts on in a way that I was satisfied, and thus need to be revised and polished before they could be posted. Plus 2 more about Doctor Who, and 1 for the Vampire Diaries that I never posted because they felt a little too fan-girlish.

I’m not going to list all of the books I read in 2010. I’m not sure I even remember what they all are, I only wrote 34 of them down. But! I do have a few I want to gush over.

I still adore Ilona Andrews, Richelle Mead, Devon Monk, Kim Harrison, Gail Carriger, Caitlin Kittredge, CE Murphy, and Patricia Briggs. There are others I really love too, but each of those writers has a series which is a guaranteed pick-me-up, even when I feel like I’m in a reading slump, and they surely didn’t let me down this year.

New to my author/book love list this year:

Kristin Cashore: Graceling was amazing. I’ve been holding off on reading Fire until I know when Bitterblue will be out because I know I won’t be able to hold back once I start reading and will gobble it up, leaving me desperate for the next.

Robin McKinley: Don’t know how I went so long without reading her books, but started with Beauty this year and am working my way through everything else. This is pure love. I longed for these sorts of books when I was young. I really wish a librarian had put them in my hands back then.

Diana Wynne Jones: Ditto. For the number of times I’ve watched Howl’s you’d think her books would have been devoured long ago, but no. Oh, Howl, how I love thee. I’m in the middle of Fire and Hemlock.

Melina Marchetta: Saving Francesca had been sitting on my shelves for the longest time before I finally read it. Should have picked it up when I first bought it.

Suzanne Collins: Didn’t read The Hunger Games until this week. Burned through the entire trilogy in 2 days while I was sick. The Hunger Games was definitely my fave of the three.

And, to finish up, my resolutions for 2011:

  • write at least 250 words per day and keep bumping up the word count as the weeks pass until I find the comfortable daily output to aim for that stretches what I can do without the quality suffering because I’m pushing for a higher word count
  • read 100 books
  • at least 10 of them nonfiction
  • at least 1o of them classics
  • at least 15 of them not YA or fantasy
  • finish drafting Feral
  • draft sekrit project YA
  • write at least 6 short stories
  • blog  3 times/week
  • walk at least 5 hours/week
  • make a budget
  • sort through all of Oliver and I’s stuff and throw out/donate anything we no longer need
  • organize what’s left
  • buy some plastic drawers and organize all my different craft supplies in them
  • make a point of getting together with my family at least once a month
  • make a point of getting together with Oliver’s family at least once a month
  • sort/sell/giveaway our comic collection. just do SOMETHING with them.

And now I’m off to finish cleaning our bedroom and organizing the clothes and all the belongings in it. I’m already well on my way towards the getting rid of what we don’t need and organizing what’s left. I hope to be done by the end of the week. And it will certainly make moving easier in a couple months.

Oct. 3rd, 2010

Me

Link Salad

Originally published at Little by Little. You can comment here or there.

After the last post I’m a little emotionally drained of new material. Thus: link salad.

This is in the oven right now. If you haven’t tried it, go do so. Your taste buds will thank you. It has quickly become one of my favorites.

This post is a month old, but rereading it in my starred folder of google reader, it held extra weight this month. Aspiring writer? Aspiring anything, really? Go read it. Sometimes you think it would make everything better if you just had an idea of what’s waiting, but this is a good reminder why you really shouldn’t know.

I’ve been floundering a bit with my writing lately. It’s a mini crisis of sorts. It feels like I’ve been pounded with back to back stuff from life for so long that I’ve reached this point of exhaustion. Sometimes I get so caught up in making sure everyone around me is taken care of that I tend to forget about me and the things that I want for myself.

Sometimes I forget the cost of writing. Or the cost to me of not writing. So I need to just take Lilith Saintcrow’s advice, take care of my needs, sit my ass in the chair, and write. And if I can’t seem to do it, Jenna Black has some good advice at keeping my ass there.

So, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go devour my enchiladas, watch an episode on my dvr, finish a good book, and get some sleep so I can get up in the morning and start chipping away at the WIP.

Oct. 1st, 2010

Me

Speaking Loudly About Banned Books

Originally published at Little by Little. You can comment here or there.

I’ve started typing this post three times so far this week. Every time I chickened out and deleted what I had typed. Not this time. This is going to be a hard post. If you’re squeamish about rough subjects, if you know me and don’t want to hear it, if you know what’s coming from the title and don’t want to know: stop reading now.

There’s a man in Missouri named Wesley Scroggins. Perhaps you’ve read articles or blog posts about what he’s trying to do. In case you have not, he is pushing for a book ban on Laurie Halse Anderson’s novel Speak. He wants it removed because he says it is “soft pornography”. The sex scenes he considers pornographic? The rape of a teenage girl.

1 in 6 women will be sexually assaulted in their lifetimes. 60% of those assaults will never be reported to the police. And that man wants to silence a book about surviving and speaking up. A book that has helped more people than most will ever realize.

People like me.

I’ve considered writing this post before. There have been other stories in the news, awareness months, etc that have made me consider it. In the end I never did. When I was growing up, what had happened to me was public knowledge. Everyone around me was aware of what had happened. I didn’t have the choice of hiding it from the people in my life. As an adult I’ve had that choice for the first time in my life. It’s hard to let go of that. To put my story on the internet, for anyone to read. Where it will never go away. But the things I’ve been through, the others who have come to me with their stories…I cannot stay quiet. I must speak loudly. For those who can’t, or haven’t, and might be helped by knowing they are not alone.

I was sexually assaulted by my older cousin when I was a child. I could not even begin to give more details than that because, frankly, I don’t know them. I know it started probably around the time I was 6. The things that happened my brain has locked away from me and I can never be sure of what it lurking in there. I have a few memories that I am certain of. And a vast amount of things I used to think were just nightmares my brain had concocted. Until several of them were confirmed to me by family members to be things that actually happened to me. Which makes me fear that they are all memories. I will never have any way of knowing.

I didn’t speak up as a child. Fear. Shame. Not truly knowing how wrong what was happening to me was. There are a lot of reasons why child me kept quiet. I sat through a week long class about it every year through the sixth grade without ever connecting the terrible things we were learning about with the terrible things that happened to me. They had stopped. I never knew why. I’m not sure I cared.

And then a family member revealed why. Because my cousin had moved onto her. I hadn’t spoken up, and he’d had the opportunity to hurt her because of it. I spent the next eight years of my life struggling with that fact every day. Every night as I lied awake, afraid to close my eyes because of what I knew would be waiting for me. I had to speak up about what had happened to me. It just took a little girl, 4 years younger than me, and infinitely braver, to show me it was okay.

Despite the things that happened to me, I am very fortunate. My parents went straight to the police, though my aunt and uncle asked them not to, to “let them handle it as a ‘family’”. I remember the state police coming to interview me around Christmas during sixth grade. I remember the giant teddy bear they brought me to try and make up for the reason they were there. I remember being taken to the state appointed psychiatrist every week for months. I remember our testimony being recorded so we would not have to appear in court. Not have to see the person who had done these things to us. I remember him being sent to prison.

That’s where my luck ran out. The woman I was assigned to was appallingly bad at her job. She told me I would never trust men again. That it was okay to not trust my father, brother, or any of my male friends (ie, all my friends). It had never occurred to me to relate what had happened to any other men in my life. Still hasn’t.

I remember going to parole hearings to keep him in prison. I remember writing a letter to the parole board asking he be kept there because what if it had been their children. Wouldn’t they want that man locked up? I remember being told he’d never be able to contact or get near me again. I remember the day I removed a letter from him to my mother from the mailbox. I remember the day he called collect from prison while I was home alone. I remember being afraid constantly until I was 22 years old.

I also remember the police questioning every other child in my neighborhood to be sure nobody else had been assaulted. Which led to a boy in my grade, a boy I had considered my best friend for most of my life, telling everybody he could what had happened to me. Everybody. Not a thing most 6th graders can be trusted to handle maturely. From that day on there would be people around me for the next seven years who felt the need to tell me what a slut I was because of what had happened to me. Except, stupid redneck children they were, it wasn’t what had happened to me, in their opinions, it was what I had done.

But that was also the beginning of something else. An unexpected consequence of having my secrets shared with everyone around me for the next seven years of school. Every year, somewhere in the school, I would get cornered by kids wanting to tell me what had happened to them. Kids who had never uttered their secret to another soul, kids who often barely knew me, wanted to blurt out everything that had happened to them because they knew everything that had happened to me. Kids who had never had courage to speak out, found that courage in me.

Which is simultaneously an amazing thing and an unbearable weight. To know you’ve helped someone by giving them someone to talk to about something that will eat you up from inside out, like acid etching away at stone until there’s nothing left of you. But I could barely get through life carrying the weight of the things that had happened to me. I struggled with severe depression all through middle and high school as it was. Being a secret bearer for everyone else in my school district that had been sexually assaulted nearly made it impossible to carry on. And yet, I never turned a single person away.

I always knew, before they even began to tell me their story, why they were there. Whenever I was cornered, alone, and the person had that look in their eye, I knew what was coming. I could have made excuses to leave. To not have to hear. To not carry that weight for them. But I didn’t. I had been one of those people, who would have carried the secret their whole lives, if it hadn’t been for one brave little girl who got me to speak up. It was my turn. To listen. And to always suggest they speak up. I don’t think any of them ever did, but I suggested it every time and then added their secret to my burden. Looking back on it, I’m sure carrying that weight was partly penance for not having spoken up sooner and protecting somebody else. The only penance I could find to pay.

I’ve lost count of the number of people who have confided in me. It is large. Frighteningly large. Girls, boys, rich, poor. There was no common thread other than the pain they’d all experienced. The flow of people who have shared that secret with me has not slowed as an adult. I know most survivors don’t broadcast what happened to them. I’m a little different. I never had the luxury of keeping it a secret. Not after that day when my mother asked if it had happened to me too. So, as an adult, I’m very lenient with that information about myself. It’s not who I am, but what happened to me played a large role in shaping who I would become. So I admit to it, freely and often. (Just never before as freely as on the internet.) And the number continues to grow as more people I have met as adults tell me their stories.

Worse than the occasional asshat calling me a slut growing up, was when I started dating. It was okay at first, because during my freshman and sophomore years of high school, I mostly dated guys from other schools. When the guy wasn’t there to hear the guy in the hall call me a slut and laugh, it wasn’t so bad. I shudder to think what it would have been like if the boy I had been absolutely head over heels in love with through most of high school had still gone to our school. He moved away before it all came out, before my cousin was sent to jail, and I think being able to keep him separate from all that, having a friend who didn’t look at me and think only of what had been done to me/see that as who I was, was one of the only things that kept me going back then.

Then I got my first serious boyfriend from my own school. Worse, he lived in my neighborhood, and his brother had been one of the guys who made sure word of what had happened to me spread not just through my grade, but of those higher than me too. We had been dating for less than three months when, excuse my language, his brother began asking very loudly in front of others, if my boyfriend was “going to give it to [me] like [my] cousin did”. The slut comments got worse after that. Sometimes I don’t know how I made it through.

But I did. Not only did I make it through everything, but I found the man I would marry during all that. Granted, I didn’t start dating him until a few years later, at the start of my senior year of high school, but I found him. I won’t lie and say that once we were together I was suddenly all better. But, BIG but here, I am now. Partly because of the stability he gave me, the unconditional love, the healing he helped me through. But, even more than that, because of me.

I will forever have a very big, very visible scar. But every year it fades a little more. It nearly tore open, in fear and panic, the year my cousin was released from prison. But it did not take long before I confronted that fear and tamed it. I am no longer afraid. I am no longer ashamed. Something terrible happened to me and I LIVED. I survived. I’ve been a rock for more people than I can count. I’ve found a rock of my own. And if you’re still reading this, if something similar has happened to you, you can too. If nothing has, consider finding ways to be that rock for someone else. But mostly, please, speak loudly. Do not let little men, afraid of who knows what, silence anyone else. We have enough silence. Silence will never make the problem go away. Speak loudly in every way you can think. Personally, I’ll be donating a copy of speak to a local library this weekend. One copy of that book will be able to speak more loudly than I ever will. I wish I had had a copy when I needed it most.

Post by Laurie Halse Anderson regarding the banning

The Rape Abuse and Incest National Network website

An amazing post by agent Janet Reid

Author Jeaniene Frost speaking loudly

Author Jim Hines’s page on rape. Awesome guy who has gathered a lot of links for people who need them.

Another survivor/writer speaking loudly

And several more posts in support of Speak

Sep. 28th, 2010

Me

Banned Books (Day 2)

Originally published at Little by Little. You can comment here or there.

Shorter post today with much less ranting.

I had a rough childhood. My teenage years in specific. So I say with experience, if you take away a single book that a child would have turned to as a safe haven, you are doing the world a disservice. It doesn’t matter if that book held some fundamental truth about something terrible, making that child realize they were not alone in the world and others had dealt with it, or if it was a matter of simple escapism for a few hours. There are so many kids out there who need it. If you take even one book away, and it could have been helping even one child, the world is a worse place for it.

There were few things that helped me hold on through those years. Books were one of them. It’s why I write. It’s, specifically, why I write for teens. Because that’s when books mattered most to me. They helped save my life. And I fear those banned books, missing from the shelves, won’t be there to save someone else.

Sep. 27th, 2010

Me

Banned Books Week (Day 1)

Originally published at Little by Little. You can comment here or there.

So, to start out banned books week posts, link roundup:

The ALA Banned Books website. Where better to go for info on banned books than the American Library Association, people?

A website dedicated to getting people to read banned books. *Love*

How well do you know your banned books? Turns out I only know it 6/12 questions well. More reading for me.

An interesting article on banned books and censorship of another kind.

A vlog on book banning by the ever-amusing Jackson Pearce. Love her videos. She’s hilarious.

Banning books irritates the crap out of me. Not the I want to grind my teeth and try to pretend it’s not happening kind of way, but the I want to throttle people and shout kind of way. Even more than I hate being told what I *must* read, I LOATHE being told what I cannot read. Not only do I generally find book banners to be ridiculous, repugnant little people, but I have yet to meet a book banner whose reasons for having a book banned I agree with in any way.

The closest I’ve come is ‘I don’t want my kids reading this.’ Great. So don’t let your kids read it. I think you’re probably making a mistake. I personally love Lilith Saintcrow’s policy for her children.

We have a reach-and-read-it policy in our household. “If you can reach it, you can read it, and if you cannot reach it, get a stool!” I am not in the habit of censoring books for my children. If I find something objectionable, I discuss it with the child reading it. We talk about how I feel, how the kid feels about it, and the kid is free to read it as long as we’ve discussed it.

The entirety of that post can be found here. Suffice it to say, if/when I become a parent, that will be my policy. But, regardless of whether or not I think you’re just not letting your kid read it because you’re too lazy to talk about the content with them (though not too busy to make a fuss and get the book banned) what gives you the right to take away another parent’s right to let their children read it? What makes you, you book burning piece of trash (yes, I’m a little touchy on the subject) the end all of what’s good and right and should be allowed for other people?

I think that’s my biggest problem with book banners and burners. Aside from generally being pretty dumb (and Jackson Pearce is right, who doesn’t hate dumb people) they are so arrogant and conceited that they believe their beliefs and ideas are right to the exclusion of letting anyone else choose for themselves or their children. If you disagree with them, you just don’t know any better and they must protect you and your children. And that, folks, makes me want to throttle people. It boils down to book banners being arrogant, conceited ass-wipes so full of themselves they believe they should get to decide what you can and cannot do because they know the truth and you do not. Not. Cool.

More thoughts on book banning tomorrow. But focusing on the banned books instead of the book-banners.

Sep. 22nd, 2010

Me

OMG!!

Originally published at Little by Little. You can comment here or there.

http://www.literatureandlatte.com/scrivenerforwindows/

I’ve been waiting for this for years. *SQUEE*

Sep. 11th, 2010

Me

9/11

Originally published at Little by Little. You can comment here or there.

So many were lost that day. So many more have been lost in the 9 years following. It’s terrible, and I am off to go spend the day with my family. On today of all days there is nowhere else I would rather be.

A fanatic is one who can’t change his mind and won’t change the subject.
Winston Churchill

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