Halloween Horizons

Halloween is still on my mind. It’s one of those holidays where the creative and the geeky, and the generally weird do really well. It’s fun and educational, and sometimes… profitable.

Educational? Well… in my case, I mean I’m going to figure out latex prosthetics, not that I’m going to research the most historically accurate costumes possible. I have an idea in mind, and a…  general idea of how to make your own and a complete lack of sense, so I’m going to try it out.

I’ve also been on Amazon, looking at the kind of trick-or-treat treats that people near me have probably never seen before.

There’s probably a reason why I only wound up with three or four trick-or-treaters last year.

But somehow, I’m not sure the kids benefit as much from an infinite number of Twizzlers and Reeses cups as they do from having their horizons expanded. (I still have time to think about whether I want to do Japanese or Korean candies, or if there’s some other thing that would be more reasonable, right now…)

Oooh, actually. Might do Syrian candies, if I can find any.

Banned Books Week Begins

I skimmed the list of most challenged books this morning–the long list, the list with the last decade or so on it–and struck me how many of the books are being challenged for being inappropriate to the age group.

And… well, okay. I get that some parents have very clear ideas about what’s appropriate for their kid. And… that would be why we have parents.

But.

A lot of the books that were being challenged for being inappropriate to the age group are adult books.

And I’m really not sure how that works. I mean… there are adult books… and there is no reading level above adult books.

So… What?

The teenager shows up to protest that his mother is reading a book about how to keep teenagers from doing drugs, and that’s totally inappropriate, and she got it at YOUR LIBRARY.

Or…

Your Mother and I saw that you’re reading The Color Purple for your retirees book club. Let me tell you, we’re shocked. We are rolling over in our graves right now, young lady.

Plenty of time to read when you’re dead, I guess.

If you want your kid supervised, I’d suggest you supervise him. That’s really not the Librarian’s job. Or the Bookseller’s job. Or that woman who just happens to be eating at the same restaurant’s job.

In the event that you do dump your kid off at the Library or Bookstore, please be aware that your child is essentially being raised by wolves. Book People.

You can’t be horribly surprised if he winds up reading.

When I was a Bookseller, one of those ban-the-books, but babysit my kid mommies tracked me down. No. I mean weeks or months after her child (he was probably fifteen) had purchased the offending material. She found the receipt and my name was on it, so she tracked me down personally.

She screeched, and generally informed me I was going to hell for selling a comic book to a teenager.

The thing is… I knew the kid. The kid was quiet, and well-behaved, and probably a bit smarter than average. Never a problem. And the book I’d sold him? Well, it was pretty much the same kind of thing he’d been reading for… (counts on fingers.) Anyone who was paying any attention already knew.

I’d never seen the mother before.

Nope.

Not while her kid was doing homework at my table.

Not while he was playing card games with the rest of the kids in the club.

Not while he was reading the last 4 billion installments in that particular manga series. (and people who read manga will attest that I’m only exaggerating the length  of a series by a little.)

I’m all in favor of being involved with your kids’ lives, but… could you please do it  on a regular basis?

Those Pesky Goals

It is September, and I have less than a hundred views left before I pass last year’s total. I’m growing–at least a little–and that makes me think about the mile markers I didn’t know existed, or didn’t think about until I hit them.

  1. The first time you’re working on your blog, and you realize there is someone else on there with you.
  2. The first time someone shares your posts.
  3. The first time your readers start talking to each other.
  4. The first time you see actual… growth potential.

I’m looking toward actual goals for next year, too. And that’s where I fall short. After  all, most of the goals that stand out in my mind are things I never thought of until they were actually there. Oh, yes… growth, and more views, and more loyal readers, and maybe my own literary agent?

We’ll call that last one a stretch goal.

I want another 100 rejections for my rejection collection. (That, I can control.)

Lemming Electronics

I must buy my electronics in batches. I’ve been thinking about replacing my computer… and my phone… and sometimes, my tablet just isn’t what it used to be. Now, naturally, I’m also wondering If I actually need a computer and a tablet. One or the other might be plenty. And a phone might replace a tablet… or maybe I want to go back to e-ink.

At  any rate,  it seems they all want to go at the same time. (Look, an extra space, followed by a space I had to add in because my keyboard is being difficult.)

I’m seeing keyboard errors in the pages I’m revising, and it’s just a little more time than I would like to spend fixing things. I can actually type… and yet, certain letters are missing, or keys are sticking. If it weren’t a laptop of a certain age, and if it weren’t already damaged, I’d probably already have a new keyboard.

But it’s getting up there. Time to strip out the parts I want to keep and move on. I just don’t have a clear idea of what I want to move on to.

And I’d actually like to start with a new novel on the new computer, which means finishing up the one I’m revising, right now. It’s not a necessity, really… just a psychological preference. And querying on a new computer has to be good luck, right? Better than sending out quiche, anyway.

The tablet is more batteries than anything else. It’s fairly old, and the battery life is sliding.

And the phone? Well, the phone is a bargain-basement pre-paid that has done pretty well, but which no longer has the memory or power or whatever to run all of the apps I’d like to be able to take with me. (It hasn’t for a while.) I do not need a phone that can do stupid dog tricks. Not really. But I’d like to be able to check email… and twitter… and… okay. Stupid dog tricks. But it doesn’t need to play games, or things like that.

Thoughts? How to be a complete cheapskate and still get the latest electronics?

The First Hike of Autumn

Yesterday was the first day of Autumn here, and true to form, it was 95 degrees with not a cloud in the sky. I walked nearly nine miles (according to the fitbit) and about three of those miles were outdoor miles. By the end of that, I was grateful for every little patch of shade. I got home and threw myself directly in the shower to cool off.

Through the miracle of no time, I’ve managed not to get burned this summer, although I think it would still be possible, if I were actually running around in summer-type clothes and exposing skin. Farmer’s tan all the way.

The weird thing is, I’m not all that much of an outdoors-y type. I don’t hunt. I don’t fish. The thought of a picnic–and bugs, and heat, and… grass itching my legs–isn’t a big positive. I hike. And… that’s about it. Now and then, the thought of camping occurs to me, but then, the price of tents and bug spray eventually stops me. (And, you know… that one X-Files episode where the tiny, swarm-y bugs… **shudder**)

Then again, it’s possible I’m just an introvert. The thought of going out camping–with others–never really struck me when I was a kid, so there’s no camping expertise now. And it’s possible that camping alone miles from civilization might not be the safest choice I could make, anyway.

Camping!

The general memory of that was a girl scout camp outside my home town. Cabins with running water, and a swimming pool, and lots of team sports. They served Spaghetti Os, which–believe it or not–are slightly better coming up than they are going down. (There was no second day at camp.)

And someday, I’ll have to tell you about that time I took an extrovert up a mountain. (It was a small mountain. And a large extrovert.)

As a part of an extended hike, though… (Considers cost of equipment.)

I am going to wind up gnawing off my own arm to survive.

Strangers on the Internet and Suicide

I don’t always know what happens to the people I meet on the internet. Some of them are pretty constant. A few of my followers have been around and commenting since the beginning of Reprobate Typewriter, and some of them come and go, disappear, and then resurface. I also have a couple of internet communities filled with friends and acquaintances. Now and then, I meet internet people in real-life. Not often, and certainly not until I’m sure they’re not serial killers, but it happens. (well, hell. I’ve internet-known some of them for nearly a decade.) And then, there’s social media.

Social media is more like the special-interest bar of the internet.

You can find people you have a lot in common with, and lots of them, but these are fleeting interactions. More the familiar faces you see walking across campus than the deep and lasting friendships. (Although when you do hit it off, it’s usually well worth the effort.)

Most of the time, you get bits and pieces. A busy coffee shop with a band you all like. Small talk. A little heavy on the politics, but of course, somebody has to be mayor of Arizona, I guess.

And sometimes, you hear parts of peoples’ lives that they would never, ever share in real life.

Maybe the things nobody hears them sharing in real life.

Every now and then, you run into the dark stuff. The stuff that makes you really concerned about someone’s safety.

I ran into one of those, yesterday. A deep, dark, Twitter thread that ended abruptly, maybe twenty minutes before I saw it. The poster was talking about suicide, and depression. A few off-the wall things, here and there. And they’d been talking about it for hours. Maybe days.

So, this is a reminder that you should get familiar with your social media platforms’ methods of getting real, medical help to people, quickly. Reporting it can be tough, but sometimes… it’s necessary.

(And as for my person, they seemed to be better today than yesterday. Let’s hope we all are.)

Experimenting to Find What Works BETTER For Me

I ordered notebooks and colored pens off the internet, today. The current theory–based on bits and pieces gleaned from comments from writers who know stuff on the internet–is that what I need is a different color of ink for each day (so that I can tell at a glance how much I’ve written) and a more expensive notebook to write it in.  (Because, apparently, my notebooks are supposed to remain intact long enough to need to look back and see how much I’ve written.) (Knock-off Moleskine! Yay!)

This is a part of the writing by hand, and typing as the first round of editing thing.

And it’s a return from the “Type-everything-cause-you-need-to-know-how-to-use-a-computer” that was beaten into me when I was a kid. (See also “worst advice ever.”)

I’m hoping this will result in a more linear first draft, and possibly a cleaner one.  (as usual.)

In other excitement, I’ve been nominated Lord High Plumber for the day, and on to fixing the toilet.

Okay… Yes, I’m probably the most qualified, but still. **grumbles.**

 

Halloween Season Has Arrived

It’s a little less than a month and  half til Halloween, and Depravicat is already working on his costume.

As you can see, he’s very excited about Halloween.

(That’s a pretty good haircut, too. Sometime, I’ll have to post video of the way he runs to get a trim.)

Now, typically… I’m not the kind of person who dresses animals in cute costumes for the amusement of others. This particular photo shoot lasted  about two and a half minutes, from when the costume went on to when I finally had pity on the poor beast and took the wings back off.

He doesn’t actually hate the wings. There’s no biting, chewing, or clawing to get out. Once he’s flopped over on his back, I’m not sure he notices them.

But the fact that he’s lying on his back on top of the costume isn’t all that adorbs-buckets of fun.

(he’s supposed to be a zombie.)

As for me, I still have leftover costume and liquid latex from the writers’ conference this summer. It’s a slightly steampunk, Victorian thing. I should… uhm… probably wear that.

The makeup is a sort of zipper face revealing gears.

And yes, that would probably work at least a little better, if I hadn’t gone all Frida on my hair last week.

I’m a Recovering Crime Writer, Not a Lawyer.

I’ve been watching one of those social-media explosions, lately. Let’s see if I can even find video without commentary attached…

There is more video than this, but a huge number of the copies I’ve seen include people speculating about what happened, so I’ll let you look them up yourself.

She was 19 years old (note for people outside the US: two years below the legal drinking age.) and at some point the following day, (many, many hours later) she was found dead inside a hotel freezer in an “unused” portion of the building which was under renovation. (And that’s pretty much everything anyone can agree on.)

In the beginning, the police seemed to be leaning toward this being an accidental death.

And then, Kanneka’s mother took her story to social media (I actually heard about this on Twitter, before it got to mainstream news in my area), and the internet rose up in support of a more thorough investigation.

The manner of death is now undetermined. (Manner of death is a check-box. Multiple choice. Five options. Natural, Homicide, Suicide, Accidental and Undetermined. It is not the same thing as cause of death, which could be Alcohol poisoning, hypothermia, asphyxia, etc.)

And on the internet–you’ll see what I mean, if you look at many of the videos–the theories of how and why Kanneka died run from the reasonable to X-Files worthy material.

My opinion? Doesn’t really matter a lot, but I think unlikely that Kanneka was murdered for her organs, and it’s also unlikely that her death was faked by sex-traffickers.

I still think there’s an excellent chance she was murdered.

Oh, no. Not in the way you’re thinking. I don’t think anyone pushed her in the freezer, or locked the door, or edited themselves out of the surveillance footage.

What I believe is that this death may have been the result of a felony.

Felony murder is the idea that you are responsible for the deaths that occur while you are committing a felony, or as the result of a felony. And–in the United States–it’s more or less first degree murder.

So, imagine that you are the get-away driver in a bank robbery. You never set foot in the bank, you never point a gun at anyone. Maybe your accomplices inside the bank don’t even have guns. The bank guard turns and shoots your buddy Steve. Steve dies as a result of your felony, so… guess who’s going to jail for murder? Just a hint: not the bank guard.

So, now that you have the general idea…

Imagine that you are a drug dealer in a hotel party. Selling illegal drugs is a felony. (Selling any scheduled drug without a license is, too.)

(As is Conspiracy, by the way. Someday, I’ll have to talk about my deep and abiding hatred of conspiracy.)

So, here we are… Down to the toxicology report.

If what we’re looking at is purely alcohol intoxication, then, maybe it’s an accidental death.

If, on the other hand, there’s anything else causing that intoxication… If she was sold or given drugs… If there were drugs at the party, and that’s the reason nobody called the police or the front desk when she first went missing… if any number of things happened,… that’s a death as the result of a felony.

Revising, and the Blog

I hit a chapter that needs to be re-written today. Needs? Well, let’s be honest here! I’ve changed the character’s plot line so much since I wrote it that with all of the deleting… and adding… and remembering that she’s spent the day running for her life (not making jelly sandwiches for her brother) that it’s just easier to rewrite than it is to edit. There’s nothing wrong with the chapter, in itself.

So, I made a list of all of the charges against her… all of the subtext… all of the history… and off I go.

I also took a little time to make a chart of the revision (basically squares to represent each chapter) and I think… I think I’m on schedule.

In blog-y excitement for the day, I’m working on finding a social media plug-in that will work without over burdening my poor hosting account. I’ve cut out a lot of the unnecessary stuff, lately, and I’ve seen some increase in speed. I’m still back to tweeting and Google+ ing the posts by hand, and… mostly, I don’t remember.

I’d also like to find a more professional wordpress theme at some point. Something with a little more style. Seems like all my friends are upgrading, some days. (any pointers would be appreciated. Most of what I know, right now, is that I’d like something else. You know. Not this. And that the header should be narrow enough that people don’t have to scroll down to start reading.

I may also start with a holidays-only podcast. Something to get my foot through the door, and maybe put up on this website, first.