Category Archives: Chatter

Draft Zero Club

I got my first tattoo over the weekend.  (No, it really doesn’t hurt that much, IMO, but your mileage may vary.)

green hexagonal ink bottle on side, dripping spilled ink into text "Draft Zero" with feather quill pen horizontal below

I toyed with a tattoo design for a long time, but it wasn’t until the meaning of “Draft Zero” gelled for me that I knew exactly what I wanted.

I wanted a writing related design, and I found the most awesome artist at a local place, Cirque du Rouge, and she was able to perfectly capture what I wanted.  Thanks, Kim! If you’re looking for a tattoo of your own, or even if you just like lovely art, check out her site: Kim Ewell Tattoos

green hexagonal ink bottle on side, dripping spilled ink into text "Draft Zero"

The detail in person is so sharp that the ink looks like it’s pooled on my arm.

 feather quill pen feather quill pen nib with ink splatters below

Draft Zero is all about doing the work you love, and not sabotaging yourself by thinking that perfection is the only option.  It’s about putting the words on the page, the pixels on the screen, and the paint on the canvas. Draft Zero is about creating something before you tear it apart. It’s a reminder to myself that making something is more important than making excuses.


I’m making incremental progress on edits for the mutant river otter book (which I probably shouldn’t keep referring to that way, as the otters play a relatively minor role), and I’ve been tidying up some other writer business with covers for two books, ideas for marketing, and plotting further stories.

I went to Iceland, one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen, but don’t expect to be seeing an Icelandic fantasy on my WIP list any time soon.  One of the things I enjoyed the most about being there was how deep the cultural roots ran, even in a modern, changing society.  So no, I don’t think I’ll be borrowing heavily from Norse myth, but I’m eager to create that same sense of permanence and shared story.  I was happy to see, in that gorgeous, windswept land, that many of the things I’d imagined would be impacted by the constant onslaught of the wind were adapted just as I’d seen them in my mind’s eye.

My garden is full of weeds, and my rosebushes need some massive pruning before winter sets in.  This weekend, my “down” weekend between Iceland, DayJob convention, and a trip to the Ohio Valley Filk Festival to catch up with some of my closest friends, I plan to get the garden into shape for winter planting and percolating.  And I think a walk along the edge of the lake might be in order, too, while autumn is busily sneaking across the land.

I grew up on the move, state-to-state, house-to-house, and I’ve always worried that I’d be forever rootless.  I think what I’ve learned is that I can feel at home anywhere I go, instead.


What’s Michelle Reading?

Due to a long weekend in St. Augustine that involved a plane flight, I’ve had more of an opportunity to read than in what seems like forever.  Day to day, the most I can do is grab ten minutes during my fifteen minute lunch break.  Better than nothing, but still not enough.


So on my wonderful long weekend, I…

Gravedigger's Brawl

Read straight through Abigail Roux’s “Gravedigger’s Brawl.”   Great story!  The perfect mix of scary and sexy, good characterization, good dialogue.  Seriously, who wouldn’t adore Wyatt?  And I loved seeing Richmond in a story, what with being a seventh generation Virginian and all that.


Almost finished Jonathan Bloom’s “American Wasteland.”  Harder read, if only because of American Wastelandthesubject matter.  Don’t even want to think about how many times I’ve cleaned the fridge and dumped out food that I enjoyed/had every intention of finishing, but just never quite did.  Given that my grandparents brought me up to NEVER waste food, this is an uncomfortable subject for me.  After reading, I’m shocked at how much is wasted before it even reaches consumers.  Food for thought and all that (ha, ha).


Pit and the PendulumJust started and can’t put down John Betancourt’s “Pit and the Pendulum.”  I had the pleasure of meeting John at last year’s RavenCon… very cool guy!  I enjoyed interacting with him so much that I picked this up, despite never having been a mystery person, and I’m so glad I did.  “Pit Bull” Geller is the perfect damaged hero, and John’s mixed humor and drama in just the right measures.


I’d love to keep reading at this pace, but with deadlines coming up and editing to be done, it’s not likely.  Maybe I should book another flight somewhere…

The Pokey Little Blogger

I’m having one of those weeks where it feels like I keep missing something terribly important, but nobody will tell me what it IS.

I’m convinced there’s a doorway to somewhere amazing around a corner I didn’t turn, and I don’t know if that’s optimism or pessimism.

Roly-poly, pell-mell, tumble-bumble, I will keep wandering around until I find whatever it is I’m looking for.  I’m resilient like that.

In good news updates:

My Mom had surgery on her foot, and it went swimmingly.  Well, not really, because she’s not allowed to get it wet for a couple weeks, but it went better than the surgeon had hoped.

Burke, our tiny sick cat, is responding well to the steroid treatments for her autoimmune disease.  She’s putting on weight, the colour has come back to her ears and gums, and she’s gone from docile and mouthy to mouthy and looking at us in a way that clearly implies she’ll be having NONE of this crap from us, thank you.  It’s good to see her bouncing back, after hearing the worst from a vet and having that turn out not to be true. Thank you to everyone who spared a kind word or thought for her.

And tomorrow, I have a lung scan, which should confirm that all the clots are gone, leading up to me getting OFF this vile medication I’ve been taking.  (Don’t get me wrong, I’m grateful it exists, and thrilled it seemed to work for me.  But MAN the side effects suck.)

So what’s good in your world?  Share the joy!


Of Cats and Counting Words

If you follow either of us on twitter (@reesah and @marigotc, respectively), you’ve probably seen us mention a health crisis one of our cats is having.  In November of 2011, we stole rescued a litter of feral kittens from our backyard, sweetened them up, and got them adopted out to various friends and family members.  Except for two, Widget and Burke, who stayed with us.  Because we’re huge suckers.

Miss BurkeBurke Kittenpants, wild and free.  Seriously, could you say no to that face?

Miss BurkeBurke Kittenpants, wild and free. Seriously, could you say no to that face?

Miss Burke, at only a year and a half old, has been losing weight, and as she is one of our permakittens(tm), she didn’t have it to lose.  We’ve been round and round, through a dozen tests, a blood transfusion, riding the cancer/not cancer roller coaster.  It’s exhausting, and as awful as it seems to us, I can only imagine how it must be for her.

We’ve been working slowly on our current projects- In Discretion, a Ylendrian Empire story about secrets and the people who keep them, and Inside Job, a sequel (of indeterminate length) to The Slipstream Con.  Wordcount isn’t where we want it to be, but we’re still making progress.  Which reminds me, I should go make progress.

If you wanted to send a good thought or two towards the improved health of Miss BurkeBurke, it would be appreciated.

Et tu, Spring?

Really now, Spring?  This is how you’re gonna play it?







Seems like the perfect afternoon to coddle a migraine and attempt to get some writing done.  The new Ylendrian Empire story, In Discretion, is jamming along nicely.  We have achieved infection.  Next up, Unsettling Feelings From the Past.

Provided my cats don’t smother me with their blubber glee when I get home, that is.

There is also the rumour of frickles this evening.  Should this happen, I will no doubt become a filthy frickle flaunter on twitter.  Brace yourselves.

Just Browsing

I grew up in Hawaii, mostly in two teensy little towns, Keaau and Pahoa.

Downtown Pahoa Hawaii

This is downtown Pahoa, Hawaii. I don’t know where they hid all the hippies while they were taking this picture, but I’m sure if you sniff your screen, you can still smell the patchouli. (Photo by Alex Avriette)

Our nearest “big town” was Hilo, where you could find TWO McDonald’s, a Little Caesar’s (PizzaPizza!), the minigolf/waterslide where rich kids had their birthday parties, and a full one and a half malls.  Happy was the day when Kaiko’o Pet finally moved to Prince Kuhio Plaza, and we no longer had to beg to drive lo those many miles (all 2.2 of them) to stare at the fish.  Happier still, the tiny little indie bookstore moved into Prince Kuhio, and I could finally divide my time between them and Waldenbooks.  Two, two, TWO glorious bookstores, in one place!

My Mom worked for a local furniture store at the time (for those in the know- the one owned by the Aussie who did his own tv commercials), and it was a short hop across the Hilo Hattie’s parking lot and an empty field, in the doors through possibly the last Woolworth’s in the country, and around two corners to the (at the time) sprawling expanse of BOOKS.  My pace would quicken (not enough to be yelled at or possibly detained by a security guard), I’d practically hold my breath, and then I’d set foot in the store, and everything would be just a little better with every step as I neared the back corner, where the fantasy and science fiction section lived on four whole shelves.  The store employees knew me- they would often save me promo items and ARCs- and nobody ever bothered me as I surveyed my potential kingdoms for hours at a time.  No matter what author I was interested in, or what series I was reading, I started with A, at the very beginning of the section, and my eyes scanned every single book, looking for anything new, anything special, anything that would make my tiny world, with its towns you could see from top to bottom without turning your head, a little bigger.

When we were still attending public school, we went to Keaau.  The best thing about that school was the library, because it wasn’t a school library, full of easy readers and picture books.  It was a full-fledged public library, with a real, computerized catalogue and inter-library loan from any of the other islands, even Oahu, where I was quite sure they kept all the books to themselves.

This is where I used to not get beat up during recess and lunch. Also where I read the whole Banned Books Week cart, and earned tiny, free pizzas every summer.

The shelves here were my haven from bullying.  Top to bottom, front to back, carefully avoiding the children’s books.  I would search for a book like the last one I’d read, or a book about something outside my own head.  Sometimes for a book about why- why was I so sad, why didn’t anything make sense, why wasn’t magic real?  I learned how to shelve books properly here, and how fast I could run through those safe, tinted glass doors, into the open arms of those beloved bookshelves.  At the Hilo library, crouched low and inching along the cool tile floors, I read my way through the fantasy and science fiction section.  I discarded the boring books in my wake as I made a study of all the genre fiction deemed fit for the main public library on the island.  My Mom would sometimes have to call my name three or four times to break me out of my giddy daze, and we finally agreed that a tote bag a week was the only sensible option for my check outs.

I can find almost any book I want within seconds these days, and that’s amazing.  I love reading, and I love being able to read what I want without waiting for three weeks for the copy to come in from Kauai.  What I miss, aside from getting free personal pan pizzas for reading a book with chapters (look, we had low standards, okay?  Don’t judge.), is the anticipation, the breathless, anxious feeling in my chest as I rounded the corner to Waldenbooks.  Is it still there?  What if they sold the book I wanted to read?  What if they moved the section, and it’s smaller now?  What would they do with the books?  WHAT IF THEY WENT OUT OF BUSINESS AND NOBODY TOLD ME?

I miss not knowing what I was looking for, and finding it anyway.