Random Thursdays: Random Happiness

Unexpected happy-making things, both big and small, have happened all this week.  Don’t know why, don’t care, but I’m enjoying them all.

 oooOOOooo

Pumpkin bread for breakfast this morning, courtesy of Downith, who sent me her recipe!

I would have taken a picture of the results, except I tasted them first, and then the family woke up and all that’s left is crumbs and a grocery list with MORE PUMPKIN written on it and underlined twice.

Spice cake was already on the list, because Lyra’s recipe kicks it, too!

oooOOOooo

On Tuesday, I helped a nice lady find a photo of her grandson in the newspaper and order a print copy from the website.

I found out today that she took the time to write out a comment card saying how helpful and friendly I was—those things go straight to the director, and my annual evaluation is coming up!

oooOOOooo

 Janie had her softball awards ‘ceremony’ at the local ice cream parlor two evenings ago—her trophy is featured in yesterday’s post.

I took Sunny along and we stood in line for ice cream while she charmed the socks off the older couple behind us.*

The woman mentioned that their children and grandchildren had come down for the holiday, but they’d all gone home and the house was far too quiet.

Our house isn’t quiet,” said  Sunny.  She pointed to Janie’s group.  “I have a sister.

Ice cream and shared laughter.  Awesome combination.

oooOOOooo

 

I got my FOID card in the mail yesterday, which means I can rent a gun at the local shooting range and  practice.

I’m hoping to work up to the broad sides of barns, but we’ll see . . .

oooOOOooo

Wayne E. Pollard, creator of the webcomic Bo’s Café Life, is going to have a collection out soon!

Wayne is a great guy, and his gang of struggling writers at the coffee shop are spot on—laughing at them imeans laughing at ourselves, and that can only be a good thing in this business!

He also gives the occasional nod to writer support services:

The comic has been featuring interviews from editors, agents, critics, and others in the industry, as well as an Ask Dingbang feature that I never miss.

The morning doesn’t start until I get my Bo fix— and soon I’ll be able to read my favorites without worrying about my wireless connection!

oooOOOooo

My husband brought  my packed lunch to work for me before I even realized I’d left it on the kitchen counter this morning.

oooOOOooo

I have no idea why this feels like a huge confession . . . but I’ve been known to write a little fanfiction—for practice, experimentation, relaxation, the occasional dare, the instant feedback, because I’m a huge geeky nerd, whatever.

I’m well aware that I’m choosing to use some of my writing time on derivative things that can’t be published, but this is something  I enjoy doing, and I know it’s improved my writing.

I haven’t participated much lately, but this past month, the Leverage fandom at the site where I post held an awards thing, where readers could nominate and vote on their favorite stories and writers.

Someone was kind enough to nominate one or two of my stories in a couple categories,  and I was up for best author, all of which was quite the ego boost.  I voted for other people’s stuff, and then the voting period was extended, so I forgot about it.

Then yesterday, I received a ton of e-mailed congratulations.

Turns out, one of my stories placed first for best original character, best alternative universe,** and best overall story, and tied for second for best general-category (with its sequel, if you can believe that).  And I placed first for best author.

I know that this isn’t the type of thing one mentions in a query letter, and I know that fanfiction is generally vilified—be honest, how many of you read the previous paragraph and thought well, how hard can that be?

But let me explain why this is important, personally, to me:

There are about eighteen-hundred stories in that fandom at last count and an average of three new ones pop up every day.   I wrote that story three years ago.  And readers still remember it.

That’s the real award, right there.

And a challenge to do the same thing, all on my own.

oooOOOooo

This week has been great so far!  How’s yours going?  Any random happiness to share?

________

* As she does to any grandparent within a thirty-foot radius.  So far, she’s only used this power for good instead of evil, but I’m keeping a close eye . . .

**Which I’m taking to mean that the events in the story occurred outside of the shows, though it obviously referenced several.

Right on target, more or less (okay, less)

Today was my basic pistol safety and training course!  

My friend Grace and I were the only students, so the instructor didn’t seem to mind when I asked all sorts of weird questions, most of which pertained to my WIP.  He told a couple of great stories, too, most of which I stole, with his permission.*   I took tons of notes, jotted down every slang term he used, and generally enjoyed myself.    

I passed the test and earned a badge:

And then we went to the firing range and shot a .22 ten times each.

Grace is a natural at holding a gun steady and while her groupings weren’t all dead center, she had groupings.   My target had lines . . . and to be strictly honest, not quite so many holes as hers.   I’m apparently not a natural at anything involving guns.

The instructor reminded me that I was a complete beginner and thought I might be rushing my shots out of nervousness.  He reassured me that I was handling the gun safely and correctly . . . except for the hitting the target part.

I  expect I was rushing a bit—but I wasn’t nervous.  I was stoked.

Grace and I can’t wait to try it again with bigger targets and a boxful of cartridges.

But we’re going to have to wait until my FOID card** arrives before the shooting range will allow us to practice.  I mailed the form today, but the wait is around two months.

That’s okay—I have a manuscript to correct . . .

_____

*He also gave me his card, so if I had any other questions, I could e-mail him!  I have a Gun Expert, but having someone local who can show me why I’m wrong is a Good Thing. 

**Firearm Owner’s IDentification card—it’s actually required for any resident of Illinois to possess or purchase firearms or ammunition.  Since the local firing range doesn’t allow outside ammunition to be loaded into their rentals, I need a FOID card even if I don’t ever  buy or own a gun.   To be honest, I’m not sure I want to have one in the house.  Maybe I am nervous—though that doesn’t make me wrong.

Today’s webcomic,  Space Base 8 , is the sole brainchild of David Scott Smith, who is frankly brilliant and draws the most adorable robot I have ever seen.

Random Thursday: Already?

I’d swear I did a Random Thursday about three days ago . . . is it just me, or is time speeding up?

I mean, unless one’s Internet connection goes down just as one hits the Publish button—and doesn’t come up again for three hours. 

Which is my way of apologing for the late post.  Sorry!

oooOOOooo

After the in-service yesterday, I scooted over to Borders to enjoy some child-free time before heading over to Jane’s school.

I didn’t go near the children’s area or read a single book out loud.  I dwelled for ten whole minutes in the mysteries and I passed by the various toy displays without once telling someone to look with their eyes and not their hands.  And I didn’t feel the need to tell anyone but myself that we weren’t going to buy that today, put it on your birthday list, how much of your own money did you bring today?*

I tried out all the  pens for weight and comfort and bought one,** then spent half an hour scribbling in my pink cupcake notebook, brainstorming plugs for a small plot hole that recently opened up because I changed—okay, fine, corrected—one little thing.

Had a smoothie, too.

I must do this again, sometime.  Soon.

oooOOOooo

Speaking of random, at the In-Service, during a pause between speakers, my friend Grace leaned over and said, “Want to go to the shooting range with me and take a beginner’s class?”

Do I!?  Is it Christmas?

I know a few things about guns—a very few, according to my Gun Expert— though most of those things are  important, like which end is dangerous. *** But since two Pigeon characters are experts and a third is learning, it’s past time I learn the basics with the real thing—and experience recoil.

I fully expect to stink at it, but I also fully expect to have, no pun intended, a blast.

Matt MacNish has it right:  there’s nothing like experience!

oooOOOooo

Will someone please tell me why it’s always pouring down rain when my children need poster board for an assignment due tomorrow—except they forgot until after dinner, sorry, Mom?

Jut asking.

oooOOOooo

It wouldn’t be a Thursday without the report of a brand new (to me) Time Suck.  This week, you can blame my husband, who sent me the link to  Space Base 8, a terrific webcomic by the talented David Scott Smith.

It’s only a temporary Time Suck—it’s relatively new, and I’m almost through the archives—but SB8 is compulsively readable.

It features—among other cast members both animal and mineral—an Everysimian crash test monkey, a smart and green-complexioned clerk who isn’t his girlfriend (“Why?  Did he mention me?”), and the cutest little ancient lighthouse robot in the universe:

You’ll have to check it out to see the adorable robot.  And you know you want to.

oooOOOooo

There’s been a sort of theme around here, lately, an examination of what it means, or can mean, when one attains a certain age that isn’t, for lack of a better word, young.

I believe the general consensus was, “Anything we damn well please.  Who knew?”

In one of those odd coincidences, a (an?) historical romance crossed my desk day before yesterday that also deals with the themes of age, self-worth, and for a bonus, body-shame:   Pleasure Me by Monica Burns.

Lady Ruth is a 41-year old professional mistress whose latest protector has dumped her for a younger woman.  If that wasn’t enough, he has also reneged on his promise to support her.   Retirement is inevitable and due to her own generosity, she doesn’t have much of a financial cushion.  She has no real options for improving her situation.

Worse, she believes no one will ever desire her again.

But then handsome, rich, and  younger Garrick Stratfield makes her an offer . . . but not exactly the kind Ruth expects.  Assuming it was made out of pity, she refuses.

When she discovers the real reason Garrick needs her, and exactly how shamefully young he is . . . everything changes.

And that’s before they fall in love.

oooOOOooo

And, to close this most random of random posts:  my latest earworm, courtesy of Kev the Earworm King, who has been bombarding me with every YouTube vid in which Benedict Cumberbatch appears. I think he even threw in one about cummerbunds.^ 

But this one song stuck.  I’ve been humming it for three days and finally broke down and added it to my playlist.  You’ll have to click through to hear it—for good or ill, it’s one of Sony’s:

There.  Now maybe I won’t be the only one.

___

*As you might suspect, this didn’t go over any better with me than with the kids, but at least my whining and rationalizing was internal, and didn’t appear to disturb the other customers.

**See?

***The answer is both.  Two other things I know:  all firearms should always be treated as if they’re loaded, even if you think you know otherwise; and outside of a range, you do not point one (or even unholster it) unless you’re prepared to kill.

^I’d say he needs a hobby, but apparently, he has one.

More Learning Experiences . . .

I’m really not this bad.  I read instructions, mostly, and I enjoy learning new skills, although I sometimes wish innate talent wasn’t so important.

And when I screw up, I’ll take all the help I can get—which is why I spent this morning on the phone with the public information officers of two city police departments, a bemused federal judge, a very nice man who works for the local branch of the FBI,* and this one wiseass lawyer of my acquaintance. 

I’m sure I’ve mentioned several times that I can’t write guns.  I’m so used to screwing up some obvious detail of the mechanics or the physics or the size that I go over every word of a gun scene with my handy-dandy Encyclopedia of Firearms for the Ignorant before sending a flurry of worried e-mails to my ever-amused Gun Person.

Which is no doubt why I missed the obvious:  I’ve got a bunch of ex-cons running around my three-fourths-completed WIP casually toting Glocks and rifles and a sweet (or so I’m told) M110.  Some of them are professional security guards.

News flash:  felons aren’t allowed to touch guns. 

Damn it,  I knew this.   I index the local newspaper for the library and not a week goes by that I don’t jot down “Crime—Firearm Possession” at least once. But it didn’t hit me until late last night.  I snapped a pencil in half, stalked around the house ranting about my personal “Crime—Stupidity,” then sat back down and started thinking.

My main characters are ex-cons who work (or used to work) for a legitimate, private fraud squad / security company.   Some of them need to be legitimately armed—not all, necessarily, because I kind of like the idea of one or two them having to worry about the consequences (to them, the company, and their primary goal)  if they’re caught.

How could I get these three or four ex-cons armed, without having the resident superhacker machine a Deus Ex?  Did I change the characters, the company, or the circumstances—or all three?

This morning, I called a couple of people on the above list—the ones I knew personally—and asked.  They gave me information, new questions to consider, and  more phone numbers.  The people attached to those phone numbers did the same.  Not everyone I called could help and not everyone had the time, but at least everyone was polite about it.  And the people who could help were very generous with their time and knowledge.

By lunch, I had two provisional scenarios that could work—and knew exactly what would happen to my characters if they didn’t.

I’ve spent the rest of the afternoon figuring out where and how to make changes to the story.  Not easy, no, but it’s a necessary skill if I’m going to do more with my stories than stuff desk drawers.

So everything is  going well—or better than might be expected.

Plus, I just realized that I spent the whole morning introducing myself as a writer—which is definitely a new skill I’d like to develop.

______

*In a capacity he did not mention and I did not think to question.