Saturday, February 27, 2010

March is Character Month

Still taking a break from the story proper, unless inspiration strikes, but I am going back to working with the characters. I've been tossing about the idea of doing character interviews for a while, but haven't got round to it because I pad out my characters so fully. I can tell you every last facet of any character's life -- past, present, future; even the lives of the bit players. Because of that, I don't see much point in it. I'm going to give it my best, though, and hopefully I improve with time. And if any questions arise you want answered, please let me know because I will be more than happy to answer them in-character. In addition to the interviews, going to be doing some simple character exercises, like would happen if X, Y, Z, and R characters were locked in a house for the night. Some of these little experiments will be shared, some may not.

And I encourage you to do the same. Don't have to share anything, unless of course you want to, but sit down and just do these little things. Maybe nothing will come of it for any of us. Maybe we all know our characters perfectly fine already. But maybe, just maybe, it'll do something for me, or for you, or whoever. Better to fire blanks than have the whole bloody cannon backfire, right? Hang on, wrong analogy.

Anyway, that's what's coming up hereabouts starting Monday.

Welcome to the Investigative Department

Gene Hunt pictured because he kicks ass.

Well, I'm a wee bit bored, and feel like I should be posting something, so partially for my own reference, should my memory ever blank on the subject, and partially for the sake of sharing, I'm going to post the rank structure of the investigative department of the LPD. Ranks are listed in descending order.

Chief Inspector
Deputy Inspector
Staff Inspector
Lieutenant (UK pronunciation, honestly only because I think it sounds cooler)

And then we have the big-wigs, who are technically ranks, but there's only one of each:

Chief Superintendent
Deputy Superintendent

Promotion up to Sergeant isn't too terribly hard. Lieutenant and above requires either some damn fine work, or a lot of years on the force, or both. Paul Beckett is a bit young for a Staff Inspector, being 33, but he was promoted for the same case that brought his former partner, Damian Croughbar, to Inspector, despite being only 36. And yes I am aware what Damian's surname looks like. First part of his surname is pronounced akin to Clough, second part like there's an ae (or i for non-Latin geeks) in it. Wow I fail at explaining this. Maybe I'll just record myself saying it and upload it later. Anyway, it is not pronounced how you're probably thinking. Don't ask me why he has that name because even I don't know.

Daniel will probably be a pretty fast riser, too, because if a series comes of it like I hope it does, I want it flow more or less in real-time. If there's a large gap between the first and second books, I'll set things closer together and let it flow from there. Officers who are 18/19 when they become a Detective-Investigator usually hit Beckett's rank between 39-43. Daniel is 26 when he joins the force. If we assume a best case scenario, that makes him 46 by the time he's a Staff Inspector. I like to think he'd stop taking promotions at Inspector, which if we again assume a best case scenario, it would take a good ten to fifteen more years to hit that rank from Staff Inspector. If he weren't a fast riser, he'd be at retiring age before I got to do much of anything.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Bala nemate!

For anyone wondering, that title is Lithuanian. My dad's side got around a lot, but my mom's side of the family has been staunchly Lithuanian, as far back as you can trace. There's a lot of interesting history on that side as well and I'll probably blog some of it up some day, but that's not the point. The point is I used to be conversational in Lithuanian thanks to my grandparents' teachings, but now I only remember bits and pieces. I do still remember how to call someone a cabbage head in Lithuanian, which you wouldn't think is that bad, but to a Lithuanian that is the highest insult, worse than certain four-letter words most folks here abhor, and it is for that very reason I shan't be posting it.

Anyway, bala nemate more or less means "to hell with it".

I was incredibly, incredibly productive during the two consecutive blizzards and all those days off. For the bulk of them, I was just loafing about having fun, but from late at night on Wednesday to late at night on Sunday, I got a lot done, more than I've gotten done in such a short amount of time since I wrote my first novel way back when (180-odd pages in just shy of three weeks is still my record). Since then I have had inspiration but lacked drive, and then the Muses decided to play coy, and now they're back, and my drive is back fifty fold, and every time I go to write, my mind either blanks out or I think whatever I just typed is shit and promptly delete it. I have a few ideas as to why this is but not so sure I feel like sharing any of them right at this moment. Suffice it to say I'm just not really particularly happy with my confounded brain right now.

So for the time being, I'm delivering a stern bala nemate to my writing and going to do some other stuff. A bit of a shame really, but nothing to be done.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Sing, O Muse

Well, I had started to write a piece in the vein of Publis Vergilius Maro's writings, but that is a lot harder than you would think it is, unless of course I start writing it in Latin, but I severely doubt anyone would understand me then. Suffice it to say the Muses have been rather quiet lately, and I don't want them to be. Meanwhile I am amused, though. Out of boredom I decided to google one of the actors I have in mind for one of the characters, and as I was typing his name, Google's only suggestion was to add the word shirtless. I lol'd. Also my hair is getting way too long. I need to make an appointment for the barber ASAP or this is going to turn into the massive bush I used to wear on my head. And, yeah, that's about it, really, lest I start delving into more random, unimportant rambles.

And on the Publius Vergilius Maro note, I say READ THE AENEID
(also here). Preferably in the original Latin, but I guess not many would understand it.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Finally an excuse to post something

~ahem~ This blog is direly lacking the musical department.

That's more like it. And yes, it's green. I like green. Green is good. And yes, another craptacular title. Like I said, titles are not my strong suit. Heck, the tentative title of my WIP is just the title of an old Soviet film I really like. So anyway,

I was giefed this thang from Mia, who really I know not that much about, aside from that she's from my favoritest country ever and she was my first follower here and she's over on Nathan's forums, where I spend far too much time. We need to fix that. I propose cookies. Cookies and tea solves everything. Except burns. I imagine hot food just exacerbates that situation.

Anywho, according to The RulesI'm supposed to post ten things which brighten my day/make-a me happeh. So no more delaying!

1. A good mystery. Yep. Any old puzzle/riddle just won't do, has to be a well and proper mystery. Preferably one involving murder. Murder makes me happy. I'm weird like that.
2. DOCTOR WHO. I prefer Classic Who to RTD Who (and it's looking like the Grand Moff's Who is going to be fantastic, but we'll see) and the Seventh Doctor is my absolute favorite, but any Who will do really. I could have had the shittiest day in the world, and a couple of hours of the good Doctor brings me round in no time at all.
3. Ceylon tea. Preferably English breakfast or Scottish breakfast, but just about any will do. This stuff is like crack for me.
4. My pets. Bar my horse, they are some of the most retarded creatures on this planet, but hell if I don't love them.
5. My many, many instruments. I love playing all sorts of instruments, and still have Lord knows how many in my closet. Don't really play any of them that often. Trombone sometimes, same for ocarina and bagpipes, but that's about it in the way of closeted instruments. I do like to play my violin, but I mostly end up playing it in the eensy weentsy hours of the morning, and my mom certainly does not appreciate that.
6. Farming. In the warmer weather I grow Irish potatoes and other such things, and occasionally I'll plant a bit of winter wheat in September. It's damn hard work sometimes but it's the most satisfying work I've done, outside of writing, if you can consider my unpublished-ness work.
7. Snow. I am like a 2 year old from Los Angeles every time we even get a dusting. I will have enough snow when I'm in a grave beneath it.
8. A good drink. Preferably a rich double malt, but if alcohol is out of the question, ginger ale or Dr Pepper are very fine substitutes. Seriously though, give me a nice glass of whisky and I will run laps around the world in excitement. If made right, nothing beats it for me.
9. Christmas. BEST HOLIDAY EVER. Nothing beats the Christmas season for me. NOTHING. You could compile everything else I love and I will still pick Christmas over it. Sadly, my family has kind of bogged things down the past two years, although it's very understandable -- my grandfather passed away last September, and his birthday was Christmas Eve. Still, I'm a total cornball and love to listen to Christmas music year round (right now I happen to be listen to Good King Wenceslas).
10. Mornings. As long as I wake up on my own, which I usually do between 6:30 and 7:50, I love the morning. School days, not so much. Woken up at 5-ish every morning and forced to waste a perfectly good morning behind a desk. At least my senior year is almost over, and once I go to uni I'm not scheduling a class before 1pm.

So, yeah, some of these have probably been repeats of things from my hooray for narcissism post, but whatever. Shiz happens and all that biz.

Also, squee!

Okay, obligatory Seventh Doctor image has been inserted. Life is good.

Um, um, um crisis. I don't really follow much of anyone so I really don't know anyone to pass this on to. Actually wait I know one person. Time to go bug Phil about digging up his blog again for the first time in forever (okay, not forever, he stopped in May I think).


Tuesday, February 16, 2010

A not particularly good analogy

Writing, to me, is a lot like my walk home from school. I don't know exactly how long it is, but in my guess, if I were to travel only along the roads (which I do not do, mostly for safety reasons, but also because there are some shortcuts, and there are some places I much prefer to take the long way), it would be some two or three miles. Not a great distance, but a decent one. I don't mind the walk. I don't mind it because I get out early, I enjoy the (much needed) exercise, and although I have walked it every day this year since school started in September and I have walked it on quite a few occasions in the past, it is still a delightful route to take home. But some days, I just want to give up. I still love the walk oh so very much, but I just do not want to make it.

Days like today. We had a light snowfall last night and earlier today, a blizzard last Wednesday, and a blizzard the Saturday before that. At deepest, the natural snow is some 32 inches, give or take an inch. (The plowed snow is absurd. There were points on my walk home that were significantly taller myself -- just shy of 5'11")

My high school is very large -- the size of a decent college, but rather than being spread out across a decent campus, it has all been lumped into one network of buildings connected by breezeways. Because of the part of the building I leave from, it would be far too time consuming to go across the parking lot, down the drive, and out onto the road, so I cut across the field behind the radio station. It's not a particularly large field, and on a day when conditions are good and I am making good pace, I can get from the parking lot to the road in very little time. But today I had to go up that steep hill and across that field in 32 inches of snow. I am not in the best of shape, and even if I were, that is not exactly an easy feat. I had to stop numerous times to catch my breath, and very nearly collapsed into the snow several times while crossing the field. I very nearly turned around eight times -- at one point I even did turn around and had begun to mark my footsteps before I set myself right. And at several points along the way home, I was forced to divert myself through the snow, usually because I simply could not take the road (I avoided my usual route due to the snow).

On days when it's rained recently, that field behind the radio station is a bog. I have had an easier time getting around the Lowlands with friends than I have getting through that field (can't speak for the Highlands -- only ever been to Inverness and we always take the train). Crossing the creek is something of an expedition unto itself, given that it is usually very gently flowing and only knee-deep at worst, but after a good rain, it's been as deep as being just shy of my chest and with good force. Warm weather doesn't suit the walk either. There are a lot of trees and houses and things a little way's off to block the wind, but never near enough to generate shade, so even just the nice warmth of early autumn or mid-spring feels like the Sahara. Winter days without snow are no pleasantry either, but they are the best. Days when the ground is good and solid. It's easy to cross, mostly, but at times it can be difficult, because the ground has frozen itself in odd positions (I avoid the creek in winter and take the road until I'm past the water. If drivers don't like it they can fuck off).

And that's just weather conditions. Traffic is quite vital as well. Most days the traffic is light, but one must I remember I am moving on foot. What is nothing to a car is a lot of traffic to a footman. On good days, the traffic is virtually non-existent. And for a while, it was fantastic. They were doing road work down on one side of a major intersection, thereby cutting down traffic considerably. When that work was done, they were working on another end of the intersection, and traffic remained light. Now they're working on a section of major road a little distance away and have established the first road they were working on as a detour, because if one runs straight it leads square to another major road that'll get you into town, and if you turn in the direction of the high school, it's a slightly more twisty way into town. Traffic has picked up considerably since they did this, of course, and it is a bitch. And even if the road work is cutting down on traffic, it isn't always pleasant. They were re-tarring the streets, all the way from that intersection to my very road, back in late November/early December. For a little over two weeks, I had to make major diversions just so as to not be cutting straight through their road work.

On top of road work and traffic, the weight of my bag varies. I don't really need my bag, but I use it because it makes life a bit simpler. On the average day, I just have a pen, a handful of papers, and maybe a novel. I could tuck all but the novel in my pockets and get going, but having a bag makes it easier. Some days, however, my back is not a pleasant burden to bear. Days like today, when I have my psychology book. It is the only text book I have, and due to my inability to use the lockers*, on the days when I need it it must be lugged along, and it is unfortunately a very heavy book.

When the weather is rubbish, my friend Brad is nice and gives me a lift in his car (and oh how jealous I am of that car -- an '08 Audi A4 Sedan in very condition), and I mean he is really nice, because my home is infinitely out of the way for him. It only takes about five minutes to get from the school to my house when traffic isn't bad, but he lives out on the fringe of the district, a good half hour to forty minute drive away from the school. He takes the time to drive me home, drop me off at the top of my super long driveway, turn around, and go home himself. But that's only when the weather is really bad, like the one day I was halfway home and a terrible, terrible thunderstorm just tore open above me. 99% of the time, the only resources at my disposal for getting home are my own two feet. Even on a good day, by the time I get home, my legs are sore, I'm a bit tired, and a bit sweaty. Add to this that I am so often beginning to get dehydrated because I refuse to drink from the water fountains and I have not eaten since five or six in the morning. On a good day, I get out of my last class at 12:40 and am home by 1:15. On an excellent day, I'm out at 12:40 and home by 1:05. On bad days, home by 1:27. On days like today, I got home at 1:40.

It would, in fact, be easier to do what I have done only three days, and on each of those three days it was because there had been a blizzard the weekend before and snow was still coming down hard. But it would be much easier for me to go to the front lobby and sit on one of the pew-like benches and read, or go sit in the nice, toasty stairwell at the far side of the front of the building and read, or convince my girlfriend to cut her study hall and hang out in the stairwell with me. It would be much easier, and in a lot of ways much nicer. But I cannot bring myself to do it. Even on days like today, when I was a fool for crossing that field with so much snow in it and I was ravenously devouring the clean patches for some degree of hydration, I absolutely love my walk home. It is the one thing I look forward to each day. Not just because I am getting out of school, but because I genuinely enjoy it.

When Nathan posted his stats late last year, I noted that the odds of just getting a request for a partial from Nathan are a slim 1.22%. It was noted on a blog someone posted a link to over on Nathan's forums that the odds of becoming a client with an agent who has a decent web presence are less than 1%. Add to it that publishing nowadays is not what it was even just a few decades ago. There are cases of authors even as late as the 90s, who had a book or two published in 1997 or 1998, and then didn't have anything done again until the mid-00s and now their career has taken off. But for people such as myself, people hoping to be debut authors, publishing nowadays is rough.

People have made comparisons to the film industry and acting, but that's not quite right. If you audition for a film, yeah, you might not get the part, but if the original guy bows out or for some other reason cannot fulfill his duties, if you made a good enough impression at the audition stage you will probably get chosen as his replacement. When it comes to stage acting, there's a little something called understudies. Acting is a very rough business to break into, but it's not really make-or-break. You can still take time to build yourself up, and you can live comfortably while being fairly unknown (how many people have heard of Timothy Dalton or Paul McGann?). Publishing nowadays is very much make-or-break. If you don't soar from the get-go, odds are you're going to crash and die in a horrible explosion. And if you're not willing to adhere to the system, tough. There are a million more people just like you out there, trying vainly to get their novel noticed. If one washing machine breaks down, they'll just bring in a new one before anyone has the time to notice.

In fact it would very much be easier to go through a company like Amazon. Self-publishing to the Kindle and using amazon's POD service has turned out very well for a lot of people. Never spectacularly -- but even hard print doesn't turn out spectacularly for a lot of authors. But if you're willing to do the greasework, self-publishing through Amazon can be just as, if not more fruitful, than publishing through a house. In fact one would have to be crazy to say, "No, I'll pass on the decent sales and try my luck with worse-than-Vegas odds in the hope of one day finding my book in a store somewhere". And yet I will choose the long, difficult walk home every single day.

*I never got the hang of the lockers in middle school, and halfway through middle school I was sent to the alternative school, where there were no lockers. At the high school, lockers are an optional and we mostly use our bags, so I just never really got round to using the lockers and thus cannot open mine for the life of me.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Art vs Entertainment

Anyone who knows me knows I love the cinema. The stage, I think, is the ultimate medium for acting, and the book the ultimate medium for storytelling, but when done right, film is the perfect marriage of those two. I was reading a review the other day of a film I'd never seen before. The film sounds brilliant, and I moved it square to the top of my Netflix queue, but it's not the film itself that's important. Near the end of the review, the reviewer said something along the lines of, "Entertainment presents an ideal with some sort of message. Art just shows you stuff, no strings attached". I wish I could remember who it was or where I read it so I could give them due credit, but alas, the names escape me at the moment.

To go back to that misquote for a second, that isn't to say art is just sticking a camera in front of a tree and showing you two and a half hours of the tree's life. Entertainment is something like A Fistful of Dollars. A masterful, genius piece of work, but at the end of the day it still draws some sort of line between good and evil and the good still comes out on top, even if the good isn't exactly righteous. It's nice to think things work out like that. Often times things do. But life is harsh. Art reflects this. Art is like my personal favorite film -- The Bridge on the River Kwai. The film follows some entertainment bylines for a while, but by the end, it's done with trying to spin anything. It's simply reflecting the harsh reality of the situation, and the last line of the film sums it up perfectly: "Madness".

But now I'm wondering, can we apply these labels to literature? In a way we already do. Classics like Wuthering Heights or War and Peace are deemed masterpieces, triumphs of art. Fun romps like Live and Let Die are labeled pulp. Obviously film and literature are different beasts and regardless of which one we're trying to label, the above definitions don't fit all things perfectly. But it's got me thinking now. Can we use the above for literature? Art reflects reality, no spin, no message, no ideal or moral, just a nice big canvas of grey. Entertainment likes to turn into a panda bear. Or do the definitions of art and entertainment when it comes to literature have to be something different?

In a way I would think they do. Like I said, film and literature are very different beasts. For one thing, I think all novels would be entertainment if we went by the above. I have never read a novel which didn't have some degree of spin. Even memoirs and autobiographies usually have a little bit of something tucked away somewhere. Maybe it's impossible for a book to be art. Maybe, at the end of the day, literature needs some sort of message. It doesn't necessarily have to be allegorical -- it's not as if we're all writing 1984 -- but even I'm guilty of injecting the ideal. My story ain't pretty, and it's not like the heroes go riding off into the sunset or anything, but at the end of the day the good guys still win on some level. I'm willing to wager anything anyone out there is writing is the same. Even masterworks like War and Peace, which ain't exactly happy, ends with some degree of goodness.

But how else could we define art and entertainment? We could say art carries a "heavy" message; something of importance, of value. Entertainment is just that, entertainment. By that token, 1984 is art and The Murder on the Links is entertainment.

At the end of the day, I don't think either definition, or any others I can cook up, are right. At the end of the day, I don't think literature is ever art. I don't think it's ever entertainment either. Pulp or masterpiece, it's all just a piece of the author.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

My characters

It dawned on me today that I have a flair for unintentional puns.

My late 19th century/early 20th century style detective I knew I wanted to name Ian. But he needed a surname. I was visiting friends in the UK and one day we were bumming around London looking for something to do and lo and behold, we come upon a school with the greatest name ever. Goodenough College, named for a man whose surname really was Goodenough. I just knew I had to use it. And so bam, Ian Goodenough. Only way that could be better is if his name were Evan.

Current protagonist, after many names changes, has finally settled into Daniel Cross. Not that hilarious on its own. But! his older brother's name is Zeke, short for Ezekiel. Daniel and Ezekiel Cross.

I don't know why my brain insists upon doing this, but I'm glad it does. Also for some reason I have this really sexy techno beat in my head. I wish I remembered more from my old band days so I could jot it down. I know it's a long shot and frankly I don't think I'll ever be good enough to be published, but if by the grace of whatever god or gods you believe in I am published and I get a series and said series becomes a TV show, I would love for this to be the theme. It's just grand.

I Drive Myself Insane

It's like my brain is a steam engine, my hands are a couple of horses, and the rest of me is hauling ass in a stagecoach from somewhere way, way back. Ugh. I should probably explain what I'm talking about. With my MS, where I am right now, my main character and his partner (okay, technically speaking Daniel is Paul's partner; semantics) have arrived at the house of the Brown family to go through the usual routine questions and then kick-off a missing persons case for their 14-year-old girl. Where my brain is, the missing persons case has evolved considerably, the red herring I planted has been outed, and the killer has all ready struck once, and although the events surrounding it aren't there yet the details of how the next victim is killed are all ready in my mind. I want to catch up with where my brain is...but I just can't. Not as quickly as I would like to. Where my brain is is considerably down the line in the novel. No one's turning up dead for a while, either. I wish they would though, mostly because more than anything, I just love the way in which these two vics turn up dead. Le sigh. I'm just going to have to keep plodding through until I finally catch up to my brain, which probably won't be until she's pulled into station.

Friday, February 12, 2010


I am a huge Fritz Lang fan, and as any Lang fan knows, recently the complete, original cut of Metropolis has been found and restored. TCM will be showing it at their film festival this April, but it's being shown at the Berlin film festival right now. Live stream kindly provided by the French channel Arte.

How important are the liberal arts?

A few weeks, maybe even a month ago, I was driving home from somewhere with my grandma. Somehow we got on to the topic of discussing my college plans, being that this year is my final year of high school. I told her the one college I really want to go to is the University of East Anglia but I have a lot of back-ups in New England, but that I didn't apply to any of them because for UEA I want to save up money for moving costs first, and in the case of the New England colleges I wanted to visit them, but still hadn't been out as mom hadn't taken me. In hindsight, I could've just paid for a ticket myself and gotten one of my several relatives who live in Massachusetts to take me around. Uncle Rick or my cousin Kim would've been more than happy to. But it's whatever. Anyway, back to the story. Being that I'm not going away to college come autumn, much as I want to, I'm going to community college. I figure this is a good thing because I can get the necessary credits out of the way for courses I suck at, like math. Didn't say this to her, mind. When I told her about going to community college, she said that it was a good idea, because then I could get "all that liberal arts nonsense done with and take real classes."

As a writer, I obviously took offence to this. As someone who is planning to major in English literature, I took offence to this. Being that it was my grandmother, I just nodded and smiled. Okay, mum-mum, whatever you say, and all that. But last night I was thinking about that, and to mind came one question: How important are the liberal arts? I don't mean how important are things like writing and drama in the real world. Drama, perhaps, you could make a case for as being useless, the same for painters and sculptors...I wouldn't, but you could. But literature would be a very hard thing to make a case for as being useless. So no, I don't mean the liberal arts are of no value to the real world. I mean how important are liberal arts courses? Creative writing, is that really necessary?

At the end of the day, I say the liberal arts are important, even in schools. I say this because, A. Liberal arts, traditionally, are simply the classical education structure. You know what that consists of? Grammar, rhetoric, logic, geometry, arithmetic, music, and astronomy. and B. I'm a writer. Of course I'm going to say I want courses that pander to my tastes. I have a vested interest; sue me.

Although I doubt I need to explain further, just to be clear, the liberal arts are no longer the classical system. Liberal arts denotes a curriculum that imparts general knowledge and increases intellectual abilities rather than teaching a student some professional or technical skill. These days it's things like literature, philosophy, and history. So I pose my question to the thin air and maybe readers: How important are the liberal arts?

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Hooray for narcissism (kinda)

So, I was tagged in another one of those "reveal X things about yourself" on Facebook, but I've done so many of those FB quiz things out of boredom, I don't feel like cluttering my FB up with more of them. But I am still bored, so I'm going to do this here, for the thin air that may or may not eventually materialize into people. Kind of hoping you don't, Mr Thin Air, sir. Probably make them think I'm a bigger nut than they already do (which still wouldn't be the half of how nutso I am).

On the player now: Frank Sinatra - You're Awful

1. My paternal grandfather's side of the family, from which we derive our surname, slept around a lot. From his side of the family we have 54 countries which are considered "valid" when declaring bloodlines.

2. Conversely, my paternal grandmother's side of the family consists of only two countries: Scotland and Wales. Wales is only in there because when the King was on a rampage through Scotland razing everything in his path, we got the fuck out of there and lived in Wales for a couple of decades before returning to Fife.

3. I am descended of the Clan MacDuff, who were the Earls of Fife, and if the position still existed today I would have been 6th in line for it, but seeing as everyone else eligible died by the time I was 15, I could've become an Earl at 15. Also, I would've been a Viscount until that point. Sometimes I like to call myself an Earl, because c'mon, have you ever had a title of nobility? Greatest feeling EVER.

4. I am terrible at making decisions. I once stood in the local Genaurdi's for forty minutes debating whether I wanted to buy Honey Nut Cheerios or Peanut Butter Crunch.

5. I somehow manage to pick the most retarded pets from the local SPCA. My dog is just plain stupid. My one cat is the living definition of scaredy cat. My other cat has to have been dropped on her head as kitten. But I love them all and it's totally going to suck when they eventually die (though hopefully that's a long while off for all of them).

6. I kind of want to be given a funeral pyre on top of some ridiculously large building when I die, like the Empire State Building or the Eiffel Tower or something. It seems like a cool place to have a final service. Although I'm not sure any city would let you burn a dead body thousands of feet above their denizens.

On the player now: The Enemy - Be Somebody

7. I have only had the flu once in my life. My fever was never lower than 102 when I was sick and at its worst it hit 105. On that day when it hit 105, I sat down in the kitchen and had a three hour long argument with my fridge.

8. My diction is weird. It's a blend of the Norwich, Philadelphia, and Sheffield dialects, Scots, Latin, ancient Greek, and Japanese. How anyone can understand a word out of my mouth is beyond me.

9. I write crime fiction. So far unpublished but hoping to change that (to be fair I have yet to even complete a WIP of crime fiction, before this I wrote medieval fantasy, but that was way back in the day).

10. I consider myself a philosophical theist. A philosophical theist is someone who has pretty much the same mentality as a freethinker, but whereas freethinkers say there is no possibility for a deity because of lack of evidence, philosophical theists either take an agnostic approach and say we simply don't have the means to find evidence for a deity yet or they take the approach I take: blind statement that there is some form of deity (whether it be singular or plural). Philosophical theists also place no basis in religious tradition or organizations -- i.e. a philosophical theist could say Christians have the right idea about the nature of God, but the religion itself is wrong.

On the player now: Give Up the Funk - Parliament

11. I like to think if there is a form of deity, it's the ancient Norse ones. I dabbled in so many religions after I gave up Christianity, and the Norse were the closest to getting me, but I just can't dig the whole religion thing. Maybe some day I'll be praising Odin.

12. My first car was a 1994 Honda Accord. Originally my mom's, who took poor care of it, and then my sister's, who ran it into the ground. I was going to fix it up but it's just not worth it, so it sits in the driveway. Right now it's buried under a bajillion feet of snow thanks to the blizzards we got on Friday/Saturday and Tuesday/Wednesday. I have yet to get a second car, so I guess I shouldn't have said "was".

13. It amuses me that I'm sharing these semi-personal pieces of minutiae when just yesterday there was a discussion on Nathan's blog about authors' privacy and where to draw the line. Irony thy name be me.

14. My name uses the French/Italian spelling. NOT THE ENGLISH. You have no idea how crazy it makes me when people write my name with an H. I kind of want to thwap them with one of the pens I always keep handy (hey, I'm a writer. we never know when we'll need one).

15. I am studying Esperanto. It's very slow going, because like everything else I undertake, I get distracted by so many things. Actually I haven't done an Esperanto lesson in a week. Another one is not foreseeable in the near future.

16. When I'm home alone, I like to sing through everything I do. Sometimes it's simple singing narration of whatever I'm doing. Sometimes I break out into opera, though. This morning I sang Recondita armonia while cooking breakfast.

On the player now: Pavarotti - Nessun Dorma

17. I wish being a philosopher like Aristotle was still a valid job. I mean, I know he was a polymath and did other stuff, but the majority of the time I don't spend writing or distracting myself with games/TV, I'm pondering things about existence. Most of what I could come up with has probably already been said, but that would be the second best job in the world. Writing being the greatest, of course.

18. I play a lot of instruments. Bagpipes, ocarina, piano, violin, and trombone are the instruments I play most often. I suck at all but trombone and ocarina. Working on violin (I only just bought it this past December).

19. I have severe acrophobia. I'm also a herpetophobe. Those are the fear of heights and the fear of reptiles, respectively.

20. I am forever drawing and re-drawing the plans to my dream home. Generally it doesn't change much, but I like to keep it fresh in mind, should I ever have the money for it. It's pretty much just a big tudor house with a fairly simplistic and old fashioned interior, with every room perfectly suited to my needs. The largest room is the library, and even then I think I'd run out of space. I have over 300 books in my bedroom at present, and my collection shall continue to grow all my life.

21. I kind of want to go to the University of East Anglia for literature. However, much as I love the UK I'm not entirely sure I want to leave the US forever, and if I attend university in the UK I will end up living over there. If not forever, at least until I can afford to move back to the US, which will probably take a long time.

22. Near the top of my list of places I still have to visit is Dartmoor. Can you tell I'm an Arthur Conan Doyle lover?

23. Some psychologists think I have mild Asperger Syndrome. No across the board confirmation yet.

24. As a crime writer, I spend a lot of time devising ways to kill people. Sometimes this involves getting interactive. Once, while I was walking through how a killer would take out his third victim, I got so wrapped up in plotting the kill in the air behind this one girl at school (she had no idea what I was up to, bear in mind) that I followed her into the women's room without thinking about. I'm sure you can guess how this story ended.

25. Thanks to a variety of reasons, I pretty much became a recluse during middle school. Since I spend the majority of my free time at home not really talking to anyone, I talk way too much when I see my friends. I usually talk really, really fast and without pause, too. I pretty much stop to breathe only when I'm about to suffocate on my own talking.

Feel free to ask any questions in the comments, if there are any of you. I may totally ignore your question, though, if for whatever reason I don't feel like answering it. Usually this would only be if I feel it crosses some line, but sometimes I just get lazy.

Tah-tah for now.