So not a lot going on.

Which is amazing, frankly.

I was asked recently about going back to get my PhD, and I had this immediate reaction of NO WAY IN HELL that was even more visceral than my usual reaction to the idea of more grad school, so of course I started poking at why I reacted so much to it. And the answer is … I don’t even want to think about anything life-upending this year.

We have had a lot of upheaval in the past two years. Scott’s dad died, his mom moved in with us, my aunt and cousin moved back down, the kid started middle school, I had a health scare, we evacuated for a hurricane, I changed jobs, Scott has had job fluctuations galore, we sold our house and bought a new one, let’s not even discuss politics and climate change …

It’s been a lot, yo.

Recently I’ve been feeling super overwhelmed. Just a lot of … stuff. But slowly I’m getting a handle on it, I think? I also started reading the Bullet Journal book, which is making me think about my planner and how I need to adapt it, rethink how I’m using it, and get back into thinking about what I do every day. And also figuring out what parts of my routine I need to adjust or drop entirely.

I finished a story, started sending out novel submissions. I have a lot of ideas for my day job, and I’m excited about them. I’m getting a routine at home.

If 2019 is a year of settling (as in, things are settling, not I am settling for anything) … well, that would be awesome. And I would like to not do anything to disturb that, if at all possible.

(knocks wood)

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Stuff Laura’s reading

I’m reading Dreyer’s English …

I’ve recently acquired a copy of Dreyer’s English, and I’m enjoying it quite a bit so far. Dreyer’s funny, well aware of the foibles of copyeditors and authors alike. His comment about writers’ pet sentence constructions was, like, a huge mental relief, because my until-recently-unconscious love of a particular sentence structure is the bane of my existence right now. It was nice to know I’m not the only writer in the world writing different sentences in the same exact way, over and over again.

Dreyer is not a proponent of two spaces after a period, and that … well. Sorry. I’m old, and I’ve been typing since I was eight, so thirty-odd years of habit are going nowhere.

But here’s a story: I got into a silly Facebook “fight” with someone over the two spaces after a period–one of those silly things that was all in good fun, no big deal.* Except at some point it stopped being fun, mostly because I realized I actually don’t care. Like, I do this out of habit. I was taught to as a kid, whatever. Some editors care, some don’t; the ones who do care are usually kind enough to say so in their guidelines, which means I do a find and replace. Because money will always trump any stylistic preference I have.

I do use the Oxford comma. I do not care. You can tell me I don’t need it. You can bring up AP style. I refuse to skip the comma before the ‘and.’ You and those strippers dressed like JFK and Stalin can go skipping the Oxford comma all you want, it’s cool. I’ll be over here with my babies, tucking them in at the ends of lists.

On the whole, I don’t want to be a dick about grammar. In high school, first quarter I would always get a B in English, and it was entirely due to how the curriculum front-loaded grammar every year. Drove my mother nuts. It wasn’t until I started teaching grammar that I started to really get it–one of the best ways to learn something is to teach it, I think–but I still don’t want to diagram a sentence.

And, you know, nobody has perfect grammar. Nobody catches every typo (I think it was Neil Gaiman who said the easiest way to find a typo in your published book is to open it. Because that will be the first thing you see). But, at least in the case of this book, it’s fun to read about people whose job it is to try.

(Oh, and one of my other favorite things so far in the book: “Sometimes sentences don’t need to be repunctuated; they need to be rewritten” (25). Ain’t that the truth.)


*For the record, the battle lines fell pretty much generationally. Gen X and above are pro-two spaces, the youth of today are all one-spacers. It was kind of hilarious.

Dreyer, Benjamin. Dreyer’s English. Random House, 2019.

Not missing!

Just buried under life.

So at the end of November we moved house–like, the weekend after Thanksgiving.  Then we had to unpack.  Then I had to pack my office up at work because they were re-carpeting over winter break.  Then Christmas.  Then more unpacking at home.  Then back to work, to also unpack.  Even yet still more unpacking at home.  Also painting.  Ordering furniture.  Decorating.  There is still stuff in the garage.  None of that stuff is a car.

But!  We’re moved.  The doggo has a yard.  Everyone has a bedroom.  I have an office.  The china cabinet that has always been too big for wherever we’ve been living now has a wall that makes it look normal-sized.

I’m writing away, finishing touches on the novel before I start sending it around, new short stories because I’ve really depleted my back catalog, figuring out a traveler’s notebook for writing and journaling.  2018 was not my best writing year, I gotta tell ya.  The end of 2018 was one of the worst writing periods of my life because nothing seemed to want to happen at all; it was like trying to mortar bricks with Jello.  Thankfully, I appear to finally have grown my brain back–or maybe I feel settled enough–so that words are happening again.

So, yes, I am around.  If you’re still reading this blog, thank you for your patience.  I make no promises about more regular updates, but you can find me on Twitter and Tumblr as Seldnei between posts.

Story promotion: “Mary In the Looking Glass” is out today!

Broad Knowledge: 35 Women Up to No Good is available for sale today!  If you didn’t get in on the Kickstarter, you can pick up a copy here, and here, or check here for more options!

My story in this anthology is “Mary In the Looking Glass,” and if you’re thinking that sounds familiar, you’re right.

I think most girls go through the super-creepy stage–I know I did, and my son came home from elementary school for about three years running with stories about his female friends who were, they claimed, possessed or haunted or casting spells or what have you.  And that’s when you first hear about Bloody Mary in the mirror.  I never had quite enough nerve to chant her name three times, whether in front of the mirror or not.  The idea of seeing something moving in the mirror–behind me, off in the corner, in the shadows–was extremely enticing but also terrifying.

“Mary In the Looking Glass” is about the enticement.  It’s a love story (so many romances from me!).  It’s also about looking for the reality at the center of things, of asking yourself what you can really know about anyone.

(If you knew me back in junior high, this is the story you all knew I’d write someday.  Forget the steampunk and the science fiction; this is exactly where 6th grade Laura’s authorial ambitions were leading.)

All my thoughts on ‘The Haunting of Hill House’

The husband and I watched this series in a mad dash to finish before he left for a week to Tennessee, and we have been talking about it and texting each other links since, like, last Thursday night.

As we all may know at this point, I have a serious love for things that are ambitious but flawed. It, the novel. The Dark Tower series. A couple of Quentin Tarantino’s movies. Glee. The Netflix Hill House is definitely on that list.

To boil it down: it was super-cool; go watch it if you haven’t already. But it’s not perfect, and that’s okay–they really went for a vision and they hit most of it.

So, below the cut (assuming I can figure out how to do a cut, as I’m doing this on my iPad) … SPOILERS FOR THE BOOK AND THE MOVIE.

Continue reading “All my thoughts on ‘The Haunting of Hill House’”

Randomnicity (mostly ranting edition)

Wherein I rant, and also let you know about the Broad Knowledge pre-order!

First off, Broad Knowledge: 35 Women Up to No Good is up for pre-order at Amazon.

I’m in this!  And it comes out November 20th!


In other parts of life …

We’re planning to sell our house, now that my mother-in-law is living with us, and to that end we are fixing some stuff up, per our realtor’s advice.

First, all 23957349687967 of our books went into storage.  Yeah, okay, I have an iPad, whatever.  This really opened up the living room–it’s huge, now, without the book cases taking up an entire wall.

Next came paint.

Way back when we built our house, we chose a paint color that was, in theory, a reddish brown.  In fact, it was pink.  Not bubblegum pink or anything, but certainly not any shade of brown.  We weren’t exactly thrilled, but whatever.  We dubbed the place The Little Pink House and went on.

Now we’ve had it painted a light gray.  I actually like it, but the first day I came home from work after it was done, I had to sit in the driveway and stare at it for a few minutes due to cognitive dissonance.  I live in The Little Pink House.  But it’s gray.  But it’s supposed to be Pink?  But look!  Gray!

Yeah, I’m a weirdo.

Shortly after we built our house, we painted the inside of it.  I wasn’t working at the time, so I painted all the bedrooms (chalkboard green, medium gray, PURPLE).  My Dad helped us paint the living room (maroon and cream), and the husband and I painted the kitchen (bright yellow).  We loved it.  When the kid came along, he loved it.  But, you know, not everyone is us, and potential buyers want a blank slate, and so we hired some painters to paint the house interior antique white.  They spent two days and did a really good job.

The rooms look much bigger.  They’re brighter.  Turn on a light and whammo, it’s showtime!

hate it.

When I come home, I want a den.  A cave.  A hobbit-hole, if you will.  I want a refuge from the world and the demon fireball in the sky; I want to curl up with my books in my bed and feel cozy to just this side of claustrophobia.  I don’t want “light” or “airy.”  I want “dark” and “protective.”  Blankets, books, and a dark colored bedroom.

(I also don’t want to paint a goddamned house again, so when we buy something else and the entire place is antique beige, I am going to have a civil war of laziness vs. my desire for a chalkboard green bedroom.)

(That said, the child has requested we paint his new room purple, so I’m screwed anyway and might as well buy some green paint, too.)


Oh, and Google is discontinuing Inbox, which I use all the time, and I am Not Pleased because I like bundling.  I like being able to create my own bundles for email.  The thing ain’t perfect (no matter how many times I tell it Joe Hill’s newsletter is a Newsletter, it still sorts them into Promos), but it worked really well for my purposes, and now I’m going to spend 6 months finding an alternative app and learning to use it.

Ugh.

So far Airmail looks relatively promising, but I’m going to try Spark once they sort out the bug that’s keeping me from adding my gmail account.


If you are reading this from the Carolinas, I hope you’re safe and unscathed.

How to Be a Good Beta Reader

In which I natter on about beta-ing because why the heck not?

I see a lot of writing advice, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen any beta-ing advice.  So I thought I’d write down my tips for being a good first reader/critiquer/beta reader.  Obviously your mileage may vary on this, as with any advice, but these are the things I try to do when I’m critiquing, and they’re the things I appreciate from a critique.

Continue reading “How to Be a Good Beta Reader”