I sound my barbaric NaNowp

October 18, 2020 at 4:41 pm (Uncategorized) ()

Yeah–I know this place is hella dusty and was damn near consigned to forever being the creepy old place on the corner where kids dared other kids to ring the bell, but then something happened.

NaNo (or, more specifically, NaNoWriMo–National Novel Writing Month.)

A few weeks ago–early October sometime–one of my Facebook friends posted about participating in NaNo this year. It seemed to be the first in a series of metaphorical rocks the universe chucked at my head with the mission of getting me back into writing. You see, between work, life, publishing and politics, I stopped. Self-care and survival were the goals for a while so there was no space for BICHOK (butt in chair, hands on keyboard), but the writing never stopped whispering to me. Then once work and life and all got better (and will be even more so after November 3rd), I didn’t seem to know how to jump back in. Cue the Facebook friend (and dang, do I wish I could remember who that was!) and cue the universe and cue the story that’s been pulsing at my brain for years.

So, for the first time ever, I’m doing NaNo. My goal is certainly 50K words in November, but I’m not stressing myself about that–still keeping up with the self-care dontchaknow. I may be posting here, probably more so on Twitter, but I’m set up as Pamela Cayne on the NaNo site and will be looking for some of you there.

Let’s have some fun.

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One Hand To Build

March 18, 2017 at 1:41 pm (Uncategorized)

The day was Tuesday, January 24th. The Orange Menace had just been sworn in, millions of women took to the streets a few days before to march and show we were more than pussies to be grabbed, and–it seemed–battle lines had been drawn. This meant that in addition to the voices raised in protest, there were voices raised in delight. In acceptance. In whole-hearted, power-bearing, damn-the-torpedoes endorsement, such as:

  • An Oklahoma criminal appeal court ruling state law does not criminalize oral rape if the victim is unconscious. (Later amended, but JFC…)
  • The Texas Supreme Court agreeing to consider rolling back same-sex marriage rights.
  • The announcement of North Dakota’s HB1203–allowing an individual to strike a protester with their car without being held liable for death or injury.

Yes, I saw these stories (and more) all on January 24th. I was full of rage, disgust, shock, but most of all, the need to do something. But what? How? There are so many people being hurt and oppressed and brutalized on an hourly basis that it was difficult to find my footing and figure out where to start.

Then it hit me.


You see, back in the mid/late 90s, my mom (as part of her work group) was touring a camp for kids with cancer when she realized the beds had nothing more than a sheet and a utilitarian blanket. She asked the person leading the tour if the kids didn’t have something a little more bright/comforting/hopeful to put on their beds. No, the camp was run on donations and as much as they wished to give the kids more bright/comforting/hopeful things, they couldn’t always afford it. So my mom (whose high school picture bears the accompanying “She takes the T out of can’t.”) went home and started on her one-woman crusade to make these kids quilts. And then went on to make quilts for other kids, the homeless, and anybody else who needed them. She started a scrapbook of each quilt she did but stopped around 400. I asked her recently what her number was and, combined with the 5-person quilt group she started 10 years ago, she’s around 6,000. Yeah, Mom’s a fucking rock star.

But she also passed along quilting in my DNA. Mom taught me how to sew back when I was in grade school and it’s always come pretty naturally to me, unlike knitting or crocheting. I even made a few quilts back in the late 90s for gifts, but haven’t really sewed since then. But on that Tuesday, when I thought of women getting grabbed, beaten, raped, abused, an image came to mind: a woman, curled up the corner, a quilt wrapped around her like a shield, providing what little warmth and comfort such a thing could after such a thing could happen. And I knew what I had to do. Like my mom, I would bring a little comfort, a little hope, a little brightness to a very dark corner of the world.

It was going to be a big task, cost some money, and throw a massive hurricane into the middle of our home, but I felt it in my bones. That night, I told my husband about my rage and my desire to help and my plan and after he thought for a minute or two, turned to me and said, “You know, if we moved the sofa in the front room you could set up your sewing machine there. Or you could use the dining room table. Or both, even, and we’ve got the rainy day fund. It’s all yours.” Mom’s not the only rock-star in my family.

7 weeks later, I was able to deliver 7 quilts to the Sojourner Center in Phoenix, a domestic violence center that, among many other things, provides emergency shelter and transitional housing for victims of domestic violence. There were 4 baby/toddler/crib quilts (nearly 50% of Sojourner’s residents are children, half of those children under the age of 5.): two identical Peter Cottontail flannel quilts, a Nut Brown Hare/Guess How Much I Love You quilt with a fuzzy fleece backing, and a cat flannel quilt where the yarn ties became cat whiskers.

















And there were 3 adult quilts–one a lap/snuggle quilt with a fun flannel backing of cartoon squirrels and birds and trees and 2 of the same 3-block pattern with a navy flannel backing (queen sized).









I also tagged each quilt, hoping that the person who had it (or was reading it) would know there was somebody out there pulling for them, believing in them. The child quilts got a more gentle message while the adult quilts got all the strength I could put into a small tag of fabric.














So that’s what I’ve been doing, what I’m going to continue to do. As Brittany Packnett says, use one hand to battle and the other to build. I’m going to keep building, keep sewing. I’m going to keep making baby quilts for Sojourner, as they have a real need for them, and my next batch of adult quilts are going to be for a rape crisis center, the ones after that for LGBTQIAP+ youth. And I’m going to use my sewing to battle as well. I’m planning to make quilts for more political statements, including the biggest, pinkest, fuzziest pussy quilt you’ve ever dreamed of, and woe be to the mother fucker who grabs it without my permission.


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Fuck, Marry, Kill–the Sherlock edition

January 2, 2017 at 10:51 am (Writing)

Warning: This post contains spoilers for the most recent Sherlock (Season 4, episode 1) so avert your gaze if you don’t want to see a major plot point exposed.

Curt and I are huge Sherlock fans. In fact, Curt’s been a Sherlock Holmes fan since about the time he learned how to read. I got on at the Guy Ritchie/RDJ reboot and once Cumberbatch/Steven Moffat hit the BBC, I was hooked. So imagine our anticipation, our excitement, our New Year’s Day delight in knowing Season 4 was going to start last night.

And then we watched. Seriously, this episode belonged back in the dumpster fire of 2016. Oh, it started off innocently enough. We turned to each other when it finished, some kind of a smile for each of us, and expressed happiness and the little bits that were good and just a general post-Sherlock glow. Then I started.

“So one little thing that bugged me…”

2 hours later and we were still talking about it. I’ll save you the blow-by-blow and encapsulate our discussion in 2 words:

Lazy storytelling.

Again, I’ll save you the blow-by-blow of the many (many) examples of this and hit the one that I first started with, that bugged me the most.

Spoiler alert (if you’re still here!)

Mary’s death.

Now, to better examine Mary’s death, I bring a question I brought up to Curt last night: In the writer’s room, when they first started to break the story, what was the goal of the show? Seriously. When they all sat down, coffee in hand and laptops at the ready, what was the goal? “In S4E1, we want BLANK to go through BLANK to realize BLANK leading to BLANK.” I don’t think there was a clear answer to that–my only guess is they wanted to drive a wedge between Watson and Sherlock. (And here’s where my rage starts to build…)

Okay, boys and girls, what’s the quickest way to drive a wedge/bring to characters closer together/overall move the story forward? That’s right, it’s our old friends Fuck, Marry, Kill! (insert writer’s room applause here)

Goddamnit to hell and back, people–just because you CAN use a plot device that’s worked in the past doesn’t mean you SHOULD. There are many outstanding examples of Fuck, Marry, Kill being used well, but there are so many where they do not, and if you can’t tell the difference, then you need to practice your writing a whole lot more.

This makes me think of something that Jenny Crusie* once said–sex scenes are action scenes and need to happen FOR A REASON. There’s meaning behind them and emotion and something that led up to this point, and you can bet your ass there are going to be consequences from it; sex scenes can’t just be thrown in because the writer needs a way to bring two characters closer together. And I will go on to state that this is the same of any action scene, be it murder, a couple breaking up, a planet exploding, even robbing a convenience store; each and every one needs a reason, meaning, emotion, consequences. I’m damn sick of reading books or watching tv shows where it became obvious that Something Needed To Happen so presto, scripto–Fuck, Marry, Kill.


If the goal was to drive a wedge between Watson and Sherlock, you could have had Mary go and Watson stay when that text came in so Mary picked Sherlock and bingo–wedge! Or you could have had Watson hear Sherlock egging Vivian on, Mary saying stop, Vivian shoots and Mary tries to push Sherlock out of the way (not jumping in front of the bullet, FFS) and she does get shot but survives and bingo–wedge! I could go on and on, but truth be told, the problems started long before Vivian shot so it’s really hard for me to build a better plot device on top of this sad, wobbly, pathetic house of cards. But you see where I’m going. MARY DID NOT HAVE TO DIE. There could have been plenty of chances for wedges and picking sides and consequences without it. In fact, I say that the levels of emotion and Jenga-like tower of consequences would have been stronger had she lived.

And don’t even get me started on Watson’s bus fling (or whatever the fuck that was…)

Just don’t do it, people. If Something Needs To Happen, make sure there’s a reason why, events that lead up to it, layers of emotions and consequences, consequences, consequences. Not just a bullet, a guttural “You swore you’d protect her” (beaten into our heads the whole episode so we wouldn’t miss the irony when Watson had to once more point it out) and the inevitable and painful Wedge Between Friends.

Cue anguish. Cue tears. Cue one epic facepalm smack.

Here endeth the lesson.

*I’m remembering this from many years ago and can’t quote exactly what she said, but I remember it as being ‘sex scenes are like action scenes’. The rest is my interpretation of that so any misquoting, incorrect attribution or general fuckups are mine and mine alone.

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Happy 2017

December 31, 2016 at 12:06 pm (Uncategorized)

I’m a child of the 80s and that means I listened to ABBA. (My older cousin would record her albums for me on cassette and I was hooked. C’mon–that’s still some really catchy shit. Go listen.)

Anyhoozles, there’s a song on their 1980 album Super Trouper called ‘Happy New Year’ and even after all this time, I can still remember the lyrics to the chorus.

Happy new year, happy new year
May we all have a vision now and then
Of a world where every neighbor is a friend.
Happy new year, happy new year
May we all have our hopes, our will to try
If we don’t we might as well lay down and die, you and I
A bit melancholy, yes, but hopeful overall. Well, needless to say, they song is really resonating with me this year. I do have hope, and the ‘verse willing, 2017 will be what we all need it to be. And because I didn’t want to make this post so dour (even though 2016 was a dumpster fire of biblical proportions), I created my own “Me in 2016” meme. So fuck you, 2016. We’re going to make 2017 so awesome that nobody remembers you anymore. HAPPY 2017!!!

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Merry Merry

December 24, 2016 at 10:04 am (Random Thoughts)

I’m still processing the world we live in now and what my role is in it–as an individual, as half of a couple, as a member of a family, with my friends. Parts of the answer are there, parts are settling in and there are a great many parts still making random streaks across the universe. I’ve seen a lot of posts and tweets and emails saying much the same and I’ll tell you what I tell myself and my husband and my family and my friends:

We’ll get through this. We’ll find our strength and our hope and our fight and we will come out of this…I can’t say better, but I can say stronger. More resolute. More willing to help those who are really going to need it in days to come.

Okay, better it is.

So here’s my holiday wish for you, whether you celebrate Christmas or Hanukkah or Yule or Kwanzaa or simply the gift of another day:

May you and yours have peace and happiness, may your world be filled with love and light, and may you have the merriest of merriest, now and always.

Merry Christmas, friends.


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Some Wisdom from a Great One

August 16, 2016 at 10:59 am (Authors, Virtual Gems)

And no, I’m not talking about Wayne Gretzky. I’m talking about The Melissa Blue. (No, really–that’s her name, see?) And the woman drops hella knowledge, one such gem being this morning.

Check it out–


Now, I wanted to draw your attention to this for two reasons. The first is she’s absolutely right–do NOT compare your career to someone else’s. An ugly dark path does indeed await you and it can mess you the fuck up. So don’t. Just don’t.

But the second reason is she’s 100% right about the Catch-22. You grow and learn by doing it yourself, absolutely, but that doesn’t mean you ignore the help that is there in front of you. There are trailblazers, experts, and mavericks aplenty out there and why not take a look at what they did to see how, if at all, it fits you? It’d be crazy not to, but yeah, watch your step. The difference between sifting for gems and that nasty black pit of self-doubt is only a few degrees but the lingering effect is enormous. Just watch your step.

(For more awesome knowledge and seriously HAWT books, check out Melissa at her website, on Facebook or on Twitter.)


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Why a Writing Challenge is Important (Secrets Within…)

May 27, 2016 at 9:06 am (30 Days of Write, Creativity, Random Thoughts, Virtual Gems, Writing)

So, last you heard from me was–gosh–over two months ago on March 20th. (I’d link it but it was a pretty small post and you know how to find it if you really do want to read it.) Anyhoozles, you are due an update, probably treats and booze too, but we’ll start with the update.

My 30 Days of Write Challenge for March? I did not accomplish a sentence a day for 30 of the 31 days, so one might argue that the challenge was a fail. However, I accomplished something much greater (two things, perhaps) so I call the challenge a great big bucket of win. This leads us to Outcome #1:

A writing challenge is what you make it, so don’t let the rules tell you otherwise or make you feel awful about how you finished.

Here’s what happened to me.

I was motoring along, doing my sentence (plus) a day, when something wonderful happened. I was driving to work, listening to the soundtrack to my book when another book popped into my head. This is one I’ve been working on for a while and it’s been vexing me. I’m thiiiiiiiiiiiiis close–got a strong, fierce heroine but my hero needed that one little something to put him in the neighborhood of the woman he was supposed to end up with. Well, something about the other book’s soundtrack and, what I truly and firmly believe is the writing muscle I’d been flexing during the challenge, came together to bop me on the head like Tinkerbell’s wand to say, “This is what your hero needs to be.”

Ka-blam. Pow. Holy shit. Cue fireworks. I had it. I had it!

This is where the writing challenged diverged in the yellow wood and I, I took the path less edited. Or needing to be edited, I guess, but yeah–I honored Tinkerbell’s bonk on the head and started editing the other book, knowing I was putting my sentence-a-day book on the back burner. But you know what? That’s okay, and it leads us to Outcome #2:

A writing challenge is what you make it, so if you need to leave or alter your original plan, it’s okay to do.

So the editing was going awesomely–I tore through the first quarter of my book by the end of March (so hell yeah, I’m calling my March challenge won and done!) and I was feeling great. But then something beautiful happened again and yes, dear reader, I’m calling this a direct result of the challenge, that writing muscle I’d been flexing–no matter how small–on a daily basis.

I’ve had this other book (don’t we all have about seventy kabillion ideas floating in our heads at any one time?) that I’ve been letting stew deep in the fecund writing stew of my brain. I had a soundtrack and oh damn did I have the characters in my head (and they’re so awesome together. {swoons}) and I had some crucial scenes but it wasn’t ready yet.

You know what’s coming, don’t you?

Ka-blam. Pow. Holy shit. Cue fireworks. Tinkerbell’s wand hit me again, gave me a plot point that just tied it all together with a neat little bow. And I started writing this story and it has been flowing so deliciously. I think I’m around 35K right now and am just loving the hell out of it.

So that’s where I’ve been for the past 2 months–editing and writing like a fiend, swimming with the tide my writing challenge started way back on March 1st. That book I started then? Yeah, it’s still in there, building and growing in the back of my head, and I know it’s going to have its moment like this current one did. It’s my process and I am Ned Flanders okily-dokily with it. Good lord willing and the creek don’t rise, this tide is going to carry me through the summer and into the fall. And if I need some help somewhere in there, well you can bet I’m going to get another 30 Days of Write started, give me the boost I need to get back where I need to be.


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One Sentence Has Never Meant So Much

March 20, 2016 at 2:46 pm (30 Days of Write, Creativity, Random Thoughts, Virtual Gems, Writing)

So, here I am at Day 20 for my 30 Days of Write challenge. I just wrote my official sentence (two of them, actually) for today, so I can tell you with swear-on-a-stack-of-bibles truth tDSC02190hat I am meeting my challenge. I haven’t even used my cheat day yet, though some days have been verrrrrrry close.

A sentence a day has been more difficult than I thought, but it’s also been more rewarding. I’ll talk about it more when I’m done and have had a little bit of time to reflect on my 30 Days of Write, but for now I can tell you this: it’s been amazing. Doing a sentence every day forces you to think about your story more than usual, because you have this once-a-day goal chained to your brain. Sure, it’s a tiny goal, but the effects are huge. The sentence is the pebble, but the ripples are the payoff.



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Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes

March 9, 2016 at 8:00 am (Creativity, FAFW)

WebcoverToday is March 9th, 2016 and exactly one year ago today, my first book was released. It’s been a tremendous, wonderful journey and I can’t wait for my next step, my next book, and more than anything, I can’t wait to share it with all of you.

To all of you who have purchased THE FIGHTER AND THE FALLEN WOMAN or tweeted it or blogged about it or reviewed it or celebrated with me or did some spectacular thing worthy of a super-hug, I thank you.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to get back to my 30 Days of Write. It’s getting time to kick it into a higher gear. YAWP!!!

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30 Days of Write: Days 2-5

March 6, 2016 at 10:07 am (30 Days of Write, Creativity, Writing)

DSC_0004All I’m thinking right now is I’m a freaking genius. I set up this writing challenge so one sentence a day is a win (see? genius!) and so far, I am winning. Almost took my pass day yesterday but nope–got 3 sentences written. The box on March 5th gets marked with a big green check. Hooray!

And where I could hang my head and mumble about how sick I’ve been and how work was an extra helping of suck on Friday and all kinds of excuses, I’m not. This challenge is about more than that singular daily sentence, always was. It’s about getting back into the mode of writing, the constant brain-churning of characters and plot and arc and beats and themes and everything else that makes up a good story, and it’s working!

  • My 7 or so sentences on Day 2 brought me a single line of description for my antagonist and, if I may say so, it is perfect.
  • My 3 sentences on Day 5 wrapped up my first scene. The final sentence, the one that sets everything and ties my hero and heroine together in ways they cannot even begin to comprehend just makes me giddy, this-would-never-be-just-a-kiss giddy.
  • And to get into writing mode, I’ve been listening to my Michael Hauge lectures over and over again. Though I’ve been keeping the current story in mind, something about listening to them yesterday gave me a few great tweaks for the one I’m about to start editing (code name: Bedlam) which is going to make it so much stronger!

So, you see, the writing is about more than single-story quantity; it’s absolutely about quality across all of my writing, from my current story to editing to even my blog posts. I could scrap my 30 Days challenge now and I’d be very comfortable declaring myself a winner, but I’m not going to. Just think–if I’ve made this much progress in 5 days, what can I do in thirty?


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