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Kindle, Apps, Etc.

Since my tablet is pretty well much dead, and since I realized you could pay for it in monthly payments, I splurged this month and bought myself a Kindle Fire HD 8. Since I could make low monthly payments, I also splurged on the one with a whole lot of memory and no special offers.

The switch away from Android was a bit jarring. And Google has way more apps than Amazon seems to have. Luckily, I was able to successfully install Google and the Google Play Store by following option one of these handy dandy instructions. Now I'm a bit happier with my purchase.

I wish I knew what I could safely take off without messing this up. And some Mopria Printer app downloaded itself recently and won't let me uninstall it. I don't even have a printer, let alone a mopria one, and I'm a bit peeved that it's taking up space and won't let me remove it. (N/M, finally figured it out...)

I'm looking for wonderful apps though. So far I have my gmail and google drive connected. I downloaded OfficeSuite and OneNote because I thought I might need them, though I've not had the opportunity to really do anything with them yet. Not sure if I like them or not. I have Goodreads, of course. If we're not friends on Goodreads, we totally should be! I know I post all of my reviews here, but I love using GR to read others' reviews and find books I would like.

The only games I have so far are Dragons World and Clash of Clans. I used to play Dragons World long ago, and I thought it would let me upload my old game if I logged in via FB, but it just took over with the new game. Bummer. So I'm starting from scratch. I need more DW friends though. I had added random FB people likewise looking for friends but deleted them all after my game pooped out. Anyway, recently tried out Clash of Clans. I need a clan though! I don't really know how that part works yet. If you have a good one accepting members, please let me know.

I'm debating whether or not to install Guitar Tuna, which I have on both my phone and my other tablet. It's handy though.

So, what are your favorite apps? Good games? Best free kindle books (I do have prime)? Tips? Hook me up.


No Great Mischief, by Alistair MacLeod

No Great Mischief, by Alistair MacLeod, is the “book by an author with your same initials” choice for my 2017 Reading Challenge.

No Great Mischief

This is a book which apparently won a lot of awards. Based on reviews, most people love this book. Maybe you will. Sadly, I am in the minority of reviewers who did not care for it at all and can't understand the gushing. The book took me nearly a month to get into, and I finally forced myself to finish it only because it was due back at the library and I'd already invested over a hundred pages in it.

I'm still not entirely sure what the plot was. I don't think there was one. However, we get to see a lot of family anecdotes about Scotch-Canadians and their yearning for the old land. I guess it was kind of interesting to see how someone from such a different place might live.

We follow Alexander MacDonald – one of three in this book, actually – as he jumps back and forth between real-time visits with his alcoholic brother, his youthful memories of growing up with his grandparents in Cape Breton, and occasional (also flashback) visits with his well-to-do sister. The author hops between past and present tense to do this, and I didn't like that at all. I found the switches to present tense to be jarring. Granted, I'm not really a fan in the first place, but this gimmick missed the mark for me.

He's also extremely repetitive. This very rarely this works to hammer something home, but mostly it's just dull. He tells us multiple times and in multiple ways how well-to-do his sister is (as well as himself, though that's not quite so obviously harped on). He tells us stories from his childhood, then his relatives retell the same stories later, then his brother brings them up in 'real time'... just very, very repetitive. Which, imo, doesn't really work well in a story that has no drive forward.

Some of the anecdotes which we meander through were okay. I did get pulled in around the middle of the book, though it didn't last as long as I hoped. The characters often seem more like caricatures. Especially when anyone visits Scotland and the locals all immediately recognize their clan because of the red or black hair (yeah, because that's not common in Scotland at all) and start waxing on about Bonnie Prince Charlie. I have a big extended family, and even if the overarching Mac-whatevers are very similar, a clan indeed, you always see individuality in the people. These were just cardboard MacDonalds. One grandpa was a drinker and funny and one was sober and somber, and that's about as deep as characterization got here. The (two) women were even worse. Grandma's full of clichés, which writers are warned to steer clear of (another obvious gimmick here, imo), and sister pats her hair or looks out her Very Expensive Windows while being mostly defined by her husband or house – and is only around to repeat family stories we've already heard.

Some phrases were pretty good. I can see some good skill when looking at the trees but not the overall forest. It just didn't work for me at all. I have no clue how it won the awards and has the following it has. You can sum up the entire book by saying: If only the boats had come from France & Always look after your blood. I literally opened the book to a random page, aiming to get the exact quote (not "thicker than water", but she was so full of clichés that that's where my brain went), and found it on the page I opened to. Not serendipitous; repetitive.

Guess I'm just not the right market.


Imaginary Friends

Did you ever have an imaginary friend?

I didn't in the traditional sense of the word, as in having an invisible friend appear when I was little who I believed was real, but I did make up some friends as I got older. One, Guiseppi, has come alive in the last almost-20 years and is with me still.

Maya, 5, has an invisible friend (God help you if you call him “imaginary”). His name is Killi, and he's a black (friendly) monster with big white hair. He lives in the woods behind our house but hangs out here with us most of the time. Sometimes weird things happen with no apparent cause, and we always say Killi did it. Perhaps he really is real. This is a case where he appeared out of the blue one day, really-real, and has stayed with us ever since.

(As an aside, one other thing I hope to always remember is how Maya calls me “Bamanda” when she says my name.)

Eden and Ivy both had stuffed tigers that they named Hobbes and had many adventures with after I introduced them to my Calvin and Hobbes books. I think they still have the toys even if they don't have the imaginary adventures anymore.

When I was about 9 or so, I was kind of bummed that I never had an imaginary friend so I decided to make some up. I had a whole menagerie of exotic creatures that I pretended were imaginary friends, but they weren't real. I tried.

In high school, I had an imaginary cousin-friend named Pedro. Every now and then his brother Paco would show up. I was a weird teen and my friends and I were a bunch of goofballs. We always made these stories about partying with Pedro (and occasionally Paco) and blamed him for random stuff. I kinda feel compelled to mention that I am actually Hispanic, although we don't have anyone with names like Pedro or Paco in the family.

As for Guiseppi, he came in a round-about way. When I was a junior, I think it was (maybe senior), I interned at a preschool for the Deaf. There was some small, plastic cow toy - I'm sure it went with a farm set. I used it to tell a story about how I found a tiny cow on the side of the road on my way in that morning and decided to put him in my pocket and bring him with me. Only I'm not really a cow person, and somehow when they wanted more stories of Guiseppi in the following days, he turned into a moo-ing turtle instead. I created a little moo-ing turtle drawing that I would leave everywhere as kind of my 'signature' – very uncool tagging? As time progressed, we also learned that he writes exceedingly bad but heartfelt poetry. Allow me to give you an example:

Roses are red,
Violets are blue,
Only they're really more violet now,
aren't they? I mean,
Some can be blue, but
More are purple.
'Least as far as I've ever seen.

Anyway, I think you're swell!

I sometimes make comics for my children. After my doggie soul-mate, Achaiah (aka WonderPooch), died, Guiseppi became The AMAZING Awesome Mom's new sidekick and now has a superhero alter-ego known as the Preternatural Poet. He wears a purple cape.

What are your experiences with imaginary friends?

Weekend Accountability Post

I'm really sucking today.

I was sick this week, so I really need to pull it together this weekend and try to get the house back in some semblance of order. Problem is, it's so overwhelming that I don't even want to start.

Figured I might as well try to rally some buddies, even if it is the weekend. I must do many things. Here's my public accountability, but cheerleading &/or cleaning sprints would be very welcome.

Josh gets home in 2 hrs, and I need to knock some stuff out. So far I've done my morning routine (including make bed), made playdough for Maya, guitar practice, and did dishes. I've also done far too much piddling around online.

Habitica is telling me that I need to vacuum today, so I guess I'll start with picking up the floor. I'll check back in in an hour in the comments section, maybe less if I peter out too soon.


Many Firefly Femslash Drabbles

I'm a bit under the weather, so today I decided to go back and fill a whole bunch of old Firefly prompts for femslash100's Drabbletag. All of the River/Kaylee prompts are grouped together as separate chapters of one 'story'. I also added one to my existing Inara/Zoë kink series. Hope you enjoy!

Title: A Surprise
Prompt: Drabbletag 1 prompt – Saffron/Inara : Well that was a surprise
Fandom: Firefly
Pairing: Saffron/Inara
Rating: M
Word count: 100
Summary: Inara is surprised upon arriving at her assignation.

Title: Thoughts
Prompt: Drabbletag 1 prompt – River/Kaylee : Thoughts
Fandom: Firefly
Pairing: River/Kaylee
Rating: n/a
Word count: 100
Summary: River can't stop thinking about Kaylee.

Title: Engines
Prompt: Drabbletag 1 prompt – River/Kaylee : Engines
Fandom: Firefly
Pairing: River/Kaylee
Rating: n/a
Word count: 100
Summary: River's first lesson.

Title: Breathless
Prompt: Drabbletag 1 prompt – River/Kaylee : Breathless
Fandom: Firefly
Pairing: River/Kaylee
Rating: n/a
Word count: 100
Summary: River was breathless, and not from the short run.

Title: Wrong
Prompt: Drabbletag 1 prompt – Kaylee/Inara : Wrong
Fandom: Firefly
Pairing: Kaylee/Inara
Rating: n/a
Word count: 100
Summary: Kaylee & Inara have a private detour.

Title: Guess
Prompt: Drabbletag 1 prompt – Inara/Zoë : Guessing games
Fandom: Firefly
Pairing: Inara/Zoë
Rating: M
Word count: 100
Summary: Inara & Zoë play a guessing game.

Title: Inside
Prompt: Drabbletag 1 prompt – River/Inara -- Inside
Fandom: Firefly
Pairing: River/Inara
Rating: n/a
Word count: 100
Summary: River wants to figure Inara out.

Title: Red-Handed
Prompt: Drabbletag 1 prompt – River/Saffron -- Red
Fandom: Firefly
Pairing: River/Saffron
Rating: n/a
Word count: 100
Summary: River catches Saffron.

Title: Wanted
Prompt: Drabbletag 1 prompt – Kaylee/Inara : Mei-mei
Fandom: Firefly
Pairing: Kaylee/Inara
Rating: n/a
Word count: 100
Summary: Kaylee just wants to be wanted.

Chocolate Box!

I was lucky enough to receive two wonderful Supernatural stories from the [community profile] chocolateboxcomm fanfic exchange! If you're a SPN fan, please take a look. They're both really fun.

Too Good to Be True is a fun crack story (I love my crack, ha ha) that lets Dean get his hands on a grenade launcher.

And Conversations with Escapees gives us the return of Bobby and one of my personal favorites, Gabriel (whose voice is spot-on here).

Enjoy these great Valentine's treats and share a little love with the mystery authors. ♥

LJ Friends

Apparently LJ has stopped giving me notifications when someone friends me. As I have recently made posts/comments encouraging friends, that's poor timing. If you've added me and did not receive an add back, please comment and let me know!


Quite Contrary, by Richard Roberts

Quite Contrary, by Richard Roberts, is one of my “to be read” books for my 2017 Reading Challenge.

Quite Contrary

Good concept, boring execution – most of the reviews say the same thing, so I'm not sure why there are so many 3- and 4-stars. I'm giving one star because I worked on this for weeks and could not drag myself past the 30% mark, though I really, really tried.

I normally like fairy tale retellings, but this just didn't work for me. Quite Contrary is about a foul-mouthed, supposedly-twelve-year-old protagonist who gets lost at a Halloween party and finds herself moving through various fairy tale and mythological realms. Mary is quite contrary indeed, but she's just not a main character I can get interested in. She's a jerk, all she does to get to the next land is get lost again. I can't really get invested in the secondary characters either when I know we're just going to breeze by into the next place suddenly, without any apparent rhyme or reason. This also means Mary has very little agency except for the ability to curse and kick people.

I'm very pro-f-word and pro-sex, but neither seemed believable coming from a twelve-year-old who supposedly hasn't even hit puberty yet. She focuses a lot on whether other girls have their adult assets and if guys are the kind that horny, puberty-stricken chicks go for. It was already feeling a bit uncomfortable for me.

I did like the part where she got to the Viking land, though her sudden bond with someone's dad was weirdly creepy. I was hoping she would pick up sidekicks or something, but I got invested in her new friends only to see her run off and land in a new place again without them (and they so wanted to become heroes!). She'd already lost Rat-in-Boots, though maybe he comes back later. It sounds like they spend more time together, but the book still hasn't told me. I got bored and took yet another break.

When I finally picked up the book again, hoping to power through, I realized I was only at 30% and became so discouraged. I looked at reviews to see if it was worth continuing, and other reviews say that it gets even more sexually charged, especially between Mary and her wolf, and it seems to continue with the same random 'look at this cool world' story arc meander. I just can't invest myself in finishing it, and that's disappointing for something I was certain I would enjoy.


Accountability Post...So It Begins

Thank you so much to everyone who agreed to help keep me accountable! Now I feel more compelled to do things so I have a positive report today. I'm going to try to remember to make periodic accountability posts. Please feel free to post your own To Dos or Ta Das, so we can all rally for encouragement and cheerleading.

I'm also trying to stay on the Habitica.com wagon. It's a fun game where you gamify your habits and to do lists. You get a little character to eventually be a warrior, mage, rogue, or healer. I was a rogue first and have recently started over as a warrior. It helps me a lot when I stick with it. If that's something that interests you, let me know and I'd be happy to add you to my party there as well.

Today is a write-in day, so I'm going to get back on my writing schedule. If anyone wants to join us for writing sprints, we'll be in my Write Now chatzy room from 10 am – 12 pm US Central time. I'm revising my novel and have made it through Chapter 13, which is about a third of the book. I'm hoping to finish revision by the end of March, so I really need to stick with it. That's one of my top-priority goals right there.

I had my IRL writers' group last night, and one of our members encouraged me to submit more of my novel for feedback. I've shared the first couple of chapters but kind of felt like I should just finish revision and have someone beta the whole thing when I'm done. He said he was interested in reading more though, so I've now submitted through Chapter 4 for feedback from them. I'm nervous-excited to see what they say, because this is as polished as I can get it right now. I still worry that it's going to be too long, so hopefully they'll give some feedback on what needs to be cut.

My other goal for today is to get back to decluttering. I'll check-in throughout the day in the comment sections to report what will hopefully be lots of progress.

Thoughts & Decisions

A friend of mine died yesterday, and I think I've been extra upset about it in the wake of my cousin's death. This friend, I'm not sure how old she was, but she was probably around my age (30s, maybe early 40s). She was so young and vibrant, and she was someone who's really been doing something wonderful in the world. We were only internet friends, so we weren't that close, but I knew her back from the halcyon LJ days and we've been friends for probably a good decade. My memory has gotten so bad that I can't even remember what her LJ handle was. The world is a poorer place without Anne, and she leaves behind two amazing young boys who deserve to have their mom around.

I've been really struggling with this spectre of death I'm seeing everywhere. I know that I'm not as healthy as I should be, and I fear that I haven't accomplished anything I'm meant to. My mom's early death was an accident (car accident), but now I'm terrified of dying too young and missing my girls' lives. At least I'm trying to kick my butt into gear and make some healthy changes, but I'm finding it hard to get out of this rather dark period.

I decided to default on the [community profile] chocolateboxcomm exchange, even though it's only 300 words, and I feel horrible about it. I've just got too much sad and dark stuff going on to be able to write a decent story for someone. I'm finding it hard to get into fanfiction at all right now. I figured I'd default while there was still hopefully time for a better writer to fulfill my recipient's awesome prompts. They had one I really, really liked, but I just can't get myself in the proper writing space right now.

I'll probably regret it, but I decided not to sign up for [community profile] worldbuildingex. Worldbuilding is my jam, too, so I was really looking forward to it. I nominated some cool stuff, especially in the Kushielverse, that I would have loved stories about. Oh well. I'll still watch the comm, and maybe some good stories will come out of it. I feel bad to be putting all this fun stuff on the backburner, but I think it's for the best given how much I'm struggling at the moment.

I'm finding it hard to focus on reading, too, and I'm wondering if my impressions/potential reviews aren't harsher right now because of it. I don't know if I'm struggling through two really crappy books or if I'm just in too much of a crappy headspace.

On the plus side, I have a lot of doctor appointments coming up this month, so I hope to get a bit further along with figuring out some of my health issues. I really wish this well issue hadn't happened now, and I'd be saving toward my service dog fund, but now getting water is taking priority. It's looking like it may not happen until tax time. Getting the well fixed, that is. It's increasingly looking like getting a service dog won't happen at all.

I miss my days of having 'productivity buddies'. Either here, on FB, or on chatzy, a bunch of us would often do writing &/or chore sprints together and report back in every hour with our accomplishments. Having to report in to people really helped me keep on track (and not, say, sleep the day away as I have the last two...). If anyone is interested in being an accountability buddy and checking in periodically, please let me know! I could use the help right now.


Ahavah Ehyeh

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February 2017


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