Woops! I disappeared.

Hello people of blogland! I know, I know, it’s been awhile. I have been so ridiculously busy lately that it’s not even funny – mostly with just living life, enjoying the summer with my family, and keeping up with breeding fish, which I’ve been doing for the past year or so now.  You may have noticed that I disappeared for a bit. Don’t worry. I’m still here, and I’m gearing up for some reviews. At the moment I am slogging through the few hundred review requests sitting in my inbox. It will probably take me a little while to get through them all, organize them, and decide which ones I’m adding to my list, so be patient. It will happen. I’m not gone.

All of that being said, this is a casual reminder, that if you don’t read my review faqs, and don’t send me a copy of your book with your review request.. well… your request goes in the trash. There are a lot of you.  I don’t have the time or willpower to reply personally to every single request – so if you don’t hear from me, don’t freak out. I haven’t fallen off the face of the earth, I’m just quietly buried under piles of e-mails.

Anyways, give me some time. I’m sorting things out, and then I’m going to start scheduling reviews and free fiction fridays again. I may or may not do some articles to give you more info on what I’ve been up to the last few months, so keep an eye out. As you may have realized, even when I’m not here actively posting and scheduling reviews, I am still accepting requests and editorial work – so keep sending them my way. I will get to them when I get to them, but I’m still open.

Cellphones, PC’s, and Dependencies

message-for-you-2I have a bit of an odd confession, made odder still by my gender and age. I am 31, Female, and I’ve never owned a cellphone. Yes, it’s true, I live in the United States of America. You could hand me one this very minute and I wouldn’t be able to tell you how to even turn it on. Believe me, I can imagine the look of confusion, maybe even disbelief on your face right now—I’ve seen it a million times.

On a weekly basis people ask me for my cellphone number, or if they can text me something, or they ask if I can text them something… and this leads to the awkward conversation where I have to grin and say “I don’t own a cellphone.” This is then followed up by an even more awkward statement: “No, it’s not broken. No, I’m not waiting to get a new one… I’ve never owned a cellphone.” and then finally “No, I don’t plan to own one, either.”

I’ve had people look at me like I was crazy. I’ve had them look at me as if to say “You have to be lying.”… but I’m not. I’d like to say that it’s easy living without a cellphone—and sometimes it is. Considering how addicted I am to my personal computer, I can only imagine how dependent I would become on a cellphone if I owned one. I’d probably never turn it off. Being a bit of an artist, I’d probably spend my entire day spamming up Facebook with photos of everything—and I mean everything—we’re talking family photos on down to artistically framed blades of grass.

Most of the time, I’m proud to say that I don’t own a cellphone. We all know they’re germ magnets. The CDC admits that cellphones have been proven to emit forms of radiation that are known to be harmful. Cellphone use causes 1 out of every 4 car accidents. That’s a huge number! However, none of these is the reason I don’t own a cellphone. “So why don’t you?” you may ask. The answer is simple: I don’t need one—and that seems to blow some people’s minds.

I’m a stay-at-home mom. I work from home and I homeschool. I rarely go anywhere that isn’t with my family. I’ll admit it, I’m one of those people who’s perfectly fine staying home in the evenings and on weekends to read a book, write a blog post, or even catch up on chores. I don’t feel the need to be busy outside my home for the sake of not being here. I’m an introvert, and my list of friends is small and close, and I don’t feel the need to text them, or anyone… ever. There’s nothing in my life that is so immediate that I need a phone on my person 24/7. In the end, I simply can’t justify paying a lot of money to have a little electronic time-sucker stuck in my pocket when I don’t really need one.

That isn’t to say that having a cellphone wouldn’t be useful. There are some things in life that are made difficult by not owning a cellphone. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve run across a sign-up form on a website that won’t let me join because they require a cellphone number as a way to create a secondary authentication for login. It would be useful to have a cellphone for those emergency moments you can’t plan for. I do sometimes get tired of justifying the fact that I don’t own a cellphone. Like I said, people sometimes look at me like I’m crazy or a liar.

Think about how absurd that is for a moment.

There are people all over the world who don’t own cellphones. They are –everywhere-. Yet, because I live in America, I am female, and I am of a generation that generally uses cellphones, I’m considered odd because I don’t own a piece of technology. Cellphones have become so prevalent in our society that telling someone you don’t have one gets a similar reaction to saying “I’m homeless.” People look at me, a young, female American, and think “how is that possible?” I don’t look like someone who shuns technology, and I don’t particularly look destitute… so what particular reason could there be for me to avoid this one piece of technology that so many people take for granted? It bothers me. The fact that the idea of not owning a cellphone has become so shocking to so many people makes me seriously question where our priorities lie as a society… and yet I know that I give the same look of disbelief to people who tell me “I don’t own a computer.”

Now, there’s no real purpose behind this article. I’m not here to convince anyone to put down their cellphone. I’m not here to make people question why we feel so dependent on our technology. I’m just musing aloud. Earlier today my husband told me he was talking with the company who recently built our new gaming PCs to see if we could –not- send in my malfunctioning PC for repairs and instead have someone come to our house to fix it, because I am ashamed to say, I didn’t want to live 2-4 weeks without my PC while they attempt to fix it.

It was a humbling moment when I sat back and thought about what I’d just said. Could I live without my PC for 4 weeks? Sure. PC’s didn’t even exist when I was a kid. The world wouldn’t end. It’d be inconvenient, sure. I have a blog to run, and I pay my bills online. Was it impossible to deal with? No. We even have a backup laptop I could use. 

What it came down to is: My PC is my security blanket. I’m comfortable with its settings. It has the programs I like to use. It has my internet bookmarks. I simply didn’t want to be inconvenienced. I can only imagine that for some, their cellphone serves a similar function. Am I proud that I don’t own a cellphone? Yah. A Bit. Should I be? Probably not—not when my PC fills that same gap of dependence.

New Computer Foibles & Other Things

This week has possibly been one of the most trying and busy weeks I’ve had in quite a while. A little over a week ago I came down with some sort of head cold/sore throat combo that seemed to have my name embroidered on it in gold thread. It’s been a little over a year since I’ve  been sick to any sort of degree, and I’d forgotten how much it sucks. It started with a little bit of a sore throat and a runny nose—nothing major—but turned into another spree of going deaf in one ear, which, if you click the link I just shared, you’ll understand why that terrifies me. I immediately started taking meds to try and fix things before they got out of hand…. unfortunately that lead to an even bigger problem: The mixture of allergies, head cold, and meds meant that my eyes got really dry and before I knew it, I had a pink, swollen eye. Le sigh.

All of this comes down to a week of miserable sniffly noses, splotchy red throats, and irritatingly itchy eyes that makes me want to hide in a damp, light restricted closet filled with tissues. As miserable as that is (and really, it wasn’t fun, but I was surviving like a trooper) things became complicated when my family got word that the two brand spanking new gamer PC’s we’d ordered a week or two before were finally on their way. This was joyous news! Except, we’d decided to move around the three computers in our house to separate rooms, which meant a lot of furniture rearranging, cleaning, reorganizing, and backing up of old files. To make a very long story short, I just spent the last 3 days inhaling mountains of dust (because I’ll admit it, I am the WORST when it comes to dusting. I just don’t do it. At all.) It felt like we were moving. Seriously. Couches, beds, dressers, TV’s, book shelves, desks, chairs… all of it got moved over the course of two or three days (mostly by myself because my husband has a displaced rib and a bad back that makes moving anything heavy a no-go).

For a normal person, this situation would have sucked. It was tiring. It was dusty. It involved a lot of cat hair—but for someone like me who is severely allergic to dust mites, cats, and basically everything ever—it was torture. I spent two days unable to catch my breath because the dust irritated my allergies so bad that I was in a perpetual asthma attack. It hurts to breathe right now… which also means that on top of all my other head cold related problems, I haven’t slept in two days. Double le sigh.

The good news is: everything was completed on time. I backed up my computer like a pro, got everything moved and put away, I managed to somehow not die in the process, and the new computers arrived! Everything was hooked up, my internet was turned back on, and I thought “Wow, that went smoothly. I can get back to my regular posting schedule without a blip in the radar.”

And then I realized that my new computer wasn’t recognizing my external hard drive…. the hard drive where all my artwork, music, books, photos and writing resides. Somehow during the moving of everything in my house, my external hard drive broke. My husband figured it was the shell—this is a pretty common problem, and the shell we had on the external hard drive was pretty iffy right out of the box. Whatever, I have a new, awesome computer, and we can just mount it and make it an internal drive. Problem solved! Except it wasn’t. My PC still doesn’t recognize the drive… even after adjusting the BIOS. So what does this mean? There is a 50% chance that either we were incredibly unlucky and the drive isn’t getting enough power, in which case getting a new shell will fix the problem. Or, unfortunately, my drive is dead.  I cannot tell you the amount of horror this awakens in me. I will literally bawl my eyes out if it’s dead.

I can replace my art. Mostly. It’s posted to my DeviantART account. I can replace my music (it’s just a pain). I can even replace my books if I have to (that’s an even bigger pain—I just finished replacing my hard library with e-books and cataloguing all 22k of those)…my photo’s, sadly are irreplaceable, but eh… who cares… my writing? I have backups of –almost- everything (I think)… but not Khet. My beloved Khet which I’ve spent months re-writing. Though I still have my very vague hand-written outline, the detailed typed outline that’s 23 chapters long? That, my friends, will be lost. Excuse me why I hyperventilate.

So the short of it is this: I’m sick. My new computer is awesome. I’m online and ready to post to my blog… but I may have lost my soul to the evil that is a broken hard drive. Please pray for my literary babies.

I break bones in stupid ways…

The first time I ever broke a bone, it was my two smallest toes on my right foot. How did I break them you ask? I kicked a stair while I was running up them. You wouldn’t think that would break your toes, but believe me, it will.

The second time I broke a bone, it was again, my two smallest toes on my right foot. This time, I broke them kicking a doorjamb on my way down a hallway. Apparently, I have no control over my feet.

The third time I broke a bone, it was my pinky on my left hand. It got smashed (and nearly severed) in a car door.

The latest time I broke a bone, it was again, my pinky on my left hand—and it was 10 minutes ago. I was balancing my hand on the retractable handle of my laundry basket (It’s one of those tall ones that can be wheeled around) while I was picking up some dirty socks. The handle slid, and so did my pinky finger.. right into a gap that couldn’t have been more than a quarter of a centimeter wide. Surprisingly, my finger fit in that hole.. I’m not sure how—and it was difficult to remove my finger from said hole. My pinky is now swollen and the fingernail has turned purple (where blood is pooling under it) and a little crooked. I’ve got it on ice and I’m going to wrap it up in a bit. It’s a lovely way to start your morning.

How is it that I always break my bones in the stupidest ways possible? P.S. : Typing the letter A hurts like hell. Thank god the majority of my posts are scheduled ahead of time so I don’t have to type much this week.

Monday Check-In

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Oh man, what a week (and weekend) it was this past week! I failed horribly at putting up Free Fiction Friday, but we’ll get to that. First of all, my to-do for this week:

  1. Read something. Anything. Because I’ve been slacking the last two weeks. I had three weeks lined up of book reviews, so I took the opportunity to do anything except read the past week or two. Because I could. Because I wanted time to work on the plotline of my novel and sort my e-book library (which… I have 15,000 books left to catalogue out of 22,000. I’m not kidding). I just didn’t make time to read. So this week, I need to do that. Mostly because I don’t have a review article scheduled for Thursday yet.
  2. Work on my novel. I do feel as if I got quite a lot done over the last week on my novel—don’t get me wrong. I spent three days re-writing the entire plot. I spent the weekend going over my very brief plotline to try and fill things out, iron out details etc., but I’m only up to the 12th chapter on the second draft of the plotline. I need to get through that so I can get to the writing part. Unfortunately, I’m having a hard time balancing background noise with work. I find if I work without any sort of background noise, I end up getting distracted and finding chores to do in order to fill the silence…but if I –do- have background noise, I end up getting distracted by that too! Maybe because I choose YouTube and Netflix as my background noise. It’s a problem. I know.
  3. Do chores. I’ve been very proud of myself these last three weeks. I’m normally the type of person to put off doing any chore until I have no choice but to do it. I’m a slob…. so dishes? Only done when I can no longer find a spoon. But these past few weeks I’ve been all caught up. I kept my house clean, did dishes/laundry every day.. it was freeing!… and then this weekend I decided to make a huge dinner for my family and went from zero dishes to an entire kitchen full of dishes within 4 hours. I haven’t gotten to them yet. I swear I will.
  4. Post a large Free Fiction Friday this week. I’ve been really bad the past three weeks. It’s not that I so much forgot about Free Fiction Friday… it’s just that my mind has been on so many other things that by the time I remember I need to do Free Fiction Friday.. it’s like.. 10pm and I decide it’s easier to skip this week. I need to catch up. Here’s the problem: right now due to working situations, my family is split. The person I rely on the most to help keep things on track during the week is now gone 5 sometimes 6 days out of every week.. this has been going on for a little over six months now. Meanwhile I’m left with all the chores, taking care of a 10 yr. old, dealing with school, meals, weekly doctors appointments….all on my lonesome (did I mention I don’t have a car, making this 10x more difficult?). I can do it, but by Thursday or Friday (when my family is back together after a long week) I then have two days to plan my grocery shopping, spend time with missing family members, etc. before Monday hits and we’re split up again. So, as you can imagine, Fridays are very stressful, very busy days for me. I’m trying to push through and get these things posted, but if I miss them here and there, I apologize. I may move Free Fiction Fridays to Thursday and give myself a longer weekend if this begins to be a trend – at least till all this travelling is sorted out. I wasn’t kidding when I said I was still ironing out my posting schedule!

That aside, I currently have three book reviews written and waiting to be posted this week: The Infernal Devices Trilogy by Cassandra Clare. It was a really good series, so I can’t wait to have the articles out. I have no idea what I’ll be posting Thursday, but if I can get a handle on #1 up there, an article will be in the works. I hope everyone had a great weekend. Keep reading!

P.S. Enjoy the picture of Imhotep, my 11 yr. old male Sokoke—lovingly referred to as my Fuzzy Baby. If he looks annoyed it is only because I’d woken him from his nap.

Getting Back Into The Swing of Things

 

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Hello ladies and gentlemen of blogland! It’s good to be back. After quite a long, rather shaky absence due to illness and the holidays, I’m happy to report that I am getting back into my workload. I promised myself that I’d get back to work, and so here I am. Now that I’ve gotten my schedule worked out, it goes something like this:

Monday –> Thursday: Book Reviews & Random Writing/Book-Related Articles

Friday: Free Fiction Fridays! (YAY)

Saturday –> Sunday: I take the weekend off. I have a life too. Dishes/Laundry need to be done. So does grocery shopping.

So starting Monday you guys should be getting a lot more articles headed your way. I’ve got Reviews/FFF’s booked up till the 10th of February right now, so there should be plenty to keep your WordPress Reader’s busy in the upcoming weeks. I’m slowly peeling through my TBR (to-be-read) list a book or two at a time. I’ve probably tore through at least 4-6 books just in the past two days, and I’m itching to get some reviews out shortly—so stay tuned!

P.S. Most annoying thing ever: Trying to get books read so you can post reviews… only to discover that one of your books doesn’t release till April… so you can’t post the review. Seriously. Ow.

My Virtual Library Needs A Dewy-Decimal System

Image… Or at least some new virtual boxes to stuff things in. As most of you know, I am an avid reader. How avid? I have a library in my living room. I’m not kidding. There are floor-to-ceiling shelves that take up two walls and are stacked 3-deep in my living room. There are literally hundreds of books in there. There’s probably another 100 or so sitting in my computer-room, but worse yet, I have another 7,890 in my e-book library on my computer, and close to another thousand on my Kindle–and that number grows daily.

Hello, my name is Cary, and I am a book addict.

That being said, I’ve reached the point where I have to find a way to organize my virtual library. It’s ridiculously out of hand, and getting worse by the moment. Even with Calibre – which is fantastic for keeping track of books, the number I’m looking at makes my OCD want to scream in agony. There has to be a better way. How do you guys organize your e-book library? Surely there’s someone out there who’s as much of a book hoarder as I am. Right?

When it comes down to it, I’ll probably have to spend a few weeks organizing my books by Genre and into a multitude of sub-folders, but I’m really hoping against all odds that there’s some magical way to do it that isn’t going to involve looking up each individual title and researching said Genre.. and then moving it over by hand. I guess if I get really desperate I can con a programmer I know to write me up a program that’ll read the meta-data and organize it into sub folders for me… Yah… that may be the way to go.

Dust Jackets

It’s Saturday and for once, I have nothing more pressing to do than read a book this weekend. My house is clean, laundry is hung outside on the line to dry, and cookies are made, so I thought I’d muse for a moment.

Does anyone else hate dust jackets on books? Why on Earth were they ever invented? It’s a flimsy piece of paper that sticks on the outside of a (usually) hardcover book to protect it.. from what? Dust? In my experience, all they do is get ripped up, bent, and fall off of of the books they’re meant to protect. Maybe it’s just me, but every time I get a book with a dust jacket, the first thing I do is throw it in the trash. I would much rather stare at a dull monotone hardcover (that if I’m honest just reminds me of old books.. which I love) than fiddle with an annoying piece of paper.

Is anyone with me on this? Debate!

Because turning on the AC is never simple.

Oh what a day I have planned! (Note that this must be said with a certain amount of mock enthusiasm or I may lay on the floor and scream.)

I rent a small, old, house in a part of El Paso,  Texas that was originally intended as housing for Chinese immigrant workers in the 1800’s. Needless to say, that means my house is not only spectacularly tiny, but also very old. Living in such an old house comes with a slough of problems… including, but not limited to, the appearance of grass growing up through the carpet in my living room because the foundations are cracked. Yes, it’s that dilapidated. Unfortunately, I can’t move because I’m poor. There’s no shame in admitting it, and in the next two years, I am attempting to find the funds to finally be able to move after having lived here for the past seven.

The reason I’m telling you this,is that I want to give this issue I’m dealing with a bit of context. As much as I dislike my current residence, I can’t move. Not yet anyways, so when a problem arises, I tend to plant my feet and take it in good humor. So what if I can’t turn on at least four light switches in my house because they’ll short out the very spotty electrical? I can live with the cracked windows that make it impossible to heat or cool the house and let sandstorms push dust in. I laugh when my cats chew on the grass that pops up through my living room carpet.  When my dishwasher finally went caput, I shrugged my shoulders and started washing my dishes by hand. When my dryer went out I started to line-dry my clothes. My point is: I don’t complain about the problems in my house often because I recognize that if I did, I’d have workmen in and out of my house every day of the year. It’s an old house. I live with it.

Welcome a more recent problem: Because of the spotty electric and air conditioners/ heaters that haven’t been updated since probably the 60’s… I often deal with nearly unbearable summers and freezing cold winters. The appliances don’t always work when I want them to, and despite having part of the house rewired, they still don’t always work. I’ve learned to take it in stride–but a few weeks ago when my landlord sent out some men to replace one of my failing Air Conditioners (which I had to have repaired 6 times in the first two weeks of summer last year), I was THRILLED. New AC? Yes please!

Unfortunately, it didn’t go as planned. Because it was still in the fading chills of winter, they didn’t actually turn on the AC. It’s spring now and getting up to the high 80’s/ low 90’s in the mid afternoon, and it’s humid as hell. I need my AC. The problem with this unfortunately, is it means a lot of preparation has to go into turning it on.

First off, I need to clean my house. I’m an artist, and so you can imagine I’m also kind of a slob. Depending on the week my house is either pristine, or it may look like a tornado was let loose in it. This week, we’re all tornado. Because I have to line-dry all of my clothes (stupid dryer), I’ve had laundry hanging up all over my living room through winter so they wouldn’t turn into icicles outside. Hence, laundry is EVERYWHERE.

Second, I need to move furniture. My house is so tiny that not all of my furniture fits… so every spring / fall I have to rearrange my entire house just so the workmen can get to the AC/Heaters respectively. Now, because the access to my heaters/ACs are in two seperate rooms at opposite ends of the house, this means I need to clean and rearrange my living room, hallway, and two bedrooms. Usually I can steer the workmen away from my disastrous kitchen (which is still a mess from baking cookies over the weekend).

So, I spent an hour this morning rushing around my house cleaning said rooms. Now comes another problem. Since they replaced my AC a few weeks ago, I’ve noticed an oddity: the ceiling in my bathroom (which sits directly under the AC) has started to change color. You’ve guessed it. I think I have a leak. Now, to get that fixed, I also need to clean my computer room (because that’s where the attic access is), my bathroom (yay scrubbing bathtubs!), and my kitchen (because the pipes all lead to there!)… and all of this needs to be finished by tomorrow morning.

…. sigh.

To top it off, because the drywall in my ceiling is now wet, they’re probably going to have to pull most of it out… and the bathroom walls.. which means I may be living in even more of a hole soon if they don’t just say “you have toxic mold!” and attempt to kick me out for safety reasons. Can I move? No. I really can’t.

I’m obviously thrilled right now at the prospect of the next 48 hours. So while the rest of you are sitting in your air conditioned houses, think of me in my hovel, scrubbing away in the humidity and heat, praying most of my house will still be intact tomorrow. I have to go wash some dishes now.

Spring Break

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(Frances (a demon warrior) Commission – sketch Copyright Cary A. Morton)

Man it’s been a long week! As you can see above, I FINALLY finished the sketch for the commission I’ve been working on now for a week. I recorded the whole process, and hopefully, will be uploading them to YouTube soon for people to watch. I’ll also be recording the entire painting process, but not until after spring break.

So, this year spring break falls this next week (previous years it was this week), and I couldn’t be more ready for it. I may be visiting Tuscon, Arizona or/and Las Cruces, New Mexico over the break – I’m not entirely sure yet. What I am sure of , is that I won’t be getting much artwork done. So, In the meanwhile I’m going to take the week to relax, read some books, and hopefully get some reviews done.

I finally got a hold of my copies of Rogue Alliance by Michelle Bellon and Impersonation by Tamsin Kate Walker from the publishers, and I have three NetGalley books (The Baron by Juliana Garnett, Dark Wolf by Kate Douglas, and After The Ending by Lindsey Fairleigh & Lindsey Pogue) to get through all this week. Luckily, I can take my kindle with me wherever I go and get them done and out of the way. I’m nearly done with After The Ending as it is, and so far it’s a great book. I can’t wait for the review!

Aside from that, I’ll probably spend my week playing Sims 3 because I’m a total sucker for it and the new University pack was just released. I’m such a geek. Anyways, I hope everyone is going to have a great spring break (if you haven’t already), and hopefully I’ll have a lot of reviews for you this week. Now I’m going to go make a crap-ton of coffee because I’m exhausted. I went to the opera last night (I have season tickets and go all the time) and saw the Barber of Seville. It was the oddest version I’ve ever seen. Figaro played a guitar and kept making rocker hand gestures… juggled oranges, and some tiny dude I can’t remember the name of rode a pink tricycle. Yah. It was really weird, and I ended up getting lost both on the way there, and the way back, and didn’t get home and asleep until nearly 1 AM. There’s too much blood in my caffeine system to stay awake right now.