29 June 2012

Bonkers Birdie

You know, sometimes there's nothing better than embracing your Inner Diva, blasting some Erasure, and belting out some cheesy songs with Andy Bell. *nods*

I'm an Odd Bird. I like all music - from opera to cheesy pop - and I like to shake my thang and sing along to them (both badly) as much as any other Odd Bird.

I'm an Odd Bird in other ways too. While I'm a little OCD with a lot of things, I'm can also be so scatterbrained that things get forgotten about all the time. I think it would be fair to say I'm also a One-Extreme-Or-The-Other Bird. There's no middle ground with me. Which can be very awkward when I am being a Stubborn Bird, because I refuse to back down or compromise.

Of course, I'm also a Procrastinating Bird - everyone knows that -but have I mentioned that I'm also  Buries-Head-In-The-Sand Bird too?

I'm also a Very Sorry Bird, because I haven't blogged here or on my own blog for a long time (well, I did post on mine on Monday, but that was after a two month break). The thing is, the longer I leave things, the more I put them off, and the more I put them off, the less inclined I feel to get on with them. *is a Blushing Birdie*

So, having established that I am a Dithering Bird,  after putting off securing a publisher for my chick-lit comedy, I did a totally un-Odd Bird-like thing and entered two competitions this year, and got nowhere fast in both cases. This came as no surprise, because really, when facing stiff competiton from all kinds of serious genres like drama, suspense, thriller, and other such adult-themed things, pitting a fluffy chick-lit, complete with swearing protagonist, innuendo, and talking cats, against them was only ever going to end in tears. (I think I have to many commas in that sentence, but then I am a Grammatically Incorrect Bird).

So now I am a Disheartened Bird - at least, I'm disheartened with my modern Cinderella tale. I mean, I still love it, because it was my first ever book-baby, but deep down I've always known that my silly side should really only be reserved for my blog. I can be a Funny Bird without trying - at least, I usually end up being funny even when I don't intend it - but my real strengths have always been writing emotional and dark tales. And my main love when it comes to reading has always been fantasy.

So I'm going back to my roots and getting back to my fantasy novel, which I shelved ages ago and never got back to. I've dusted it off, given it a read through, and realised that it's not half bad. And because I actually know where I am going with it, it may even turn out to be pretty good.

Best of all, it's dark and twisty, so I get to be an Evil Bird when I'm writing it.

Yup, even as a birdie, I have multiple personalities. It's just the way we roll.

Odd Bird with Odd Chick

Image self-taken.

A/N - There may be (take that as 'there are probably') typos in this post, because spellchecker isn't working for me, and the words are mingling a little owing to the fact that I am a Very Tired Birdie today).

28 June 2012


I'm sure everyone's heard it at some point - "Wow, you look just like so-and-so, are you related?"  It might be a famous person, it might be somebody's high school friend, but despite the staggering variety of sizes, shapes and colours that humans come in, let's face it, everybody looks like somebody.

Do you ever wonder if identical twins just tune that out?  Or - whoa - wouldn't it be weird if a set of twins met another set of twins and they ALL looked alike?  I saw a guy walking down the street today who looked so much like Kit Harington that I actually double-checked to make sure he didn't have a white wolf with him (for those not up on their HBO, he plays Jon Snow in Game of Thrones and looks like this:)

Found this one on somebody-or-other's Tumblr.
So of course I immediately texted my buddy who thinks he's the hottest thing ever and told him to go hunting, so if some poor random dude finds a lovelorn Stark fan on his porch, oops, sorry.

Wanna know something really funny?  At one point, Tara and I were near-doubles for each other.  Seriously, no joke!  I can't find the pics that show it best, but here are some munchkin pictures of us:

And here's one where we're all grown up (but not grown-ups, 'cause they're boring):

We look nothing alike anymore.  Strange, isn't it?

(Yup.  I swiped pics from Tara's and Tami's Facebook albums.  This is what happens when I forget it's my turn to post until 1 AM.  Oh well.)

19 June 2012

Summer vacation is less fun as an adult

I know, way to start out with a downer, right?  But as someone who teaches children for the main portion of my income, when the routines of school end and parents whisk their offspring away to camps and vacations and who knows what, my existence becomes slightly precarious.  On the plus side, this leaves me lots more time to do things that I only rarely get a chance to when I'm in full-swing two-job mode, like go running regularly, read two or three books in one day, and cook up a storm (you know the kind I mean - the one where by the end of it if there are any clean pots left in the kitchen it's because you couldn't find them).

But unlike when I was a kid and my parents paid the bills and my summer job was, if anything, busking (which, granted, pulls in wads of tax-free cash on a good day, plus it got me practicing), I have dependents now - furry four-legged ones, but still - who don't care if I only worked 25 hours this week, they both need food and one needs medicine (Rullie turned 14 on Saturday!  This is pretty damned fantastic, since I wasn't at all sure she'd make it when she started going downhill in February, but she's doing really well so far and that makes me happy).

I have responsibilities to my roommates, too - I have to hold up my end on the rent, and most of the bills are in my name, so I have to pay them first and then the girls pay me back, plus keeping the cleaning under a reasonable amount of control and making sure I pull my weight in that department.

Also, I don't get to go to camp anymore.  I was one of those weird nerdy kids who went to science camp (well, not "camp" exactly, it was more like voluntary summer school with a lot of field trips; lasted about an hour and a half every weekday for 6 weeks) when I was little; when my career aspirations changed irrevocably from paleontology to music, I started going to music camp instead.  And in case you were wondering, yeah, string quartet camp is way geekier than band camp, but if the shenanigans conjured up by that phrase were going on at any of the ones I went to, I missed them while I was practicing.

The beach isn't as much fun as it used to be, either.  Mostly because of body image issues (I know I'm in better shape than 90% of the country; that doesn't help), but also because I may be a brunette but I burn like a redhead and there is just not as much ozone out there as there used to be - and I get kinda spacey when I'm lying around reading a book and I don't always remember to reapply my 100+ every hour, and last summer I got COOKED.  I still have the lines.

So lest this whole post be a Debbie Downer wail, I'm trying to focus on the good parts - I still fit into my summer wardrobe, so yay, didn't get fat over the winter!  More time to read - excellent!  Cooking promises to be a lot more fun this summer, too, as I'm actually growing a few of my own ingredients - erm, as long as I don't kill them before they're ready to eat.  Getting a jumpstart on holiday gift knitting would be a good idea - I owe one of my pseudonephews an Aran sweater, and that'll take a while even if he's only 2 in August.  Oh, and I'm writing again - as of right now, I'm closing in on 40K in BuNoWriMo-land, and I'm hopeful that with the blockage cleared I may actually get some serious writing done this summer.

So, okay.  It's still not as fun as when I was a kid, but I'm going to have a good time anyway, damnit!

15 June 2012

Add spaces between paragraphs to make post more reader-friendly

Tami did such a fab (llama) job yesterday on turning a whine fest into a wine fest by sharing her hard-earned life lessons, that I thought I'd share some of my (well-not-exactly-life-lessons-but-possibly-first-world-problems-or-not-even-that-more-like) observations. From today. And other days. Fewer llamas, though:

Who'd have thunk it? Chocolate milk with brownie taste isn't all that yummy.

Caught myself checking the weather forecast today. Crossing my fingers that it's accurate, and thus that we'll actually have a hint of summer in Oslo next week.

Burma or Myanmar or whatever it's politically correct to say nowadays are getting their coke back, the papers told me today. Coca Cola is reestablishing there, leaving only two countries off their mass market list (Cuba and North Korea in case you were wondering).

Today we talked about Monty Python for a work meeting. No, really. We did. And it was useful. I have a weird job.

I really want to read Chris Cleave's new book, Gold, but am having a hard time finding it in Norway. I could order it online, obviously, but I've always been a fan of the old-fashioned "in store" purchase version when it comes to books. Might have something to do with the fact that I've worked in bookstores for eight years... Anyway, while looking for shops in Oslo that potentially might have the book (that so far is only out in hardcover version), I found that one of the local bookshops offered to ship the Norwegian version of the book within three days. Does this mean that they actually translated a book before it came out (June 7th, I think - not long ago, anyway) in the riginal version? That's weird. Really unusual.

Well, I'll be buying the original anyway, though, since I generally prefer that to translations. Still weird.

When I refreshed the tab with Facebook just now it went blank except for the word "success" written right at the top. Uhm. Not success I'd say!

I might get a hair cut today. (See why this list doesn't even qualify as first world problems? Yeah...)

Re: my job. We're moving this summer. From one building to another (gotta explore campus a little, y'know!). Meaning we'll have to pack everything. Now, the problem is that I have sort of just "acquired" an office. Occupied it. Squatted. Annexed, overran or garrisoned it if you like.

As a historian I feel compelled to tell you that none of the above expressions is used in an accurate context.
But almost.

The thing is - when I first started working at the university it was a very temporary gig, and thus they only placed me in the abandoned office of an old professor who ran away to Spain (seriously. He did).

He did not, however, clear his office before he left.

For the last few months, therefore, I've been sitting crammed in between his papers, books, and dead flies. (Really) Gradually, I've moved my own stuff in, so now his books, papers and dead flies are pushed to the margins of the room, but it's all still there.

The question, then, is whether I have to pack his stuff too (and whether I need to bring it with me to my new, shiny office in the new, shiny building), or whether someone else will (and still if it will be transported to my new, shiny office). I'm especially worried about the flies.

Such things worry me today.

Not a llama:  

14 June 2012

Lessons I Did Not WANT to be Involved In Yesterday

Yes yes. My turn. Blah blah blah.  Pardon me. I'm crabby.

Dignitary? Or Stripper? You decide.
Ever need a good old-fashioned whine fest? Ever wish you could REALLY make it a WINE-fest? Mostly my life is cruising along BEAUTIFULLY. My first book came out last week and is a 'bestseller' according to Barnes & Noble—something that is VERY VERY Cool... But I had a REALLY annoying evening, so I am just going to take a moment to complain.

Lesson 1: Never PASTE pictures into blogger.

This first is the REASON that this post really just couldn't be anything but a whinefest. I have a guest over on my regular blog (who wrote a FABULOUS post) but I tried and tried and tried and Blogger kept eating the bloody post.

Turns out the trouble was embedded pictures. GRRRRR. Each one took like forty thousand lines of HTML and kept crashing the bloody thing. And each time I'd write my little intro and format a few things... and then GONE.

So don't do that.

Do you suppose it is half llama half hydra?
Lesson 2: Turns Out if You are Unhealthy and Feel Poorly for Months, it makes you CRABBY

HWMNBMOTI has been a big grouch-puss for a couple weeks, testy, pissy, crabby... And I've (helpfully) been telling him his medications aren't working (they are supposed to mellow the mood swings) and he has been ANGRY with me for not letting him HAVE his moods. We finally talked it through and a lightbulb went on. He hasn't felt well for MONTHS... thing after thing in his physical health keeps happening and then it is layered with the mental health stuff (PTSD response, anxiety).

For pete's sake, I study PAIN for a living. I KNOW it is depressing to live with a miserable condition. But when it is too close to home (inside the home) it is easy not to apply what you know.

Llamasus! The elusive winged Llama!!!
Lesson 3: (the one I intend to apply ASAP): If you don't have an icemaker, then there is a SYSTEM to the ice trays and if you don't FOLLOW IT, then you are likely to be hit in the head with the tray you left in there with TWO cubes and started a NEW tray using more than half of it.

For the LOVE OF LLAMAS, EMPTY the bloody tray of ice and fill it with water before starting a new one or I will BEAT YOU!

And Now, to make myself feel better, I am going to sprinkle this post with llamas.

(By the time you read this, I won't be crabby anymore...)

12 June 2012

Topical Tuesday: BuNoWriMo, Books, Birthdays and Buffoonery


Well, for the first time, I joined BuNoWriMO and actually am writing.  For those who don't know what BuNoWriMo is, here is a short synopsis- Writers, 50,000 words (or 25, 000), 30 days in June.  Similar to the NaNoWriMo in November.

This is monumentous for me as I have not written anything of any significance in the last two years.  I want to thank all of the writers that are currently participating and all the support (cheerleaders) in Writing Sprints R Us!  You have all really helped me to be accountable and remain consistent.  :D

"He want that cake, cake, cake, cake, cake  . . . You want to put your name on it. . . " - Rihanna's "Birthday Cake"

I had a lovely pre-birthday date with my hubby this past weekend.  We ate a great restaurant in Brooklyn called Fette Sau.  Yes that means "Fat Pig."  It was a great BBQ meal of beef brisquet, pulled pork, with delicious sides like German potato salad, homemade pickles and sauerkraut.  Afterwards, we went to the movies and saw Snow White and The Huntsman.  Good film!  This may sound a bit boring to some people but was perfect for me.  I cannot remember the last time I went to the movies.  I think it was Smurfs 3D with the kiddies.  :D

However, this birthday is a bit difficult for me.  I have just turned 39 years old.  Next year, I will be 40.  I thought I would have accomplished so much by now but things just kept getting in the way.  I decided that I may want to do something different in the future.  I love teaching high school students but I need to move on.  It's been 13 years since I began this pedagogical journey and I want to do more educational administrative "stuff."  Maybe I'll teach at the university level rather than the secondary level.  Not sure but- I will figure it out by the summer's end.  :/


 I am currently reading Alyse Carlson's The Azalea Assault.  We at the Burrow know her as Hart Johnson.  My daughter is also reading the book and is loving it!  The book is suspenseful and well-written.  Cam Harris is charismatic, deeply thoughtful and a bit of a busybody.  I love the character development and the quick pace of the novel.  It's crazy but I still don't know who did it!  ;)

Hart put so much work into her first novel and is currently working on other projects.  Her dedication and perseverance are qualities that will guarantee her success!  I can't wait to read the others.  :D

For those who love cozy mysteries, definitely get your hands on The Azalea Assault.


It is the end of the year and it is crazy at the schoolhouse.  Things still to do: grades, paperwork, final grades, paperwork, proctor state exams, paperwork, report cards, paperwork, pack up office, and did I mention paperwork.  I tell you, it never really ends, does it?

It's time to say good bye to my seniors as they commence in their journeys of higher educational facilities, the world of work and/ or the armed forces.  I will miss them dearly.  Congratulations to the Class of 2012!

*That includes my son Justin, soon to be SUNY Delhi college student!*

Love you much and don't forget me!

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons:  Birthday Cake, The Three Stooges.
Image courtesy of BuNoWriMo: Writing ALot
Image courtesy of Amazon.com: The Azalea Assault

08 June 2012

One week report

So, are you WriMo-ing with us this month?  If you are, then you're one week in too - how's it going so far?  I'm pretty pleased with myself at the moment, I really must say - as I type this, it's just gone midnight and my end-of-day-7 word count stands at 14,613.  To put that in perspective, the "official" goal (if you're shooting for the same amount every day and landing neatly at 50,000 at the end) is 11,666, and my personal goal (attempting to hit 2,000 words a day) is 14,000, so I'm beating them both which makes me quite happy - I haven't done this well on a WriMo since, I dunno, 2005 or so.

As for the story itself, it's moving along reasonably well, actually.  I'm into Chapter 4, I've killed off the first (and possibly only - haven't decided yet) victim (it's a mystery, did I say that?), I've got an amazing soundtrack to listen to while I write (Brahms chamber music - sing it with me now, "These are a few of my favourite things!"), and characters I'm enjoying spending time with (to the point that I kind of want to trade places with one of them, but that would be REALLY weird...).

That doesn't mean my life outside the story is totally ghastly right now or anything, though.  It'd be nice if it would stop raining, but my kitty is doing reasonably well with her medications, it's almost the end of the school year which means I have a bit more free time, I met Richard Ford tonight (HUUUUUUUGE fan!), and one of my students gave me a $50 gift card which I promptly spent on books, so yaaaaaaaaay books!

Speaking of books, I have a big ol' task to complete for the Tart, so if you'll excuse me, I need to get on that.  Oh, and what are you waiting for?


05 June 2012

Burrow's First Baby: The Azalea Assault

Burrow Baby Born This Day!!!

Announcing the birth of our first official Burrow Baby:

The Azalea Assault by Alyse Carlson (that's me, but shhhh)
Published by Berkley Prime Crime (an imprint of Penguin)
June 5, 2012

See, the Burrow began with four score blondes and brunettes all between 16 and 19 ½... wait. Wrong version.

The Burrow was born out of Harry Potter love criss-crossed with serious writing aspirations. And there is no way I EVER could have finished my first book, let alone my 7th (which this one is—honestly, I am writing #13 this month). But the support and concrete assistance of my Burrow family has helped ALL THE WAY through.

So weighing in a 4.2 ounces, mass paperback, cozy mystery... is the first of what I hope will be MANY books for ALL of us. Available at pretty much all book stores...

If you want a little cozy mystery fun today, head on over to my blog for a blogfest that should be a hoot.