Smallish Bloggery, Day 27: 5 favorite books by women

These aren’t all of my favorite books by women, or even necessarily my absolute favorite books by women, but I’ve listed the same books over and over for years as favorites so I thought I’d try give some different books a bit of love.

Alice Hoffman, The Rules of Magic
(2017)

A prequel to Practical Magic, whose movie adaptation you know I love, TRoM is in my opinion a much better book than its predecessor.  The origins of the Owens “curse,” as well as the history of The Aunts (and the brother you never knew about), plays out as a much richer narrative to me.  I would love to see a TV or movie adaptation of this one too, if they got the right cast.

Jes Baker, Things No One Will Tell Fat Girls
(2015)

Jes just had a deeply personal memoir come out this year, but for some reason it didn’t affect me nearly as strongly as her first book, which I adore cover to cover.  

This is the movie tie-in version I have – I think I swiped it from one of my brothers when I was a kid.

Dodie Smith, The Hundred and One Dalmatians
(1956)

Yep, another Disney movie you probably didn’t know started as a novel.  It’s also very different from the film – in the novel there are three adult Dalmatians in the family, for starters.  Smith is perhaps better known, literary-wise, for her novel I Capture the Castle, which I’ve heard great things about and have a copy of but still haven’t managed to read.  (You might not be able to find this one easily – Amazon wasn’t much help – but the public library might be a good place to try.)

Sally Kempton, Meditation for the Love of It
(2011)

The best in-depth book on meditation I’ve ever read, and one that approaches the subject from a slightly different angle.  Instead of focusing on the effects meditation has on your life, Kempton believes we should meditate for the sake of meditating – to enjoy hooking up to what she calls the “meditation current,” and to delve our minds and spirits to learn and grow without focusing on what we’re going to get out of it.  Kempton comes from a modern Tantric background and her methods have helped me meditate more often, more deeply, and more happily than any others I’ve ever tried.

Amy B. Scher, This is How I Save My Life
(2018)

My love of memoirs, especially spiritually-focused memoirs by women, is a known thing, as is my fascination with India, so the story of a woman with late-stage Lyme disease who, in desperation, goes to India to receive stem cell therapy and in the process finds her entire being changed was right up my alley.  I loved this book enough to read it all in one night and be utterly useless the next day at work.  

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Smallish Bloggery Day 26: Care instructions for your new Sylvan

Congratulations on the newest member of your family!  Your new Sylvan will bring you years of companionship and no doubt a good deal of consternation.

Upon arriving home be sure and introduce Sylvan to the rest of your family slowly.  She is shy of strangers and may bite if approached aggressively.  She takes a while to warm up to you but one day you may be rewarded with the occasional sloppy drunken hug!

Give your Sylvan her own room and don’t be surprised if she spends a lot of time there.  Sylvan suffers from a mood disorder that leaves her very tired most of the time, and she also tends to need lots of time to herself to balance out the mad shrieking urge to run mad and shrieking when forced to be around people too long.  Sylvan likes to have a comfortable bed and needs access to a toilet as she has a bladder the size of a peanut.  You’ll find she doesn’t go outside much during Summer and can’t tolerate heat but comes alive in Fall and Winter!

Feed your Sylvan lots of delicious foods, ideally avoiding dairy, flesh, and eggs.  You may find that your Sylvan has tummy trouble on a regular basis – don’t be alarmed.  Adopting a rescue Sylvan means bringing home all of her quirks, and that means IBS!

Some of Sylvan’s favorite foods are:

  • Coke Zero
  • Haagen Dasz nondairy flavors
  • Toast with almond butter
  • Hummus with tortilla chips or sliced baguette
  • French fries with Whataburger ketchup
  • Indian food, especially a nice aloo ghobi
  • Starbucks soy Frappuccinos or other nondairy iced coffee beverages
  • Moscow Mules (in moderation – a hungover Sylvan can ruin your whole day!)

To avoid negative experiences for everyone in the family please do not attempt to feed your Sylvan:

  • Kale
  • Avocados
  • Any sort of mayonnaise product
  • Too many raw vegetables 

Your Sylvan also needs lots of emotional support when it comes to her writing.  She’s very sensitive!  Whatever you do don’t ask her about sales numbers, Amazon reviews, or when she’s going to come out with a new book.  Avoid taking your Sylvan around too many other writers as she may become territorial and bite.  

Make absolutely sure your Sylvan has access to reliable wifi and a Macbook, and she’ll happily write away her days if she ever gets another goddamn story idea.  With a little love and a whole lot of junk food, your Sylvan will make a great addition to your household!  

 

 

 

 

 

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Smallish Bloggery, Day 25: A fictional character in an utterly mundane place

(I’ve been asked for this “deleted” scene from Shadowbound for years now, so, here you go.)

“Sir–sir–you can’t–”

He paused, turned toward the voice.  A young man in a blue vest was following him, and to say the human looked concerned was a vast understatement.  “What?”

The human froze.  He apparently hadn’t planned what to say if his frantic gesturing and calling actually worked.  “Um…you can’t go in the store like that, it’s…”

Deven looked down at himself.  “Gross?” he ventured.

The young man, who was perhaps eighteen and still made of nothing but knees and elbows and an outsized nose he was unlikely to grow into at this point, went stark white when he got a better look at the Prime.  He must have thought Deven was simply filthy in some ordinary way – this was a rural area of Texas, perhaps people came in covered in mud from some sort of animal-killing pastime now and then.  

Deven cast a glance around.  So far he’d avoided much of a disturbance; it was late enough that the store was mostly empty.  The cavernous building, lit by fluorescents that were already giving him a headache, was cacophonous in sound and sight, a strange combination of festival color and soul-sucking commercial enterprise that seemed to go on for miles.  The thought of trying to hunt down something suitable to wear on an airplane, particularly after the evening he’d had, was unappealing to say the least.  

He took hold of the human’s arm.  “This way.”

A feeble protest died on the human’s lips as Dev dragged him toward the men’s restroom he’d sighted as he strode in through the automatic doors.  

The restroom stank of urinal cakes and bleach, and a single mortal stood pissing.  Deven waited exactly ten seconds for him to finish before barking, “Out!”

The man started violently mid-zip and, taking in the spectacle at the doorway, all but sprinted for the exit.

“All right,” Dev told the young man, checking his name tag, “Javi.  You get to help me avoid making a scene here in your fine retail establishment tonight.  I want you to go to the men’s clothing department and bring me something clean to put on.  I’ll give you my sizes – bring me something black, please, with as little decorative nonsense as possible.  Oh, and stop by the soap and bring me one of those travel bottles of something inoffensive.”

“But I’m supposed to be at the front doors–”

“Child, do as I say.”  Deven bent heavily on the human’s mind with his own.  “Do you want me to frighten your customers?  I’m covered in blood, Javi.  Human blood.  I think there’s some brains on my shin, want to see?”

A terrified squeak.

“Good lad.  Now, scoot.”

Javi stumbled out before he had time to notice that the gore-splattered stranger didn’t show up in any of the restroom mirrors.  Deven sighed tiredly and started stripping off his clothes, stuffing them into a garbage bag.  He was in luck; the restroom had been cleaned perhaps an hour earlier so the trash was empty and everything was reasonably not disgusting.  

He laid out his weapons on the counter, checking them over quickly as he did; one of his stakes would need a new blade.  Getting through security was going to be problematic, but it was hardly the first time he’d had to do so, and it would be immeasurably easier if he wasn’t strutting around Intercontinental stinking like an abattoir’s toilet.  He took a moment to rinse off his boots, which he’d worn specifically because they were easy to clean and waterproof.  

By the time Javi returned Dev was debating on whether to throw his underwear away, which meant that the human walked in on a naked, tattooed vampire standing at the sink.

“Um…um…um…”

Deven snorted and took the bundle the human thrust at him.  The boy, he noticed, was very determinedly Not Looking, and Dev might have thought he was Not Looking at the tattoos or piercings except for how scarlet he’d turned.  Hmm.

“Stay there,” the Prime snapped; Javi had taken a step back, intending no doubt to flee for his life.  “I might need you again.”

He quickly washed the blood out of his hair, scrubbed it from under his nails, and rinsed the smears off his forearms.

To his surprise the boy had brought a towel.  “Well done,” he told Javi, who still Was Not Looking By God You Can’t Prove Anything.  Dev took pity on the human and wrapped the towel around his waist while he sorted out the clothes.

“Not exactly what I’m used to,” he noted, tugging on jeans that were far too long and a rather unfortunate wash that was about five years behind current fashion.  “Isn’t that always the way, though: fly to the aid of a friend and you end up shopping off the rack like some kind of peasant.”  He pulled a knife, earning another squeak from Javi, and cut the jeans off short enough to roll once.  With the boots on they weren’t too bad, he supposed.

Then he picked up the shirt.  “Oh for fuck’s sake, Javi, this was the best you could do?  There wasn’t a solid black?”

“N..not…not in your size,” Javi replied.  “I could try the kids’–”

“This will do,” he said impatiently.  It was still a little large, but he didn’t want to wait any longer – he needed to get to the airport.  He’d stolen one of the cars left behind by Morningstar, and David’s estimate of the time it would take him to get to Houston was probably far more accurate than any GPS out here in the ass-fuck of nowhere, but still, best not to linger.  There was no avoiding it; he was going to walk out of here wearing a t-shirt emblazoned with Snoopy and Woodstock dancing gleefully across his chest.

Javi watched with huge eyes as Deven armed himself and finished getting dressed.  Finally, he gave the boy a long look up and down, reflecting that he had probably cost the lad his job by hauling him away from his post for so long and technically forcing him to shoplift.  

“I’m guessing there aren’t a lot of employment opportunities here in Rio Verde,” he said.  “Are you still in high school, Javi?”

A nod.  

“You poor thing. You know by the time I was your age I’d already been a monk for three years, caught blowing another novice, tortured to death by the Inquisition…I sincerely hope you’ve been having a better time of it.  But if you haven’t…just remember one thing, Javi.”

He held the boy’s eyes.  “This terrible little town isn’t the world.  A few years from now nobody who torments you for who you are will matter.  They’ll be stuck here their whole lives popping out redneck spawn and living for nothing greater than the Superbowl.  Get out of this place, Javi, and you can be anyone you want.”

Javi actually made a sound that was something laugh-like, though not terribly humor-laden.  Deven could tell what he was going to say–that opportunities for escaping this town were thin on the ground without scholarships, which were hard to earn when you had to spend your entire life outside school working at a place like this to help make ends meet.  The kids who took pre-college courses might as well live on a different planet from a kid like him.

Deven smiled and took out his wallet.  “You’ve been an excellent valet, young man, and therefore I think you’re entitled to a tip.”  He handed the boy a fifty.  “That’s for the clothes – give it back to the store or don’t, I really don’t care.  Meanwhile…if you wouldn’t mind, I need some information from you.  Full name, address, birthdate, social, please.”

The lad recited the data as if it hadn’t occurred to him not to, and Dev recorded it on his phone, then sent it to Julia, the CPA who handled his and Jonathan’s petty cash accounts.  A moment later she called him.

“What have you gotten into now, my Lord?”

“I need you to make a delivery to the human whose information I just sent you.  One-time cash drop payment.”

“Informant, hit, personal service, or miscellaneous?”

“Miscellaneous.”  Personal service was Jonathan’s silly euphemism for a prostitute.  “What’s the going rate for a four-year university these days?  Whatever it is, triple it, just to be safe.”

Now, Javi looked like he was about to faint.  

When Dev hung up, he met the human’s eyes again.  “I expect you to use that money to get the fuck out of this town and go to school.  I don’t care what kind or where – college, trade, art school, culinary, anything that pleases you.  I don’t care if you use part of it to help your family as well, just as long as you do something to help yourself.  And trust me…if you don’t, I’ll know.”

“But…why?”  Javi managed weakly.  “Just because I got you a pair of pants and a Snoopy shirt?  You didn’t really give me a choice.”

“It’s not really that.”  He regarded the human in silence for a beat longer than was probably appropriate in mortal society.  Finally he said quietly, “I am a haunted man, Javi.  I can do very little to exorcise all the ghosts that follow me from one decade to the next.  But I like the idea of warding off a few of yours.”

“And you just have that kind of money lying around, and you’re hanging out in a Wal Mart covered in blood?”

Deven smiled.  “Not anymore.  Good luck, child.”    

With that, he Misted out of the restroom and back to the parking lot, just in time for Miranda to call.

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Smallish Bloggery, Day 24: My very favorite Twitter accounts

You already know the first one:

Lin-Manuel Miranda

Birds Rights Activist

Thoughts of Dog

(I could post every single tweet from this account as my favorites, but on the off chance you’ve never seen Thoughts of Dog, perhaps these will entice you to check him out.  It’s nothing but love and sweetness and the best antidote to…well, most of the rest of the internet.)

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Smallish Bloggery, Day 23: My spiritual beliefs in one sentence

My spiritual beliefs in one sentence:

 

Shit, I don’t know.

 

Honestly, I don’t:  There are entire parts of all religions that I find ridiculous; I can’t get with the whole Jesus-as-my-savior and Bible-as-THE WORD thing, my rational mind thinks life after death is just completely insane, the Pagan holidays annoy me, pieces of Buddhism are amazing but a lot of it bores the hell out of me, my social conscience won’t let me steal from everyone anymore without good reason and “I wanna” isn’t a good enough reason, I feel no connection to any god anymore, I love Witchy things and can summon some rather phenomenal mojo but my depression makes it hard to get it up, I like the idea of going to a church and being part of something moving and joyful but again, I just feel absolutely no pull toward Christianity (but plenty of pulls away) and have never found a Pagan group that wasn’t just wall to wall bullshit drama and politics and what I really want is ecstasy and union with deity but I’m not sure that’s even a real thing I can find, so I’m just sort of in limbo and rootless and homeless and I don’t like it, not at all.

(I guess that’s two sentences, the tl;dr version and the full director’s run-on cut.)

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