Monday Muse: Obligatory Post

Hello, everybody! Welcome, Nerd Cactus, sarcasm, marginally witty quip, yad yada yada…

Today’s Muse is nothing short of a ten minute break from writing. It is a post to fulfill my duties and take my mind off those last few chapters hanging over my head demanding to be written. They will be. I keep telling them that, but they’re as impatient as children who have been promised a slice of birthday cake. Intolerable.

Look, I still have a few days left on my countdown winner teapot clock (I also have a hankering to watch the IT crowd apparently). After all the work I’ve already put into this thing who could doubt that I won’t pull it off? It’s not like I’m gonna look back at the twenty or so chapters I’ve written and say “eh, I think I’ve done enough”. There’s a story to be told and it demands an ending. I know that. You, as readers and writers, know that.

So you see there’s no reason for my brain to go into panic mode. Just breathe and get it done. Yesterday I killed off a character and completely shattered another’s emotional stability for crying out loud! Things are happening. Chapters are being written. I may be crying over the cruelty I bestowed upon my fictional babies, but I’m going to push through it and finish the marathon.


See you Friday for Boozy Books!



Silly Sunday: Hilariousness!

OK. I really, really, really wanted to post something about Star Wars. I wanted to post funny pictures and articles and hilarious things about this awesome phenomenon that has taken over the world. But…apparently, it’s only been a little over a week since it came out, so posting things might constitute spoilers. And I made a promise to never post spoilers on this blog.

So I’m going to post something else that’s humorous and has nothing to do with Star Wars! Enjoy!


We’ll be back tomorrow with some sort of Muse. Knowing the amount of writing A has been doing over the last few days, it’ll probably be the insane ramblings of a woman on the edge. I, for one, look forward to reading it. Insane, strung-out, completely-sober-but-feeling-like-you’re-on-crack posts are hilarious.


Shakespeare Saturday: Star Wars Takeover

Happy Saturday, dear friends! To those of our readers who celebrated Christmas yesterday, I hope you had a fabulous day filled with friends, family, food, and a decent haul. I know my family spent literally the entire day eating so I’m still a bit lethargic.

Today, I spent a good deal of time working on writing. This was mostly in anticipation of seeing Star Wars again. I’m pumped. I’m on my way right now. I’m typing this from the backseat of my parents’ car as I’m being whisked away to Imax 3D goodness (I saw the regular version the first time). So for those of you who thought Saturday was all about Shakespeare, wellllll….. Ok, it still is. But in a totally Star Wars-y kinda way.

By now I’m sure you’ve all heard of William Shakespeare’s Star Wars, beginning with Verily A New Hope. I’m certain we’ve touched upon this before, but given this month’s Star Wars takeover it only seems fair to talk about it again. All three of the original series have been translated into Shakespeare’s iambic pentameter and I highly recommend them. Special shout out to R2D2’s incredibly insightful soliloquies.

Ok, that’s enough from me. I’M SEEING STAR WARS AGAIN.


Boozy Books: A Christmas Carol

OK. Let me ‘splain… No, there is no time. Let me sum up.

I have had six hours’ sleep over the last couple of days. I am exhausted. My well runneth dry. My cup is empty. My eyelids are anchors, weighing heavy o’er bloodshot eyes. (From the lack of sleep and the many, many hours of cooking. Get your heads out of whatever weird, grimy place in which you’ve stored them.) But, dammit, I promised you a Boozy Books, so I’m giving it to you.

Also, Merry Christmas!

You will have been visited by four spirits by the time this book is over (five if you skipped the book and watched the Muppet version of the movie). At some point, you’ll stop being a dick and realize that Christmas is cool. Which is all well and good when you’re rich and can pay someone to do all the cooking. Oh my God, the cooking…

Why did I volunteer to make so much of Christmas dinner?

Anyway. Everyone knows the story of Ebenezer Scrooge. I mean… everyone. But not a lot of people take the time to read the actual story, and I’ve never understood that. What a lot of the movies fail to capture is the creepy, ominous nature of Dickens’ writing. So many versions of the screen play the thing as a kids’ story, and it really isn’t. But A Christmas Carol falls into that category of being a happy ending/supernatural romp about the spirit of Christmas, so of course it’s for kids. Hell, my favorite version *is* the Muppet version and that’s about as scary as the prospect of curling up under my blanket and sleeping as long as I damn well want to because, seriously, have I mentioned how tired I am?

(I am aware I have.)

Dickens was a bit of a rambler, I know. The irony of it all is it’s that rambliness that drives me nuts about him and here I am, the Queen of Rambling Blog entries. But I think Dickens is best where his story is somewhat limited, because he is forced to get to the point. And the great familiarity of the story allows Dickens’ words to really come to the forefront. If you really want to take a moment to focus on the power of good prose…this is definitely a story with which to do that.

Anyway…what do I think you should drink with this? My recommendation is Wassail, a good ol’ drink for a good ol’ town. Now, if you’re not cool with what is basically spiced apple cider (not the hard kind, either), a number of Wassail recipes call for a wine that heats well, like Madeira. I’ve heard of some people adding Brandy, too, but it really is up to you. Personally, I really am a fan of non-alcoholic cider, so I would actually omit the booze. But I’m weird that way.

Alternative: Since the weather seems to think it’s still summer, you could always go with a chilled bottle of hard cider, as well. There are a number of commercial brands available, so finding one to suit your taste should be really easy.

This has been Boozy Books! Forgive the (for me) terse nature of today’s entry. I think I actually fell asleep for a second there as I was typing this. I am…really tired. Tomorrow, we Shakespeare!


Monday Muse: Logistics

Greetings to our readers on this, the Monday before Christmas. Lest you believed that we would take a break…ha! Nerdery never takes a break! It is always there, ever-present, surrounding us all…like the Force.

Speaking of the Force. AAHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!! Still on a high from Star Wars over here. A is literally seeing it as I type this and I cannot wait to talk about it with her. I loved it so much. No Spoilers, guys. I promise. Now, for those of you who didn’t like it, I can understand; I, too, did not think it was a perfect expression of film greatness. What I did think it was was a perfect expression of Star Wars. Flashy, light, comforting, and fun. These movies are a Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers of the 21st century. Did it tread familiar territory? Of course it did. It was re-establishing the world, introducing new viewers, and reminding everyone of what it means to be Star Wars. It was a good beginning tied up in a continuation. Of course, now that it’s done that, I hope they are willing to twist our expectations on end. I won’t be so forgiving next time.

But, anyhow, let’s move on. Today is about logistics.

It may come as a surprise to no one who reads our efforts here that A and I are writing a novel. We talk about it often enough. In fact, as I write this, each of us as only a couple of chapters to finish for our deadline on New Year’s. A has it harder, I admit; she has a couple of key emotional scenes that will rip out her heart and use the blood as ink. I just get to wrap up a key plot line and give the villain his comeuppance. All that’s stopping me from churning them out is the character whose POV it is telling it; he’s a careful man, and so my words must also be careful.

But what has any of this to do with logistics? Only everything. You see, these chapters are a sort-of culmination. All our plots coming together into their ultimate consequences. This is the time to test whether or not everything works. Will the keystone hold up our arch, or will everything come crashing down? Use the same metaphor, only with a linchpin and a wheel. We’re about to find out whether or not our various plots and our beloved characters work. And all of that depends on how well we planned.

Now, I’ll be the first to admit that there have been some things we’ve realized needed to change as we were writing. Our inner Americans forgot for a while that Italy is basically the size of one of our mid-sized states and so we needed to figure out why it would take one of our characters so long to travel from one city to another. And that one detail actually snowballed into a lot of different changes, including a villain who is ultimately better than what we originally planned. It also caused us no small amount of annoyance as we figured out what else needed to shift. But, in the end, we were able to do it. And I’m convinced it’s because we did our due diligence. Yes, we made a mistake, but because everything else was so well planned ahead of time, we were able to recover relatively easily.

See, the thing is, writing is a craft. Yes, it is also an art, but it is ultimately a craft. You need to do your due diligence. A good artist is someone who plans; they dig into the nuts and bolts to make sure that their art is sound from the cornerstone to the keystone (keeping that metaphor going). It sometimes means boring days making charts, creating timelines, writing lists upon lists of details you need to remember. For this particular novel, I had to read Romeo and Juliet with a highlighter, pen, and my beloved note cards. (Yes, note cards. People have been trying to get me onto Google Drive for years. Before that, it was Excel or pretty much any other online database system. But my favorite and most formative professor preferred note cards and I will never give that up. Some people want old card catalogs because it’s all cool and hipster; I want one to hold all my research.) There was research on Venice, Verona, Shakespeare in general, and no small amount of making sure I didn’t have characters wearing slops a century too early. A had her own research and systems to help her get everything done (not to mention hilariously aggressive notes written to herself as reminders to write). Actually writing the novel was the last thing we did and, not-so-small-mistakes aside (I’m American–geography isn’t our strong point), it was easy to do because we had everything already planned.

Now, I admit, there are different styles of writing. Some people like to outline the hell out of things, others like to write by the seat of their pants. But, you know what brings them together? Logistics. Because you’ve got to get your stuff together first or your writing will be a damn stinking pile of mess. And no one wants that!

Well, that’s it for me today. I’ll be back on Friday with a Boozy Books something or other. It’s Christmas, but I’ll get it done. Of course, there is every chance whatever book I pick, I’ll be recommending Egg Nog and Mulled Apple Cider. You know, because it’s Christmas. And also because they’re delicious. See you then!


Silly Sunday: Mozart, You Filthy Animal

Good evening, friends, and welcome to tonight’s edition of Silly Sunday. Today’s post is brought to you by the shenanigans that occur and the things you learn when you attend your significant others holiday work party. Not to worry, lots of fun was had by all. I’ve heard horror stories about office work parties, but my gentleman works with some very nice and frequently funny people.

A little background here: both myself and my boyfriend have bachelor degrees in music and he currently teaches guitar/bass/piano at a private studio. So much of the conversation tonight was music-oriented and brought me back to those good ‘ol college days. (Ok, so I only graduated like three years ago, but I do miss the learning/atmosphere.) Well, anyway we got to talking about Mozart – brilliant little protege that he was – and I learned suggesting new about him! Did you know that along with the big, classical masterpieces he also wrote a few noteworthy (read: filthy) songs of lesser repute? Well, he did! Cause despite the great burden of musical genius he was also a loopy eccentric with a fabulously off-color sense of humor.

So what have we learned today? Mozart was not only a musical savant, but also a prolific master of toilet humor. This is why his works have endured, people!

You’re. Welcome.


Shakespeare Saturday: The Year of Bill!

Yes. This is late. Sorry. Two chapters left to write in the novel, eleven days in which to write them. Yes, that’s nominally plenty of time, but several of those days involve Christmas and/or Christmas prep. For some damn stupid reason, I volunteered to cook much of Christmas dinner. I am an idiot.

So, again…late. Sorry. BUT I’LL BE DAMNED IF I MISS A DAY!

2016 is the 400-year anniversary of Shakespeare’s Death Day. April 23rd, in particular. Well…what’s a world to do on such an important, elegantly rounded off anniversary? GO NUTS! That’s what!

Seriously…I thought the whole Shakespeare-shorts-on-giant-screens-around-London was big. THIS is big. It’s no longer a Shakespearience. It’s been upgraded to The Year of Bill. Check it out:

Here’s hoping Nerd Cactus can get in on that action, even if it’s a bit late…

Like this post. Sorry again about that.

Tomorrow, we Silly!

Boozy Books: Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil

Happy Friday, readers! Time again for something boozy and something book-y.

This week I’m taking on John Berendt’s Savannah-based, non-fiction novel, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. Based on true events that took place in the 1980s, Berendt’s work is a pretty realistic depiction of the “Hostess City of the South”, featuring many of the eccentric archetypes that exist in the region. Focusing on the murder of a male prostitute and the resulting trial, the novel is a mostly true exploration of the southern city’s sultry sensuality and (alternately) innate snobbery. Each character holds up some portion of the storytelling, filling the story with personality and wit. Berendt’s writing is noteworthy for holding the reader’s attention through elegant novel-like structure and wicked humor.

The pairing on this one is so obvious it hurts, but here goes: Southern Comfort sweet tea. Whether you choose to sweeten it or go for a classic Southern iced tea this is the drink you wanna be drinking when you’re reading about the deep south. Obviously the simplicity (and deliciousness) of this drink makes it an easy fix, but Soco’s website lists another delightful recipe to ramp up your happy hour. Link below!

Happy reading and happy boozing!


Get the book here:

Monday Muse: Give Me Strength!

Good evening, readers! Welcome back to Nerd Cactus HQ, where the nerdiness is palpable and the cacti never need watering (cause they’re metaphorical or something).

Today, I am clinging to my last shred of sanity as I tackle day five of some pretty serious character rebuilding/chapter restructuring. I’ve already expressed my vexation that we’ve reached the final month of 2015, and consequently, – for those of you who may not be regular followers – the deadline for our novel. It’s all very exciting, but mostly it’s freakin’ terrifying.

Now, I don’t have many chapters left to write, but two characters in particular have shifted significantly from where they initially began. They are becoming major pains in my ass and taking quite a lot of time away from any forward progress. Of course, it’s all for the better… the story will drastically improve and nobody will have cause to question character choices. It’s a very good thing. But for the love of ice cream, it’s torturous work! I have had to create charts based on which chapters they appear in, charts based on their internal arcs, and charts charting which tea seems to contain the most effective amount of caffeine to keep me productive. AND THEN I’ve had to go back and rework all of the previously written chapters. I feel as though I’m wading through quicksand made up of my own writing. It’s awful.

I also had a really weird dream last night. Like really weird. I dreamt that C and I went to a fancy bookshop to plan where our novel would be displayed and got attacked by a panther. That panther stalked us through a parking lot and used stealth tactics that no animal could ever think of… I mean, It tricked us into thinking it was in a tree and then somehow was in our car. I’m not exactly into interpreting dreams, but I’m pretty sure that panther was representative of one (if not both) of my aforementioned trouble characters. They are out to get me, but I will not let them win. This ends tonight! (Or, y’know sometime this week at the very latest…)

Back to work!


Silly Sunday: Welcome to Earth! (Again!)

IT’S HERE! The trailer to the greatest and/or stupidest sequel in the history of ever! Guys, guys, guys…

Watch it!


Will Smith isn’t even necessary.

Also…STAR WARS COMES OUT ON FRIDAY! Well, actually…it basically comes out on Thursday since there’s a bunch of showings from, like, 6pm on Thursday night. But I’m seeing it Friday night, so Friday is all that matters. SO EXCITED!

C out! Tomorrow is the Muse!