It’s Tuesday Now. Sorry.

Apologies for the lack of post yesterday. Sometimes life happens and you forget what day of the week it is.

We will continue with our regularly scheduled posts on Friday. Hopefully. But don’t fret: no one here is suffering or hurt or lost or has been chased down a chasm of horrible blackness.

We just forgot yesterday was Monday.



Silly Sunday: Camp!

OK. So… this isn’t silly. But this is my last chance to remind everyone before it starts because this coming week is mostly A.

This is my first year doing Camp NaNoWriMo. Typically, I can only do one of these big writing events a year. It takes the other 11 mos to figure out what I hate about the NaNo draft, decide I need to shelve the project while I figure out how to fix it, and start another one. But I got seduced into trying TWO this year…

Hopefully this works out.

For those not in the know, Camp is basically NaNo but you get more control over what you choose to do. 50,000 words? If you want. I’m doing 30,000, myself. Don’t want to write? Maybe you want to edit some pages. Or, hell… maybe you just want to spend an hour a day doing SOMETHING related to writing. Whatever. It’s all good at camp.

The best thing for me is that it isn’t location-based. NaNoWriMo SUCKS in my neck of the woods. There’s maybe 20 people and all the events are 45 minutes away from me (I live in a big county) without any traffic. So it’s lonely, isolated, and kinda suck. Obviously, the on-line community remains intact (hello, Twitter), but that can seem a tad overwhelming without breaking it down into groups.

Camp solves this with cabins. Yeah… it’s a silly distinction at best, but it counts for me. I’m weird.

So. If you want to join us at Camp, pick a project you want to work on and sign on up. Even if you can’t join the cool cabin (Team Purple Parrots!), hit me up on Twitter and you can definitely become an honorary member. We’ll be doing sprints, cheering one another on, and maybe we’ll even make Popsicle stick art!

See y’all on Saturday, when the games officially begin!

Shakespeare Saturday: Twitter also Loves Willy

Hey readers! Happy Saturday! I’m supposed to be doing a show – it’s intermission… this is totally allowed – so today’s post will be short and sweet. Please enjoy some funny Shakespeare tweets courtesy of BuzzFeed. I actually meant to post this two weeks ago, but I was (surprise) doing a show and completely forgot about it.

So anyway… Here’s the link and I’ll see you cacti on Monday!!!


Boozy Books: Sense and Sensibility

Hey, guys! Welcome to this week’s Boozy Books! Because I have no fewer than 5 projects I’m working on (continued development of my NaNo ’16 project, Lost City; drafting Liar (which those of you who follow us on Twitter will recognize is Lucky); early work on Talentless (Nerd Cactus’ new project, which A can talk about on Monday if she wants to!); Rebel Earth, a shared project with a friend of mine that will probably never be finished, but we will keep striving to get there; and worldbuilding on Esmeihiri, which is my from-scratch world that I will be working on forever and probably will need some help developing a plot for soon.

There is also Fall the God, which seems to have taken a backseat to all these other projects again. To be fair to FtG, Rebel will be done soon and I can get back to work figuring out what I want to do with the second half of the story. I have a lot of various storylines in my head right now, but they need to be put together into something resembling a cogent story. Which it does not right now.

So, needless to say, I have not been reading much lately. I’ve been working on one or another of these (and apologizing to Eamon, who is getting really impatient to be fleshed out into a full main character, which the expansion of FtG will now allow) until I crash into bed each night, leaving little time for reading. I think I’m going to crash soon, at which point I’ll get no writing done at all but read 9000 books in two weeks (only slight exaggeration there), so Boozy Books will get better then. But until that point happens (and look out for some epic fantasy, since I’ll be getting back into that as research for both Esmeihiri and FtG), I’m going to use up my last ‘Get Out of Jail Free’ card and pair Sense and Sensibility, the final of Jane Austen’s completed novels I can actually pair.

I know! I was surprised I hadn’t done it already, too. I was sure I’d already done all of Austen. But I hadn’t! Though, I must say… I am not surprised it’s Sense and Sensibility that was the forgotten holdout. I neither love it the way I do Persuasion and Pride and Prejudice, nor do I have problems with it the way I do Emma and Mansfield Park (though a recent re-read of Mansfield with the view of updating it into the 1920s did sort of change my opinion of Fanny Price for the better). I love the role it plays in the Thursday Next books (the ballroom at Norland Park is the headquarters of Jurisfiction, the agency tasked with policing books from inside BookWorld), but I find myself not entirely satisfied with any particular character. Which, of course, might very well be the point.

Sense and Sensibility mostly follows two sisters, Marianne and Elinor Dashwood, who represent the two qualities in the title (in the same way Elizabeth and Darcy represent pride and prejudice in their own novel). Elinor, the eldest daughter, is all sense, sublimating her own wants and emotions to the point that some people find her cold (even, on occasion, her own family). She places the welfare of her friends and family way above her own so, rather than explain and share her heartbreak and travails throughout the novel, she keeps them inside. (I like her better than Marianne in many ways, especially when played by the divine Emma Thompson.) Marianne (the middle daughter), on the other hand, is all Romantic sensibility (and I capitalize R because I mean the Romantic movement rather than hearts and stars romance) and sees no reason to subdue her emotions or expressions whatsoever. She loves poetry and believes to die for love is the most wonderful thing a person could do. (Someone needed to lay off Romeo and Juliet, methinks.)

The novel begins with the Dashwood ladies (the two sisters, their third sister Margaret, and their mother) having to leave their home, Norland Park, because their father/husband has died and left, because of primogeniture, everything to his eldest son, John. Before they leave, though, Elinor Dashwood meets and falls in love with Edward Ferrars, her sister-in-law’s eldest brother. It is commonly believed that Edward returns the feeling, but he must leave abruptly before anything happens. Edward Ferrars is… nice. Like, he’s an actually nice guy. Not Nice Guy nice guy. Actual nice guy. This is a common thread with both him and Colonel Brandon, who is, in my opinion, Austen’s most underappreciated hero. They are both really good guys hidden behind an unexceptional exterior, i.e. you have to be discerning to be able to see and understand their worth. (Edward Ferrars was also played by Dan Stevens in 2008, so I guess that was just practice for him being the Beast?) He and Elinor are very well-suited, if not terribly exciting. You’ll not find witty banter or fancy houses to fall in love with here.

After Mr. Dashwood’s death, the Dashwood women are left with very little money, but are fortunately rescued by a cousin of Mrs. Dashwood (something Austen does very well is make you, as the reader, understand the plight of women in her world. Yes, women are always looking to make good marriages and need rescuing by men, but that is their lot in this world. They have very little other choice. Austen was an exception, but she was rather the exception that proved the rule, unfortunately. The injustice of male primogeniture is on full display here in this novel.) and invited to come live in Devonshire at a small cottage. Elinor, the sensible one remember, is totally fine with it because it is what it is, but the transition is difficult for the other members of the family. Once there, the family is introduced to Colonel Brandon, King of the Tragic Backstory™, who immediately forms an attachment to Marianne because she reminds him of a woman he loved and lost. Brandon is another trademarked Nice Guy™ (since I went and acquired the symbol, I figured I’d use it), though his backstory and being a Colonel do rather add a dash of the Romantic Hero to his character. In fact, this is one of my great disappointments with this book: Jane Austen, because the novel is about Marianne and Elinor, did not give us nearly enough Brandon. We are told rather than shown his tragic past. Now, maybe this is because Austen wanted to force the reader to discern the amazingness though the unexceptional, to learn his worth the way Marianne does (Elinor recognizes it immediately and their friendship is one of my favorite parts of this entire novel. They respect one another, confide in one another. It’s amazing. I love it so much.); I do not know. But I wish we’d gotten to see it on the page.

Marianne doesn’t see it, either. She falls for dashing Willoughby. And, in fact, Willoughby is a really interesting character. He ends up jilting Marianne and marrying a rich woman (proving men were just as guilty of marrying for fortune as the women), breaking her heart and nearly killing her (because death by broken heart is a real thing, people). But, in the end, it is acknowledged that he loved her and would have married her if not for the streak of cowardice in him that ran when faced with losing his inheritance. In fact, if he had married her, he would have had his inheritance restored and gotten both. But… nope. He ran and married the rich lady. Oh, and he also fathered a child with Colonel Brandon’s ward, who was herself the child of his Lady Love. (Guys. His backstory is some seriously tragic stuff. There’s a reason I used this: ™.)

Anyway, while all this is going down, the Misses Steele come to visit and the eldest Miss Steele, Lucy, confides in Elinor that she and Edward Ferrars (remember? Nice Guy™? Yeah. Him.) have been secretly engaged for many years. Actually, Edward had tried to tell Elinor, but had been called away before he could. So now Elinor is forced into a confidence with the women who basically broke her heart because Edward is too honorable to break his promise to Miss Steele even though he loves Elinor. When it’s revealed that Miss Steele and Edward are engaged, Edward is disinherited because he refuses to break his vow to her (it’s really quite nice). But then Lucy breaks it off with him to marry his younger, now much richer, brother (we are not meant to hate Lucy; she is just doing what a girl needs to do to get by in this world, remember?), and he is free to marry Elinor! YAY! They live a pretty good life, too, with Edward being a clergyman and Elinor his happy wife. They even get to live near Colonel Brandon and Marianne because Brandon, being the goddamn hero he is, offers Edward the living at Delaford (basically, he would be the clergyman there) when he hears that Edward stuck by Lucy Steele even though it would cost him his fortune.

These are some seriously good guys, guys. It’s just such a damn shame Austen couldn’t give them the nuance she gave so many of her other heroes.

Oh yeah. Marianne recovers from her broken heart over Willoughby, realizes she’s been selfish, decides to be more like Elinor, and eventually falls in love with and marries Brandon. There are some who are not satisfied with this ending. I am not one of them. Brandon is a goddamn hero, as I’ve stated, and Marianne is lucky to have him. And I’m glad she learned to realize how amazing he is.

So… what to drink? In honor of Devon, we’ll go with two options. If you just want to drink, go for a cider. But, if you want to eat something… why not go for a Devonshire tea? Nothing like comestibles for a good time, right?

Alright! This has been too long. I’m sorry. I get really excited when I talk about Jane Austen. We’ll be back tomorrow with some Shakespeare!


Monday Muse: The Joy of Collaborating

Hey guys! Sorry this is cutting it so short (and will probably be a little late); I was adding to the Cactus Inquiry Spreadsheet and didn’t realize what time it was.

Yes. That’s right. We’ve officially sent out our second round of queries! Obviously, we were not that exceptionally rare of beasts: a first-round manuscript request. But that’s OK; we really like this new crop of agents and we know we’ll find our match eventually. Killing Mercutio is a great novel; someone out there will want it.

Now. In other news: we officially broke ground on Talentless today! Nerd Cactus is officially in writing mode again!


I can’t express to you how happy this makes me. I’m never happy when I’m not creating. It’s an itch that builds until it becomes panic-inducing. While I’m sure I’ve mentioned that actually drafting is my least favorite part of the process, a part of that really only applies to writing my solo stuff. When I work alone, drafting is draining; I only have so many words I can write before I have to stop and recharge, and it takes a long time to fill that tank again. When I write with someone else, though…

The whole thing is different. The whole process is so much easier and so much less draining. People who tell me they have no idea how to collaborate or who think it must be so hard… I don’t get them. I don’t understand people who’re so protective of their writing, they refuse to share. Now, I should be clear that my personal stuff is just that; I don’t share it with any of my writing partners. They definitely help me plan, they help with keeping me out of a rut and with editing, but the creative process is mine. I would never collaborate on Liar because Lucky is mine. But the idea that writing is to be done alone is baffling to me.

Those of you who follow us on Twitter know that that’s me. It’s always me. A doesn’t Twit good. I’m the Twit. So you might know that a story I’ve been working on for 8 years (on and off) with another partner finally moved. I immediately set aside Liar to start work because this story took over my entire writing consciousness. Everything I needed to write appeared and all I had to do was put it down on screen. It confused me because I really, really love Liar and thought it was pretty secure in its place.

Eventually, I decided it was because that story is eight years old; it’s familiar and warm, the paths well-tread and intimate. But, after today, I’m wondering if it’s maybe that I write better in a partnership.

Anyway. Sorry this is late. We’ll keep you updated on all things Mercutio and introduce you to all things Talentless in the coming weeks.


Silly Sunday: Irish Terms for “Drunk”

Happy Sunday, dear readers! Hopefully you had a wonderful time merrymaking this weekend. And given America’s propensity for getting into the Irish spirit around St. Paddy’s Day I’m sure you were not lacking for parties or pub crawls. Unless you live under a bridge or something…

Anyway, as one last shout out to St. Patrick and this weekend’s many revelers (both Irish and decidedly not) here’s a silly video from Jimmy Kimmel in which Jamie Dornan (who is Irish) goes through a list of Irish euphemisms for being drunk. I have no desire to ever see or read the 50 shades franchise, but I do find this video adorable. Please let this man be in other films that I might watch. With his accent intact. K thanks. 


Shakespeare Saturday: An Interesting Look at Shrew

Hey! Sorry this is late. I got caught up in writing.

Anyway, I found this really cool article on tackling one of our favorite plays, Taming of the Shrew. It’s definitely a problematic fave, that we don’t deny. But, if you go through our archive, you’ll see a number of posts dealing with coming to terms with our enjoyment and even coming to understand what we think Shakespeare meant.

The question of how to deal with and approach the problems in the play is something each production does differently. Some play it straight (opting for maximum irony), some highlight the cruelty to make it ridiculous, some turn the tables and make Petruchio the shrew, some do it better than others. Our favorite here features John Cleese as Petruchio. But, like I said, that’s not the only way to interpret the play.

Check out how the Chesapeake Shakespeare Company handles the questions:

(Sorry for the naked link. I hate being late.)


Boozy Books: James Joyce, Anyone?

Just kidding!

Happy St. Patrick’s Day, Nerd Cactus followers! You probably don’t really need any help with the drink recommendations this weekend, but I figured we could all raise a glass to the many prolific Irish authors out there in the literary world. 

Yes, James Joyce is one of them, and no, I won’t be suggesting that you read Ulysses. I mean… You can if you want, but nobody here is going to be held responsible for your choices.

My personal favorite of the classic Irish writers is Oscar Wilde. Jonathon Swift is a very close second. So go on and grab a copy of The Importance of Being Earnest or A Modest Proposal (or really anything by any Irish author) and raise a glass of Jameson – or Guinness depending on your preference – to the Emerald Isle!


Monday Muse: Bookshelves!

Hey there, Nerd Cactus readers! Apologies for missing Shakespeare Saturday. I actually had a really good one planned, but wouldn’t you know it, I spent the entire weekend building an Ikea bedframe. And, yes, I mean the entire weekend… This adventure into human-sized lego hybrid puzzles came about because the BF and I are beginning the exciting – but also crazy and seriously annoying – process of renovating our bedroom and bathroom. The good news: our relationship survived putting together Ikea’s 6th most difficult to assemble nightmare fuel. The bad news: we’ve barely begun to scratch the surface of this endeavor.

BUT. I’ve discovered that I love the whole interior design planning phase. I’ve been looking for the just the right curtains and nightstands and rugs AND – wait for it – BOOKSHELVES!
These links have inspired me, because I TOTES need a bookshelf in our room. Of course, now I’m thinking I’ll probably need a custom made one which will be stupid expensive but…. Maybe I’ll become a carpenter? I mean Harrison Ford was a carpenter. And then he was Ham Solo. That seems like exactly the right career path for me. Yeah… Interior designer, carpenter, super famous Star Wars actor. 

But first. Bookshelves.


Boozy Books: Norse Myth

Heyo! Welcome to Boozy Books! I’m going to try to make this one quick because, guys…


OK, I should probably explain before everyone thinks I’ve been suffering from a really bad bout of constipation…

There is a story a friend and I have been working on for going on nine years now. It’s basically Star Wars but we explore the deep nuances in rebellions as opposed to having it be black and white Empire bad, rebels good. Some of our greatest villains are actually people aligned with the rebellion and the Empire keeps people healthy, fed, working, educated, and not worried about crime. Sure, they’re not really free to speak their mind and whatnot, but yeah. OK, and they are still punishing Earth for an earlier rebellion 500 years after it happened… but still, they’re not shooting lightning from their hands. They’re bad, not cartoonish.

Anyway. This story moves in fits and starts. It can go years without a single addition. And this is the case with the last few years. Three, actually.


(For those of you deafened by that screaming… I’m really excited and I want to go work on that instead of this blog, but this blog is a responsibility and I need to do it, so here I am writing this blog.)

This week, I’m giving my official recommendation of Neil Gaiman’s Norse Myth. Not that anyone needs it because OF COURSE this is an amazing book. It’s not Gaiman’s version of the myths we know so well–he doesn’t rewrite them–but the myths we know so well written in Gaiman’s amazing voice. Though they’re written down, they read almost like a verbal recounting, a transcription of a Norse poet’s words. They’re personal, they’re accessible, and they’re funny. Gaiman’s version of the myth where Thor’s hammer gets stolen made me laugh out loud, disturbing my kitten and earning me a sleepy glare. It’s one of my favorite myths overall, and Gaiman handled it as perfectly as I could have hoped. And there’s a great deal of humanity in these gods, which I’ve always thought was appropriate because, if you remember, the Norse gods die. Just like us.

So, what are we drinking? Mead, of course! Because, even though Gaiman’s version of Odin says it takes like piss in American Gods, it’s an important drink. And should be part of all things god.

Read this. I am off to finish this addition and start my own. I’m so excited. GUYS! MUCH EXCITE!

See you Sunday.