My editing rates and information.

I have gotten quite a few requests for a list of my editing prices lately, and it occurs to me that I usually do that in email on request. I am getting tired of copying and pasting for everyone, and I guess I should try to be more professional instead of being that exclusive club that has the long line but is empty inside. Or something. Insert metaphor here.

So here’s the gist of what I usually tell prospective clients.

QUALIFICATIONS: I have a BA in English from the University of Pittsburgh.  I am an experienced high school teacher who has worked with remedial, college track, and ESL students.  I have also taught writing and grammar to children from age 4 and up.  I have done TOEFL and SAT prep, and have been published here and there.  Since 2012, I have been editing freelance and for Storm Moon Press.  And while it’s not quite a professional accolade, I have been heavily involved in fandom writing and editing for decades, where I have organized writing activities for writers and produced a gargantuan oeuvre of the stuff under the name Amand-r (see A03).

RATES: Line edit: 25/hr, Deep edit (structural work and rewrites): 35/hr, Proofing: 15/hr

Standard rate of pace is generally 10-12 pages/hour unless massive trouble is come across. All work is charted in excel for transparency of billable hours. You will receive a copy of this spreadsheet in addition to an invoice from me.

For an example, a 1.5 spaced MS of approx. 90K words and 240 pages took me 28 hours at the line editing rate. The author was ESL, so ze required a more intensive repair. Edits include a paper run-through and a computer run-through. You can have the paper copy mailed to you in addition to the computer file with marked changes. If not, the paper copy is shredded.

TIMING: Length to turnaround: I like to give myself 1.5-2 months for a book. Not because I plan on going crazy, but because I work in unstructured schedules, and sometimes life cuts in. Short stories of course, would take a shorter amount of time, but I tend to prefer that we leave a longer time, and then if I get your MS back to you sooner, we can all breathe happier. Payments, because I understand that an early return can upset fund planning, are not expected earlier. In fact, I can invoice then or at the end of the allotted period. I generally confine myself to a 4-quarter billing cycle.

WHAT I OFFER AND HOW I WORK: I prefer to work within an author’s style, and understand that what is grammatically correct isn’t always a must. I am familiar with and use the Chicago Manual, but also refer to Little Brown and AP when necessary. I am versed in Yahoo style, but mostly for business and web based clients.

I also offer alternate phrasing choices, and I try to explain in comments every single correction I make that is beyond simple typo/punctuation/grammar issues. I welcome feedback or questions after an author receives a MS, and am willing to work with them on issues that have come up (post-editing discussion of editing content is included in your fee). I am not, however, available to read substantial new additions to the MS (10 p or more) for free. I wish I could, but it’s possible to lose hours and hours of billable work that way, depending on the author, who I know is just concerned about their work and may not realize it’s extra.

Things I can do for you: Help you polish your work so that it is the best it can be, or thereabouts.  I can provide insight to your style and any stumbling blocks you might have, particularly over-reliances.

Things I cannot do for you: write your book, alpha read your book, or edit for free.

I have been told that I am straight-forward, and I don’t compliment a great deal, but I do try to point out good things in your MS and why they work. I will laugh at your jokes sometimes so that you know they make sense. But I am concerned with finding issues in your text, so most of what you will get from me is correction and criticism. It doesn’t mean I am soulless. I am just doing what you hired me to do. Let’s get that out of the way now so that when your work is published, your fans can tell you how amazing it is. J

REFERENCES/EXPERIENCE: I don’t like to give out specific references, but I can mention some of the subjects/genres I have read for professionally:

Grad work: Masters Theses in technical science (re: mining, just in case you wonder if I can do technical work) and Literature (standard)

Business work: (PPT decks, PDF files, white papers, etc) one of my clients, LiveWorld, is a mass social media management firm, and I edit the materials /presentations for the marketing dept. I have also edited website content. I can work with templates and styles.

Fiction: Mainly LGBTQ romance and erotica, but genre is not an issue for me. I have several named anthologies with Storm Moon Press (I do not get credit for the novels I have done with them), if you want to see my work. I have also edited solo for several authors in the genre. I am no stranger to romance, porn, kink, etc. I have no trigger warnings, though I am aware of them and can look for them if the author requests.

If you have any questions, please feel free to email me at amandr at gmail dot com, and I will get back to you as soon as humanly possible.




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In Which I Read Other People’s Work.

Short blog post this week, because I am not feeling wizard. Also, I am Le Tired.

A few years (years?) ago, and old school buddy of mine reached out to me from the nefarious depths of the internet and asked me if I’d like to do some audio narration for Escapepod, the Scifi podcast. (You can find their main page here.)

(Strangely enough, years before that I had subbed to their sister podcast, the horror genre Pseudopod, and been rejected. But that is neither here nor there. I say it because you know, I did these things. AND I AM STILL RAW. Naw, it was a shitty story, about a funeral director who eats tiny parts of his clients as a way to absorb their power out of respect for the dead. Think Six Feet Under meets Dexter. Or something. Anyway.)

Having no experience in audio narration, but LOVING to read out loud, I began with a short story by Merrie Haskell. I have a shitload more to learn, and I don’t have ANY of the editing skills to make my own narrations, but I do love me some reading. I can’t listen to myself, though. I hate hearing myself in the background of home movies, let alone a whole track dedicated to my voice.

NEW: Sarah’s Child by Susan Jane Bigelow

Plural by Lia Swope Mitchell

A Day Without Sunshine by Esther Saxey

Sounding the Fall by Jei D. Marcade (features gender neutral pronouns)

The Evening, The Morning and the Night by Octavia Butler

Selkie Stories are for Losers by Sofia Samatar

Made of Cats by Judith Tarr

Zebulon Vance Sings the Alphabet Songs of Love by Merrie Haskell

Incidentally, should you be in the mood for a great male narrator, try Mat Weller, who got me started, and who is in general a great reader. Thanks for the opportunity, Mat.

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#froyo #flavour #superhero

Think on this: You always say #yolo but you never do it. You may froyo, and you may watch Logo, but they are not early as iconic a hashtag as #yolo.

That can change today. You can live a hashtag, for just one moment. Today you can be not #yolo or #swag or even #voteformypringlesflavor (purple rain), but you can be #NationalSuperheroDay.


Because TODAY IS National Superhero Day, or as we all know it, April 28. (and incidentally the day that Jason Todd was murdered (#428 #NEVAH4GET) but #handwave). And OUT FOR A HERO IS STILL AVAILABLE ON AMAZON.

Purchase your copy today and you will be buying into this insane and nonsensical ploy to get you to buy shit using some sort of convoluted appeal to hashtags that aren’t even proper parts of speech. And since I have seen how much you people love to vote for Lay’s flavours, you have no excuse for falling for this.

I mean really. Are hashtags nouns? Adjectives? WTF.

But you should buy it.

#buyit #consume #obey #kickass #chewgum #wearshades #thefutureisthatbright

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April is poetry month, right?

A conversation from this morning concerning tomorrow’s B-52’s concert
A dialog poem, by Amanda Ching

Me: Shake that cosmic thing
Kid: No.
Me: Shake that thing.
Kid: No.
Me: Shake it.
Kid: No.
Me: Shake it.
Kid: No.
Me: Oh yeah.
Me: Shake that thing all night long.
Me: Shake it man, can’t go wrong.
Kid: (edging towards the door)
Me: Don’t let it rest on the president’s desk.
Kid: (runs out towards the bus stop)
Me: (shouting after her) ROCK THE HOUSE.
Basement troll: I don’t need no earthquake
Coffee cup: Don’t need no tidal wave.
Kitten: Til night falls and day breaks.
Sofa cushions: I’m gonna shake shake shake shake shake shake shake.
Me: Jesus, that IS creepy.
Ceiling Spider: That song’s about Ladybird Johnson.
Me: No shit?
Boba Fett Poster: Trufax.


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I know that it has been a million years since I have written anything. In my defense, I have no defense, so the two things right there should cancel out anything that might possibly tarnish my record. What record you say? That one.

Instead, I am trying to get all my feels out on paper (the one I am typing on right now. I can make Word make it look like paper, so I’mma go with that illusion) and make a list of Shit I Don’t Like, followed by a list of Shit I Like.

Shit I Don’t Like

1. [….]-isms, yeah. Death, poverty, war, famine, pestilence, dudes who ride horses with way too much armor, that scene in Return of the King when the oliphant spikes that horse into the air, all that heavy shit. I am pissed about that every damn day. I am pretty vocal about it. INSTEAD, here are more dumbass things that I just don’t like. I DON’T LIKE THEM AT ALL.

2. DIY projects whose sole purpose is decoration AND whose point is repurposing but in reality ends up requiring you to purchase half the supplies. (Must contain those two together. Separate is less irritating.)

3. Bags of chips that are filled with air to cushion the chips, but whose empty space just means the chips flail about inside and crush each other into chip flakes.

4. That if you try to pour chip flakes into a bowl and eat them like cereal, there’s no liquid that is good on them. Not even beer.

5. That I even considered trying Funyun cereal and Mountain Dew after typing the above.

6. Funyuns, because they aren’t fun anymore. I think you have to be under the age of 18 to like them, hence their original name “Funyoung”. In Pittsburgh these are called “Funyinz”.

7. Waiting for shit I shouldn’t have to wait for. Also, waiting for shit that I NEED. That last one is not really anything I can do anything about. I mean, I didn’t order bras from amazon until I broke all but one underwire, and I ordered them in the mail, so it’s not like I didn’t know what I was getting in for. What I am trying to say is that my bra is a little nasty right now, but the girls need a support system that isn’t strings and hot glue.

8. David Moffat’s Doctor Who run. I dunno. I have rewatched it with kidlet, and it has some great lines, but the whole thing was just meh. I dunno what I was expecting.

9. Air filters. I have to change mine in my car, and even though I could pay someone to do this, I will do it myself because power. And because I am making this choice I am pissy about it and hate air filters despite that this is totally voluntary on my part and will end up being one of the DIY projects in number one. Maybe I should hot glue some string on it.

10. Judges on reality shows who yell at contestants that it’s a competition. You think they didn’t fucking know that? I get it being competitive, but when are we going to stand up and say that there are some forms of being competitive that are just plain BAD, and they should be deplored? You can be in a competition and be nice. Respectful. Sometimes you have to compromise because Jesus it’s what human decency is. Competition and decency are not mutually exclusive, and whoever tells you different is horrible human being who needs to shipped to Survivor: Dumpster Town. I would watch that Schadenfreude Shit Show in a heartbeat if it ended in a couch fire riot.

Shit I Like

1. Ru Paul’s Drag Race’s reliance on puns.

2. That someone out there finally had the bravery to explore the conspiracy that is bay leaf usage.

3. Deez

4. That every fucking recipe in the world is available online. I cannot tell you how much crap I have learned how to make over the years that I would have never gotten from a book in my house. It would never have occurred to me to look it up at the library. Thank you for making me fat in many many ways, Internet.

5. You know when you discover a new author, and then you look them up on goodreads or summat and you discover that they have written like 45 books? That’s the shit, man.

6. Speaking of, I was thinking about Harry Potter fanfic the other day, because I am writing some now and I have been known to write it in the past, along with Torchwood, which is relevant to this convo because of this: world building in an already created world that is not yours is fucking fun. It’s not the same as world building in something you made from scratch. And adding in tech and magic and laws and backstories for something else is a challenge to make it compliant and in character and yet inventive. I fucking love it.

7. Naming foods after colors. RED VELVET CAKE. RED KOOL-AID. This happens to red a lot more than other colors, except for orange. Don’t bring up orange you smug mutherfuckers. But really, red velvet cake. I am assuming velvet is supposed to refer to the texture? Or is it the color? Red Whorehouse Velvet Brocade Walls Cake? Or does it taste like red velvet? What does that taste like? Am I supposed to just hie on down to Jo-Ann Fabrics and start gnawing on a swatch of red velvet? I bet it tastes nothing like any dessert I’d ever want to eat.

8. RED VELVET ANYTHING. Because (and I have a reason) IT’S JUST WEAK ASS CHOCOLATE THAT YOU HAD TO ADD A METRIC FUCKTON OF RED FOOD DYE TO IN ORDER TO MAKE IT LOOK THAT RED. Red velvet is chocolate. Seriously, if you wanted to make something red velvet color, why not start with vanilla? Why you gotta cover up the chocolate? Why would you start from a dark base? Are you offended by the brown color? You are so cake racist that you have to ruin a dessert by adding o much food dye that now it just tastes like fucking plastic food dye.

Cake racists.



7. I love naming foods after colors. It’s dumb but lol.

8. BACK TO GOOD STUFF I LOVE: When people on my friends list post impossibly upbeat stuff and I can roll my eyes at them in private. On one hand, ugh. Shut the fuck up Pollyanna. On the other hand, we need you in the world, Pollyanna, because see above numbering issue. But it is also good that I can be a horrible human being in my own home where no one can see me doing it, because I am valuable too. Without my excessive strain on my optic nerve connectors you would not get the brilliant pieces of stand-up comedy listicle that you are reading right now. #notalllisticles

But really, Polly, stop that.


10. Conspiracy theories about aliens. THEY WILL NEVER STOP BEING FUNNY. If you have a moment, go and listen to a few of the alien related podcasts from Last Podcast on the Left, because sometimes when I feel down…when I feel…blue…I watch that scene in Grosse Point Blank and feel better…for a while. But then I listen to the whole thing about Dulce Military base and the underground vats of humans for the Grays and the Reptilians and about how the Pleiadians want to help overthrow our masters with tachyon energy and some shit and I realize that people out there have—apparently—a much more…vivid way of seeing the world. Shine on you fucking nutball diamond, shine the fuck on, like a crystal hat that will enhance your crown to fight the Arkons at the ancient pyramids.

11. Because it’s the love list it deserves to be longer. I love playing Sims 3 with my kid. We made a married couple named Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez and installed them in a high rise. Viola picked their personality traits: he is brave, star quality, great kisser, genius, and evil. He works in politics. She is insane, great kisser, evil, childish, and lucky. She is a criminal. I cannot wait to see how this works out.

Man, there’s this bag of chips sitting in front of me that I don’t want to open, so I should probably go elsewhere. I could move the bag of chips, but they look comfortable where they are. It’s my problem, not theirs.

It will be their problem later. SOON.

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February and March Book Roundup

So it isn’t just January, but also February (and March) in which I am falling behind. A great deal of this has to do with the fact that I have been watching TV, which I think they said is bad for you on like, some website or something. Whatevs.

Though, I have been falling asleep faster these days, so after taking a shower, I have been going right to bed instead of reading for 30 minutes because I have this thing where I like to have at least ten minutes of Mary Sue fantasy time for which I am totally unrepentant, and I have been missing it. I need me that 10 minutes of pre-sleep erotic adventures with Luke Skywalker. I am just saying. Luke, I miss you. I only cheated on you with Kyp Durron that one time. Well, and that other time, BUT THAT WAS A THREEWAY.

ANYWAY, the books I have been reading (and listening to) have mostly been nonfiction, and they were books of availability.

The International Bank of Bob: Connecting Our Worlds One $25 Kiva Loan at A Time by Bob Harris.

NOTE: I didn’t finish this book, because while it’s good, it’s too long, and I am tired. Bob, I give out Kiva loans, and I am part of the Nerfherders, thanks to you. Kiva is awesome. Thanks.

Firstly, if you have never read Harris’s other awesome book, Prisoner of Trebekistan, you should because the man is fucking hysterical, and his adventures in prepping, winning, losing and overall exploring Jeopardy! Are amazing. Also, IIRC the man is married to Jane Espenson, so if that isn’t an endorsement of his character, I don’t know what is.

Harris’s main focus is the idea of whether or not Kiva is substantive progress. He travels about talking to people he’s made Kiva loans to (without divulging his loaning) to see what they can accomplish, because really, the movement out of large scale poverty is an interesting one. American poverty is, arguably, different from some other foreign kinds, etc etc. He does have some hits and misses. He manages to describe the lives of people using Kiva loans in varying ways. Sarejevo in particular, was pretty fascinating, because I just don’t read enough about that area.

It’s interesting to see the different uses of this money, and the general idea that microfinance is in some ways more empowering than simple one-time donations. Harris doesn’t shy away from failures in microfinance, from the fiasco of Andhra Pradesh’s SKS (when microfinance tries to be “macro”finance with shareholders) to the sad failure of SELFINA (rushed expansion was the reason here).

Ultimately, what Harris does a really good job with is the painting of human lives—people who are more than willing to work, to learn, but just need a boost (though saying it that way, from my position in a FWC, sounds horribly dismissive). The educational help that comes with microfinance, along with the dollars. I am sure that it’s not always going to work, but it’s a great idea.

So, a few things passages I liked:

On Being A Freelancer:

Freelancing is a constant search for work, and this Kiva idea was just one of many. Since rejection is constant, you learn to hit “Send” and move on to the next thing immediately. And in the rare moment that any idea actually happens, hallelujah, you focus on that one and dive in as hard as you can.


Looking back at my calendar, in the week where I first heard about Kiva, I was also floating a book idea about the growth of international sport as a mechanism for peace, which didn’t pan out; corresponding with Hollywood film producers who were adapting an earlier book for the screen, which didn’t pan out (Hollywood, you should know, is like a pit of vipers, but with more vipers); and hoping to get rehired for the third season of a Mexican telenovela where I’d worked as asesor de producción, which didn’t pan out.

What I like about this is that I often need reminders that freelancing has a lot of rejection. Having been rejected from presses for editing test fails, or just not getting an editing job, I sometimes want to stick my face in the toilet and flush it really hard. This isn’t something I should do, hygiene being not the least of reasons. Instead, I should eat a half a bag of Combos and send about three more emails. Thanks, Bob.

On the phrase “3rd world countries”:

The phrase “3rd world” […]is a Cold War phrase worth discarding: the West was First, the Soviet bloc the Second, and everyone else was Third. Since that’s the vast majority of humanity, the term is falling into wide disuse. Unfortunately, well-known alternatives are few. “Developing world” and its variants are at least widely understood, albeit while implying that poor countries are like teenagers, hoping someday to reach maturity with bigger houses and bosoms and Walmarts. I’d like to disclaim the paternalistic vibe. While we’re on it, calling industrialized countries “the West” is equally clumsy[.] Apologies to Japan, Australia, New Zealand, South Korea, and so on.

On listening to Kiva’s JD give his speech to the Fellows who are about to volunteer in foreign countries:

I was reminded of the wizened mentor character in so many boxing or fantasy films, the one who trains talented recruits by breaking down their habits and emotional armor before building new, better heroes. There was a lot in common. Wizened mentors often have beards. So did JD. Wizened mentors have learned from hard experience. JD had volunteered for the Peace Corps and has worked in rural Bulgaria, Mongolia, and Columbia. Wizened mentors offer helpful aphorisms that reveal the nature of the entire struggle to come:

Yoda from Star Wars: “Do or do not—there is no try.”
Morpheus from The Matrix: “I didn’t say it would be easy, Neo—I only said it would be the truth.”
JD from Kiva: “Trust me—this is really going to suck.”

It might just be my complete lack of reading interest these days that made me put the book down 70 pages short of the end. If it’s something you are curious about, I recommend it. Its’ not the writing (though I think his use of footnotes gets very tedious. I don’t mind good footnotes. I like them for comedic value, but sometimes it made following a number-heavy narrative difficult)—the writing is fine. I even like that he addresses the hinky racial implications of his “privileged white dude traveling around to research where his money went” concept, which I think could be used to write off portions of the book if he wasn’t so hyper-aware of it and attempting to expand beyond that. He talks to a lot of microfinance people in every location. He’s super-invested in the concept of microfinance, and while visiting his loan-ees is something he’s curious about, it’s not an ends to a means.

Professor Moriarty: Hound of the D’Urbervilles by Kim Newman

What it says on the tin: “Imagine the twisted evil twins of Holmes and Watson and you have the dangerous duo of Prof. James Moriarty – wily, snake- like, fiercely intelligent, unpredictable – and Colonel Sebastian ‘Basher’ Moran – violent, politically incorrect, debauched. Together they run London crime, owning police and criminals alike. Unravelling mysteries — all for their own gain.”

I listened to this one, and the narrator is fantastic, Tom Hodgkins. The framing device, “oh this is a found manuscript of Sebastian Moran, I shall publish it” is brilliant, as it has the chance to mirror, darkly, Watson’s story telling method, and everything is hysterically crass and horrible. It’s amazing. Irene Adler has a Jersey accent. Moran calls his favorite sexual tactic the “Basher Moran Special”. And the titles: A Volume in Vermillion, A Shambles in Belgravia, The Red Planet League, The Hound of the D’Ubervilles, The Adventure of the Six Maledictions, The Greek Invertebrate, The Problem of the Final Adventure. Sound familiar?

To be sure once again, Volume in Vermillion is STILL ABOUT MORMONS and therefore very boring. Some of them start out clever and then get a little too complicated or bogged down in silliness (Red Planet League, in particular), and apparently Newman LOVES to use the word “oscillating” to refer to Moriarty’s head movements, but meh. The Final Adventure is particularly clever in its handling of the Final Problem, obviously, and Moran always has a lot to say about how idiotic Holmes and Watson are. Moriarty certainly paints Holmes in a different light. Particularly of note is Newman’s mimicry, especially the Belgravia section, in which like Holmes always referring to Adler as that woman, Moriarty always refers to her afterward as that bitch.

In any case, the voice alone is worth a read/listen.

Mind Hunter: Inside the FBI’s Elite Serial Crime Unit by John Douglas and Mark Olshaker

This was lying about in paperback form, and I stupidly read it at night, fueling a month’s worth of nightmares. I wouldn’t say it’s a good book. It’s a sensational book. Douglas (with the help of Olshaker) is trying to tell his story, and he does that, so while critics chide this book for its braggadocio, it’s not unreasonable for Douglas to give his life story. It’s HIS book. Later books of his talk more exclusively about cases, but this was the first one, and maybe he felt like he needed to tell his life story in the frame of the unit formation. Whatever the case, I don’t think that’s out of line with the book mission. (I think it’s also worth noting that what the average American in this case knows about FBI profiling these days, even if it’s just based off TV, is a shitload more than ze might know in 1995.)

Douglas goes over a lot of cases, and almost a month after I read it, I am hard-pressed to remember one, but I did earmark a few passages that I thought were interesting, particularly in reference to words that we often bandy about, like “psychotic” and “psychopath”.

True Psychotics—those who have lost touch with reality—don’t commit serious crimes very often. And when they do, they are usually so disorganized and make so little attempt to avoid detection that they are generally caught fairly quickly. Richard Trenton Chase, who killed women because he thought that he needed their blood to stay alive, was a psychotic. If he couldn’t get human blood, he’d settle for what was at hand. When Chase was placed in a mental institution, he continued to catch rabbits, bleed them, and inject their blood into his arm. He would catch small birds, bite off their heads, and drink their blood. This one was for real. But for a killer to avoid detection and get away with ten murders, he has to be pretty good at it. Don’t make the mistake of confusing a psychopath with a psychotic.


Bill Tafoys, the special agent who served as our “futurist” at Quantico, advocated a minimum of a ten year commitment of money and resources on the magnitude of what we sent to the Persian Gulf. He calls for a wide-scale reinstatement of Project Head Start, one of the most effective long-term, anticrime programs in history. He doesn’t think more police are the answer, but he would bring in “an army of social workers” to provide assistance for battered women, homeless families with children, to find good foster homes. And he would back it all up with tax incentive programs.

I’m not sure this is the total answer, but it would certainly be an important start. Because the sad fact is, the shrinks can battle all they want, and my people and I can use psychology and behavioral science to help catch the criminals, but by the time we get to use our stuff, the severe damage has already been done.

Considering that this book was from 1995, that’s an interesting assessment.

Law & Disorder by the same authors is more interesting, because it focuses on specific cases for much longer: Jonbenet Ramsey, Amanda Knox, the West Memphis 3, etc. It spends a lot of time on each case, and also on general philosophical questions of capital punishment and the miscarriage of justice.

Douglas is obviously pro-death penalty, with stipulations, but his issue with it is the way in which it is applied to cases—some crimes of passion merit the DP while others do not.

And the description of Katie Sousa, when she visits the medical examiner’s to see thebody of her murdered child, Destiny:

They had Katie go into a viewing room and brought Dee’s body, cold from refrigeration, covered by a sheet. She was not content just to see her daughter’s bruised face and the dotted puncture wound on her scalp, where he plastic barrette literally had been driven into her skull when Miller smashed her head with a heavy wooden jewelry box, ostensibly to punish her for “mouthing off” to him.

She described for us how she told them to remove the sheet. She wanted to examine Dee’s naked body, inch by inch, from the top of her skull to the soles of her feet. She spent about forty-five minutes doing this. She wanted to understand—to experience—everything that had been done to this innocent child. She needed to take the suffering and pain onto herself and make it hers. With her little girl dead, this was the only way she felt she could go on living.

Carrol Ellis, who was then director of the Victim Services Section of the Fairfax County, Virginia Police Department, likened it to the image of the Pieta. “I still see in my mind this Madonna with child in this private moment, seeing her child’s wounds with her own eyes.”

Yeah, he got me.

And I love when Douglas comes out and calls things what they are: “We pay a lot of attention to the specter of domestic terrorism these days, but lynching was an accepted and tolerated method of terrorism against blacks throughout the south for a hundred years.”

Anyway, you can juxtapose what he thinks about the Ramsey case with what Cyril Wecht says and still not come to a conclusion. The West Memphis Three is a long portion of the book that covers the beginning to release, and it’s a prime example of shitty police work and jurisprudence. The Amanda Knox case is interesting because he produces good arguments for her innocence, not least for me is the complete batshittery of the prosecution’s case (Mignoni is obsessed with wimmens doing Satanic witchcraft, no serious. This is a Thing with him, which you see again in Monster of Florence by Mario Spezi and Douglas Preston).

A good running listen, though honestly, if you have kids, there are some things you do not want to dwell on if you have a vivid imagination.

Jason by Laurell K. Hamilton I have already said my bit about this travesty in my goodreads review, so I’ll just post it here:

I have a theory about Laurell K Hamilton: After she wrote the first 8 books, she hit her head and got amnesia, and was permanently arrested as a 16 year old. In an attempt to get her memory back, she read the first 8 Anita Blake books. It didn’t trigger her memory, but it did make her a SUPERFAN of her own work, and so she kept writing, not realizing that everything after book 8 is a bad fanfic.

If these books were on AO3, they’d say Part 400/???.

Anita Blake books, before and after Goldie Hawn amnesia.

The current book has 4 audio sections. At the end of section 1 (1:07 hours), we have covered NOTHING. I mean, NOTHING. We have talked about relationships for an hour, in such a way that after every sentence I audibly mumble “Oh my god.”

I mean, I have read all the previous books. I edit erotica and porn for a living. I have written things kinkier than anything Anita will ever do. It’s not the content. I don’t even mind the Cast Of Thousands.

It’s the writing. The writing is FUCKING HORRIBLE. You know how sometimes you say, “I can’t even pick a favorite part because I would just have so many?” It’s the same thing when trying to nail down a bad sentence/section. And I listened to it, so it was like being held hostage–I couldn’t skip pages.

I can’t say why I finished it. Probably because I am a completest, but Jesus.

What a giant travesty is that in the right hands these books would be sexy, hot romping adventures with plot, intrigue, poly love, and the supernatural (we know this because see the first few books), but it never will be.


BOOKS I READ BUT DIDN’T REVIEW: The Inner Circle by Brad Meltzer, because meh.
BOOKS I REREAD, BECAUSE THAT IS NOT CHEATING: Star Wars Legacy of the Force: #1 Betrayal by Aaron Allston, and #3 Tempest by Troy Denning. I WOULD have read #2 Bloodlines, by Karen Traviss because that is my favorite, but it is lost SOMEWHERE IN MY HOUSE, SO I HAD TO SKIP THE BOBA FETT LOVE. FUCKBEARS.

Hopefully I will be more productive In April, but I doubt it. I am in non-reader mode this year, despite that I continue to purchase books from indie and fav authors like paper is going to be outlawed.

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Thoughts about suicide

I don’t normally put trigger warnings on shit, for reasons that I am too exhausted to talk about, but I will admit that I can see how this might be upsetting in a sense, so please, if you are one of those people who might get all upset about suicide, don’t read this. It’s better for you, and better for me.

Dear Tianyu,

I think I’m a little pissed at you this year. Not because of all the stuff that I should be pissed at you for—making a decision, ending shit, missing out on crap, though yeah, I am sure you would have liked a bunch of stuff that’s happened in the last nine years, but also because I feel guilty for being sad that YOU missed this crap. Like I should feel bad for YOU. What I really want is to feel bad for ME, and I feel guilty about that. So a bunch of thoughts in no order.

1. Your kid is awesome, but it becoming increasingly obvious that she is missing you. I mean, I could be the greatest mom ever, but she is aware that you are not here. The other night I ALMOST told her what you did, but I thought you know what? No. Let her have a few more years not knowing that you did this of your own free will, because finding out that your dad plugged himself rather than be with you (which, all arguments aside, is what it looks like. It doesn’t matter what you intended, a. I got pregnant, b. You killed yourself—you can do your own PR on that, graveside) isn’t something that ISN’T going to fuck you up a little, and she has enough to worry about (and she does worry. About EVERYTHING.)

2. The Avengers was pretty fucking cool. Seriously, there’s a lot of cool shit out here now, and you would probably hate most of it, and then love the rest. Phones and touchscreens and all that shit? You would have hated that. *I* hate it. A lot. I also hate Twitter, though I say I love it in my ephemeral moments of entertainment.

3. I wonder what you would think of gun rights now. Because I think you would have changed your mind. I did, and that’s after about four years of defending them even after your death, so it’s not about that.

4. Financially, I am fine. I don’t have a house, but Jesus, who wants a house. I get that now. I mean, yeah, we could have built a projection room, but that’s just stuff, and none of that really fucking matters in the long and short of things, really.

5. But I was thinking about how things are different since you died, and it hit me, as I scrolled past news and shit, that one of the biggest lies we tell ourselves is that the world gets better. It doesn’t. Not really. Once you get over or forget about a problem, or if by some miracle it’s fixed (and that’s really only about 10% of things), there’s a whole new crop of shit to be upset by. I used to agree with an old X-Force/X-Factor quote that some people weren’t happy unless they’re kvetching, but the truth is that no one is happy even when they’re kvetching, and that’s most of the time; and if they are happy, it’s because they’ve managed to block out all of the shit that’s upsetting (or they are a Zen monk—I think those guys aren’t for real, man.), so it’s not really gone. They just aren’t listening. Maybe I should just move to a shack in the woods.

6. I have a suicide plan. Oh, don’t get all stroppy.

And by that I mean readers, now, because I pretty much said what I wanted to say to Tianyu, and really, he’s not here, so there’s no point in talking to him anyway.

A long time ago I read this Nietzsche quote: “The thought of suicide is a great consolation: by means of it one gets through many a dark night.”

Now I have always been depressed. Who knows what the fuck the reason is—genetic, probably. I have tried medications, and I am one of the lucky few in which they work, but when I go off them, I have a period of about 6 months of okay before whatever chemical bullshit makes my brain haywire starts again, and then it’s a matter of time management before I have to go back on them, because I manifest physical symptoms of anxiety.
If I didn’t have the anxiety, I would never medicate the depression, because I LIKE the depression. It’s not PC. I don’t play my depression for points (#notallpeoplewhotalkaboutdepression), and while I sometimes write about it, it’s not something I talk about. I don’t like quantifying it. I know a lot of people suffer with it. I am not one of those people.

I like my depression because I write better on it. I slow down. Okay, sometimes I sleep a little too much, but not really. Because mine is cyclical. It comes in waves—I have a few weeks of HATING everyone, of utter meh numbness tired crap, but it’s not a problem because I know that in a month or two I will not feel that way at all. It’s an intellectual exercise, recognizing that it will get better. It almost always gets better. I could go on and on and talk about depression, but it’s tedious and boring, like explaining Game of Thrones to anyone.

Several years ago I was in one of my phases and I was upset about….something something internet and I decided that I was going to delete all my internet stuff, then I was going to clean my basement, and then I was going to kill myself. Well, I said that in my head, but it was more of a “they’ll ALL BE SORRY” thing, which is less about suicide and more about having a tantrum. So I got a bottle of wine and started organizing my basement, convinced that when I was done, my house would be in order and I could just take a header off the Westinghouse Bridge or summat.

But see, the basement never got clean. It got cleaner, but not to my satisfaction. I have boxes of books to give to the library, see, before I could POSSIBLY kill myself. I have to burn all these fucking teenage notebooks, and edit everything I leave behind. I have filing cabinets in the upstairs that need to be sorted, and clothes to give away. I have SHIT. TO. DO.

Because it’s not about the killing myself. It’s controlling my own existence. Because really, at this point, it’s one of the only things I have that I can control.

I can’t control anything about my kid that matters, not really. I can’t do anything about stuff that’s “important”, like racism, or my taxes, or going to war in Syria, or even what laws the governor passes. Blah blah, lemme skip ahead because this is boring.

I have a whole suicide plan, and I find it comforting because I’m not sure I would ever use it. Like Nietzsche, I find thinking about it comforting. It reminds me of Robert Fulghum’s yearly practice of visiting his own gravesite with a folding lawn chair—I feel at peace with the knowledge that if I wanted to, I could wrest control of all of this and have the final say in what I and my body do and go, because pretty much everything else in this world is incomprehensible.

The trick of getting depressed and starting to clean the basement (it’s a thing. I do it a lot now), is that I inevitably start to feel better about life by cleaning the basement. I am Getting Shit Done. Things are cleaner. Outlook: improved. Abort suicide plan—let’s go to Denny’s for a breakfast skillet. Then the basement goes untouched until the next bout. And in that time, the basement gets cluttered with crap I toss down there—boxes and tools, and all that shit, not to mention the dust and kitty litter that settles everywhere, and the boxes I reopen to get at things, and the stuff that’s STILL not boxed because I haven’t got around to it yet. I have shelves to buy and that filing cabinet upstairs STILL has tax forms in it from 2001.

So yeah, I have a plan, knowing that it’s not a plan, though sometimes I really mean it. And in those times, like now, I really do feel better thinking about it. I am going to slip away somewhere, quietly. It’s not going to be a fanfare or an announcement. I might leave a note for my kid. Actually, I will leave a note for my kid, because I know from experience that NOT LEAVING NOTES IS BAD.

Anyway, it’s okay to think about that and say it, because odds are I would never do it. I’ve planned myself out of it. Maybe in the past, when I didn’t have a kid, and I didn’t understand where my cycles were or when I hadn’t thought long and hard about what I would be leaving behind with my house the way it is. Maybe when I was younger. You are more impulsive when you’re younger. Or maybe I never really meant it ever.

But I like to think about it. Today, at least.

Ps: I am not talking about this in person or over the phone.

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Sometimes Memes Are Just Nice

So the other day, someone posted on of those memes, you know the ones we all used to love to do in emails: “86 things you would never guess about me except for the fact that you might because I am so fucking predictable” or something like that. I’ve always been kind of fond of those things, but only if they’re done properly.

It takes me a long time to do these memes, because well. So really, I only get through about 8 questions before I get bored. So.

Eleven Questions that are answered in such a way that you will never want to read the other eleventy billion (part 1 of question mark)

When you looked in the mirror this morning what was the first thing you thought?

My kid better be getting out of bed.


You can press a button that will make any one person explode. Who would you blow up?

Who the fuck wrote this meme? Seriously?

Okay okay, aside from Hitler, because duh, that’s everyone’s go-to answer FOR OBVIOUS REASONS (and you know, like Idi Amin or Pol Pot, etc. etc., I don’t think I can safely say that there is anyone I would “blow up” or otherwise kill in any way.

It’s because I watched Star Wars the other day (drunk, as you may recall), and they blew up Alderaan.

I want to start this thing with the caveat that I am not trying to convince anyone to see my position as right or wrong. I’m not interested in a debate over whether or not my reasoning is solid. I don’t want any “moralsplaining” in the comments. Mostly because I’m working on this on my own, and I am okay if you have your own beliefs, but there’s a point in which the starting point determines the following point, and I suspect that anyone who has a different following point doesn’t always have the same starting point.

So I have seen this movie like a billionty times. I am a geek (not like a walking Wookiepedia or anything, but I know some shit. I can also rap MC Chris’s Fett’s Vette pretty much in real time, so I am fun at parties. If…you know….that was something you wanted to do at a party.) It’s sad what happens to Alderaan. They blow up Leia’s home world. They kill a bunch of people. Man, that Empire sucks. And then the story moves on, and while the books often deal with Leia’s issues over losing Alderaan, they’re her issues, how it makes her feel. She lost family and millions of people died, but it’s almost too much to process.

And the joker who made it all happen?

This jackanape right here.

So for the first time in my life it occurred to me that when Alderaan blew up, it meant that millions of people died, not unlike blowing up a smaller earth (or a larger Earth, as I don’t actually know how big Alderaan was. You know, because we’re talking about a real planet that totally happened. You wouldn’t know about it. IT WAS A LONG TIME AG IN A GALAXY FAR FAR AWAY). That those were people (they weren’t. I know this is fantasy), and that they just ceased to be, with all their issues.

If someone blew up earth right now, all the shit we’re embroiled in—our own lives, the political struggles, the race issues and terrorism etc. etc.—it would just be gone.

In the end, what it really made me do was stare at Tarkin with a kind of mute horror. It’s not that I am desensitized to the death aspect of it, because in some ways you have to be, but that I never considered just what a monster that makes Tarkin. I was always like, “Well duh, he’s a bad guy”, and bad guys do these things.

Conversely, I have grown up in a culture in which we endorse shooting and killing the bad guys. Sometimes we shoot them in the chest with a revolver. Sometimes they fall off a building in slow motion. Sometimes we just inject them with a chemical that until recently we were pretty sure was painless and quick.

I don’t know now about all that. Maybe I can still go for the heat of the moment killing, because it needs to be done. Maybe I can still go for state execution, because of Reasons that are too long to list here. But what I DO know is that I don’t feel comfortable anymore arbitrarily referring to violent deaths as part of a fantasy such as “who would you blow up?” when referring to real people. I have no issue killing those bloody puppets n Devil May Cry. They’re Bloody Puppets. But asking me to pick a real person, even if it’s someone who deserves it, makes me wonder when I decided that it was okay for me, personally, to pronounce death on someone just because I am a “good guy” and they are a “bad guy”.

I dunno. Moff Tarkin totally made me think about all this.

But you know if I had to, then yeah, Hitler. Totally Hitler.


Who would you really like to just punch in the face?

Okay, so I admit that while I wouldn’t blow anyone up, there are quite a few people whose inverted faces I think about. Most of them are people I don’t know personally, which I guess is what makes it acceptable. And if I were ever to meet any of these people I would never punch them. Unless they punched me first, which, I can see how they might, if they were trapped in a bar with me and I was playing Thin Lizzy’s “The Boys Are Back In Town” about fifty times in a row.

And then I guess I would be asking for it.

BUT, all that said, I guess I’d like to punch a few politicians, and a few religious leaders, and a few celebrities who act like they are either one of those. And if we are talking fictional characters, I really just want to punch Delores Umbridge, for OBVIOUS REASONS.

Also, Hitler.


If anyone could be your slave for a day, who would it be and what would they have to do?

For reasons that I outlined (or may not have outlined) two questions ago, I don’t think this is a fair question to ask, and suggesting that we still think slavery, even in jest or figuratively as something we can toss about (I used to joke about slave labor re: my child, because hey, but now I don’t. You evolve through language, like how I no longer joke about selling her the gypsies. We can all learn something about language editing, and it’s not oppression to suggest you do so.). ANYWAY, What I would like, is money to hire someone to clean my house.

Like, seriously, how much would it cost to hire about five people to come to my house and scrub it from top to bottom? I also want them to totally organize every drawer in the kitchen and bedrooms and totally organize my basement with shelving and stuff. I think it would take weeks if one person did it, so I need like fifteen people to do it in one day. How much would that cost? I could NEVER afford it. I want that money.


You can erase any horrible experience from your past. What will it be?

You would think I would go for my husband’s death, but I have made peace with that. Instead, let’s go back about 3 years.

I hosted a party in which MUCH drinking was taking place. Aside from the designated drivers, everyone who could drink had been downing beer all night, and I am sure it is safe to say that there were no buzzed people there, only Zuul. Eventually, I called it quits and told everyone to lock up as they left. Later I learned the following: 2 very drunk individuals had an altercation in which one groped the other in a highly suggestive way. Well, you know, less suggestive and more groped. The gropee called me the next day about it, as they were unfamiliar with the groper. I asked if ze wanted me to say something to the groper and was told no, and that it was just “weird” because they didn’t know the groper well. Also, not gonna lie, mitigating circumstances about the scenario made me take this admission at face value.

I know, I should have seen something there, but I didn’t.

I consulted with friends of the groper and they were mystified, too. We let the matter drop, because I was not instructed to take it further.

The thing is, the gropee was triggered by events that night and reacted badly once ze got home. Ze’s partner saw this and said nothing. Four months later the groper becomes involved with another friend. They are married now and groper is a permanent fixture in my circle of friends. Gropee’s partner waits months before unleashing a rail against me for protecting a rapist.

I am not gonna lie—I wish I had pulled groper aside after this and said, “I know you were fucking plastered, but what you did was SO NOT OKAY, and something needs to be done,” but I didn’t see it. The one person who did know the extent of the issue (aside from gropee, who understandably, may not have wanted to say anything, and I totes get that) didn’t say anything until months and months later. No one who was there (the gropee’s partner was not at the party) was aware of the extent of the issue.

In the end, it cost me the friendship of the gropee and ze’s extremely irate partner, and the groper is still here. I don’t even know if ze’s even aware that it was this big a deal to this day, but it’s been 3 years, and I lost two good friends for someone I just consider an acquaintance. Mutual friends between the three of us have had to pick a side. One of the friends who chose me said recently that she knew where she would go in the divorce. At this point, even our friends who stayed with me pretty much lost 2 friends too, and it makes me sick.

So yeah, if I could go back and erase anything, it would ever be going up to bed that night. For everyone’s sake.


The Celestial Gates of Beyond have opened, much to your surprise because you didn’t think such a thing existed. Death appears. As it turns out, Death is actually a pretty cool entity, and happens to be in a fantastic mood. Death offers to return the friend/family-member/person/etc. of your choice to the living world. Who will you bring back?

These questions are always painfully obvious in my scenario. So instead I want to talk about that fucking Adam Sandler movie about the fucking remote control and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, seasons 5 and 6.

Click was released in June of 2006, and my husband died in April of the same year. I was watching a lot of TV, and so it was impossible to miss the trailers.

I have never seen Click, so I don’t know if it is good (according to Rotten tomatoes, it’s not very), but the tagline was irresistible to me: “What would you do if you had a universal remote that controlled your universe?”

As you can tell, it made quite an impression on me.

The thing is, the last things you want to be thinking about when you are contemplating losing a loved one to a violent death or an accident, something that is not a disease or old age, something that is kind of preventable, say, is fantasy things that can never ever exist, because in your dreams, you already play it over and over again.

I am not blaming the movie. It’s just a movie, and its presence in my universe has more to do with the fact that the universe doesn’t revolve around the events in my life, a lesson that I wish more people were acutely aware of on a daily basis (re: themselves). But the suggestion that one could go back and forth in time, change things, is obviously appealing even if you don’t have a tragic death in your life (see last question and answer).

And a year later, when I rewatched Buffy, you all know where I am gonna go here. They bring Buffy back from the dead. And at a great price, and I took a lot of time to think about that, too. Because it’s right there on the screen in front of me, as fantastical as it is, and you just Can’t Stop Thinking About It.

But then see, Buffy talks about the bad things that happen when you bring someone back from the dead (they do it when Joyce died, too), but even then, no biggie, it’s a nether creature the gang tales care of.

Then you have to consider the Monkey’s Paw, or any number of other books and stories out there that posit what happens when you return people from the dead. And in the end, you have to actually, non-hypothetically (because you are seriously in mourning for a dead person) shut the door on fantasy, not because it’s not possible, but because even in your fantasies in which it is possible to raise the dead, you shouldn’t. There’s a system to death, a place that it has in existence, and while I am not religious, I honestly believe that dealing with loss is just as important as any other thing in life, and in the end, you start to make peace with loss by putting away the fantasy of raising the dead.

So my answer is Hitler. So we could kill him again.


What was your last dream about?

Every night I have a variation of three dreams. Each one involves the last two question and answer scenarios.


Are you a good….[insert anything you’d like here]?

Panda bear? You said “insert anything”.

No. I would say that I am not, in fact, a good panda bear. Well, okay, Maybe it depends on what we mean by “good”. Do you mean “am I a reasonable example of what a panda should be?” Then no. Am I, should I be a panda bear, a morally upright one? Like the opposite of “bad” or “evil”? Well then, I guess, since I am not a panda bear, I can’t very well be a good or bad one, but even if I was, I am probably not a very good anything most of the time, so no on that too.

Well, okay. I don’t set puppies on fire. I try my best. I’m okay. I’m an okay panda bear.

Except for, you know, not being a panda bear.

Your questions suck.


Have you ever been admitted to the hospital?

Several times! Obviously to have a baby (#notallbirthingscenarios), but even more exciting is the story of that one time I had a horrible brain tumor named Mearl, and consequently decided not to sue a former doctor even though I totally could have because that is not how litigation is supposed to work in an ethical society.

But I have told that story so many times that it’s super boring to relate. Instead I could tell you about how I was an otherwise healthy 25 year old who had a serious medical issue that required over 50K of medical costs, but because I had insurance coverage it didn’t pretty much ruin my life like that would have if I had been uninsured.

I could do one of those sidebar things I like to do about how it’s important to have insurance even when you are young and healthy, because you never know what’s lurking in your innards, or when that Guinness truck is gonna decide to hump your Volvo at 60 MPH on the interstate. I would mention that while I got my insurance from my employer of the time, I now have insurance through the exchange, and that I feel comforted knowing that I can actually afford to pay for insurance that I never know if and when I might need, because having a scar like that down the back of your skull is a constant reminder of how fragile your body really can be.

But in the end, I would probably just tell you about the moral of the story, which is actually that if you have a scar that looks like a zipper down the back of your neck, and your tell your 5 year old daughter that it’s a zipper so you can unzip your skin, take it off and put it in the washing machine when it gets dirty, she will freak the fuck out.

But years later, you will have a great story to tell when you answer a meme that says, “HAVE U EVER BEEN IN THE HOSPITAL ANSWER YES OR NO CHECK ONE” and then draws three little boxes like kids’ love notes in grade school, one for “yes” one for ” no”, and one for “maybe” despite that the instructions tell you to check yes or no, because that is how first graders roll in the relationship game, people.

So maybe. Maybe I have been in the hospital.


Have you ever built a snowman?

Fuck you, Olaf.


What is the color of your socks?

How is this supposed to tell you anything about another person? This question is the busywork of memes.

Am I supposed to feel better about sharing myself with the internet? Is this question akin to instagramming my food when I only have a following of like three people, and two of them are my parents and the other one is that creeper whose avatar is a horsehead and who keeps asking me about foot pictures?

Red. My socks are red, creeper man. Stop asking for toe pics.

There you have it. Some day when I am starved for more material I’ll think of something else.

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