Posted in Chelle

Some Time Off (aka Time for Revamping)

unplugYes, I have been on a long hiatus. I haven’t been entirely idle in my hiatus, but it has been necessary. The last few weeks of summer were already packed with a lot of hectic running and lunacy. Trying to maintain blog, kids, social media, words, publishing, editing… it’s a lot. It’s WORK.

So, you will pardon my break while I take some time to gather myself, throw some updates to the page, figure out the next plot source and get some actual work done. And, maybe, I might just get some relaxing done while I’m at it. Maybe. Doubtful, knowing my luck, but one can hope.

So, stay tuned, there will be some changes coming along and then we’ll ramp back up again once the school year kicks into high gear and I have a little more time to myself.

Cheers all.

Posted in Chelle

Me

Since we rolled right into the holiday week(end) right after the first Choose Your Own Adventure, I’m going to give it one more week for folks to read and comment if they want to. This week, as the world resettles from what many took as a “vacation week” and the curtain of fun comes to a close, we here at ChAoS would like to do something a little different, a little weird.

Allow me to introduce you to my Pinterest Page about me

This is my landing pad for all things Chelle. Things that resonate as being part of who I am, of what I think about, or just things that very adequately represent me (like all the #shortgirl problems… yeah, that’s no fun). It is a little peak into the total nuttery that makes me, well, me.

Those little goofballs in the picture, those are my spawn; the ones that nag me at all hours of the day for snacks or entertainment or desperate need to have a brownie sundae RIGHT NOW. They keep me gainfully unemployed with all their running about and activities and then turn around and ask when my book is coming out.

That goofball down there is my beloved. He makes sure we can pay the bills while our spawn ensure that I stay gainfully unemployed with all their needs and wants and stinky laundry (yeah, usually 3 loads of that a day, btw. Ew.)

 They are just a part of the ChAoS that rules my existence but they are also my inspiration and the swift boots to my rear that keep me going, that make sure the words keep coming until the day that I can say ‘LOOK!’ and actually point to MY book sitting on the shelf. It’s starting. The Tales of the Black Dog Anthology is a start and I have more planned in that particular world that I created. I have my fantasy series that the Choose Your Own Adventure is part of and I have the steampunk setting that will be featured in an upcoming anthology as well. So, progress is being made despite interruptions and a cry for cheese sticks to be opened or more computer time to blast block-figure zombies. It is life, plain and simple and now I get to share it with all of you.

 

 

Posted in Chelle, General Updates/News

An “Experience” as Told by Shutterfly

On this rare occasion in which I allow you all to take a glimpse into my life, I will weave for you a tale of what happens when I try to travel.

On Saturday (June 17, for those keeping track of what day it is), I arose at the unholy hours of the morning to meet my very courteous cab driver in order to begin my journey. What journey? Why to the Magical Kingdom itself, of course! You see, my beloved husband had been in Orlando since the 9th at this point, enjoying the bounties of this Kingdom as well as getting his charm on with the ladies and gentlemen of InfoComm (it’s a big geeky-type tech convention; part of the biz). His stay extended through to Monday the 19th so he says to me ‘The Chelle, come down to Florida and we shall enjoy the fruits of the Kingdom together!”

This was my reaction:

fluttershy_butterflies
“It’s all so beautiful…”

So, I ditch my spawn, pack my things and beat feet to that airport post haste… only to wait for FOUR HOURS thanks to a delayed flight. FOUR. HOURS. I drank a lot. Mimosas are $14 each at the airport – did you know that? Well, they are but I had nothing better to do so down they went! My conveyance eventually arrived and off I went to Orlando with more mimosas, this time free of charge, consumed on the way there.

I arrive in (not) sunny Orlando and the vacay begins!! Please reference the picture above for my reaction to visiting Disney World in (almost) all its glory. We visited the Animal Kingdom and the Magic Kingdom over the course of Saturday (what was left of it) and Sunday. Here is where things will now get lengthy as I describe my first visit to this place of wonder.

  1. Having grown up in SoCal with Disneyland right around the corner, I, honestly, expected a little more out of the ‘World’ bit. Granted, I only visited two parks of the four but the two I saw were both fantastic and slightly underwhelming all at the same time.
  2. Their customer service is greatly lacking. No, they are not unresponsive or blatantly rude or anything like that BUT… I require certain accommodations because of my disability (no ankles, just leave it at that) that are mostly covered by renting a scoot-scoot (which I did) but in some instances, the scoot-scoot just doesn’t fit/work/etc and then the accommodations are required. Except, they were not given. “Everything is scoot-scoot compatible, ma’am, you’ll be fine” – LIES! Everything is NOT scoot-scoot compatible and sitting on a swinging chain isn’t really my strongest talent! Needless to say I was rather disappointed in them on that aspect. Happiest place on Earth – if you’re normal or have a mental disability (and, omg, don’t even get me started on that one); if you have mobility issues just suck it up with your little scoot-scoot and move on! Pfft.
  3. I am too old for the “wonder” of the Magic Kingdom. That is all.
  4. Pandora = awesome! I LOVED the new area based off the movie “Avatar”. Everything was lit up and glowy, made awesome noises and then I got to ride on a banshee!! Yes, a banshee!! It is a VR simulated ride and they make no qualms about it being so. You are fully aware that it is a VR simulator cuz they “link you” with an Avatar so you can experience flight as if you are really there. This is what hooked me – obviously the ride moves and shifts as if you are on the back of this giant winged dragon-looking-thing butfelt the banshee breathing between my knees; I could smell the scent of the earth and water, the fungi that we flew over. Wind rushed my face, water sprayed me as we soared through it. I believed that I was flying on Pandora! It was, hands down, the single most amazing ride of the weekend.
  5. King Ray – Who is King Ray, you might ask? Well, I will tell you. King Ray is a kind old retired navy vet named, obviously, Ray. We met him during the Lion King spectacular (very good show btw, highly recommend). We struck up conversation and he kept mentioning how well he knew the cast members, how great the show was, etc, etc. At first, we believed it all to be the boast of an old man – I mean, really, how could he possibly know all the employees and cast members of a park (several parks) the size of Disney World?? Well, because, as it turns out, the man has been coming to the park EVERY WEEKEND since 1971 except when deployed. As of 2001, when he retired and moved 10 miles from the park, he has been coming DAILY other than horrible, horrible weather or days when he is ill. Again, such a thing must be a boast, we thought… until every single cast member of the show waved to him, said hello, or blew kisses in his direction. WHAT?!?! Mind totally blown! This guy spends ALL his retired time at Disney World!! He has been “crowned” King at Belle’s castle because he is there so much and the cast decided that since there is a prince and princess (Belle and Beast, naturally) there must be a king – BAM! King Ray. Amazing.
  6. Evening dance party in Tomorrow Land – totally awesome.

Overall, I enjoyed Disney. I prefer Animal Kingdom over Magic Kingdom but, still, I considered it to be a good weekend. We even got to see Wonder Woman (AWESOME!!) Sunday night and were prepared for our flight the following afternoon.

Monday morning rolls around, we have a leisurely start to the day, gather our things and then make our way to the airport. Rental car is returned, bags checked, we settle in to have a nice lunch since we’re definitely early. No big. I will now point out that the entire weekend (and week, from what I understand) it rained quite a bit. Not constant, but enough that it was always wet and the clouds never really left except for brief moments when the sun fought its way through the cloud cover. So, it was no surprise when we saw rain while eating lunch and a little wind.

Our flight was delayed 30 minutes because of the weather. No big, right? Cool. 15 seconds after the delay was announced, everyone at the gate starts looking at their phones (us included) – flight canceled. Come again?? What happened to delayed? We sorta skipped right over that part!

As it turns out, while we were getting on and off rain, DCA (Reagan International for those of you not in the DC area), where we were scheduled to fly into, was getting slammed with a massive storm that quite literally stretched up the whole of the eastern seaboard. Uhm… ok, then.

We, along with everyone on the same scheduled flight, promptly queued up to figure out what to do next. We managed to get a flight going out at 3:35p to Dulles instead of DCA. Can! We had some time, went to kill said time and then the phone vibrates again – flight delayed 1 hr to 4:30p.

This was now my face:

fluttershy_annoyed

Since there was nothing that could be done except wait it out, we proceeded to kill our time only to be frantically called back to the gate at 3:35 to begin boarding the plane – – we’d been clear to fly.

Boarding begins; we are group C. Half way through group B, the check-in guy gets a call on his little red phone: something is wrong. We finish boarding and are told that in 20 minutes, they would make an announcement. Please refer to the face at the left.

Twenty minutes passes, it is announced that we are temporarily deboarding the plane as all flights have been grounded due to the wind in Orlando. Fine. Thirty minutes and a Starbucks tea later, we are allowed to board the plane again. We pull away from the gate, get the whole safety schpeal, roll out to the runway and… stop. Uhm….

DCA has grounded all flights due to weather. Plane must return to the gate and everyone has to get out; again. Yet again, please refer to the face above. We are told that we would have an announcement within 30 minutes, to hang around, blah, blah, blah.  Flight is then delayed until 6:50. Time to kill more time. While we are doing so, the phone vibrates again: flight canceled.

Well, shit.

At this point, we are tired, hungry, cranky, and ready to go home except that we cannot go home. An hour later, we finally make it to the counter for alternative options and the first alternative option is a flight that is, wait for it, Wednesday morning!

F*@& Ducks! Yes, that was my actual statement while I laughed like a loon at the absurdity of the entire situation. Please, let me now remind you that it was Monday and we would not be leaving until Tuesday.

Trapped! Stuck in the “Sunshine State” until Wednesday!! I very much felt like poor Fluttershy in this image: 

Not to be detered, however, my wonderful husband tried to make the best of the very annoying, nearly enraging situation. We get yet another rental car, book a cheaper hotel (that is not covered by the airline btw cuz weather isn’t covered by their whatever whatever clause), and go to find food first since we’d not eaten a thing since noon. Check in to hotel, then promptly turn around and go to Universal City Walk for dinner as it is now, at that point, the only thing open with food. It was good food too (Bubba Gump Shrimp Co).

Tuesday, since we’re now stuck in Orlando’s grasp until the following morning, we decide we are not going to sit in our stanky, mold-infested room (which we moved out of, btw). No, sir! We are going to have fun! We are going to see Harry Potter!

Having already visited Disney and, having been to Universal Studios Hollywood on many occasions, I expected Orlando to be similar if bigger. Imagine my pure, unadulterated bliss when I learned it was better. Not only better than Hollywood, but better than Disney!

fluttershy_squeakingI am not entirely certain that I will be able to adequately put into words what our experience at Universal was like, but I will try. If it seems flustered and chaotic, just refer to the picture at the left because that’s pretty much how I was the entire day.

1. Universal already started off with a major win in their guest relations department. Once again, I rented a scoot-scoot and, having experienced idiocy at Disney, I inquired about their disability services so that I might be prepared for the idiocy at Universal. Except, there wasn’t any idiocy. I was assured – many times – that every ride and location would be accommodating to my needs whatever those might be. Alright, I was willing to go on faith and then had it tested…

2. When we made it up to Diagon Alley after taking tons of pictures of old cars and neat things at the beginning of the park. Diagon Alley was PACKED so, in order to not run anyone over, I opted to park at the nearest convenient location and hoof it as best I could. A kind old man named Lee standing at an open door asked as I got out of the seat why I was in the scoot-scoot so I explained. He seemed rather surprised, but didn’t really question my weird feet issues further and then asked if we were there to have lunch. We didn’t actually know where ‘there’ was until he told another group of people trying to enter the door he stood at that the entrance to the Leaky Cauldron was further down and the wait was almost a full hour. Not really hungry, I said, no we can come back another time when the wait is not so long. He then insisted, however, that he would simply walk us in through the exit, that “he was allowed to do that sometimes” and did exactly what he said he would – he walked us through, told the head host of my mobility issues and we were immediately seen to a register to order food/drink and be seated. All told, we stood for maybe 10 minutes and no one rushed us (I’m slow, like snails). I was so impressed and touched by this kind man that I gave him a hug on our way out. The food was amazing, the decor of the Leaky Cauldron impeccable. The squeaking was well deserved.

3. Being Harry Potter fans, we easily spent nearly 4 hours JUST inside Diagon Alley. Keep in mind, there is ONE ride there and the rest is shops and things to see. It was that impressive. We bought wands, drank butter beer and fire whiskey, shopped for cloaks, took pictures and all along I moved my scoot-scoot as best I could until I could not and then walked around a bit until I needed to sit. Cast members helped me find parking spots so I would not be in the way or else helped with crowd control when they saw me. We did get on the one ride there (Escape from Gringots) and asked how to queue up – normally a little buzzer is given like for dinner reservation times and you go when your buzzer buzzes. However, since I had the scoot-scoot they didn’t even give us a buzzer – we were just ushered right in and quickly accommodated without question. I was floored. FLOORED! Those who have been reading this blog know that I have been to several theme parks in the last week and I have rented a scoot-scoot each time. NONE have been as understanding, accepting or accommodating as Universal has. Even when there was a line (on the Hogwarts Express) that I could not skip through, I was allowed to sit out of the way on my scoot-scoot to wait for our turn on the train.

4. Hogsmeade was just as amazing as Diagon Alley and more time was spent there before we floated through the rest of the park. We did not get on any other rides since the majority of them were water rides and neither of us had any desire to be DRENCHED so we walked around, scoped out the park for the kids, got lost twice, and thoroughly enjoyed the hospitality of Universal Studios and its employees. I cannot gush more about these parks than I already have. Everyone was having fun, every child smiling and happy, every family or group kept together – even a broken ride did not alter the joviality of the cast. We did the wave and clapped and wiggled in our seats until the ride could be fixed. It. Was. Amazing.

We ended our Tuesday evening with an early screening (ha!) of the new Transformers film which, we also enjoyed for it’s incredible humor and action sequences. I won’t spoil anything for those wanting to see it. We did, finally, make it home today (June 21), the first official day of summer, returned safely to our blessed reign of ChAoS.

Peace-and-Quiet-Fluttershy-fluttershy-20707806-500-500
Home sweet home.
Posted in Chelle, General Updates/News

Summer Time!

Summer

It’s here!! Parents and children rejoice! No more early mornings! No more hollering ‘where’s your backpack?!’ at 7am! No more shoving them out the door only to remember you forgot to medicate them (oops, total #momfail on my part; and, yes, I medicate one of my children – it makes him not a total and complete dick; yes, I said that too, it’s really ok).

REJOICE!!

But only for a little while. The end of school means we trade one form of ChAoS for another. Instead of hollering at children to get their little behinds on the bus, I will be hollering at them to get out of my office and stop reading over my shoulder. Instead of nagging me to drive them to this practice or that event, they’ll be nagging me to take them to the mall with friends or ask why we haven’t gone to the beach (never mind the fact that once we GET to said beach they immediately start whining about how bored they are).

This is how ChAoS works. Switch one thing for another. And, somewhere in all of that, I have a novel to write, stories to edit, and an anthology to help publish and promote (plus all the normal things that I do that don’t stop just because it’s summer time. In fact, I’m positive I go get groceries more often because they eat 1700 times a day).

Summer brings about the July version of CampNaNoWriMo where I will, once again, agonize over whether I should participate or not. Ultimately, I will decide to torment myself and then curse my laziness when I fail; again.

But, do you know what I do love about summer?

Writing in my hammock on the back deck (with plenty of OFF and tiki torches all around me). Enjoying tasty, ice cold adult beverages at all hours of the day cuz I have no real commitments except to my words (and, you know, throwing a granola bar or something at the kids once in a while). Eating s’mores and shortcakes in the glow of my screen after everyone has gone to sleep with the windows wide open so I can hear the songs of nature inspire me while I stuff my face and let me imagination soar. I love going to see the big summer blockbuster movies and then tearing them down to the sum of their parts as only a writer can.

It is truly glorious and it. is. finally. here.

R’amen.

Posted in Chelle, Stories

Story Time!

CYOA_DUPLEX_LOGO

I know, I know – I missed last week. Monday totally escaped me while I was still trying to wake up and then it was Tuesday and there were things and Wednesday just tore me a new one…  It was a hard week. This week isn’t looking to be much different as we enter the last days of the school year (already??/thank gods!!) when schedules change, running must be done and then more things happen with stuff and people and mornings. It’s a mess. Just one being giant cluster of ChAoS and weird.

Anyway, entirely beside the point.

In a couple of weeks I will be doing something fun, something a little different. Everyone remembers those silly Choose Your Own Adventure books we all read as a kid, right? The ones that let you pick whether the protagonist succeeded or failed, got eaten by the giant snake or turned it into his beloved pet – yeah those. Well, I have decided to do something similar with my own works and let you, the audience, decide what direction things should go in the comments. Fun, right?!

We’ll start with an introductory piece, something that isn’t too long – don’t want to lose your attention right out the gate – and then I’ll leave everyone with a choice (I’ll even make it a poll if my pathetic sense of tech savvy works in my favor). Let me know what you think in the comments, feel free to make suggestions if you have them and then, I will take those suggestions and write the next piece to be posted within 2 weeks of the first (just cuz, life, it happens).

I’ll even start taking suggestions for story topic if you’ve got them (though I have plenty of my own if you don’t) so let me hear from ya! Let’s write together!!

Posted in Chelle, General Updates/News

Shameless Plug

Yes, I’ve been busy.

Yes, I realize I missed Monday’s post.

Yes, I am working tirelessly at the plotting and re-plotting of Clockwork Gods so that it meets everyone’s high standards by fall(ish) and getting everything ready for my submission of Heart of the Matter to its little anthology.

Lots of working, lots of life, lots of laundry…

So, in the midst of all that, I am happy to bring you the shiny, brand new cover to the Tales of the Black Dog anthology! Ready? Ready, ready?

TA DA!

kindlecover1

Isn’t it awesome!? Look, *points up* that’s my name!

I’m allowed to be giddy over my own work, people, I’m a writer. It’s kinda what I do.

In any event, purchases of this lovely (yet slightly disturbing and/or terrifying) collection of stories can be done via this link, right here. Copies are available in digital format and paperback.

Look for Heart of the Matter, the prequel story to Clockwork Gods coming soon!

Ciao for now!

Posted in Chelle, General Updates/News

Recovery the Second (AKA Officially Old AF)

top-10-scary-roller-coasters-in-the-united-states

So, here I am, the Queen of ChAoS, the Magnanimous Magistrate of the Disorganized laid up by, of all things, a 6th grade trip to King’s Dominion. SERIOUSLY!? First, a convention, then, an amusement park. Blah.

The brain is still attempting to process all of the things that collided with it on Saturday. I lost my sunglasses with my dignity somewhere towards the late evening and then tried to make up for it last night by writing a few words – – that was a mistake. I looked at those words this morning and cringed. They will be buried and forgotten with no tombstone to mark their passing.

As it stands, I have realized that I have no tolerance for tweens (and should probably put them in a book of terrible things NOT to do to your parents), have lost my tolerance for roller-coasters (sad panda), and, above all, that I. Am. Old. A. F.  When the hell did I get to be so dammed old? WHEN!?

I swear my next novel after Clockwork Gods is going to be The Stupid Things We Do When We Old.  No, that is not a typo. I am not old; I act old against my own will.

Today is a rest day because, the Chelle requires at least one more day of recovery before she will trust her brain to not spew strange things like she is doing now. This is life in ChAoS, ladies and germs.

Awesome, ain’t it?

Posted in Chelle

Organizing ChAoS

Things have been spectacularly busy/crazy today. Today we celebrated the birth of my third spawn and, naturally, being the brilliantly organized (NOT) individual that I am, I saved gift-buying for the very last second while I ran out to collect my prescriptions, run errands, and find a place that had cupcakes unadorned with little black graduation hats. Yeah, I’m awesome (#momfail)!

In all of this ChAoS, I have had to do laundry, sweep up all the cat hair, wrap the last-minute gift, and get the bills paid. AND I still had words and blogs and graphic design thingies to do in addition to that. Have words; currently in the process of doing said words; finally accomplishing some of the words much later than I’d originally liked; ready to go to bed but still needing to do some of those words… Words, I still need to do the dang words and I’m thirty-something years archaic with a 9p bedtime cuz I have four kids but I’m still determined to get this novel done by the end of June.

THIS, my friends, THIS is ChAoS in its purest form. This is the crazy, day-to-day that exists in everyone’s life; the stuff that makes you look at your writing and say ‘I’ll do it tomorrow when I’m not as busy’. Except tomorrow is as busy; so is the next day; and the next. Before you know it, the tomorrows have added up to be a full week, then a month and then you realize that you’ve not written a single word or even picked up a book in months. I know I’m not the only one because I’ve had this discussion with others.

Above, I present to you the truth and the fantasy. The truth (left) is what my desk actually looks like (or, did before I cleaned it up cuz ugh!) more often than not. There are things all over it that include but are not limited to: papers, notebooks, pens and pencils, stuffed animals, grooming tools, children’s homework, medicines, bottles of lotion, tissues (sometimes used ones), and perhaps a book or two. The fantasy (right) is what I think my work space is; what it should be when I sit down to compose the stories that will catapult me into fame and fortune like a big squishy whipped cream pie launched at a brick wall. It stays in that nice neat bubble for approximately 6 hours before something is added to it or it is used as a catch-all space until I clear it off again (which, by the way, takes away more time from getting all those wordsy things done).

What’s the point then?

My point is, simply, that I refuse to give up – – and you should do the same. Clear off that clutter! Organize that ChAoS! It won’t bite you! Even if it does – bite it back! Cut out that chunk of time to get ‘er done. Fifteen minutes – – you do it for your morning yoga, you can do it for your words too! Read, write, journal, anything but don’t let that ChAoS take over and run your dreams into an early grave. Don’t be the ‘could’ve been’. Be the ‘did it, got the shitty t-shirt’. You’ll thank yourself for it later – true story.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go pick the color of my shitty shirt so I have it ready when I get all of this done. I’m thinking a nice chartreuse…

Posted in Chelle

Timey Wimey Wibbly Wobbly

TARDISIf only I had a TARDIS. I could go to and fro through the timelines of my mind and see things as they happen and make those little notes in the Bible of my Novel without having to reference 2500 Post-It notes across the schism of hundreds of spiral-bound notebooks.

But, why are timelines so hard? It’s your world, right? I mean, you made this up.

Yes, I did. But, like many works, my work evolves and changes, or I think of things later that contradict something that’s already been set down in the proverbial timeline.  Or just trying to figure out how old someone is during a particular point in time. Or, perhaps, what Soldier A was doing while Soldier B was off playing cribbage with the old folks on the other side of the country. Things like this become important for consistency and continuity; the flow of your story depends on these things.

So, how do we sort all of this out?

Personally – I don’t. I bang my head against my desk, drown my sorrows in a good bottle of wine, sob in a corner, rock back and forth, then try it all agai6n on a different piece of paper. Recently, I’ve been introduced to Aeon Timeline which is helping as is putting everything in individual bullet journals. Still, I find myself referencing Aeon or smashing Post-Its to my wall behind my desk and trying to look at the “big picture” only to find that something has been overlooked, someone wouldn’t be quite old enough for what I wanted and then the table flips of its own volition… or because this is the fifth time I’ve run this particular timeline only to come up with the same results.

Is it too complicated? Perhaps. Too many events? Too many characters? All of the above are valid reasons and in my world of pure ChAoS, it happens more often than not. However, I know I am not the only one that suffers these problems. Was the main character born before the big war or after? How old are they now? What about their siblings – do they even have siblings? It all goes into the overarching world-building that narrows itself down to a single, linear(ish) timeline. As I’ve stated in the title, it can be a bit timey wimey, wibbly wobbly.

Currently I am working through the timeline for Heart of the Matter, my steampunk story that will be published by Corrugated Sky and how that relates to Clockwork Gods which is the follow-up novel due out in the fall. And don’t even get me started on my fantasy series… -_-  That about sums it up.

Timelines: they are not for the feint of heart!

Posted in Chelle, General Updates/News

Recovery (aka Post RavenCon Quickie)

tired-dog

This won’t be long or detailed or even entertaining. I feel and look like that poor little pug with it’s cute little wrinkly face smashed onto the floor. Except my face isn’t really all that cute when smashed on a floor; or when wrinkly; or at all right now.

RavenCon was a blast. I learned a lot, met a lot of great people, great authors, danced, gamed, talked, drank, told crazy stories, and generally enjoyed myself a great deal. At some point, I will detail all of that in a memoir somewhere: “Anecdotes of ConLife” and submit it to the “Kings of Con” folks to see if the miraculous happens and I get a shot on their show.

If this weekend taught me one thing it is that I am way too old for this shit. Yeah, I cursed, it’s what I do. I curse and I wrangle words.

Pictures will come soon enough to Insta so keep an eye out. Some might already be there, I don’t remember cuz tired.

Also, I have new kittens. Just adding to my chaos.