Thursday, July 21, 2011

Heading Up North to the Land of the Pines

This is just a short note to say that I will be absent for two+ weeks. I'm going to the woods. I won't have any Internet connection, and my phone service will be spotty at best. I'll miss you, my friends!

I will climb a mountain and thank someone for my life.

I will jump stark naked into a freezing pool of water in the shadowed woods.

I will play music for children, and paint, and run for the sheer joy of it.

I will abandon fluorescence.

If I get eaten by a bear, please send flowers. (Just send them here, because that's where I'll be. In the belly of the bear. In the great gulf, remembering everything, owing nothing.)

Friday, July 15, 2011

The Perversions of Squirrels: A Children's Story

I have fallen behind in my postings, for two lovely bloggers recently bequeathed to me the "Seriously Cute" blogger award: Cherie of Ready.Write.Go (Cherie, Cherie, I Sing of Thee!) and Riley Redgate of In the Jungle. (Isn't "Riley Redgate" a great name for an author, by the way? And she's a teenager. What was I doing as a teenager? Learning how to smoke cigarettes behind the school gym, probably.)

Here is the award they gave me. I'll give it to some people, too. But you have to wait until the end!

Even my wee turds are cute. Even the one you stepped on while running shoeless through the fresh green grass, %$%#$! Am I a Shi'Tzu? I think so. If so, even my darling anus is cute. I am cute all over.
I'm supposed to list down 5 books/films/TV shows I've read or watched in the last 12 months. But, of course, I won't follow these rules. I think you've learned that by now.

In an effort to prove just how much I merit this award, I decided to share with you a children's story I adapted several years ago (recently unearthed from a box in the attic). The original title was Squirrels All Year Long. I did this during work hours for my former employer so, in essence, I was paid to "translate" this work into a new and righteous form. (I did say "former employer." Current employer, if you are reading this, you well know that I would never mangle a children's title on company property.)

I give you Squirrely All Year Long. 'Twould be sad to leave it in the attic, yes?

If you've gotten this far, you may have been tagged 'n' bagged. These fine individuals have earned the  Seriously Cute Blogger Award, and may do with it what they will. Following the original rules is OK! Or, you could take on this challenge instead: Show us why you are so durned cute, and use a visual or two.

I choose:  
K. Marie Kriddle, whose take on my last wicked meme was laugh-out-loud hilarious.
Jaded Little Girl, whose comments on my blog are like prose-poem bombs.
Kerri of Write.Eat.Repeat., who appeared to me on Twitter in a pleasing vision.
The Inner Owlet, a fellow Blogvel writer and fun-lover.
Jen Winsword, because I just love her Twitter handle (@googlypants) and Blog name. Wrath of Jen? I too, am a Jen, and have wrath.
Lettuce Is The Devil, because he wrote a post about turd-burgers. What will he do with a "Cute" blogger award?

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Panty-Meme Pony

Now I've gone and cooked my own goose. After several of us taunted, bullied, and threw root vegetables at Greenwoman on Twitter, she went ahead and rose to the challenge of creating a meme entirely based on the theme of panties. That's right, undergarments.

I'd rather not go into the sordid history of this meme.

The rules are, of course, copy the questions, answer them, and tag others to do the same.

What do you call your panties/underwear/undergarments? Do you have any commonly used nicknames for them?
I call them Turtledove, Str├╝mgang, and Misty.

Have you ever had that supposedly common dream of being in a crowded place in only your underwear?
Yes, and the worst part is that I was wearing them on my head—not on my nethers!

What is the worst thing you can think of to make panties out of?
Brussels sprouts, rutabaga shavings, and discarded vampire fangs.

If you were a pair of panties, what color would you be, and WHY?
Puce. Puce Panties is pleasantly and pulchritudinously alliterative!

Have you ever thrown your panties/underwear at a rock star or other celebrity? If so, which one(s)? If not, which one(s) WOULD you throw your panties/underwear at, given the opportunity?
I would throw my (clean and freshly-laundered) panties at Greenwoman.

You’re out of clean panties. What do you do?
If I dare
I shall wear no underwear
The wind will whip and whistle
Through my nether hair
If I dare

[too bad I missed the Poetry Schmoetry meme, eh?]

Are you old enough to remember Underoos? If so, did you have any? Which ones?
Yes! And I never got them! Just like I never got a Big Wheel and a PONY. Mom? Mom?!! Oh yeah, you don't read my blog (and don't even know about it) which is why I can say "fuckity fuck fuck" without worrying. But, mother, you are growing on in years. Perhaps it is time to introduce you to the frenetic author you birthed from your loins.

If you could have any message printed on your panties, what would it be?
Liquor in the front. Poker in the rear.

How many bloggers does it take to put panties on a goat?

Tag Four People and tell them why you are being so cruel to them.       
1. Cherie of Ready. Write. Go. Because she is a marvelous member of the ever-ridiculous and awesome GOAT POSSE. (#goatposse)
2. BethanyBecause she will bring it in all the ways that it should be broughten! (Dirty martini ruins grammar.)
3. Tracey Hansen. If it involves panties and perversion, she may not be left out of it.
3. Suzanne Payne. This charming woman keeps showing up on Twitter with funny comments, and now she must pay the price of the panty meme!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The Great 50-Book Giveaway

UPDATE: Winners have been chosen. Thanks to everyone for participating! I'll host another giveaway in August, so please come back and try again.

As predicted, I did not have a box large enough to hold all these books so I have chosen three big winners:
Mindy McGinnis
Denise Krebs
The Oros Family
And a special consolation prize of a surprise book goes to...Mary Frame

I'll be Tweeting to let the winners know. Please DM me @feralpony with your mailing addresses, and the books could go out as early as today. Hurrah!
I am going to give away 50 books. Yes, I am. They include many ARCs, some published titles, and even a bonus 7-CD audio edition of Everlasting. These books are all YA/MG titles. Imagine a great big stack of them teetering on your coffee table, toppling over and crushing your breakfast croissants! But you won't care about your flattened pastries, because you'll be up to your eyeballs in dark underworlds, angsty teens with acne, princesses, mutant wolves, and sword fighting.

These books could be yours. Or at least some of them. I might have to choose more than one winner if I can't find a big enough box to house these books. It's going to take a BIG box. Look at 'em:

All you have to do to be eligible is:
1. Follow my blog.
2. Leave me a comment.
3. Tweet at least once about the giveaway (make sure to tag me @feralpony so I can see it). If you don't use Twitter, you must go out to your rooftop and call me on the wind. "Party Pony!" you will cry. "I want those damned books!" I shall surely hear you. 

That's it! I will pick a winner or winners sometime soon...perhaps on Thursday of this week. Questions? Send them my way in comments. Thanks for joining in!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Skeleton Key Blogvel: Chapter 6

Skeleton Key is a YA "round robin" novel or "blogvel," with each chapter written by a different blogger. It was conceived by the imaginative and unparalleled Michelle Simkins, aka Greenwoman. This week is my turn to throw a new twist (or two) into the thrilling plot! Below, I give you chapter six.

To catch up with what's happened so far, visit the earlier chapters.

Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5

The full posting schedule can be found here, Table of Contents.

Chapter 7 will be posted next Monday 7/18 at Hey Now.

Chapter Six

This time, the journey by fire wasn’t instantaneous. As I clung to Ax, I could see fields, mountains, cities whipping below us. Both our bodies were wreathed in flame—as if together we were the wick of a candle, our bodies melting and melding together….

Stop! I thought to myself. He couldn’t see me blushing thanks to the red-hot flame that likely made me as attractive as a beefsteak tomato. It’s not as if we’re soulmates or anything. I snorted out loud and noticed that even my breath felt fiery hot in my nostrils. How was that possible?

“Where are we going?” I yelled over the roar of the flames.

“The next embassy,” said Ax, his breath adding to the gust of heat that surged around me.

I wasn’t sure I wanted to know what happened when one was intimate with such a mate—would I be crisped like a shish-kebab? What a way to go. There. I’d gone and thought about that again. It was downright embarrassing to daydream about making out with a dragon. And disturbing.

There was something I hadn’t mentioned to Ax, however. I already had a boyfriend. Dex wore glasses, read sci fi and fantasy novels and comic books, and kept newts in a glass tank. My sister Ashley had always called Dex a nerd; she’d even said he was lame. (I hadn’t spoken to her for a few days after that.) But Dex made me laugh. He took me ice skating in the park. He loved the smell of my jasmine perfume. And he was an exceptional kisser.

I tried to picture Dex and Ax battling for my heart. Poor skinny Dex wouldn’t have a chance against…um…the most powerful supernatural beast on earth. I almost laughed out loud at the thought of Ax gobbling up Dex’s poor newts. (Did Ax like to eat newts? I had no idea.)

Right now Dex was probably weeping because he hadn’t heard from me all day. And cradling his newts. Okay, so maybe he was a bit lame.

“What?” said Ax.  My face must have given away my thoughts.

“Nothing.” I didn’t feel like sharing the whole boyfriend thing right now. Was exclusivity expected in the dragon community? What would Ax look like if he got jealous? I pictured him swelling up to an enormous size, the steam pouring from his ears, his eyes a fierce yellow. Maybe he’d start to resemble his brother, Skynjar. The thought wasn’t pleasant. At least Ax didn’t wear glasses.

“I was just thinking about my sister,” I lied. “Wondering if she’s worrying about me.”

“She is older than you?” said Ax. I noticed that our flight had slowed dramatically, so that we seemed to be hovering within the flame. Maybe Ax wanted a little “alone time” with me up here, so we could get to know each other.

“Not older. The same. We’re twins.”

“Twins. She is a perfect match to you?”

“I don’t know if I’d call her a match—we’re impossibly different. She’s completely flighty, and I’m pretty calm. As you might have guessed by the fact that I’m not screaming my head off right now as we ride around the earth in a glowing ball of fire. But we’re identical, like two peas in a pod, if that’s what you mean—”

Ax’s eyes glowed an even fiercer yellow and he breathed in deeply, sucking some of the flames in with him. When he did so, we dropped precipitously.

“Yikes!” I said. “I’m not that calm!”

“We must go and claim this sister,” said Ax. “She will be vitally important. She is in New York City?”

“Yes,” I said. “Wait. No, no, no. You don’t understand. Ashley’s not like me—she’s going to freak out! She doesn’t have any supernatural powers or anything! The only kind of Hummer she would be able to comprehend is the gas guzzler. She has panic attacks and she’s scared of spiders and she only cares about clothes and shoes! She has 65 pairs of shoes! Like pumps and sandals and boots and all sorts of shoes.”

I was babbling. I couldn’t imagine the expression on Ashley’s face when she saw Ax. Calling my sister “flighty” was the understatement of the year. Ashley was about as stable as a butterfly.

Ax wasn’t listening. He clutched me tighter and the heat rose and roared around us. The next thing I knew, we were smack in the middle of Times Square. Crowds surged around us. I heard the blare of a trumpet, and the banging of drums. Sweaty bodies pressed against us, tourists lunging to get a good photograph.

“Oh great,” I said. “Times Square? During a parade?”

Ax grunted in reply.

A fat tourist knocked me off my feet, and I fell to my knees. I was nearly tramped by a phalanx of baton-twirling teenagers, all wearing little white skirts and spangly leotards. Ax caught my arm and hauled me out of danger.

“I can survive flying in a ball of fire, only to get squished in some kind of Pride Parade,” I said. “What are these people marching for, anyway?”

Someone in the crowd shouted: “Go Meat!” I saw a banner for Hormel sausages fluttering above me. It was a carnivore’s parade? Only in New York! Or maybe Germany.

“Your sister,” said Ax. “Where is she? We must find her.”

“Why?” I asked. “What is it about us being twins?”

“Identical twins have great power, because of their bond. They are forged from the same egg. United, then divided. Divided, but still united.”

“I see you took Biology 101,” I said. I realized I was getting a bit snippy.

“And the prophetess saw you in a vision,” added Ax. “What if it was your sister she saw?”

“Oh.” That thought hadn’t occurred to me.

I sighed. He wasn’t going to take no for an answer. He’d quickly see that Ashley was about as useless as a Fourth of July sparkler in a snowstorm.

“She’s at her job,” I said. “She works for a women’s magazine only a few blocks from here, called Chic. She’s, um, the fashion editor. The youngest ever in the magazine’s history.”

Ax frowned when I said “fashion editor.” Maybe, just maybe, he was realizing how ludicrous this whole venture was.

“We will go there,” he said. “You will go in and get your sister out. But we must hurry. We have wasted enough time. The killer is out there, and he will not stop.”

This time it was me who led the way. I took Ax’s hand, noting how warm and solid it felt. How strong. He kept an easy pace with me as we wove through the crowd, past a chorus line of men in sausage costumes and a woman dressed as a burger patty. Ax sniffed the air, as if all the celebration of meat was making him hungry.

“When was the last time you ate, anyway?” I said.

He started as if I’d bitten him. “No need. Not hungry.”

That made me wonder: What did Ax eat, anyway?

We reached the offices of Chic magazine, which were housed in an imposing, glass-fronted building. I had no idea what my sister would say when she realized I’d lied to her about my supposed vacation to Tonga, and that I wanted her to join us on a crazy mission to defeat a monster killer. A monster killer with a skeleton key, who was going to mess the whole world up really badly. Maybe if I mentioned that her shoe collection would be threatened…?

“You'd better stay out here,” I told Ax.

I was about to ask the man at the desk to call my sister and let her know I was here, but there was no need. Ashley was coming down the escalator, along with a parade of interns, fashion assistants, and camera people. And standing next to her on the descending escalator was a very tall, pale, and beautiful woman. The most beautiful woman I’d probably ever seen. She had astonishingly sleek, black hair, red lips, and long limbs. There was something terrible about her too, though. She reminded me of a spider.

Ashley saw me right away and darted over to me—we were always like magnets to each other. 

“Beck!” she said, astonished. “What are you doing here? Did you know we have a shoot with Angelica today? She’s the latest new model, just came onto the scene. I literally discovered her. She came to my door, out of nowhere! How strange is that? She’s going to be big.” Ashley’s eyes looked strange and giddy, like when she had too many margaritas.

I stared again at the gorgeous woman, unable to tear my eyes away.

But she wasn’t looking at me. She was looking over my shoulder, and her eyes narrowed like a feral cat’s. I heard her hiss.

I turned, and there was Ax, standing in the foyer of the building. He was staring at the woman called Angelica. And for the first time since I’d met him, Ax looked afraid.  

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

I Have Ruined Your Nice Meme

I was recently tagged by the illustrious and maniacal Greenwoman and also by the glamorous and mesmerizing Anita Howard on a "meme" that's been making the blog rounds lately.

I don't know who cooked this meme up, but the questions are vaguely bizarre...maybe even sinister. For example, the meme asks "When was the last time you ate chicken meat?" Why chicken meat? Why emphasize the "meat" portion of it? Why not "chicken claws"?

I do not wish to know when any of you ate chicken meat, much as I love you. Please keep this information to yourselves in future.

I decided that, rather than answer these questions, I am going to investigate the meaning behind them, track down the author of the meme, and make sure she or he is escorted to a suitable home where they can care for those with damaged minds.

But I don't have time for that! So instead, I'm going to switch these questions up, dog. And ask a whole set of new and inane memish questions! And visit them upon you, and your children, and your children's children!

Are you a rutabaga?

When was the last time you ate lion meat?
During that safari which went so horribly awry in 1989.

Upload a heartwarming picture of something that makes you smile.

I actually no likee clowns. This is a joke! Why are you hiding in the woodpile?

If you could go back in time and kick the crap out of someone, who would it be?
Why, that bully from 9th grade, Jujyfruit Assbat!

Name one habit that makes other people plot your demise.
I sometimes hammer nails into people's heads without the slightest bit of warning.

What song would you like to be playing while you are kicking the crap out of someone?
Pink's "So What," or maybe Tchaikovsky

Where da muffin top at?
The muffin top is ineffable, and cannot be found by human hands.

How many goats, stacked atop one another like Yertle's Turtles, would it take to reach the moon?
1,564,768 and 1/2 goat

Describe yourself using obscure Latin words.
Cupiditas Pullanus: Little horse with a party spirit!

Why does evil exist?
Stop right now! This meme is hurting my brains! It's not even a real MEME because I just made it up. It would be a meme if it was actually all over the place and viral, like a bad STD, like that other "chicken meat" meme. People are insane!

What the fuck are you thinking right now?
I'm wishing I had not uploaded that photo of the clown.

Tag 11 blogger friends, or some other random number that suits you. Ha! You can't say "no tagbacks" because I just made up new rules! BOO YAH. Make up your own rules or be enslaved by another blogger's.

1. Justin Holley
2. Cherie
3.  Greenwoman
4. Bethany
5. Tracey Hansen
6. Kalen
7. Mary
8. Angela
9. TS Welti
10. Mrs. Kim
11. Anita

Pick a funny nickname for number 1. 
The Woolly Mastodon.

Make up a rhyme about number 2.
Cherie, Cherie, I sing of thee!
Your name rhymes with that of  J. Holley
and also with that of T.S. Welti!

Where would number 3 hide in the event of the apocalypse?
In the henhouse, in her goat pants.

Where does number 4 purchase her pants?
 She doesn't wear any pants!

What would number 5's favorite dance move be?
Anything that involved not wearing pants.

If number 6 had a war cry, what would it be?
I am Kalen
Hear me roar
I am a fucking awesome writer
And an ac-tor!

Tell number 7 you love 'em. Come on! It won't hurt to say you love 'em!
Aw, gorsh, Mary! I loves ya!

If you and number 8 pulled a prank together, what would you do?
I love the prank with the bucket of water above the door. It's a classic. Come on, Angela. Yes?

Number 9 is fine because...
She's an author! Check out this interview for her new book, The Fifth Specter.

Tell a little story about number 10.
Me and Mrs. Kim go way back. Check out her foodie recipes! Once, she brought salmon mousse on a hike.

Number 11 dreams about...
Insects and faeries and ghosts. Tonight, she will dream about a vast ship on an ocean, and the water filled with sprites, and the moon dancing on the waves. She will not dream about that awful clown. This I wish for her.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The Story of the Clam

Last weekend, my son came back from a sleepover and dumped his overnight bag on the back steps. It sat there in the hot sun for many hours. Finally, I picked it up and decided to clean it out. I reached in and noticed something was moving at the bottom of the bag.

It was a bivalve. A clammy sort of thing, with the penile appendage poking out of its shell. Ah yes, a clam indeed. I had eaten this sort of thing at seafood establishments, with drawn butter. I regretted that now. The penile appendage was wiggling. The clam was alive.

It was sitting next to his pajamas and toothbrush, along with a fair amount of sand. There were two linty pennies at the bottom of the bag. I picked the clam up between my thumb and forefinger. It pulsed against my skin. Its movements were foreign, alien. Yet it lived, and I lived. It sat all day in the hot sun and still lived.

“Please take it outside,” I said to my son.

“We thought it was dead,” he said. He and his friend had found the clam in the Mamaroneck river.

“It’s not dead but it’s gonna be soon!”

He took the clam outside. He didn’t come back in. We walked out to find out where he’d gone. He was around the side of the house, crying, heartbroken.

His whole body shook with the tragedy. And I remembered that hopelessness. I pitied every aphid, every butterfly, every ant I’d trapped as a child. I remembered the little rabbit that I’d saved from a cat that had shaken it and ruined its organs; it had died and gone stiff in its shoebox of grass clippings. I had been struck with an overwhelming grief, and no one else had even winced.

My husband said: “Look. Go and get it. We’re going to return it to the river. We’re going to save its life.”

My son perked up and ran out, but he’d wedged the clam under a piece of concrete by the back steps and couldn’t get it out. We fetched the cooking tongs and pulled the poor clam free. Then they got in the car and drove it down to the river, right to the spot where he’d found it. I watched them go.

When they returned my son’s face was calm.

“Is the clam alive?” I said.


“And do you feel better?”

“Much better, yes.”

I thank my husband for doing that small thing.