Friday, December 28, 2012

When Promotions Go Wrong...

So, last week, Instead SoftCup ran a promotion where they were giving away free Softcup 2 packs to anyone who wanted to try their product. Now, in retrospect, I'm betting they never thought that a menstrual cup would be such a popular item for a free sample (their facebook free sample ran out as well and now they're giving out a $1/off coupon) -- or that word of mouth would happen so fast.

However, instead of honoring their agreement when the demand went higher than they'd ever expected to supply, they canceled everyone's orders. I was going to post a review, but instead, now I have nothing but a rant. The e-mail they sent out reads:

"This message is to notify you that your order #114166 from Softcup has been canceled for the following reason: Misuse."

Um, okay. So, instead of sending out an apology--you know, "We screwed up, sorry!"--they sent out this comment on the cancellation receipts. Some of the earlier cancellations were given the comment that the promotion was meant to be a buy one, get one free deal. Looking at my cart, I see that I have that option as well now (which wasn't included in my e-mail).

Changing the coupon was one thing--that was rude, but completely understandable. However, for those of us like myself who only got the "misuse" e-mail, it was uncool business practices. If I hadn't had friends who also tried to use the coupon, I wouldn't have known why I had received such an e-mail.

Here's a tip, Instead: Don't insult potential customers. I've wanted to try a menstrual cup for a while, but have been very dubious as to whether they would work for me or not. This seemed like the perfect opportunity. Putting down the equivalent to what I pay for pads every year for one product that I might hate and can't return just does not strike my fancy.

I think we would have all understood an accident. Their site even put out an apology--it would have been nice if they had sent a link to all of the people who wanted to try it. I might still try them in the future, but I want to make a suggestion to small companies for the future:

When making a free coupon, make certain to add "Free to the first [feasible number] customers to use the coupon code." And if you mess up? Instead of reason "misuse" -- how about reason "We screwed up and we're sorry!"

Just a thought. In the meantime, you can still try a sample pack for $2.50 and free shipping. That seems like a fair deal, if you're still looking to try out a disposable menstrual cup.

Friday, November 23, 2012

November Blues


November and I have a tradition: I don't like it and it does its best to shit all over me and everyone I care about. As a result, this year, my coping strategy has been to be a proper writer and immerse. Which has left me wondering if I'm writing a trilogy or a quartet. The age-old question of when you let it go for the readers to continue on with their own imaginations. I won't know until the end of this book, I suppose!

Katarina's first birthday!

I've had some great things happen in November. Last year, my third little girl came into our lives with my best birth. Eight years ago, I married the most amazing man I've ever known. Three years before that, he and I became a couple.

But mostly, it's been a bust. This year, I watched one of my best friends lose her kids just for starters. The list of bad that has happened to my friends is just too long. I am praying my hardest for two little girls and a friend's husband to come home as soon as possible. I'm not a praying person, but this is very important.

I'm starting to finally come out of the major depressive cycle I've been in for the last few months. Of course, I thought that at the beginning of the month, then I was hit so hard that I barely made it through the first few days of what I hope was the final spiral.

I am trying not to just disappear, but I haven't been much inspired for posts these days. My work has been almost entirely in fiction. I have been posting relevant articles, etc. on my Facebook page, so if you don't follow me there, you should consider it! My sales have been down on Hotel, but I haven't felt much like pimping it, so that's understandable.

We did have a pretty good Halloween, though, so I'll end with a few pictures from it. It does give me an idea for a post later, to explain my costume.

Lilly as Merida from Brave

Naomi as Spidergirl

Me, Cyberpunk


...Ro dah!

Ready to Trick or Treat!

My jack-o-lantern will end the world
(carved by my talented husband from my design)

Friday, October 26, 2012

Not Ready For Radio


I had a very interesting new experience this week. In my publicity endeavors, I was presented with a great opportunity: to do a podcast! Now, I'm terrible about listening to these things. The Nerdist tends to be the only one I can listen to for any amount of time (my ADHD is not audio-friendly). I still tend to check out after 15 minutes or so, even if it's, say, Jeri Ryan. 

However, when I was told this Larry Duane of Not Ready For Radio was interested in interviewing me on his podcast, I gave it a listen. This guy is hilarious. He held my attention, he was polite to his guests--it made me feel very confident that I could manage! 

For anyone who isn't aware, I have agoraphobia. To do this, I had to be dropped off and have my husband take the shorties off to go play so they wouldn't be noising up the studio. This presented the problem that not only is it hard for me to be around strangers, particularly men I don't know well, but I wouldn't even have a baby to help balance me. It ended up being a non-issue. 

Get me talking about my favorite subjects and I'm immediately comfortable! Throwing in some pumpkin cream liqueur does not hurt, apparently (I also very seldom drink). He was just as funny in person and his girlfriend is a friend from a local mama's group (how I got connected to him). 

I had a lot of fun and hopefully expanded my reach for Hotel of Lost Souls. Which, by the way, he read and really enjoyed!

If anyone has ever wondered what I sound like, you can check me out here (click the pic--audio is NSFW):

The Cage

Larry Duane continues talking terror in this episode of his show, and he's joined by author H.S. Kallinger. Her book, Hotel of Lost Souls, is an urban fantasy novel featuring the scary-story staple that are vampires; so the pair chat about that a bit, but not before daring to utter -- three terrible times -- HIS horrifying name! Who is HE? Tune in to witness HIS summoning!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Fall 2012 Updates

Well, in lieu of a more interesting post this week (you are still fascinated, I'm sure), I'll give you updates on what's going on here (aka: why I have not had a lot of time to blog).

Our 10 year old kitty got very sick and almost died--
kangaroo care for a kitty brought her back!
Yes, Brat is in the sling with the baby sleeping next to her.
 First, you can blame Facebook above all else. It fires my dopamine receptors like no one's business. 

Next, my kidgets: Lilly has got the whole 1-10 addition down and is doing pretty good up through 15. She loves word problems for subtraction. She will have me knock them out (and I have to use objects for visual reference, even though it's verbal) while we're driving to the store, etc. Finally, on the math front, she's started multiplying small numbers. I just decided to throw out a couple of equations and the girl pwned them.

She's reading faster and larger words with more ease and her favorite subject is still science. Particularly anatomy. A quote from the other day was, "We have a human heart on our wall!" Because we have a printout of a human heart that's all labeled. She loves the circulatory and digestive systems.

Naomi is her usual crazy, creative self. She draws almost on parallel to Lilly and far ahead of where Lilly was at this age. I love her little people and her pony the other day was super cute. She still swings madly between being uber adorable and doing her best imitation of someone locked in a mental institution off their meds. She has her Renfield moments, too--the kid is obsessed with death right now. What is it with 3-4 year olds and death?

Oh, yeah, and I took up hooping
 Katarina is walking! She started just a few days before she turned 10 months old. She says mama, mom, dada, dad, hi, KitKat, cat, Brat, up, this, that, what and random other adorable little sounds that may or may not be words. She signs milk and claps delightedly for milks. She loves to give her family hugs and blow raspberries until the cows come home. She's got more dance moves every day and recently discovered dubstep.

She also knows how to turn on the XBox and loves playing around with the controller. She'll bring it to me to turn on 'baby show' and dances and claps when I turn it on.

As for me... I finished Pet, my second novel (sequel to Hotel of Lost Souls, which is to be a trilogy, apparently) last Tuesday (September 28th). I'm in the editing phase as well as writing the third book, Bridges. I made it about... well, one sleep cycle and six hours awake before I was writing it. Pet took me a total of about 9 weeks, although there was a break of over a year while I grew, birthed and nurtured a new human life.

Oh, and I nursed hands-free for the first time
in a baby carrier!

So, that's why I'm a bit quiet over here. The blog wasn't getting as many hits as it used to and I figure everyone else is busy, too. Or there just hasn't been enough controversy. Whatever it is, all these things combined to take me down from 2-3 posts a week to 1. I'm still here and going strong, but my typity-typity has been directed in a more focused fashion!

Monday, September 24, 2012

The Spider Slayer

My Facebook status from September 18th:

So, after ruining my half of dinner, I decide to take a nice relaxing shower, since my shoulders are so sore from wearing Kat around for hours on end yesterday. As I'm rinsing off, I look over to see the bastard son of Shelob and Aragog staring at me from the shower curtain--parts from its last meal hanging from its jaws.

I shrink back against the wall of the shower to assess the situation. I cannot call for help, as this would merely lead to a mass evacuation of my house. I'm on my own: naked, wet and helpless against the monster as we contemplate one another.

Finally, it recalls that it 'saved some for later' and starts eating, then crawls off to the other side of the curtain. I try to determine if I can use the curtain to crush it, but it doesn't seem feasible, so I flick it, sending it flying out away from me, knowing that I will have to kill it later.

Then, as I shut off the water and slide open the curtain, I have a horrifying realization: I flung my tormentor onto my towels. Once again, I know that I am on my own as the only person in the house capable of picking up something that might have a spider on it. So, I tentatively reach out and lift up the towel, eying it for any eight legged fiends.

I shake it, hyper-aware that I could end up flinging it onto my person. Thankfully, it's clean and I towel off my hair, but am unable to wrap it around my head with confidence, for fear that the creature somehow concealed itself in a fold, awaiting such an opportunity. I threw it back and grabbed my next towel, which is brightly colored, so there was no opportunity for the thing to be hidden on it and wrap it around my body.

Now I am tense, miserable, have wet hair tickling at me and a dragonesque spider left in the bathroom to slay because I bolted from the room, unable to stand the idea of looking for the predator that stalked me. And the stress from my 'relaxing shower' has left my shoulders in knots. I finish my post on Facebook.

After social networking about my ordeal, I return to the scene of the incident and find the perpetrator huddled in the sink, clearly traumatized. Merciless, I take my blue, generic Croc and smash it so that a few legs fall off, then wash it down the drain.

Spiders be warned: This is the fate that awaits you in my home. Death. And not a clean one, much of the time, but one where you are a smear across the surface you cling to or mutilated and drowned. For I am the Slayer of Spiders. Burdened by two arachnophobes as my last two serious relationships, I had to develop my skills to survive in our brutal, perverted-shower-spider populated world. Also, to make the shrieking stop and convince my significant others that they can, indeed, sleep easily again at night.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Quick, Easy Meal Recipe: Bacon and Eggs Ramen

Seriously? Yes. I'm far from granola in my crunchy status. Every now and then, what I really love is some good old poor people food. If it's already going to be unhealthy, why not go all the way and add bacon?

So, this will be in my "quick meals" recipe file--this one takes a little bit on the longer side, but that's okay, it's still done pretty quick and easy. The bacon is the longest part.

Needed: Two packages Chicken Ramen (trust me, you can do another variety, but chicken is what you want)
Bacon (1-2 strips per person)
3 eggs

So, first thing's first: fry up that bacon in a skillet (no, don't use the oven, you need the bacon grease for the ramen). Start boiling water (I use an electric kettle). When it has about 3 minutes left and your water is boiling, in a large bowl or another skillet, drop the two packets of ramen noodles and pour the water over them. Cover and set a timer for 2 minutes.

Pull the bacon from the skillet when it's done and set it on  some paper towels (or whatever you usually rest bacon on to absorb some grease) and then drain all of the water off the noodles. Put the bacon skillet back on the burner and drop the noodles in. Sprinkle with the seasoning (one packet if you like less sodium, two if you like the full dose) and then drop in the eggs.

Stir like crazy with a spatula. Cook until the eggs firm up all over, then transfer to plates and serve with the bacon on top or on the side. Enjoy!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Monday Art

So, I've been working hard on writing and promoting my novel while homeschooling, so this week, I'll be showcasing some of my abstract CG (computer generated) art. I hope you enjoy!

"One Day Too Late"

"Celestial Palace"




"Reptile Morph"

"Sand Dollars"


"Tentacle Monster"

"The Madness of Balls"

"Blood Egg"


Monday, September 3, 2012

We're officially homeschooling ;)

We did a trial run last year that just did not go well, because there was too much going on (pregnancy, moving, etc.)--not that that stopped Lilly from learning! This year, we are in the full swing of things!

Lilly wanted the full school experience, so we picked her up a backpack and she keeps her dry erase board (the modern slate!) and pencil in it. The rest of the supplies, I keep track of because Naomi is three. Do I really need to explain that?


Another homeschooling mom said that one of the things her kids looked forward to was riding on the bus, so we integrated that, too. We pile on the couch (the bus) and the baby drives (Lilly calls her the bus driver for the rest of the school day... we're probably the only place where the phrase, "The bus driver needs mama milk!" has been uttered) while I make bus noises and shake the couch. Then we wait for the "other buses" to let off the kids (I'm usually nursing here) and then we go into the 'classroom' (the dining room, where their desks are).

Naomi plays along, but gets bored and wanders off eventually. Lilly has already tired of some of the school game and we're adjusting as needed (she still loves the bus) to keep learning fun and interesting.

We usually start out with writing, then math and then have recess (which is usually met with protests and requests to keep doing subjects, but I usually need to nurse the baby again at this point, who has been attacking the desks the whole time, fascinated by pencils and crayons). Classes after that vary by day so things don't get boring. So far, only music has been an utter flop. We'll figure it out.

Reading is the exclusive realm of Daddy at this point because Mommy does not have the patience to deal with 20 second pauses between letters while she stares at the ceiling, twirls her pencil, hums, etc. (yet if I try to end the lesson, she gets upset, so it's not boredom, just her attention issues--I can handle them for anything else, but I've always been impatient listening to slow readers--Daddy isn't).

I try to link up the lessons. When science was about birds, we did a bird craft for art and bird and egg were in the spelling lesson. Lilly doesn't like when the school days is over and tends to pester me about what we'll be doing the next day and one of the happiest parts of her day is when Daddy gets home so she can show and tell him about everything she learned that day.

Random facts about our homeschool: We're eclectic, not curriculum. We're secular. We wake up in the afternoon. We don't always do classes in the same order. We do classes six days a week, though one is just dedicated to non-core and reading. We have 2 recesses. Gym got rained out today. My oldest is an audio learner (I was kinesthetic, Daddy was a little bit of everything--Naomi seems to be visual). Kat is nine months old now and taking her first steps, which poses challenges for us all! Sometimes we move from the desk to the couch. I use recess to teach myself guitar and crochet and then share it with the kids.

Do you homeschool? What are some random facts about yours?

Monday, August 20, 2012

The Computer Mommy

Today's post is a moment in the life of a mom. Specifically, nursing at the keyboard (or trying to get any writing done with a baby in the room).

Usually, at this point, my screen is full of the letters a or m. These seem to be Kat's favorite keys.
And caps lock will be on.

Do you find yourself facing similar difficulties?

Friday, August 17, 2012

Musing on Hate

Hate is a loaded word. When I "hate" I'm thinking of something I absolutely abhor to the point of pain. Or rage; fury. I was raised that "I hate you" means "I'm so fucking mad at you that I want to hurt you." My sister took that phrase in a different way. As a result, I try very hard to get that word out of my vocabulary, but there is one time where I will use it.

Hate is racism. Hate is heterosexism. Hate is fat-phobia, ablism, agism... any -ism that places a person in a position of superiority over another. This picture popped up in my feed on Facebook and inspired this post today:

Courtney Blair holds a sign during National Same Sex Kiss Day at Chick-fil-A on Richmond Avenue in support for love, equality, and the real definition of family Friday, Aug. 3, 2012, in Houston. (Cody Duty / Houston Chronicle) Photo: Cody Duty / © 2011 Houston Chronicle

Unfortunately, many people don't believe this. Their definition of "hate" is the traditional that involves strong emotions. They insist that since they are not feeling strong emotions, the word is not applicable.

That's semantics.

It's a simpler word to describe an idea that is prevalent throughout human history. Just because you have never perpetrated a legally defined Hate crime does not mean that you have not perpetuated the ideas, beliefs and motives that cause them.

We're not talking about the emotion. We're talking about "separate but equal." We're talking about discrimination. We're talking about making second class citizens in a country that is supposed to be free of such things. We're talking about saying that a family that is dissimilar to your own is not a family worthy of the same rights.

You cannot say that someone else's family is making yours lesser by its existence and legal recognition. You are making their family lesser by attempting to do so. You have become the problem. You may not have beaten the gay boy in the halls, but something you are saying was once said to the bullies that did.

Racism is a pervasive parasite in this culture that is still rampant today, if not as visible if you're white. I have plenty of mixed-race families or ethnic minority families that are my friends and when I hear about their children having Hate words thrown at them... it makes me rage.

If you've ever read the Help (regardless of your feelings of the "Mammy" feel) and just wanted to punch those women in the face as they sat there with their separate-but-equal 'acceptable racism' / 'social racism' comments, but turned around and said that gay people should just agree to 'civil unions' regardless of what their religion says about gay marriage (deal with the wiki link, it was a fast, easy collection) is the exact same thing. We just haven't been raised to think that way... yet.

I'm not talking about those of you who think the government should not be a part of marriage at all. You guys go to your Libertarian happy place. That is not how this country works. Marriage has been a civil right and a religious rite for its entire existence in every religion and country in which it is practiced. Saying that it's exclusive to Christianity ignores that it existed in countries where Christianity had not reached or was outright banned (such as Japan in the feudal ages). Saying that the government should not be involved is... Well, it's not logical. I do agree that the government should make no laws dictating the romantic pairings between consenting adults.

It doesn't click in the minds of those practicing the discrimination that that is what they are doing. I get that. You don't consider yourself part of the problem because you don't have negative feelings about gay people or their "lifestyle" (or worse, "choice"). You don't want anything bad to happen to them and you don't condone the violence (or, some people, at least not out loud) done to them. You just don't want 'them' to be allowed to marry.

That is a very similar thought process to those who didn't want 'them' marrying 'outside their kind' back in the 50s (interracial relationships). Interfaith relationships have also been deemed 'wrong' by various churches.

Children learn these ideas and they process them, then regurgitate them to their peers. The first time I heard the word "homosexual" it was preceding the word "wrong." It was by a peer. I internalized it. I played homophobic. I parroted my peers because I had never even come across the concept, really. Sure, two chicks kissed on Roseanne. I didn't understand it. I didn't understand why I wanted to kiss other girls. But because something about me was Wrong, I immediately buried it and learned very quickly the amount of vitriol my peers had for 'that kind of people.'

That's right. The exact same words used by racists. I heard sentiments that ranged from 'they just need God to fix them' to 'they should all die.' By my friends. While I struggled in confusion, wondering how God could make me Wrong. So I told God to go fuck Itself and became an atheist.

It made me so miserable. It wasn't right. It wasn't who I was and it wasn't what I believed. Eventually, I realized that these people were not speaking for God. I wasn't listening to God, I was listening to brainwashed children recite what they believed God had said/felt.

These children I went to school with are now probably parents. My children will not be exposed to theirs if I can help it. Regardless of their sexual orientations, they will not grow up to be bigots. And yes, wanting 'separate but equal' (or worse) treatment of someone else makes you a bigot.

Those sentiments trickle down from marriage into any relationships. And your child could very well be gay. Or their cousin, best friend or just a classmate. And they hear you.

Who knows how many of these children heard those very things from their parents or other loved ones:

lesbian suicide
What do we all have in common?
We loved. We felt happiness and pain,
but more pain than happiness.
We all took our own lives.