Black Friday Madness {Gift Offer Inside}

It’s that time of year again. Where we celebrate the obliteration of an entire continent of cultures by gorging on food and pretending to be thankful for our drunken familial arguments over politics and religion and then wake up hellishly early the following morning in an orgiastic display of America’s One True Religion: Capitalism.

Let me be clear, I don’t have a problem with people celebrating Thanksgiving. I think we should be thankful. I think it should be every day, but I’ll take 1 day a year over none. What I don’t appreciate is Black Friday. I don’t appreciate being told that I need to show my love for family and friends with dollar signs. I don’t appreciate the encroachment of commerce into one of the only days of the year that retail & service industry workers — including members of my own family — were guaranteed to have off from their labor.

I was willing to stay home on Friday and be quiet about it, but these “early Black Friday”, “forcing people to skip dinner with their families”, Thursday sales are bullshit. ESPECIALLY when your workers aren’t getting holiday pay. (YES, I’m looking at YOU, McDonald’s franchise my mother works for!)

So to all of this I say, fuck it. Fuck Black Friday, fuck forcing low income workers to work on one of the few days they were previously guaranteed a rest, fuck commerce, fuck all of it. I’m not doing it. I urge all of you not to do it either.

I’m going to be away from a computer when this posts, but here is my counter offer: if you’re going to give gifts this holiday season, make them. If you can’t make them, support small businesses and artists by making your purchases next week.

For those of you who are thinking, “I’d love to get a person I love a gift this season, but I can’t afford it.” Or maybe, “I don’t have anyone who’ll be getting ME a gift this year, and that makes me sad.” For those people, I have a counter-counter offer.

Let me help. I’ve donated to Worldbuilders this year, but I want to do more. I want to, but I’m no Patrick Rothfuss. I don’t have a NYTimes best-seller to my name to rate me celebrity friends to help and bigger clout. So I’m going to start small, but I’m going to do what I can.

If you know someone who could use a gift this season, let me know in the comments. Maybe you know someone who could use getting a package in the mail to make them smile. Maybe that someone is you. Tell me.

Obviously, you need to be willing to share your mailing address with me in order to participate. I’m in the US and don’t have a budget for international postage, but I’m hoping more people will chime in wanting to give.

Here’s what I have on offer: a few books of the SF/UF/F variety that are gently used to send to someone who will love them. I’m a crafter who sews and works in polymer clay. I’m still learning at both of those things, but I’m willing to share what I have. I like to make wallets and bags, and tiny strange creatures in clay. I can’t promise the seams will all be straight or the creatures won’t have lumps and bumps. But it’ll be a promise, from me to you, that I care. That I’m thinking of you. Even if I don’t know you.

These are a few things I’ve made in the past.

There are no strings attached to this offer. I’m not sure if/how I’m going to do international packages but I could probably manage a letter if nothing else. I’d prefer people who sign up be truly in need, but I don’t have any way to check up on that. So if you tell me you need it, I’ll believe you. I’ll do what I can.  I’d also like it if people who are able could also offer to help send someone else a gift. Otherwise, I’ll try to fulfill as many as possible myself.

If you’re interested, leave me a message in the comments about why you feel you (or your friend) could use a gift. Tell me a little about the things you like. Then fill out the form with your personal info.

If the form doesn’t show up below, click this link to reach it directly.

Cool Stuff Friday 02-13-15

Happy Friday the 13th! The only remaining holiday that Hallmark doesn’t have a card for (please don’t disabuse me if I am wrong)!

  • It’s Mary Robinette Kowal’s birthday and she’s giving us gifts! Read her novelette here.
  • Lifehacker found a tool called Twine that lets you create your own Choose Your Own Adventure stories.
  • And this gif, via user zombiederf on Tumblr:

Wrapping up 2014

[Disclaimer: I have blatantly stolen the idea for this post from Chuck Wendig. You should probably go read his blog. He’s way wittier than I am, anyway.]

  1. Favorite novel of the year: Patrick Rothfuss’ The Slow Regard of Silent Things
  2. Favorite non-fiction book of the year: Chuck Wendig’s 30 Days in the Word Mines
  3. Favorite short story of the year: Seanan McGuire’s White as a Raven’s Wing
  4. Favorite movie of the year: Captain America: The Winter Soldier
  5. Favorite TV show of the year: Whose Line Is It Anyway? 
  6. Favorite song of the year: Halestorm Here’s to Us
  7. Favorite album: Halestorm The Strange Case Of…
  8. Favorite video game: Pokemon Omega Ruby on Nintendo 3DS
  9. Favorite app: Trackthisforme
  10. Favorite [something else] of the year? Rat Queens, a comic written by Kurtis J Wiebe, former artist Roc Upchurch, and current artist Stjepan Šejić

Further discussion:

  1. I read much more in 2014 than was focused on here. An awful lot of it was fantastic, but Rothfuss’ surprisingly thin volume focusing on his elusive and mysterious character, Auri, was exactly what I needed at exactly the right time. Beautifully and lyrically written, Auri reminds us that we can still have meaningful lives even when we’re feeling broken and that there is wonder in even the darkest, most forgotten places — in the world, and inside ourselves.
  2. Chuck wins by default here, as his National Novel Writing Month-inspired book was the only non-fiction, not related to work volume I read for pleasure this past year. And as fascinating as I find business analytics, I doubt many people here would feel the same.
  3. Seanan releases a lot of shorts on her website, but this recently released story is my favorite of the year. This glimpse into the world of Istas (a minor character from her Incryptid novels) is a quick, efficient killer, just like the waheela herself. This is ultimately the story of a woman striving to become her best self after a lifetime of being told she was nothing but a monster. I am not being sarcastic when I say: who can’t relate to that?
  4. Proof that a movie doesn’t have to pass the Bechdel test to give us strong, capable, fully envisioned female characters. (Though, we wish it still would.) Complete with eye candy enough for everybody and a blu-ray full of Anthony Mackie’s hilarious outtakes, this is my favorite movie of the year. We’re still quoting that car scene outtake at our house.
  5. We’ve been fond of Whose Line since the Drew Carey version here at Casa de Fairies. The upgrade to Aisha Tyler and additional diversity in this newest incarnation is our favorite yet. We really wish they’d go back to using the audience more instead of ‘special’ guests from other TV shows we don’t watch, but I guess you can’t have everything…
  6. I don’t know when exactly this Halestorm album dropped, but my 2014 musical year was all about the girl powered rockers. I hope to carry that trend forward into 2015. (Leave your recommendations in the comments, please!)
  7. If you haven’t heard of this band, look up their cover of Get Lucky. Pure awesome.
  8. Yes, I am a giant nerd. No, I don’t care. Pokemon hits all the completionist/collector buttons in my gamer girl psyche. If you’re not one for beating up on cute animals, though, you can try my second favorite: Fantasy Life. Part RPG, part Glitch the Game, all adorable. **
  9. You may have noticed from other entries that I am both a giant nerd and into analytics. Charts and graphs are my wonder drugs. This app lets you track anything, anywhere, and with a small in-app purchase you can export it anywhere. And it’s pretty, too. I’m currently using it to track books read, words written, and my current moods, among other things.
  10. Despite the issues which led to the original artist being dropped, I still love the all-girl D&D ass-kickery in this series. Looking forward to new issues! I’m happy to be able to say that, with the new artist, I can continue to support Rat Queens with a clear conscience.

** Are you a gamer, too? Want to trade friend codes? Mine is 1435-4938-8444. Leave yours in the comments and I’ll add you back.

Candy Color Changes

I got tired of the chocolate-brown theme I had going around here. (Yes, I am fickle. What of it?) So I’ve decided to go with something a little more light and cheery for the new year. Yes, it has some pink highlights. No, I don’t really care what you think.

Now that we’ve established that, how is 2014 treating you?

In Honor of May the 4th

Okay, I am about to open up to you all, for realsies. I don’t do this very often because my brain is a scary place, and I don’t want all my friends to run screaming into the ether never to return. But it’s May the 4th today, which in nerd circles is pretty important. (Because what nerd doesn’t love a geek reference AND a horrible pun in the same sentence, am I right?)

So I’m going to tell you a little story, in keeping with the special day.

Two days ago, I overslept my alarm by quite a bit. My sleep schedule has been messed up since at least Jordancon and I had taken some Nyquil in order to (hopefully) get a good night’s rest. Eventually, my husband had to come wake me up or I might not have gotten up at all. But before I did, this was the scene playing out in my dreams….

{Imagine wavery, dream sequence harp music segue here.} 

The scene takes place in a nameless retail store. Probably a strip mall type store, because this one had manual glass doors that you had to pull open. No Automatic Caution Doors* here. It was one of those stores with the little foyer, so you open one set of doors, take two steps, and then have to open another door before you’re actually shopping.

*Don't these things look like they say "Automatic Caution Door" to you, too?
*Don’t these things look like they say “Automatic Caution Door” to you, too?

So now that we have our setting, we can talk about characters. The first character is leaning around the half-open glass door, having a duel with the second character, who is dancing around the foyer area trying to stay out of reach. Now for the contextually appropriate part: the first character is Darth Vader. The second character is a helmet-less Dark Helmet (also known as: Rick Moranis).

Darth Vader, who is pissed off about who even knows what — I don’t read minds, even in my dreams it seems — is trying desperately to cut down the Rumpelstiltskin-esque figure of Dark Helmet with his lightsaber-that-looks-like-the-top-end-of-a-wooden-cane. (Don’t question the dream logic. Just don’t do it.) Except he can’t really reach around the door in order to make death upon his enemy.

Queue a voice-over of Dark Helmet’s thoughts: “I have to stay out of reach of the end of that cane-saber! If I let it touch me, I will disintegrate into nothingness!”

And then, a thought passes over Dark Helmet’s face. You can see it forming like someone who just had thirteen four-bean burritos and is about to have really, really bad gas. The most horrible gas to ever grace the universe. This is a Death Star of a fart moving around the moon and coming into firing position.

“Wait a minute!” Dark Helmet cries. He dances into Vader’s reach, past the end of the cane-saber, and grabs the (apparently safe) middle. Jerking it out of the hand of his stunned enemy, Helmet steps back, whips the end of the can around and presses it to Vader’s arm.

“Ah-ha!” he exclaims as Darth Vader disappears in a puff of smoke. Then I woke up.

And that was how I dreamed that Mel Brooks’ character kicked the ass of George Lucas’ in a fake cane-saber duel.

Enjoy your weekend, folks, and May the Fourth be with you! 

So It Begins

So I’ve decided that sometimes I just want to write stuff. And dammit if I’m going to support a whole ‘nother blog for that like an idiot when I’ve got this nice and juicy one right here to use. So sometimes, I might post some things that aren’t exactly book-related. It’s my blog, after all. If that devastates you, well… You should probably see someone about that, mkay?

Here’s a thing for you: My Blackbirds review got a mention over at Terrible Minds. That squee you heard was the squee heard round the world. Seeing my blog linked there was sort of like Christmas — except with booze instead of presents and lots of swear words instead of O Holy Night. So it was like Christmas, but better. I waited all day to come home and say that. I hope you’re happy. (I know I am.)

Here’s another thing.

My apartment building has a stray cat for a mascot. No one’s really sure who he belongs to, but someone got him a nice dog cat house and set it in the woods near the parking lot. He has his own bowl and everything. We don’t even know the cat’s name, despite the fact that he’s been hanging around for the last three or four years.

So my husband, the Artist, calls him “Hef”, after (of course) Hugh Hefner. Why? Because of the attitude, man. This cat is popular with the “molly”‘s (which Wikipedia tells me is the term for a female feline). Hef has lady cats following him around at regular intervals, but when he’s not living it up with a foxy female, he’s usually sprawled on his stomach in the middle of the parking lot.

Click for full size image on Flickr.
Photo by turtlemom4bacon, who has an awesome username. This cat is not Hef, but looks like him.

This cat has no fear. He routinely sprawls right in the center of the drive between parking spaces, and does not deign to move when a car pulls in. He’ll glare at you – haughtily – as you park and extricate yourself from your heavy metal death-dealing machine. Then he’ll yawn and go back to grooming himself, as if to say, “Of course you will work around me, for I am King, pesky monkey-thing.”

Seriously. I can hear him thinking it. Damn cat.

You can view a full-size version of not-Hef at Flickr by clicking on the picture to the left.

What was the point of this story? Simple. I didn’t have one. I was just illustrating the point that it’s my blog, and I’ll say what I want. And I’d have gotten away with it, too, if it hadn’t been for you meddling kids.

The Urban Fantasy Zodiac – What’s Your Sign?

So I was sitting here thinking about how I’ve seen a lot lately about the Chinese zodiac and how it’s the Year of the Dragon. And I think that’s cool and everything (I’m a Monkey), but the whole concept could be improved upon. So, without further adieu, allow me to introduce you to…

The Urban Fantasy Zodiac

Created by Waiting for Fairies.com

I only did these 30 years, because I didn’t want to get ridiculous with the chart, and I sincerely doubt that I have any readers under 13. However, if you don’t fit in the chart, just go look up a Chinese Zodiac Chart, find the corresponding year that matches your sign that is listed here and I’m sure you can figure it out. I’ve followed the same basic format as the Chinese version, except I’ve gone January through December simply for the sake of my sanity. ***Disclaimer: This chart is simply for fun only. I make no claims to being psychic (psycho – maybe)  or of having any sort of expertise that would allow me to make such a chart in seriousness. Except for having read a lot of urban fantasy. A lot. 

Now that we’ve established that, I bet you want to know what your sign says about you, don’t you? Okay, let’s go.

Sign of the…

Zombie

You are tenacious and like a challenge. You’ve been beaten down in the past and have no problems getting right back up again. You’ve got guts, but more than that – you’ve got braaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaains!

Fairy/Fae

You’re elusive and magical, and you know how to double-speak. You have a way with words and with people. But it’s probably best if people don’t let you babysit…

Dragon

Dragons are the King of the Urban Fantasy Zodiac! No one knows a lot about you, but everyone wants to be you. You’re strong and powerful, and you love shiny things. You’re favorite things are ones that are crunchy and that taste good with ketchup.

Ghost

People have a tendency to overlook you, and they shouldn’t because, while you seem gentle, you can have a terrible temper. You have trouble letting go. You love to savor experiences instead of “possessions”.

Griffin

You are strong as a lion and fierce as an eagle. You have no trouble soaring above the world’s troubles. Just don’t lose sight of the ground and lose your way.

Demon

You’re a free spirit who gets a bad rap because you don’t think the way others do. It’s not that you like to cause trouble, it’s just that you love keeping things interesting! Try not to get too hot under the collar when others call you on your mischievous ways.

Dryad

You love nature and being out in it. You’re nurturing and friendly, but playful too. Just don’t lose sight of the big picture – sometimes it’s hard to see the forest for the trees!

Shape-shifter

You love change and get bored easily. You have a hot temper – be sure to watch it so you don’t lose control! You don’t make friends easily, but when you do there couldn’t be anyone more loyal.

Selkie

Your personality is like quick-silver – you can’t decide whether you’re coming in or going out! When you love someone, you keep your feelings way down deep. When you make a decision, you’re as inexorable as the tide.

Incubus/Succubus

Hot mama! You’re a saucy little number who adores indulging all your senses. Your attention burns bright, but brief, and then you’re on to the next best thing. You’re not fickle, you’re just flexible.

Druid

You’re an old soul who loves learning more than anything else. You’re as wise as oak and as deep as stone. Just don’t forget that there’s more to the world than the mystical. Sometimes a rock is just a rock.

Vampire

You’re a consumer – whether it’s buying the latest gadget or having a “drink” with a hot young thing. You can be greedy, but it’s only because you want to have every experience possible. It’s okay to want to have everything, but remember – nothing lasts forever!

I hope you’ve enjoyed finding out about this newly-discovered-but-absolutely-ancient (honest!) (okay, maybe not) art of the Urban Fantasy Zodiac! I’d love it if you posted a comment below with your UF Zodiac sign! Feel free to share and link to this post. Tell your friends! (Just try to give me the courtesy of a link if you post the image elsewhere. Deal?)

WordPress Multi Site Domain Mapping on Shared Hosting

Before you start, you’ll need:

  • WordPress installed in your root directory.
  • To follow these directions from the Codex to enable Multi-Site.
  • The WordPress MU Domain Mapping Plugin – trunk version – from step 1 of this tutorial. Follow the instructions for steps 1-3 there to enable the plugin and get it working.

Step #4 is where things get tricky, and it’s also where things may be different for your own server. This is what is especially difficult about using Multi Site – there is no set formula that is guaranteed to work for everyone.

With that said, these are the steps I took to enable WordPress Multi Site on a shared hosting plan.

  1. Create your sub-site as a sub-domain from the wp-admin panel of your main domain (ie, seconddomain.primarydomain.com). You do this by going to Super Admin > Sites > Add New. Make sure that you can log in and that everything works. I don’t recommend making too many customizations at this point, because it could take a couple of tries to get everything working correctly.
  2. Point the DNS of your second domain name at the name servers of your primary domain. Don’t forget this step, or all you’ll end up with is “Server cannot be found”! This was my mistake, and it took me 2 days to realize it. (Yeah, I can be dumb as a rock sometimes!)
  3. “Park” your secondary domain on top of your primary domain name using your web host’s cPanel. This points your second domain to your first domain without the need to worry about any settings, which is why it’s better than trying to add it via an Add-On Domain. If, at this point, you try to visit seconddomain.com in your browser, it *should* redirect to your primary domain. If it doesn’t, you know you have a problem.
  4. Now you can go back to Otto’s handy-dandy instructions and map your domain name. Essentially, you log into the secondary site and go to Tools > Domain Mapping. This step is what turns seconddomain.primarydomain.com into seconddomain.com.
  5. I recommend you read through the rest of Otto’s tutorial [linked above] before you try any of this.
  6. Keep in mind that you will need to go in and separately set the DNS and “park” EVERY domain name you wish to map this way. This is the drawback of not using the method described in the next paragraph.

Most of the tutorials I read through kept talking about adding A records or CNAMES. Which is a nice way to do it, but essentially requires that you be on a VPS or at the very least have a static IP address. That’s not a feature that’s usually possible on a shared hosting server, though, so that makes it hard to do. Luckily, with the method described above, you shouldn’t need to mess with any of that, even if you WILL need to set up each domain name separately.

Now for some disclaimers:

  • This post is offered without any sort of warranty at all, so follow these steps at your own risk. I won’t be responsible if you mess up your site or your server.
  • With that said, I can try to help if you’re having trouble but I am by NO MEANS  an “advanced” user of WordPress. I’ve merely picked up a few things in the 4+ years I’ve been using it.
  • WordPress Multi Site is NOT really recommended for a shared server install. This is because your provider will get very upset with you if you start creating hundreds of blogs under your shared plan. If, however, you are like me and merely have 4 or so low-traffic blogs that you’d like to keep updated with a minimum of fuss, then this method could work for you(*). But if you are unsure at all whether this will work on your hosting plan, please contact your provider and ask first.
  • And with THAT said: if you *do* use the above post in order to do something crazy like start installing hundreds of blogs, I WON’T be held responsible for that either. Your hosting provider could – and would be completely justified if they did – disable your site entirely if you abuse it. Be smart, and don’t be a dick.
  • (*) If you do only want to host a handful of your own blogs, you’ll want to go into Super Admin > Options > Registration Settings and set “Allow new Registrations” to disabled. This should be off by default (at least it was for me), but it doesn’t hurt to make sure.

I don’t think I’ve forgotten anything, but feel free to ask questions if you think there’s something missing. (It’s late, and I’m tired, so anything is possible.) And for my regular readers, if you’ve read this far: Wow. I’m impressed. Remind me to buy you a drink the next time we meet. Also: we’ll be back to our regular book-blogging mischief tomorrow. Thanks for reading.