I've been seriously pursuing writing for a few years. Over this time, I've fallen more and more in love with it. Yes, for the obvious reasons: it's satisfying to create something, I love designing characters, and reader reactions and feedback are solid gold. There is no better feeling than writing the last couple words of a 90,000 word manuscript. But let me tell you why I really love writing and why I continue to do it to this day. 
Typos. 
Yeah. They're usually annoying, right? But every once in a while you'll make a typo that you fall in love with. Like in my previous blog post, "Contain your excrement" is way funnier than "Contain your excitement." And it was totally by accident. A Freudian-esque slip of the fingers, if you will. 
Take this for instance. 
I'm writing a scene in which the main characters find themselves trapped, taken captive by an opposing force. They break out and take down a guard to demand the whereabouts of the rest of their company. The guard is pinned by unreal force-- a superhuman amount of pressure on his back, holding him down, he's sure he's going to die. The main characters almost get him to talk and are resorting to violence out of desperation. If the opposing force catches them, they're sure to get a bullet in the head. And me, on the other side of the keyboard, I go to type, "Jules moves past Ashton to talk to the guard." Or something to that effect. And you know what my hands do instead? "Jules moves pasta." Pasta. So her friends have a guard captive, crushing his ribs on the concrete floor, demanding that he expel his intel, when they turn around to see Jules holding a colander full of noodles. 
"What? I'm hungry." 

So there you have it. This is probably about 75% of why I keep writing.  Goofy typos and my mind running with it. 
We all gotta keep going somehow, right?
 

...Wellp

05/20/2013

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Good golly miss Molly it has been a while since I've posted. It's been pretty crazy over here, folks. New job, three fine arts classes all one right after the other, re-writing my book, waving my arms at my dog in hopes he'll understand me more clearly. It's a charmed life, what can I say. 
More activity in the summer. Pinky promise. 
 
 
I've had it in my head that my book, my story, Bound to Ashes, is not what it really is. But now I have come to realize it is much more than just some words on pages. 

A story in my head first, a story on an online data storage cloud second, a polished Microsoft Word Document third. Translated into hand-written notes, print-shop hard drafts, PDFs, website code, .docx, .txt, .mobi. All those formats and I was missing the format that it truly belonged in-- and no, I'm not talking hardback, softback, or or eBook. Think... more of a metaphorical format. A format that transcends physical forms and data points and travels to the mind instead. 

A book is a living thing. But think of it like a sea sponge or, for comedy, a sea cucumber. That sea cucumber lays on the bottom of the ocean (book shelf), filter-feeding on other creatures's byproducts (readers, critics). But it was put there by someone. God? Evolution? (Creationism makes more sense for this metaphor, bear with me.)

God made the sea cucumber for a purpose. Not to just sit there and feed on particles floating by or even to be eaten by another animal. He/She made it for a higher purpose. A diver, a first-time diver, on their first excursion to the sea. The first animal they see is a sea cucumber. They mistake it for a piece of coral first, but as it wriggles, they see it for something else. They pick it up and find that its squishy, not spiky at all. And they get to know that cucumber a bit. They go home and look at its Wikipedia page and read books on sea cucumbers (and get funny looks from librarians when they check out a pile of books on nature's most boring animal.) They go diving again, and again, and again, and find that same cucumber, and smile. That's my cucumber. And as they dive more and more, they see more sea creatures. They learn new things. And they perceive their reality differently. They have a new sense of wonder about the world. All thanks to that one sea cucumber. 

I may or may not have lost that little gem of an extended metaphor, but the fact remains: my story is more than words on paper. It's more than ink on a page. And in the future, it will be more than a book on a shelf. 
Those words might inspire someone to write a story themselves. Someone might see those ink strokes on a page and want to produce some fan-art. Someone could read my main character's struggle to want to stay alive in an apocalyptic wasteland and become inspired by his strength. You just never know. Those infinite possibilities that lie within something as simple as words make it special. Luminous, alive, beating, thrumming with meaning and potential and worth. 


That is what I've made. No matter what happens in the future, published or not, I am proud of what I've done. 
 
 
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A finless-variety 'Pembroke welsh pearlscale' goldfish dog.

Goldfish Dogs-- Genetic Abomination, or 'The Next Big Thing' in Exotic Animal Husbandry?  
by Maranda Cromwell

Since humans emerged as an evolutionary powerhouse, harnessing agriculture and claiming ownership over the lands, they have also taken control of animals. I'm talking about domestication. 

With the power we hold over the animals, we can control their fates. From wolves, we have made chihuahuas and maltese. From small wild cats in Africa we have created the common house cat. Fancy goldfish are no exception-- from the sleek and noble koi's ancestors to the 'fancy' goldfish: round and wiggly fish kept by aquarium enthusiasts all around the world. 


But humans did not stop at wolves and koi. 


In a frenzied quest to create the perfect companion, breeders and geneticists working together have made a breakthrough in the field of domesticated companion animals. The rationalization is clear: combine the loyalty and adaptability of dogs with the simple-mindedness and somehow cute appearance of fancy goldfish. At the time, perhaps that seemed like a good idea. 
Like the fabled story of the Two Headed Cat, scientists quickly discovered their folly as the first goldfish dog was created. 

With all the enthusiasm of a puppy and the relative brainlessness of a goldfish, the goldfish dogs proved to be many things, none of which was the scientists and breeders's idea of a good companion. Scatterbrained, moronic, clumsy on land and water, the goldfish dogs had one thing going for them: they were cute in the same way a two-legged-dog is cute. Pathetic, but well-wishing. In training classes and standard obedience courses, they only barely passed: just for trying their best. 


Most fancy goldfish owners will tell you that goldfish do not have a 3-second memory, and that their memory is closer to 3 months instead. And as we all know, dogs are among the smartest animals on the planet, the smartest of which can remember vocabularies up to 2,000 individual words and are the only animals to understand the concept of pointing-- looking at the object being pointed at instead of the hand. Sadly, goldfish dogs did not receive the long end of the stick. They remain famous for being "the most unintelligent animal ever to be created by man." And that includes chickens and guinea fowl, which are rated 2nd and 3rd on the same chart. 


But despite their lack of redeeming qualities in the mental faculty department, they somehow remain popular as household pets. The scientists and breeders are not sure how their popularity came about-- the operation was supposed to be top secret, yet somehow strains of several breeds were loosed upon the exotic pet trading networks. The smooth-coat shubunkin terriers, the Pembroke welsh pearlscales, and the black moor chow chows are among the most popular, though mutts are gaining quite a following as well. Thankfully, the goldfish dogs are considered too simple to experience advanced emotions such as fear or aggression, and generally have easygoing and aloof personalities. 


As of yet, there are no ongoing attempts to reclaim the "top secret" goldfish dog population, because as the head developer claimed, "We really just don't care anymore." 



"My goldfish dog is the best animal I've ever had the pleasure of keeping," one owner told us excitedly. I interviewed her at the 2nd annual Goldfish Dog Fanciers Association Meeting, which consisted of a grand total of 13 individuals, all claiming ownership of one or even several of the strange creatures. "When she borks at me at the door when I come home from work, my heart just melts. I love Bella so much," the owner went on to say. As I came to understand, "borking" is the sound the goldfish dog make: a garbled version of a dog's bark. 


The Goldfish Dog Fanciers Associations meeting consisted of various competitions, including 'Best Bork', 'Cutest Face', 'Buggiest Eyes', and 'Most Endearing Gait'. As opposed to the dog shows put on by the AKC, these meetings tend to be more casual, and 'breed standard' is more like 'breed suggestion'. Goldfish dog judging is more based on personal preference than a set-in-stone set of rules. Even the finless varieties of goldfish dogs, considered 'improper', have been known to win ribbons in a few categories. 


"The good thing about goldfish dogs, or gofogs as we call them, they're just so cool with everything! Marshmallow lets me put little shoes and sweaters on him, and he doesn't care! They don't bite, they don't scratch, and they only wet the carpet sometimes. I mean, compared to an actual dog, I'd much rather have a gofog," another fan said. 


The public seems to have other ideas regarding the 'gofogs', however. A random passerby, when asked what her opinions of the animals were, simply said, "Those things? They're gross." When I pressed further, she explained, "They're horrible, like, inbred things. I mean, either have a goldfish or a dog, don't put them together in some science lab!" 


Other opinions varied from outraged, to somewhat amused, to downright apathetic. It may be a few more years until the Goldfish Dog Fanciers Association picks up more members. 


But what does this mean for the well-meaning goldfish dog? "We have a very extensive breeding regiment," the president of the GDFA said, "we have a very small gene pool to work with, but thanks to one of our members who also breeds pomeranians, we have a genetic expert on our side. In a few generations, we should have a healthy breeding stock so that more people can obtain the gofogs and see what amazing, loving, adorable pets they make." 


Who knows what the future holds for the goldfish dogs? But somehow, many people doubt that 'gofogs' will ever reach the popularity of dogs or cats, or even goldfish. But time will tell. In the next few years, don't be surprised to see someone walking a celestial calico shepherd down the street, or see a red ranchu pug peeking out of a woman's purse on the subway. 
 
 
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Usually, Halloween for adults means one of a few things. You either bum around a disappointing party in a half-assed costume, answer the door for trick-or-treaters while watching TV, or seek refuge from the Halloweenies at your friend's house in the middle of nowhere. 
But, as I'm quickly finding out, that's just not the case for me or my friends. Boring is out of the question. 

So here's what went down. 

I got off work after my new manager bought me a frappuchino for no reason. Nice. Then my fiance, Stark, and I shopped for ingredients for a recipe for leeks*. While picking out mushrooms, our friend Jessie ambushed us. I turned around and found that she had Day of the Dead skull makeup on. Nice. So we agreed to go back to our place so Jessie could drop off the eggnog and rum in the fridge. Nice. Then we were going to her place so she could pick out things to make a costume to match mine. My costume can be summed up as... well, just take a look.

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I call it, "Nightmare-Spawn Skully Demon".
She happened to have a boar skull that would work nicely, and a big awesome cloak to wear, too. It was fate. 
After that we headed to the dollar store, where glowsticks and Christmas candy were obtained. Handing Christmas candy out at Halloween? Nice
Once we got home, the guys were there watching Adventure Time and drinking cider. Jessie and I immediately set to cooking, but not before a healthy dose of 'nog. It's never too early for 'noggin' it up. She said we should cook more often, and I agreed. Who else would get liquored up to cook a frittatta on Halloween night? I pick my friends well, ladies and gentlemen. 
We shoved the frittatta in the oven and set a timer for 30 minutes-- just enough time to go to the store and get more alcohol. Nice. Wednesday night at the Maranda-Stark Household, everybody. 
We got home, quite literally, in the nick of time. I ran into the house and pulled the glorious frittatta out of the oven. Spoilers: it was delicious
More cartoons were had and then Jessie and I decided it was costume time. Long story short, we scared a little kid dressed as a football player, but our shenanigans were cut short when Jessie tripped because her skull was obscuring her vision. (I have a feeling normal people don't have that problem, usually.)
Back at home base, we ate some more and gave candy to a group of kids. Then Jessie decided it was far too tame a night and proposed we go trick-or-treating instead. Us, a group of four, ages 21-26, no proper costumes, well-past tipsy.  
I was hesitant at first, but then when someone suggested I take Zaphod the ferret, I was all for that. I got his homemade spider costume and put together a very hasty costume for myself. Derrick went as "drunk guy with a deer skull on his head", Stark was a Mysterious Hood, and Jessie went as a homeless werewolf. 

One year, when I went trick-or-treating at 16 years old, I had someone outright refuse to give me candy on the basis that we were too old. That was my old neighborhood. My new one... completely different. 
We made friends with trick-or-treaters and folks giving candy, most of which were very surprised and mostly delighted to see a ferret come to their door. At one point, a van pulled up to us, and a woman asked if we had seen her son walking around. He was apparently dressed up as Steve from Minecraft. Nice. Then she saw Zaphod and exclaimed, "Oh, we have sugar gliders at home! Boys, look!" And her two little sons were very excited to see Zaphod, who accepted their petting. And what's even better, the two sons actually gave us candy out of their own candy stashes
As we continued, we came across a house with cool decorations, which included a fish tank half-full of water with a plastic snake and rat floating in it, with a sign that read, "Beware of the killer snake". I got one of those feelings that told me I already liked these people. The door opened to reveal a big fluffy Bernese mountain dog, very interested in my ferret and Jessie's bone accessory. We got to talking to the couple that lived there about skulls and animals and the couple let us in their well-decorated home. We learned that their son and daughter are both in the arts, they had exotic types of parakeets, and they collected fossils. I thought, "Where have these neighbors been all my life?!"
(Tessy, the dog, was very good at shaking hands. "Shake my paw. Oh my god just shake it. You're holding an animal and I don't know what to do with myself SHAKE MY PAW.")

We left the cool neighbors on the note of, "You guys should come by sometime!" Warm-fuzzies were had by all. 
We headed home, leaving our trick-or-treating escapade on a good note. Later, more cartoons were watched, candy and Taco Bell was feasted upon, and we all had the surreal moment of, "We haven't been trick-or-treating in 10+ years. No one refused us candy and everything went way better than expected." 

...Nice
* I'm the only person I know who impulse-buys leeks. "But look at how big they are! And only for a dollar?! I can't afford not to buy these!" 
 
 
I have come to this conclusion based on finding this from Goodreads: 
That lobster is the troll Facebook account I made for the plastic lobster I keep on the dash in my car. Her name is Destiny. When I was into it, she would post Nostradamus and very condescending things about human beings, how feeble they were for not being able to predict the future. 
Anyway, I'm guessing "other" is probably like Self-Help in regards to telling the future and learning how to heal with crystals and stuff. I imagine Destiny would be into that sort of thing. Metaphysical. Or maybe "other" is secret code for "choose-your-own-adventure invertebrate erotica". If that exists, surely it's under "other". What worries me, then, is seeing other, very real, people listed under that category. 
Maybe I need new friends. Ones that don't read erotic fiction about sea cucumbers. 


I leave you with that mental image. Good day. 
 
 
You guys, I suck at needle-felting. However, this doesn't change the fact that I'm going to do it anyway, dammit
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What a magnificent creature.
I feel like this had the potential, once, to be a nice little felted maned wolf. Pretty cute. Tasteful.  
Haha, ah, but no. I'm the one who made it, after all. Googly eyes had to be involved somehow. It all went downhill very, very fast. 
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tthhhpppp
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...in a blow-horn!
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THE RESEMBLANCE IS UNCANNY
...
And then this happened. I regret nothing. 
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Let it be known that the meme "Badly-Crafted Maned Wolf" started here. Right here.
GO FORTH AND CREATE YOUR OWN "Badly-Crafted Maned Wolf"! Add a witty caption about bad crafts or something. 
Post a link to it in the comments and I swear to all the gods ever that the one I like the most will get a prize. And by a prize I mean the actual felted maned wolf. I kid you not. I'll pay shipping and everything. He's too amazing to sell, so I am giving him away. 
So GO FORTH!
 
 
Alternate title: Maranda's adventures writing about writing on Facebook.
 ---
Almost wrote "hongry" instead of "hungry". THAT would have been an awesome typo to rediscover while proofreading.

I've been holding this ruler in my mouth for like three minutes. Got kinda wrapped up in my story. 
Great now I have a drooly ruler. A druler. You're welcome for that.


That awkward moment when chapter 12 is called "cool story bro" as a placeholder.

Dammit it's already noon and I'm still in my underwear and down a half-pack of thin mints.

"Virgil, what should happen next in the story?" 
"Bitch I'm a snake I don't know."
...
‎"You should give me a mouse." 
"You just ate on Friday!" 
"Uuuhhhhhhgh"


I wonder if any of my readers will catch the X-Men references in my novel... buahaha.

I just used dashes, a semicolon, and lots of commas in one sentence. I think something is wrong.

CURSE YOU 59,876 WORDS. WHY AREN'T YOU 60,000 YET. I NEED TO GO TO BED. YOU SUCK.

I think this Google search is long overdue: "how do write dialogue".

How to write a bromance without making it an actual romance: definitely not written by Maranda Cromwell.

Dogs make the best plot devices.

Main character doesn't like guns? GIVE HIM A GUN EVERY CHANCE YOU GET, MAKE HIM GET SHOT LATER
I am a benevolent god.

Getting too caught up in an intense fight scene, I forgot why I decided to include it in the first place! WOOPS
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That, too.
 
 
I'd like to take this moment to say no, I don't care how many strings are on a lute. Thank you very much
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So I found an awesome video that is totally right up my cup of tea* and decided "you know what, world, I will paint this glorious creature". So I did. But, inspired by the string quartet in the background, I decided he needed an instrument. My mom walked in the door and I asked her, "What string instrument would a praying mantis play?"
And she replied, "A lute", like it was obvious. 
And it was, really. Pretty sure lutes are made for praying mantises. Duh.  

Also, whilest looking up reference pictures for lutes, I came across several hilarious paintings of people playing lutes. 
No one can make a normal face while they play a lute. My conclusion is clear, based on these paintings. 
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"So I heard you like lutes..."
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"Oh, I don't know that one. How about I play 'Wonderwall' again?"
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Dee-d'lee dee dee dee d'dee...
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Pretty sure this is a still shot of her violently headbanging.
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"I WANTED to attend the public hanging but my stupid mom's making me practice the lute AGAAAIN. Ugh."
Aaaand you get my point. Lutes, man. Lots of emotional people playing the lute. Beats me. 
* "right up your alley" + "your cup of tea" = "right up your cup of tea"
 
 
NO, NEVER
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Thanks to this little gem, I spent my time (5 hours of it, thank you very much) painting... this. It gives you a random prompt for character creation. But if you're me, you plan everything out as a painting and go balls-out insane on it. 
My random prompt was "Faithful beetle boy who wears sunglasses and dislikes Vacuum". So there you have it. 

Maybe I'll just go back to Minecraft and craft mines like normal people do when home sick. 
Bah...