A Friend In Need

I SUMMON THE POWERS OF DARKNESS! (Hint: That would be you, my darklings.)

A dear friend of mine needs help. His story is here. If you can help in any way (signal boost in lieu of funds if you don’t have any pennies in the couch cushions!), it would be very much appreciated!

Thank you to all in advance for your aid. Let’s blow this out of the water!

Pic!Spam

Those who have followed me for awhile know I’m not the best at taking pictures or sharing them. Mostly because it involves tech and I’m not only horrible about taking pics, but I’m crap at getting them off the camera, then resizing, then all the other crap that goes along with it. As such, I don’t update with pics much (though I did pretty well during the De-Gothening).

Having said that, you’ll understand why these pics date back to September and I’m just now getting them posted. Because reasons, okay?! I do take pics with the intent to share them with you all, but I’m crap about it, so that’s why you get these pic!spam posts. They even have their own tag, so yay for that! Continue reading

Return of the Internet!

Stuff and things have all been sorted and the techy things work again! Hopefully we used enough duct tape to hold everything together for awhile.

Nothing much exciting happened while things were out of commission. I’m okay with that. “Exciting” around here can lead to jail time. What?

Projects abound. In addition to my usual up-to-no-goodness, I continue to post every other Monday over at the Evil League of Evil Writers. I’ve resurrected the Ask Dr. Dina “writer’s guide to medical mayhem” series in response to negotiations (those posts take a lot of time to properly research and cite).

Other than that, there’s not much to report.

Busy Dina is busy! More as it develops.

YAY FOR INTERNET!

LOki Yeah

A Lull In The Crazy

So things have been a little busy around the Lair of late. I went to California and spent time with the lovely Audry and David, and have been up to my usual no good offline. The crazy should keep it down to a dull roar through the weekend, but the way things have been going lately, that’s not likely, so I’d best write this while I can.

I want to tell you all about this awesome thing. I should also note here that I have not been paid in any way to endorse this product. This post is made of my own volition, and I write it with those of us whose lives are insanely busy in mind.

Writers, especially, are notorious for neglecting their health, whether or not they’re busy. That’s what makes what I’m about to tell you about so freakin’ awesome. The last thing crazy, busy people want is one more thing to think about or take care of.

EMeals takes care of everything but the cooking when it comes to eats. Seriously. This service is the BEST THING EVAR and you all know I don’t give props to just anything. I don’t flog anything for anyone I don’t believe is worth it, and it’s taken me over six weeks to even consider telling you all about this. Why six weeks? Well, the first two weeks were a trial period (free), and I wanted to be sure we stuck with it.

Not only have we stuck with it, we’re really enjoying our nightly dinners. Dinnertime has become a highlight of our day at the James household, when it used to be a real chore. We had a set of about five things we would rotate through when we didn’t order a pizza or get something from a local restaurant. He Who Enables My Crazy (AKA “Mr. Dina”) is a fantastic cook and has an entire bookcase dedicated to his cookbook collection. He loves cooking. However, we’re both busy (also lazy), and our schedules tend to contradict more often than not, so dinner wasn’t really a meal. It was more a “we’re hungry, what shall we eat” thing, and it was always the same few ideas. Convenience was a big factor in our choices, also.

With eMeals, the guesswork and planning are out the window. Each week we’re emailed a list of seven dinner recipes, along with cooking instructions and a detailed shopping list. And you know what?

We fucking love everything.

The recipes are fantastic. There are over 15 meal plans to choose from (Budget Friendly, 30-Minute Meals, Vegetarian, Paleo, Slow Cooker, and more – HWEMC and I chose the Clean Eating plan), and they’re amazing. EASY, too. Aside from the slow cooker meals, none of the recipes have been over an hour cooking time, and you spend that much time waiting for a pizza to be delivered.

The shopping list. OMG. I can’t say enough wonderful things about the shopping list. So user-friendly.

Now, while they do have a 14-day free trial, eMeals is a subscription service, so it’s kind of like a gym membership – if you’re going to pay for it, use it! (If you change your mind after you sign up, they’re nice about cancellations though, unlike the gym.) You can also change your mind about the plan you select on sign-up. Depending on your location, some plans might not be available to you because they use specialty stores like Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s, which not everyone has access to. (Don’t worry – the plan you select will tell you if it’s specialized. You can also pick a plan based on which store you shop most at.) You can also tailor the service to plans for just one or two people, or more than four. It’s brilliant.

For those with small humans, they have (for an additional nominal fee) a packable 5-day lunch recipe option and a dessert option. We just do the dinner option, and that’s plenty for us. And holy…wow. We’ve tried some things I never even looked twice at, and once hadn’t even heard of before. And it’s been amazing.

We look forward to dinner every night now. It’s become “our time,” and we enjoy cooking and eating together. For the first few weeks, we ate in the living room as usual, watching a movie or whatnot as we tended to do. Then, at HWEMC’s suggestion (not mine, so that tells you something about the magical power of this service), we turned off the TV and ate at our dining room table like civilized people for a change, complete with black silk placemats and candles in crystal sconces and classical music playing in the background.

Yes, darklings…it’s exactly how you envisioned I always dined (sans bare-chested manservant – he wears a shirt).

Each week we look forward to what new thing we’re going to try, and each morning we peek at what we’re going to make that night. The shopping is done weekly, so we always have the ingredients we need on hand for that night’s meal.

Having sung the praises of this plan extensively, let me illustrate a few caveats:

1 – subscription service. This is a paid thing, and it’s worth every penny. The cost for a year’s plan (which we signed up for) is less than $5 a month, and that pays for itself in weekly savings on your grocery bill the first week. So, so worth it. The recipes also build on one another, so that container of grape tomatoes you bought will be used in more than one recipe, and that package of walnuts you bought last week will be an ingredient in this week’s recipe. Like I said – it pays for itself.

2 – a bit of effort on your part is involved. YOU have to do the shopping. YOU have to find the things on the list. YOU have to put them away properly and YOU have to prep and cook the ingredients. That said, it’s all made extremely easy. Each list has a little sidebar detailing what each meal requires in the way of “staples” (flour, spices, oils) so you can make sure you have those on hand as well. Each recipe is easy to follow (though they do have a gourmet plan that was a little more complicated), and some of the ingredients might be harder to locate, and you may venture into parts of the store you never set foot in before, but it’s worth it. One day of shopping is a whole week’s worth of meals, so minimal shopping effort there really. Most of us go shopping at least once a week anyway, and for those who shop daily, this will cut that shit right out if you’re looking to do that.

If you want to see what I’m talking about, go sign up for the free trial. They do require a credit card to sign up, but they don’t charge you until you activate your subscription after your trial is over. Some of the recipes might have ingredients you’re not keen on, and you can just alter those. There have been a few flops in our house, but those are the exception, and likely due more to operator error than any fault in the recipe. (We have learned we’re not fans of much thyme, so we substitute Italian seasoning for that, which has a little thyme in it.) There have also been a few recipes that we just refused to cook outright, but again – exceptions, not the rule, and those were a matter of preference. (I’m sure they were perfectly lovely for people who eat those ingredients.) We manage to make about five out of the seven weekly recipes (because again – schedules), but they’re staggered so that we hardly ever miss a day. We’ll finish up the previous week’s recipes before starting a new week, and so on, so there’s some overlap.

We love this service, and it’s become an integral and exciting part of our day. We’re eating better, eating well, and love all it’s done for us. We love everything about eMeals, and wouldn’t change a thing. Now instead of “what do you want for dinner” or “what do you feel like,” it’s “what are we making tonight?” “It’s Wednesday! New recipes today!” Dinner isn’t a chore any longer, but an experience. The meals are so easy, we use very few pots and pans, so clean-up is minimal. We have made meals you would pay top dollar for in a restaurant, and they were fast and ridiculously easy to prepare.

I admit, I’m spoiled now. We ordered pizza for the first time in weeks the other day, and neither of us enjoyed it. I don’t think we’ll be ordering pizza much anymore.

Go. Give it a try. I hope you love it as much as I do.

Introducing Sadistic Crits!

Logo by Indigo Chick Designs

Logo by Indigo Chick Designs

After speaking with my cadre of enablers, I have decided to open my own special brand of writing critique services. Keep in mind, this is not your average feedback. This service is for those writers serious enough about their craft to brave the merciless blade of the Gothic Goddess Herself.

You really think you have what it takes to be a professional-grade writer? Because this shit ain’t for the thin-skinned. Professional writing is a tough business and, to survive it, you need to be even tougher.

Think of the toughest person you know. You’ll have to be TOUGHER THAN THEM.

I do not use a red pen. I use a flail and scalpel. Your work (and through it, you, personally) will bleed, and possibly die. If you survive, you’ll come out better, stronger, scarred, and without any illusion at all about your work.

Having said that, do keep in mind I am not purposefully cruel. I am honest, and honesty can (and should) be absolutely brutal. If your writing is solid, I will say that. I do not intentionally look for things I can pick at. That means more work for me, and while I don’t shy away from hard work, the less I have to do, the better I like it.

So, if you’ve the courage and fortitude to enter my lair, have a look at the options below. A great deal of thought and consideration has gone into this price guide, so I don’t want to hear any whining about it. If you whine at all, this is not the place for you. As the credo of the Evil League of Evil Writers says, I do not tolerate whining, crying, sniveling, whimpering or bawling about writing, publishing, or any aspect thereof.

Still here? Very well. Here is how much my time and attention will cost you. I am open to any genre (including erotica).

(Please note I require a 50% down payment for all services below.):

Query Only – $25.00

Query + 1st Chapter – $45.00

Query + 3 Chapters – $100.00

Query + 5 Chapters – $150.00


Choose Your Query Package (Down Payment)



The balance will be due upon completion of the crit. You can also pay by credit card through Paypal if you don’t have a Paypal account.

Chapters Only – $25.00 PER CHAPTER (up to 20 pages per chapter – limit 10 chapters). Email me at crits [at] dinajames [dot] com if you wish to purchase this option.

Whole Manuscript – $500.00 or $1.00 per page, whichever is greater (125,000 word limit)




Note: If your full manuscript ends up going over $500.00, the balance will be billed to you upon delivery of your crit.

Refund Policy
If I cannot complete your crit for any reason other than your manuscript sucking so bad I can’t read another word without vomiting blood (in this case, I will send it back to you with a “fuck this shit” note and keep your money), you will be entitled to a full refund of your down payment. Other than that, all sales are final and no amount of whining at me because you don’t like what I said will avail you.

What You Get Back:

Your crit will include comments and a 1-2 page summary of my thoughts. If you did well, you’ll get a kitten picture with your crit summary.

All materials submitted for critique are required to be in manuscript format (double-spaced, 12 point font, .doc file).

Turnaround Time:

This depends on my schedule, how many people are ahead of you in the queue, and what package you choose. You’re welcome to email me at crits [at] dinajames [dot] com and ask about my current availability.

Your material will be returned to you with one of the following grades:

A-GradeReady. The Force is strong with you. You are ready to take the trials. Go query an agent and stop wasting time and money on pats on the head.

 

 

B-GradeCoherent. I can see what you’re trying to do here. Clean yourself up and you’ll be ready.

 

 

 

C-GradeLegible. You can make words, I’ll give you that. They don’t make any sense put together, but you can make them.

 

 

D-GradeSordid. You can spell your name, and you’ve got some words written down here. I think they’re words. It’s hard to tell.

 

 

F-Grade – Disgusting. You’re not capable of writing your own name, let alone a novel. Stop abusing the keyboard until you learn to not make it cry.

 

 

 

Who Are You To Offer This?
If you have to ask, you really shouldn’t be here.

 

Have a question I haven’t answered here?

Email me at crits [at] dinajames [dot] com.

New Year, New Shiny Things!

I know, it’s been a bit since I’ve posted here. I’ve been busy, all right? Nothing terribly exciting…just mostly things offline. Well, and a few things online, like the

SHINY NEW DIGS FOR THE EVIL LEAGUE OF EVIL WRITERS!

ELEW_logo

Man, they’re awesome! It’s been a trick, getting things sorted over the ELEW’s annual holiday hiatus. We had to extend our launch by another week to get all the ducks in a row, but that’s over and done now, and look at all the shiny!

My co-founder, Bitchstress Dreamkiller Skyla Dawn Cameron is a graphics designer and website-sorting master. She made all the shiny happen. I just poked at some stuff and made it give me the webspace.

So yeah, the ELEW is still a thing and I’m still posting there every other Monday. Go see the new place! We’ve got all sorts of bits and bobs there now for your writing motivational and eviltry needs. We just launched this week, so the blog part of the site is a little sparse on content, but there’s a link to the archives for older posts. Also, it’s not as shiny as we’re planning, so new things will get added as we go along, but for the most part it’s there and done.

And it’s SO PRETTY!

My launch post for the new site is here if you’re interested in the read.

Hope you all had an awesome Sithmas (I did! Darth Claus brought me MINK YARN! MINK!) and that 2015 isn’t being rude to you.

I’ll Have A Beige Sithmas

No, really. I will. It’s…it’s beige, Jim. See?

Beige-Sithmas-Full

Of COURSE I have the One Ring on my tree as a Sithmas ornament! What did you expect?

Of COURSE I have the One Ring on my tree as a Sithmas ornament! What did you expect?

It’s okay. Just. I’ll be all right. I think. I hope. I mean…it’s still my Sithmas tree, only now the walls behind it are beige instead of red because of the De-Gothening. Hopefully by this time next year, we will have a new house in which the walls will NOT be beige. But it is not this day.

Still. I can manage. I can cope. OHMYGODIT’SBEIGEIT’SFUCKINGBEIGEICAN’T-

*ahem* I’m fine. Really. I have bigger problems to deal with than a beige Sithmas. I mean, my cat put me in the ER. I’m not kidding! Look!

Inch-long laceration on my forehead.

Inch-long laceration on my forehead.


Another about an inch long on my ear.

Another about an inch long on my ear.

It was this guy, right here: tman

I mean, his name is literally “Trouble,” so I shouldn’t be surprised in the least. How did this happen? Well, I’ll tell you.

I don’t know.

I was asleep then I heard a crash and he landed on my head and tore out of the room like demons were on his ass. I sat up and switched on the lamp, both instantly awake and aware of my ear hurting. He Who Enables My Crazy was instantly awake at the noise as well.

Him: What was that?! *looks around for broken things*
Me: Trouble, I think…fell or jumped off the headboard onto my head! I think he got my ear. *turns head to the side to show hubby*
Him: Oh, God. He sure did.
Me: *feels something wet dripping down my nose and turns to face hubby* Did he-
Hubby: JESUS FUCKING CHRIST! *grabs tissue and presses it to my forehead* Into the bathroom, now!

Seconds later we determined that an ER trip was necessary. Facial lacerations bleed like hell, but this was a deep one more than an inch long, and those need medical treatment. We managed to get the bleeding stopped rather quickly, but the wounds needed to be cleaned with more than we had on hand and possibly glued. Stitches and faces don’t really go well together, but there were other things that could be done to repair the damage. Plus my ear was torn all to hell as well, plus this was done by an animal. Cats – even indoor-only housecats whose shots are kept current like mine – harbor nasty bacteria in their claws and teeth, and we all know Dr. Dina believes in tetanus shots. Mine was technically all right as it was updated within the last 10 years, but the medical community likes it to be done every five years, so it was time to get that done as well.

So, off to the ER we went.

They took me back and cleaned my wounds with a strong antiseptic solution. They gave me a tetanus/diptheria/pertussis booster (TDaP) and set about cleaning the wounds. The ear was the most painful because it’s cartilage and there’s not a whole lot they can do for it besides clean it really, really well. Cleaning the wound meant removing the scab that had formed when we got the bleeding stopped, and that meant it bled more, which meant it had to be stopped again, and direct pressure is the best way to get bleeding to stop for most lacerations.

And by “direct pressure” I mean that the gorgeous male nurse wasn’t enough to distract me from the OH MY GOD THIS FUCKING HURTS death-grip pinch he had my ear in. Don’t worry – numbness sets in after a few minutes and so you don’t feel anything until they move or release it to check the bleeding has stopped and OH MY GOD HE’S DOING IT AGAIN FUCK FUCK OW–

Eventually the ear was sorted out and he moved onto the forehead. Compared to the ear, this was nothing. Much wetter, but I had a towel to catch the drips. I couldn’t appreciate the male nurse while he cleaned my forehead, because the solution and my eyes (which we discovered when I closed them that the left one had the tiniest nick right along the lash line – he cleaned that too). When he had everything good and clean, the doctor came in to see about how to treat it, and agreed with Pretty Male Nurse’s treatment plan of using Steri-strips to hold the edges of the forehead lac in place. You really don’t want to sew the face if you can possibly avoid it, because scarring, and cat scratches have a terrible tendency to get infected. If that happens, you have to take the stitches back out to deal with the infection, la la la…it was just easier to leave it to heal on its own, with the adhesive strips to give it a little more stability while it did that. My wound had cleaned up really well and the edges had good approximation, and less is really more when it comes to wound care. First do no harm and all that. The less you can do to disturb the wound, the better it will heal. Even cleaning too often or with the wrong solution can slow healing down. I know, it sounds like an oxymoron, but it’s true.

So a little more cleaning, a little more tidying, some adhesive glue and a few strips later, and I was good to go. They gave me a prescription for some extra-strength antibiotics and sent me on my way to heal on my own. Pretty Male Nurse said to leave the strips on for five days, and this happened on Tuesday, so I’ll be staying in the house until Monday next week. I really don’t want to go out looking like this:

War-Wounds-Healed-1
War-Wounds-Healed-2

Oh, and the best part is…I’m going to scar! That’s right! Yours truly is going to have a Mark of Badassery right between her eyes (and on my ear, but that one shouldn’t be all that visible). I scar very, very easily (hi, extremely pale skin), so it will be interesting to see what this one will end up looking like.

You know, I’m all for permanent literary marks on the skin. My tattoos are proof of that. However, while I am a fan of Harry Potter, I really didn’t need a scar on my forehead to attest to that.

Guess I’ll be knitting that Slytherin House Scarf sooner than I planned.

Pretty Male Nurse advised me to stay out of the sun, as it will make the scar show up more clearly.

Me: Yeah, not really a sun person. I’ve got no problem staying out of the light.

Out of the light! Brilliant!

*turns off lights in the living room*

Ahh! There we go! Sithmas proper!

Beige-Sithmas-1

Wow. The beige reflects the red lights really well.

And of course, the Darth Vader topper for the Sithmas tree:
Beige-Sithmas-Topper

There. Much better. And I have official advisement to keep out of the sun. Thank you, Pretty Male Nurse! You’re so going in a book someday!

And now it’s time to take my antibiotic.

The Holiday Card Post 2014

(I’m totally recycling this holiday post. Like I do with the decorations!)

SITHMAS IS COMING! SITHMAS IS COMING!

Dina's Sithmas Tree

My Sithmas Tree. It’s a black tree with red lights and a Darth Vader nightlight for a topper.

Okay, yes…I’m one of those people who started humming Christmas songs back in October. I know, I know. But I really love the holidays. Halloween used to be my favorite holiday until I came out of my Goth closet and could dress how I wanted to every day of the year and not care about being seen as a freak (for the record, I was 25), but now Christmas is my favorite.

Thanksgiving, however, is not to be overlooked. I mean, a foodie like me ignore a holiday that’s all about FOOD? PIE? LOTS AND LOTS OF PIE?! (Not to mention leftover pie!)

Anyway, what was I writing about? I mean, before my stomach started doing the writing? Oh, yeah! The holiday spirit!

Here’s the deal: I’m making my holiday card list, and lo and behold, I’m actually managing to do this in a timely manner for once in the last *mumblemumble* years! (I blame all the DeGothening I had to endure this year.) Hopefully by the time I get the list done and cards mailed, I’ll be right on time!

In order to make sure of that, I’m setting a deadline for you all.

If you want to be on my holiday card list, post a comment on this entry (on my website, not the mirrors) by Wednesday, December 3rd with your snail mail addy (don’t worry, these will be screened!) or e-mail dina [at] dinajames [dot] com with it and I’ll send you a holiday card. International is okay!

If you got a card from me last year, you’re likely still on my list, but if you’ve moved, don’t want one this year, or otherwise changed your address, let me know! I keep the list for subsequent use year to year (like this post!), but I realize people move about and change names and such.

If you’re feeling in the holiday spirit yourself and would like to return the favor, here’s my address:

Dina James
5 N Hwy 101 #360
Warrenton, OR 97146
USA

Bite Me: A Stranger Things Story (Free)

As promised, one man-wolf (not wolf-man), free for your viewing pleasure.

It’s hard not to be resentful when someone comes along and takes everything over, and Billy has had enough. Just because someone saved your life doesn’t mean they own it.

Set between Time Heals and the unpublished Death Knell, this story focuses on Billy the man-wolf (not wolf-man) and his uneasy relationship with Noth, the young hellhound with whom he must now share all that’s dear to him.

BiteMeST

Bite Me: A Stranger Things Story
(Note: This story is only available in PDF format for the foreseeable future. If you would like another format, I’m sorry. You’ll have to make do.)

Here is the promised story I wrote for the Dina Wants A Shiny Thing “fundraiser.” I put “fundraiser” in quotation marks because this isn’t really about raising funds. Raising funds is a side effect of this story. Why a side effect?

Because it’s completely up to you to toss some pennies my way for this story.

This story is for you. Absolutely and totally free. Go on. Open it. Download it. Save a copy to your hard drive for your reading pleasure. All I ask is that you not upload it to pirate sites/torrent it. Why not? Because pirates are assholes and THIS IS ALREADY HERE FOR FREE. Also, you can’t upload the “donate” button to a torrent site, and it’s right here on this page with the story for everyone to see. Pirates don’t pay for things. Because they’re pirates. You get it. However, if you want to sacrifice your daily latte to the Shiny Thing fund today, I’d be appreciative.

Now, I’m not going to suggest an amount – I’m going to leave that up to you. I would remind you that the average price of an entire paperback novel is somewhere around $8.00US while a hardcover runs about $25.00US, and this is a short story. This is maybe a tenth of a novel here. When I talk about donating pennies, that’s exactly what I mean. However, your pennies are exactly that – yours. I’m not going to tell you how to spend them.

Here’s the button to do that:

Now, what’s the shiny thing I want? This. I want this:

Image by Design Toscano

Image by Design Toscano

You expected it to be yarn, didn’t you? I can understand that. Tell you what. If this little story makes enough, I’ll get the statue AND some yarn. Hell, I may go wild and buy yarn AND tea with my newfound riches. You never know what no-goodness I’ll get up to with cash in hand.

But I don’t expect something for nothing, so here’s your story. If you want to read it before you dig through the couch cushions for loose change (no old M&Ms, please – they are not accepted currency in my country. Don’t ask how I know this.), go right ahead. This story is free to everyone. Should you decide at some point that you wish to fund the Shiny Thing, click on the “donate” button you see up there and put a few coins in my tip jar. And hey, if you can’t or don’t want to fund the shiny, that’s cool. The story is there for you to read for free.

When the shiny thing comes, I will remove the donate link and print out every donor’s name on a sticker and affix it to the bottom of the statue, so that I will always remember those who made it possible. It will rest in a place of honor by my desk and inspire me to write more.

Thank you all in advance for your pennies. I very much appreciate each and every one of you.