So Thursday was my first day back “on the job.”  Naturally, I was up late the night before having a mild stress attack.  After all, it had been over a year since I last reported a deposition proceedings, and now here I was diving headfirst into an assignment with only one day’s notice.¹

I had to first find appropriate clothing…no small feat, I assure you.  I have spent the last two years in sweat pants and jeans…happily, mind you.  Once I found something decent, I had to wash it to get rid of the mothball smell.  You think I’m kidding.

Then I had to deal with The Equipment.  It is astonishing how much crap it takes to convert spoken words into written words…and they usually want us to take down all of the words.  Sheesh.

So I had to reset the date and time on my stenomachine, which had been collecting dust on top of my desk; find and double-check my storage cards (which I had been using for photos); recharge the battery and back-up battery; check the batteries for the mics; locate my realtime cables (which I found in the baby’s closet); remind myself how to use my software…you get the idea.  The list is insane.

Not surprisingly, it wasn’t until 2:30 a.m. that I finally got around to actually writing on my steno machine, freaking out that I might get some heavily-accented doctor witness or something similarly horrible after being off the machine for so long.

So I sat down, took a huge, weary, caffeine-vibratoed breath, adjusted the height of the machine, placed my fingers on the keys, and started practicing with some dictation videos I found on YouTube.  As my fingers started to warm up and fall into familiar cadence, I looked up at my bulletin board and saw my court reporter’s license hanging there.

That’s when I realized I would be fine.  I am a certified court reporter, I reminded myself, licensed by this fair State of California.²  I have been plying this trade for 14 years.  I have reported kidnapping cases with emotional witnesses.  I have reported civil cases with cocaine-propulsioned attorneys in final argument.  I have passed the 240-wpm leg of a national certification test (just need to pass the 260!).  What’s one weenie little ol’ deposition to me?  I had this.  I knew what I was doing.  We’re talking about me here, Miss Handling-My-Business.

Bring.  It.  On.

So how’d the job go?  I’m glad you asked™.³

When the witness walked in, the first thing he did was chew out opposing counsel for his choice of venue before plopping down into his chair with a glare.  Off to a good start.

Not only was he angry (angry people talk fast!), he had an accent, and yes, he was a doctor…even better, a specialist.  Can you say “biventricular defibrillator device” five times fast?  No, me neither.  But the witness could…and did…repeatedly.

How did I do?  Great!  It wasn’t a perfect job, but I handled my business.  No stuck gears, the fingers knew what to do, it was on.  Da-da-da-dah!  Neptune forgive me, but I had fun.  They probably thought I was goofy, sitting there so happy to be back in the midst of things, but I was enjoying myself.  My job is very much like being a fly on the wall, only I get to sit at the head of the table. 🙂

In the past, I would have griped and complained and stressed and worried.  This day, not so much.  That’s because I went in there knowing that whatever was thrown my way, I was going to handle it like the professional I am.

And I did.

What’s the point of all of this?  Confidence, man.  You’ve got to have the confidence.  And if you don’t, you gotta look inside and squeeze it up from your guts somehow.  This applies to all human endeavors, it seems to me…especially writing.

Despite what you see in movies like “Wonder Boys,” Robert Downey, Jr., is not going to come knocking on your door (dammit!) wondering when your novel is going to be done.  No one’s going to come and pick you up off the floor, sit you back up in front of your computer, and feed your ego until you feel like you can do it.  No such thing…at least, not this far south of the NY Times Bestselling List.  (Man, I can’t wait until I’m on the other side, and they have to send some poor, overworked publishing assistant to “handle” me.  Won’t that be fun?)

So right now I am working on a science fiction Japanese noir piece that is apparently Part 1 of a 5-novella series, and it’s been kicking my ass for the past five months.  Seriously.  This thing has grown roots and is trying to suck water from the wood of my desk.  Every month I tell myself — and my fellow Third Ninjas Omniscient — that I will be bringing it to the next writer’s meeting, and every month, I bring something else.

This month will be no different as tomorrow is our next meeting.  I’ve got until this afternoon before I shut down all word-manufacturing operations for several hours while I go to Chinatown and witness the funky awesomeness that is Pirate Bubblegum. That means I’ve got to write a new story sometime between now and high noon tomorrow.

[Cue “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly” theme music.]

But I ain’t skeered.  See, I’ve been writing stories since I was 7 years old, longer than I’ve been a court reporter, that’s for sure.  I may not be licensed to write short stories by the State of California, but when it comes down to it, I know ain’t nobody who can write my stories better than me.  Ain’t nobody knows where my characters have been and where they’s going and what the hell they’re up to.

I have produced some of my finest work under tighter deadlines.  I can do this.  So I’m strapping on my gun holster belt (with the cute little Bedazzles on the side), checking the safety on my ivory-inlaid water pistol, and making sure my panty line isn’t showing above my faux-leather chaps.  Oh, and I’ve made some tea.

So, Future Fabulous Short Story That Has Yet To Be Written, choose your weapon, be it tantalizing clichés, bringing up failed stories, or introducing characters who have no business on the set.  Bring.  It.  On.  Ten paces at high noon.  You are about to be schooled by a professional.  And when I’m done wiping up this town with you, I’m gonna take down your buddy, Mr. Scifi Miyagi Noir.  This desk just ain’t big enough for the three of us.  You suckers are going down.


¹ My Native American name should be “Trial By Fire,” or “Jumps Outside Pan into Flames,” or “Flies Headlong Off Cliff Repeatedly.”  Maybe “Bursts Suddenly Into Flames.”  I like that one.

² For those who aren’t familiar, to work as a court reporter in California, you have to be certified at 200 words per minute.  But court reporters know you need to be faster than that if you want to keep up.  Los Angeles Superior Court administers their own test at 225 wpm.

³ “I’m glad you asked,” is a trademarked catch-phrase (not really) licensed by Danny “Arrr!” Medina, and therefore attributed thereto.  I owe you $.25 in licensing fees, Danny.  😉

P.S.  You guys nuclear-blasted my best-day stats yesterday, dethroning my previous busiest day, which was way back in January 2010.  Thank you!  You guys rock!



“Surprise!  Ft. Drum, NY.  The nearest big town of 26,000 people is Watertown, NY.  In 2 weeks, they got 146 inches or 12 feet of snow.  We move in April.  At least the avg high temps in August is only 78.  Love, Fat Cat.”

My Southern Californian/pre-Hawaiian-resident brain does not know how to process this information.  My sense of adventure says, “Rah!”, and my sense of common says, “Wah!”


After musing out loud the other day how I wouldn’t mind a meaty bit of deposition work fall my way, a two-day gig has fallen right in my lap, which means snack money.  Yay!  I like snacks.  So for those of you who are following the “Blog Overhaul” melodrama, this means I will most likely resume that on Monday.

Why Monday, you ask?  Because I’ll be playing career woman the next two days (while trying to finish my story for the writer’s group), Sunday is my writer’s group meeting, and Saturday night I will be embarrassing relatives at Diabolical Mechanism, hosted by Pirate Bubblegum Collective Art Show.

My amazingly talented brother, Jon McConnell, will be exhibiting some awesome paintings, as well as his wonderful girlfriend Amanda Ellison.

Also, I get to see my “little” cousin, hip hop artist Italix, perform for the first time!  (My first time, not his.)  Yeee!  (Could this be why he’s been a little shy to invite family to his shows?  Nah.)

So if you live in the L.A. area and are looking for something cool to do this weekend, check it out!


Today’s photo shoot for the new blog header had to be rescheduled as I was helping my mom with yard work. 🙂  So I thought this would be a good time to share with you the best ad copy I’ve ever read for a free cat, as promised back in June.  [GEEK ALERT!] This kind of stuff just makes me so happy.  Here it is:



Elegant male cat seeks new home.  Loves to give and receive affection.  Neutered, front paws declawed.  Approximately three and a half years old.  Shots current through January 2011.  Samsonite carry-bag and all necessary accessories included.  No adoption fee.  The cat is exceptional and extraordinarily beautiful.  He deserves a loving home.  (909) 319-xxxx


Whoever wrote this ad knew what they were doing.  The adjectives used to describe this cat were well chosen:  elegant, affectionate, exceptional, extraordinarily beautiful, deserving.  Even the title refers to him as a “Luxury Cat.”

This cat isn’t free to a good home; he’s seeking a loving home, and he’s available without an adoption fee…implying you would be lucky to have him.

He’s neutered, declawed, and his shots are good until a given date (nice touch), which means a lot of the vet bills have already been shouldered.  He’s also a young cat, so he’s likely healthy and won’t croak soon, but not a kitten, which means that he’s probably over the chewing-through-your-laptop-power-cord phase.

He also comes with his own freaking luggage (Samsonite, no less!) and accessories, meaning you don’t have to go out and buy a new litter box, cat carrier, collar, dish, food, litter, brush, et cetera, inferring it would be both convenient and cost-effective to adopt this cat over any other cat.

Word choice is everything, and this ad is nothing short of awesomeness.  It could have read, “Free cat to good home, fixed, shots.”

I should mention that this ad also included a picture of a truly handsome white cat that could have easily stepped off the cover of Cat Fancy.  The orange cat in the above picture is actually ours.  Please to meet Mr. Orange Julius Sneezer.  Doesn’t he look like a fuzzy roast chicken with a cat head?

Hmm.  If I were to write an adoption ad for his mug, this is what it would say (subtext is in red):

Ruggedly handsome cat (one ear is folded over from a drained hematoma, and he’s missing one fang because he got schooled in a fight) available for adoption to a non-Satanic home (ya know, just in case).  Self-sufficient (he drinks out of the toilet and will climb your leg to the kitchen counter to steal food), full of character (he’s a cat — they’re all full of it), mellow temperament (he sleeps 23 hours a day), and good with kids (because he runs away from them).

Me loves words!


Today has been productive.  I got eight hours of sleep last night, and Mom’s got the little one for a couple of hours.  So here I am at Starbucks, bopping to Beats Antique and Lady Gaga — I know, odd mix — and handling my business.

I must confess, I did rather enjoy it when the toddler begged to “go night-night” last night after I let her stay up with me while I worked. <heehee!>  I told her she wasn’t missing anything.  Now she knows there’s no party going on after hours in Momma’s office…just endless boredom.

So, today I got my welcome mat up, that lovely all-important upper right-hand corner that the eye naturally travels to at first glance on websites and menus.  This is where you put your 800%-marked-up drink specials…or your cyber marquee.  (Note:  in WordPress, this is the text widget.)

Here is my first draft.  Don’t laugh.  Most of my editing is about dealing with the cheese.  I can’t help it.


“Welcome to Casa de Ang, where the floors are gritty and the dishes piled high, but the beer is cold and the food is salty. Welcome all you working writers, the ones who get up early before their family awakes to capture the perfect verse, the ones who use the internet at work to search for markets for their stories, and all those glorious night owls hunched over their keyboards, eyes close to the screen focused on Martian landscapes and princess warriors. Grab a beer, a seat, a cookie. Not only is it okay to talk shop, it’s what we do here. So how was your day, dear?”


As you can see — ahem — in the upper right-hand corner, I smoothed out the main paragraph, took out the goofy, “So how was your day, dear?”, and gave the most important basic information about me in the context of the blog, that I write speculative fiction.  I realize it is still cheesy, but that may just be because I am cheesy.  Like I said, I can’t help it.

I wish it were a little shorter.  I should probably lose the first paragraph, but then it negates my clever coaster remark at the end.  Har-de-har.  Anyway, don’t be surprised if I pull the cold beer and the salty food.  But hopefully, it does what it’s supposed to do…let people know what My Blue Screen is all about.

Moving on, I also finalized my “About Me” page…finally.  I smoothed out the rough spots and mostly just fiddled with it.  I also added a new picture, a real picture.  I’ve decided to step out from behind my cartoon-pixelated cloak of mystery and reveal myself for what I am…human!  I think mostly I’m shy about pictures, but it’s time to get over it.  I’m not that ugly. 😉  Besides, I like seeing other bloggers’ pics, so fair is fair.  And I’ll probably update this one sometime in the nearish future.  I know this one is a little fuzzy.  That’s because of the fog machine.  You think I’m joking….

Whew!  Well, almost there!  All that’s left is shooting a new header picture and cleaning up stuff, two more “Blog Overhaul” posts.  Then we can move on to more fun stuff, like space ninjas, magnetic whiteboards, and roast chicken cats…but not necessarily in that order.


Update:  The first paragraph in the welcome mat did go by the wayside, and I changed my coaster remark…though I can’t really explain why.  Word choice, word choice, word choice.  I’ve fiddled a bit with it, and I may poke at it a little more.


Somebody kill me.  You’d think I was writing a press release for some politician caught in a hotel room with a dead hooker and a large trout instead of one little old “About Me” bio.  Really, it’s not that serious.  Why do I want to poke my eyes out?

It could be because I’m acutely sleep-deprived and devoid of any fuse, much less a short one.  I write this next to a hypnotized toddler who is watching Baby Einstein, and who is also up waaay past her bedtime.  I am so going to relish getting her up for school one day.

It also could be that I am a stark raving perfectionist when it comes to this kind of stuff, which doesn’t necessarily mean anything I do comes out perfect.  It just means I make myself crazy.

Anyway, after days of pushing this thing around in my word processor, this is what I’ve come up with so far:


“I was born in Southern California, spent my early years in Okinawa, then New York, my elementary years in Oklahoma, junior high in Germany, and high school back here in Southern California where I remain a determined future resident of Hawaii. I am married with a toddler, and I have all the prerequisite animals, bad habits, and weird social quirks to be a great writer.  (But if I’m deemed lacking in any of these things, I’m open to developing a drinking problem.)

“After high school, I earned my stenographer’s license and worked for several years as a freelance deposition reporter, then as an official court reporter in a civil courtroom, before taking the next logical step and opening a karaoke bar with my family. We ran the business for five years and sold it right after our baby was born.

“Somewhere in all of that, I attended the San Diego Writer’s Conference, a week-long workshop hosted by Writers of the Future, and I completed the year-long Professional Program in Screenwriting at UCLA. So far, I have had two short stories make it to the quarterfinals of Writers of the Future Contest, and I am working hard for my first professional sale.

“Throughout all of that, in between the questions of counsel and the answers of witnesses, in between drink orders of bar patrons, and the interminable, endless hours of commuting, I always, always was thinking about the writing. Always. In court, the margins of my trial notes were always filled with plot outlines and ideas, and every attorney and witness became a character sketch. At the bar, my apron was always stuffed with karaoke slips and order tickets with ideas.

“Even at home now, caring for my beautiful little girl, in those little tiny spaces of time where I’m able to form thoughts, it’s all about the writing…and it’s getting worse as I get older.  Or maybe it’s getting worse because I’ve got someone looking up to me now.  In any event, this is the year I become a published writer.

“So this is where I come to share, vent, experiment, philosophize, hope, dream, and cheer about writing, about the writing process, and the writing journey.

We who write are but mortal gods setting forth alone and together on a wide, endless road. Stories and worlds are the tracks we leave behind, heroes and angels gather where we sleep, and villains and darkness lay in waiting just around the bend.

“So come walk with me. Ya know, safety in numbers, misery and company, and more heads being better than just mine. I have peanut butter-stuffed pretzels, boatloads of tea, and an iPhone. We can take turns watching out for werewolves and aliens, and swap war stories over the fire.”


Whaddaya guys think?  Is the tone/voice consistent?  Feel free to be honest.  This is just a draft.  Seriously.  Don’t let me rattle on and on with spinach between my teeth.  If any or all of it sucks, believe me, I will be grateful to be told.  And if it works, please, oh, please, for the love of Neptune, tell me that, too, so that I can just stop.

I’m going to bed now before my eyelids slam shut.  Thanks in advance for reading.  I love you guys!  Don’t ever change!  Good night!


Fat Cat is home for the long holiday weekend, so this week’s list is a little light.  Since he is leaving to return back to work tomorrow, I’m going to keep this short and sweet.

This week I cased Lightspeed Magazine, and I liked what I read.

6.  “Cucumber Gravy” by Susan Palwick ~  I’d have to say this one was my favorite this week.  I’m a sucker for desert hermits.  What can I say?  Palwick delivered a character that I really liked, and what a title!

7.  “The Silence of the Asonu” by Ursula K. Le Guin ~  This story is brilliant.  Go read it.

8.  “How to Become a Mars Overlord” by Catherynne M. Valente ~  Dense, rich chocolate poetry cake.  Got milk?

9.  “Jenny’s Sick” by David Tallerman ~  Love his world concept.  Two of the reader comments called it “haunting,” and I agree.

One of the things I love about reading short stories online is all the great resources you discover.  For instance, Christie Yant, an Assistant Editor with Lightspeed Magazine, blogs about writing and shares her experience as an “editorial minion.”

She has a wonderful post up right now entitled, “Lessons from the Slushpile:  Good vs. Great,” in which she writes the best writing advice I’ve read in a long while:  “As writers we get so accustomed to identifying what’s wrong with things. We read and we pick out the things we don’t like about a story, what we think the author did wrong. Maybe it’s time for a new approach: We can go read something great, and then identify what made it great, and how the author executed it.”



The only thing that has survived from my old “About Me” bio is my name.  Everything else has been dragged outside and shamefully buried behind the shed before the stink gets too bad.

Why on Earth is writing these things so damn hard?  Maybe I’m overthinking the whole thing.  So I thought it would be a good idea to take a look at the “About Me” pages of three of my favorite bloggers (in random order) for inspiration.

Tobias Buckell has a pretty detailed biography that’s written in a direct, no-nonsense way, that still gets across his passion for writing.  He covers where he grew up (an exotic locale), when he started writing, early influences, education and professional credits.  I like it.  I think he’s done a bang-up job of sharing a lot about himself that’s both interesting and relevant to his web site.

I also like the brief and to-the-point intro in the upper right-hand corner of his home page under “Your Host.”  It reads:  “Tobias is a Carribean-born SF/F novelist who lives in Ohio.”  This seems pretty simple, but for my over-wordy-nerdy little brain, it looks like magic.

If I were coming across this for the first time, I would think, “Professional working writer, on the ball, doesn’t beat around the bush.”  And that’s what I’ve come to expect from him in his blog posts.  Good man.

Marjorie Liu has her “About Me” bio located in the upper right-hand corner of her blog, and it reads:  “Hi. I write books about women warriors covered in demonic tattoos, and men who can shape-shift into tigers. If a merman or gargoyle shows up, all the better! I also write comics for Marvel. To learn more about me, please visit

To me, this is perfect.  It gives me all the context I need to dive in and enjoy her blog’s content.  And if you follow her link to her web site, which promotes her novels and graphic novels, she has another, more detailed bio, the type of author’s bio you’d read in the back of a novel.  This one is mostly biographical facts, but she also writes, “I love to read, I love to write, but what I love best of all is proving to myself that dreams do come true.”  This line is a wonderful example of the type of blogger she is.  She really is inspiring and a great cheerleader, and just darn likable.  And her picture of her with her poodle is charming and very cute.

Finally, there’s Catherynne M. Valente.  She has an “About Me” page that makes me want to sink to my knees in intimidation.  Wow!  And she’s an amazing writer! Her language is so creamy and rich, I just want to eat it with a spoon…which makes me wonder, does one need to be studied in Ancient Greek to be able to write like this?  And to top it off, she comes across as one of the sweetest, nicest people you would ever want to meet.

So there you are, three “About Me” pages from three writers I admire and enjoy.  All different approaches, all awesomeness.

So I ask myself, what do I want from my “About Me” page (besides it getting up and writing itself)?

Well, for one, I really would like to not look like an idiot.  Yay for aiming high!  Actually, I think this is the prevailing fear that makes folks shake in their little boots.  This is like writing a résumé, and résumés are judged, and no one wants to be judged and deemed unworthy.

That said, despite what my mom thinks, it helps to remember that not everyone is going to like me.  It also helps a lot to remember that not everyone is going to like my writing.  I’m okay with that, and remembering that eases the pressure a little.

I would also like my “About Me” page to reflect my style of writing, give readers an idea of what to expect from my blog.  It would be nice if I could make it interesting, intriguing, and a little bit unique.

And while I’m making a wish list, it’d sure be nice if it caught the eye of my future amazing agent, leading to a serendipitous email exchange that eventually blossoms into an incredible working relationship, whereupon we take over the publishing world.

Don’t judge.  It never hurts to ask.

But looking at the bios of bloggers I admire has been helpful.  I have some ideas, a few drafts percolating.  I’ll show you what I’ve come up with on Monday.  Why not tomorrow, you ask?  Well, because tomorrow is the Sunday Short Story Report!  Yow!


I have received word from the Powers that Be regarding my entry to the 2010 Christmas Chillers Short Story Competition

(Cue anticipatory drum roll.)

… and I didn’t win.  But that’s okay!  It was a great experience.  I wasn’t even looking to enter, but the first-line prompt — “The only thing the children had in common was that they’d all disappeared on Christmas Eve …” — struck me, and a half an hour later, I had a story.  Gotta love writing prompts.

What’s great about this contest is there’s an Adjudicator’s Report, this year by Linda Daunter.  In it, she gives an overview of the types of entries they received, and she lists the winner, runners-up, and the rest of the top ten and gives notes. ( The winning entry and the two runners-up are also posted in their entirety.  I love that.)

Even better, Daunter offers comments to all the folks who didn’t make the short list.  She writes, “By far the biggest issue was lack of originality. An awful lot of the missing children ended up on someone’s plate! This in itself isn’t a problem, (well not for the judges, the children no doubt wouldn’t agree!) As so many other writers were following the same story line you needed to come up with something a bit different which few managed to do.”


To my credit, I will say I did have some concerns about this aspect of my story.  But that’s okay.  Living and learning, that’s me.  🙂

Anyway, I thought I’d go ahead and burn up some First World Rights and offer a little entertainment around here.  This is my story entry.  Please to enjoy.

*     *     *

“The Greater Good”


Angela McConnell

The only thing the children had in common is that they’d all disappeared on Christmas Eve. Lord knows I tried my best to choose children of all sizes, shapes, and homes, the better to spread out the burden and to avoid detection.

Despite their differences, however, the children had three very important commonalities: first, of course, they all believed in me; secondly, they all waited up for me; and the most crucial criteria, they were all eager for a ride.

Most of the time it’s easy. I just tell myself it’s not personal, it’s for the greater good. Sacrifices must be shared just as equally as rewards reaped.

I carry a whiskey flask for when even I can’t buy my lies.

Last year was a cake walk; I took three with no problems.

The first one was Jerry Smith, a six-year-old white kid from Lansing, Michigan, who loved Hot Wheels and NASCAR. It didn’t take much convincing to get him into the sleigh. Once I translated reindeer power into horsepower, a context little Jerry understood, he was in the passenger seat and fastening his seat belt.

The second one was Tammy Evans from Johannesburg, a freckled eight-year-old with long red hair, who loved horses and My Little Pony and anything she could feed niblets to. She practically climbed the roof herself when I invited her to pet the reindeer. I even gave her baby carrots to feed to them.

The last one was the fat little Thomas kid from Strausbourg, France, nine years old. He made sure to let me know he had baked all those rock-hard cookies for me by himself. Once I told him about our kitchens and how the elves roll out gingerbread men by the platoon, it was only natural that he wanted to see for himself.

According to The List, the first one on deck this year is seven-year-old Susie Hartley. She likes playing with her baby brother and helping her mom around the house. She wants to be a scientist when she grows up, so she can help fight cancer so people like her mom don’t get sick and lose their hair.

The night is young and already I hate myself again.

She’s waiting for me on the couch, pretending to sleep, bare toes peeking out from the bottom of her blanket. I play my part and slide a gaily-wrapped package from my bag and place it beneath the twinkling tree. I snag a cookie from the heaping plate on the coffee table and get a few bites down before I notice her watching me.

Susie has got dark hair and eyes and that awestruck look that makes my heart want to cave in.

Naturally, she has lots of questions. She wants to know if Rudolf’s nose gets hot. Yes. Do the reindeer have extra skin flaps to catch the wind? No. Are their horns velvety to the touch? Yes. They’re just above us on the roof, I tell her. You could go see for yourself.

She asks if it’s very cold riding in the sleigh. Not with the blankets, I promise. I could show you, just a quick spin around the block.

She looks nervously out the window. How is it all possible, she wants to know. She brings up valid points: the huge population of gift recipients, minute-by-minute behavioral changes of youngsters, cost of materials, time limitations, et cetera.

What she really wants to know is why should she believe.

I don’t know the answer to that anymore, so I tell her about the North Star, how it shines like a silver sun over the North Pole, stretching the days and nights into the endless hours the elves need to make enough toys and games and goodies for all the good children of the world.

Susie seems to think about this for a minute. I hoist my sack of toys over my shoulder to hurry her up.

Finally she asks, “Do the elves ever get a break?”

“No,” I tell her, “they don’t.” I open the back door and step out onto the frozen patio. It’s snowing.

I tell myself it’s not personal, it’s all for the greater good, isn’t that what this is? Sacrifices must be made.

I look back at little Susie, her eyes full of wonder and mistrust as she hangs back in the door.

I am suddenly bone-dreary tired. The elves are hungry. They are always hungry. And they are waiting for me to hurry home.

“Come on, kid. You want a ride or what?”

Susie looks back into the familiar darkness of the house where the sighs of her sleeping family can be heard. A jingling from the reindeer’s tack from the rooftop catches her attention, and she smiles.

I feel sick. All I can think about is the silver flask wedged between the upholstery of the sleigh.

“Why don’t you go on in, kid? We could do this another time. It’s pretty cold out here.” I reach out to nudge her to safety, but she misunderstands and slips her tiny warm hand into mine and steps out onto the patio to stand beside me.

“No, take me. I want to go.”

I can see the falling snow reflected in her hopeful eyes.

“Okay,” I tell her. “I’ll take you.”



So I discovered the Writing Show the other day, and I downloaded Andy Hayes’ excellent presentation, “Presenting Yourself on the Web.”

One of the first things he says to ask yourself about your web site is whether it’s clear at first glance what it’s about.  It seems like a no-brainer, but — cough — I had to answer no.  In order to know what my blog is about, someone either has to read it or read my About Page to get a clue.

And after rereading my About Page — blarg.  I need a new one.  My plan?  Today we kills it, and tomorrow we makes a new one.  Someone hold it down while I get the red pen.

About Angela McConnell

“These things are always tough.  How does one encapsulate a human soul into a one-paragraph caption entitled “About”?  I don’t know.  It’s like the tired, depressing writing exercise, “What would you want your obituary to say?”  Nothing.  Who wants to die? Off with its head!  Nobody really wants to hear what a pain it is for me to write this.

“Usually, these things are boiled down to basic facts:  gender, age, profession/vocation, aspirations, hobbies, marital status, number and species of pets, et cetera. Ha-sahn, chop!  This isn’t everyone’s first trip around the block, ya know.  No need to explain the obvious.

“If I were to write that kind of bio, then I would say (After 78 words, I finally get to relevant content.) I’m I am a 37-year-old married woman who is actively obsessively working to become a professional speculative fiction writer (all things fantasy, science fiction, horror, and what-ifs) (Again, no need to explain — my readers are smart.); whose professional vocation is court reporting; who is recently a former bar owner; whose current gig is as a stay-at-home mom; who enjoys bellydancing and reading comics, among other things; and lives with her husband (Fat Cat) and baby girl (Puppy), two dogs, and three cats. (Okay information, but I don’t like the sentence structure…the list of phrases starting with “who.”  Not sure bellydancing is relevant to the business at hand.)

“I hate those kinds of bios, but they contain the necessary facts that make up the social framework that people need in order to understand what kind of person you are. Shoryuken! Just…blech.  Out you go!

“I’d rather say I run the rainbow spectrum from the dark to the fruity, just like everyone else — maybe more towards the fruity side, in a non-sexual, still-laugh-at-potty-humor sort of way. (Meh.) I like to see love the ridiculousness aspect that can be found in most all human endeavors.  Blue is my favorite color, but green is my favorite mindset. (Half the readers are going, “Does she mean…?” and the other half are shaking their heads going, “What a fruitcake.”) Words make me excited.  Metaphors make me cackle with glee.  (Two sentences in a row there with the same structure and the same lame verb make me argh.) I love, love, love a great story.  I love to lose a day lost in a great book.  I love it when I scare myself while writing a scary story.  I love it when I cry for my characters.  I am a new mom, which makes me more aware of just how much I still believe in magic.  I love my dear, sweet, frustrating husband.  I still hear my mom calling me (even though she lives 40 miles away), thinking I’m somehow in trouble.  I love cheering on people who are pursuing their dreams. (Feeling pretty lukewarm on all of this.)

“This may not explain who I am, but whaddaya expect in an “About” page?  All the other stuff will come out in good time. I banish you, evil, pointless paragraph!  Begone with you!

Now, if I do a quick edit based on the above — no overthinking! — this is what I’m left with:

“I am a 37-year-old married woman who is passionately working to become a professional speculative fiction writer.  I’m a licensed stenographer and a former bar owner.  I live in Southern California with my husband, daughter, and too many animals.

“I love the ridiculous aspect that can be found in all human endeavors.  Words excite me.  Metaphors make me cackle with glee.  I love, love, love a great story.  I love to lose a day lost in a great book.  I love it when I scare myself while writing a scary story.  I love it when I cry for my characters.  I am a new mom, which makes me more aware of just how much I still believe in magic.  I love my dear, sweet, frustrating husband.  I still hear my mom calling me (even though she lives 40 miles away), thinking I’m somehow in trouble.  I love cheering on people who are pursuing their dreams.”

With a merciless sweep of my red font, I have reduced my previous bio from 359 words to 155, six paragraphs to two.  Already it’s looking better, eh?  And I already see two more sentences I could lose.

You look worried.  Don’t be.  I know it’s bleh and…well, kind of weird now, but carcasses tend to look that way.  Have ye a little faith. Tomorrow Monday we makes a new one.