Friday, August 16, 2013

SEAL of Honor

I like when things can still surprise me. That's how I felt at the end of SEAL of Honor by Tonya Burrows. I mean, I kinda thought something would happen, but I guess I didn't think it would be exactly that.

SURPRISE! Cookie cakes!!

And that's what I look like. A very happy cookie monster!! Hahaha!!

I mean, especially in romance. If there's still a surprise delivered with the HEA. I mean, that's the money shot!

Tonya's my critique partner for this semester in our MFA program, and I'm lucky to be beta reading for her. :-)

Sunday, August 4, 2013

The Ugly Duchess

This year I went to RWA Nationals in Atlanta, which was an incredible experience. As a First Timer I was a little star struck. I couldn't get enough of the book signings where you can be face-to-face with your favorite authors AND walk away with free autographed copies of their latest books.

Fortunately, I had been warned ahead of time, so I had brought an extra suitcase just to hold all of this literary swag.

Unfortunately, the airline lost my luggage, and 35 of the 56 books I had scored were wandering the country. "You can't miss this bag," I told the Southwest airlines rep. "It's bright pink and filled to the brim with romance novels." Sure showed up on my doorstep 5 days later.

The rest of those 56 books I carried on the plane with me in a big Avon books bag. I think the man next to me actually thought I might read through a bunch right there in front of him. But I didn't. I got halfway through one though - The Ugly Duchess by Eloisa James.

In person, Eloisa James makes me think of Catherine Hepburn. Perhaps even Catherine Hepburn as portrayed by Cate Blanchette in The Aviator. She's tall, thin, and exudes witty sophistication. She won a RITA at RWA this year after being nominated many times before. In her speech she showed us a crumbling chocolate RITA statue which she has had sitting in her freezer for years waiting for her to trade it in for the real thing. The whole bit made me wish they still gave out chocolate RITAs.

The Ugly Duchess is another fair tale (Ugly Duckling) retold in romantic regency fashion. I enjoy that kind of stuff and thought about doing the same with the Lais of Marie de France. I think as a writer was a before-and-after layout of the book. I like how the climax of the first part creates a separation so incredibly final, that it was pretty remarkable to watch James bring the characters back together.

Of course, I may have to work some of these romance novels into my school schedule. I'm studying the mystery genre this semester and couldn't be more excited that my professor is Victoria Thompson.

Friday, March 29, 2013

response to metrics questions

I hate metrics because most of the time the people in upper management who use them have no idea what the context behind them is.

This was the latest request I got:
What % of exploits use buffer overflow
What % use ROP
What % use stack pivoting techniques in the case the overflowed buffer isn't large enough to hold the entire "ROP sled" [I'm sure they meant NOP sled.]

Does anyone have time to actually keep track that? Are we talking about worldwide?

Sourcefire and Symantec might:

Their justification for this information: "I have a meeting I have to attend."

My thoughts: "Do they know the difference between vulnerability and exploit? Probably not."

My response: "Google Metasploit capabilities." LMAO

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Dream Malware Lab Gets Milkshake Bar

Today they made everyone fill out another form because it might snow tonight.

2nd Law of Bureaucracy: "When in doubt, add paperwork."

Speaking of bureaucracy, the last 6 months of my life kinda go like this:
POLICY: What do you want?
ME: Malware policy
POLICY: Like written down
ME: Well, yeah, written down or at least in existence.
POLICY: What do you want it to look like?
ME: You tell me. You're the policy experts.
POLICY: We don't know, you tell us.
ME: I want it to look like this....[presents a beautiful bouquet of flowers]
POLICY: [eats flowers and barfs into vat of cafeteria chili] Oops...sorry


For that reason we decided to install a fire pit at the dream malware lab. It will be out back. There will be aboriginal chieftains chanting at the people trying to commune with malware. The computers will be running off a generator which the policy people will be manual powering...I'm thinking via hamster wheel.

And then we added the milkshake bar for shits and giggles. It'll have to be Chick-fil-A milkshakes though.

Monday, March 4, 2013

The Dream Malware Lab in the Sky

Today I found this on Tumblr:

And immediately I lost 30 minutes of work time laughing my ass off because it's all so true.

I run a malware lab. If the government wasn't so shitty, I wouldn't be sequestered.

If I wasn't sequestered, perhaps I would be able to build my dream malware lab in the sky. Not literally in the sky but it would probably have skylights.

And picture windows. Which would have scenic views.

I would have an aquarium maybe. Or a shark tank.

I would install slides to get from a top floor to a bottom floor.

I would get touch screens...maybe like Minority Report. Fuck it, I'll get precogs too.

Or at least the latest hardware and software to run bad stuff against.

In short maybe I should go work at Google.

Or Amazon.

Or publish a couple of my books on Amazon.

Oh hey! There's one for writer's too:


Thursday, February 28, 2013

Beavers on Wood

It's Beaver season obviously.

We went to Boston over the long Presidential's Day weekend. Among other adventures we went to the Boston Tea Party Museum, and of course, in the gift shop they had a variety of stuffed animals such as teddy bears with sailor suits on. As well as beavers!!! STUFFED BEAVERS! Wha...? I get that one of the tea ships was called the Beaver, but really?

So of course I bought a stuffed beaver because how could you not endorse such a rodent.

This was obviously prophetic because yesterday running around the lake I pointed out the trees chewed. And rounding the lake, we actually encountered the industrious pair. Fortunately, we have video footage.



Tuesday, February 26, 2013

That awkward moment...

That awkward moment when you sit down on the toilet seat, and it's overly warm. Not that a cold toilet seat is comfortable, but it's better than the thought of strange asses.

Plus there's weird BO in the stall. Not a cutting-fresh-Bieber-tracks kind of odor. More like a day-old-Frenchman sort of smell. WTF?!?!

My boyfriend recently started working from home, and what is the number one plus...? No public restroom. He informed me that men have all sorts of rules about stall use in public bathrooms. When you're a guy, I guess you kinda know what other people are doing in those stalls. But women don't have that luxury. You don't always know what you're getting into until you sit down, the seat is warm, the stall smells awful, and on either side of you there are other women....shifting, sighing, groaning....  And rolling toilet paper. The stall is shaking they are rolling out toilet paper so vigorously!! Holy crap, leave some for the next victim, woman!

On this occasion I was also blessed with a faulty flush sensor, so despite sitting perfectly still, the toilet was in a constant state of Niagara Falls.

If this was at a restaurant, I would feel compelled to Yelp my troubles as I was doing my business.

But no, this was at the shitty government building I work in. Thus the coat hook falling out of a third set of holes drilled into the door. And the mediocre attempt to simulate a sophisticated powder room by the means of a 1970s era, ratty armchair.

I see people brushing their teeth in there and doing dishes. It all kind of gives me the heebie-jeebies for some reason. I want to be so fabulous, I get my own washroom. I don't think that happens in the government unless you're like the President or something.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Writing on the Job

Hey, don't mind the delay....I've just been lost in management hell.

Not sure about outside the government, but here in the Bowels of Bureacracy, "management hell" is the perfect storm of reviewing promotion packages and writing mid-term evaluations. Lest you think that's still "not too bad," remember that the Laws of Bureaucracy require each action to be accompanied by an arcane set of rules, multiple forms, and multiple levels of review.

Needless to say, all of this takes up most of February (at least if you're like me and have a good bit of people underneath you in the organizational chart).

In a way feedback on a promotion package can dovetail quite nicely into a mid-term evaluation because you can provide an employee opportunities to accept more responsibility in your organization if they don't like where they fall out in the mix of things.Unfortunately, even there you have to abide by the rule that you must break up the conversation into two separate conversations and get confirmation that the employee understands that it's two separate conversations. Not to mention, by the end of February supervisors are so addled-brained with this whole process, they can barely string words together or if they do it sounds like buzzword gumbo.

The good news...I'm writing.

The bad news...I'm not writing romance novels like I want.

Saying evaluation and promotion feedback is writing is like saying your letter to the editor counts as a publishing credit.

I did get a letter to the editor recently published though. Just saying. It's my name in print in the Jan/Feb 2013 issue of the Atlantic.Go ahead, look it up. I mean, it's still kinda cool that they thought my bitching was worthwhile enough to be considered for "The Conversation."

But anyway..."Writing on the Job"...doesn't that sound illicit? It would be if I could squirrel away enough time to pound out a chapter of erotic romance.

The fact is I do count this management hell as writing, even storytelling. How else do you capture what you've done in the last year for a wider audience, particularly when you're in a technical field like me and my employees? You have to get them with a hook!!

A quick lesson I gave my employees:

DON'T WRITE:  "I mowed the lawn."
DO WRITE:  "Tall grass was allowing gremlins to sneak into our house and break shit, so I mowed the lawn decreasing gremlin population in our house by 99.9%."

When management sees this, they're totally like "holy shit, gremlins!!!"  I kid you not, this is true. 

Not everyone can do this, which is why in my own promotion package I specifically pointed to my pursuit of a Degree in Writing Popular Fiction as a HUGE benefit for government as a whole.

Cue sly eyebrow raise & delicious grin.......mmhmmmm..........All of leadership should fear the gremlins!

Friday, February 8, 2013

Curious Morals

My first-grader and I...

Me: I thought you had a 100-day of school project you were supposed to do.
Jack: Yeah, I gave a girl $1 to do it for me. So then I only had $2 but the project was done. 
Me: …..
Jack: She wanted to do it.
Me: Or she wanted your money. Did you eat lunch yesterday?
Jack: I ate lunch.
Me: How much is lunch?
Jack: 3 or 4 dollars
Me: …..
Jack: I mean 2 or 3 dollars.
Me: So you ate lunch with your $2.
Jack: Yeah!

6-year-olds have curious morals, and Jack especially. I would think that's an age thing, but my other son Lincoln isn't usually as egocentric. A part of me thought, "it's wrong to not do your own work." But a stronger part of me was more concerned about Jack having enough money to eat lunch. 

In a way, I agreed with his decision. 

The project was to find 100 pieces of things and glue them to a piece of paper. Does that sound tedious? It sounds like a office temp job - GO, Copy, Collate, Staple, man-child scrub! Would I want to do that project? No. Would I pay someone $1? Absolutely!

The real moral of the story is....DELEGATE! Good leaders and managers do this! They have to. Need something done? Can't do it? Won't do it? Hire someone to do it!

Jack isn't a brilliant student, but he makes up for it with an uncanny charisma. When he plays "pick a hand," he doesn't always show you what's in the other hand. 9 times out of 10 it's a shell game. He might end up in showbusiness. A game show host, a comedian, a magician, a Ryan Seacrest, a Caesar Flickerman. And I would say...well, that just suits him to a tee.

Speaking of show business, this idea for getting a 6yo to tell a story is brilliant. Wish I thought of it. It has a moral of the story too. :)

Monday, February 4, 2013

Recycling Day

I noticed this morning that my neighbors were showing up for the recycling game. We routinely win recycling rounds by the sheer amount of crap (mostly wanted) that we order from Amazon, but not only did we have competition, but they brought their A game.

They must have noticed the Coach shopping bag...or maybe the large cardbox indicating the top-of-the-line steam cleaner that we just ordered this week....or maybe the shoebox for my brand new running shoes.

Something must have stirred their middle-class angst!

I also noticed that they most distinctly put all of their crap out before 6pm last night. I'm sure one of the HOA trolls will take note. I only notice because it was drilled into our heads that WE DO NOT LIVE IN A DUMP. Don't put out trash/recycling before 6pm!

I have been socialized. I almost picked up one of those "Choose Civility" bumper stickers that they hand out to residents here.

In other news...this is how I feel today...

Friday, February 1, 2013

Girl Brain on Color Matching

I'm pretty sure all psychologists would agree that there are different parts to a persons brain. Freud proposed the ego, id, super-ego as a way of structuring the psyche. The older I get the more I wonder if the id especially has gender components.

For example, whenever I have a sudden longing to play with Micromachines (which they don't make anymore), I feel like I'm tapping into my boy brain.

Since I'm female I notice that my girl brain is an even more potent part of this repressed psyche, and there are levels of pleasure that are downright erogenous if maximized.

For instance....

Think of all the ways we get Girl Brain to work out:
  1. I work out, so I can eat chocolate. 
  2. It's zumba, so it's so fun it's not even working out.
  3. I'm gonna work out, so I can take a shower, so I can wear my BRAND NEW PERFUME that just arrived in the mail on NICE CLEAN SKIN!!! OMG, I'm gonna smell amazing!
That last one I came up with last night. And my boyfriend looked at my like I had two heads when I said it.

How about color matching?

Color matching is like chocolate for my girl brain, and the more I can secretly work it into my attire, the more I feel like THE QUEEN OF ALL FASHION!

Level 0: Matching pants with shoes
  • Effect Negligible. Seriously toddler girls can do this much.
Level 1: Matching winter hat with gloves
  • Effect: Overall feeling of put-togetherness. I'm ready to be seen in public.
Level 2: Matching hat and gloves with the thread used in pattern on winter scarf.
  • Effect: Put-together but also clever and rather worldly since I got my pashminas in Dubai.
Level 3: Using this hat/gloves/scarf color to match the belt you're also wearing underneath coat.
  • Effect: Put-together, clever, and anticipating a nice REVEAL when you take your coat off AND YOU STILL MATCH!  #shock-and-awe
Level 4: Matching bra and panties with accessories.
  •  Effect: Put-together, clever, and naughtily anticipating AN EVEN BETTER REVEAL at the end of the day.
Level 5: Matching the color of your shirt to the LINING OF YOUR SHOES!
  • Effect: Orgasmic self-adulation!!!

Come on now, SHOES!!! It starts and ends there!

Monday, January 28, 2013

Wolf Moon

Last night was a full moon. I'm a big fan of full moons. I find them completely fascinating. The idea that years ago the phases of the moon were considered magical gives them an allure to me. (I feel the same way about the mysticism behind the Holy Eucharist...and ghost hunting.) Because there seems nothing more logical than organizing your life by season, I adopted pagan-like names for the moons and began treating them as significant markers in the year.

January's moon is the Wolf Moon, and is one of my particular favorites. Years ago during the January moon, the wolves would get so hungry in the wintertime, they would come into the towns and villages to steal chickens (and maybe babies). Thus the name.

I have told this story to my boys for years now, and because they are young, they demanded a resolution to the situation that would render wolves less scary. I told them that if they dressed up like wolves and howled at the moon, other packs of wolves wouldn't bother their neighborhood. So they do that. They howl.

When I see my kids walk down our dark path to the lake in the dead of winter at bedtime, even though "there might be other wolves out there," as my 5-year-old says, I understand better what early man was doing when they set out to worship anything - manage the unpredictable world.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Becky's First Law of Bureaucracy

Today was good day for me and the government.

I was told that I was valued. I was encouraged to follow projects that I enjoyed. I found people who were just as enthusiastic about them. And best of all....I had a sense of humor.

What else can you do when a developer of a major project tells you that not only did he not expect people to want to export results to a spreadsheet, but that he also expected end users to be able to write their own Python scripts in order to interpret the results of a query to his database?

Hahahaha!! Sometimes the government is like when my 6-year-old uses first grade logic to explain the existence of unicorns!

Why does this happen?

Presenting the first of Becky's Laws of Bureaucracy:

The Law of Mediocrity Acceptance
Allow room for mediocrity, but encourage people to rise above it.

Some people need a box. They love the box, and they can't operate outside of it. These people are generally at the middle of the bell curve. The government - like society in general - needs to find places for those people. We need to develop a check list, so that they can follow it. In this way they will always know how to do the bare minimum. In general things will get done. And those people will be happy because as Tom Stoppard wrote... "Life in a box is better than no life at all."  [nevermind that in the stage play, that line is said in a coffin]

The bureaucracy also needs to accept that some people can master multiple boxes, can move between boxes, and can create new boxes. These people are force multipliers. If allowed to thrive, not only will things get done, but things will improve.

The bureaucracy also needs to accept that some people should be sent straight to the Farm to pull weeds and spread manure. But this last part is a rare thing for government to accept.

For more on the psychological pandering to mediocrity and how the Jets personify it, check this out...That Sunk-Cost Feeling.'s not just the government.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Portrait of the Lady Novelist as a Young Girl

Growing up in Georgia, my friend Erin and I were the champions of the romance novel among our circle of friends. Compared to the Southern Baptist contingent that largely made up our hometown, our parents were religiously tolerant, liberal, and most important at that age non-curfew. Snellville...everybody is somebody in Snellville. Our high school library didn't have romance novels, we gladly brought our own, dog-eared at all the best parts.

I always thought that my mom raised me to be a good feminist, but I didn't realize how this small act of independent thinking regarding romance novels was an example of it. 

Here is a video on why the history of romance novels is important in relation to women's studies:

I love writing romance novels as well. In the course of moving last month, I found that one box you never want to open but can't help it. All my old notebooks! My tweeny handwriting! All of them filled with gothic, melodramatic romance. I can't help but hug my young feminist self for all of it!  :)

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Griffins vs Unicorns

As mentioned I started a Seton Hill University MFA program in January. While on campus I picked up some SHU griffins for my kids. When I gave them to the boys, Jack delivered some excellent first-grade logic:

Griffins vs. Unicorns, Round 1...
JACK: Griffins aren't real.
ME: Oh, yeah, I guess you're right. They're make-believe, like unicorns.
JACK: No, unicorns are real!! They have horns!
ME: Oh, yeah....I guess you're right...

The next day I still couldn't let it go.

Griffins vs Unicorns, Round 2...
ME: How do you know unicorns are real and not griffins?
JACK: Ponies and horns are real. Unicorns are just ponies with horns.
ME: But eagles and lions are both real, so why can't the combination of them be real?
JACK: If you combine an eagle and lion, it becomes a monster, and monsters aren't real.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Flask Fiction

Chuck Wendig posted another flash fiction challenge: The Wheel Part Two. Hey, that looks like fun!

I rolled the dice, and this is what I got:
Subgenre: Bad Girls in Prison
Conflict: Enemy at the Gates
Must Feature: Carnival Folk

That's when I realized we should be calling this Flask Fiction. A little bit of Catoctin Creek whiskey on the rocks, and boy, this became WAY easier to write....


Guard Roberto was late for the nightly lockup. Polly tapped her long nails against the bars of her cell. It wasn't like him to be behind schedule when it came to harassing the inmates on his rounds. She took the opportunity to file her manicure into place using a rough patch of iron on her cell door. Felon or not, she had to take pride in something, even if it was just her nails.

Her faucet dripped away the seconds. Other ladies shifted in their cells. Restless tension filled the air. Years ago on a similar night, Polly ran away to join the circus, eager to dispel boredom once and for all. 

Turns out not even the circus would take her. They require a certain level of skill in juggling required at the circus...unless you're willing to shovel animal dung. And Polly wasn't settling for that. Instead she settled for carnival misfits - the Fun House midget posse, the one-eyed Tilt-a-whirl operator, the corncob hag. They taught her the sham and the grift, and Polly was the pretty bait for them all.

Being first on the cellblock had its advantages. She stared down the guard door waiting until she heard that satisfying chunk from the locks. The door groaned as it opened.

“Pollllllllyyyyyy,” sang Roberto. “If that’s even your real name.” He jeered at her.

She obliged him with a knowing laugh. Polly was her stage name…her clown name...her carny name. 

Oh, Roberto, and your sweaty upper mustache! Polly was starting to take a liking to predictable Roberto. The way he rubbed his belly after his nightly bowl of chili. His odd sayings like, "Pardon, but I have goat in my teeth." His silver toothpick holder with a Dia de Los Muertos skull engraved on the side. What did it say about her that she was turned on by this sadistic asshole?

“What do you want, el guard-O?”

“El carcelero, dumbass,” he said.

“Carcelero…yeah, right, bet you’re really working for el cartel-O,” Polly countered and gave him a smooch of air.

Roberto grunted. “At least I didn’t get kicked out of the circus. El carnaval.” Scanning his page for her inmate number, he checked it off the list with disgruntled force.

“Let’s not fight.” Polly half-whispered it, and he looked up at her, one eyebrow raised. She pouted with her lips, and he came closer. She could see his desire in the way he hitched his pants. The whole place had cameras, but he still gave a furtive glance down the length of the cell block. She did her hair in pig-tails just for this part. He was gripping the bars of her cell. White knuckles the last limit of his restraint.

“You twisted little clown girl,” he whispered. Just as his fingers brushed her chin and reached out to tug one of her braids, the end of a sharpened comb went into his neck. His clipboard clattered to the ground.

“Don’t underestimate the homicidal clown girl,” she said.

        El Fin

© Jan2013 BRW

Saturday, January 12, 2013


I love obtaining reasonably-priced designer clothes. When one says reasonably-priced designer clothes, it actually isn't that cheap. My favorite place to find this stuff is The Outnet where you can find $2300 dresses for a mere $600.

What a deal! You would be stupid not to buy! Wish List! Wish List! Wish List!

Wish-listing is a slow means of torture for me since I actually can't afford $600 dresses.  I do after all work for the Federal Government (FG). Therefore, I look for the discount on the discount which can knock things down to $200 or $300. And because I work for the FG, I still manage to look stylish compared to the frumpilicious bureaucrats that normally inhabit our cubicle space. There's settling for clothes designed three seasons ago, and then there's really losing all respect for yourself by wearing sweatpants and a Hawaiian shirt.

(Yes, there is such a guy. I saw him on the elevator.)

BUT...even $200-300 is still pretty pricy....esp after Christmas...and after paying tuition...  This is why I was ecstatic about my new favorite outfit which I got at Target...every piece except the shoes. 

Total cost was about $60.  #winning #successkid

Styling oneself via Taget

Unfortunately, even Target clothes shopping will be STRICTLY OFF-LIMITS!!! I will not buy clothes until I actually finish editing the first 5 chapters of my thesis. I'm told this reward system will keep me from procrastinating.

In other news...after 8 long years of service, my favorite winter pair of Lucky jeans split around the inner thigh. Fortunately, the clothes-buying moratorium does not apply here because I have a gift card from my birthday last month. (Technicality found in the bylaws of the appendices etc etc.)

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Suicidal Nun Ghosts!

I started a Masters in Fine Arts program at Seton Hill University last week. It was a week-long residency, and I got to hang out in an old Catholic school / nunnery. From the get-go I'm liking this idea.

First of muse.

For art and writing I always thought of my Father's spirit as my muse and guide. He used to reminisce all the time about growing up in Catholic school and the crazy nuns (in his stories the nuns were always a bit off their rockers), so it feels like a meaningful, symbolic dream to be in little classrooms with old-fashioned chalkboards and uncomfortable chairs.

Second of all...suicidal nun ghosts! On the campus tour, our guide made claims. Can I see one please?

Unfortunately I didn't. I saw a lot of statues reminiscent of Doctor Who angels, which sent very lovely chills down my spine in certain parts of the campus.

I did figure out why the nuns would commit suicide, and that is the SHU food. One of my critique partners this semester literally had to get up and compose herself after putting an unidentifiable something in her mouth.

It looked like hardened tofu.

It might have been angel food, if angels were soul-devouring monsters like in Doctor Who.

Abuse of food is unpardonable in my opinion. It simply isn't hard to steam broccoli or grill a hamburger. Chefs who can't meet a certain bare minimum should not be in the kitchens. Period. They should go to the Farm. Because picking food is even easier...but not too easy. I declare that we should demote Chefs that give us bad food to Farmers (or Farmers' Apprentice), so they appreciate the time and effort put into feeding a society. Maybe then they will put some care into what they expect others to put in their mouths.

I survived. I was fasting.

UPDATE: I did actually weigh myself yesterday, and I actually lost 4 lbs while at Residency.  Now THAT is a "WPF" moment. LMAO