Open Journal: Home is… Where?

My sad, stressed-out brain, one morning at work: “I want to go home.”

Me: …

Brain: …

Me: “What home do you mean?”

Upon reflection, I didn’t mean my Yosemite tent-cabin – although, without another six hours to go on the clock, I’d have gratefully settled for that.

That was before the employee housing office handed me and Tirzah a third roommate – who is, first impressionally, a not unpleasant young lady. But to my highly sensitive, germophobic, and socially anxious self, no space I have to share with an outsider is strictly safe. And if I feel unsafe, how can I feel truly at home?

For ages, home was my parents’ house. It had my stuff. My food. My family.

Many a dream transported me back to the condo called home for my first seven years – to the patio off the living room, and its view of the pond with its willows and ducks.

Most fond memories take place in the little yellow house that followed – three years of horsing around in the basement; making crafts during cartoons in the TV room; more hours of playing, writing, and learning on the computer than you’d think a single day could hold.

Then the place I’ve lived the longest – our Victorian beast in a Michigan-shore ghetto. The house that first gave me my own bedroom, and (after years of begging) a dog. The heavy sliding doors that compartmentalized half of the first floor. The kitchen too laughably small for all five of us at once. The stuffy attic braved only for necessities like fancy clothes and drum practice. The computer room with its cantankerous printers. The sun room with its karate-sweat mats and invasive ladybugs. The driveway that never seemed longer than in winter, when it was covered in snow and the blower was busted, so out came the shovels, day after day.

Photo Shoot Stairwell
Not to mention my favorite photo shoot stairwell.

This was home. Until I outgrew it. There is – and is no – going back.

On vacation, home’s wherever you happen to leave your bags. The hotel or hostel or guest room you ditch to explore and to experience; to shop and sightsee; to get sick of your companions, all your good times saved for later in Polaroidsdisposable camerasdigital cameras … selfies. Then back you go, to flop wearily onto questionable comforters, surfing through the local channels for anything fun or familiar, wondering where dinner’s coming from – head back out, or order in? Depends how sunburned, waterlogged, footsore you feel.

That room’s your home base, ‘til the traveling’s done. But you know it’s no more than a placeholder.

I called Germany home, however half-true it was. (The forest truer than the house shared with [never mind him].)

I called that apartment behind a Chicago store home, however temporarily.

I may sometimes call home the down-the-mountain destination for which Tirzah and I fight public transportation every weekend. Her parents’ home. Where I happened to leave most of my bags.

Me: “Is that where you meant? Or there? There? Or there?”

Brain: …

Me: “Well?”

Heart: “You know where we mean.”

I don’t know exactly where. I don’t know precisely when. But what is meant, I know.

Home will mean my stuff. My food. My Tirzah.

Safety. Privacy. Solitude.

Adult annoyances, doubtless. Rent, utilities, homesteader headaches.

Not all of it fun. But all of it ours.

Mine.

That place at the end of your vacationexile … odyssey,

where you stagger in late, let your bags drop for the last time,

and breathe.

The Continuing Adventures of Yosemite Dan

Yosemite Dan

“So, how’s life in Yosemite National Park?”

I’m glad you asked, unspecified italicized voi— Wait. Didn’t you already ask that question, back in January?

“Danielle. It’s practically June. Things may have changed.”

You’ve got me there, voice. Heck, has anything at all stayed the same?? Let’s run down the list and see…

The Job:

For one thing, I’m no long a steward in the dish pit of the Majestic Yosemite Hotel. (Not officially, anyway…) As of the end of March, I’ve been promoted to Storeroom Clerk. Same hotel, different end of the dining service spectrum: Instead of cleaning the dishes post-meal, I help stock the ingredients that make the meal possible. The job description includes helping the lead storeroom guy put in regular resupply orders, LOTS of heavy lifting when the deliveries come in (hey, Carpentry-Fail Danielle! Chin up, babe – you get stronger!), and helping cooks and servers locate where we put everything.

“How do you like the new job?”

I’m so tempted to add that question to my blog’s FAQ page… People are constantly asking me that, and I have to search an answer other than, “I’m constantly terrified I’m going to screw up and let everybody down and get yelled at and wanna die and—” I don’t know whether to blame the new job for this weeks-long anxiety attack, or if my brain just decided I’d been too chill for too long, but here we are.

Still, the new job comes with a higher hourly wage. So there’s that.

The Cast:

Unofficially? You’ll still find me in the dish pit, from time to time. Because the cast of Joes has undergone a drastic overhaul. Several Joes, both mentioned and omitted, have left the pit for other positions, with too few yet arriving to take their places as the busy summer season approaches*. Although, one very special Joe has lately joined the force.

Call her BFF Joe. Better known, Tirzah Duncan.

Yosemite - Work Besties

That’s right – my bestie came to live with me in Yosemite! And, y’know, to work with me, which we got to do for about two weeks before I moved to the storeroom. But that’s 90% of the reason I still don the latex gloves and vinyl apron in the never-ending battle against dirty dishes: No way am I leaving a skeleton crew that includes my girl Tirzah to struggle alone!

So between my official position, the dish pit overtime, and, oh yeah, the whole self-publishing author thing, I’m working something like 2-and-a-half jobs, and I have the total lack of energy to prove it.

Yosemite - New Job

The Perks:

Did I mention the part where my best friend and I are in Yosemite together??

Yosemite - Together Forever

I mean, given that we’re working two different full-time gigs, we don’t get to see each other as constantly as we’d like. But as of her second week here, at least we’re roomies! In a tent-cabin, right outside the dorms that used to house me. Though a bare third bed warns that the Powers That Be may eventually try to saddle us with a third roommate, the current situation is perfectly livable (and, with our dual paychecks, because #YaySteadyMoney, more than affordable). Moreover, the manager in charge of our schedules has been gamely working to accommodate our need for matching days off, meaning that we’re generally able to visit our loved ones in Fresno every week.

Which is extra good, because Tirzah would probably snap and drown Muttering Joe in a tub of pre-soak solution, otherwise.

The Takeaway:

It’s not a perfect paradise, but it time and again appears that I’m becoming adult enough to handle it. One helpful coping strategy is remembering that all things are temporary. I’ve only got to deal with all the stressful parts until I don’t. And until then, I have only to lift my eyes to the mountains to recall the parts I’ll miss when this chapter is behind me.

Yosemite_Mountain View

*Speaking of a surplus of job openings: Want a gig in one of the most gorgeous locations in the world? The dishwashers of the Majestic Yosemite Hotel want YOU!

…Assuming that you’re a reliable worker, game to be a(n often unsung) heroic part of a fast-paced kitchen environment.

Serious applicants, grab your resume and check out this link!

The Life and Times of Yosemite Dan

“So, how’s life in Yosemite National Park?”

I’m glad you asked, unspecified italicized voice*. It’s been… something else.

Yosemite - Adventure Usual

*(Or didn’t I name that voice, at one point? I wouldn’t put it past me.)

The Job:

I’ve been about a month working in the Majestic Yosemite Hotel as a dishwasher – ahem, make that as a Majestic Steward, according to my manager.

Yosemite - Majestic Steward

Running rinsed flatware, glassware, utensils, and more through the pair of heavy-duty machines. Working with the team to keep the kitchen’s dishes in some semblance of order for the chefs and servers. Walking the line between mind- and body-numbing repetition and cracking the puzzles of how to make everything fit on the shelves – like a living video game that dries out your hands and tweaks out your shoulder.

Two weeks into it, aforesaid manager sat me down to say that he was very much impressed with me and wished to groom me into his managerial position. Color me both flattered and terrified! Of course I strive to shine in whatever role I’m given, and due recognition for my efforts is always appreciated. But… a manager? At the Majestic? Whether I’m psychologically competent to handle the responsibility aside, I’ve never planned to stay in Yosemite long-term. By the end of the year (at the latest), I want a place in Fresno with the BFF.

This I told my manager, largely anticipating that would be that. But, “Oh, Fresno?” he says. “The company has a branch in Fresno. Let me make a phone call…” And he totally calls over there to see what kind of position might be available for me within a year’s time.

If that’s not a sign to go ahead and accept the position of his protégée, what in the world is?

The Cast:

I wasn’t long on the job before I started thinking this would all make for quite the book.

Yosemite - Outlaws AU

Not that I’m big on memoirs (unless you count the upcoming Inspired, which I halfway do), but something in the rom-com vein would suit. …minus any romance, at this point, since none of my coworkers have yet to make a move on my heart. That’s just as well. Amusing as these characters may be to read or write, they’re hardly Deshipley love interest material. I mean, just get a load of these guys – all, for the sake of identity-protection, to be called Jo[e]*.

*(As life would have it, Joe is the actual name of one of my coworkers. Which? I’m not about to tell.)

Mansplainer Joe = Here to make sure that I know he knows what I should know. Because I guess my quick competence is only visible to actual bosses, not just bossy people.

Dead Inside Joe = Going through the motions without any memory of why he once cared, if ever he did. Should probably get a different job before there’s nothing left of him to save.

Muttering Joe = What’s that he’s saying? Nobody knows, and I suppose it doesn’t matter, given that he’s 9 times out of 10 talking to himself. Freezes with overwhelm when the servers pile the unwashed dishes too high at the sink. Will be taking his break now whether there’s anyone to relieve him or not

Super Joe = This elderly man doesn’t speak English (I think he’s some kind of Eastern European?), but he can pull and stow dishes like nobody’s business. “He’s a superhero,” Dead Inside Joe says candidly. “Whenever he’s here, I feel safe.” Clearly, the Majestic Steward that Gotham needs right now.

Sociopathic Witch Priest Joe = …Or so he claims. There’s no telling how much of his manic chatter is true, and how much is him just trying to keep himself entertained. Can verifiably wash and load dishes at the speed magic, if and when he can be bothered to work at all. Loves my high-level use of English. Thinks we should plot a murder together.

Boy Band Joe = Looks like an early Nick Carter. Proudly calls himself the weirdest person here. (Which, wow, have you not met Sociopathic Witch Priest Joe?) Can barely keep it in his hairnet. Low-key resents the manager acting like this is a job to be taken seriously.

“It” Girl Jo = Or is Boy Band Joe the only one hollering for her attention all night? Whatever the case, I’ll totally buy her as the queen bee of the dish pit, proving that you don’t have to look like (or be) a Mean Girl to read as popular. Knows her job and gets it done. Caught me proofreading “Inspired” and showed an interest. Obviously one of the smart ones.

And those are just some of the folks I encounter day-to-day, to say nothing of the rest of the kitchen’s colorful crew. Come at me, Netflix; let’s collab on the next hit original series.

The Perks:

One free meal (often big enough to split into two), plus random tidbits to be had throughout the day. I’m saving like whoa on groceries!

Yosemite - Yum

Yosemite - Fruit

Yosemite - Veggies

Steady money via a job I don’t hate. I began to doubt I’d live to see the day.

Yosemite itself. Sure, I spend most of the winter’s limited daylight hours laboring indoors, but nature’s glory is never far, and is miraculously healing. My head and heart, praise God, are feeling healthier than they have since before the trauma at Germany’s end – and that goes for some of my characters, too.

– Seriously, my characters love it here. The trees and rivers and mountains fill them with joy. And since they’re inside of me, the benefits are partly mine to share.

– When I’ve got two days off to rub together, the BFF is just a few hours away by bus and train. Our reunions are always sweet, and keep us going strong until we’re back together for real.

The Takeaway:

For now – and for once – I’m fairly sure I’m where I’m supposed to be. Certainly, I’m feeling well taken care of. And whether this experience ever makes its way into a book or onscreen, I know it to be well worth living.

Yosemite - Nature

*Music Intensifies* (CONCERTO Release Spotlight)

Officially, I’m not blogging during the month of December! But low key, I’m posting today to spotlight the latest release from Xchyler Publishing, because I do occasionally roll like that – like that time I had a review stop on the blog tour of “Forte” by JD Spero. Well, guess what?

Forte_Banner

New young adult urban fantasy – CONCERTO – “the spellbinding sequel to FORTE by award-winning author JD Spero”, released this week!

First, the blurb:

Samantha McGovern sacrificed her magic to save her home town. Finally, after more than two years, stirrings within her whisper of a reawakening. However, nothing can offset the misery of parting with her boyfriend. How can she keep Jason when he’s moved on to college life, but she’s still trapped in high school for another year?

In Boston, Sami’s new friends help her rediscover her power, and, reunited with an old crush, he now seems into her. Sami struggles to ignore the intoxicating charms of Miles Eichen, but with Jason’s increasing distance, it feels like a losing battle.

When her strange visions begin to come true, Sami discovers a new purpose to her magic—magic stronger than she could ever imagine. Millions of lives are in danger, and only she has the power to foil a great evil. However, it will take a different kind of magic to repair the rift between her and Jason.

Next, the cover:

Concerto by JD Spero, full spread cover

Chick-a-plao! Does that look like hot stuff, or what?

And now, a word about our author:

JD Spero

Johannah Davies (JD) Spero was born near a pristine lake in the Adirondacks and has lived in various cities such as St. Petersburg (Russia), Indianapolis, Dallas, and Boston. She has pursued her love of narrative through degrees in English, Russian, and teaching—and has worked as an actress, a yoga instructor, a web design entrepreneur, freelance writer, and a high school English teacher. She lives in the Northeast with her husband and three young sons.

www.jdspero.com

If “Concerto” looks like a read you want in on, then make like a cool kid and get yourself a copy – or, if you’re behind the game, you can first catch up with Book 1. Congrats on your new book baby, JD Spero! And Ever On Wordians, I’ll be back in January. *peaces out*

The Year of Winging It

I’m a gal who likes to have plans on plans on plans for things as far in advance as possible.

You would not know that, based on my behavior this past year.

I. How much wood would a wood fan work if a woodwork job would work?

At year’s start, I was working a data entry job that, under a change-up in management, had grown increasingly miserable. I wanted to run, but I didn’t know where to – until, on a whim, I said, “Why not try carpentry?”

Since, y’know, I liked wood, and I heard carpenters make good money, plus it’d be skills I could take with me anywhere, meaning I wouldn’t have to feel tied down to the Chicago area.

…Once I’d completed my 4-year apprenticeship, anyway.

So began the months-long process of getting into the pre-apprenticeship program.

II. Trippin’ down the road

In the meantime, early summer found my sister and me on a road trip to—

Me: “Where you wanna go?”

Sister: “I dunno.”

Me: “Pittsburgh? I hear Pittsburgh’s nice.”

Sister: “Ok.”

Sure, there was minimal planning before we set forth. We booked our hotel rooms in advance, and mapped out a budget of roughly how much we expected to spend. But otherwise, the whole venture was explore-as-you-go. And by and large, the results were good, including walks along water, art shows and animals sanctuaries, an impromptu viewing of “Wonder Woman”, and more.

Road Trip Triptych

III. Wish granted

Not long afterward:

Me: *is depressed*

Mom: All right, none of that. I’m sending you to see “Aladdin”.

Me: !!!

And I mean, you can’t always make your brain less sad by saturating it with a dazzling onstage performance of your childhood heart’s first love. But it sure worked wonders this time!

Aladdin Onstage Triptych

IV. Will Scarlet dies smiling

Then came carpentry school and Temporary Apartment and – the year’s highlight – a visit from BFF Tirzah Duncan! Her coming was very much planned. More spontaneous was our attendance at the Wizard World comic con.

Me [scrolling on Facebook]: “Oh, hey, it’s gonna be in Chicago the weekend you arrive.”

Will Scarlet: “Wait – JOHN BARROWMAN’S going to be there?!?!?!”

Tirzah: “Ohmygosh, can we—?”

Me: “ORDERING! PHOTO OP! TICKETS! NOW!”

Will: *weeping*

John Barrowman Photo Op 2

Honestly, the Barrowman thing was an entire blog post unto itself.

V. Lightning Strikes Twice

Weeks later, I’ve dropped out of carpentry and am questioning absolutely everything about my life. But then—

Me [scrolling on Tumblr]: “Wait – MAGGIE STIEFVATER has a book tour stop in Chicago in two days?!?!?!”

Will and Tirzah: “Babe, you should totally—”

Me: “ORDERING! SIGNING LINE! TICKET! NOW!”

Maggie Stiefvater and Me

This, too, was an entire blog post unto itself.

VI. Living the dream?

Back at my parents’ house, prepping for my split-decision move to California. I knew I needed to land a paying job, so I started filling out online apps for everything from clerical gigs to warehouse work. Not that I really wanted to do any of that.

Hypothetical voice: “So what do you want to do, Danielle?”

Me: “I don’t know! Why can’t somebody just pay me to run away to the woods?!”

Yosemite National Park: “So hey, that dishwashing job in our super fancy hotel you applied for? It’s yours.”

Me: “…”

VII. What comes next:

I have no idea. There’s a month left in 2017 – the year Will Scarlet laughingly (and rightfully) dubbed my Year of Winging It. Anything could happen, particularly if my unpredictable pattern holds going into 2018 and beyond.

It’s a terrifying prospect. And yet… *looks back on it all* …just maybe it’s the life I’m meant to live.

For now.

Fortnight of Fright: Flash Fiction From Danielle E. Shipley & Tirzah Duncan

Books Take You Places

FoF2014Hi, friends! Today we have Danielle E. Shipley, author of the Wilderhark Tales novellas and the novel Inspired (see her other features on my blog here and here). Also contributing is Tirzah Duncan, writer of novels, short stories and poetry. They are here to share some truly awesome flash fiction to help us celebrate Fortnight of Fright this year. I have always been a fan of Danielle’s work and after reading this post I am sure that you will want to read more from her and Ms. Duncan for sure. Take a gander below and don’t forget to head over to Amy Brittany’s blogs to see who they have featured today! Don’t forget, we are hosting wonderful bloggers & authors for two whole weeks with recipes, book recommendations and a lot more awesome!

Once upon an October years ago, there transpired what might only be described as a supernatural occurrence:…

View original post 974 more words

Open Journal: October Thoughts

Somewhere, in an alternate universe, Danielle is on the verge of becoming a full-fledged, unionized carpenter apprentice.

But here in our world, that does not hold true.

I wanted to drop the pre-apprenticeship program Day 4. My parents said it was too soon.

Fair enough.

Skip ahead to the beginning of Week 4. I still wanted to drop the program. My parents still said it was too soon.

This did not feel anything like fair enough.

I muscled through to the end of Week 5, then said goodbye to this career experiment before it could morph into a 4-year commitment and – *shaky breath* – dropped out of carpentry school.

Me. Danielle E. Shipley. A quitter failure disappointment dropout. It barely computes.

But the fact is, I gave it my best while I was there. And I learned things, and managed to improve in skill and strength over those few weeks’ course. And it still just wasn’t for me.

What is for me? I have no idea. Maybe I’ll find out in California, once I’ve moved there after Thanksgiving.

Yes, that’s the new plan.

Transitions. That was the theme, about a month ago, at the Fall Paint Night held by my sister’s associates, Ascension Performing Arts. In honor of autumn, season of change, we turned our canvases into trees.

APA Fall Paint Night

I chose at the start to take my piece in a golden direction – my muse whispering that change could be a golden opportunity. I wasn’t sure how far I believed him. I’m still not. But I painted as if I’d taken the words to heart.

APA Fall Paint Night, Golden Opportunity

Speaking of Ascension Performing Arts: They’re holding their Fall Benefit showcase this Friday. I attended the event a couple years back, and it was a grand night of good art – both visual and performative. This year’s theme is “Be the Light”. And this year’s roster of fine artists on display during their gallery hour includes – oh, hello – Danielle E. Shipley. Given my imminent move, it will likely be my last in-person authorial event in the Chicago area for some while. Let’s make it the best one yet. (Ticket info here)

Also on the horizon, November – better known to much of the writing community as National Novel Writing Month. Somewhere, in an alternate universe, Danielle will have made herself sign up, with or without any driving inspiration.

Not here.

Maybe I’ll challenge myself to a reading month. I’ve got way too many ebooks sitting neglected on my Kindle app. But my writer self isn’t in a place to create for joy right now, which is what I’d want NaNo to be. So I’ll dedicate what energy I’ve got to other things.

My first European adventure is behind me. My tentative carpentry aspirations are finished. My life goal of publishing all three Outlaws of Avalon novels before my death has been met. (My depression brain suggests that I could go ahead and die now, but I’ll try to keep on living.)

Now it’s into a new unknown – my back to the home of my youth, my face to the west, where dwell two of my dearest non-imaginary friends. I am full certain that this will be weird and scary and full of angst, because that’s how life is everywhere. I’m (trying to be) hopeful that it’s where I’m supposed to be. …At least until the season of change cycles back around for me again.

One Small Step for Woman, One Giant Leap Toward Adulthood

TGW Song, Will - CopyWhaddup, beautiful people! Will Scarlet, here. Because Danielle promised she’d finally post about what’s going on in her life, but for some reason, she doesn’t like talking about herself. Which, wow, makes absolutely no sense to me, because talking about myself is like 80% of what I do. No worries, though! ‘Cause she’ll always have me to do the talking for her. ^_^

So! Here’s what’s new, Part 1: Danielle’s gonna be a carpenter.

That is, she is currently, as this post goes live, getting ready for the second day of her first week (out of 9) of the Chicago Regional Council of Carpenters pre-apprenticeship program.

Holy moly, hold the phone, since when is author Danielle E. Shipley interested in carpentry?! Well might you ask. (And I mean, you might have asked. I didn’t actually hear anyone asking, but some of you are bound to be curious, right?)

It all started when Danielle was at some other job, and she’s like, man, I need to be making money, but can it be through doing something that doesn’t suck the soul right out of me? So she decided to try carpentry, since it involves two things she already knows she likes: Creating things, and wood. Plus, she’d get to feel like Little John or a Pontipee brother, which I guess is a plus?

How does one become a carpenter? In many steps over much time, that’s how. Like, to the point that trying to remember everything we did to get here is kinda fuzzy, but I’ll throw out what I can remember.

– Go down to the nearest union carpentry training center and ask, “Hi, I’d like to be an apprentice. Please to tell me how?”

– Obtain a letter from your district that’s basically like “Hey, I officially recognize this person’s interest in entering this program”, to be placed in the pool of hopefuls. (You gotta ask first. And provide personal information. And hope Santa didn’t notice what a punk you’ve been all year.)

– Take a math proficiency test. Reading proficiency, too, but they don’t cover that in the test prep session a week before the exam. They do yell at you not to bring cell phones in the school building, though. I guess some staff member got murdered by a cell phone, once. #NeverAgain

– Get notified while on a road trip with your sister to Pittsburgh that you passed the test! (The road trip part may actually not be mandatory, but Danielle is just that thorough.)

– The notification will basically read, “Congratulations, you haven’t failed YET. Now you have until X date to get a note from a doctor that clears you as physically fit to be a carpenter, OR YOU’RE OUT.” Letter writers are never quite as sunny of disposition as they were before watching an associate get cell phone murdered.

– A doctor’s appointment, which you’d think would involve, I dunno, some running or lifting or other evidence you’re not a weakling, but no, all Danielle had to do was bend down, touch her toes, and promise she wasn’t entirely suicidal. Okay then!

– Search hither and yon for hardcore work boots made for little lady feet. (The suffragettes died for this.)

– “Congratulations, you haven’t failed YET. Now show up on X date to pee in a cup and prove you’re not on drugs, OR YOU’RE OUT.”

– “Congratulations, you’re not on drugs! See you at orientation!”

– We actually had no idea after passing the math test exactly when she’d be scheduled to start the program. All the tributes who haven’t yet died a horrible death get put in a lottery based on their test’s date, and your name’s up when it’s up. Could be weeks, could be months… For Danielle, it was actually pretty quick. Took the test… back in May, I think? And started the program yesterday. And if she makes it through the 9 weeks, then the 4 years of actual (paid!) apprenticeship will begin, and she’ll be on her way to becoming a fully competent journeyman! Her mother and I will be so proud.

What’s new, Part 2: Danielle’s got her own apartment!

Temporary Apartment

Temporary Apartment, she calls it, since it’s just for the duration of the 9-week program. After that, she’ll find another place*, because the main idea is to not have a hellish commute between where she lives and where she works.

IT’S SUPER EXCITING, because after all her adventuring in Europe, her parents’ house just wasn’t doing it for her anymore. She needed a proper Dani Space. And now she’s got one. Way to fake adulthood, girl!

 

*Full disclosure, it’ll be mostly her mom finding the other place, just like it was mostly Mom who found this one, and Dad’s name on the lease. Like I said: Faking adulthood. She’s getting there, though. X)

Don’t Be There, Don’t Be Square

Coming next week: An update several months in the making on the corner my non-authorial life has turned.

Coming not long after that: Sneak peeks and whatever fun content I can think up to tie into my October release, Outlaws of Avalon 3.

Today: Remember my allusion in my Printers Row recap post to the lack of cooperation I got with Square? Here (finally) is the full story.

Just Say No to Square

I attempted to get Square set up on my phone, but it kept saying that it couldn’t “verify my identity”. Over and again I tried, over a handful of days – careful to ensure the information I input was accurate; switching out e-mail and addresses and phone numbers, on the off chance that one might prove more accessible to their system than another. No avail. And looking through their support options yielded nothing more helpful than troubleshooters telling me to make sure all my information was correct. …um, thanks. Been there, done that.

By this time, I was pretty much sure this wasn’t going to work out for me, so I reached out in a couple of Facebook groups I’m in, asking whether anyone could recommend an alternative portable credit card reader. Frustratingly, half the responses I got were people saying that Square worked just fine for them.

Cool. Great. But I JUST SAID it’s not working for me, so… what else ya got? (Funny how they all got quiet when I asked specifically what I should do if Square refused to verity my identity. <_<)

Aaaaaanyway… Eventually, I moved to my laptop for a more concentrated support search. I still didn’t find anything helpful, but did receive an e-mail from Square fretting over the “suspicious activity” that was me trying to get in from another of my devices. The e-mail came with a link to click if I needed help, and BOY, DID I, so click I did, which took me to a page that was all, “Thanks for reporting suspicious activity!”

Wait. No. That’s not what I need help with. X( But hey, there’s a comment box where I can provide them with more information. Time to set the record straight. I wrote:

I did not intend to report the sign in as suspicious. The activity in question was in fact my own, from a computer instead of my cell phone — the phone being what I’ve been using to try (for days) to create an account, without success. No matter how many times I input my information, Square insists it cannot verify my identity. When I saw the “Need help? Let us know” in your email, I’d hoped that clicking it would direct me to someone able to help me get verified/approved so I can use the app without further trouble. Please advise.

Square Support shortly replied:

Hey Danielle,

Thanks for reaching out.

I know this is disappointing, and I wish there was something I could do. Your last application to accept cards with Square was not approved, and I can’t offer any additional chances to apply. Because Square offers a limited number of application attempts, this decision is final.

I wish you and your business the best of luck going forward, and I’m sincerely sorry for the frustrating experience.

Okay. Fine. I was past being mad. At this point, I just wanted some answers. So I wrote back:

So be it. However, for the sake of enlightenment:

1) Can you explain why my attempts were unsuccessful? I would like to have more to answer anyone asking about my Square experience than, “I dunno, it just didn’t work. Cannot recommend.”

2) What exactly is the limit? (I wasn’t keeping count; 7 tries? More? Fewer?) And is it a limited number of attempts per applicant, or per email address, or…?

Their reply:

Hey Danielle,

Thanks for your email. I’m really sorry we can’t give you another chance to apply, but there’s nothing else we can do to change this decision.

To protect your privacy and security, we don’t have access to the information you entered during the application process, so I cannot provide a more specific reason for why your application wasn’t approved.

I understand this situation is frustrating, and I wish I could be more helpful. I recommend speaking with other companies that offer similar services, like your bank or other mobile payment providers.

All the best, etc.

TL;DR, “We’re not interested enough in your business to even tell you why we won’t accept it. Bye, Felicia.”

Which brings to me to my new-and-improved response, should anyone ask about my Square experience: “I dunno, it just didn’t work, and the customer service was terrible. Cannot recommend.”

So heeey – if anyone reading this can recommend an alternative portable credit card reader, do please speak up in the comments! I’d love to have a better option in hand for next time.

Books You May or May Not Know Anything About Even After I Post Re: Them

As I hope you’re aware (since this is not the first time or place I’ve announced this), The Ballad of Allyn-a-Dale (The Outlaws of Avalon, Book 1)” is currently half-price on Smashwords, as part of the site’s Summer/Winter Sale (July 1 – 31).

Of course, if you weren’t aware, I wouldn’t be surprised. There’s a lot of noise on the internet, and the average solitary voice will only travel so far. Heck, even readers shopping the Smashwords sale for deals might not know I’m a part of it. The selection is E-NOR-MOUS. This I know, because I’ve been browsing the titles myself, eyes open for stories I might take an interest in.

Slow as I am when it comes to my Kindle app library (pages on a screen and I don’t get along as well as me and the printed word ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ ), if I waited ‘til I’d actually read these books before talking about them, odds are that none of you would know they exist until well after the sale is over.

So in the name of doing unto others – and on the chance that you might want to nab one of these babies while the discount lasts – here are the faces and teasers of the e-books I’ve download from the sale so far.

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Merlin Slept Here (Wizard’s Inn, Book 1)” by Rob Summers

Store clerks by day, innkeepers for the Magi by night! Twenty-year-olds Bob Himmel and Julie Beckerhof aren’t getting paid anything, but the thrills are there. If the inn isn’t sold out from under them, and if they can keep their guests alive—number seven on the list of innkeepers’ rules—they just might get married and settle into this.

Polish, Dust and Sparkle” by Brian S. Wheeler

The men in the tight suits and narrow ties grow wealthy by cultivating the worth of their towers’ sparkle. Yet their economy depends upon the toil of the polishers, who work to keep so much glass clean. A magic dancer jeopardizes the fragile skyline when her steps summon a thundering herd, turning the polishers into hunters, and threatening to shatter all the foundations made of fragile glass.

Hollo (The Magic of Thedes, Book 1)” by Devon Michael

Shortly after her twelfth birthday Hollo finds herself alone in a world that has never seen a wooden girl who can talk, let alone do magic.

A Certain Number of Hypothetical Scenarios” by Joseph Wright

A Certain Number of Hypothetical Scenarios is a collection of sixty-two flash fiction stories written in a series of Julys between 2010 and 2013. Prepare to expose the inner workings of an illegal pixie dust operation, encounter various not-people personified, witness the assassination of a pet cat, and possibly be eaten by a grue.

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The Society of Imaginary Friends (The Conjurors, Book 1) by Kristin Pham

Valerie Diaz has a power that she can’t contain, and it’s killing her. Bounced between foster homes and the streets, she only has time to concentrate on staying alive. But a visit from the imaginary friend of her childhood opens a world of possibilities, including a new life half a universe away on a planet that is bursting with magic.

Demon Lord (Demon Lord, Book 1)” by T C Southwell

Seven blue wards have imprisoned the Black Lord in the Underworld for aeons. Now he has stolen a human child and made him a mortal god. After eighteen years of torturous training, Bane sets forth to break the wards with aid of a dark army. The Demon Lord will release Arkonen and destroy the Overworld unless an innocent young girl can turn him from his savage path…

Oberon’s Children” by Hal Emerson

An orphan girl named Mol wakes in the middle of the night to music. Enchanted, she follows the sound into the forest of Arden, where she is taken captive by a man known only as the Erlking; a man who rules a kingdom of monsters. Leaving her life as an urchin far behind, Mol becomes part of the Erlking’s Bower for reasons she cannot understand, her only guarantee a future shrouded in mystery.

A Soul for Trouble” by Crista McHugh

When an insane stranger is murdered at the inn where she works, Trouble becomes the next Soulbearer for the disembodied god of chaos, Loku. Yes, it comes with the ability to channel the god’s limitless power, but at the cost of her sanity — literally.

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The Slivers of Avalon: The Abandoned Edge” by Eden Tyler

Visions of another dimension usher a young woman through an adventure of immorality, virtue, and self-discovery.

Betrothal (Queen’s Honor, Tales of Lady Guinevere: #1)” by Mande Matthews

17 year old Lady Guinevere is caught between the responsibility of her crown and the desires of her heart. Without brothers to ascend the throne, marriage to her will assure any man the right to rule. Imbued with Celtic Lore and Druid magic, Queen’s Honor puts a new spin on an age old legend.

Shreiber and Tome: Unlucky Vamps (Shreiber and Tome, Book 1) by Andrew Day

Welcome to Chapter City. Where the undead live alongside humans like everyday people, and where private investigator Lil Shreiber and her partner Michael Tome (ex-warlock) have been enlisted by a vampire prince to help track down a serial killer viciously murdering other vampires. Up against a powerful supernatural creature, and alongside an angry FBI agent who hates them, things soon get bloody.

Cobweb Bride (Cobweb Bride, Book 1)” by Vera Nazarian

Many are called… She alone can save the world and become Death’s bride.

COBWEB BRIDE (Cobweb Bride Trilogy, Book One) is a history-flavored fantasy novel with romantic elements of the Persephone myth, about Death’s ultimatum to the world.

The Sword of Sighs by Greg James

A young adult fantasy about an American girl who travels to a fantasy world and becomes embroiled in its war against a dark evil.

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And there we are. Golden Rule: Applied. Now to carry on and hope that someone, out there, is talking about “Ballad”…