Thursday, November 20, 2014

FREE Tiny Treats, Renegade, and Computer Shopping

So what's everyone been up to?

I've been freaking cold, man. It's been in the teens, which broke records for our area. Typically, we play football on Thanksgiving in sweatshirts. Not that it can't be cold now, but usually low 40s, high 30s. Not 17! I'm a little worried about our oil budget this winter.

I've also had a lot more Christmas spirit this year. Not sure why. I usually compartmentalize my holidays. It gets me into trouble when we hit December 15 and I realize I don't have time to ship presents the inexpensive way. So maybe that's why I've been planning sooner. I have a couple of presents bought, which isn't much, but I'm very Christmas-focused, mentally speaking. :)

Part of that might be because I've been laptop shopping. Or rather, pre-shopping. My laptop is ill. Last year it was having lockup problems. The tech guys couldn't find the problem, but talked me into upgrading to a faster hard drive. My battery wouldn't hold a charge, so I bought a new battery, too. Well, that had to be a refurbished battery or even just plain used, because first the lock tab snapped off, then the laptop stopped seeing the battery at all. So I'm tethered to the wall. Which is doable, though not of highest convenience. The lockup still happens, mostly (thought not always) when I'm watching video. And now I've got two growing splotches of what appears to be leaking liquid in the display. I can work around them, but not sure for how long.

SO. I've been shopping laptops. At first I was thinking small and light. I like typing on the Surface, and I like the idea of convertability. Also considered the Lenovo Yoga, and then I saw the Toshiba Radius. The 11 is very affordable and it's gold! But you can't know what will work best until you try them all out, right? So I went over to Best Buy, which had more on display than I expected. Apparently not being able to "ship-to-store" from the website doesn't mean the store doesn't have the computer. I didn't like the keyboard of the Yoga, and the screen of the Radius 11 was just too small. I really liked the Toshiba with the detachable screen, but it was very wobbly, and that concerned me. I found a Radius 15.5", and I really liked that. I can get a portable CD drive for about $30 so I can use my Office 2007 (instead of paying $99 to download the hateful 2013). But then I was looking at the reviews. The 5-star reviews are vague. The 1-star reviews are far fewer in number, but wifi weakness and spacebar issues and flickering screens and very poor customer service from Toshiba are repeated throughout. Of course, someone who gave that 1-star rating says "I bought an Acer instead and love it" and you go over to Acer and they talk about screen and bootup problems and the bottom line is that every make and model can have issues. It's always a roll of the dice.

So I'm kind of back to the drawing board, maybe. But then I look at the temperature, consider the oil bill, and know that I have to ride my old laptop into the ground anyway, so STOP SPENDING SO MUCH TIME LOOKING, NATALIE. LOL

Okay, on to more fun stuff!

I am very excited to announce the release of a new anthology. Trish Milburn pulled together a couple dozen highly talented authors (and I am so humbled and honored to have been invited!) in a collection we decided to call Tiny Treats.

Tiny because these are micro-stories. I tested them out—you can literally read a whole story while waiting in the pickup line for your kid, or the drive-thru at a busy Starbucks, or while you're waiting for you spouse to be ready to leave for dinner, already!

Treats because they're all really good romances. Seriously, I'm not just saying that. If there was a single dud in the bunch I'd be more vague and general. :) I loved every single one.

Most of these are contemporary set and the holiday featured is Christmas, but there are some historical and paranormal gems, and Halloween, Thanksgiving, and New Year's are all included.

But best of all, it's completely FREE! Everywhere! So you can download it now!

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | iBooks | Google Play | Kobo | Smashwords

Oh, and if you've read If You Believe in Me, my story, "On This Christmas Day," features Rina and Danny!

I have another story out, too. This one isn't new. It's a reissue (updated, but with no major changes) of an erotic paranormal novella, and it's only 99 cents at all retailers:

Trex Samuels has lived her life supporting her best friend. Her job as an information broker allows her to stay in one place and keep tabs on Jake, who travels the world using his unique gifts to save abducted children. Trex is the closest thing to a home Jake has, and she waits for his infrequent visits that always bring both joy and pain. Things change, however, when Jake is on the run from the law. This time, he is haunted by his failures, tormented by waking nightmares. This time, he’s brought a partner.
Dan awakens in Trex a new craving, but one that doesn’t eliminate the old. When she realizes the men need her, that she has the power to banish their demons–however temporarily–they embark on a journey of sensuality and desperate pleasure. In the end, she not only has the power to heal them, but to set them free. And only one will come back to her…
Note: Originally published in 2008, reissued 2014
Buy Now:

Friday, October 24, 2014

"Why the hell would you DO that?"

Today I have a post at Everybody Needs a Little Romance about my writing retreat last weekend. (That photo to the left is the room service cart I held hostage so I could write on the side of the room that had the view of the ocean.)

Because of my trip, I am SO far behind on TV! My husband is a little overwhelmed by our stuffed DVR. LOL So we're only doing a bit at a time, and I'm two episodes behind on a lot of stuff. Behind on a lot of my favorites and dying to catch up!

But some of what I've seen lately has been absolutely delighting me.

Let's talk about Haven first. I caught up last night, and I'm SO FREAKING GLAD they spread the swapping trouble over two episodes. Dwight and Gloria were awesome enough (though there wasn't much difference between Dave and Vince LOL) but OMG, Nathan and Duke. They were PERFECT. Lucas Bryant was amazing with Duke's body language (the hand gesture was spot on!) and Eric Balfour, who really had the easier job, I'm glad they were able to split Audrey and Mara, because Emily Rose is doing a great job as Mara and now we can have The Real Audrey Parker back.

One benefit to being behind? I caught up just in time for a new episode tonight. LOL

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is the other one that has delighted me this week. We finally watched last night, and not only is Adrianne Palicki as Bobbi Morse quite delicious, the reveal that she's Hunter's ex was fantastic. His reaction killed me. I love when I don't see something coming until the last second, and then it hits right before the reveal. I get to be surprised and smart at the same time. LOL All the new characters have just enhanced the show, and I can't wait for next week.

I caught a spoiler on Twitter last night about Supernatural so now I want to catch up on that one. Also, Sleepy Hollow. I don't care where they take it. The relationship between Abbie and Crane is one of the best on TV right now.

Thursday, October 09, 2014

SO Excited that Fall TV Is Here!

Before I launch into a rambling and disorganized report on what I'm liking and not liking so far, I have an announcement!



October 11, 2014, 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.
Full Fusion (as NJ Damschroder)

Cupboard Maker Books
157 N. Enola Road
Enola, PA 17025
717-732-7288

I’ll be signing alongside fellow YA author Em Garner, with her book Contaminated. Then we’ll be participating in the YA book club discussion afterwards. Can’t wait to talk about my first YA novel with actual readers! (I hope they like it!)



WARNING. SPOILERS AHEAD.


Okay, let's start with Sunday and work our way through the week.

Brooklyn Nine Nine is fine, even though they backed off Jake/Amy thing. That's okay in the early seasons. I liked the first episode. One week behind.

Once Upon a Time is also fine, and I'm also one episode behind. I don't hate the Frozen addition so far. Okay, yeah, maybe it's crass commercialism, but it's not like they really had to shoehorn it into the existing mythology. The casting is weirdly spot on. I love Emma and Hook and I really hope Regina doesn't go deeper into the evil thing again. Getting tired of it.

Revenge, the jury's out. I didn't hate the first episode. We (my boss and I) talk about the show every week and agree we're very wary of the David-isn't-dead storyline, but our annoyance has been mitigated by the realization that he has no idea Emily is his daughter. He thinks Amanda is dead, and her death might have been what drew him out of hiding. We'll see. I might get to watch the second episode tonight.

Loved the first episode of Sleepy Hollow, though as much as I love John Noble, that character is going to grow old fast. The best part of the show is Abbie and Ichabod's relationship, and I don't care which way it goes. :)

The first episode of Castle was only okay. I thought Rick was too cavalier for everything that had happened, even for a guy who feels like none of it did happen. I blame direction. Haven't watched this week's yet. (Sensing a theme here? LOL)

Only watched one episode of Big Bang Theory. It's a nice diversion, but I don't mind letting them pile up. I haven't loved the show for a few seasons.

The Mindy Project was surprisingly more fun to watch when I binged it. But the quality this season is consistent and I love Mindy and Danny. (Yep, that's another theme. :) )

We enjoyed the first episode of Red Band Society enough to keep it on the list, but haven't watched it since. I think there are two episodes now. I have no compulsion to watch it, which doesn't bode well.

Now, The Flash? Totally different story. Loved the first episode. I have little knowledge of the DC Universe and only cursory knowledge of Flash's story, so easter eggs mean nothing to me (though they're fun to read about afterward :) ). I'm not speculating on whether Eddie will be Reverse Flash or if Wells is or anything like that. Wells wasn't sinister until the end of the episode. One recap I read says he's obviously from the future. I didn't see that. I only saw that he could see the future. But I guess it makes sense, bringing back technology to be the first to use it. Or eff it up, as the case may be. I love Grant Gustin and the rest of the casting. Funny thing: I said "The only poor casting seems to be his father." But then I was reminded that he's the original Flash from the previous TV series, so I guess we can give them a pass. But nostalgia versus wooden acting? I'll pass on both, thanks.

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is similar fun. This is a show I'm determined to just enjoy. It's one of my favorites and I'm excited to watch it each week, and to hell with the people who want to whine about how poorly done it is. Expectations are just still way too high.

Supernatural...*sigh* It took five years, but I'm finally not enjoying it the way I used to. It was a slow fade, that enjoyment. I mean, when you have Supernatural Summer (rewatching all the episodes with friends) and go to conventions and rewatch the seasons in full every year, you're going to burn out the passion eventually. So for seasons 7-9 it was still must-watch-live, but not as urgent as it had been. We've only had one episode, but the darkness has taken over completely, and I am just not a person who wants to watch darkness.

So does that mean I'm done? Oh, come on! No way! It's still Sam and Dean! LOL

Arrow may have taken over as my top favorite, though. The action is great, the villains so hateful, the good characters lovable, and the relationships complex (or at least complicated). And the romance is finally the way I want it. I can live with Oliver and Felicity being on-again off-again six times in one episode if I can watch the crackling energy between them. I'm a huge sucker for an intense guy in love, and he's in love with the right woman. Of course, one of his trio was taken out of the picture at the end of last night's episode. We didn't like the actress, so we were glad (though I was shocked that they did it), but I do hate what it will do to Captain Lance. Laurel might become more interesting now. The Hong Kong flashbacks intrigue me. So yeah, I'm all in on this one.

Haven was one of my favorites last year. This year I'm a little on the fence. It feels like it's not really getting anywhere fast. I LOVE Mara, in terms of Emily Rose's portrayal of her. Audrey's emergences are annoyingly breathy and swoony, which isn't really Audrey, but I guess they need something dramatic to sell it. Her transitions back to Mara are awesome, though.

I'm mad at Bones. The conspiracy storyline was fine. Killing Sweets was NOT.

H50 is H50. Fine, nothing special.

Oh, I forgot about Forever. Which goes in the same category as H50. Good while I'm watching it, solid acting and writing for the most part, decent actors, but I don't think about it when it's not happening in front of me.

Modern Family is still funny, though everyone seems more exaggerated than they used to be with all their negative traits. Not digging that.

Selfie is the one new comedy I'm trying, and as horrible as it should be, it's not! I think it's because I love John Cho and Karen Gillan so much. She's SUCH a caricature but still something appealing about her. And I hope Charmonique gets a bigger role. She's great, and so is her kid.

And we end the week with Doctor Who. I don't mind the aged Doctor and I really like him being Scottish, and Peter Capaldi channels all his traits admirably. I love the better role Clara has been given, and I like Danny a lot. But I don't like the coldness they've given the Doctor, and I wish they'd explain the sudden dislike of soldiers all of a sudden. I mean, we can put the pieces together, I guess, with the whole war thing and the past he's faced, but isn't he supposed to be moving on? The self-exploration is great, but sometimes he feels like two different people.

What are you loving so far this year? What new shows have you tried and hated or liked?

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

When Dreams Go to Work

Usually when I talk about dreams here, they're weird and wacky and have no grounding in reality. I don't tell you about all the dreams I have about work (whether they're about the bar where we serve breakfast and booze—at a chiropractors office—or about how they've changed all the procedures and equipment on me and I can't figure anything out) or the ones that are about the iPod game I've played too obsessively or feature auto dealer websites flying in and out of my head. THOSE support the theory that dreams are our brain discharging and organizing and all that stuff. And they're boring.

But SOMETIMES, they're helpful.

Last week, my e-mail went FUBAR.

(This week my phone did—that reminds me, I need to get a new one, stat! Hold on... Okay, done.)

I've used AOL for like two decades. I have 5 years of e-mails stored in well-broken-down folders. It's safer virus-wise, and it's on my computer. I hate webmail with a passion, and I refuse to use Outlook. But apparently the humongous (like more than a couple hundred a day) rise in stored e-mails with my increase in client work overwhelmed it, because my personal filing cabinet kept getting effed up. I lost 10 days worth of e-mails and had to go through all my old ones to restore what I needed to save. Then it happened again, and I was done.

I did some research and decided to try Mailbird. (After I crashed Thunderbird, which I've used briefly before.) It's working fine. I finally can have all my e-mail addresses loaded into the same place, and I'll get used to the new structure. I'm rebuilding folders as I need them. And it was cool that it synced with my Gmail folders so I didn't even need to make new ones. I especially like how it cheers you when you achieve "Inbox Zero." That's something really important to me. :)

The problem was how AOL categorizes mail. It splits it into "old" and "new." Once you've read an e-mail, it leaves your inbox and goes into the "old" tab. Mine had about 3.5 years' worth. Over 168,000 e-mails. And AOL told Mailbird those are all "new," so it kept pulling them into the application.

Goodbye Inbox Zero.

But did I mention that's important to me? It is. My inbox is supposed to hold only mail I have to address. There's extreme satisfaction in clearing it out after a particularly heavy period of work. Even more in keeping it empty! So the idea of never having Inbox Zero again was not a good one.

I started doing CTRL+A to highlight everything and then archiving it. It took a while for each batch, and after a couple of days, I'd gotten through a month. It was going to take forever to do four years! Plus, it locked up the program a couple of times, and I had to use AOL webmail. *shudder* BUT, I found that the folders I had set up in Mailbird were now available in AOL webmail. It was syncing both ways.

Enter the dream. (I know, I ramble. Sorry.) The other night, mixed with dreams about work and something else kinda weird, I dreamed that I archived all my old mail in AOL webmail, which then synced with Mailbird automatically. I tried it, and...IT WORKED. Archiving in AOL only took a handful of batches, and even though it locked up that mail folder each time, it DID transfer it. So now I have Inbox Zero! AND! Bonus! I can search all my archived mail very easily, which will limit how often I have to go into AOL Desktop for old mail.

Now I have to get paid so I can get Mailbird Pro and get ALL my e-mail addresses in here. (The free version accommodates 3.)

If you've read this far, God love ya. :) I apologize for being boring. Next post will talk about fall TV! :) Stay tuned.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

For the Love of Cooking Cookbook

I was honored to be invited to participate in an author cookbook to benefit a lovely organization, and the cookbook is ready for preorder! If you buy now, you will receive a free e-book version as well as your printed copy.

Here's the press release by Snap4kids:

Today’s bestselling authors have shared their tastiest tried-and-true recipes with us and we have compiled them into a single book that will be treasured for generations to come. This mouth-watering cookbook contains over 110 recipes—everything you need from appetizers to desserts. Each recipe includes the contributor’s name, so it’s easy to find the recipes of your favorite authors. And with over 90 authors (many are USA Today and New York Times bestsellers), you’re sure to find several of your favorites.

Special features include:

  • Receive a free e-book copy when you order a printed copy. 
  • Many recipes include a personal story telling how the recipe came about. 
  • Each recipe contains a blurb about the author.


This year’s net proceeds will go toward three programs:

  1. The new weekly bowling program 
  2. Pizza for the weekly youth meetings 
  3. Scholarships for summer camp

Cookbooks are $10 plus shipping and are available at www.snap4kids.org.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Cynthia D'Alba's Texas Twist Book Tour, with Giveaway!



Enter to Win
TONS of TEXAS TWIST Goodies
Gift Card, Mugs, T-Shirts, Etc




Real bad boys can grow up to be real
good men.

Hit hard by the death of her parents, Paige Ryan needs to figure out what to do with her life. She moves to Whispering Springs, Texas, to be near her step-brother. But just as she starts to get her life on track, the last man she ever wanted to see again sends it right back off the rails.

Cash Montgomery was on the cusp of having it all. Three bull riding titles, fame, fortune and respect from his family. Until a bad bull leaves him injured, angry and searching for comfort at the bottom of a bottle. With nowhere to go, he moves into his sister-in-law’s old ranch house in Whispering Springs—which he’s surprised to find already occupied.

As Cash rebuilds the dilapidated home and Paige starts out on her medical career, their old friendship begins to reemerge and sparks are ignited. Paige knows that Cash is nothing but a heartache waiting to happen. But maybe this bad boy has grown up to be a real good man?

Warning: Watch out for falling lumber, falling in holes, and falling for the wrong guy…again. You can leave your hard hat on.








a Rafflecopter giveaway












Award-winning author Cynthia D’Alba was born and raised in Arkansas. After being gone for 17 years, she’s thrilled to be back home living on the banks of an 8,000-acre lake. When she’s not reading, writing or plotting, she’s doorman for her two dogs, cook, housekeeper and chief bottle washer for her husband, and slave to a noisy, messy parrot. She loves to chat online with friends and fans.







Sunday, September 07, 2014

Adventures in Car Shopping

I got my first car 22 years ago, a Honda Civic hatchback coupe. Seven years after that, my husband got a company car and we traded in my Civic and I started driving his Corolla.

Fifteen years later, that Corolla is finally worn out enough that it makes more sense to buy a new car. Yay!

I spent many hours doing research online and narrowing down my options based on budget, safety ratings, reliability, and appeal. My top option was a Scion xD, in part because it was different. I hate that every car looks the same, and they're all silver, white, gray, red, or black. My entire life, I have not wanted to be one of the crowd.

So I went over to the Scion dealership and they had no xDs. He had none coming in, and none closer than 45 minutes away. There were no used ones. I reluctantly said I'd test drive the new Corolla while I was there. Instead of talking to me about the car, he used his phone to confirm that Scion is apparently discontinuing the xD. *sad face*

The Corolla didn't excite me at all. It's what I currently have, and I didn't want the same thing. They also made the steering wheel fatter with these big bumps at 10 and 2, and that just didn't fit my hands. So I was off to a discouraging start.

I stopped at dealerships to look at the Chevy Sonic (could NOT see myself in a Chevy), Mazda3 (a bit higher than I wanted to spend because you have to go up a trim to get cruise control!), and Hyundai Elantra. The Elantra might have still been on my "look at" list, but it was lower down for safety and reliability. But the most discouraging thing was that no one came out of any of the dealerships to talk to me. Apparently I wasn't worth braving the heat or something. So to hell with them.

Yesterday we went over to look at the Honda Civic and Insight. I liked the Insight okay, and it felt fine until I got into the Civic. It had firmer seats and a more "economy" feel, and since I keep my cars for over a decade, I want to be comfortable. :)

The Civic felt good, has some great features for a base model, and is top rated in safety and reliability, so I bought one! I even liked the color they put me in. The sales manager said he looked at the gray and the red (crimson pearl, which is a deep red) and decided I was more of the red. He was right! So I'm scheduled to pick it up Thursday.

Last night, I had annoying dreams. I kept rotating cars in my brain, researching and setting up test drives that I didn't go on. Then I had a real dream, with other people and events and stuff. We were going on a writing retreat, and I drove my new car that I had JUST picked up that day. I went to open the hatch (apparently I had a different car in the dream than the one I bought) and someone had backed up RIGHT against my tail. When I came around the car he pulled forward so I had room, but he had crunched my paint job and chipped a fist-sized hole right down to the metal.

The dream is probably because we were talking about whether or not to get the gap insurance, which covers the difference if your car gets totaled shortly after you bought it and the insurance company takes a few thousand off the replacement value. I still can't get the images out of my head.

Off to work, so I can earn my car payment. And then, today is FOOTBALL! *does a happy dance* What's making you happy today?