Sunday, February 26, 2006

Conversation with my Hero

I'm working on revisions of a book I wrote a while ago, after some constructive comments from an agent. It's kicking my a$$. I didn't know the hero very well, so increasing the romance in the book has been a struggle. So the other night I started working on Rogan St. James, actor and target. I started with a magazine-style profile, added comments from colleagues and ex-girlfriends, and morphed into an interview between him-the-character and me-the-author. Here's a tidbit:

Poor me syndrome? Maybe I should never have been born...
No, not anymore. I felt that sometimes, sure. I have an adult’s understanding now, and I am who I am. But I don’t want that for my kids. I don’t want to make the sacrifices my dad made, and I definitely don’t want my kids to.

Do you want kids?
I don’t know. It’s not the kind of profession that goes well with parenting. So I don't think so.

The conflict would be easier if you wanted kids.
So? My job is not to make your job easier.

I thought you just said it was.
Yeah, if you could watch my movies. But you can’t. So let Tom Welling entertain you, and keep trying to figure me out. There are no shortcuts, Natalie.

Pouts.
Silence.

One of Those Moments

Thursday night Dakota and I were standing outside the school, waiting for her father. Her swimming lesson had just finished, and as we waited, a group of kindergarteners and first-graders came out. (Note: D goes to bed at 8:30 when activities don't prohibit; her little sister, who is 6, goes to bed at 8:00)

Dakota: "They're going bowling."

Me: "Now?"

Dakota: "Yeah. That's what they said. They were all excited."

Me: "It's 7:15 on a school night!" (It would take 15 minutes to get to the bowling alley, figure half an hour MINIMUM to bowl, home well after 8...)

Dakota: "Yeah, I know." Pause. "I'm so glad I was raised right."

Me, stunned and pleased: "What a great kid you are. Thank you." Kiss on the head. "I'm proud of you."

Dakota, after the hug. "Is this one of those moments that makes parenting worthwhile?"

Me: "Honey, with the rare exception of the times you're saying you hate each other [which they had been scolded for just that afternoon], you make every parenting moment worthwhile."

Monday, February 20, 2006

SMALL thoughts

My blog readers know by now that I can become obsessive about my entertainments. Reference:

Lord of the Rings
Orlando Bloom
Alias
Lost
New England Patriots
Firefly

My latest is Smallville. We didn't have a local affiliate of WB so I never could find the show, though I thought it might be interesting to watch. So I finally got around to it on my Netflix list, and yesterday I set a new record of 6 episodes in a row.

My kids were away for the weekend, so here's kind of how it went:

Saturday I was supposed to get Season 1 Disk 3, and it did not arrive. Monday was going to be a holiday, with no delivery, and my kidless-weekend plans were ruined. So I did what any sane woman with disposable income and a driving need to watch TV shows would do: I rented disk three at Blockbuster.

I got some writing done Saturday afternoon and then tried to go to dinner with my hubby. It was a very nice non-date, as we went to Red Lobster, he decided he didn't want to wait an hour (seven o'clock on a Saturday and he couldn't guess there'd be a long wait?). I didn't want Mexican and he didn't want anything else, so he got a sub to go from the Philly Cheese Steak place and we went home, where I proceeded to watch all four episodes on disk 3.

Sunday we did get to Red Lobster for lunch (to use a gift card we got for Christmas) and then did some grocery shopping. I returned Disk 3 and rented Disk 4...then went back and grabbed Disk 5, too. Just in case.

My writing went pretty well Sunday afternoon, so I started watching at about 6:30, interrupting to switch laundry from washer to drier and throw in new loads (see, it doesn't interfere with my regular life!).

Then, of course, I proceeded to have vague dreams about Clark and Chloe and Lex (my favorite characters) and woke up with "Saaavvvveee meeeee...." wailing through my head. The song is permanently stuck there, on a two-line loop. Damn menu music.

It's amazing how quickly an indulgence can become habit. I can't wait to get back to the TV, even though the show isn't as high in quality as past obsessions. It's comforting to me to curl up on the couch under my Pirates of the Carribbean blanket and hang out in Smallville for a while.

Some of the things I like best:

Clark's bearing of responsibility. He's close to "Mary Sue," though that's rarely something that bothers me about a character, but his major flaw is also his strength. He can save people, and feels he always should, and feels the burden when he can't. It's very similar to Harry Potter's "saving people thing."

Lex's complexity. I know, basically, what happens to Lex in the future. So when he displays his desire to be good, and do good, and help people, and love them, I know it won't survive his darker needs and desires. Flashes of his ruthlessness and power hunger make everything he says and does suspect, because there might be something in it for him that we're unaware of. In the meantime, he's a love, and also kinda sexy. :)

John Schneider turning on the radio to hear, "Just a good old boys, never meanin' no harm..." *Snicker*

Hints at the future. Lex saying he wants to be president. Clark's investigative drive. References to abilities he hasn't discovered yet.

Poignancy. Tom Welling freaks me out with his big grin. Like someone said, "smile...NOW!" But his natural smile is soft and lovely, and often tinged with sadness. The episode where his powers were transferred was the most poignant. He liked being normal, yet being vulnerable wasn't so good. Then the ep where Chloe was "persuaded" by Kyle-the-hermit to reveal her feelings and kiss Clark...and the one with the kid who could read minds who hero-worshipped Clark...there's an element of poignancy in all of those that is touching.

I liked as the season went on the "freak of the week" element faded under the ongoing storylines and the complexities of Lex and Clark's relationship. I like that Whitney is a fairly worthy opponent, someone who's three-dimensional and not a bad guy.

I'm told that I won't like seasons 3, 4, or 5, but I don't always have the same opinion as that person, so I'm glad I have four more seasons to plow through, though I'm probably going to have to wait for 5 and that won't make me happy. I KNOW I won't like that Jonathan dies (which I just read in EW's Must List). I don't like Martha at all, and I love Jonathan, so that sucks. Unless it's a one-episode back-from-the-dead kind of thing. That would be cheesy, but acceptable.

Now, commenters, don't spoil me! I'm still on disk 5 of season 1! Couch your comments carefully, please. :)

Friday, February 17, 2006

Elements of Success

This has been a pretty decent week for me.

It's official: I've contracted a new book, Black Widow, to Inara Press, a great new publisher of speculative romance (paranormal, fantasy, time travel, and science fiction). They are launching this spring with 12-episode serials, an innovative return to fiction's past. :) My book will be published under their Inara Fiends imprint, even though there are no fiends in the book. My paranormal element is the heroine's ability to collect and conduct electricity, gained after her small plane was struck by lightning.

I'm really excited to be part of Inara Press, and not just because, in addition to meaning "ray of light" in Arabic, it's the name of a character in my most recent obsession, Firefly. It is a class outfit putting out what look to be great stories.

In addition to that, I have learned several of my titles have hit the publisher bestseller lists:

Pirate of the Stars

Pirate of the Stars was #1 for January at Echelon Press
Elf Lord was #10 for January at Echelon Press

Those two are amazing because they're old titles, released at least two years ago. Both are available at Fictionwise, as well.





Elemental Passion


Elemental Passion was #6 for the 4th Quarter of 2005 at Amber Quill Press
Cat's Claw was #10 for the 4th Quarter of 2005 at Amber Quill Press
Kira's Best Friend was #2 for the 3rd Quarter of 2005 at Amber Quill Press






I also got some great reviews for my newest releases:


"Institutional Sex was absolutely thrilling to read! Erotic and explicit in all the right places, this story is a must have...This story is fast paced, it gets to the point right away and keeps you turning the page as you go through the challenge with them...Very exciting and well written, it leaves you rooting for these two to find out how they really feel. Written with imagery that is very arousing without being vulgar, this story leaves the reader very satisfied from beginning to end."


4 Stars
Stacey Landers
Just Erotic Romance Reviews


"I absolutely adore the way Parker and Sophie bounce off each other throughout the novel. The sexual tension is evident on nearly every page, making me want to cheer them on to a happy ending. I only had one minor issue with the book. The situation that burdens both Parker and Sophie are presented early enough in the story but tend to be rehashed a few too many times. However, the sweet and funny culmination at the end more than makes up the reiteration."

Four Cups!
Charissa
Reviewer for Karen Find Out About New Books
Reviewer for Coffee Time Romance

"If you have read “Kira’s Best Friend” you will not want to miss the sequel SOPHIE’S PLAYBOY. Even though I have not read Kira’s story, it has become a must read on my list. Natalie J. Damschroder gives her readers a wonderful entertaining story of Sophie’s quest to find the man who will fulfill all of her dreams. She is in for the surprise of her life when she realizes her playboy; Parker yearns to take care of a wife and children all of his own."

Blue Ribbon Rating: 4.5

Brianna Burress

Romance Junkies


Yes, a very good week!

Thursday, February 09, 2006

There Goes the Rest of My Free Time

I recently read Chad Darnell's blog wherein he talks about pilots he is casting for next season. Some of these shows sound FANTASTIC. You know, on paper. It's all in the execution, of course.

There's even a show that sounds exactly (in concept) like a book I started and can't get to for a few months. That makes me excited. :)

But if half these pilots get picked up, my TiVo will be in full use, and my "free time" will be sucked up, all in the name of research. Right. Research.

While We're Complaining About E-mails...

Has everyone seen the e-mail going around about the supposed Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan's "house"? The e-mail contains pictures of an incredible building, exterior and interior, and claims the "former president of the United Arab Emirates and ruler of Abu-Dhabi" can afford all this because we're paying $2.55 a gallon for gas.

Well, as I am wont to do, I checked it out on Snopes and guess what? It IS a hotel, not a private residence.

Also, it may be a long time since I obtained my geography degree, but if Abu-Dhabi is a city in UAE, why is the Sheikh named as president of the country and ruler of the city? That's like saying Bush is ruler of Washington, D.C. Or the principal of a school is also the ruler of her office.

My final point is in regard to the oil profits. I'm sure some blame for elevated prices can be placed on the Middle East, but the recently announced record profits based on high prices belong to a Texas-based oil company. Yes, that's an AMERICAN oil company.

I am inspired to invoke that old adage, "when you point a finger, you have three fingers pointing back at you."

Yeah, but...

People keep sending this to me, and I hate it.

To All The Kids Who Were Born in the 1930s, 40s, 50s, 60s, and 70s!!

First, we survived being born to mothers who smoked and/or drank while they carried us.

Yeah, if you consider birth defects and mental retardation “survival.” How can anyone encourage a return to ignorance?

They took aspirin, ate blue cheese dressing, tuna from a can, and didn't get tested for diabetes.

People still take aspirin for things it won’t harm you for, eat blue cheese dressing and tuna from a can (I really don’t get those mentions), and get tested for diabetes because maybe there wasn’t an epidemic, but there is now.

Then after that trauma, our baby cribs were covered with bright colored lead-based paints.

Yep, and they stopped doing that because of the BRAIN DAMAGE.

We had no childproof lids on medicine bottles, doors or cabinets and when we rode our bikes, we had no helmets, not to mention, the risks we took hitchhiking.

Do you not realize all those things stopped because PEOPLE DIED?

As children, we would ride in cars with no seat belts or air bags.

I had no seatbelt once when someone rear-ended my mother’s car, and I smashed my face into the seat in front of me. Explains a lot, doesn’t it?

Riding in the back of a pick up on a warm day was always a special treat.

Ah, yes, the good old days when people drove 25 miles an hour and there were only two cars on the road at any given time.

We drank water from the garden hose and NOT from a bottle.

Yuck, I never drank water from the garden hose. And any time you taste something better, it’s hard to go back to the yucky stuff. I almost never drink tap water, and there’s a REASON for that.

We shared one soft drink with four friends, from one bottle and NO ONE actually died from this.

Another one I don’t get. Who died from sharing a soft drink with four friends?

We ate cupcakes, white bread and real butter and drank soda pop with sugar in it, but we weren't overweight because

WE WERE ALWAYS OUTSIDE PLAYING!

I didn’t eat much of those things as a kid, and I wasn't overweight. I do now, and I'm fat. What’s your point?

We would leave home in the morning and play all day, as long as we were back when the streetlights came on.

And now, if you cut through a car wash lot on the way home from a friend’s house, you may get kidnapped, raped, and murdered.

No one was able to reach us all day. And we were O.K.

I would bet my house that 90% of those parents would take a cell phone if it were an option for them.

We would spend hours building our go-carts out of scraps and then ride down the hill, only to find out we forgot the brakes. After running into the bushes a few times, we learned to solve the problem.

A boy in my kids’ day care a few years ago sledded down a hill and hit a light pole. Shattered his leg in six places and he was in a full-leg cast for several months. Not getting hurt doing something 10 times doesn't cancel out the one time you do.

We did not have Playstations, Nintendo's, X-boxes, no video games at all, no 99 channels on cable, no video tape movies, no surround sound, no cell phones, no personal computers, no Internet or Internet chat rooms..........WE HAD FRIENDS and we went outside and found them!

I have more friends now than I did then, AND I have Playstation, 500 channels on my satellite dish, DVDs, surround sound, cell phones, several household computers, and high-speed Internet access. And you know what? My kids have all those things, too, and MORE friends than I had at their age.

We fell out of trees, got cut, broke bones and teeth and there were no lawsuits from these accidents.

Wow, something I actually agree with. {g} I put the blame on a lot of today’s societal ills on too-many-lawyers syndrome.

We ate worms and mud pies made from dirt, and the worms did not live in us forever.

How do you know? Has someone cut you open to check?

We were given BB guns for our 10th birthdays, made up games with sticks and tennis balls and although we were told it would happen, we did not put out very many eyes.

I never had guns, but yes, was told I’d put an eye out—usually with rubber bands flying around the room—and never met anyone it happened to. Which is why saying "someone's going to put out an eye" is a joke nowadays.

We rode bikes or walked to a friend's house and knocked on the door or rang the bell, or just yelled for them!

We had sidewalks. My neighborhood has no sidewalks, and my kids would have to cross two major roads to get to friends’ houses. Not gonna happen.

Little League had tryouts and not everyone made the team. Those who didn't had to learn to deal with disappointment. Imagine that!!

This is another sentiment I agree with in principle, except that it’s wrong. Anyone who wanted to play in Little League played, and it wasn’t until school teams that tryouts occurred. Also, tryouts happen now, and disappointment is part of life, and in my part of the world, anyway, that’s still a reality.

The idea of a parent bailing us out if we broke the law was unheard of. They actually sided with the law!

Yeah, right.*I* never broke the law, nor did my friends, but those who did quite often got bailed out and covered up by their parents. I know someone who went “shopping” in parked cars a few years ago, and not only did he have to do community service, so did his parents, and they didn’t break the law.


This generation has produced some of the best risk-takers, problem solvers and inventors ever!
The past 50 years have been an explosion of innovation and new ideas. We had freedom, failure, success and responsibility, and we learned HOW TO DEAL WITH IT ALL!

This is not the only circulating e-mail with this attitude. Every generation feels that the way things were done “back then” was superior to the way things are done now. But we can’t apply the circumstances of the past to the actions of the present, and as soon as you do and something bad happens, you get castigated.

And YOU are one of them! CONGRATULATIONS!

I deserve no credit or accolades for growing up. It’s just what we’re supposed to do, the best we can, with what we’re given.


You might want to share this with others who have had the luck to grow up as kids, before the lawyers and the government regulated our lives for our own good.

This is really the stupidest part. Lawyers and government are preventing my kids from eating white bread and playing with a stick and tennis ball?

and while you are at it, forward it to your kids so they will know how brave their parents were.

You can’t be brave if you don’t know what there is to be afraid of. Also, whoever wrote this OBVIOUSLY isn’t a parent. You don’t tell your kids what an idiot you used to be. That just encourages THEM to be idiots!

Kind of makes you want to run through the house with scissors, doesn't it?!

I take it back. THIS is the stupidest part.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

What's Bugging Me This Week

1. People who claim they will never be able to return to work and seek full disability benefits based on a statement by their internist, who has nothing to do with the broken leg they're having surgery on. Especially when their orthopedic surgeon releases them to full duty work with no restrictions.

2. People who put their infant in critical danger out of laziness and then blame paparazzi who, while possibly aggressive, are less of a risk than a CAR CRASH to an unrestrained infant. Also, people with "bodyguards" who buy coffee instead of guarding bodies.

3. News teams who camp out ALL DAY on the elementary school campus packed with kids dealing with the aftermath of a kindergarten classmate getting run over by a school bus. Stupid vultures.

4. The overwhelming guilt that I don't tie my child to my wrist and hover over her 24 hours a day so freak accidents like #3 won't happen.

5. People who ask you to fax them something, then turn around and fax it back to you. Never mind that THEY asked ME for it, or that the header says it CAME from me in the first place. They even do it when I put a COVER SHEET that says DO NOT FAX BACK TO ME. They even do it when I write that right on the damned form.