Tuesday, February 27, 2007

50 Questions

This has been going around the blogs I read, so I'm finally getting around to doing it myself. Primarily to make a particular couple of people laugh. :)

1. Height?
5'3.25" as of yesterday at the doctor's office.

2. Have you ever smoked heroin?
Is heroine smoked? I thought it was injected.

3. Do you own a gun?
Nope, I have kids in the house.

4. Who would you let eat crackers in your bed?
Anyone, really, if they were careful and caught the crumbs and dropped them into the trash can next to the bed. Or at least confined them to their own side.

5. Do you get nervous before doctor appointments?

6. What do you think of hot dogs?
I try not to. I generally only eat Oscar Mayer all beef hot dogs. They don't have stuff inside them that I can't chew. Helps with the not thinking part.

7. What’s your favorite Christmas song?
The 12 Pains of Christmas, which probably tells you more about me than any other answer on this thing.

8. What do you prefer to drink in the morning?
Tea. Regular old orange pekoe and pekoe black, with fat free half and half and real sugar.

9. Can you do push ups?
Probably, though I don't know how many. Why would I bother?

10. Is your bathroom clean?
Which one?

11. What’s your favorite piece of jewelry?
I think the silver necklace I got for mother's day that has the three disks that say Patience, Serenity, and Peace. Patience because I need more of it, Peace because I crave it, Serenity 'cause of the movie. :)

12. Do you like painkillers?
When I'm in pain, hell, yes.

13. What is your secret weapon to lure in the opposite sex?
Posting pictures of someone else.

14. Do you have A.D.D.?
No, but I'm often doing 15 things at once.

15. What’s your name?
Natalie J. Damschroder, don't forget the J.

16. Middle name?
Jacobus. It was Jeanne, until I got married and dumped it.

17. Name 3 thoughts at this exact moment?
Jensen Ackles is hot. Man, I'm tired and a fool. What else should I put?

18. Name the last 3 things you bought:
Postage online, a taco salad with jalapeno/feta salsa, and stamps at the post office.

19. Who is your favorite visual artist?
Gary Benfield

20. You’re stuck on an deserted island with two other people, who would you want to be stranded with?
Megan, and SamandDean

What? You can't have one without the other! They're one entity!

21. You’ve won a major award and have thanked your family, who else would you thank?
The Boot Squad

22. Current worry?
That I'll never write another book again as good as the one I'm revising right now. It's a worry I never thought I'd have.

23. Current hate?
People crying for attention and manipulating people to get it.

24. Favorite place to be?
Misquamicut, Rhode Island

25. How did you bring in the New year?
Same as pretty much every year of my life--Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve, with my family

26. Where would you like to go?
RWA San Francisco, to accept a Golden Heart.

27. Do you own slippers?
Yep, a couple pair. A pair of pink fluffy slip-ons, and a knitted pair my MIL made me. I'm wearing the latter now.

28. What shirt are you wearing?
A black stretchy t-shirt under a horrible acrylic sweater that's like five sizes too big for me. And if you've seen me, you know how huge it is.

29. Do you burn or tan?
I burn more and more the older I get, and tan less.

30. Favorite color(s)?
A really rich, deep, navy blue. Especially the one that's actually in the ocean.

31. Would you be a pirate?

32. Are you gay?
Only for/with Megan.

33. What songs do you sing in the shower?
I don't sing in the shower, only in the car or kitchen, with accompaniment (i.e. my iPod, turned up really loud so I can't hear myself)

34. What did you fear was going to get you at night as a child?
Fire or robbery, but only if my mother went to bed before I fell asleep.

35. What’s in your pockets right now?
I'm not wearing pockets.

36. Where are you?
In my office.

37. Best bed sheets as a child?
Cowboy sheets. Hmmm, wait, that's not me...

38. Worst injury you’ve ever had?
It probably wasn't the worst, but it's the one that comes to mind. Back in college I ran across the street in my riding boots, and pulled my inner thigh. Riding lessons for about two weeks were excruciating.

39. You’re on a trip around the world and have to select five landmarks to visit, what would you pick?
Ready for a really boring and typical list?
Stonehenge, Grand Canyon, Niagara Falls, that fountain in Paris, the Coliseum

40. How many TVs do you have in your house?
Three regular ones, plus my husband's handheld.

41. Who is your loudest friend?
Misty. Didn't even have to think about that. But Lainey comes a close second.

42. Who is your quietest friend?
Cathy, I think, because I think she's always afraid she's going to be too loud, so she murmurs.

43. Does someone have a crush on you?
Pfft. I wish. (Did I say that out loud?)

44. Do you wish on shooting stars?
I would if I ever saw one.

45. What is your favorite book?
Until recently, I wouldn't be able to answer that question. Today, I can say it's Under the Moon. :)

46. What is your favorite candy?
It varies, but dark chocolate with nuts or something inside.

47. What song do/did you want played at your wedding?
I Love You, Climax Blues Band

48. What song do you want played at your funeral?
There won't be one, but just in case there is, they should play Danny Boy. They can do Back in Black while they're scattering the ashes. :)

49. What were you doing at 12AM last night?
I try to keep this blog PG-13, at least.

50. What was the first thing you thought of when you woke up?
Fuck, is it 6:21 already?

Okay, sometimes it's rated R.

Well-Adjusted Readers

My daughter is writing a song for a school assignment. Before she started singing it for me, she assured me it has nothing to do with her. As she sang about a mother leaving, a father torn to pieces, and the singer lost and helpless, I started thinking.

How does this girl, who has never had anything truly bad happen to her, have such insight into what people are thinking and feeling? Not only that, how does she know what such a person would need? (After she finished singing she explained that the song is about having people around you to help you get through the bad times.)

Those thoughts led me to another question I consider often--what makes some people so able to handle the hard times with strength and endurance, without falling apart or being self-destructive? And companion to that, what makes others the opposite?

And I came up with an answer:

Life is easier to manage if you read a lot than if you don't.

I know that's far too simplistic to be universal. But it also makes a lot of sense. Reading fiction puts us inside the heads of people who are not like us. It helps us have compassion for others, and understand why people do things they do. It shows us how others handle events and emotions, and makes us think about what we would do in similar circumstances. That kind of thought is like advance preparation. Maybe what we think we would do isn't at ALL what we end up doing, but maybe it also helps us do the right thing. Reading at least helps us learn the process.

Yet another reason for me to feel so much pity for those who don't read. :(

Monday, February 26, 2007

No Two Writers...

So there's this show.

It's about two brothers, see. They had a really hard time growing up, could pretty much rely only on each other. Then their paths kind of diverged for a little while, until circumstances brought them back together. They've had quite an adventurous two years, let me tell you. A big mystery to solve, with an unknown Big Bad they've been chasing. Their father died recently, and it's been really hard on both of them, in different ways. But now, they're closer than two people can be. They'd die for each other.

If you read this blog, like, ever, you "know" I'm talking about Supernatural, right?


It's Prison Break!

Probably, if you watch either show, that is the show you thought of. If you watch both (and if you're not, why aren't you?), whichever one is your favorite (or whichever set of brothers you think is hotter) is the one you thought I meant.

But the thing is, these two shows illustrate that thing everyone talks about: Throw out an idea to two writers, and they'll come up with completely different stories.

At their cores, both Prison Break and Supernatural fit the description above. But no one would ever accuse either camp of copying the other. They're completely different. They feel different, sound different--music, dialogue, the colors they use to tint the film, how they use their secondary characters and subplots, the endgame we are approaching...all incredibly different.

People often worry about their ideas getting stolen by others, and some people worry about that so much they sabotage their own success. Do some things become derivative? We know they do. But something created with passion is always going to be unique.

Don't believe me? Then you should start watching those shows. :)

Friday, February 23, 2007

Eulogy for Sheriff Lamb

I'm going to miss Sheriff Lamb.

He was a dumbass, but he wasn't a caricature. He often harmed himself by spiting those he hated, but he wasn't predictable. He had flashes of competence. The relationships he had with the Mars was one of grudging respect on his part, and his frustration with them had solid ground.

I'll miss him for his entertainment value, because the chemistry between the actors and the repartee written for them both sparkled.

Rest in peace, Lamb.


So, obviously, I'm behind on my TV this week. I've watched nothing all week until this morning. TiVo didn't get VM so I watched on my daughter's computer while she was at school. Yes, I was supposed to be writing. Yes, I am still supposed to be writing. I'll get there.

I love the writing on this show. They made some missteps at the beginning of the season, but last week have been great. Not just the mysteries and how they have gone about developing them. Wallace is back, if only a little. I missed him so! I didn't like how they broke up Logan and Veronica, but I'm satisfied with the end result. He has a lot of growing up to do, and I wouldn't mind seeing Veronica with someone sweet and nondestructive. If they keep the show another season, they could bring them back together again, slowly and convincingly.

The best part, though, is more Daddy Mars. I just adore him. Though he looks much better in a suit than the sheriff's uniform. :)

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Thursday Thirteen #4 (and Final)

Figures just as I get started on this, it ends. The "owner" of Thursday Thirteen is retiring it. The code is off the site. I could go back and grab it from my own previous posts, but that would be kind of cheesy. She said, "a list of thirteen things is just a list of thirteen things, but Thursday Thirteen is no more." Unless she trademarked it, I don't think she can stop us from using it as a blog title. But without the community, what's the point?

So anyway, I decided to make this final Thursday Thirteen...

Thirteen Things I Was Going to Blog About for Thursday Thirteen

1. 13 Random Songs on my iPod

2. First 13 Books On My To-Be-Read Pile

3. 13 Reasons I Love Harry Potter

4. 13 Movies I'm Looking Forward To In 2007

5. 13 Things I've Done to Succeed As A Writer

6. 13 Things I Do When I'm Supposed To Be Writing

7. 13 People I Admire

8. 13 Things In My Office

9. 13 Places I've Lived (and when, and why)

10. Top 13 Improvements I'd Like To Make In This House

11. Favorite 13 Foods

12. 13 Reasons Not To Listen To The Weather Forecasters

13. 13 Comments From Rejecting Editors and Agents (which would have dated over 13 years)

Eh. Maybe I'm not so good at this, and it's a good thing it's going away. LOL

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Happiness Baseline

This morning the local radio personalities were talking about a guy who won $25,000 in the lottery two days in a row. They mentioned it because the host had read an article about a study that shows that the happiness spike of such a thing doesn't last, that after a period of time the person will go back to their baseline of happiness.

Well, duh.

The study also showed that if something terrible happens to you, you will also return to your happiness baseline.

Duh again. I mean, the phrase "time heals all wounds" didn't become a cliché because it was wrong.

We don't live in slices of time. So while winning money makes us happy in the sphere of influence of the win, other things in our lives are still occurring. We still have to feed the kids and drive them around and take out the trash and do endless amounts of laundry and dishes and struggle to either find or fit in those things that fulfill us beyond the day-to-day grind of living.

The part of the study I loved, though, was the part that found two specific things that can permanently elevate a person's happiness baseline.

One was adopting a pet. The other was marriage to someone they truly love.

If that's not validation of the entire romantic fiction industry, I don't know what is. :)

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

10 Things Tagging

Monica tagged The GabWagon authors with this one. Since I haven't done this yet and it's not my day to post over there, I'm putting it here.

It's not COMPLETELY accurate, because someone knows all of these things about me. But they're lesser known. :)

10 Things No One Knows About Me

1. I love Pringles, but not all kinds. I gobble up the regular Right Crisps and love the Sour Cream and Onion Right Crisps. That's not so interesting, but I lick off the sour cream and onion powder.

Okay, maybe less interesting, more gross.

2. I won the Ruth Davies Award for Excellence in Writing in college for a term paper on Deforestation, and that was one of the driving forces behind my decision to pursue fiction writing.

Well, it was third place. But still.

3. I got laid off from my job at an ad agency four days after finding out I was pregnant with my first kid. My husband was concerned about finances, so I got a data entry job via a temp agency when I was about four months along. It was supposed to be a two-week position but I was so fast and efficient they let all the other dozen temps go and kept me for several weeks. I was making less net than I'd been getting on unemployment, so I complained to the agency, who got me my last job, which not only paid decently and used my skills, but also allowed me to take the baby to work until she was nine months old.

Classic window/door situation, and why I always feel things will work out, no matter what.

4. I was born in England and lived in Massachusetts, California, New York, Connecticut, Ohio, Michigan, Maryland, and Pennsylvania. California was about two weeks before my mom got sick.

I liked Michigan the best, was happiest in New York, and miss Massachusetts the most, and I still identify with Mass even though I've lived in Pennsylvania just about as long.

5. I like my food hard. I cook meat until it's dry and love it when it's crunchy on the edges. I fry pasta and onions and mashed potatoes (not together) and when I sauté veggies I want them carmelized.

My husband is less than enthused, but until he starts doing the cooking, he has to put up with it.

6. Because the grinder place next door to where I grew up had a lot of gristle and bone in their meat, I've learned to mistrust such things. I can't eat a whole sandwich/hamburger/sub/whatever. If I make it to the last bite without gristle/fat/skin, I put it down and gag at the thought of trying to eat it.

7. I am an oldest child (oldest cousin all around, too) and always wanted a big brother. Which probably explains why I have a lot of older brothers in my fiction, and why the brother relationship on Supernatural is so powerful to me. Also, though, I have a fabulous little brother, so that contributes. :)

8. When I was in first grade, I fell off the bus and got gravel in my head, along my hairline at the top of my forehead. There's still a bump of scar tissue underneath the skin. I think I was so embarrassed that I tripped I blamed the white strip at the edge of the step (turned out it was painted on) and then said I must have been pushed.

If you were the one behind me and didn't push me, I apologize. I have no idea what really happened.

9. I crack the binding on all my books. I have a very strong pinky (I can read a hardcover one-handed on the treadmill) but I don't want to work that hard.

10. My friend Tammy and I went skinny dipping in broad daylight in a lake her mother and stepfather brought us to one time. I think I was about 9.

Monday, February 19, 2007

When I Stop Reading...

I might have talked about this topic before. I'm too lazy...I mean, I don't have time to go back and check. :) If this is too redundant, I apologize.

A couple of people have been talking lately about why they put a book down and don't pick it up again. Last year I did that with 31 titles. Already this year I've done it with 16 and I expect to do it with a lot more, because I'm reading from the top down of my TBR pile and I am not interested in a large number of those books.

Why do I have books on my TBR pile I don't want to read? Some were free and sounded interesting, or were a way to stretch my reading range, but my enthusiasm waned. Some were gifts or suggested reading by family members or friends and not books I would have chosen myself. Some I bought to support someone in some way and I'm afraid they'll be bad.

But let me back up. What makes me put a book down and not pick it up again? I've mentioned that I don't like first person present tense, so that's a first strike, but it won't make me stop reading. Two books in FPPT that I did stop reading recently had other "problems." One was boooooring. I don't want to read about LA traffic, thank you. The other was just farrrr too tragic. Loving another woman not his fiancée, okay. Blood in his urine=possible bladder cancer, fine. But a whole chapter describing his best friend's bloody, drawn-out, horrifying death was too much for me. It was well written, but I am not in a place where I want to read about that much tragedy.

Another book was in third person, but the penile description in the first line, plus the extra-strong ethnic slang, plus the incredibly self-involved heroine stopped me by page two.

One of the bloggers I mentioned analyzed her reasons for putting down a book to try to improve her own writing, but I take a different lesson from mine.

You're never going to please everyone.

It's only been in the last five to seven years that I've stopped reading something I was not enjoying. I always pushed through, for a bunch of reasons. Mainly, if I'd spent money on the book, it felt wasteful not to read it (you can tell I grew up poor *g*). Then, there was the assertion made by many writers that you learn more about writing from the "bad" ones than the "good" ones.

But at some point, I decided a few things.

One: Life's too short to do things you don't enjoy when you don't have to. As I added kids and responsibilities to my household and my leisure time decreased, I came to value my reading time too much. I still read more for pleasure than for business, and I'm not giving that up for anything.

Two: A book can be well written and you can still hate it. Even if you think it's NOT well written, someone did, or at least thought it was good enough to publish. I do think the advice is good, but at some point, you've learned it or you never will. If I exposit too much, reading books with boring exposition is not going to make me stop doing it or it already would have.

Three: Back to "you're never going to please everyone." Some people love to worry about apprehensive, sheltered, repressed heroines who are breaking out. I don't. It doesn't mean the book is bad.

Also, no advice works for every reader. For everyone that doesn't want to know something up front, there is another who doesn't like surprises. One person wants more setting description, another wants less. I can try to emulate the authors whose books I love, but there are books that have been hugely successful that are embodiments of everything a writer can do wrong, and if I tried to emulate those books, I'd surely fail.

So what the heck am I trying to say?

I suppose it goes back to the underlying theme of everything in life: Balance. Learn from a book you don't like if you can, but don't waste time on it, either.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Musical Resonance

I am not much of a music freak. I like it. I listen to it in the morning and while driving and working out and doing chores. I know the popular tunes and the names of past and current big stars.

But I can't always put those songs and names together. If it's not played on my top 40 station, I am not likely to know it. And my husband and best friend are constantly referencing songs from our youth that I just don't remember.

But lately, thanks to that best friend, a show I might have mentioned once or twice called Supernatural, and iTunes, I've been branching out and buying a lot more music than I ever did before. And I discovered something.

Lyrics don't mean much to me. Neither does melody, harmony, or rockin' guitar licks. I may like them, may buy a song or album because of them, but what really gets me is voice.

And not just any voice. Josh Radin is my friend's favorite. He's fine. I like his sound. But he doesn't resonate with me the way Jason Manns does. It's the same feeling I get when I listen to Chad Kroeger or Austin Winkler or, I just discovered today, Chris Daughtry. Their voices actually reverberate in me, and generate emotion that nothing else does.

There are a few women who do that, too, like Kelly Clarkson (even when I don't like the song) or Norah Jones, but it's not as strong as it is with men, which makes me think if it were 10,000 years ago, the guy who sang for me would be my chosen mate.

This probably isn't a big revelation to music connoisseurs, who could pick apart music and its effects ad nauseum, but it was an interesting self-revelation for me.

So, who vibrates your breastbone?

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Thursday Thirteen #3

Thirteen Things I have To Do Constantly That I Love
(in counterpart to Thursday Thirteen #1)

1. Write

2. Read

3. Blog

4. IM

5. Watch TV

6. Specifically, watch Supernatural

7. Track my writing progress

8. Track my reading progress

9. Track my exercise progress

10. Eat popcorn

11. Listen to Harry Potter audiobooks

12. Talk about TV shows, especially Supernatural

13. Crush on Sam and Dean

Links to other Thursday Thirteens!
1. (leave your link in comments, I’ll add you here!)

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

New Best Friend, NOT CHARLIE, and Snow Snobbery

MaryF is my new best friend! She sent me this:

She sent this, too, which is almost as awesome, despite the presence of the drama queen:

I had a feeling these high-quality, suitable-for-framing posters were what she was sending me (though I wasn't expecting TWO!), so I dug through six inches of ice to get my car out and go to the post office today. SO GLAD I did. Aren't they GORGEOUS?

Thank you, Mary!

I have one thing to say to the producers of LOST:


There will be severe consequences if you do.

I grew up in Western Massachusetts. We had enough snow days each year that we often didn't get out of school until the last week of June. We moved to mid-upstate New York for my senior year, and I spent my learning-permit period driving through the Berkshires. So while I have a healthy respect for snow, I also have a healthy belief in my ability to drive in it.

Central Pennsylvania makes me insane. Usually, when an inch is possibly forecast, it's all over the news, announced in Dramatic Tones of Doom. People race out to buy milk and bread because they...actually, I don't know why. Even the worst storm we've had here in the last 15 years, we were all dug out in a day or two.

Winters are erratic, and generally more mild than what I'm used to. Schools tend to cancel or announce a delay with a knee-jerk reaction. Friends fret that if flurries are forecast, we might have to cancel meetings and get-togethers. Since we're in a storm path that is difficult to predict, which means whatever is forecast is unlikely to happen, I tend to laugh at the pre-panic.

That makes me very much a snow snob. And I will admit I'm obnoxious about it.

But I also realized today that I'm inconsistent in my obnoxiousness.

Ice storm? Not going to keep me from driving to Baltimore for a flight to Dallas on my brother's birthday/first anniversary of our mother's death.

Twelve inches of snow covering the roads, leaving only ruts for the tires? I'm still driving to work, for which I was paid hourly, despite the 40-mile drive and my little Honda Civic hatchback, hardly a monster in snow.

But a little snow melt/refreeze? Not worth hazarding for dance class. Not gonna do the grocery store, either. And the books the library is holding won't make me deal with the frozen slush.

Even Scott Westerfeld is no Supernatural poster.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Delicious Dream

I had the most delicious dream this morning.

I was me, but not the "me" I am today. I was crushing on Joaquin Phoenix, who apparently liked me, too. It was a problem because once I was sure there was a real spark between us, I realized Jody might like him. She'd posted a bunch of pictures of him on her blog, pictures she'd taken. So we were in some kind of building that I keep thinking was a grocery store, but but was supposed to be a school or something. Jody and I were sitting on a giant square cushion in the middle of the deli aisle. Joaquin was sitting behind me. His chest was very warm. He leaned over my shoulder to kiss me, and THEN I asked Jody silently if it was okay, if she was into him. She luckily made a "no way" face.

Then Joaquin demonstrated a new cooking technique that made perfect bacon, which was like getting a company to purchase his invention. Then he went out to play hockey and saved the game, which was odd because it was outdoors, but I was very proud.

Then the dream got weird. One of my relatives, I think, was getting married. Joaquin had a baby, and the woman he had the baby with was all excited because they were going to get married, too, as a surprise for the attendees. Joaquin didn't really seem to be on board with this, judging by how he was acting with me.

He brought his baby to see me, he was the size of a Baby!Winchester (see Plastic!Winchester Theater) and a cross between that and a Troll doll. When I tried to tickle his stomach, it was plastic. But he waved and smiled at me.

So anyway, then I was doing dishes for the wedding because a lot of the serving platters and stuff were dirty, which pissed off the mother of the surprise bride, and I needed something to do that kept me involved so I knew what was going on. I was in a tiny bathroom doing the dishes and Joaquin came in with me saying we should talk. I think he was going to tell me he wasn't getting married--it WAS my dream after all--but right after he told me how Dan Radcliffe had been at the hospital taking care of his new baby, whose mother was nowhere to be found, and what a great dad Dan was being, my alarm went off.

I have no doubt if I'd had 15 more minutes to sleep, I would have been marrying Joaquin Phoenix.

I blame Erica.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Public Service Announcement

According to my TiVo, next week's Supernatural is a repeat.

All together now:


It's actually OK, because now I can attend the Shannon K. Butcher chat at TKA. I'm really eager for her book. It's on my Amazon Wish List but I haven't been able to justify buying new books since Christmas, what with needing heating oil and groceries and all.

My new LJ friend Andie mentioned that Sam has been washing his hands a lot for no reason. Once he was presumably post-facility-use, but twice he's entered the room and gone straight to wash his hands. Several other people said they noticed it. So I have two questions:

Why is he doing that, and


Sunday, February 11, 2007

Harry Potter Dissers

Even if you're not a Harry Potter fan or casual reader of the books, you know by now that the final book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, is due to be released on July 21 of this year.

First, let's take a moment to say YAY!


I saw a quote recently from a story in a UK newspaper, The Herald, by Melanie Reid. She said:

Is it too presumptuous to suggest that everyone creative connected with Harry has been imprisoned for too long in an immense money-making machine; one which has come close to crushing the original joy of an adequate story? I don't think so.

Hell, yes, it's too presumptuous. Just like it would be too presumptuous of me to assume Melanie Reid is a frustrated novelist who can't sell a book, never mind come within a tenth of J.K. Rowling's success, and is therefore speaking from a position of jealousy.

Let's look at the Harry Potter phenomenon:

J.K. Rowling, poor and in fairly dire straits, writes the first book out of love for the story that has erupted in her mind and heart. She plans a seven-book series, planting clues in book one that will connect to all seven books. It is doubtful she is thinking, "Boy, this will make me richer than the queen!"

Ms. Rowling manages to sell it to an editor who is very excited about the story. This UK-based editor tells a US-based editor about it. He reads it and is likewise excited. Because he is working for a corporation, he probably does think there's a chance the property will sell well. He is not likely, however, to think, "Boy, my publisher will make a third of its total income off this series."

[In other words, book seven would have been written, and would have been written the way it has been, whether HP became an "immense money-making machine" or not.]

For a few years, there is some moderate success. Then some idiots decide this book is the work of the devil. Some other idiots, and plenty of people who are not idiots, take up the cry, bringing attention to the books.

Millions of readers perk up and say, "what's all the fuss?" They read the books and like them. They talk about elements of the story, from global themes to tiny details. As a result, worldwide communities of people who would otherwise never have found each other grow. Each new book is anticipated and welcomed with a passion unprecedented in the book world.

Why does the fact that it results in profit render irrelevant all of the good that comes of it, in the mind of someone like Melanie Reid? Why does profit from anything make it less valuable? I have never understood that.

I've read a lot of interviews with J.K. Rowling, and read the journal entries and answers to questions she's posted on her web site. I've listened to interviews with her American editors and even after six books, the passion and joy all of them still feel is obvious. To say they are all imprisoned is to misunderstand the process that takes a book from idea to shelf. Creating a book is work, just like accounting is work and lawyering is work and garbage collecting is work. There is pleasure and frustration in anything, even creativity.

I'm not sure where she sees nearly crushed joy. The readers are certainly as joyful that book seven is coming out as they were about book six and book five. There is sadness that it's the last book, of course, but nothing goes on forever, and we all knew it was coming. Perhaps she is acquainted with the editors personally and intimately and knows something that I cannot. If they are happy it is almost over, I am sad for them, but it has nothing to do with the rest of us.

I'm also not sure how she connects "original joy" with "adequate story." If the story was only adequate, there is no way it would have reached even half the level of success it has. Like The Da Vinci Code (but to a far lesser extent, in my opinion), the writing might be improvable. But the magic of the story transcends mechanics and technical skill.

And maybe that's the problem with the people who deride the phenomenon of Harry Potter or anything else that inspires that level of passion and pride, like Lord of the Rings or Firefly/Serenity or sports or American Idol: Their lives lack magic.

And that's the saddest thing of all.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Random Thoughts

Yesterday, I had an e-mail in my inbox with the subject "Christian Reits." Since "reits" is a misspelling of "rites," I thought it might be referring to Sam telling the priest in last week's Supernatural that his seance was based on early Christian rites.

It wasn't.

So I'm pretty pathetic.

I've been infected with adware in the past, but I have never, until yesterday, been hit with a virus. Ever!

How is that possible, you ask? Well, for one, I don't use Outlook, which is where most of the vulnerability lies. I also don't use IE unless I'm updating software. I use AOL for my e-mail, so my mail is not downloaded to my computer unless I specifically save it, which has kept attachments or hidden attachments from being activated.

So yesterday morning I fell victim to my need to find out what sour grapes Kate Bosworth is chewing about Orlando Bloom (he snores??? so does half the world!) The National Ledger in NZ loaded a trojan that tried to launch Outlook automatically. McAfee caught and deleted the file, but I had to shut down AOL 'cause it was stuck in a loop.

I have read 9 books so far this year, and tried to read 14 but put them down. Nine of those were over a two-day period.

There was nothing really wrong with any of them. I even rated three of them an 8. But all had a fatal flaw--one was too depressing, one was first person historical and made me feel like I was in history class, and one had me hooked until the guy randomly murdered his wife, and I couldn't pick up the book the next morning. I think I didn't want to be in his head.

LOST is back. And wow. The tension was high the whole episode, and though I saw a lot of things coming, it didn't lessen the impact. Like, I knew Juliet's ex was going to get hit by a bus, but I still jumped and yelped when it happened. I knew she was going to say she could go home, but the knowledge that she was a prisoner there puts a new perspective on things. She's an excellent actress. There was a huge difference between who Juliet was Before and who she is Now.

I think LOST has regained its top spot on my TV list. Supernatural still has a slight edge, but I'm putting them both at #1, the shows I would most hate to lose.

Joss Whedon is no longer attached to Wonder Woman. It's interesting that regular media is announcing that HE has dropped THEM, while the fans are blogging that he was dumped. Either way, it makes me sad, and I am not looking forward to the movie as much.

You know those Mac/PC commercials? I could watch those all day. If all commercials were that ingenius, I'd never fast forward through them. We always go back to watch them, even if we've seen them a dozen times already.

Today's Boot Squad day, where I have lunch with my writing support group. It's one of the best days of every month. You know what it's like when you connect a group of people that just clicks? We click in all the ways that matter, and make "success" in this business more than just a goal.

And today, thanks to a propane tank delivery issue, we got to rewatch Supernatural! Squeeeee!

Jared Padalecki deserves an Emmy.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Killin' Me

You know that thing I said about not blogging right away after watching Supernatural?

Total lie.

I know I'm not alone when I say this...

Evil!Sam is So. F'in. Hot.

I know "his" intentions are terrible, and to be turned on by his bruteness is WRONG. But it makes me swoon. Yes, SWOON.

Conversely, as Sam displays a dark side and Dean becomes the virtuous one, he, too, is hotter than ever.

Of course, this show is so much more than just the hotness. But, well, you know. THEY'RE HOT.

The synergy that is Jared Padalecki's physical growth and deepening voice and improved acting (and he was never a slouch) is amazing. So well-timed, it almost makes me believe in divine providence.

Usually I post my thoughts on Supernatural right after I watch the show the first time. Then I read a bunch of other people's thoughts on it, and I watch again, and there's so much more to say. So this time I waited for second viewing and just paused it whenever I had a thought.

Then I remembered it was Thursday. So here are:

Thirteen Thoughts about Houses of the Holy

1. They were in Rhode Island! First Baltimore and Philly, only about an hour and a half away from where I am now...now they're circling my hometown. It's only a matter of time before they wind up right where I am. Or where my heart is, anyway.

2. Sam in a nurse's uniform is HOT. Nurse!Sammy. Heee. He has a new intensity in his interrogations, though the old softness and compassion are a bit more evident in this interrogation than they were in the last couple of episodes. Like the "we are so screwed" part has calmed him, given him focus.

3. In the meantime, it's given Dean...um...the shakes.

4. WHERE do they find these hotels? I was distracted by the afro-headed naked silhouettes all over the wall.

5. "There's a ton of lore on unicorns, too. In fact, I hear they...they ride on silver moonbeams, and they shoot rainbows out of their ass!"

I think Mr. Kripke is tweaking his fans. ;)

And Sam dredging up the ability to make a joke (sad face, "wait, there's no such thing as unicorns?") breaks my heart.

6. I like this director. Extreme close-ups + 53" TV = Very Happy Natalie. I mean, their MOUTHS are bigger than my head.

7. These guys do incredible things with subtle facial expressions. Dean makes fun of the angel next to the door, and Sam looks petulant and annoyed, yet we also see some creeping skepticism and his pain at feeling that skepticism. Even before we know why he wants to believe so badly in these angels, we can see that he does.

Aaaaannnnd...we're eight minutes into the show. I think this is going to be a long post.

Hmmm. I guess it already was.

8. Without commenting on the points themselves (though I bet it would be a surefire way to draw traffic!), I thought this show did a great job balancing Sam's beliefs with Dean's.

9. It killed me that at a time when these two need each other more than ever, they discovered something about each other that's so deep within them, yet so totally unknown by the other--it was like tearing huge holes in the fabric of their relationship. And yet, at the end, they still managed to connect.

10. I love Christopher Lennert's music. I hope we get access to a collection of season 2 music like we did season 1.

I just realized that the music I like best is always accompanied by fence-jumping. I wonder what the symbolism is of THAT.

11. What's the likelihood of a priest in Rhode Island knowing a priest in Fremont, Texas? It's not THAT tight-knit a community, is it? Also, can some much-more-obsessed-fan than me reveal the significance of Fremont, Texas?

12. I don't know how they did it, but the street, when Dean was following the guy Sam wanted to "stop,"...the street lamps, the buildings, the trees--all very New England, and it made me homesick.

13. Car chases with the Impala are the best car chases ever.

Links to other Thursday Thirteens!

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Additional thought:

One of my friends (I don't know if she wants me blasting her thoughts for her, so I won't say which one) didn't like the ending. She thought it was forced, and though I feel Jensen played it well, I have to agree. It's all logical, how the pole killed the guy who was going to maybe kill the woman being so freakish and therefore guided by a higher power. But freak things happen every day, and the people who attribute them to divine intervention are the ones who already believe. Not the ones who have even more compelling reasons not to.

So, I could buy Dean playing it that way for Sam's sake, but not that he really had a sudden change of heart. Still, it's a minor flaw in an otherwise very good episode.

I will say this, however--the impactful moments would have been more so had I avoided watching the director's cuts at The CW. I used to religiously avoid spoilers, and now I'm just nuts for any tidbit I can get. I really have to stop that.

After tonight.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

The Key

I think I've figured out the key to Daybreak.

Not the moment when the sun emerges over the horizon, silly, the cool ABC TV series!

I watched the latest episode online last night. I don't want to get too spoilery for those who might still be a few eps behind, but we know that Hopper can change the day, change what happens. And not just the things he can directly affect, but other people.

He did it with Andrea, who stopped ending up with her boyfriend dead and started putting him in rehab, instead. He did it with his sister, who confided in him the horror they were going through and cut that horror short.

Now he is doing it with Rida, only this time it's not for the better.

I thought at first it happened when he told someone what was happening to him (the day repeating), but he did that with Rida right away, and it changed nothing. I think it's when he opens up to someone. He is much closer to Andrea now, and he was there for his sister for the first time, and acknowledging it, not just arguing about his distance.

He opened up to Rida last night, in a way, but not in a healthy way. It was logical and I couldn't blame him a all (in fact, I was annoyed by her reaction, but I've been seeing how stuff has worn Hopper down; she hasn't). Given that, and her secret, I'm thinking his relationship with Rida might not end so happily.

I think there are only two eps left, so we'll find out soon!

Monday, February 05, 2007

Planet Fitness

I joined Planet Fitness (a health club) yesterday, and went for the first time this morning. I spent 30 minutes on the new trainer (not sure what it's called, it's a cross between an elliptical and a stairclimber). Combine that with the free weights I did on my upper body yesterday, and I am one sore puppy.

My husband and I have, individually and together, belonged to a wide variety of health clubs over the years. Most recently, I did Curves for a while. They always failed, usually due to a combination of schedule and money.

So why do we think this will be different?

Enrollment fee was typical, $39 each, but it's only $10 a month with no commitment and no penalty for canceling the membership. So it's a lot easier to justify paying $10 a month than $40 if you have a spell where you don't go.

It's two minutes from our house. Jim's last club was fifteen minutes away. Curves was two minutes, but had other problems, including cost and...

Curves did not open early enough to go in the morning and closed at 7:00 p.m. Now my schedule is flexible enough that I'll go slightly later in the morning and the evening hours matter less for me. But Jim can go after work or while the kids are getting ready for bed, which still gives him family time (so he doesn't feel guilty for leaving to work out) and isn't so late that he doesn't feel like going. PF is open 24 hours during the week. The weekend hours are less ideal but we can still get there during the day, easily. Also, it is on the way to Number One's school, so every day that I have to take her to school, there is NO EXCUSE for not stopping to work out. I'm already dressed for it, and the drive does not affect the rest of my schedule.

Curves is often criticized because their equipment is resistance-based. PF has a corner with a 30-minute or 60-minute workout but the equipment that you spend 30 seconds on is weight-based, which provides longer-term, more noticeable results. Plus, they have free weights, a wide variety of weight machines, and a ton of cardio machines (treadmills, bikes, recumbent bikes (I think that's the term), ellipticals, and that new one). They also have 12 TVs on different stations AND you can plug your headphones in to listen to the TV instead of having them all blaring or not hearing them at all. My husband's last club required you to buy special headphones.

They will do a one-on-one session with a trainer to create your personal workout, and they have small-group sessions to learn the machines. All of this is at no additional cost.

PF's driving philosophy is "no stress exercise." They don't cater to bodybuilders and I didn't see any. It's in a residential area and the attitude and equipment they provide are supposed to make everyone of all fitness levels feel welcome. I admit to being a little skeptical of this. I'm very overweight and very out of shape and you don't have to be a hot, muscled, macho guy for me to feel uncomfortable working out in front of you. However, the people in there are regular people. This morning it was very low-key, everyone doing their own thing, and I felt fine.

So. Day one was a success. I managed to drop 1.5 pounds while I was there today. :) Let's see how long I can make this last.

Friday, February 02, 2007

AlphaSmart for Sale

ETA/12-3-07: I'm getting ongoing inquiries that I'm assuming are coming from this post, so I finally got smart and decided to let interested buyers know that I have sold the Alphasmart. Good luck finding one!

Now that I have my awesome new Neo, I am selling my AlphaSmart. As you can see here, it's fully equipped. It has Writer Tools installed, which has a better thesaurus and more navigability and tracking (word count as well as page count, for example). It comes with a carrying case, a USB cable to connect to the computer for uploading, a power adapter and a rechargeable battery (though it can also use AAA batteries), and a parallel printer cable so you can connect directly to a printer and print without uploading (a cable I never used).

If you're interested, e-mail me and we'll talk specifics.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Thursday Thirteen

Thirteen Things I Have To Do Constantly That I Hate

1. Vacuum kitty litter.
It's twice, sometimes thrice a day. Which goes along with...

2. Clean the litter box.

3. Feed my kids.
It's getting easier, as they can prepare a lot of their own meals now.

4. Shower.
I love showers. But resent the time it takes.

5. Feed the animals.
The cats are easy, but we have to mix canned and dry food for the dog. We all pitch in, but I do it most mornings.

6. Get up early.
6:30 every day. I'm NOT a morning person.

7. Go to bed.
I AM a night person, and no matter how tired I am, it's very difficult to make myself go to bed at a decent hour.

8. Reset the TiVo.
Our TiVo locks up and loses connection to the satellite, which means missed shows from time to time and drives me insane.

9. Grocery shopping.
Several times a week, sometimes twice in one day. I don't know why it's impossible to know/remember everything we need for one trip.

10. Tell the kids to pick up their crap.

11. Clean the dog's ears.
She has floppy ears and they have constant yeast overgrowth. We have a cleaner but she HATES HATES HATES to have me clean them, which means I let it go too long, so she needs medicine, which she hates even more.

12. Do the dishes

13. Chauffeur the kids all over town.

Links to other Thursday Thirteens!
1. Jaci Burton
2. Shannon Stacey
3. Rene

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!