Monday, June 30, 2008

Well, That Didn't Last Long

Remember way back last week when I kept raving about how well everything was going, and how much I was getting done?

Yeah. Not so much today.

Two hours searching for anacharis for the damned crayfish. Most of that spent in bumper-to-bumper traffic. Which meant I didn't get very much work done that I intended to today. I have a galley to proof for Renegade, my mid-July novella release. I also finished my revisions on Fight or Flight last night, which made me feel really good, but trying to print out the damned manuscript is what set off rage of Incredible Hulk proportions tonight (aided, I'm sure, by PMS).

My printer was running low on toner, so I kept having to take the cartridge out and shake it. I thought, last night, that the manuscript finished printing. It didn't, but when I resumed it this afternoon, it f*&%ing started over! And I couldn't get the damned printer to stop f*&%ing printing. Every time I turned it off or disconnected it, when I turned it back on it started over at page 1. I wasted guess how many pages? Almost exactly the number I had left when the toner cartridge stopped completely. So there was a trip to Staples, and the mammoth document is now fully printed.

In the meantime, after I shook the cartridge and put it back in at one point, I forgot to flip up the paper catcher again. That's not a problem for short print jobs, but this one dumped about 50 pages all over the floor. Spread very far and wide, in a near-perfect circle. When I tried to gather them up, there was no rhyme or reason to what had landed where. Page 212, 248, 223, and 237 were all together. That was quite a nightmare to sort.

Add a 100-foot outdoor extension cord that didn't want to coil properly, kids who didn't do as they were told earlier, and bad parents who gave in to a fast-food dinner, and I was raging most of the evening.


Getting older sucks. It's an old story--the hair on my head is thinner (I don't have less of it, the hair itself is just thin) and I have almost no eyelashes to speak of. But of course I'm growing a mustache. It's reached noticeable proportions, so for the first time in my life I used hair remover on it.

Yeah. That went about how you'd expect.

I have patches where I apparently didn't apply enough, and I have to wait two days before I can redo them. I plucked a few of the longer ones, which is probably a no-no (I know you can't pluck beforehand). I have a little bristly line right at my lipline that I'm afraid to try to get because the directions say not to get it on your lips. And I now have a brown line along said lipline that wasn't there this morning. The area is, of course, sensitive to the touch, and the remaining hairs feel like boar hide. I'm really afraid of how it will grow in now, too.

Funky Entertainment

We saw Wall*E this weekend, and it was delightful. I love anthropomorphized robots, and the tribute to Apple, Pixar's originator, in the computer launch tone used as Wall*E's signal that his charge is complete, amused me every time they used it.

I didn't really care for the implication about humans' future, but I won't whine about it. I'll just make sure I'm not one of those people, that's all.

I also saw Borat the other day. Didn't live up to the hype. I wondered if Cohen ever broke character to explain to people what he was doing. I also wondered if he deliberately chose a southern route. Southerners were not shown in the best light, though of course they were goaded. Still. Enough bigotry to keep me convinced I want to live no further south than I do right now. Not that, of course, all southerners are that way. I know plenty who are the complete opposite. But if we have as many bigots up here, they are at least more quiet about it.

And last night I watched Knocked Up. Again, not as charming or as wonderful as the critics would have us believe (I'm sure they were all caught up in the fantasy of having a woman like Heigl, with her distracting fake-but-squishy boobs). Ben could not be a bigger loser without being a criminal, and that made it impossible for me to believe Alison loved him when she said she did. The best friends were all a**holes of the first order, and the sister was horrible.

But I like Leslie Mann, the woman who played the sister. She was probably my favorite actor in the movie (with Paul Rudd). Heigl and Rogen were very good, despite the material. And Apatow's kids are totally adorable. They alone are enough to make me see another Apatow movie (provided, of course, they are in it). I was also thrilled to see Alan Tudyk being fabulous, and I loved Kristen Wiig. But really, the extras were far more fun than the movie itself.

Okay, enough whining. Here's hoping for a better day tomorrow.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Some Days are Amazing

I read an entire book yesterday. Not just an entire book: Eileen Rendahl's Un-Bridaled, which is 322 pages long. I started it in the morning, probably around 9-ish, and finished it a little before 11:00 p.m.

That's not really amazing. I'm a fast reader. People used to get disgusted playing Jeopardy! with me on the Sega because I read the questions so much faster than the rest of them. (I know. Sega. Dates me a bit. Imagine if I admitted we had an Atari and a Colecovision when I was a teenager kid!) Lots and lots of people can read a book in a day. My daughter does it every day of the week!

But what is amazing is all the other stuff I did during the day:

  • Proofed six marketing pieces
  • Critiqued a 59-page short story
  • Did an administrative job for a client
  • Completed three loads of laundry
  • Folded and put away two loads of towels
  • Edited 2 chapters of Fight or Flight
  • Wrote 3+ pages of The Light of Redemption
  • Attended a one-hour chat at TKA
  • Took Number Two and one of her teammates to soccer practice
  • Read a 31-page contest entry and completed the score sheet
  • Various and sundry household things, like cleaning the litter box, feeding the animals, cooking and eating lunch and dinner
  • Exchanging IMs and e-mails with colleagues

I've had busier days, I'm sure you all have, and I'm not really bragging, despite my high sense of accomplishment. What really amazes me is that a day like this can happen, yet rarely does. Usually, if I spend any time in IM or not ignoring my e-mail, I get far less done. My editing and administrative work always takes priority over the writing, and tends to derail me. Even if I make use of down time like soccer practice (which I did yesterday), it's still less productivity than I would have had in the same time frame without being at practice.

So what is it? Is it that Mercury going direct freed something? Is it that I got more disciplined and focused? Is it a weird space-time thing that makes it stretch at the whim of a higher power?

Who knows? Or cares. I'm just going to aim for the same thing today. Here's my list:

  • Blog
  • Finish administrative project, phase 1
  • Take Number Two to the orthodontist and go to the library, comic book store, and grocery store
  • Edit three chapters in Fight or Flight
  • Write some new pages on The Light of Redemption
  • Judge another contest entry

And may you all have amazing days!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Writing in the Summer...and Spoilers after the Line

Today was a really good writing day for me.

I've had trouble getting settled into a summer routine. At least, that was my foggy excuse for not diving into revisions on my book. Turns out, it was pure fear, something I rarely give in to, and which I managed to hide from myself until today, when I had no external obligations to obfuscate things.

My kids started Camp Nana today, and from noon until evening tomorrow I'm blessedly alone (well, except for J, whose ignoring me right now anyway). With a little help from my friends, I broke the fear (easy once I acknowledged it) and plowed through 64 pages. And I'm pretty sure things are improved. I hope. *pushes away the panic*

So here are my goals for this summer:

  • Revise Fight or Flight and send to agent
  • Judge half a dozen contest entries
  • Do something significant for my career at National
  • Revise Hummingbird
  • Write some new stuff.

I'm enjoying the summer now. Today is absolutely gorgeous, and while we're showing signs of needing rain, the sun and breeze and fresh air in the house (instead of A/C) are making me really happy.

Now, for the SPOILER about Supernatural (pretty mild, but if you're avoiding them, stop here).


Originally posted at TV Guide, then commented on by the TV Addict and Ducky, the character of Ruby is completely gone.

First, my positive response to that news:

It pleases me that they were able to write a budget-influenced change into the script in a manner that suits the show. There was no awkwardness or unbelievability in what happened to her character. I'll miss her and what she could bring to the show, but I'm intrigued by the idea of Sam learning his capabilities on his own.

I'm also looking forward to seeing how they handle all those guest stars they're referencing. Supernatural has the BEST guest stars. I mean, that last Lilith? Stellar. And I hate to admit it, but Ellen and Mary aside, this is a show about guys. I like it that way.

My less positive reaction to it:

I, too, am wary of the chick-of-the-week possibilities. I mean, season 1 was kind of like that, and that didn't detract from the show, but now that the world has been established and deepened, some recurrence would be better than none. I'd love to see some past characters back, like Lenore (the good vampire from season 2) and Tamara (the hunter from season 3), and that seems possible under the new structure. But honestly, I could watch nothing but Sam and Dean and be happy.

Okay, the other, bigger spoiler is about the title of the first episode for season 4: "Lazarus Rising," as reported by Watch With Kristin.

Since Lazarus was raised from the dead, I take it to mean Dean will come back immediately. *listens to sigh of relief all over fandom* We were pretty sure that when Kripke said Dean was in Hell for a long time, he meant before the show comes back, but it's nice to hear it (kind of) confirmed.

There are other possible connotations, too, what with Sam being the supposed antichrist and the logical person to be responsible for bringing Dean back and all.

Gail, how many weeks do we have left?

Monday, June 23, 2008


Man, have I gotten bad about blogging. I'd apologize, but I'm not sure anyone cares.

Anyway. Here are some things I've thought about posting, but haven't gotten around to because of:
  • Family visits over nearly two full weeks
  • Dance recital and rehearsals
  • Work load
  • Fatigue
  • Ennui

Thursday I went to Jubilee Day, which the Mechanicsburg Chamber of Commerce bills as the biggest one-day street fair on the east coast. I have a bunch of skepticism about that.

1. Pennsylvania has no coast.

2. Mechanicsburg is a tiny little burg. How the hell do they know every tiny little burg's street fairs and the size of such?

3. They claim to expect 60,000 people at this year's fair. Since it's such a fluid thing, I don't see any possible way they can estimate that with any accuracy. First, there's no "gate." People can enter the fair in any of 100 different places, and no one is counted. There's no central place everyone goes where they could get any kind of idea, either. I don't know, maybe there's some demographic formula these things use to calculate an estimate. Still, it's one of those things you have to take with a grain of salt. Or a pound.

Anyway, Jubilee Day was kind of fun. The kids went on a ride that made horrible squealing sounds that sounded like "Oil! Give me oil! Before I break and dash two dozen people to their deaths from a height of 50 feet! At high speed! So they get flung all the way to the other side of the fair!"

We bought a bunch of stuff. Number One got flip flops tied with felt in her school colors that look pretty funky (supported the high school percussionists). I got a resin dragon whose tail wraps through a pentagram. I've wanted a dragon ever since I wrote the book that features a dragon hero that is apparently completely unpublishable. I also got some grapeseed oil and a Nana and Papa sign for my inlaws' garden.

There was a recruitment booth for the Marines (as well as the SEALS and the Army and probably more that I didn't see). Ironically, all the guys were of the same build as in the video in my last post, and they all were the same height and looked alike. But they were busy with other people so I didn't ask them about the video.

I've lived two miles from Jubilee Day for 9 years. This was the first time we went, and now that I've gone, I can affirm that I wasn't missing anything. Overpriced food and trinkets, crowds that can't MOVE down the street, mediocre bands, a petting "zoo" with, like, four animals. The old stationmaster's house and a tavern on the historic register were open for tours, and my husband loved those, but for me...I don't ever have to do it again, really.

I saw Get Smart last night. OMG, was it funny! I found myself marveling at how well done it was. The humor was often silly, but never over-the-top. Everyone had funny lines and funny situations, and there was no real winking at themselves, yet they didn't take themselves too seriously, either. Steve Carell was the perfect Maxwell Smart. He was more than competent, but not flawless. He had confidence that was backed up by hard work (and ability), but could laugh at his failures. Agent 99 had the right balance of disdain and partnership. Agent 23...well, my only disappointment relates to his character, but it's too spoilery.

There was a preview for Disaster Movie, which looks like the anti-Get Smart. Totally stupid, totally vapid. If there is any justice in the world, you'll all go see Get Smart twice so they make more movies like this (not sequels, just smart funny movies) and no one will go see Disaster Movie, so they stop cluttering the multiplex with that crap.

Next week is Wall*E and Wanted, which officially launch my summer movie season, as there is something coming out nearly every week after that (that I want to see).

In the meantime, I have to get Number One ready for her trip to Holland (making slow progress on that, and had a panicky moment on Friday when I realized it's less than a month away!!!!). Next week some friends and I are starting a challenge, since most of us have been hit or miss with our progress this summer. That challenge should will result in great strides in my editing, and maybe even some new writing.

Wish me luck!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Pretty Cynical

I love Marines commercials. They're very emotional, and make me think of the best of our armed services. This one has some pretty awesome scenery and cinematography, not to mention choreography.

But...I don't buy that they are actual Marines.

I mean, sure, the military homogenizes its ranks. Everyone wears the same uniform and has the same haircut. But they aren't all the same height and body shape. Maybe they scoured the ranks--or deliberately put together the ranks--to find such for this commercial. Maybe the best use of the Marines' time is drilling for hours and hours to do a cool bit on a commercial so they can recruit more guys who are 5'10", 175 lbs., and can stand stock-straight while spinning and tapping a rifle. And maybe it's worth the extreme budget to ship them out to all those different sites, risking their lives on a mountain edge. For a commercial.

But it just seems to me more likely that those guys are actors.

Anyone know?

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Obsession and Stuff

I read somewhere--I don't remember exactly where, as the other day I was LJ-hopping and lost the exact reference--anyway, I read someone asking about the logo for Kripke scrap metal, which is the same as the logo for Kripke productions, Kripke being the creator of that TV show, Supernatural.

Now, granted, that question came about due to a Google alert. The person wasn't surfing scrap metal websites. But there were plenty of comments on that blog post from people who knew allllll about Kripke scrap metal and the connection to Eric Kripke, that magnificent bastard.

And my husband thinks I'm obsessed?

The ironic thing is that I can't point out the discussion to him as evidence that I may be passionate but I'm not talking about scrap metal, because the very act of me pointing out the post shows that I'd been reading it, which really belies my whole assertion.

And anyway, I found it very interesting that the Kripke scrap metal company has a link for Supernatural on their links page. So I am probably a bit above passionate, anyway.

Speaking of obsession, though...

I heard Jared Padalecki and Sandy McCoy broke up, after a very short engagement that followed a multi-year relationship. That's a "too bad" thing on par with hearing that someone you knew in high school but haven't seen in 10 years broke up with their four-year girlfriend or fiancé. I hear there are scandalous rumors and people taking "sides" and crap like that. I joke about passion vs. obsession, but that's unhealthy. People shouldn't be so intense about something that has nothing to do with them and never could.

On other topics...

I read a shortened version of this in Parade, I think. I had the same reaction as this post (scroll down beyond the video).

I'm sure those big-time authors would tell someone like me, who wrote the equivalent of three of their books last year, that I'm a hack and can't live up to the level of their magnificent prose. Whether or not they'd be right is a matter of opinion, of course, but more importantly, their attitude is a slap in the face of all their readers. That's what really drives the publishers to want at least a book a year. They want that because the readers want it. What higher compliment is there for a reader to close your latest book and immediately clamor for more? But no, they have to whine about pressure and hamster wheels and quality.

I have no idea what their schedules are like, but I know excellent writers who write more than one book a year, promote them, handle all the business of writing, and not only "have a life" but do some damned amazing charity work. And some who do all that, AND have day jobs.

If I could write one book a year and have the kind of income that would pay for both my kids' college educations in one check, I don't think I'd be complaining.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Global Telephone

You know those e-mails that are constantly circulating, warning us not to sniff perfume in parking lots, or to be wary of flyers on rear car windows or even about boycotting gasoline on a certain day, not to mention all the ones about viruses and worms and tricks and stuff?

I was reading the one at the above link just now, and it describes a progression of events that have led to the current situation, with one small thing getting spread and distorted as it's passed along.

It reminds me of that game we played as kids. You remember Telephone, right? You sat in a line or a circle and the first person whispered a sentence or phrase to the next, who passed on what they heard, and so on. The last person says what they heard out loud and makes everyone giggle, because it's garbled and silly by the time it gets to them.

The Internet has improved communication to the point that we are engaging in a continuous game of global telephone. I don't know how most of this stuff starts--someone bored or creative writes something and sends it to friends, maybe, or someone reads something and misinterprets it? Or someone who is uninformed puts out misinformation and others assume it's true because it's in writing (a phenomenon that precedes the Internet by hundreds, if not thousands of years).

What gets me is the laziness factor. Every single of these e-mails I get, I check Snopes to see how valid it is. Those people are exhaustive in how they research and respond to these things, and I'm always fascinated by the truth. Even things that are true usually have a lot more to them, and I learn a lot. And every time, I respond to the person who forwarded the e-mail with the link to Snopes. None of them learn a lesson for next time, however.

Some of these e-mails have, at some point in the forwarding history, a line that says something like "I checked snopes and it's true!" so people believe it and just pass it on without checking themselves. Or, I guess, they know I'll do it for them. *eye roll*

Most of this is innocent inconvenience or nuisance info. But you never know what kind of harm it can cause. What if someone did have a piece of debris stuck to the back of their car and didn't, for whatever reason, notice it until they started to back out. It's far more dangerous for them to continue driving with an obscured view because they remembered the e-mail that told them not to get out of the car than it would be to stop and remove the debris. An unlikely situation? Sure, but maybe more likely than a carjacker choosing your particular car and hanging around for the 45 minutes you're in the store, just waiting for you to come out and follow a script you're not aware of.

Anyway. Long-winded way to say...take a minute to check Snopes before you forward these things, please. (Though the people who keep forwarding me stuff don't read my blog, so I'm probably preaching to the choir--I apologize. :)

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Not a Good Start

Last night, Number Two turned her ankle on the driveway and fell, scraping her knee pretty badly. I helped her into the house and into the bathroom to clean her up, and while I was working on her, the heel of my hand started to sting. I glanced at it, and the vein running up from my wrist looked a little pronounced, but there was otherwise nothing obviously wrong.

A little while later, that whole meaty part of my hand, just above the wrist on the pinky side, was red and swollen, and it appears--as you can see in today's photo, above--that the vein burst.

I have no idea how it happened. The vanity door fell off only my foot and I slammed it closed, but I didn't hit it, and that was, like, 10 minutes after I noticed the purple spreading out from the usual vein line, even longer since the stinging started. I don't remember any kind of impact or strain, and there doesn't seem to be any damage beyond the vein itself.

The swelling is down today, and the released blood appears to be dissipating (or migrating), but I can't rest it on anything. That hurts. Which means typing is more effort (though you're not supposed to rest your wrists when you type, I do when I pause) and mousing is awkward and painful. Despite taking Advil, the ache has spread from my wrist up toward my elbow, though my fingers are thankfully fine.

I finished a bunch of work last night, and am well on my way with the rest, but guess what's gonna end up suffering? Yeah, the fiction. That's what will get infinitely delayed, at least during the (hopefully, please!) short time it takes this to heal.

Dammit. Not a good start to my summer.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008


Before I went on retreat a couple of weeks ago, things were head-spinningly busy, work-wise. Then I put all my clients on hold for four days, and when I returned, they were slow to load me up again. I was loving it. Then, today, one client whose project was supposed to be done by now finally gave it to me, and another gave me four things to do. And I got edits for my fall novella.

And, of course, that all hit the day before my kids' last day of school.

I'm not sure how I'm going to manage. Morning strings camp will delay the start of my work day until afternoon. My kids are really good about letting me work, but often when I'm working they are sitting or lying around, and I need to keep them active in a neighborhood that doesn't offer a lot of ways to do that. Doing that usually means me taking them somewhere, like the pool (where Number One lies around on a towel reading, anyway *sigh*).

I'm also trying to get my Romance Wiki stuff entered, as well as a friend's, and that keeps falling by the wayside. Plus I have about 15 household things that need attention, not least of which is getting estimates to replace our breaker box before it causes a fire. It hasn't caused a fire in 46 years, but the same box did in other houses, so we'd better get it replaced STAT. *sigh* again

Oh, and then there's the workshop I'm doing on The Anatomy of a Hook for my RWA chapter on Saturday that is about three-quarters complete.

On the upside, after tomorrow I don't have to get up at 6:20 anymore until the end of August. And I just found the notes I made at the NEC conference for a new book idea, and I'm excited about it, even though it will be a while before I get around to writing it.

Off to bed now, to better face the dawn.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Soccer Tan

When I was a kid, tan was tan. I lived in Massachusetts, so we went to the beach every summer. We were there from early in the morning until after sundown, and I spent as much time baking while I read a book as I did in the water or playing in the sand. "Tan lines" meant my bathing suit marks. And most of the adults I knew were the same. Some spent hours every day tanning, and didn't even have visible tan lines (no, they didn't tan nude!).

Then I got a little older, and a little busier. I got the farmer's tan (T-shirt sleeves) and the driver's tan (darker left arm than right). I got flip-flop tans on my feet (last year's is still hanging on!), and my face is a mess of sunglasses tans (reverse raccoon eyes and the bars at my temples from the arms of the glasses) and bangs tan (my bangs angle to the left and block the sun too well). I also have a shorts tan most summers, due to too little time spend in a bathing suit, and most of that with an Alphasmart on my lap.

This year, we encountered a new kind of tan:

Number One has played soccer since she was five (she'll be 13 next month) but that was always club soccer, with two practices (late) and one game a week. This year, she played JV for her school team as well as her club team, which meant she was on the field for two hours six or seven days a week from late March to mid May.

Which brings us to the soccer tan.

As you can see above, this tan is characterized by ever-darkening knees banding between brilliant white skin above (from the shorts) and below (from the socks, which come up to the knees to cover and hold in place the shin guards, for those who are unfamiliar with the game).

Near the end of the season, a favorite pass-time (like on the bus to games) was comparing legs to see who had the best tan. One of the subjects above was crowned the winner, as she had the clearest, straightest sock line.

Ahhh, the unexpected laughs that come with parenthood. :)