Saturday, August 30, 2008

Bogus Quiz

A friend sent this to me. Most of the questions don't apply to the show or the guys at all, or at least not in any clear way, and one question is completely wrong. You can only kill a Wendigo with fire, which is not one of the choices for an answer.

When I took it again trying to up my compatibility with Dean, it only went up to 52%. And again re: Sam, it went to 50%.

Not that it matters. In real life I'm 100% compatible with both of them. You know, where real life = in my imagination. :)

Friday, August 29, 2008

Fall TV 2008 and Summer Movie Wrap-Up

As mentioned, I've been watching Angel to tide me over until the fall season starts. My local Netflix center hasn't had the disks, so they're coming from Michigan and Louisiana, and taking three days to arrive. It's killing me.

Anyway, I'm getting my DVR situation straightened out (moving boxes around the house) and planning the recording for the fall, and this is what I'm planning to watch this season (in order of the return/premiere):

Prison Break
I had a mini-marathon a couple of weekends ago when Blockbuster didn't have Angel and I caught up on the two-thirds of last season that I didn't watch. Yes, I stopped watching when they cut Sarah's head off. Yes, I'm going back because so is she. But I missed the guys. I love Michael and Lincoln.

Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles
As I said during last season, Brian Austin Green elevated a decent show to very good. I can't wait for it to come back.

JJ Abrams. Nuff said.

I spent some time earlier this week watching the last three episodes of last season while I recorded them for a friend. The return can't be soon enough for me, even though it's two weeks earlier than last year.

How I Met Your Mother
My lone sitcom. I like the dynamics and the writing, but it's all Neil Patrick Harris for me. This is a show I don't rush to watch and wouldn't lament if it was gone, but I enjoy watching it a lot.

The Mentalist*
I don't remember what this show is about, I just know that when I first saw the write-up, I decided to try it.

Knight Rider*
I know. Mock me all you want. I wasn't thrilled with the movie they did, and my expectations are really, really low, especially given how little I liked the remake of my favorite childhood show, Bionic Woman. Nostalgia has me giving it a one-episode chance. Then we'll see.

This show has me all confused. There was an episode aired toward the end of the "season," but not the last show, where the military woman told Adam Baldwin's character that the Interface or whatever it was called had been rebuilt, and he was to kill Chuck. Then there were two episodes burned off after that that didn't reference that at all. And it hasn't been on since January, I think, so I barely remember what happened at the end.

My Own Worst Enemy*
For no particular reason, I get an Alias-type vibe off this show. Not that I've even seen a preview. It has Christian Slater--oh. He was on Alias and he's a spy on this show as well as a regular guy--and he was a regular guy on Alias. Okay. There's a reason. Anyway, even if the writing is mediocre, he's bound to elevate it.

Pushing Daisies
To be honest, I'm not as ga-ga over this show as everyone else is. It's a little dull. One of those shows I enjoy while I'm watching it, but wouldn't care if I didn't have it.

Private Practice
I can't wait for this to come back, solely for the Del storyline. I am completely in love with Del and his love for Naomi. And yes, I know she belongs with Sam, but day-um. Being loved like that by a guy like Del is a helluvan ego boost.

The Ex List*
I think this looks cute, and it's a good counterpart to all my testosterone-driven choices. :)

A nice, solid, reliable show with great characters and investigative science that always has me going "huh? how did they make that leap?"

Eleventh Hour*
Jerry Bruckheimer, who has a lot of cred with me because of Pirates of the Caribbean, though I don't think I watch any of his TV shows. Like others mentioned above, I don't remember what this is about.

The latest-debuting show on my list, and the one I'm least certain of (besides Knight Rider). But it seems worth a try.

*Last year, I was so pissed off by the previous year's cancellations that I refused to watch any new show until it had at least 4 episodes and showed no signs of being canceled. It worked then, but for some reason, I care a lot less now, maybe because I don't feel that betrayal. I'm prepared to fall in love with a show and lose it. I think partly because there are enough returning shows that are safe to keep me in TV for a while.

So what are you looking forward to? What shows will you be watching?

I finally got to see Hancock last night, and I want to know what the critics were smoking. Some of the criticisms were:

SPOILER ALERT although this late after release, spoilers should be a given.

It took a dark turn about halfway through

Um, hello! Sociopathic alcoholic superhuman! We knew that immediately, right from the trailer. Most movies get darker as they go along, until they get to the "black moment" when all seems lost. I didn't see any inconsistency there. Despite the humor (which was pretty dark itself), Hancock was who he was.

Charlize Theron being his wife was out of the blue

Okay, I knew this ahead of time, but still, the instant she saw him, there was something there. We knew immediately that she knew him, even if we soon learned that he didn't know her. I loved the worldbuilding, even if it came as exposition and backstory, and it really fed the bitterness of the climax.

Some other thoughts...

Michael Mann. Geez. It's a joke now, about how much he likes to destroy things, but I'm tired of it. It's more tolerable in a movie like this that has powerful emotion, too, but still. Totally gratuitous.

Jason Bateman. I sooooo want to see him in a romantic comedy. He's just made of awesome. I can't decide if they missed the boat on his character development with not getting enough of a reaction from him to the knowledge that his wife is technically already married, or if they did a really great job avoiding the expected response and having him just be secure in her love and their belonging together. Him chopping off the bad guy's other hand was fantastic.

Tonight I'm going to finally see Dark Knight, and my summer movie viewing will be complete. There are a couple of movies I didn't get to see, Wanted the only one that actually comes to mind, but I'll Netflix 'em eventually, when I'm done with Angel.

The fall movie season is upon us now, and frankly, there isn't a single movie I'm excited to go see. Not sure if it's too early to blame the writer's strike, or if it's just that kind of year.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

How Can I Come Up With a Title When I Don't Have a Topic?

My cats have lost their water privileges.

Recently, I've been finding one of the two cat water dishes tipped over or splashed, or even just the mat under them wet. I took that dish away, assuming it was too tippable—it was just a "disposable" storage container—but it didn't solve the problem. I caught Maya—the good cat!—deliberately tipping over the other, more stable, meant-to-be-a-pet-dish dish. I'd just filled it, and the water cascaded across the freshly washed kitchen floor. So now they have no dishes. They mostly drink out of the dog's water dish, anyway.

Why do kids always say, "Mom, I need a note" five minutes before it's time to go to the bus stop?

I miss Doyle.

I'm watching Angel season 1, and Doyle was my favorite character. The way he died was great, well done, but the fact that he died has brought the show down in my estimation. And it was only the ninth episode! I didn't believe it until Wesley actually replaced him in the opening credits.

I looked up the actor, because to leave a show that early, I figured he had to have gotten something else, like a bigger role on a new show. But not only did he not get a new show, not only did he hardly ever do anything again...he died of a drug overdose three years later! It's tragic. My husband suggested that might be the reason he was canned, the drugs, but if it was, it didn't show in his performance. He was sweet and brave and weasly and Wesley has his points, but he just doesn't measure up.

I felt borderline hypocritical yesterday, but then I realized I wasn't at all hypocritical, I was exactly what I'd always said I would be.

Number One has gorgeous hair. It's so thick, we can't find ponytail bands that will hold it properly. When she's on the soccer field, it looks like a horse's tail. And she's 13, so it's lush and healthy as well as long and thick.

Well, it was long. Almost small-of-her-back long. And it was due for a trim, but she wanted it shorter, like shoulder length. I lamented, but said it was okay. I mean, it's her hair.

A few years ago, my mother-in-law was telling me about a friend's grandchild who'd gotten a spiky mohawk and colored it some putrid color. I said "so what?" She didn't debate the topic, but the look on her face said I was nuts. I've always felt that hair is not worth fighting over; there are more important things to put your foot down on (facial jewelry is one of the minor ones—overnights with a boyfriend would be a major one).

Anyway, the hairdresser of course tried to talk her out of it, but Number One kept saying, "It's just hair" and "It's not like it won't grow back." So then Lisa, the hairdresser, was measuring how much she wanted off, and said if she went about an inch higher, she could donate it to Locks of Love, something she'd done once before, and she immediately agreed. We feel good about that—her ponytail was about the size of two normal ones, and it takes 15 to make a wig for a kid with alopecia. And when someone donates, Lisa doesn't charge for the haircut. So I wasn't going to argue.

But when she cut off that tail...oy. Some of the shorter hairs were at the nape of her neck. So instead of being just above her shoulders, it's just below her chin in front and barely at her neck in the back.

It's a lovely cut, with ragged ends and a great curve that looks adorable on Number One, and she's delighted with it. But I cringed a lot, and made noises in the back of my throat, and kept asking if she was okay with it--like it could be put back or something. That's when I felt hypocritical. But then I realized, I always said my kids could make their own decisions about their hair. But I never said I wouldn't be vocal about my own thoughts on the matter.

I don't know why I keep reading Supernatural: Rising Son. Okay, I do know. I keep reading because I got the comic book store to put every issue in my husband's box, and once it's there, I can't make myself give it back, and I don't think to cancel it. But every issue, I hate it more and more.


Okay, I can buy the storyline as an alternate "what if" scenario, but not something that really happened in the canon of the show. I mean, they made Sam a killer. He's old enough in the comic to REMEMBER that in the present. To remember that people were after him, and that he could do things. His visions wouldn't have been so out of the blue.

Worse, they made John a murderer. Not someone who hunts supernatural evil, but someone who pre-emptively kills men in horrific ways, and I just don't buy that of John. Sure, he was a terrible dad, but that's because he left his kids alone all the time and was obsessed with finding Yellow Eyes and raised the boys to have all kinds of issues. The John in the comics who's killing all these guys is not the John who would be in so much pain when Meg kills his friends. Murder deadens you, hardens you, makes you less able to connect to other people, and in the comics, this is happening way before he had "falling out"s with all his friends.

Plus, Dean killed a man, a regular person, and whenever that happened in the earlier days of the show, it was a Big Deal. If he'd first done it at age 10, he'd be a totally different kind of person in the present.

The thing I do kind of like—well, I guess I'm conflicted about—is that Lilith has been introduced as someone who wanted Sam way back when he was a kid. I don't like the details of it, what she's trying to do, and a lot of the worldbuilding in the comics doesn't jibe with the worldbuilding of the show. I mean, sure, if Kripke had the budget, he'd totally have a demon build a monster out of shattered train parts and have it go after the Winchesters. You can do more in comics. But the creation of a semi-sentient hunk of autonomous, killing metal? Doesn't belong.

Anyone else bothering to read them? Liking them, or not?

So we got a phone call last night. I didn't answer, and I was asleep when J came to bed, so he didn't tell me about it, and we don't really cross paths in the morning until he's in the car. I found out from one of the moms at the bus stop that the call was an Instant Alert from the school superintendent, telling us to check the website and our e-mails. Apparently, there's a guy in a white van with brown curly hair and a tattoo trying to pick up kids. He tried at the high school and at one of the elementary schools. Not the one my kids go to, but one friends of mine have kids attending, and those schools are only two miles from my kids' and less than five from my house. Easily expandable territory.

This is where the balance of parenting gets so hard. I walk Number Two to the bus stop, but not Number One, and they both walk the half a block home on their own, with the other kids from the bus. That's the only place they'd really be vulnerable, and now I feel I have to meet them every day, or at the very least go outside to watch them get off the bus. I don't want to let Number Two practice soccer in the front yard, or walk up to her friend's house. Yet I don't want to make her a prisoner or be overprotective, either.

We were talking about this the other day, a group of us, about how when we were kids, we left the house in the morning and roamed the neighborhood all day. Parents didn't know where we were. At my cousins' house, we were often deep in the woods (probably not as deep as it seemed, but out of calling range) or way up the street and around the corner. We came in when the streetlights went on. No way can any of us let our kids do that now. There are more cars on the street, driving faster, and the risk of abduction just seems too damned high.

I bet it's not. I bet that proportionately, the risk is the same as when we were kids. What's changed is the information society. When a child in Florida gets abducted in a car wash parking lot, we hear about it almost instantly in Pennsylvania or California. With video. So 20, 30 years ago, if we didn't know someone it had happened to, it wouldn't affect our behavior. If we did have a personal connection, if we knew someone who'd been taken, it would scare us into taking precautions. Now, though, we know everyone. Everyone could be us. And we live our lives accordingly.

And we try to find a balance between giving our kids some independence and protecting them from the horrors out there, knowing that we don't really have that much control.

Monday, August 25, 2008

First Day of School

Today was the first day of school. Number One started eighth grade, her last year of middle school, and Number Two started fourth grade. For some reason, it didn't feel as "big" as the first day of school usually does.

Perhaps because both kids were pretty blasé. Perhaps because it was pretty damned hot this morning, and "first day of school" really seems like it should have the bite of fall, despite the fact that fall is nearly a month away.

But mostly, I think it's because of the weekend we just had.

When Number One was 8, she had the option of playing rec soccer or travel. She wanted to keep playing rec. I was glad, because I wasn't ready to dedicate full weekends to soccer. Weekends like this one.

Number One played in a six-game tournament in Gettysburg--three seeding games, one of which they won, and three tournament games, in which they wound up in the consolation bracket, taking sixth. The great part was seeing 15 of her 18 teammates together. It's early, but they're starting to come together. I have high hopes for this season, because usually their season record stinks but they do great in tournaments, at least having a run at the championship. Maybe things will be reversed this year.

Number Two played a three-game tournament in Downingtown. It was quite a wild time. The setup was to play three games in our four-team bracket. The team that won the bracket (based on points for wins, ties, goals scored, and shutouts) would play the team that won the other bracket in our "flight." So we played three really good teams with whom we were fairly evenly matched, winning two and tying the third, and failing to win the bracket by only one point. If it was all points based, we came in third.

But circumstances can sometimes suck. Going into the third game, we were one point behind because the team we played in that game had a shutout and we didn't. If we won outright, we'd go to the final game to play for the championship. We tied the game with them 1-1, a heartbreaking situation because the same girl scored both goals. Yes, every soccer player's nightmare. Of course, the important things were learning and having fun, and they all did that. And everyone was in good spirits when we left.

The other factor that made it wild was that in our first game, we had more injuries than we'd ever had in an entire season before, as far as I can recall. Two of our defenders went down in the first half after being kicked hard in the calf and ankle. Then Number Two, who plays goalie, got three of her fingers bent back badly enough to pull her off the field. She sprained the middle finger (still hurts two days later) and was icing it when not five minutes after she came off the field, our other goalie got kicked in the face and got a bloody nose.

Proud Parent Moment

Coach: "I need a goalie. Who's a team player? Who's gonna go in for me?"

Team: Silence

Number Two: "I'll go back in."

And she did, and she did great.

With all the injuries, I learned two of our parents (one of whom was on site) are doctors. The ER doc/dad who was there joked that he'd hold clinic after the game, but it ended up not being a joke, as he taped up our injured defenders before each game after that. So we're super-lucky. Retired college soccer coach for an assistant coach and our very own trainer!


So, back to first day of school. We had the expected kinks, though they were worse than usual. The elementary bus was 20 minutes late, which means the kids were 20 minutes late getting to school. No explanation for why it was late. I was blown off when I called the school, given excuses about assigning seats at each stop, but we're the first stop! They have new bus routes and new procedures, though, and it looks like some things are going to have to change, because she was about 20 minutes late getting home, too. And one of the neighbors didn't show up. He wound up on a different bus or something. Scary.

Number One's day went smoothly. One of her teachers makes the kids do pushups for saying certain words or violating rules like not having a hall pass. She didn't have to do any, but finds the whole thing amusing. Her three closest friends are on her academic team for the first time, though she only shares one class each with two of them. They get to eat lunch together, which is nice. They've been close since third grade, even with being torn asunder entering sixth grade and all making new friends. It's always nice to see.

As for me...

I spent the morning cleaning, doing laundry, taking the cat for a nail-clipping, getting groceries, and going to the post office. That meant that 1) it wasn't the easy-going day I was looking for, and 2) it went way, WAY too fast.

But I'm glad we're here.

Friday, August 22, 2008

San Francisco Photos

Finally! Here they are!

I'll spare you all the sightseeing photos. For one, because they can be found anywhere. For two, because if I'm in them, I look horrible.

I'm also not posting (to everyone's relief, probably) all 39 of the conference-related photos. Some are poor quality. Some have a weird face being made by one of the subjects--those are held for future blackmail. Some I think are great shots but the subjects don't agree or withheld permission to post them (Lisa, I'm glaring at you). Some are repetitive, too, and I'm trying to keep this interesting. So. Here we go.


This is probably the coolest thing I saw in San Francisco. I know, kinda pathetic, and someone told me they have them elsewhere, but *I* never saw one:

I had one more shot that was actually video, and it won't process properly. But you go in, do what you need to do--in a spacious, clean, unsmelly atmosphere with soap suds along the base of the wall--come out, the door closes, and the entire room gets washed. So cool.

Wednesday was also the day of sightseeing with my friends.

Me, Lisa Mondello, Pam Tracy, Libby Banks, Cathy McDavid

Wednesday night was the Literacy Signing, with 550 authors. I only took three pictures. Well, one of these was with Trish's camera, which got a better shot than mine did.

Me and Trish Milburn

The Giddy Monica Burns
(go see The GabWagon for why she was giddy!)

The approved photo of Lisa Mondello


Thursday is about the Annual General Meeting and other non-exciting things, so not many photos here.

Me, Connie Newman, Barbara Rae Robinson

See? Not Very Exciting

This was actually just one of those freaky things, Trish blinked. She wasn't really falling asleep while that person talked.


Lyndi Lamont, Catherine Snodgrass, Cindy Procter-King
Amber Quill authors

Me, flanked by ML Rhodes (left) and her mom (right)


Cathy McDavid, Lisa Mondello (shh, don't tell her) and Me

Me with Libby Banks

I didn't get a good shot of Pam in her finery, so here's her Rita nomination upon on the big screen during the ceremony.

And one final shot, from Sunday:

It didn't occur to me until the last day that a lot of the birds I was seeing, I might never have seen before. It didn't occur until I was walking along behind this guy, a Brewer's Blackbird. I got all excited that I could log a new bird in my bird book, then realized my bird book is Eastern Birds of North America. But of course this one has a wide range and was in the book anyway. So I got to log it, but being able to do so means it's not exactly an uncommon species. Oh, well.

So there you have it. My SF trip in not-so-concise images and explanations.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Wednesday Wanderings

About 11 years ago, I got my hair cut by a new hairdresser. It was a perfect cut. I loved the choppy layering and the way the bangs fell. Right after it was cut, I went to Massachusetts for a wedding. When I came back, the hair didn't seem so perfect. I probably blamed my styling ability, or the way it was growing out or something. On one of my visits to my mother, still in Massachusetts, I realized the water up there was really good for my hair, because I loved it again.

Fast forward through the years. I have never had that good of a haircut since, despite going to the same person (with only two single-cut deviations, which also weren't as good as that first one) ever since. My mother died in February 2003, and I've only been back to Massachusetts once since.

So back in July, right before I went to San Francisco, I had my hairdresser do something a little different than the usual basic trim. I liked it, but the bangs were a problem. I had her revise them, and they were okay, though styling them was one-time-good/five-times-sucky. And even the "good" doesn't last more than a couple of hours.

But in San Francisco...I swear, it's all about the water. My hair looked great (by my standards--if you who were there and are looking at me all askance, going "oooo-kay," I don't want to know about it). It styled nice and stayed that way, and even when I had to restyle it late in the day and it wasn't quite as good, it was still better than it has been any day since I got home.

I'm done blaming myself, how long I let it dry, how I hold the brush, how much mousse and hairspray I use. It's 100% the water's fault, and now I'm depressed, because I'm not going to move from PA for at least a decade.

I found a new drink this weekend. I'm a pretty boring person when it comes to beverages (I'm talking non-alcohol, but it probably applies to alcoholic drinks, too). I drink mostly water, milk, and hot tea, with the occasional mocha or Coke or even more occasional orange juice. For bring-your-own-beverage occasions I've been taking Lipton's White Tea with Tangerine. But last weekend, I found this:

Canada Dry Green Tea Ginger Ale. Wow, is it good! Crisp, and lighter than regular ginger ale. Now I have to see if I can buy it in bulk or just the over-priced convenience store bottles.

When I was looking for an image, I found a bunch of sites referencing the high amount of sugar in the drink. One said if you want the benefits of green tea, drink green tea. Well, I don't drink anything for the "health benefits." Plus, I just checked, and Coke has more sugar per ounce than this drink does.

I had another topic I was going to put in here and now I forget what it is.

Why do people use the word "sell" as a noun? It's a verb. You sell something by exchanging it for money. Once that's done, it's a sale. So when someone sells a book to a publisher, they have achieved a sale. It always weirds me out to see "congratulations on your sell!" If it was verbal instead of written, I'd think they were talking about going to jail.

I saw Tropic Thunder this weekend, and I said I thought it was the best movie I'd seen all summer. J said Hancock was better, but I haven't seen that yet. It was consistently hilarious. I laughed more than J, which itself is kind of amusing because it's more his kind of humor than it is mine. But I'm pretty into the whole film-making and TV-making world. Without, you know, being in it. So I felt like I was part of the insidery stuff. The whole auditorium was cracking up, though, so it's at least partly universally funny.

Someone asked on their blog last week (I think Cindy) if it was over-the-top. I think it comes really close, but doesn't go over. There were some gory parts that I closed my eyes at while I laughed, and a kid-related thing that I had to cringe away from, but they followed that one, at least, with an end shot that saved it from being unacceptable--and made it even funnier, actually.

It's crude and gross and the Tom Cruise (who did not impress me the way he impressed everyone else--I just don't get the awe of industry professionals and critiques when someone "goes ugly") and Matthew McConaughey characters can be truly offensive (though MM's agent character shows flashes of heart). This movie is definitely not for everyone. My mother, for one. But it's a really fun time, and well worth the price of a ticket.

I know I'm probably the winner of the 2008 Lamest RWA Attendee Blogger, not having any pictures up yet. I will try to do them tomorrow. Stay tuned!

Friday, August 15, 2008

Interesting Random Bits

Well. Possibly interesting. Possibly you'll think, "she's insane." But you usually think that anyway.

I just changed mobile phone services. I used to have Cingular, which got bought by AT&T, and for various and sundry UNinteresting reasons, I held on to them until this spring. Then I knew Number One was going to Holland and would need an easy way to call home and AT&T has the easy way, plus the most ranging service. But she's back, and so am I, so I changed. And I learned a few things.

1. I have had the same long distance service for 15 years and 10 months.

Pretty impressive, no? Back in 1992 I worked for a company that did customer service and billing for a small reseller, Working Assets Long Distance. They are a socially responsible company who donates millions every year to charities, as well as enabling their customers to send letters to politicians and other people about important environmental, social, political, and economic causes. (No, I didn't really do sales, though there was an element of that to my job.) I switched my service to them when I started working there and never switched away. There's never been any reason to. My long distance use is so low I only get billed quarterly, and that's usually less than $20.

2. Sprint's network sucks eggs.

It's not like I didn't already know that AT&T wasn't lying when they say "more bars in more places." I had a full signal in the sub-basement of the hotel in SF, while friends with other services (*cough*T-Mobile*cough*) didn't have service in 90% of the building. (Or, you know, whatever.) But I get two bars in my house and the conversation cuts out every two seconds. Really annoying. I have a 30-day window to decide if I want to stay without penalty. We'll see how it goes.

3. If you tell the nice CSRs that you used to do their job, they will be tickled enough to send you coupons for free Ben & Jerry's.

Those coupons have been the gimmick for Working Assets (now Credo) for decades. Refer a friend--get a coupon. Get a credit card--get a coupon. Yummy reward.

*thinks* I thought I had more non-phone random bits, but I can't think of them now. Number Two wants to go school shopping, so I'm off.

Well, I'm always a LITTLE off.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Back on Track

Hee. Complain about derailment and then get it all done anyway.

I finished revising my book Hummingbird and sent it off for critique. That was 72 pages.

Then I revised the 41 pages I had written on my untitled WIP, adding 4 new pages in the process, and then wrote 20 more after that. Which put me, at least temporarily, in the lead in our challenge. My competitiveness is appeased, though there are a lot of days left, and I'm up against some pretty prolific people.

Tracy Madison sent me a link to this great post at Libba Bray's blog. I'm ashamed to say I never heard of her, despite her being a New York Times bestseller and all, but I looked her up because she's so funny and found that she does historical paranormal YA. Not exactly on my radar, but I'll get her books for Number One.

Today is not a derailment day, it's a never-expected-to-get-anything-done-anyway day. Bill paying, soccer shopping, running around to schools and getting treats for wonderful husbands who indulge their wives obsessions. Hopefully a good bit of writing in between. I already have one page!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Things That Derail Me

My kids are gone today. I had huge intentions. Get up early, do the one proofing job I have waiting, and get right into my manuscript, spending all day working on it. I would have from, say, 8:00 a.m. to 5:45 p.m., when J gets home with the kids.

Then I find out that he's got a training session locally and can't get the kids, which means I'll have to, which means stopping work early and braving rush-hour traffic. (I'm not whining, honest. That would be shrewish.)

Then I learn that his training session is not only local, but at 9:00 a.m., which means he'll get up later, which means I'll get up later. What? I should set the alarm even though I only have 11 alarm-free days left before school starts and I'll have to get up at 6:15 every day? Yeah, I thought you were just joking.

So okay, getting up at 8, quick shower, downstairs by 8:30, right?

Why am I so stupid?

The animals need to be fed before the little one gets stuck in squeaky cry mode. The dog doesn't want to eat. While trying to feed her, I dump icky dog food all over my bathrobe (and yes, then stand stark naked in the middle of the kitchen while I finish what I'm doing--no, don't picture it).

I forgot to scoop the litter box last night, so of course I have to do that, which also means sweeping up the scattered litter. I multi-task, doing that while my tea water heats and the dog is supposed to be eating, but she's too scared I'll go away without her and follows me all over the house.

I figure I might as well eat breakfast because I'll probably skip lunch, so I make waffles while the dog finally settles down to her dish. We get downstairs, I turn on the computer...

And Windows wants to update. Fourteen updates to install, and I might as well not bother starting to work while it does, because the bogged-down computer will only annoy me, and I'll have to restart it, anyway.

So here we are, 9:15, and I haven't even started yet.

Well, except typing this blog post on my Neo. Doesn't really count.

Added post update:
It's now 10:15. The proofing is done, but the laundry I threw in while the computer rebooted is also done, so now I have to go switch that to the dryer and start another load...and my manuscript isn't even open.

Things aren't looking good for a high page count today. :(

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Disappointments of the Silly Sort

1. Joe Bob Disappeared

Back in June, the last few days of school, Number Two brought home a crayfish from her science unit. As pets go, Joe Bob was a pretty easy one. Just had to keep his container full of plants for him to eat, give him something to hide under, and check every so often to be sure he's okay. He hung out with no problem until last week.

When he disappeared.


I cleaned his container last Tuesday. J asked if I'd remembered to put him back in, and I blanked on that. But I knew Number Two had checked on him when she came home Wednesday, so I had to have. But there was an empty container, and no sign of good ol' Joe Bob anywhere.

Best guess is that one of the cats got him, since that happened to one of Number Two's friend's crayfish, but she found pieces on the floor. We didn't find anything anywhere, and the cats are not normally on the counter, and have never shown any awareness of his existence. If he'd flipped out of the container, he'd have expired somewhere we could find him. He's just gone. Not even any funky smell we can't pinpoint.

Number Two is fine, by the way. They weren't that close.

2. Perseid Shower

I've long felt guilty that I haven't made stronger efforts to get my kids outside for a meteor shower. A couple of years ago I got a great view of the Leonids, lying on my car hood in 20-degree weather. I think I saw about 21 in half an hour, something like that.

Last night the Perseids were supposed to peak. It's summer, not an early-morning night, so let them stay up to midnight to watch. I knew they would be more visible after moonset at 1:47, but that wasn't practical.

So we all went out and laid on blankets in the front yard. In an hour we saw four. That was disappointing. I mean, at least we all saw at least one, and my kids know what shooting stars are now, and we talked about constellations and saw a couple dozen airplanes and even a couple of potential satellites. But it wasn't really worth staying up that late for.

3. Joss Whedon is No Longer My Master

Okay, I admit, I don't know how I went four years without knowing how Buffy ended. Kudos to my Buffy-fan friends for not letting that out of the bag. Except...kudos is not really what I was feeling when I stayed up to 2:00 a.m. Monday morning to watch the last few episodes.

How did I feel?

Kinda like I did when I knew my mother had bought me some albums for Christmas, and instead of REO Speedwagon and Journey I got Barbara Mandrell and Kenny Rogers.

Very much like I did when I read The Horse Whisperer, loving the whole book, and then having the main character act completely out of character in a major plot-solution cop-out.


First, let's address the whole save-the-world issue. Maybe if I'd watched Angel at the proper times it would feel less like convenient writing, but I have a feeling it wouldn't. They go along for 20 episodes convinced they can't beat the Big Bad, then Angel shows up and casually gives Buffy this amulet thing that just when things are looking dire in the Hellmouth just happens to channel sunlight and kill all the ubervamps. That was very much a "hey, we have no idea how to get ourselves out of this dire hole we've written ourselves into, so let's introduce something new that will pull us out of it" kind of thing.

Next, let me take some responsibility for my disappointment. I mean, they showed signs all along that Buffy and Spike wouldn't get together. The attempted rape, the fact that Buffy kept saying she didn't love him, and then the things she told Angel in the penultimate episode, about maybe someday, but not now. But I'm a romance writer, so of course I saw all that as resolvable conflict. My perspective is not something the writers can control.

But as many hints as there were that it wouldn't work out, there were signs that it would. For cripe's sake, Spike got his soul back for her! He stopped pushing so hard to get her. She wouldn't let anyone kill him, or let him leave. She asked him to hold her when everyone else had pushed her away (and vice versa). Oh, and then there was the clairvoyant who said she'd tell him, someday.

Those last few moments were such a guy thing. And yes, Joss Whedon is a guy. But his later stuff ruined me for Buffy. Sure, the world didn't end, and maybe Faith found someone to be with, but the rest of them? Not a single happy ending for anyone. (No, I don't buy Kennedy and Willow as anything more than crisis comfort.)

So I feel betrayed. I didn't get a lousy kiss in all of season 7, never mind redemption for Spike and resolution for Buffy. For me, the show was never about her. It was about those loyal, strong, dedicated, loving people around her. I don't care that Buffy didn't wind up with Spike, but I care very much that Spike worked so hard to be a worthy man and got absolutely nothing for it. And while I enjoyed the entire series as I watched it, that finale ruined it for me. Completely.

Here's the thing. Shows like Supernatural and Lost and Buffy the Vampire Slayer and even Terminator (okay, maybe not Terminator) can deal all they want in the human condition, using their fantastical elements to highlight our strengths and flaws and relationships and blahdy blah blah. But they are entertainment, and as such they cannot give us only the "realistic" endings.

I have enough reality. Like most people, I have painful loss, fear of painful loss, stressful struggles, and fear of stressful struggles. There is no guarantee of ever coming out of any given situation without damage and with something happy at the end. So I get that from TV. I get that from Dean and Sam riding off in the Impala to their next hunt. (Hear that, Kripke?! None of this blaze-of-glory crap at the end of next season!!) I want to believe that hope and joy are as possible as death and destruction, and Spike dying, alone and lonely, doesn't exactly do that.

Okay. That's enough giving too much weight to a silly TV show. I must get back to work, to my own less-than-perfect writing that nonetheless always delivers the happy ending.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008


I have entered Stella Cameron's Scarlet Boa contest again. I'm not gonna tell you which entry is mine, 'cause that would be cheating. But I will say I'm very pleased with my positioning. :)

She has a new book out, so check that out while you're there, too. Voting is here.


Fandom Rocks, a group of Supernatural fans who have done some really cool things to raise money for worthy causes, are holding an auction for just that purpose. They've got some fabulous items, like a PILOT script signed by awesome people including Eric Kripke, Kim Manners, Ben Edlund, Sera Gamble, Phil Sgriccia, Jensen Ackles, and Jared Padalecki! I mean, that's all the big wigs! Hard to resist that one. The eBay page has more info on the auction that went live August 1. Good luck!

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

RWA Day WhateverTheHeckItWas Plus Every Day Since

My five-and-a-half-year-old laptop was very uncooperative with e-mail the last time I used it, so I stopped trying. Plus, I got busier. And more tired. So that explains the gap in posts.

I'm home now, but way behind, of course, and suddenly SF seems long ago and far away.

Saturday...hmmm...Saturday. I think I got more books at signings. Thought about attending workshops, but didn't. Had lunch with Cathy McDavid, which was great because we caught up on all the stuff that we didn't talk about when others were around because they already knew it. Shipped my two boxes of books and goodies. Spent some time editing in the afternoon. Went out to dinner with friends again before the award ceremony, which was as awesome as always.

Oh, I keep forgetting to mention...I have got to stop listening to people. It's not that they were wrong, just that I know myself and I'm different than the norm. I know, big surprise. Anyway, all the talk was about how cold SF is, and how I would need long sleeves for the duration, and the hotels are always cold, etc. So I listened, though I knew I'm almost never cold in the hotels so I mostly refrained from bringing really thick shirts and sweaters. But I did have a long-sleeved shirt for sightseeing Wednesday, and the only time I wasn't FREAKING HOT (and therefore obnoxiously complaining) was when we were actually on the wharf with the wind in our faces. The hotel was so hot, we had our room AC set at 66, and even 64 the last 24 hours. I couldn't stop sweating and was really unhappy about that.

But did I mention the elevators? They were awesome. Amazingly fast the entire time. I also found the room to be wonderful (really comfy beds) and the service to be efficient and very personable.

Okay, Sunday. Sunday Tracy Madison (who was not responsible for keeping us up late on Tuesday, only an innocent bystander, I swear) let us leave our stuff in her room as we had to check out but not leave until 4, and she stayed until Monday. That gave us a little more time to visit with her and her lovely daughter.

Sunday I spent mostly by myself. Lisa Mondello, my roommate, was meeting cousins she hadn't seen in years. Libby and Cathy invited me to lunch, but they had earlier flights and I really wanted to see the Golden Gate Bridge, especially since I missed Alcatraz. So I went off on my own for five hours. In the interest of keeping this blog post shorter than Breaking Dawn (which is apparently only 7 pages shorter than Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, according to Number One), let me sum up:

*Took the 30 bus to the 28 bus
*30 bus didn't go to end of line, so got off early
*Hey, I'm really near the crookedest street! I wanna see it up close.
*Hike up Lombard 4 blocks. And by "up" I mean "80 degrees up." Stop every half block to take pictures to disguise windedness.
*See crookedest street up close. Very pretty and kind of cool, but wouldn't want to sit in traffic waiting to go down it.
*Hike back down to 28 bus.
*Take 28 bus to GGB.

I loved the GGB area. It's so different from the rest of the city, with the cliffs and the look of the bay and the vegetation. It was foggy, so the tops of the towers were in the clouds, but the view was still spectacular.

*Walk partway across bridge. Take lots of pictures of self on bridge that all suck and shall not be shared on this blog. Buy souvenirs.
*Take bus back to Ghirardhelli Square.
*Walk around Hyde Pier and The Cannery, eat ice cream, listen to guitarist apparently inspired by August Rush music. He was good. Az Samad. His album Acoustic Gestures is available on iTunes.
*Stand in line for cable car for an hour.

I was absolutely determined to ride a real cable car. I rode the street car on Wednesday, as well as a wheeled cable car-like trolley for the tour, and the bus (the 30 went through Chinatown). But I had to ride a real cable car. It was cool. 120 years old and well cared for. Gleaming wood, signature bell, and unique operation. No cables, though. Kind of weird, unless the rails have cables inside them. I'm too tired to go look that up, and I didn't have time to get off and see the Cable Car Museum, which would have been interesting.

17 hours of travel, no sleep on plane, a little Buffy on the layovers, home with the kids Monday afternoon, shared photos of Holland and SF, got up to date on their activities. Napped, but only for an hour, not nearly helpful.

Number One and I went to see the Mummy movie last night. It wasn't disappointing only because my expectations were low. To wit:

*I've seen what kind of writing the writers had come up with for Smallville two seasons ago. They lived up to that. Plot was fine, but the dialogue didn't match the previous two movies, and either the story itself or the editing was erratic.
*Maria Bello is a wonderful actress, but she is not Rachel Weisz. I'm not saying she's worse than RW, she's just not her. There was no chemistry with Brendan Fraser, she was very stiff and missing the spark and joy of life that Evie is supposed to have.
*The guy playing the son wasn't as geeky and idiotic as I expected, but he wasn't written very sympathetically and I'm sorry, while an American accent isn't out of the question (he has an American father, even if he's been raised in England), he sounded like he came from Brooklyn by way of New Jersey. Or something like that.
*Rick O'Connell was gorgeous and well-acted, but again, poorly written. His exuberance was gone, too. And I sorely missed Oded Fehr.

I wouldn't say my money was wasted. The effects were cool, the acting fine even if not what I was looking for, and I had a good time watching it with my daughter. But it was very definitely a second sequel in the old tradition.

Okay, almost done.

Besides wanting to spend the day with my family, I couldn't face the pile, both literal and digital, that waited for me in my office. Today I spent the morning sleeping (ref. 3 hours sleep over 36 hours, + 17 hours of traveling) and then getting my kids to Camp Nana and running errands. After that, I think it took me 3 hours to get the paper stuff organized, the balky computer working adequately, and my e-mail read. I got some business out of the way, but still have 43 out of the original 198 e-mails to address. (That tally doesn't include the 151 spam messages, and that's all just from four days. Imagine if I hadn't checked the three days before that!)

Some cool things today...

I got my cover for my September release:

I also found out that Renegade was #9 on the Amber Heat Bestseller list for July!

And I got a nice review for Renegade from Book Utopia.

So now we're on the downside of the summer. Even though we passed the halfway mark some time ago, getting ready for Holland and San Francisco was still climbing up to the high points of the season. Now we have doctor and car appointments, soccer practices, school open houses, and tournaments before the start of school on August 25.

And you know what? I'm sad about that.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

RWA Day 4: aka, Halfway to Brain Dead

Friday is the day a lot of people start to crash, especially if they came early in the week. It's often the busiest business day for people, though not always. Sometimes things are more spread out, sometimes they are all on Thursday. Friday was a busy day for me.

Started in the morning, continental breakfast, meeting with my Gab Wagon colleagues, Cathy McDavid and Monica Burns. (Note: Yes, I know I have not linked to a single author or other kind of site. I fail. Sorry.) We sat and chatted about lots of stuff for a really long time, pretty much until we were the only ones left in the giant ballroom.

I then went through the Grand Central Publishing author signing and the Avon author signing and hit the St. Martin's spotlight before lunch. The awards luncheon is always great (holier-than-thou-ness again: If you don't have a really, really important reason for leaving early, don't. These people deserve your respect and attention.). The luncheon speakers both days were great (forgot to mention Thursday's luncheon speaker). They always are. Every year, I imagine myself up there as one of my Ways To Know I Have Arrived (aka, Symbols of Success). Then I imagine myself as the first conference speaker ever to bomb totally, and I hope they never ask me.

I met with my agent this afternoon, and it was a great meeting. I adore her as much as ever. And no, I'm not looking for points. She doesn't even read this blog. (I don't think.)

After that, we went up to the Berkley signing, which had a hugungous line. I told her she should cut 'cause she was just going to go see a client, and assured her no one would get mad. She's an AGENT! But I did not wait in line. I went down to the Harlequin signing, where I waited in a slightly shorter line for a little while, talking to a Harlequin Superromance author whose name I'd recognize like *that* but who I now cannot recall for the life of me. Sorry! :(

Once inside, they wanted to keep the line moving in one direction to try to keep order and control in the room. I understood that--they had a LOT of authors--but in practice it was kind of stupid. We waited in line for like 20 minutes, maybe more, and half the room was empty while we waited in empty space for longer. No one was approaching the first author, so I walked up and got her book, then skipped all the category books and jumped ahead to the single titles (the side of the room with hardly any people--very inefficient). I got bunches of great books for free, met some authors I respect and appreciate and said so, and got out of there before the person who'd been in front of me in line had even moved a foot.

I'm so sneaky.

I got into the Berkley signing in the last 15 minutes. Most of the authors had left early, but a few were still there, so I got my first-ever Nora Roberts (JD Robb) signature.

Then I went to the workshop on Alternative Romance, half of which was conducted by three of my fellow Amber Quill Press authors, ML Rhodes, Lyndi Lamont, and Caitlyn Willows/Cassie Stevens. (Yes, I know, still no links--I don't have enough awake brain cells to fill them in. Sorry again.). I had never met any of these wonderful women (though Caitlyn/Cassie/Catherine, my fabulous editor, is pretty sure I was her underling at a previous RWA conference). After the smart, well-constructed, and full-house workshop, we joined up with ML's mother and Cindy Procter-King and went to dinner at John's Grill.

Interesting sightseeing note: John's Grill is where Dashiell Hammett set The Maltese Falcon. Very atmospheric, excellent food!

And the company was also excellent. I can't believe I felt so comfortable with them. I mean, I've been working with them and doing time on the AQP loops and stuff for years, so it makes sense that I would, but I'm a social misfit and always expect to fall flat on my face with the small talk stuff. As far as I can tell, I didn't. And if the others say otherwise, well, hey, I didn't link to their blogs, so you won't know! LOL

And that brings you up to date. I'm sitting outside the closed Starbucks while the rest of my friends are at their own publisher parties, alternating between typing up this blog and reading e-mail. I'm having trouble sending replies, which is making me mad and might lead me to not send anything else until I'm in the airport Sunday night/Monday morning. I can't tell if some of these are sending or not, so some might go more than once, some not at all. Apologies either way. :(

Tomorrow is a quieter day for me. More publisher signings, if I can squeeze them in--several are at the same time!--and some workshops before the award ceremony, which is always exciting and fun and I have a great dress even if I don't have a great body, so I'm looking forward to it 100%.

I have to say, I have only two regrets about this conference so far:

1. I have not found Amy Atwell, whom I really wanted to meet.
2. I have not had time to talk to Trish Milburn or Sherry Davis or Peggy Emard at any length. Trish and Sherry are busy with board duties, but missing Peggy is all me. Maybe tomorrow I can rectify that.

Stay tuned for more!

RWA Day 3

I forgot to mention that on the flight from Atlanta to Salt Lake City we had those cool in-seat monitor thingies. I haven't been on a flight that long since I was 9, so I've never gotten to use them before. You can see where the plane is and get data on speed, head wind, external temperature, distance flown, and ETA. The last is especially handy when your flight leaves late and you have a very short layover. Handy for stressing yourself the hell out, anyway.

These monitors also had paid movies and TV and games, as well as a free trivia game, like they have at Damon's Grill. You can compete against fellow fliers. It was so much fun! I won twice, and Randy in my row won twice, and in the last game, Lisa, between us, and Randy and I were dominating the top three, switching places with each question and totally locking out the punk kids behind us who won when we didn't. There was a sense of camaraderie I don't usually cultivate when I travel. I like my solitude. But this was great fun.

I forgot to mention, too, that this hotel has the Best. Elevators. Ever. People who've attended past conferences in New York and Dallas and maybe Atlanta, I don't remember for sure which ones were the worst, will remember the 20-minute waits for any car at all. Then when they came, they'd be full. Then they'd stop, of course, on every floor before yours. People would get on to go in the opposite direction because at least they'd be on a car, and eventually it would go the other way.

I swear, here, at least half the time I call for an elevator, it's empty. They come within 30 seconds every single time. No matter where you start, you never have to wait. Even when 2000 of us are coming out of a luncheon and all heading for the 'vator, it's only a two- or three-minute wait. Whoever designed the low-rise, mid-rise, and high-rise system in this particular hotel is a genius.

Thursday is the official kickoff of the conference. This year the structure was a little different. They had an opening session with a motivational speaker/pianist who was very good. She didn't say a lot that we haven't all heard before, but she had good stories to go with the messages, and it was a nice way to kick off.

Then we had the Annual General Meeting. Let me take a minute to be obnoxiously holier-than-thou. Out of 2000 attendees, we had only 311 people show up for the AGM, and 150 proxies. Wait, that isn't right. People who showed up PLUS proxies were only about 311. That's RIDICULOUS. I know it's a catch-22. There was no business on the agenda to conduct, like changes to the bylaws or anything, so people didn't bother to go or send proxies. But because they didn't do so, we couldn't conduct business if anyone brought up anything new. I consider attendance or at least proxy participation to be an obligation, to help the organization I get so much out of to run properly. I contend that if you don't think RWA does anything for you, you have a BIGGER obligation to attend and be part of the change that will make it do something for you. Obviously, that's a generalization to which there will be myriad legitimate exceptions, but that's my default viewpoint.


When you attend the AGM, you learn great stuff like this (which I shouldn't post, because then it makes attending the AGM even less important, but I am a blabbermouth, so I shall anyway):

Every year, discussions ensue about how RWA chooses conference hotels and why they don't go to X city or more central locations, etc. Allison Kelley (who KNEW MY NAME AND WAS EXCITED TO MEET ME IN PERSON SQUEEEE) told us that a few years ago, a survey was done of the entire country to see what hotels meet RWA's rather unique needs: size, double/double rooms available, meeting space, banquet needs, etc. There were only 22 hotels in the entire country. The survey is ongoing, as they are aware a hotel is being built in LA that fits our needs, but we do book several years out. Dallas has a new hotel that we could use but that wasn't built when we booked last year's conference. Since we go to New York every four years, we have a contract signed for 2019 (which will give us a really good rate, relatively speaking). That kind of lead time causes some restrictions, too.

Las Vegas was discussed, because people always ask and the most construction/growth is there, but they don't want us. We don't fit their demographic.

Also mentioned was the option of going to a convention center instead of an all-inclusive hotel. Now, I think most of us don't want that, anyway. We like going up to our rooms frequently, and not having to lug around dozens of books after the publisher signings. For example. And we couldn't all hang out in the bar at 1:00 a.m. when we're in a bunch of different hotels. But convention centers would give us more flexibility in location, so it's a possibility. Unfortunately, it would significantly increase costs, because we'd have to pay for all of the meeting space used, which we don't have to do at all now because we use the banquet services and guarantee occupancy.

Anyway. That's enough about that boring stuff. What else did I do on Thursday?


Man. I don't remember! I think I tried to check e-mail. I started this post, and got interrupted, and then went to a workshop. It was a great workshop. Joss Whedon's Firefly, and applying his genius to your own work. I know, why would I go to that? I could practically teach it. But it was excellent, and I won a T-shirt by completing the following exchange:

"You know what your sin is, Mal?"
"Hell, I'm a fan of all seven."

Only I didn't say "hell" because it was being recorded. The rest is "But right now, I'm gonna have to go with wrath."

After that I went to dinner with old friends and new ones (Regan, if you see this, let me know your last name so I can keep an eye out for your books once you sell!) and then went with Monica Burns to the Knight Agency party at a place called First Crush. I met Sarah Reinke and Shannon McKelden there, and had a wonderful time talking to them, as well as Monica and her husband. I also got to talk to my agent for a while about Comic-Con. She didn't bring me kisses from Jensen Ackles. What kind of agent is she? Sheesh.

When I got back I hung in the bar with Tracy Madison for a while, then went to bed and crashed, falling asleep while Lisa tried to talk to me about her schedule the next day. Sorry, Lisa, I swear I was trying to pay attention, but now I have no idea what you said.

Oh, wait. Between dinner and the party we went to the Moonlight Madness Bazaar. I got a treat for a goals prize for CPRW (my local chapter) and some goodies for friends who are stuck back at home eating themselves alive with jealousy. Also, totally killing me in our writing challenge. But they get treats anyway.

I have to go read my 107 e-mails (I had 198 when I started, the rest was spam and research loop mail I decided to skip). After that, if I have a few brain cells still working, I'll post about today!