Thursday, December 30, 2010

Globetrotting Apocalyptic Year End

Last night we used one of our family Christmas presents, tickets to see the Harlem Globetrotters. They're something I remember fondly from my childhood, though I've never actually seen them live until now. Seems like that's something worth having on your bucket list. Now I can cross it off mine! :)

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Aggravations

I had a mild migraine last night. I'm very grateful it was mild, of course, but the symptoms I did have are worse than the actual pain: vibrating lightning bolt obscuring my vision, head feeling like it's made out of lead crystal (heavy and hard), neck corded with the cables from the Golden Gate Bridge, and general malaise that lasts 24 hours.

THEN I was getting ready for bed, and my contact slipped out of the cleaning clip thingy into the sink. Of course, I always stopper the drain because I have hard contacts that bounce and are very small. Also of course, the stopper lifted on its own just after the contact fell, and bye bye contact.

This morning, in the shower, my brain started to formulate a couple of really awesome query letter paragraphs for Hummingbird. Ten minutes later, when I was dry enough to use the Alphasmart, they'd rearranged themselves into junk.

I had a plan for this afternoon, and determination to get everything on my to-do list done. Necessary errands and a little unexpected chauffeuring got in the way, so I only did half, and now I'm too wiped to do the rest. One of which was the 2010 year in review I told you I'd do.

I'm definitely ready to say goodbye to this decade.

Interview

Come see me at Susan Gourley's/Kelley's blog!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Intentions

Look! I'm blogging two days in a row! Could it be the start of a trend? :)

I had all these topics I wanted to write about yesterday, and wimped out. Do you think I can remember most of them today? Hell, no! I turned 40 last week! Sheesh.

It's kind of funny. Everyone's picking on me, as they are wont to do when someone hits a "milestone" birthday. But I don't feel older. Duh. One day doesn't make you suddenly ancient.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Random Update

Today, I was determined to catch up on blog reading between plays and during commercials for the football game. The problem is that I can’t just read recent posts. I have to read everything I’ve missed. Since it’s been a month, and some of the bloggers I read post every day, it’s taking a while. Like, three hours and I’m still on the fifth one. But it’s very cozy here on my bed with the football and the snuggy-that’s-so-much-softer-and-warmer-than-a-snuggy that was a present from Number Two.

Reading these pre-holiday posts just hit me hard with “I can’t believe the holidays are over.” They were great. I say “they” even though New Year’s hasn’t arrived yet, because my birthday was in there, and that’s a big holiday in our house. All birthdays are.

We had a very entertainment-oriented Christmas. I couldn’t wait to get home from the in-laws so I could spend my Amazon gift cards, watch my The A-Team DVD, and play Wii. We sang Glee Karaoke and tried out Rock Band 3 and the keyboard so far. There are about 5 other games to be tried out. Also, iTunes gift cards to be spent. The biggest gifts were Number Two’s phone (that she’s disappointingly blasĂ© about) and Number One’s Fathead. She was very eager to get the 6-foot-five figure of Peyton Hillis on her wall. Oh, and my new espresso machine is excellent, too. I’ll work very hard not to break this one.

I had a great visit with my brother and sister-in-law and nephew, enjoyed having five days off work (though it went way too fast), and am very sad it’s all over.

I had Twitter open while I watched the game. Apparently, humongous amounts of snow are being dumped very close to me, but not actually here. That’s sad.

It’s now 8 hours after I started this post/reading blogs and I’m tired. Caught up! But tired. I’ll write more tomorrow!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

In Perpetuity

I started a blog post yesterday with Never-Ending Things that Suck and Never-Ending Things That the Opposite of Suck. The second list only had two things on it, and they were stretching it. The first list had a couple of things I'd come up with to make it longer, but you know what it really comes down to?

Housecleaning. And it sucks.

Sunday, I spent 10 hours cleaning my house (minus two 5-minute breaks for dessert [I skipped lunch] and to check e-mail and a quick run to the store for a new shower curtain and printer ink). My husband and kids worked even harder than me, though they took 4 hours off for the football game. My body ached, my hands are still all roughed up, and we're out of cleaning products.

And within 12 hours there was more laundry to be done, dishes in the sink, cat litter on the floor, and a toilet bowl that needed scrubbing again.

It's enough to drive you insane. In fact, it's probably responsible for half the insanity in the western world.

Anyway.

I originally wrote the rest of this post about why I haven't been posting. How lame is that? You've heard it all before, so I'll spare you. Especially since...LOOKEE!

My cover art for Fight or Flight (coming March 28, 2011, from Carina Press)!


March still seems very far away, but maybe just a little bit closer. :)

Next week I'll analyze 2010 and see what kind of a year it shaped up to be. In the meantime, I wish you all a very Merry Christmas (if you celebrate it) and an excellent New Year.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Gab Wagon: Pleasure Me With A Shot

The Gab Wagon: Pleasure Me With A Shot: "Ya know, it so amazes me how I manage to get that Pleasure Me title worked into a blog post, Facebook or Twitter comment. *grin* But I digre..."

The Gab Wagon: College Encroachment

The Gab Wagon: College Encroachment: "When I first became a mother, it was easy to see my children only from the maternal perspective. I couldn't remember being an infant or a to..."

Monday, December 13, 2010

Monday, November 29, 2010

The Gab Wagon: Dear CBS and DirecTV

The Gab Wagon: Dear CBS and DirecTV: "You suck. Three times during the 2010 football season, my team, the New England Patriots, have been on regular TV (i.e. the local CBS affil..."

Friday, November 26, 2010

Guest Blogger Jenny Schwartz

Hi Natalie! I'm so pleased to be here. Sure, it was a long swim from Australia, but I had my waterwings and—apart from the odd collision with a cargo ship—I made it easily. The exercise was a great way to work off some of my excitement that Angel Thief is releasing Monday. Monday! Happy, happy, happy.

Like me, Angel Thief has an Australian background, so I thought I'd use this post to share with the world three things that they mightn't know about Australia.

One. We put all our politicians in jail as soon as they're elected. It saves time.

Two. We smear a concentrated mush of veggies boiled in beer on our toast.

Three. We drink BEER.

Oh wait. That's Terry Pratchett's The Lost Continent. Australia is nothing at all like that. Nope, never drink beer, never eat Vegemite, never elect crooked politicians. Boring, really. Just stunning landscapes, unique animals, friendly people, sunshine, beaches and barbeques.

So, how about three facts about me as a writer?

One. My earliest reading obsession was with the work of Enid Blyton before I graduated to Nancy Drew and Trixie Beldon and the Asterix comics. After that, there was no holding me back. I read and read, and that led naturally to writing.

Two. I'm a caffeine addict. Coffee in the morning. Tea in the afternoon. I can't imagine the writing life without caffeine. Actually, I can't imagine life without caffeine!

Three. Becoming a writer has increased my respect for all authors. I know now how tough the journey is and how inescapable. The other day I was wondering why the hell the Rolling Stones are still touring when they're wealthy enough to do absolutely nothing. Then I imagined (and it was a stretch) being a millionaire author, and I realised I'd still be writing. It's not about the money (though we need it to live). It's about an addiction to creativity. Once your brain has learned the thrill of storytelling, there's no going back.

***

Angel Thief releases November 29 from Carina Presshttp://bit.ly/AngThief

She’s breaking the rules. Again.


An archivist in the heavenly library, Sara must follow protocol when it comes to curating the knowledge of the universe. But "liberating" an ancient text from the collection of a human—an Australian drug lord—could save a boy’s life. Sara has no way of knowing that one of the man’s other treasures is a sexy-as-sin djinni, bound by a wish to guard the estate.


He’s only following orders.


Filip is compelled to turn over intruders, even celestial ones, to his master. When he catches Sara in the library, he isn’t above indulging in some sensual kisses with her, or using her to trick the mobster into wasting a wish. It’s what he must do to preserve his facade of freedom and protect his heart.


But the kidnapping of the drug lord’s daughter forces Sara and Filip to work together—bringing out the hero that lurks within the soul of the djinni, and the passion within the angel.

***
You can find Jenny:
at her website
blogging
or on Twitter @Jenny_Schwartz

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Coming Friday: Guest Blogger Jenny Schwartz!

On Friday, I'll be hosting guest blogger and Carina Press author Jenny Schwartz right here!

A little about Jenny, from her website:
I live in Western Australia where the Indian Ocean is bluer than heaven. Not that I live beside the sea -- I wish. Seaside prices are astronomical. Fortunately, I'm a big fan of suburban living -- friendly neighbours, backyard visitors (birds, lizards and ladybugs) and room for a straggly herb garden.

Confession (because every bio requires a deep, dark secret): Perhaps the best thing about being a writer is that you can read and read and read -- and call it research!


Jenny's Carina Press release Angel Thief releases on Monday, November 29. But join us here THIS Friday (in your post-Thanksgiving or post-shopping stupor) to laugh and learn. See you then!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

First Thoughts on Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part I

No spoilers! :)

I took Number One to the midnight premiere of Harry Potter Thursday night. Yes, it was a school night for her and a work night for me. She was dying to go, so a couple of weeks before, I told her that if she could get all her teachers to certify that she had no tests or quizzes and would not suffer academic deficits, I'd take her.

To my amazement, they all signed. Most with laughter. One said he was proud of me. (I think the same one who ended up giving her a quiz anyway, but at least they could use their notes.)

So we left the house at 10:30 and headed over.

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Gab Wagon

I'm blogging today at The Gab Wagon about what's making this week such a good one for me. Check it out! :)

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Look! Twice in One Day!

I'm writing a new book for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), and doing so in the full spirit of the event. In other words, I'm writing crap, ignoring that it's crap, and focusing on moving forward. Every few lines, I have to give myself permission to leave it alone, but I'm not comfortable with putting out crap. It seems as if the less I focus on quality-first, the less quality comes out.

At the same time (well, alternately, not at the exact same time, that would be impossible), I'm reading a book that's just amazing. The richness of each sentence, the clarity of description and action—but perfectly chosen, so it's not getting bogged down in detail. I'm in awe. And it drives me nuts.

Because I can't do it. That's how I feel right now. It's ridiculous. I know for a fact that it doesn't come out that way for her, she's said so. First drafts aren't supposed to be polished. I've written books I'm very proud of, and all of them took many, many passes before they became that way. Still, as the words flow from my brain to my fingers onto the screen, other words join mentally join them:

Boring.

Common.

You used that word six times already.

Vary your sentence structure.

Stop using "then."

You'll never be as good as her.


I'm well aware of the dangers of comparison, and I generally avoid it. But this is a special case. I mean, she's a Patriots fan. We both write romantic adventure, so I feel we have a similar audience. When a book is nothing like mine, I'm not as humbled by its awesomeness (like, say, anything by Megan Hart).

So I have a couple of choices. I can let it get to me, and lament my apparently diminishing skills. Or I can finish reading her book before I go back to writing.

I think I'll go with plan B.

Taking a Breath...Again

I'm sure this blog has been abandoned by readers, since I've been going for longer and longer stretches between posts. Things have eased back a little again, though, yay!

My line edits for Fight or Flight are done, turned in, and accepted.

Soccer is over, so no more practices and games taking up five days a week.

The fall play is this week, so paint crew is over, so no more daily pickups at school.

Freelance work has evened out, mostly. *knock wood so it doesn't dump on me again!* I like it spread out, of course.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

In Which I Ramble On (and on and on) about Supernatural

I just read Mo Ryan's review of "You Can't Handle the Truth," and that inspired me to finally(!) post here about Supernatural, despite the boatload of work waiting for me and the fact that my husband is about to arrive home after several days out of town.


Caution: There is a spoiler in this rambling based on the preview shown at the end of the episode.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Guest Blogger Toni Anderson, on Imagination

Natalie very generously invited me here to blog today. Thanks so much, Natalie.

I was thinking about what to blog about when I was struck by the concept of imagination.

IMAGINATION—power to create in one's mind


I have 3 full-length novels published. The first one is set on a ranch in Montana, the next two in Scotland. I’ve written other books set in South Dakota, Ireland, Northern Labrador, NYC, and England. Sometimes I use locations or jobs I’m familiar with but no matter how familiar I am with one aspect of a book there are still myriad details to research.

RESEARCH—examination, study


So I research like crazy, everything from location details to historical fact, witchcraft, psychic powers, police procedures, medical conditions, flying helicopters, and the psychology of everything from serial killers to phobias to growing up without a father. The first story I ever wrote was called Her Sanctuary and is published by The Wild Rose Press. I love this story, but at the time I wrote it there was no information on how the FBI dealt with art fraud so I made it up—I had to. But after Her Sanctuary was published there was a whole TV series on how the FBI dealt with art fraud and counterfeits. I was so mad. :) I’m still mad because I hate getting facts wrong, and yet it is impossible to know everything about everything. And although there is such thing as poetic licence, I’ve noticed that nowadays people like much more fact with their fiction.

When researching Sea of Suspicion (Carina Press) I contacted a Fife police officer and swung a tour of the St. Andrews’s Police Station. I’d lived in the town for years but never had reason to visit the local nick. I set the story in the Marine Lab where I’d done my graduate studies so there was no need to do endless research on the location—it’s in my bones :). But I didn’t know anything about octopods (the heroine’s area of expertise) and found myself immersed in research on a subject that probably only takes up a few sentences in the book. I now know a lot about octopods.

Storm Warning (Carina Press) is also set in Fife, although down the coast in a town called Anstruther where I lived for 6 wonderful years. But although I knew the area, I still had to spend a solid week reading books about psychics. I interrogated spoke to a psychic lady in my writing chapter (Kiss of Death) who answered all my questions about what it felt like to be psychic. The main problem writing that book was that my heroine is as ignorant as I am and didn’t understand the sensations she was experiencing at the start of this book. I also gave my hero hydrophobia (not rabies, which is what the copyeditor suggested) from a childhood incident with a couple of bullies in the local swimming pool. I know a bit about phobias but needed to see how I could make the story work with an alpha hero who is scared of water and surrounded by the stuff (my previous agent told me never to use the word fear in association with a hero—any thoughts on that?).

Research and Imagination go hand-in-hand when creating a story. I like to think of the research as the structure and the imagination as the flow of a story. I’m about to dive into another story and hope you enjoy reading them as much as I enjoyed writing them.

So my question to you is how important is it to get the facts right in fiction?

Toni Anderson is a former Marine Biologist whose first Romantic Suspense novel, Her Sanctuary, was released in 2009, and her Scottish novels Sea of Suspicion & Storm Warning are available from Carina Press. She writes about her life and travels on her blog, Facebook and Twitter. Readers can sign up for her occasional newsletter and check up on her latest releases on her website and Facebook Fan Page.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Check Out Toni Anderson Tomorrow!

Tomorrow I'm delighted to host guest blogger Toni Anderson, who will talk about Imagination and getting details right.

Toni Anderson is a former Marine Biologist whose first Romantic Suspense novel, Her Sanctuary, was released in 2009, and her Scottish novels Sea of Suspicion & Storm Warning are available from Carina Press. She writes about her life and travels on her blog, Facebook and Twitter. Readers can sign up for her occasional newsletter and check up on her latest releases on her website and Facebook Fan Page.

~~~~~~~~~
Note: I'll have to post her blog after work tomorrow, so check it out in the afternoon! :)

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Thoughts on TV and E-Book Reading

I did not see the draw of Alex O'Loughlin until I started watching Hawaii 5-0. Now I do, though I prefer Danno/Scott Caan, myself. :) Last week, I thought, "It would be nice to have a Kono-centric episode." And then I saw the preview for this week! Cool when writers anticipate my desires. :)

I'm not enjoying The Mentalist much this season. I think we're still two episodes behind, and if it wasn't nearly midnight, I would have wanted to watch another episode last night. But that's party because I'm eager to get to the Jim Beaver episode. Jane's been too much of a downer, and hasn't been involved enough with cases to really do much of his "thing." The cases have been kind of mundane, the guest stars flat, and way too little focus on the team (Grace, Rigsby, and Cho). I have to say, though, the actress playing Christina was fantastic in her "I'm dead" episode. SO creepy, and her catatonia and uneven eyes... *shudder*

I shall post a Supernatural post soon. I know, it's kind of shocking I haven't yet done it. I guess I've been spending all my thoughts in the comments at Supernatural Sisters. I will say I love this season, and I can't wait until the next episode each week. I will also say that my passion has matured and doesn't burn so hot, which is probably inevitable in the sixth year, and that Friday messes me up because I always forget that it's on! Not forget to watch it, but I don't have that excited anticipation I used to have all day Thursday. But that's okay. It's still the show I would most miss.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Sunglasses as Hair Accessories and Other Shopping Thoughts

I like the way my hair looks best when I shove my sunglasses up on my head. This mostly happens when I'm shopping, and in and out of stores, because that's the most convenient, safest place to put them (I don't carry a purse). Headbands don't replicate the look--I've tried. They're curved, and sunglasses, of course, are squared off. They don't make squared-off hair accessories, and even if they did, that would look stupid.
~~~~

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Catching Breath and Catching Up

I finally feel like I'm back to a normal schedule. I don't know if that means I'll be able to post here more often, or keep tabs on Twitter or Facebook, but I'll try. Here's some of the stuff I've been wanting to talk about but didn't have time:

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Things I'm Behind On

1. Client Work
I have a very laid-back, understanding, no-rush client who fell by the wayside for deadline work. I'm struggling to get caught up—he should be rewarded for his patience!

2. Blogging
I don't know if this counts as "behind," since it's clear I haven't followed any regular schedule here lately. Blogging other places takes away some potential topics.

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Overheard on the Soccer Field

Some guy standing behind me at the soccer field today said, "She's three-quarters Lhasapoo..." I didn't hear the rest, but it doesn't really matter. I'm still puzzling over that part.

How can that be possible?

A Lhasa Poo is already a mixed breed. Half Lhasa Apso, half Poodle. So if that was one parent, then the pup is one quarter lhasa, one quarter poodle, and half whatever the other parent was. If the other parent was a Lhasa Poo, then the pup is also a Lhasa Poo. If they're a Lhasa-something-else, then the pup is three-quarters Lhasa, but then only one quarter poodle and one quarter something-else.

Gah. Let me start over.

Let's say one parent was Lhasa Poo, half and half. The other parent was half Lhasa Poo and half, I dunno, retriever, which means one quarter Lhasa, one quarter Poo, and one half retriever...

1/4L + 1/4P + 1/8L + 1/8P + 1/4R

Got it! The pup would be THREE-EIGHTHS Lhasa Poo!

Is there another scenario I'm missing that could add up to 3/4 of a mixed breed?

Friday, October 01, 2010

Guest Blogging!

I'm over at Keri Ford's blog today! Come see what I have to say about the Evolution of an Idea!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Found on the NEO

I wrote this post on September 2nd, then every time I saw it on the Neo, I was like, "I posted that, didn't I? Yeah, I'm sure I posted that." Then I forgot to check.

I never posted that. But I like it, so I'm posting it now, even though stuff that's a month old is hardly relevant. Some of it is, though! So...

Friday, September 24, 2010

Because It's Important Enough to Say Twice

Afterlife will be releasing this weekend, and I'm participating in the release party thrown by The Romance Studio tonight. If you've got a few minutes, check it out. There are several authors celebrating new releases, so there should be something for everyone! The party runs 6:00 p.m. to midnight Eastern time.

In the Midst of Insanity

Today's Friday, right?

My week has been so crazy, with thinking I had to work, then not having to work, then getting more work from the freelance job, and canceling obligations, rescheduling activities, fretting about things that weren't going right. It all worked out in the end, which is kind of a lesson about not worrying about things until absolutely necessary. I always advocate for that, but it's hard to do.

I even managed to watch some TV this week, though nothing new yet. All the old favorites are off to a good start. On Bones, though, I think it would have been cool if they'd opened their own agency or something. I thought that might be where they were going, when Booth asked why they only investigate when there's a body.

This weekend is going to be a working weekend, but hopefully I'll make a little progress toward getting Soul of the Dragon published. Oh! And speaking of books, Afterlife will be releasing this weekend, and I'm participating in the release party thrown by The Romance Studio tonight. If you've got a few minutes, check it out. There are several authors celebrating new releases, so there should be something for everyone! The party runs 6:00 p.m. to midnight Eastern time.

I'll also be blogging tonight at Supernatural Sisters. Supernatural returns! I admit, I've been too busy to get excited, but that slow buzz of anticipation is starting. Tune in to Supernatural Sisters a couple of hours after the show to see what I thought and share your own feelings about the start of season six!

I'm heading now into another soccer- and football-focused weekend, with bursts of intense work. What have you got going on?

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Premiere Week!

One of my favorite reasons to love fall is here: The main premiere week for primetime television. Unfortunately, I'm too busy to watch anything! :(

Okay, not true. Not anything. Just not most of it. Still, I manage to have a lot to say about TV (raise your hand if you're surprised. LOL)

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Grumpy. And Stressed.

We won't talk about the grumpy. Suffice to say week 2 of the NFL was not as fun as week 1.

So let's talk about the stress. I can't stop thinking about my week:

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

I Love My Schedule, Except When I Don't

Reasons I love my schedule:

1. I don't have to leave for work too early, so the morning's not a stressful mess.

2. The half hour drive to work and home again allows me to keep up with the Patriots and NFL podcasts I listen to.

3. If I go straight home, I have two hours of time before the kids come home, time I can designate for fiction or freelance work.

4. Even after the kids come home, their homework time is still work time for me.

5. I can focus on soccer practices, school stuff, and my kids' needs without guilt.

Reasons I don't love my schedule:

1. I still have to get up at 6:30 because Number One leaves at 6:40. She doesn't need me, but I'm not letting her go without saying goodbye.

2. The half hour one-way commute carves an hour of wasted time out of my day.

3. I rarely get to go straight home. I always have errands to run. Even when I don't, two hours is never enough time to eat lunch, catch up on e-mail, address whatever volunteer stuff I have to do, do any freelance work that came in or was pending, and work on my fiction.

4. "Homework" time is also "tell Mom about my day" time, essential and only precluded by an intense deadline.

5. HA! Guilt will never be banished.

So on paper, my schedule looks perfect. In execution, though, I think I need to do some tweaking. This is the first full week of school, so I've cut myself some slack so far.

That's going to have to end.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Royal Trouble

I've posted before about my involvement with Orchid Games. I've been a beta tester, and one of my stories is in the FREE Heartwild Solitaire Classic.

But that's not what I'm blogging about today. Today, I'm blogging about Royal Trouble.

Monday, September 06, 2010

My Brain is Weird

The dream started with me getting into an elevator. There was one other person, plus a courier with his bike, and we had to maneuver a little to all fit. He pressed 4. We pressed 2. The elevator went to 4. We pressed 2 again. It went to 1. We pressed 2 again. The elevator went sideways.

Then it went up on a diagonal and left the building, and we were climbing over the city, as if we were still in an elevator shaft. But there was no structure around it, and in fact no elevator, I suppose, since I could see everything around me (I think London). So I decided it was magic.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Home Alone

Today is my first day off (from the day job) since school started. I've been really looking forward to it! A whole day to work, plenty of time to really dig in. And then I stupidly added appointments to my morning. And then Number One overslept half an hour, thanks to Simone Elkeles and Suzanne Collins, which necessitated driving her to school. I'd just dive in to work now, except those appointments mean I must shower.

Day...Derailed.

Not really. I can get back on track. But here's my plan for the day:

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Topping Off the Summer

On our last Saturday before school started, we took a day trip to Philadelphia and had a great day. I blogged about it Monday at The Gab Wagon.

It's been a good summer. Lots going on, many intentions that were never fulfilled, some stresses, but some good things, too, and overall, I'm happy.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

New Toy

About 10 or 11 years ago, my wonderful husband bought me an all-in-one printer/fax/scanner/copier for my birthday.

I think I managed to scan one picture before the scanner function stopped working. I was never able to get the scanner to communicate with the computer--all three of the ones I've had since getting the printer.

A couple of years ago, it stopped communicating as a printer, too. That was really annoying, because I could no longer print color documents for promotional purposes or copy photos and stuff. But I still had the laser printer, and I could use the all-in-one for faxing and copying.

Then a few months ago I started getting a message about the scanner being on the blink and to turn the machine off and on. I'd do that once, and it would work fine, still scanning the original to fax or copy.

Last week, turning it off and on stopped working. So I couldn't copy the insurance card I needed to copy. Worse, it meant no more faxing, either. Which meant not faxing our order to Neato Burrito.

Well, that was just not acceptable. So I bought a new printer, another all-in-one that's much smaller and sleeker. And guess what? All the features work! So now I can subject you to stuff like this:

NUJ AND BRANDY

Monday, August 23, 2010

When Blood Calls by JK Beck

I love Julie Kenner's books. The next one can never come out fast enough for me. (Seriously, HOW long do we have to wait for another Demon-Hunting Soccer Mom Book?)

But she's not actually working on those right now, I guess. Julie is a bit consumed with her alter ego, J.K. Beck, author of The Shadow Keepers. I was a little skeptical about this series. I mean, I've always liked everything she wrote, so it has to be good, but...it's vampires.

And really, I'm so very tired of vampires.

But she was giving away a mega-ton of ARCs (advance reader copies), so thought "what the hey" and signed up. And got one! Which was kind of genius, because I probably wouldn't have bought it. You know, because of the vampires. My hope was that I'd read the first book, love it, and then have to buy the other two. I'm sure her hope was something like that, too.

The condition for receiving the ARC was, if I liked the book, I'd help spread the word via social media promotion. If I didn't like it, she asked that I pass it on. (That's full disclosure, FCC. :) )

So, since I'm blogging about this book, I guess you can tell I liked it. :) I admit it did stumble over a few of my personal bugaboos, but they're completely personal. The book is incredibly well written, with a fully realized world we get immersed in from page one, without the stumbling around that a reader sometimes has to do before getting acclimated.

The characters are excellent. I like ambiguity in my romance and in my characterization, and she provides just enough to keep it interesting, without making us feel lost. We also get multiple points of view, a lot more than just the main couple, which makes for a more complex experience.

When Blood Calls, the first book in the trilogy, is out next Tuesday, August 31. You can preorder now, of course, and that link takes you to her page with links to all the most popular retailers. When Pleasure Rules and When Wicked Craves are coming out in October and November, so yay! We don't have to wait this time! :)

Enjoy!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Poor Kitty

I wonder how long cats' memories are.

BG, our youngest, most curious, most social cat just stood outside my office door and gave an inquiring cry. She's been wandering around kind of aimlessly, and I know why—the kids aren't here.

All summer, she's been going back and forth between their rooms, hanging out on their dressers and stools and beds. We've had a lot less Camp Nana this year, and she's always out of sorts when they're gone. She kept crying at us last night, too, like asking "Where the he** is Number Two? It's bedtime!"

We're a week away from the start of school, and we've had BG for three years now, so I know she'll adapt to the schedule. But always before, I've been home most of the day. If she wanted company, she'd come to my office. Now ALL of us will be gone.

Whatever will she do?

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

This is It

My last full, true, personal day.

Numbers One and Two are at the final Camp Nana of the year tonight, and will be there all day tomorrow.

I don't have to work tomorrow.

For the first time since I started the job, I don't have three appointments and mandatory grocery shopping to do on my day off.

What I do have is a large to-do list that's a mix of personal (ordering gifts), professional (updating the Contests and Conferences column on the RWA website), and writing related (finish applying Angela James' self-editing workshop to Hummingbird, work on formatting of Soul of the Dragon, start revisions I just got today for Fight or Flight, my spring release from Carina Press). I can't wait, and I'm going to wallow in every blessed minute.

After that, I'll still have Thursdays off, but my kids will have school, which means up early to see them off, etc., and many of those days off will have the aforementioned appointments and errands packed into them.

Hey, remember this post? Ignore the self-indulgent and boring descriptions of the dreams themselves (gah, why does anyone read this thing, anyway?). In that post, I talked about my old friend Peter, and guess what he did? He Googled himself. And e-mailed me. Ack!

But really, how cool is that? After 20 years, I've heard from two old, very close friends in the span of a few weeks. I LOVE the Internet!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Things I Did This Summer

I love when I get a blog idea from someone else. :)

Things I Did This Summer

1. Coached a 3v3 soccer team to a close final race (but no championship game).

2. Edited 3 client manuscripts.

3. Chauffeured my kids to and from strings camp and biology lab, and a few soccer practices.

4. Attended the Salute to Supernatural in New Jersey.

5. Hugged Matt Cohen.

6. Got a job.

7. Picked up an editing client.

8. Worked on at least three different books (of my own!) at different levels (final final critique/edit, new writing, revision) but finished nothing.

9. Submitted multiple projects to agents and editors.

10. Compiled 3 RWR columns.

11. Sold a novella:


12. Commissioned a book cover:


13. Entered the Twitterverse (@NJDamschroder)

14. Went to Hersheypark (twice, counting tomorrow) and finally rode the Fahrenheit.

15. Since I needed a #15, today I sold Fight or Flight to Carina Press! Stay tuned for more details!

Sunday, August 08, 2010

This Week's Goals

Several of my blogging friends regularly post goals for the week or day. I want to get into that habit, but don't expect to, since it's been a "want" for years.

But here are my goals for this week:

1. Talk to childhood best friend, whom I lost track of decades ago and haven't been able to find, who just found me a few days ago.

2. Judge the 5 contest entries awaiting my thoughtful and compassionate critique.

3. Actually do the assignments in the Savvy Authors workshop I'm taking, because otherwise, what's the friggin' point?

4. Write query letter for Hummingbird and start submitting to agents.

5. Read through Entanglement to get back into the story and continue writing.

6. Start formatting Soul of the Dragon.

7. Make follow-up appointment for hyperthyroidic cat.

8. Make eye appointments for me and Number One.

9. Camp Nana!

10. Hersheypark!

11. Number One's sports physical.

12. Prep for booksigning on Saturday.

Man, that's a week. I'm tired now.

Friday, August 06, 2010

Oh, Yeah, I Keep Forgetting...

MULTI-AUTHOR BOOKSIGNING
at Waldenbooks—Lebanon Valley Mall
SATURDAY AUGUST 14TH
10am—2pm


Authors scheduled to appear(subject to change without notice)

Horror
Frank E. Bittinger
David Boyle
J.F. Gonzalez
Brian Keene
Ron Malfi
Joe Schreiber

Fiction
Arthur Ford
Thomas Lipovsky
Robert Vogel

Romance
Vicky Burkholder
Natalie Damschroder
Lucy Finn
Megan Hart
Savannah Russe
Misty Simon
Victoria Smith

Children’s
Sandy Asher
Kelly Ann Butterbaugh
Jeff Clineff
Olga Jaffae
Dana Smith-Mansall
Murphdog® and Company
Ruth Zavitsanos

Young Adult
Ellen Jensen Abbott
Cyn Balog
Beth Fantaskey
Charlene Haines
A.S. King
Jeri Smith-Ready
Maria V. Snyder

Fantasy
Byron N. Morrison
Andy Pete

Historical Fiction
Gene Gomolka

Self-help
Janette Kortman
Joan Landis

Poetry
Amaryllis Santiago
Doris Washington

Non-fiction
John Sabol

Autobiography
Dr. Lazslo Geder
Dashaun Jiwe Morris

20% of the proceeds will benefit the Lebanon Library. Storm Troopers will also be appearing. Various merchants from the mall along with local businesses
such as Longaberger and Partylite have donated raffle items. For every book purchased you will receive a raffle ticket. Pre-purchased books not eligible. Raffles to be held around 1:30 p.m.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Summer TV Verdict

Now that the last show on my "check it out" list has aired, I can talk about the shows I've been watching and what I think about them. In order of worst to best:

Rubicon
While movie critics are almost never on the same page as me, TV critics often are. So when they raved about Rubicon, I added it to my list. Yawn. We spent the whole first episode feeling like there were chunks missing. We could understand what was there, but still felt lost. But more than that, I didn't care. I got no sense of any of the characters, despite the tidbits they dropped. When they said Will is morose because of losing his family in 9/11, my reaction was "Dude, that was 9 years ago!" It's a horrible thing that happened to way too many people, but suspension of disbelief was just not possible for me, that he'd still be so mopey, as if it happened a year ago. When everyone was saying they didn't want Grant as a boss, I had no idea why. Plus, the fashions were stuffy. The whole thing just felt self-important and therefore pretentious without an ounce of justification.

Haven
I gave this one a try for the supernatural elements. I'm kind of meh on it. It's intriguing, and I like Audrey and Nathan. Duke's okay. I'm not drooling over him like a lot of people are. :) I think the mysteries each week are creative, and I'm eager to find out what triggered The Troubles. I was surprised to hear people complain that Audrey bought into everything too easily. I thought they established her motivation very well—that she already sought the weird and unexplainable, so it was right up her alley. Plus, come on, she got thrown across the sidewalk by a swirl of wind. I'm more exasperated by characters denying strange stuff when it's right in their face. Plus, IRL, I'm always wishing I'd witness psychic or supernatural phenomena, so I'd buy it that easily, myself. :) What does distract me, though, is Nathan's condition. I guess, like any "disability," he would adapt to it. But I feel like he's way too competent. He can't feel anything. Not the sun, not breath on his skin, nothing. So how does he know he's holding stuff? He never drops anything or fumbles. How does he put on a button-down shirt if he can't feel where the sleeve is? In many scenes, I find myself thinking about this stuff. :) Distracting.

The Good Guys
As I've said in the past, I don't care for crime dramas. But I tried this one because I like Bradley Whitford and Colin Hanks, and because of the concept. I was skeptical. I thought I'd hate Stark's over-the-top character, and watching bumblers always makes me too embarrassed for them. Not what I want in my entertainment. But this show was hilarious. The finale? "Don't Tase Me, Bro"? Comic genius. Whitford is amazing, his performance is so thorough. This one is definitely staying on my list for fall.

Covert Affairs
Okay, it's official. I can no longer say I don't like crime dramas! LOL I love this show. I love Piper Perabo, I love Auggie...actually, my husband said something about new crush, and I said no, I've loved Christopher Gorham since Jake 2.0, and he said old crush, then, but it was never a crush, really. After a few more episodes, I fully admit to a crush, but it's totally on Auggie, not the actor. I admire the actor for his performance (his deliberate actions, his need for tactility, his sometimes indirect gaze) but my crush is on the compassionate, smart, charming, total playah of a character. :) I also like Annie, and that even though she was totally manipulated into becoming a CIA agent, she's a damned good one. She avoids being a Mary Sue by making mistakes and overestimating herself (and losing about every hand-to-hand situation she's in), but she is also always determined to make it right.

I'm also still enjoying Eureka (the change-up is rife with conflict, though often uncomfortable), White Collar (I love that Mozzie's role is so much bigger), and Royal Pains (could really do without the other doctor, though).

So, where do you stand on these or any other summer TV?

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Bats, Dragons, and Naked Men

Late last night, I was on the phone with my cover artist for Soul of the Dragon (this is a cool cover, she captured Cyrgyn darned near perfectly) when Number One freaked out that there was something in the living room. "It's your shadow!" I tried to tell her, just as a winged creature zoomed into the dining room, then back into the living room, down the hall, and back again.

Now, I love bats. They don't scare me. But when they're panicking in a confined space and zipping down over your head, you tend to duck. And maybe cry out. A little. The kids were screaming and laughing, I was yelling and laughing, the poor thing kept circling the living room and stopping for half a second ABOVE the open front door instead of going through it. J finally managed to capture it in the Tupperware he'd brought downstairs the night before, after waking me at 12:39 a.m., to help him catch the thing in the ceiling. (I called him delusional and went back to bed--not that there wasn't something in the ceiling, because there most definitely was, but because there was no way we'd catch it. I'm pretty sure it was the bat.)

So that's the bat and the dragon. The naked guy is this:


I'm excited to say I have a new story coming out the week of September 26 from Amber Quill Press. Afterlife will be available in several e-book formats. Here's the blurb:

When adrenaline junkie Chloe Franklin’s chute fails, she’s sent directly to the afterlife. She didn’t know what she expected, but processing by committee wasn’t it. They tell her that she had the rare luck to find true love in life not once, but three times. Now she must decide which one she wants to be with forever. Given one day with each man, she rediscovers what each one means to her as they take each other to heights of ecstasy they’d barely known in their first go-round. At the end of the three days, she will be forced to set her eternity…and choose only one.

I think that's my favorite cover ever. :)

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Sunday Stuff

"Farther" and "Further" are both acceptable to use to denote physical distance. Some editors prefer "farther," and sometimes it's house style. But I HATE that word and will always, always use "further" unless forced to change it. Which I will do without argument, but then never read my own work again. :)
~~~~
I started reading a book on Friday that got a lot of attention recently, including bestseller status and critical acclaim. It had an interesting premise, so I picked it up, despite it being something that was way outside my usual interests. *sigh* I should have ignored all that other stuff. I got one page into the book and was bored out of my mind. The dialogue was mundane and stale and I had no sense of the people saying it, except that they both seemed like twits.

Luckily, the book I read after that was the extreme opposite, and I finished it the same day, which hasn't happened in a really long time.
~~~~
I finally caved, and I'm on Twitter. The main reason is because Brenda Novak is having a Cyber Launch Party on Twitter for her new release, and will be giving away great stuff, including iPads. I considered not mentioning who was giving the event, to avoid beefing up the competition, but that would just be wrong. So good luck! :)

Setting up a Twitter account was pretty gratifying. I followed a few people/groups, and some immediately followed back and mentioned my new account, one even saying "Hey, everybody, Natalie's here! @NJDamschroder (Finally)." I love the "Finally," as if they've been waiting for me. LOL I also got followed by some people I don't know, which was flattering.

Still, I doubt I'll use it much. It will languish for long periods of time, like Facebook does, in part because my cell phone? Is just a cell phone. And probably always will be. Also, I rarely have interesting things to say.
~~~~
So that was one thing I did this weekend. Others include such boring stuff as:
  • Shopping for work shirts suitable for embroidering
  • Shopping for household stuff like box spring sheets*
  • Trying on shoes I didn't buy**
  • Grocery shopping
  • Cleaning the house
  • Moving furniture out of the living room
  • Reading through Soul of the Dragon to ready for publication***

*BG is our big fabric clawer. (Maya prefers gouging wood, and Frisbee enjoys picking at the screens in the front window.) BG destroyed Number One's old box spring, so I told the girls we were getting bed skirts to protect the new mattresses. The protests hurt my ears. So I decided to get cheap sheets to put over them instead. Turns out I could get an entire sheet set for $5–10 less than a bed skirt, anyway.

**After four hours of non-stop running, my feet and legs are killing me. I've tried three different pairs of my better shoes. One pair is too battered, and my feet were overall okay but the toes were tender afterward, because my feet slide in them too much. One looks best with capris, but the edges of the leather chafe my feet too much, and the unbroken leather makes them sweat, which doesn't help. One pair is the most comfortable, but even with a cushioned insole, isn't giving enough support, so I hobble out of work at the end of the morning.

I tried a few things on yesterday. The problem is that I have weird feet. They measure about a 6.5 EEE (in good shoe measurements) but I really wear a 9.5 or 10 D (wide). Not many shoes are made wide, so I end up getting them longer than I need, and they're still too snug. The most promising pair of shoes I tried on were Keds that had decent support and cushioning but looked like giant, glowing boats on my feet. I don't know if I can walk around the office like that. I'll blind patients when they lie down for lumbar stim.

***I don't think I've mentioned this yet, but I've decided to give Kindle and Smashwords a try—as an author, that is—and self-publish my first paranormal romantic adventure, Soul of the Dragon. It never found a home with a traditional publisher for various reasons, and I still love the story. I've been reading through it (editing as necessary), and it holds up, despite how long its been since I wrote it. It was the first book of my heart, and as such, deserves to see if it can find an audience. So stay tuned for more as I head toward publication!

Friday, July 30, 2010

The Versatile Blogger

On Monday, MJ Fredrick, whom I used to adore, nominated me for this award. The requirements:

1. Thank the folks who gave you the award and and link to them;
2. Share 7 things about yourself;
3. Pass along to 15 bloggers (and link to them); and
4. Pay it forward: Comment on their blogs to tell them they are now recipients of the Versatile Blogger Award.

Thanks, MJ! She said with no sarcasm whatsoever. :)

I'm going to cheat and pick my 7 things based on hers:

1. I love to fly. I especially love takeoffs and landings. I love looking out the window to see the country below, especially when it's unique (like Utah). I love the swooping sensation when we drop, and turbulence—in moderation, of course—is kind of cool.

2. I don't ever run sprinklers because it wastes water. But I DO like the sound of running water, preferably the ocean, but a waterfall will do. :)

3. I was raised Catholic until I was 7. Then I had my first communion and was allowed to recover. I mean, was allowed to choose my own religious path. :)

4. I would never rather clean anything. I mean, I have the things I mind less than others, but if I ever get enough money, I'm getting a housecleaning service again. It was the best thing we ever did and the worst thing I ever had to give up.

5. I've been saying I'm jealous of the people at National, but that's not completely accurate. I desperately wish I was there, I hate not connecting with the friends I only ever see there, and I hate losing the opportunities for networking that my career really needs right now. It doesn't really carry over to envy, though.

6. I've driven in NYC, DC, Philly, Columbus, and half the big cities on the Eastern Seaboard, Northern Division. :) Though many of those Eastern cities, it was just highways, not surface streets. The first four I listed, was actually in the city. I might have driven in Dallas, too, but I don't remember for sure.

7. Since I'm only two weeks into my job, it's hard to say what I dislike. Oh, wait. The sore feet and aching legs after my 4.5-hour shift and half an hour in the car. It got very hectic today, and I don't like patients waiting when that happens, but it's not a hate thing. It makes the day go really fast, and that's awesome.

Okay, 15 people. MJ didn't notify me, she just let me read it on her blog, so I'm not going to notify anyone, either. This way, if they don't want to do it, they can just pretend they never saw it. :)

1. Vicky Burkholder

2. Jody Wallace

3. Vicki Smith

4. Cathy McDavid (who blogs at The Gabwagon)

5. Mackenzie McKade

6. Trish Milburn

7. Cindy Procter-King

8. Tracy Madison

9. Ava Quinn

10. Susan Gourley

11. Megan Hart

12. Natasha Fondren

13. Melissa Bradley

14. Misty Simon

15. Gail the SciFi Chick

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Random Bliss

I don't work Thursdays. This makes me so happy I could roll in it (to borrow a line from the last Sookie book :) ).

I got a new mouse recently, because even though I loved the shape of my old one, it dragged, which made my hand cramp. I love my new mouse. I especially love some of the programmability of it. One feature is Smart Move, where the pointer jumps to the default button in a dialogue box. I can't get used to it! I love the feature, but I automatically move the mouse to where I know the box is going to be, which of course moves the cursor OFF the button I want. Ugh.

We finally got Number Two out of her loft bed:

BEFORE


AFTER


What's pictured is the temp setup while waiting for her new mattresses, which were delivered today. They called this morning to schedule delivery between 10-1. Not a bad range of time, but I had to pick up Number Two at school at 12:30 (she was in a Step Up to the Middle School program that apparently was boring and unnecessary). I told the guy this. He said he could wait for 15 minutes if I was gone, but I didn't trust that. I was discussing with Number One whether or not I should let her have them come in and set things up, when the truck pulled up. At 12:17. I made it to the school almost on time—she wasn't the last one to be picked up. So phew. :)

I got something really awesome this morning that I'm jonesing to show you, but can't yet. Soon, I hope. It's the topper on my blissful day, though. :)

Number Two moving her room around inspired Number One to do the same. She wasn't willing to wait until the weekend, so Tuesday I helped her move every piece of furniture in her room. It only took about half an hour, amazingly, because she'd already cleared out the small stuff. She got everything mostly set back up yesterday. So now I have two happy kids.

And I have one happy cat.


BG, on the bottom, loves that we still have half of the loft base (which is going to go in my office) and the bed part in the living room. Number Two kept the dresser part, which was easiest, and I love the shelf part, so we'll have this bed part (including ladder) that is pretty useless without the rest. I have no idea what to do with it.

I just finished watching all of the new incarnation of Doctor Who. I knew I'd like it, but it took me a while to get around to it. Which is good, because I got to watch season 5 all the way through. Thoughts:

1. I like David Tennant best, but it's a slight preference. I loved Christopher Eccleston, too (especially when he got serious), and Matt Smith is awesome (especially when he gets intense). I'm glad he gets another season, because this one felt way too short.

2. Order of preference for companions: Martha, Amy, Rose, Donna. But I have to admit, Martha and Amy are very close, and I like the current combo's chemistry best. I was very surprised to like Donna as much as I did, because I really didn't like her much in the Christmas special.

3. They really know how to do finales! My favorite has to be season 4, when they brought in Sarah and her son, Cardiff Torchwood, Rose, Martha, and Mickey.

4. The whole first few episodes were kind of goofy, especially Mickey, but I loved how his character developed over the seasons. I'm a little confused at his marriage to Martha because she was engaged to Tom, but *shrug*. I like it.

5. I hate that I have to wait until next spring for a new season, but I love the tradition of the Christmas specials so it's a) not quite so long, and b) something to look forward to in the dark days of hiatus winter 2010. :)

Okay. That's enough for now. I'm home, I have an hour and a half before I have to go to the vet, I am actually going to write for a while! :)

Monday, July 26, 2010

Jason Manns

I posted about attending Jason's performance last week over at The Gab Wagon today. Check it out!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

That Week Was at Least Two Weeks Long

Reasons (both good and bad) why this week felt like two:

1. Started new job on Monday morning.

2. Number One also started biology lab at school on Monday morning.

3. #2 necessitated Number Two going to a friend's house every morning.

4. Soccer practice for Number Two on Tuesday and Thursday.

5. Multiple editing projects sent to me daily, including a heavy project with a new client.

6. Soccer game in MD on Wednesday night, 3-hour round trip.

7. Editing that had to be done when we got home from the soccer game at 11:30 p.m.

8. Jason Manns in Philly Thursday night, another 3-hour+ round trip, didn't leave the city until close to midnight (albeit earlier than we usually do! :) ).

9. Record heat levels with no reprieve.

10. There really isn't a ten, but I had couldn't leave it at nine.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Hilarity Ensued

Number One goes into the living room.

#1: "Ohhhhhh, Frisbee, did you have to barf?" *grabs one pick-a-size paper towel*

Me: "Is it like a big hairball, or just a little barf?"

#1: "Just a little barf." *gets halfway into living room, stops short* "OH MY GOD SHE'S EATING IT."

#1 and #2: *groans*

#1 to #2: "You're helping me." *reaches for more paper towels*

#2 to me: "Well? Do I have to?"

Me: "Yes. There are gloves."

#2 to #1: "Give me 4."

Me: "No, you only need two."

#1: "Is she still eating it?"

Me: "Yep. She's moved on to the big pile now."

#1 and #2: *groans*

Me: "Well, wait until she's done, you'll have less to clean up."

#1 and #2: *groans*

#2: "I'm so glad I'm not hungry."

#1: "I feel sick."

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Fred's Nose

There was a story I forgot to tell on my Salute to Supernatural report over at Supernatural Sisters.

Fredrick Lehne (aka Fred*) was so cool up on stage and walking around, that Number One and I got a photo op with him when we hadn't originally planned to. He was taking time to chat with everyone (normally against the rules, but his line wasn't that long). I told him he convinced me to break the bank, and he said it's worth it [so far as memories go]. He talked about when his kids swam with the dolphins, and it was a buttload of money, and then they wanted, like, $50 for the CD of pictures, and he rolled his eyes and grumbled.

And then he said, "I'll tell ya something, though, I'd have paid five HUNdred dollars, I'm that glad to have them. I don't know, I could push her around with my nose if you want." And he made a move like he was going to! We understood the reference and laughed, but he explained anyway about having a photo of his daughter being pushed by the dolphin's nose. :)

Anyway, he was just cool.

~~~
*We had dinner with my nieces last night, their last night before they went home, and celebration for Number One's birthday. She made a few more references to Supernatural and the convention, and one of her cousins complained that she needed to use the character names rather than the actor's first names, because they don't know those. That's what happens when you spend 15 seconds with someone! You suddenly "know" them! LOL

Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Convention

I just posted my con report at Supernatural Sisters. It's late and has been a very long week, so I'm tired and it's probably dull as dirt, but hey, there are some pictures! :) Check it out.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Aliens Among Us

I went out to the curb a few minutes ago to put some trash in our brand-new, never-used, gigantic new trash can.

It rained last night/this morning, so the can was wet. On top of it, inside beads of water, were clusters of one to three maggot-like worms. I don't think they were maggots, though it's been a long time since I've seen any live, and never in water. They were tan, and had a bubble inside them. After I lifted the lid to put my trash in, the water ran off, but the worms stayed. A couple stopped moving, like they needed the water, but some went crawling like they were looking for another puddle. I was annoyed, because this is a BRAND NEW CAN, and I have NEVER seen anything like this around our garbage in the 11+ years we've lived here.

I came in, did some stuff, grabbed the camera, went back out, and...

They were gone.

Every single one had disappeared. They weren't on the sides of the can, or around the can, or in the can. So now I'm thinking they were an alien race in larval stage, and in the short time I was gone, they changed into their next stage, something bigger and more mobile.

Or birds ate them.

Monday, July 12, 2010

I Survived!

So I'm home from my three days unplugged. It was torture!

Partly it was torture because I had images of my e-mail backing up. I only have two client projects (next on the to-do list!), so my occasional anxiety was unfounded. I considered going to the business center, but there really wasn't ever time.

Partly it was torture because all around me people were using their smartphones to access Twitter and Facebook, and the celebrities were doing the same, and I felt a little left out. But I also was glad I have a cheapo non-smartphone and am not on Twitter, because those people who were reading and/or typing weren't paying full attention, and for the money we paid, I wanted to pay full attention! :)

So here's what I came home to:

368 e-mails in my inbox

32 e-mails in my spam folder (all deletable)

20 of the e-mails were old, from Thursday night, that I either had to save or act on (8).

59 e-mails I deleted as junk, irrelevant, or stuff I didn't need to read. There were a few more I should have just deleted unread. :)

75 of the e-mails were introductions in one of my writer chapters. Which is great, but figures they did that the weekend I was gone!

I'm down to 27 e-mails that need action. Then I have regular mail to go through, checkbooks to update, and a kid I really need to spend time with. What I CAN'T do and really want to is troll Facebook and Twitter. Eventually, I'll post pictures and reports.

But first, to work!

Thursday, July 08, 2010

I'm Unplugging. Hold Me.

Tomorrow--very early, way too early for the summer--Number One (see how I used the correct designation there?) and I are going to the Creation Entertainment Salute to Supernatural in New Jersey. And I made a radical decision.

I'm not bringing my laptop.

Normally I would refuse to leave it behind no matter what, but

1) they charge for Internet access;

2) it's a very full schedule with very late nights, two early mornings, and sleeping in on the third morning;

3) I'll be with friends, so even down time won't be down time.

I leave the house before 8:00 a.m. tomorrow and don't get home until late Sunday.* Three. Whole. Days. With no e-mail or Internet. Some of you are baffled. You go whole weeks without checking, right? Maybe a couple of days at a time. You don't understand. I hardly go a couple of hours without checking e-mail. 100% of my work is done that way, so I'm conditioned. And almost inevitably, if I let it go for a day or two, something important comes up and I regret it.

But I'm doing it this weekend, and anticipate a huge flood when I return. Hopefully, the likes of Misha Collins, Aldis Hodge, and Matt Cohen will be enough to stave off withdrawal symptoms, and if not, I can always have Lori, Megan, and Number One comfort me. :)

Wish me luck!


*Don't bother putting us on the "empty house, let's go rob them" site, the house won't be empty.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

My July

July is my favorite summer month. I'm not sure why. Maybe because it has a holiday, which mattered back when I had an outside day job (and will again!). Maybe because June has the end of the school year, and August has the beginning, so July is the only truly open summer month.

Plus, July usually has great events, and this year is no exception.

This Saturday is another City Islanders game. This one is regular season, but it's more exciting after we beat the MLS NY Red Bulls on Tuesday, in the Lamar Hunt Open Cup. We've got one win in the regular season (6 losses, 4 ties), so as much as I love watching the guys, it's less exciting when you expect to not win. But in Open Cup play, it's been awesome. The Red Bulls had won 8 games at a much higher level than we play at, and slaughtered their competition in open cup play. We didn't expect much, but it was an awesome game.

Next week Number One and I go to New Jersey for the Salute to Supernatural. We're still annoyed that this is the ONLY convention Jared and Jensen refused to sign up for, but since they started filming this week, they'd have canceled anyway, and that would probably have been worse. We'll be with my good friends Megan and Lori, so we'll have a great time.

After that, I've got:

Hersheypark with the kids and their cousins, and my SIL, on July 13
Paperwork at new job on July 14
Training at new job on July 15
Start new job July 19
Next Open Cup game against DC United on July 21 (and a few more home games along the way)
Lamenting not attending the RWA National Conference July 28-31

How's your July looking?

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

This Summer's Obsession

I didn't think I'd have one this year!

J and I started watching Dr. Who, but with his new job and long hours, we could only watch a couple of episodes a night. So I started watching Torchwood. And WHOA.

Christopher Eccleston struck me as kind of goofy in the beginning, but he quickly grew on me and I loved his intensity. The fake huge smile sometimes grated, but I loved him and hated to lose him at the end of season 1.

I'd caught glimpses of David Tennant's Doctor, and thought he might be a little too goofy/geeky, but man, was I wrong. I didn't need the growth period, I loved him from episode 1.

Then season 2 came to an end, and I wasn't sure I'd be thrilled with Rose's replacement, but I love Martha a million times more than Rose! She's smarter, and more firmly brave. I HATE that she only got one season.

I had a little bit of difficulty figuring out the broadcast timeline for Dr. Who and Torchwood, but didn't think it would matter much. Then Torchwood season 1 ended, and I had to figure it out. I decided I'd plow ahead with season 2, but then Martha showed up, and I convinced J to let me fly with Dr. Who season 3, so I could catch up and keep everything in the order it was supposed to be in.

Now I'm done with DW season 3 and found out Donna is the companion in season 4, and I really hated her in the Christmas special between 2 and 3, so I'm not thrilled. I'm also sad to be losing David Tennant, but assume the new Doctor will grow on me, too.

Random thoughts on the two shows:

1. I love that heroines on these shows are not perfect, physically speaking. Rose had that caveman jaw, and Gwen has the gap in her teeth, and while Martha's gorgeous, she's hippy (which is NOT a criticism). Tosh is the exception, being absolutely gorgeous.

2. I am a complete hypocrite, because I love that the guys are all hot, from The Doctor to Captain Jack to Ianto and Owen and even Captain John.

3. Is there anything hotter than the Doctor and Jack striding along the street/devastated planet/spaceship corridor with those awesome coats?! Much more so together. Mm. Not enough of those episodes.

4. THE FACE OF BOE!!!!!!

5. I want more man-kissing, darn it.

6. I'm a little tired of Cybermen and Daleks, and I know more are coming. *sigh* The storylines accompanying them are creative and well written, but the creatures themselves weigh their episodes down.

I'm very sad that I only have 7 episodes of Torchwood left and two seasons of Dr. Who. I'm also sad that it took me so long to start watching, but the flip side of that is having them all to devour at once during the TV desert of summer.

Of course, this summer is actually not so much a desert. I have 2 episodes each of Royal Pains, Leverage, and Hot in Cleveland on the DVR, as well as 3 or 4 episodes of The Good Guys, which I may end up not watching but want to because I like Todd Stashwick. Eureka and White Collar are back soon, and I'm going to give Haven, Covert Affairs, and Rubicon a try. Geez, it's almost like the regular season!

I should cut way back on TV. I start a new job in two weeks, and my day will be something like this:

8:00 to 1:30 Work (or get ready for work, drive to work, drive from work)
1:30 to 9:00ish Family and Freelance Work (activities, meals, editing)
9:00ish to bed Fiction Writing

See? No time for TV.

I guess the best thing to do is DVR it all and watch on the weekends, but I suspect I will always be behind, especially when fall starts. Also, plunging in to Dr. Who and Torchwood is keeping me from watching all of Supernatural, beginning to end, like I've done every summer.

Another reason to cut back on TV? Books! Number Two finally handed over The Red Pyramid (Rick Riordan) and Only the Good Spy Young arrived today, so I'm reading them simultaneously. Infinity came in from the library, too. I stopped reading the Dark-Hunters books when Nick went bad, because it broke my heart too much, but this book is The Nick Chronicles, so I had to check it out. To top it off, I'll be getting Sizzling Sixteen (Evanovich) on Friday. Last year my FIL and SIL and I all bought Finger Lickin' Fifteen, so I figure it's okay that we share this year's release. :) That's on top of the books on my Kindle and bookshelf! Every time I finish a book, it's an agony of indecision picking the next one. It often ends up being the most recent arrival, which means stuff I've really been looking forward to gets older and older.

*sigh* I really just need to live a life of leisure. But don't we all? :)

Friday, June 25, 2010

Steampunk!

Check out today's Supernatural Sisters where Theresa Meyers talks about blending bad boys, westerns, and Supernatural/supernatural into steampunk!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

NPH and Dryers

I dreamed this morning that Neil Patrick Harris was trying to sell me a dryer at Montgomery Ward.

It was really Neil Patrick Harris, too, not some appliance sales guy who looked like him. I was surprised, of course, I didn't think he'd need to have a job like that, but then, I wouldn't think Aldis Hodge needed a Taco Bell commercial, either.

Anyway. He was really sweet and helpful and eager to sell me the dryer I really wanted but then I found out it was $1300 and I can't afford that. So I never bought a dryer, but I did get to hang out with NPH outside the job because he was lonely and friendly and that's always my fantasy with celebrities I like--that we can hang out like friends. No, that we can BE friends.

Which was why the Salute to Supernatural last year was so awesome. I feel like a geeky fangirl all the time, but Richard Speight Jr. and Gabriel Tigerman did not treat us like that, they hung out with us and talked to us like we're interesting people. Gabe even came back to the table after being lured away by others. Twice!

We're just over two weeks away from this years convention. Can you believe I didn't have it on my calendar? I'm finally getting excited. Still annoyed that Jared and Jensen are going to every friggin' other convention in the world but can't come see us. But they've posted the schedule and it's enhanced over last year. Bigger and better dessert party, official star presence at the karaoke party, including Richard. I don't know if I'll try to talk to him this year. I can't think of anything to talk about except how he told us to watch Open Water 2 because we see Eric Dane's butt and we actually see a whole lot more of Richard's! Or at least his character's.

Megan is a lot better at the small talk than I am.

Anyway.

Part of last night's dream was the dryer, which is going out and I really want a new one before it dies, because being without one for even a little while will suck, but we're not going to buy a new one until we have to. The problem is, I'm sure, the belt, which is replaceable but not by us, and it seems ridiculous to pay a repair person a few hundred dollars to fix a dryer that's 12+ years old. A new dryer would save us electricity $ in the long run, too.

I had an annual exam today that I had to reschedule. I thought they'd give me a hard time, but for the first time EVER they didn't. So the rest of my day looks like this:

1. Shower
2. Client edits
3. WIP
4. Toy Story 3 with kids and Nana
5. Dinner in the food court
6. City Islanders soccer

Since my phone call to the doctor's office went the opposite as expected, I'm being full-on positive today. I will get the edits done, write more than I did yesterday (10 page) on my WIP, get a request for a full manuscript, and have NO STORMS anywhere near the soccer game.

What's your day look like?

Saturday, June 19, 2010

A Request

Why does every man in every (contemporary) novel I read have a giant flat-screen TV?

Not that there's a problem with giant flat-screen TVs. The only reason it matters is that, every single time, it's mentioned in a derogatory "all men have to have them" manner, complete with implied eyeroll.

You know what? *I* want a giant flatscreen TV. And not just to watch sports on, despite my passion for football.

Something for authors to consider when they're seeking shorthand for portraying their heroes as modern, macho men.

Just a small request, plskthx.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

This and That

I can't shut off the day-job copyeditor part of me when I read anything, and a couple of things have popped up lately that really disappoint me.

You don't hyphenate adverbs and adjectives, like "excellently-done."

When someone says "my skin regiment," I think they have a zombie army. It's regimen.

On the other side of things, a huge thank-you to Shannon Stacey for using "you've got another think coming" correctly! :)

~~~~~~~~~~
Number One and I saw The A-Team recently. We both LOVED it. She, of course, had no frame of reference for it, and while I have fond memories of loving the TV show, it was too long ago for me to actually remember a lot of details. So we just both thought it was awesome.

I've lost patience with certain reviewers, though, who apply the same complaints to every single action movie no matter what it is, and it's been completely false in many instances. I really dislike Michael Bay-type action movies, the ones full of destruction for destruction's sake. In fact, it was my biggest complaint about The Dark Knight. Long, extended chase sequences bore the heck out of me, and are usually replacements for true plot and relationship substance.

But the complaint did not in any way apply to Iron Man 2 (though other complaints did), which had like three fight scenes that were rather short. And it only barely applied to The A-Team. The thing about TAT's action sequences is that they were clever, and I love cleverness. You had to watch carefully to see how it all fit together, to try to predict what was going to happen next, rather than zone out while explosions follow flying parts follow punches and falls. And I thought they did an admirable job developing character. Sure, we didn't know much about any of them beyond the scope of teh movie's plot, but we don't NEED to know more.

Anyway, great movie, go see it. Oh, and yes, Bradley Cooper's abs are as advertised. And stay through the credits! You really don't want to miss the end thing.

~~~~~~~~~~
My husband had his identity stolen recently, by someone vying for "stupidest criminal on the planet." So far, we've found out about a Target card they tried to open (thwarted because Target is SMART and called my husband to verify), and a Verizon Wireless account. We know about the Verizon account because the confirmation of opening the account and the first bill came here, to our house.

What kind of half-a**** identity thief uses the correct mailing address? Does he not know or care that he'll get about a week's use of the phones before they get canceled? AND the phones could be used to trace him? He probably spent more time setting up the accounts than total minutes he got to use.

~~~~~~~~~~
I was in a cyclical funk on Tuesday, one of those hormonally driven slides into "everything sucks and me worst of all." I've got to remember, next month when it happens again, that the best cure is getting out of the house. As soon as the kids and I left for the City Islanders game--first round of the US Open Cup--my mood lifted.

It was an incredible game. The Islanders have only one win all season, and we missed it, being out of town. And last year they went deep into Cup play, beating two MLS teams before losing to DC United. Amazingly, they managed to tie it 2-2 before winning in overtime 4-2. We were in shock! But so excited to be able to hear "Apache," their victory song, on the way out of the stadium.

The only bad thing about the game was that overtime took us into Mayfly Massacre territory. Near the end of regulation play, they started descending from the lights and flying around us, occasionally alighting. It got worse during the first 15-minute overtime period. While Number One and I were in the bathroom between overtimes, Number Two came rushing in, as if the stands had been attacked. And they had! The bleachers were COVERED--literally!--with dead and dying mayflies. We stood at the rail for the rest of the game, doing the mayfly dance. Waving them away, shaking them off our clothes...I had a loose shirt on with a scoop neck, and I swear, half a dozen got into my bra (and back out again, luckily). It was horrible.

But so worth it! Regular game on Saturday, round two of the Cup on Tuesday, and we're dragging Nana along for her first non-grandchild soccer game. It's gonna be epic!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Thank God it's Monday

Thank God it's Monday.

I know, but I really needed the reset. Last week was so LONG, and that was mainly because I kept thinking it was Friday. Starting on Tuesday.

Tuesday was the kids' last day of school. Number One was home before 10, Number Two around 11, and that feeling of leisure and non-urgency is usually associated with Friday. Every day, I felt like it was the end of the week.

So now we've had a weekend, and every part of my brain and body know it's Monday, and this week we start our summer structure. Number Two has strings camp through Thursday. The A/C guy is here doing the annual service check. We'll go pick up Number One's report card, start our weekly housecleaning rotation (today is the bedrooms and bathroom), and maybe go shop for bikes.

Next week they start Camp Nana, and this year, it's enhanced! Aunt Cindy will be participating at least sometimes, and the girls are excited about that. Aunt Cindy is girlie, so they paint nails and do hair and stuff when they're with her.

I need to explore things we can do that won't bore us to death and that are free. I'm very open to suggestions! All I can think of is biking or hiking in state parks. Number One is difficult to drag out of her room, and she will quickly come to hate me if that's all I force her to do all summer.

Has your summer started yet? Can you tell? :)

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Okay, WHAT?!

I had really weird dreams this morning.

First, I woke up around 5 or so, remembering that I had to make sure I was up and dressed and the carport clear for the A/C service guy at 7:30 this morning. Then a while later I remembered that it was Sunday.

So then I dreamed all this stuff I don't remember because I neglected to write this in the morning when it was all VERY fresh, but I do remember some parts.

1. I was at MJ Fredrick's house, and Trish Milburn was there at one point. MJ had a cool house, colonial in style, which I somehow doubt is the norm in San Antonio.

2. They had made TONS of food for a party and Trish kept making me sample stuff. It was really good food. Lots of dips, and a dessert thing that was like two pieces of cracker candy with some whipped creamy type stuff in the middle.

3. A bunch of people started crowding the house, just random visitors, including Fran, who was one of my mother's best friends, but who died over a decade ago. Then he wasn't Fran but some other guy.

4. MJ had a big hole in her counter top, and had covered it with a big white cutting board, and I knocked it askew and it fell into the cabinet underneath, breaking some colorful china thing. I didn't tell her.

5. I said "San Antonio" a lot.

So what the heck is up with THAT?

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Weather

Today we had long, slow rain. The drippy kind. The read-a-book-all-day kind (not that I did that). It was a nice change from last week's wild storms.

But those storms produced the most perfect rainbow I've ever seen!





I don't think I've ever caught the whole arch like that. Usually it's just one side, or it fades to nothing at the top, or all the colors aren't clear. This one almost glowed!

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Last Day of School

We did not start today off right.

But only, luckily, in the most minor way. You know what's very, very frustrating? Out of 180 school days, the bus arrived late oh, maybe 100 of them. On time about 76 more. Then, suddenly, last Thursday, she's four minutes early. Friday, she was so early we missed it. Yesterday, four minutes early again. Today we had to run for it because she was six freaking minutes early! It takes us less than a minute to get to the bus stop; we thought we had plenty of time. Poor Number Two had to run with her backpack and viola.

We're supposed to be giddy this morning, not grumpy and sweaty.

And thus begins the fifth of my summers "off."

Four years ago, June 8 was the first day of the first summer vacation my kids had ever had. The decade before that, they'd been in day care, which was either preschool or summer camp.

It didn't take them...okay, any of us...long to acclimate. :)

The kids are, of course, excited, even though this summer will likely mean another change. Their father just got a new job that necessitates me also getting a (steady, outside-the-house) job. I'm working on it, and will likely (hopefully!) start working part time in July.

Number Two is the age her sister was when I quit my day job and started working at home. That's kind of poetic, isn't it?

What I'm looking forward to this summer:

1. Not having to get up early every day.

2. Long days, lots of light.

3. No crazy schedules.

4. Salute to Supernatural convention in July.

What I'm not looking forward to:

1. Trying to keep the kids active, especially when I'm not here half the day.

2. Fitting in a day job, my freelance work, activities with the kids, keeping the house decent (though I can put that under "keeping the kids active"), and writing time.

3. Not going on our Cape Cod vacation, which we canceled due to the husband's new job. It was an easy decision, but now lots of my friends have already been to (or are currently at!) the beach, and I'm longing for it.

I know some people have already started their summer vacations, and some have a couple of weeks to go. What's your summer going to be like?