Sunday, February 26, 2012

How I Started My Writing Career

First, after all my whining, I must report that my eyesight has miraculously adjusted and I am no longer viewing a slightly out-of-focus world. I really thought I was doomed, that there was no way it could improve after getting steadily worse that first day. Now it's fine, though I have daily headaches from wearing the glasses themselves. That should work out, too.

Four days down, a-number-I-don't-want-to-count to go.

My husband dug up a folder with "Tammy Moran & Natalie Jacobus in the movies" with "Top Secret" and "censored" stickers on it. I remembered it immediately. Tammy and I spent HOURS of our childhood "making movies." I should probably give her a great deal more credit for my current success as an author. *makes note to give credit*

This is kind of hilarious. I think it was 8th grade that we wrote these up. She'd have been slightly younger, which is demonstrated in the casting. She paired herself with Patrick LaFontaine, hockey star. By the end of the booklet of ideas, I was writing in my actual crush, David Andry. My handwriting is eerily similar to what it is today, and there's a lot of editing.

Here are some examples. All typos, grammar errors, etc., are SIC.

Models without Makeup
Two famous models are posing for a new photographer. Little do they know, although they wear makeu clothes, a new x-ray camera has been developed for. A scandal sheet buys the pictures, and the girls fall in love w/ the two photographers that take these pictures, not knowing the story. Find out what happens by seeing the movie.

Understand my Love
Two girls think they are pregnant and are terrified because they are only freshmen. They tell their "fathers," and they "fathers" tell the whole school. They are not pregnant, and but they still have bad reps. As juniors, they really get pregnant, and get a lot of understanding from their boyfriends. But Lesil's father gives her the silent treatment, and Janet's mother wants to her to get an abortion. But she refuses. Will they keep the babies and get married? What will happen at school? Find out at the movies.

This one's my favorite. You've got to understand, I was an incredible Goody Two-Shoes myself. I don't know where we came up with this stuff!

Not so Innocent
Two girls [it's always two girls, of course, because we had to share top billing] are called "Goody Two shoes" by their schoolmates. In real life, they go on "school trips" to New York—they are actually Hookers. Will they ever get caught?

Like the capital H in there? Not just regular underage working girls, these two.

Here's one that foreshadows my current writing career:

On the Run
Two seemingly intelligent reporters are living in a penthouse on Park Avenue. How did they get there? They always get the best scoops because they were born with super-hearing, x-ray vision, and super-smarts. But the Mob is after their super-defense weapons, not yet known to the public.

Ahhh. Good times, good times.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Living the Nightmare

I've been wearing glasses since I was 6, contacts since I was 15. One year shortly after that, the doctor was going to move my right contact to my left eye and order a new right contact. But then he kept getting it backwards, and wouldn't listen to me. I got upset—like, verge-of-anxiety-attack upset, and my mother couldn't figure out why.

I realized it was because the doctor hadn't given me my contacts back, and I couldn't see. That ramped up my anxiety to 11, and ever since, my most common recurring nightmare has been fuzzy vision.

Today, I started living my nightmare.

Okay, that's overly dramatic. But I'm very nearsighted, and clarity is literally 6 inches in front of my face (I just measured). I wear rigid gas permeable contacts, which change the shape of your cornea, and my glasses prescription is set for that shape. So when I'm out of my contacts even overnight, the glasses aren't strong enough. Which is why I never wear my glasses. Five minutes in the morning, half an hour at night, that's it.

But because those contacts change my cornea, I have to be out of them for 4 weeks before pre-op testing for LASIK, which is a week before the operative consult, which is a week before the surgery. So six weeks of the entire world being slightly out of focus.

it's almost enough to make me forget about doing it!

I got up this morning with a low-burning anxiety over this. You know how they say people don't like clowns because their real faces are hidden? Try completely featureless blobs. THAT'S truly freaky. Of course, the glasses are good enough, so it's not that bad. But I'm on edge, working too hard to accommodate it.

I tell myself six weeks will fly by, but on this end of it, it seems like forever. The worst part is that there's a chance they tell me I'm not a good candidate, or they can't correct enough to be worth it. THAT would seriously suck.

So what's your worst minor nightmare? Have you ever had to live it?

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Acceptable Risks Poll Results and Prizes

Thanks so much to everyone who took part in my cover poll for Acceptable Risks! I appreciate the comments and the guesses, most of which you got right. :)

I have Acceptable Risks goodies on their way, so I'll be contacting my FIVE winners, chosen by, via e-mail. If you're international, I'll offer an e-book copy of one of my three most recent releases. If you're in the U.S., I have fun stuff I'll put in the mail.

The winners are:

Abraham, Tamsyn, Cathy M., Patricia, and Jodi. Congratulations!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Sue Gourley Tagged Me with Eleven Cool Questions

One of the worst parts of being so busy with work and writing and family is that I never have time to spend reading blogs anymore. Blogs of my friends, of reviewers and fellow authors, of publishers and random cool people who have nothing to do with writing or books.

So I'm always really happy when I get tagged, as Sue Gourley did last week. (Along with Ava Quinn, TM Crone, Cate Masters, and Jon Sprunk.) I answered my questions before I read theirs, so any overlap is accidental.

Fun fact: Jon Sprunk is the son of my father-in-law's cousin, Fred. How incestuous is this business, anyway? LOL

1. Are you a Kindle, Nook, Ipad or other? Or none?

I own a Kindle 2, which was a Christmas gift a few years ago. I'm very happy with it, though I still like to read print books, too. I wouldn't want to read on a backlit screen. I have eyestrain bad enough already.

2. Who is smarter, you or your phone?

I am, because I have a cheap little flip phone that doesn't do much. :)

3. Do you like two story or one story homes?

Hmmmm. I like anything except split-level/bi-level, I think. I live in a ranch house (one story) but it has a finished, walk-out basement, so it's like a two story. I like space.

4. Country born and bred or city slicker?

Hybrid! I like space. :) But I also like convenience, and I like the energy of a city in small doses.

5. Cereal, toast, eggs or just coffee for breakfast?

I should eat more cereal. I hate eggs, but I usually have an English muffin or frozen waffles and tea if I make it at home, a mocha and croissant if I do Starbucks on the way to work.

6. What new show on TV has caught your interest this year?

I started late, but the buzz about Revenge intrigued me. My boss asked if I was watching when I was about halfway through the existing episodes. Now I have to watch it live so we can talk about it the next day. LOL I really like the characterization, cleverness, and mystery of it.

7. Have you ever bought a celebrity book? About whom?

Not that I can recall!

8. What is your favorite guilty snack?

I don't feel guilty about it, but I guess I'm supposed to: stove-popped popcorn with real butter and salt. It's one of those childhood things. :)

9. What was your favorite cartoon character growing up?

Oooh, good one, and tough. Every time I think of one my brain hops to another. I think it was Sylvester, though. Must have been the lisp.

10. Do you pack your lunch or carry it?

Neither! I work until 1:00, so I'm about equally split between picking up something bad for me on the way home and cooking a lunch when I get here.

11. What book have you read over and over again?

Most recently, Harry Potter, though I'm not sure it counts because I listen rather than read. I must have read all the Nancy Drew books and the Little House books dozens of times, but nothing else in adulthood. There are too many new books to read!

Okay, now it's my turn. I'm tagging:

MJ Fredrick (because I always do)

Misty Simon (because she hasn't blogged in over 2 months)

Cynthia D'Alba (because her book is out soon)

Robin Covington (because I never have)

Here are my 11 questions:

1. What foreign country would you most like to travel to that you haven't visited yet?

2. Name your most coveted gadget—unlimited budget, and something you don't currently have.

3. Do you have brothers and sisters? How often do you get to see them?

4. How much of your own wish fulfillment is put into your books?

5. If you dug into your basement/attic/back closet/whatever storage space, what item would you find that would make you go "I WONDERED where that was!"?

6. Have you ever had direct encounters with a wild animal? Describe the circumstances.

7. Who is your favorite non-famous musician/singer? If possible, provide a link to their music/website.

8. What's your favorite NFL team? Or professional team in general, if football isn't your thing.

9. What was the most fun job you ever had, besides your current one(s)?

10. Are you living where you want to live? If not, where's the home of your heart?

11. What book are you reading right now?

Monday, February 20, 2012

The Unreliability of Memory

My super-fantastic husband has been systematically cleaning out our boiler room over the past several weeks (hey, there's floor! and a workbench! and I can get to the oil tank without gouging out my abdomen on the weight bar!), and yesterday he found one of my old photo albums.

It has pictures in it from the end of my senior year of high school, graduation, the summer before college, and the weekend I arrived at Ohio Wesleyan. You know that funky slide into nostalgia you get when you look at stuff from 24 years ago? I'm kind of wallowing in it right now.

It's odd. I don't really consider myself a sentimental person. I told him to toss some ugly homemade ornaments from my childhood, including a particularly unfortunately clay design I made:

Me: Throw it away. It's ugly. 

Him: Nooo! It looks like poop!

But wow, do these photos have me missing the good old days. And that makes me resentful, because if there's anything I hate almost as much as close-minded absolutism, it's being a cliché. But after a childhood of being shy and introverted and picked on, my senior year of high school was pretty awesome. I'm very happy in the life I'm living now, so it's not like I'm wishing for change. I just miss some of the best parts of those times.

It's also interesting how faulty memory is, both good and bad. In mine, I'm always overweight. I lost 25 or so pounds that senior year of high school, and I weighed 117 when I left for college. I *know* intellectually how fantastic that is. But I don't remember it that way. I remember poochy belly and flabby inner thighs and jiggliness where you don't want it. But then I see this:

I look pretty good! If you ignore the 80s waistbands and hair. But OMG, the hair. I remember the curls from senior prom as being not the way I wanted them, but not awful. Um, yeah, they were awful. Very frizzy. I got what was supposed to be a spiral perm right before I went to college. I wanted it just like my friend Sue's, and I event went to her hairdresser. But I guess the wife usually did Sue's, I don't know. The husband cut and cut and cut and permed and cut some more. It was like a Brillo pad. Literally. Wiry and rough and tight and horribly, horribly short. I remember it as being bad...and still, it was worse.

I'm not posting those pictures. Some things should just remain off the Internet.

One side effect of nostalgia is a reminder of how grateful I am to all the kids in the Ichabod Crane Central High School classes of 1988 and 1989. They welcomed me into their classes and social circles, invited me to parties and *didn't* follow up by saying they didn't want to be friends with me anymore. Without them, I never would have gained the confidence and self-esteem that got me through college and gave me the ability to have the friendships I do now.

And maybe even more importantly, the passion to write romance novels.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Acceptable Risks Back Cover Copy

Acceptable Risks
April 16, 2012
Carina Press | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

When security expert Jason Templeton's team is ambushed while protecting a weapons manufacturer vital to U.S. interests, he risks his life to save the man's daughter...and loses. Unbeknownst to Jason, his mentor had been funding experimental medical procedures after losing his young wife. Using the untested drugs, Jason is brought back to life, stronger and faster than before, but also vulnerable in new ways. He's determined to find the traitor in their midst, who is after the miracle drug.

That means protecting the brilliant scientist Lark Madrassa. Their attraction and compatibility are undeniable, but Jason tries to deny his growing feelings for her, thinking he is too damaged. When Lark's father is kidnapped they have to rely on each other in a dangerous plot to uncover the double agent. Before, Jason always accepted the risks—but what about when the life of the woman he loves is on the line?

Text Copyright ©2012 by Natalie J. Damschroder
Cover Art Copyright ©2012 by Harlequin Enterprises Limited
Permission to reproduce text granted by Harlequin Books S.A. Cover art used by arrangement with Harlequin Enterprises Limited. All rights reserved. ® and ™ are trademarks owned by Harlequin Enterprises Limited or its affiliated companies, used under license.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Acceptable Risks Cover Poll

For anyone who didn't get over to Everybody Needs a Little Romance last week to see my cover reveal for Acceptable Risks, here you go!

Copyright ©2012 by Harlequin Enterprises Limited
Cover Art used by arrangement with Harlequin Enterprises Limited
® and ™ are trademarks owned by Harlequin Enterprises Limited or its affiliated companies, used under license.

Now take a good look at the details on this cover. Before I post the back cover copy, I wanted to give you all a chance to guess what the cover means! So here's a quick and fun poll for you. If you'd like to include your name and e-mail address at the end of the poll, you'll be entered into a drawing for prizes. The nature of those prizes is to be determined, as is the number of prizes. They are likely to include things like mugs and books and keychains and notepads and stuff. Your information will not be kept or used for any other purpose, and providing it is completely optional.

Have fun, and feel free to speculate in the comments!

Create your free online surveys with SurveyMonkey, the world's leading questionnaire tool.

Monday, February 06, 2012

Huh. I Totally Though I Blogged About Chuck.

My husband and I have enjoyed the TV show Chuck since it started. Not continuously. There have been episodes here and there that were lame or over-the-top or out-and-out stupid. But the core of the show has always appealed to us.

I mean, it helped that Zachary Levi was made into a true hunk, not just a hunk-disguised-as-a-geek (though looking back, he was a lot geekier than I remembered!), that Captain Awesome sometimes worked out shirtless and in bike shorts, and that Yvonne Strahovski is hot enough to spark interest in 30-year coma patients.

But I loved that a couple got together and the show survived a few more seasons. (Hear that, Castle writers?!) I loved the exploration of backstory issues that gave everyone's angst so much depth. I loved that a Firefly alum had a long-term gig. (Though, come on, what's it gonna take for one of the Firefly women to get a show that goes more than a season and a half? Sheesh.)

The last run of episodes (the one that followed probably the worst eps in the show's five truncated-season history) was fantastic. The one that finally addressed the status of Sarah's mom, and the one where they decided not to buy the house, were so rich and satisfying. AND THEN! Brandon Routh returned! And so did the Intersect!

I loved that Chuck got the Intersect back, that everyone wound up with something great, that Lester and Jeff actually got to play spies. I admit, I didn't come close to loving what happened with Sarah, or that Morgan's magic kiss didn't actually work, but they at least left us with the belief that everything was going to work out.

I don't miss Chuck, really. Very little TV is must-watch-live for us, and sometimes we'd let two episodes go by before we caught up. But I do miss having a light, comedic one-hour show on our Prioritizer. I have White Collar that fits the bill, I guess, and Royal Pains is light enough. But as glad as I am that Chuck lasted as long as it did, I wish it had been a bit more successful and followed by something else like it. Dark, twisty dramas are all well and good, but seriously, I'm getting kind of depressed.

Thursday, February 02, 2012

Avoiding Insanity: Not So Easy

Don't forget! I'm revealing the cover to my next romantic adventure, Acceptable Risks, next Tuesday, 2/7, at Everybody Needs a Little Romance. Make sure to come check it out!

I'm struggling to find a way to manage my time better. So I remembered an idea from a long-ago time management program that said to touch everything just once. Handle it immediately, instead of setting it aside. So I tried that yesterday.

It was a DISASTER.

It was the first of the month, therefore the deadline for submission of listings for the column I do for a trade journal. Of course, everyone waits until the day of the deadline to send me their stuff. (I tweeted yesterday with the realization that maybe they do it on purpose. Seriously, people, you can send stuff EARLY. You don't have to wait for the deadline to arrive.) I fired off a frustrated reply to an e-mail, then read the next one—and it would have completely nullified the frustration if I'd read it before replying.

So I went along, not looking at my inbox, just the next e-mail. I did proofing jobs for clients, gathered column info, jumped over to websites and back, filed electronic bills, etc. And every few seconds another e-mail clicked into my box. Let me tell you, this way was NOT more efficient.

Usually I read through all my e-mail, saving the ones I have to handle. Then I do all the column stuff at once, all the promo together, all the client work in a cluster. I've been doing it that way for years. I don't know why I decided trying something else would be better. It wasn't.

So that definition of insanity, trying the same thing over and over and expecting different results? It can go the other way, too. Trying something different and expecting the same (or better) results.


I started watching Revenge recently, because it's been getting raves and people with similar taste to mine have been loving it. I've saved it until late evening, when it's inadvisable for me to try to work because out of two dozen words that should have been changed to UK spellings, I'll only spot one. The problem with that is that I do the "just one more episode" thing and stay up late despite my continuous good intentions.

So I'm really enjoying the show, obviously. I've got 2 more eps to watch before new eps return next week. I'm glad Tyler finally got his. I was feeling pretty violent toward him. I just wish Emily would be nicer to Nolan. I don't get her hostility, when he's the reason she has the resources to do this in the first place, AND she's always making him help her. He might actually be the most interesting character on the show, though none of them are without their twisty depth.

The other problem with liking the show so much is that I'm watching on iTunes on my iPod, and the longer I watch, the worse my eyestrain gets.


Speaking of eyestrain, I went to the eye doctor today. It's nice to hear that part of my problem is that my sight is overcorrected, another degree past where it was last time, so my contacts are too strong. I'm not going to get new ones, though, because I think I'm doing LASIK.


I had an opportunity about 9 years ago, when my mom died and I got a small life insurance payout. I got chicken, though—it's less about the blade slicing open my cornea and more about the hydrating brush sweeping over my exposed eyeball—and bought a laptop and paid some bills instead.

But I'm tired of it. I've had seriously poor vision since I was 6. I may not be able to get full correction because of the degree of my nearsightedness, but anything is better. And I'm approaching the need for reading glasses, and I'm not ready to face bifocals or monovision and all that crap.

So I'm ready. And yet... I wear rigid gas permeable contacts, which reshape the cornea, so I knew I'd have to wear my glasses for a little while before the evaluation and the surgery. But SIX WEEKS?! Seriously, I'm going to be pretty lonely by the end. No one will be able to stand looking at me. I look RIDICULOUS in glasses, again because of the degree of correction. No matter what kind of frames I get, the thick lenses distort my face so it looks narrower behind the glasses than it really is. So I look like a funhouse mirror, but in real life.

The there are the two weeks of drops and not rubbing the eye and wearing goggles at night, not to mention the expense, and it almost sounds like it's not worth it. But being able to tell which bobbing heads in the water are my kids' when we're at the beach? Waking up and being able to see across the room? Not having lint and dust killing my eyeballs? Best of all, not having to deal putting in and taking out contacts? Oh, yeah, it will be worth it.

Have any of you had LASIK? How did it go for you?