Thursday, November 20, 2014

FREE Tiny Treats, Renegade, and Computer Shopping

So what's everyone been up to?

I've been freaking cold, man. It's been in the teens, which broke records for our area. Typically, we play football on Thanksgiving in sweatshirts. Not that it can't be cold now, but usually low 40s, high 30s. Not 17! I'm a little worried about our oil budget this winter.

I've also had a lot more Christmas spirit this year. Not sure why. I usually compartmentalize my holidays. It gets me into trouble when we hit December 15 and I realize I don't have time to ship presents the inexpensive way. So maybe that's why I've been planning sooner. I have a couple of presents bought, which isn't much, but I'm very Christmas-focused, mentally speaking. :)

Part of that might be because I've been laptop shopping. Or rather, pre-shopping. My laptop is ill. Last year it was having lockup problems. The tech guys couldn't find the problem, but talked me into upgrading to a faster hard drive. My battery wouldn't hold a charge, so I bought a new battery, too. Well, that had to be a refurbished battery or even just plain used, because first the lock tab snapped off, then the laptop stopped seeing the battery at all. So I'm tethered to the wall. Which is doable, though not of highest convenience. The lockup still happens, mostly (thought not always) when I'm watching video. And now I've got two growing splotches of what appears to be leaking liquid in the display. I can work around them, but not sure for how long.

SO. I've been shopping laptops. At first I was thinking small and light. I like typing on the Surface, and I like the idea of convertability. Also considered the Lenovo Yoga, and then I saw the Toshiba Radius. The 11 is very affordable and it's gold! But you can't know what will work best until you try them all out, right? So I went over to Best Buy, which had more on display than I expected. Apparently not being able to "ship-to-store" from the website doesn't mean the store doesn't have the computer. I didn't like the keyboard of the Yoga, and the screen of the Radius 11 was just too small. I really liked the Toshiba with the detachable screen, but it was very wobbly, and that concerned me. I found a Radius 15.5", and I really liked that. I can get a portable CD drive for about $30 so I can use my Office 2007 (instead of paying $99 to download the hateful 2013). But then I was looking at the reviews. The 5-star reviews are vague. The 1-star reviews are far fewer in number, but wifi weakness and spacebar issues and flickering screens and very poor customer service from Toshiba are repeated throughout. Of course, someone who gave that 1-star rating says "I bought an Acer instead and love it" and you go over to Acer and they talk about screen and bootup problems and the bottom line is that every make and model can have issues. It's always a roll of the dice.

So I'm kind of back to the drawing board, maybe. But then I look at the temperature, consider the oil bill, and know that I have to ride my old laptop into the ground anyway, so STOP SPENDING SO MUCH TIME LOOKING, NATALIE. LOL

Okay, on to more fun stuff!

I am very excited to announce the release of a new anthology. Trish Milburn pulled together a couple dozen highly talented authors (and I am so humbled and honored to have been invited!) in a collection we decided to call Tiny Treats.

Tiny because these are micro-stories. I tested them out—you can literally read a whole story while waiting in the pickup line for your kid, or the drive-thru at a busy Starbucks, or while you're waiting for you spouse to be ready to leave for dinner, already!

Treats because they're all really good romances. Seriously, I'm not just saying that. If there was a single dud in the bunch I'd be more vague and general. :) I loved every single one.

Most of these are contemporary set and the holiday featured is Christmas, but there are some historical and paranormal gems, and Halloween, Thanksgiving, and New Year's are all included.

But best of all, it's completely FREE! Everywhere! So you can download it now!

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | iBooks | Google Play | Kobo | Smashwords

Oh, and if you've read If You Believe in Me, my story, "On This Christmas Day," features Rina and Danny!

I have another story out, too. This one isn't new. It's a reissue (updated, but with no major changes) of an erotic paranormal novella, and it's only 99 cents at all retailers:

Trex Samuels has lived her life supporting her best friend. Her job as an information broker allows her to stay in one place and keep tabs on Jake, who travels the world using his unique gifts to save abducted children. Trex is the closest thing to a home Jake has, and she waits for his infrequent visits that always bring both joy and pain. Things change, however, when Jake is on the run from the law. This time, he is haunted by his failures, tormented by waking nightmares. This time, he’s brought a partner.
Dan awakens in Trex a new craving, but one that doesn’t eliminate the old. When she realizes the men need her, that she has the power to banish their demons–however temporarily–they embark on a journey of sensuality and desperate pleasure. In the end, she not only has the power to heal them, but to set them free. And only one will come back to her…
Note: Originally published in 2008, reissued 2014
Buy Now:

Friday, October 24, 2014

"Why the hell would you DO that?"

Today I have a post at Everybody Needs a Little Romance about my writing retreat last weekend. (That photo to the left is the room service cart I held hostage so I could write on the side of the room that had the view of the ocean.)

Because of my trip, I am SO far behind on TV! My husband is a little overwhelmed by our stuffed DVR. LOL So we're only doing a bit at a time, and I'm two episodes behind on a lot of stuff. Behind on a lot of my favorites and dying to catch up!

But some of what I've seen lately has been absolutely delighting me.

Let's talk about Haven first. I caught up last night, and I'm SO FREAKING GLAD they spread the swapping trouble over two episodes. Dwight and Gloria were awesome enough (though there wasn't much difference between Dave and Vince LOL) but OMG, Nathan and Duke. They were PERFECT. Lucas Bryant was amazing with Duke's body language (the hand gesture was spot on!) and Eric Balfour, who really had the easier job, I'm glad they were able to split Audrey and Mara, because Emily Rose is doing a great job as Mara and now we can have The Real Audrey Parker back.

One benefit to being behind? I caught up just in time for a new episode tonight. LOL

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is the other one that has delighted me this week. We finally watched last night, and not only is Adrianne Palicki as Bobbi Morse quite delicious, the reveal that she's Hunter's ex was fantastic. His reaction killed me. I love when I don't see something coming until the last second, and then it hits right before the reveal. I get to be surprised and smart at the same time. LOL All the new characters have just enhanced the show, and I can't wait for next week.

I caught a spoiler on Twitter last night about Supernatural so now I want to catch up on that one. Also, Sleepy Hollow. I don't care where they take it. The relationship between Abbie and Crane is one of the best on TV right now.

Thursday, October 09, 2014

SO Excited that Fall TV Is Here!

Before I launch into a rambling and disorganized report on what I'm liking and not liking so far, I have an announcement!



October 11, 2014, 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.
Full Fusion (as NJ Damschroder)

Cupboard Maker Books
157 N. Enola Road
Enola, PA 17025
717-732-7288

I’ll be signing alongside fellow YA author Em Garner, with her book Contaminated. Then we’ll be participating in the YA book club discussion afterwards. Can’t wait to talk about my first YA novel with actual readers! (I hope they like it!)



WARNING. SPOILERS AHEAD.


Okay, let's start with Sunday and work our way through the week.

Brooklyn Nine Nine is fine, even though they backed off Jake/Amy thing. That's okay in the early seasons. I liked the first episode. One week behind.

Once Upon a Time is also fine, and I'm also one episode behind. I don't hate the Frozen addition so far. Okay, yeah, maybe it's crass commercialism, but it's not like they really had to shoehorn it into the existing mythology. The casting is weirdly spot on. I love Emma and Hook and I really hope Regina doesn't go deeper into the evil thing again. Getting tired of it.

Revenge, the jury's out. I didn't hate the first episode. We (my boss and I) talk about the show every week and agree we're very wary of the David-isn't-dead storyline, but our annoyance has been mitigated by the realization that he has no idea Emily is his daughter. He thinks Amanda is dead, and her death might have been what drew him out of hiding. We'll see. I might get to watch the second episode tonight.

Loved the first episode of Sleepy Hollow, though as much as I love John Noble, that character is going to grow old fast. The best part of the show is Abbie and Ichabod's relationship, and I don't care which way it goes. :)

The first episode of Castle was only okay. I thought Rick was too cavalier for everything that had happened, even for a guy who feels like none of it did happen. I blame direction. Haven't watched this week's yet. (Sensing a theme here? LOL)

Only watched one episode of Big Bang Theory. It's a nice diversion, but I don't mind letting them pile up. I haven't loved the show for a few seasons.

The Mindy Project was surprisingly more fun to watch when I binged it. But the quality this season is consistent and I love Mindy and Danny. (Yep, that's another theme. :) )

We enjoyed the first episode of Red Band Society enough to keep it on the list, but haven't watched it since. I think there are two episodes now. I have no compulsion to watch it, which doesn't bode well.

Now, The Flash? Totally different story. Loved the first episode. I have little knowledge of the DC Universe and only cursory knowledge of Flash's story, so easter eggs mean nothing to me (though they're fun to read about afterward :) ). I'm not speculating on whether Eddie will be Reverse Flash or if Wells is or anything like that. Wells wasn't sinister until the end of the episode. One recap I read says he's obviously from the future. I didn't see that. I only saw that he could see the future. But I guess it makes sense, bringing back technology to be the first to use it. Or eff it up, as the case may be. I love Grant Gustin and the rest of the casting. Funny thing: I said "The only poor casting seems to be his father." But then I was reminded that he's the original Flash from the previous TV series, so I guess we can give them a pass. But nostalgia versus wooden acting? I'll pass on both, thanks.

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is similar fun. This is a show I'm determined to just enjoy. It's one of my favorites and I'm excited to watch it each week, and to hell with the people who want to whine about how poorly done it is. Expectations are just still way too high.

Supernatural...*sigh* It took five years, but I'm finally not enjoying it the way I used to. It was a slow fade, that enjoyment. I mean, when you have Supernatural Summer (rewatching all the episodes with friends) and go to conventions and rewatch the seasons in full every year, you're going to burn out the passion eventually. So for seasons 7-9 it was still must-watch-live, but not as urgent as it had been. We've only had one episode, but the darkness has taken over completely, and I am just not a person who wants to watch darkness.

So does that mean I'm done? Oh, come on! No way! It's still Sam and Dean! LOL

Arrow may have taken over as my top favorite, though. The action is great, the villains so hateful, the good characters lovable, and the relationships complex (or at least complicated). And the romance is finally the way I want it. I can live with Oliver and Felicity being on-again off-again six times in one episode if I can watch the crackling energy between them. I'm a huge sucker for an intense guy in love, and he's in love with the right woman. Of course, one of his trio was taken out of the picture at the end of last night's episode. We didn't like the actress, so we were glad (though I was shocked that they did it), but I do hate what it will do to Captain Lance. Laurel might become more interesting now. The Hong Kong flashbacks intrigue me. So yeah, I'm all in on this one.

Haven was one of my favorites last year. This year I'm a little on the fence. It feels like it's not really getting anywhere fast. I LOVE Mara, in terms of Emily Rose's portrayal of her. Audrey's emergences are annoyingly breathy and swoony, which isn't really Audrey, but I guess they need something dramatic to sell it. Her transitions back to Mara are awesome, though.

I'm mad at Bones. The conspiracy storyline was fine. Killing Sweets was NOT.

H50 is H50. Fine, nothing special.

Oh, I forgot about Forever. Which goes in the same category as H50. Good while I'm watching it, solid acting and writing for the most part, decent actors, but I don't think about it when it's not happening in front of me.

Modern Family is still funny, though everyone seems more exaggerated than they used to be with all their negative traits. Not digging that.

Selfie is the one new comedy I'm trying, and as horrible as it should be, it's not! I think it's because I love John Cho and Karen Gillan so much. She's SUCH a caricature but still something appealing about her. And I hope Charmonique gets a bigger role. She's great, and so is her kid.

And we end the week with Doctor Who. I don't mind the aged Doctor and I really like him being Scottish, and Peter Capaldi channels all his traits admirably. I love the better role Clara has been given, and I like Danny a lot. But I don't like the coldness they've given the Doctor, and I wish they'd explain the sudden dislike of soldiers all of a sudden. I mean, we can put the pieces together, I guess, with the whole war thing and the past he's faced, but isn't he supposed to be moving on? The self-exploration is great, but sometimes he feels like two different people.

What are you loving so far this year? What new shows have you tried and hated or liked?

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

When Dreams Go to Work

Usually when I talk about dreams here, they're weird and wacky and have no grounding in reality. I don't tell you about all the dreams I have about work (whether they're about the bar where we serve breakfast and booze—at a chiropractors office—or about how they've changed all the procedures and equipment on me and I can't figure anything out) or the ones that are about the iPod game I've played too obsessively or feature auto dealer websites flying in and out of my head. THOSE support the theory that dreams are our brain discharging and organizing and all that stuff. And they're boring.

But SOMETIMES, they're helpful.

Last week, my e-mail went FUBAR.

(This week my phone did—that reminds me, I need to get a new one, stat! Hold on... Okay, done.)

I've used AOL for like two decades. I have 5 years of e-mails stored in well-broken-down folders. It's safer virus-wise, and it's on my computer. I hate webmail with a passion, and I refuse to use Outlook. But apparently the humongous (like more than a couple hundred a day) rise in stored e-mails with my increase in client work overwhelmed it, because my personal filing cabinet kept getting effed up. I lost 10 days worth of e-mails and had to go through all my old ones to restore what I needed to save. Then it happened again, and I was done.

I did some research and decided to try Mailbird. (After I crashed Thunderbird, which I've used briefly before.) It's working fine. I finally can have all my e-mail addresses loaded into the same place, and I'll get used to the new structure. I'm rebuilding folders as I need them. And it was cool that it synced with my Gmail folders so I didn't even need to make new ones. I especially like how it cheers you when you achieve "Inbox Zero." That's something really important to me. :)

The problem was how AOL categorizes mail. It splits it into "old" and "new." Once you've read an e-mail, it leaves your inbox and goes into the "old" tab. Mine had about 3.5 years' worth. Over 168,000 e-mails. And AOL told Mailbird those are all "new," so it kept pulling them into the application.

Goodbye Inbox Zero.

But did I mention that's important to me? It is. My inbox is supposed to hold only mail I have to address. There's extreme satisfaction in clearing it out after a particularly heavy period of work. Even more in keeping it empty! So the idea of never having Inbox Zero again was not a good one.

I started doing CTRL+A to highlight everything and then archiving it. It took a while for each batch, and after a couple of days, I'd gotten through a month. It was going to take forever to do four years! Plus, it locked up the program a couple of times, and I had to use AOL webmail. *shudder* BUT, I found that the folders I had set up in Mailbird were now available in AOL webmail. It was syncing both ways.

Enter the dream. (I know, I ramble. Sorry.) The other night, mixed with dreams about work and something else kinda weird, I dreamed that I archived all my old mail in AOL webmail, which then synced with Mailbird automatically. I tried it, and...IT WORKED. Archiving in AOL only took a handful of batches, and even though it locked up that mail folder each time, it DID transfer it. So now I have Inbox Zero! AND! Bonus! I can search all my archived mail very easily, which will limit how often I have to go into AOL Desktop for old mail.

Now I have to get paid so I can get Mailbird Pro and get ALL my e-mail addresses in here. (The free version accommodates 3.)

If you've read this far, God love ya. :) I apologize for being boring. Next post will talk about fall TV! :) Stay tuned.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

For the Love of Cooking Cookbook

I was honored to be invited to participate in an author cookbook to benefit a lovely organization, and the cookbook is ready for preorder! If you buy now, you will receive a free e-book version as well as your printed copy.

Here's the press release by Snap4kids:

Today’s bestselling authors have shared their tastiest tried-and-true recipes with us and we have compiled them into a single book that will be treasured for generations to come. This mouth-watering cookbook contains over 110 recipes—everything you need from appetizers to desserts. Each recipe includes the contributor’s name, so it’s easy to find the recipes of your favorite authors. And with over 90 authors (many are USA Today and New York Times bestsellers), you’re sure to find several of your favorites.

Special features include:

  • Receive a free e-book copy when you order a printed copy. 
  • Many recipes include a personal story telling how the recipe came about. 
  • Each recipe contains a blurb about the author.


This year’s net proceeds will go toward three programs:

  1. The new weekly bowling program 
  2. Pizza for the weekly youth meetings 
  3. Scholarships for summer camp

Cookbooks are $10 plus shipping and are available at www.snap4kids.org.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Cynthia D'Alba's Texas Twist Book Tour, with Giveaway!



Enter to Win
TONS of TEXAS TWIST Goodies
Gift Card, Mugs, T-Shirts, Etc




Real bad boys can grow up to be real
good men.

Hit hard by the death of her parents, Paige Ryan needs to figure out what to do with her life. She moves to Whispering Springs, Texas, to be near her step-brother. But just as she starts to get her life on track, the last man she ever wanted to see again sends it right back off the rails.

Cash Montgomery was on the cusp of having it all. Three bull riding titles, fame, fortune and respect from his family. Until a bad bull leaves him injured, angry and searching for comfort at the bottom of a bottle. With nowhere to go, he moves into his sister-in-law’s old ranch house in Whispering Springs—which he’s surprised to find already occupied.

As Cash rebuilds the dilapidated home and Paige starts out on her medical career, their old friendship begins to reemerge and sparks are ignited. Paige knows that Cash is nothing but a heartache waiting to happen. But maybe this bad boy has grown up to be a real good man?

Warning: Watch out for falling lumber, falling in holes, and falling for the wrong guy…again. You can leave your hard hat on.








a Rafflecopter giveaway












Award-winning author Cynthia D’Alba was born and raised in Arkansas. After being gone for 17 years, she’s thrilled to be back home living on the banks of an 8,000-acre lake. When she’s not reading, writing or plotting, she’s doorman for her two dogs, cook, housekeeper and chief bottle washer for her husband, and slave to a noisy, messy parrot. She loves to chat online with friends and fans.







Sunday, September 07, 2014

Adventures in Car Shopping

I got my first car 22 years ago, a Honda Civic hatchback coupe. Seven years after that, my husband got a company car and we traded in my Civic and I started driving his Corolla.

Fifteen years later, that Corolla is finally worn out enough that it makes more sense to buy a new car. Yay!

I spent many hours doing research online and narrowing down my options based on budget, safety ratings, reliability, and appeal. My top option was a Scion xD, in part because it was different. I hate that every car looks the same, and they're all silver, white, gray, red, or black. My entire life, I have not wanted to be one of the crowd.

So I went over to the Scion dealership and they had no xDs. He had none coming in, and none closer than 45 minutes away. There were no used ones. I reluctantly said I'd test drive the new Corolla while I was there. Instead of talking to me about the car, he used his phone to confirm that Scion is apparently discontinuing the xD. *sad face*

The Corolla didn't excite me at all. It's what I currently have, and I didn't want the same thing. They also made the steering wheel fatter with these big bumps at 10 and 2, and that just didn't fit my hands. So I was off to a discouraging start.

I stopped at dealerships to look at the Chevy Sonic (could NOT see myself in a Chevy), Mazda3 (a bit higher than I wanted to spend because you have to go up a trim to get cruise control!), and Hyundai Elantra. The Elantra might have still been on my "look at" list, but it was lower down for safety and reliability. But the most discouraging thing was that no one came out of any of the dealerships to talk to me. Apparently I wasn't worth braving the heat or something. So to hell with them.

Yesterday we went over to look at the Honda Civic and Insight. I liked the Insight okay, and it felt fine until I got into the Civic. It had firmer seats and a more "economy" feel, and since I keep my cars for over a decade, I want to be comfortable. :)

The Civic felt good, has some great features for a base model, and is top rated in safety and reliability, so I bought one! I even liked the color they put me in. The sales manager said he looked at the gray and the red (crimson pearl, which is a deep red) and decided I was more of the red. He was right! So I'm scheduled to pick it up Thursday.

Last night, I had annoying dreams. I kept rotating cars in my brain, researching and setting up test drives that I didn't go on. Then I had a real dream, with other people and events and stuff. We were going on a writing retreat, and I drove my new car that I had JUST picked up that day. I went to open the hatch (apparently I had a different car in the dream than the one I bought) and someone had backed up RIGHT against my tail. When I came around the car he pulled forward so I had room, but he had crunched my paint job and chipped a fist-sized hole right down to the metal.

The dream is probably because we were talking about whether or not to get the gap insurance, which covers the difference if your car gets totaled shortly after you bought it and the insurance company takes a few thousand off the replacement value. I still can't get the images out of my head.

Off to work, so I can earn my car payment. And then, today is FOOTBALL! *does a happy dance* What's making you happy today?

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Ice Bucket Awesomeness

A lot of things go viral. Some of them are silly, like dogs stealing frankfurters or Sweet Brown spawning a new catchphrase. Some are awful, showing the darker side of life or human nature. But some are pure awesomeness.

The Ice Bucket Challenge, a campaign to raise donations for and awareness of ALS (Lou Gehrig's Disease), has been around for a few months. But then friends and family of Pete Frates, a former Boston College baseball player, took up the challenge, and it moved like that virus on the new TV show The Last Ship.

I saw football player Julian Edelman accept the challenge—in the short video, you explain what you're doing and why, dump a bucket of ice over your head (he used a Gatorade sideline "bucket"), and challenge other people. Those people are required by the challenge to comply in 24 hours or make a donation to ALS. Then I heard that the owner of the New York Giants challenged Robert Kraft, the owner of the New England Patriots, and Bill Belichick, the head coach (who had been challenged by others, too). The other day at practice, the whole team took the challenge and passed it along to the Jets (as did Jimmy Fallon; the Patriots also challenged the Dolphins and Bills). The Jets of course had to one-up them and used a fire hose.

The Kennedys took the challenge as a family, including 86-year-old Ethel Kennedy, who is just awesome. She challenged President Obama, got irritated at her granddaughter for helping her raise the bucket, and dumped it all over herself while wearing a white outfit.


This morning I found out my father-in-law also took it with a couple of his employees, challenging a fellow Gulf terminal.

So this is all fun and stuff, one of those things that penetrates the collective consciousness, brings us all together, and is just amusing to watch, right? Plus, of course, we're all saying "ALS" on a regular basis, because luckily the point of the game hasn't been buried under the friendly competition.

But it turns out to be so much more. According to the ALS Association, they have received—in two weeks!—over $4 million. That's almost four times as much as the same period last year, with three times as many donors. ALS is a 100% fatal disease with little treatment available, so the importance of this awareness and research money can't be underestimated.

[Edited 8/24/24: An article posted 8/19 stated that $15 million had been raised, and then on 8/22 was updated to $53 million. !!! The article also talks about whether the ALSA stands up to scrutiny as a charity.]

So I'll take ubiquitous food pictures and the occasional moronic uproar on social media, because the technology and societal factors that make stupid things possible also help make awesomeness possible, too.

[Edited to go along with the above edit: It is irrelevant if this is "episodic" giving that won't result in repeat donations. That doesn't negate they money and awareness that has been raised already, and I doubt the decline will be to baseline. Also, people DID give to other/additional charities during this viral challenge, and always will. Disasters and fun awareness campaigns help us focus our giving when otherwise it's a blur of noise and desperation making us feel that what we do is never enough. So I'm still all for it! :) ]

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Adrenalizing

What do you think of the new look?

If you subscribe to the blog (or are viewing it elsewhere), you have no idea what I'm talking about. Click here and check it out, if you're so inclined. :)

I started blogging originally on LiveJournal, mainly because I thought blogs were a cool way to say what I was thinking without having to bore the people around me. I'm kind of an opinionated person.

*pause for the fake incredulity and sarcasm*

I added a Blogger blog somewhere along the line, because people had their preferred formats. I posted the same thing in both places. Then eventually I let LiveJournal go, mainly because I'd outgrown a lot of the communities I'd kind of become part of. Except one person. Hi, Gail! :) (Gail is awesome, and I will always think of LiveJournal fondly because it made our friendship possible.)

As time went on, "author branding" grew more and more important. Everyone lives online now, and Internet real estate is vital. My writing has coalesced, so that all of my books, however different they may seem on the surface, are similar at their core.

My paranormal romances (Goddesses Rising and the Soul Series) have kick-ass heroes and heroines who are trying to save their world and each other, and some of those people have otherworldly abilities.

My romantic adventures feature kick-ass heroes and heroines who are trying to save their world and each other, but there's nothing paranormal or otherworldly about them.

My YA books are going to be slightly different, in that the same heroine will be the protagonist of many books, and the romance will be stretched out through them. But they're still about teenagers kicking ass and saving the world—while they figure out who the hell they are and how they fit into the world they're saving, of course.

I don't want to import this massive blog to my website, smart as that would be, but the time had come to tie it a little more closely to the rest of my online property. So I renamed it using my author tagline, Love with a Shot of Adrenaline, and changed the template. Climbing a mountain in the rain generates adrenaline, I bet. And the colors tie in to everything else.

You know what else generates adrenaline? Being overworked. It's not something I want to complain about. I'm very happy to have the amount of work I'm doing, and it's of a type I enjoy. But when Monday kicks you hard in the face, and you're like me, that nonstop adrenaline has bad side effects. Like dreaming about work when you're not checking the clock every half hour. And getting your heart flutter back.

My problem is that I care too much. It's not okay that I left work on my desk yesterday, even though I got all the urgent stuff done. It's not okay that I had three client projects in my inbox when I went to bed, even though I have to, you know, at least try to get half a night's sleep. It's definitely not okay when my daily word count doesn't get done, and it's especially not okay when work takes me away from my kids and husband—even if they're doing their own thing and wouldn't be hanging with me even if I wasn't working.

I'm a crusader for pushing my friends to be good to themselves and not beat themselves up for what they don't do, and to be happy with whatever balance they achieve. It's stuff I believe with my entire being.

Except, apparently, for myself. :/

Over on Everybody Needs a Little Romance, we had a recent guest who pulled soul cards (kind of like tarot) for all the commenters. I was floored by what mine said. I taped it over my desk:

Flow

It's time to let go. You're entering a period of gracious ease and flow. All is unfolding perfectly and with good timing. Everything is falling into place because you aren't resisting the drift of the great river of life.

When you're in a state of flow, you aren't pushing the river to go faster, and you aren't swimming against it. You just let go of the shore and enjoy the ride. If you aren't feeling the smooth currents of life, it might mean that you're trying to control situations in your life, or your'e being self-critical or judgmental. The way to move into the flow is through gratitude and appreciation, and by allowing others to support and help you.

I'm trying. Failing more than half the time, but trying!

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Movie Lust


I don't know what it is. Maybe I'm a bit bored by TV right now. (Though Franklin and Bash comes back this week, yay! And then the Doctor!) Maybe I need inspiration for my writing. I don't know. But I've been watching and rewatching movies a lot lately. Old favorites like Galaxy Quest, stuff I never saw like Gravity, and more recent loves like Iron Man 3...and today I went to see Guardians of the Galaxy for the second time.

I give it a solid A. I'm getting tired of criticism that things aren't "unique." Nothing is, especially superhero/comics-inspired movies. All I want from film nowadays is enjoyment, and GotG gave that to me. It's all about the characters, and these are some great ones. I loved the writing that tweaked tropes, too. The speech that pulls everyone together, the self-sacrifice leading to a special moment between two people—they got turned very lightly on their heads. There were some fantastic lines that have already joined the common quotables in our house. It was just all very satisfying. (Though I will say I didn't find Ronan intimidating because all I could see was The Piemaker. Sorry, Lee Pace. :) )

Gravity sucked. One of my friends hated it, and everyone else seemed to be completely wowed, so I thought I'd be somewhere in the middle. Okay, the zero-g effects were great. Totally sold that she was in space the whole time. But everything else...ugh. No character development save a couple of slapped-on motivations that did not support at all the whole "rebirth" thing at the end. Heavy-handed symbolism does not add depth to a film that's pretty much all one big special effect. I was able to shrug off most of the illogic, but when Clooney unclipped himself—when he was at a complete standstill—because he was going to pull them both away and doom her, well, that did it for me. I watched the rest of the movie with a curl of my lip. (See this article that backs me up.) And while Sandra Bullock is one of my favorite actresses, I got soooo tired of her panting cries as she spiraled or bounced. I can't even give this one a grade.

While at GotG I saw some really good trailers, too. The next Hobbit movie looks tremendous, and they overlaid the trailer with Pippin's heartbreaking song from Return of the King, which always brings a sting to my eyes. Big Hero 6 looks like great fun, and even the remake of Annie looks decent. I'd watch that on TV, probably, if I came across it. I'm not sure I'd seek it out. I swear there were more trailers when we saw GotG the first time (Number Two was like, "get to the movie already!") but I can't remember what they were. :(

What movie did you like best this summer? What are you looking forward to coming up?

Saturday, August 09, 2014

Making that Connection

I'm so happy to have Misty Simon back here today! Ivy is probably my favorite mystery series, and if you try one, you'll understand why! Take it away, Misty!

Thanks to Natalie for having me here today!

I love getting sucked into a story. It doesn’t matter what the vehicle is. It can be a book, a movie, a television show, a chat with a friend over coffee. I’m an avid listener and watcher, and as I listen and watch I can’t help but be drawn into the emotions and the vividness of what is being told.

I especially love getting lost in a book, though. What can be better than using your own imagination to see the characters, the rooms they inhabit, the dangers and struggles they go through? You can step into their world for a just a little bit (or three hours later you surface and realize it’s midnight and you have to go to work in the morning). Great storytellers are my heroes as they weave words and images into a tapestry that makes me laugh, cry, sigh, and cringe.

I adore stepping into someone’s world, a world they’ve lovingly created, one they’ve inhabited for weeks or months or years while they wrote this book. The characters become important to me and their struggles real to me (emotional or physical) when it’s done right.

And I always feel a little like I’ve awoken from a Rip Van Winkle sleep when it’s done. The happily ever after is just the beginning, the loose ends are tied up, justice is served. And I’m left to close the book with a smile, wishing there was some way to find those people and have a drink while we squee over the good parts.

Have you ever felt like you’ve known a character so well that you wished you could go find them and buy them a beer (or other beverage of choice)?

About the Author

Misty Simon loves a good story and decided one day that she would try her hand at it. Eventually she got it right. There’s nothing better in the world than making someone laugh, and she hopes everyone at least snickers in the right places when reading her books. She lives with her husband, daughter, and two insane dogs in Central Pennsylvania where she is hard at work on her next novel or three. She loves to hear from readers so drop her a line.


The Wrong Drawers – An Ivy Morris Mystery

Ivy Morris is back, and this time she’s determined to stay out of trouble. She’s comfortably ensconced in her costume shop, happy as a clam. Happy as a clam can be, anyway, when her father has moved in with her for an indefinite amount of time, putting her love life frustratingly on hold.

So when her best friend asks for help with an in-home demonstration party, Ivy jumps at the chance to get out of the house and away from Dad. She has no idea of the subject until she gets a look at the cookies. But that becomes the least of her troubles when she walks straight into another murder scene. One where she’s the prime suspect.

What else could go wrong? When you’re Ivy Morris, the only right answer is “everything.” With the help of hunky Ben Fallon, this girl will try to figure out why she’s being framed and what it has to do with her getting The Wrong Drawers.

Buy Now:

Thursday, August 07, 2014

What's Up with Me

Well, let me tell you.

Writing-wise, I'm moving along with Harte and Soul in a very focused and apologetic manner. This book really should have been out long ago. It didn't deserve to be shoved aside by all those other books that ended up coming first. But it's my priority now! Except when the sequel to Full Fusion and other stuff crowds my brain. I just purge those details and then get back to H&S. I'm going to soon have Full Fusion available in print, and slowly, over the next several months, a lot of my backlist will be freshened and reissued.

Sunroper won the Prism! That was exciting. (The Prism is given by the Fantasy, Futuristic, and Paranormal Romance Writers, and it won the Light Paranormal category for 2014.)

Fall's going to be busy! September 5–7 I'll be in Ohio for a mini-meeting with Entangled authors and editors and publicists and the owner. Then I'll be doing a signing at Cupboard Maker Books in Enola, PA, followed by a YA signing there in October (stay tuned for details). October 17–20 I'm attending the New Jersey Romance Writers Put Your Heart in a Book conference in Iselin, NJ.

Work-wise, when I'm not writing, my day job at the chiropractor is going just fine, and my freelance work has been WHOA.

Which is good! Because family-wise, Number One is about to head back to Boston for her sophomore year at Emerson (which is another trip, a week before Ohio, and I might be a bit crazy...). I think she's about ready to head back after a hard-working summer. Number Two, on the other hand, feels summer went WAY too fast and she doesn't need to go back yet.

We've had a great time watching the Harrisburg City Islanders soccer this summer. They had a very rough start, but have clawed their way up the rankings to 6th place and hopefully a spot in the playoffs. They have to stay here, though, which means a few more wins before the season ends. Seasons ending make us sad. But the end of soccer means the start of football! The NFL kicks off...the weekend I'm in Ohio. :( But thank goodness for DVRs, right?

I'm trying to spend a little more time outdoors, even if it's just reading while I eat dinner, sitting on the top of the steps down to our backyard as if it were a tiny deck. :) The weather has been crazy. I have my window open right now and it feels like it's September. We've had very few +90-degree days, and a shocking number of 55-degree mornings. I'm praying it's carry-over from the cold winter and not a sign of the coming one.

Ooh, fall also means new TV. I haven't had time to watch much this summer. I'm behind on most of what I'm watching, except The Last Ship, Falling Skies, and Royal Pains because those we watch together. Franklin & Bash starts next week, followed by Doctor Who, and I"m excited about both! I'll hold off on talking about the new shows this fall until we get closer.

What's going on with all of you?

Monday, July 21, 2014

Cover Reveal for Kat Latham's Tempting the Player!

Cover for Kat Latham's Tempting the Player


Book three of the London Legends
Best friends make the best lovers.
Libby Hart and Matt Ogden are perfect for each other—as friends. They’ve known each other for ages. They act as each other’s plus-ones. They even share custody of a dog. And if there’s always been a little spark between them, so what? It’s never been worth jeopardizing their friendship.
Professional rugby player Matt is fighting for a starter position with the London Legends—and that’s not the only thing he’s fighting. A crippling fear of flying means he’s struggling to get his career off the ground. He has no time for a relationship, even if Libby does make him ache. As an airline pilot, Libby’s looking for a stay-at-home husband so she can have a family without sacrificing her high-flying career. Matt’s certainly not that man.
But just because they don’t have a future together doesn’t mean they can’t have a right now. When Matt asks Libby for help overcoming his fear, they agree to take a vacation from their platonic relationship—whenever they fly together, they can have sex. It’s the perfect way to resolve all that built-up tension. As long as they can avoid getting a little too comfortable…

About Kat

Kat Latham - 350px
Kat Latham is a California girl who moved to Europe the day after graduating from UCLA, ditching her tank tops for raincoats. She taught English in Prague and worked as an editor in London before she and her British husband moved to the Netherlands. Kat’s other career involves writing and editing for charities, and she’s traveled to Kenya, Ethiopia and India to meet heroic people helping their communities survive disasters. Find out more on her website: katlatham.com.

Giveaway


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Sunday, June 29, 2014

Full Fusion

I'm a little appalled at myself.

My latest book has been out for three weeks, and I haven't even mentioned it here! (Apologies who have seen all my announcements on social media and stuff. You can stop here. :) )

Full Fusion is my first young adult paranormal adventure, published as NJ Damschroder.

I've always wanted to write YA. I mean, I can attribute my entire career to all the books I devoured when I was a tween and teen and college student (though by then I was mostly reading adult romance). But when I started writing, there was a huge drought in YA fiction. That changed dramatically, and now it's an awesomely healthy part of the industry.

But even when that began to happen, I didn't think I was capable of writing YA. I wasn't a typical teen, and my kids are even less typical. So how could I convey what it's like to be a teenager if I didn't live it properly?

Turns out, all I needed was the right idea.

A scene popped into my head. A couple of little kids wanting to start a water fight. They're hauling gigantic super-soakers, and they hand their "nemesis" a tiny blue water pistol. And that's where Full Fusion starts. Roxie has a great life. Adorable twin sisters, cool parents, a great boyfriend. She's about to graduate and go to a fantastic college. But she feels completely disconnected from any of it.

Why? Well, there had to be a real reason. Like, something concrete and adventurous, because that's what I like to write and read. Not angsty internal stuff. So it turns out that Roxie is supposed to be a fusion of a human body and an angel soul. But something went wrong when she was born, and she got separated. Now she and her best friends have to track down and "save" the light that is her soul before the bad guys use it to destroy two worlds.

Full Fusion has fights and chases and the start of a love triangle. It has beings of light from another dimension (aka angels) and secrets and okay, there's some angst, too. I mean Roxie's felt distant from everything her whole life. Here's her chance to feel normal for the first time. But the stakes are wickedly high, and her choice isn't as easy as it seems. Plus, in the middle of it all, her most important relationships break down, leaving her alone.

The series will have at least three books and we'll learn a lot more about Roxie's original mission, about her friend Lincoln and his own secrets, and about the world she came from and its interaction with our own. Stay tuned!

Here's the official info about the book.

If you want to sign up for the newsletter to learn about future releases, you can do that here. I won't be sending NJ Damschroder info to my regular newsletter, so be sure to sign up for this one if you want to make sure not to miss the new books when they come out.

If social media is your preference, the series has its own FB page.

Blurb:
Eighteen-year-old Roxie Sebastian lives a charmed life, and she knows it. Too bad she can’t feel it. All her life, she’s felt disconnected from the world around her. Everything changes just before graduation, when she’s drawn to an eerie, brilliant light—which narrowly misses her as it blows up her friend Lincoln’s car. Clearly someone’s after Roxie, and finally Lincoln tells her the truth: He and Roxie are angels, beings from another dimension, and that light is her soul, separated from her human body in a traumatic birth.

Once a skeptical Roxie rules out the other possibilities—like Lincoln created this delusion to escape his abusive father—she accepts her gut-deep knowledge of the truth. But someone has been screwing with her light, using it to commit crimes, and their actions are about to cause irreparable damage to two worlds: the one she lives in, and the one she can’t remember.

Aided by her best friend Jordan, her boyfriend Tucker, and Lincoln, Roxie tracks down the criminal and uncovers many more secrets not only of her past, but of the history of their race on Earth. And then Roxie faces a horrible dilemma—the only way she can stop them from ripping apart both worlds is to fuse with her light…which could be tainted by the evil with which it was used.

Buy:
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Saturday, June 28, 2014

Doing It with Passion

Because a lot of our family time is attending sporting events, I get to hear the National Anthem a lot. Many different versions, many different settings, and many different methods.

Recently, I realized I've started categorizing each rendition I hear.

The most disappointing are the "look at me!" types. The ones who drag it out to twice as long as it should be, showing off all the fancy stuff they can do with their throats. They really seem to be focused on themselves, on being impressive. And on trying to make everyone recognize how oh-so-special they are.

There may be a venue where that's appropriate. The National Anthem probably shouldn't be it, though I do understand that its very nature must make it hard to resist.

Another type is the nervous amateur. They deserve the most applause, IMO. Probably pushed out there by someone or something not completely in their control, singing one of the hardest songs to sing in front of huge, judgy crowds of people. I think that takes incredible bravery, especially when it's kids.

We also have the pros. You know, the military quartets and traveling choirs, the people who sing with quiet confidence, who care as much about the teamwork as the soccer players or football players do.

But then you have my favorites. The people who sing with passion. They don't care about the crowd or how they look or even how they sound. They close their eyes and lose themselves in the music. I think this is why Whitney Houston's rendition is considered by so many to be the best ever. She tells a story with her voice. The song is about the emotions inspired by the events and the symbolism of the song. Yes, she has off-the-charts talent, but how much of it was simply because of her joy in singing?

We should all be doing this. It's not possible, I know, to imbue everything we do with joy and passion. I will never engage in passionate grocery shopping or joyful laundry for example. And it's disingenuous to imply that every job can be approached that way. But I think it's good to concentrate on what something gives us internally, at least while we're creating it, rather than what it can give us externally. Write, sing, dance, play the piano, knit, garden, sculpt, paint, create with passion. It will always make the experience better.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Orphan Black Has Made Me Afraid


I admit to holding on to a bit (or way more) of naivete and blind idealism when it comes to certain issues related to casting in Hollywood. When people roar about Supernatural killing off all the ethnic and female characters, I point out that they kill off EVERYONE. If someone ever survives (Hi, Sarah from "Provenance" in season 1!) and comes back, well, we know it's goodbye. When people were up in arms about having too few females in the first "cast photo," I thought it was unfair to JJ Abrams, who is well known for using strong female characters in his shows. And then we had additional casting announcements that hopefully appeased the impatient angry masses.

I tend to believe there is oversimplification in casting allegations, and I tend to take that angle when I debate such issues because...big confession here...I'm part of the problem. I *love* The Avengers, and I don't care that it's flooded with testosterone. You can't pay me to go see August: Osage County, and I turned off Bridesmaids about 10 minutes in because it made me queasy. I don't want the movies and shows I love to go away, so I try to make the issue more complex.

A couple of days ago a friend and I were chatting about The 100. For those who don't know, that's a CW TV show set in the future, featuring kids sent from a space station down to a post-nuclear Earth to see if it's safe to come back to. I stopped watching after maybe the third episode, when a little girl killed one of my favorite characters. The fact that he happened to be black was irrelevant, but my friend said yeah, she hates that the show seems to kill off all its ethnicity. She also said, in that same conversation, that Orphan Black wasn't getting the credit it was due because it's a female-centric show.

OB does get tons of credit, at least as far as gen-pop buzz goes. Tatiana Maslany, who has played 9 different, very distinct characters, has won her second Critics Choice Award and everyone raves about her skill. But of course by "credit" we mean Top Honors, aka an Emmy. We have a little while before we find out whether she'll be nominated. The show itself probably will never get a nomination, because it's very genre, it's on BBCAmerica, and the competition is fierce. But NO ONE on TV can possibly be giving as good of a performance as Maslany is right now. I argued that the genre and the network were bigger marks against the show than the fact that there are more women at center focus than men.

But a gamechanger occurred in last night's finale. We learned there are male clones, so the guy who has been playing Mark will get a chance to do what Tat does. And now I'm scared. This is a perfect chance for my friend to be proven right. If this guy gets more acclaim than Tat has (which, like I said, would be difficult in terms of buzz) I'll be forced to admit that the level of gender bias in television is disgustingly deep-seated.

So come on, Hollywood. For once prove all the others wrong. Give us a reason to put this topic to bed, at least for a little while!

Friday, June 20, 2014

My Chris Pine Mini Marathon

Last week, I read a blog post about romantic comedies with geeky characters. And one of the suggested films was Blind Dating.


So I got it out of the library. It was adorable. Chris Pine did a very good job pretending to be both blind AND geeky AND insecure, and he's also got a talent for displaying passion. (Not that kind, although sometimes that kind.)












Someone else had mentioned watching Unstoppable on Facebook. That was one that had been on my Netflix list before we ditched Netflix, so I got that from the library too. I liked it! The people on FB thought the beginning was slow, but I didn't. It had good enough cinematography and characterization to keep me interested until the tension started ramping up. Plus, Chris Pine was usually on the screen. I liked the story and the balance of heroism between the two characters (three, if you counted the welder guy).









So then I got Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, which had already been on my list because I didn't get to see it in the theater. By now, we've seen Chris Pine as a rugged action hero several times. But in this reboot (I assume it's a reboot because of the 9/11 stuff and moving up young Jack Ryan into the present, but I don't read the books so who the heck knows.) he's an intellectual more than a physical hero. Not completely. I mean, he was a Marine. But in his first foray into the field, he sells his fear and lack of confidence even while he balances it with doing the right thing. I loved the scene on the plane where he's getting all take-charge and showing off his brains.

Kiera Knightly was good, though she distracted me with her American accent. And I kept looking at the Russian bad guy going "He looks just like Kenneth Brannagh, but he can't be Kenneth Brannagh." Guess what? He's Kenneth Brannagh!


So what's next? I own these two:



I might just watch them again. And...I confess. I just added This Means War to my library requests. I've seen it, and it's kind of icky in places, and some of it isn't well written, but... I'm on a Chris Pine kick! It's low level, not nearly to the heights that my Brendan Fraser obsession went. (Ooh, maybe I should start that again...) But it's still buzzing. :)

What's your favorite Chris Pine movie? Do you get on these actor kicks like I do?

Monday, June 02, 2014

Weird Discoveries at the Soccer Match

I made two discoveries at the soccer game on Saturday, neither of which had anything to do with soccer.

OWU Guy
Number One had worn her new Cleveland Browns ballcap to the game. A guy sitting near us spotted it and, as people are always surprised to find Browns fans in the heart of Steeler country, he commented on it. He grew up in Akron, and played high school football on the same field (at Baldwin Wallace University) as my husband did. They reminisced about the old region for a while, and then the guy mentions OWU. Turns out he went to Ohio Wesleyan University, same as we did! Albeit a decade after I graduated.

It's amazing how amazed we continually are by these small-world coincidences, common though they are. It's like the summer we went to Tennessee for vacation and the people in the cabin next door live two blocks from us back home. Weird!

Cyst
So Number One is talking about the bruising on the webbing of her thumb from using the mop at work so much, and I comment that the pad on my right hand right below my index finger only ever hurts when I'm driving. Like, EVER. But I just kind of figured it was tenderness from the steering wheel. I grip the wheel gingerly and otherwise don't think about it.

But talking about it had me probing the area, and holy cow! I found a cyst in my hand! That's the most padded part of my hand so I hadn't ever probed that hard. It wasn't otherwise detectable. It's right over the lowest joint so I'm pretty sure it's a ganglion cyst. I had one in my wrist when I was a teenager. It went away by itself, so it's no big deal, just one of those "huh" things.

Except probing it was apparently really stupid, because today it's huge and every time I used my hand for support (like to get up at my desk or something), it hurt. And I can feel it just brushing my thumb over the area, no probing necessary. Idiot.

So what weird discovery have YOU made lately?

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

A Little Bit of TV Love and Hate. We'll Start with the Hate.

It's the end of the main TV season, and I have a few things to say. THERE ARE TONS OF SPOILERS HERE.

Revenge
My boss and I watch this show and break it down every week. It's been fun, because it's very much not the kind of show either of us would normally watch, and we have extremely different tastes. But we normally feel the same about what happens in each episode. We love the same characters (Nolan and Jack, natch, and Victoria and Conrad for the opposite reasons). We hate the same storylines. And we are very disappointed in the finale.

I'm speaking only for myself, but there was a lot of "oh, come on!" The network (probably our local affiliate) screwed up and had a big blank spot where a commercial should have been, then the commercial, and then we landed halfway through Aiden's murder. That left me feeling cold and disengaged. I knew Aiden was going to die, though the showrunners seem to think that was a big surprise, and that might have contributed to my lack of caring. I liked Aiden, and I liked Emily with him, especially at the end, but it was always clear they weren't destined to be together. I figured he'd die heroically. There was nothing heroic in being paralyzed and smothered, and how the hell are we supposed to believe Victoria dragged his body from the city to the Hamptons and posed it in Emily's house? He was paralyzed so I guess the look on his face could have been frozen there, but he was paralyzed so how did his mouth get that open, AFTER a pillow was smashed against it? The whole doll thing was just stupid.

Then there was Charlotte cluing in to Jack's involvement in her abduction. She's a pretty dumb person in a lot of ways, but NOW she gets smart and doesn't confront someone about something? The cops can't really hold Jack. Charlotte thinking his hand felt the same and that she might have felt the rip in his car seat through her jacket and clothing is so far from real evidence it's not even funny. But that's all for the future. The drama and "uh-oh" of it were fine.

But the truly gasp-worthy moment? David orchestrating Conrad's escape and then knifing him in the street? WTF?!

They've teased the possibility of him being alive in a variety of ways all season, but successfully dismissed each one. Then in the finale they showed him on TV incessantly, in footage I don't think we've seen before, which of course was so we'd be sure to recognize him when he shows up on that rural road. I admit, I gasped hard. But this man who has JUST been cleared of crimes he did not commit decides the way to celebrate is to become a murderer? I mean...if you could get any more ridiculous than posing a dead guy to look like a blow-up doll, this was it. I assume he's going to come out of the shadows. And just how does he explain to his daughter why he let her think he was dead? Not to mention that hey, he's the most likely suspect for the knifing!

I think the Revenge writer's room got a little too hung up on Scandal-style shock value and forgot to support their story.

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Last night's finale left me feeling the complete opposite of how Revenge did. There was so much awesomeness it's hard to know where to begin.

Okay, let's go with the big one. I told my friend Gail over at SciFi Chicks that I expected Fury's bit to be short. But it was delightfully not! First, he had the best intro moment possible, when Simmons drags Fitz to the surface and there's good ol' Nick to save them. Then his banter with Coulson while Garrett tries to be the center of attention was hilarious. He INTERRUPTED him. We had to watch a couple of parts a second time. I'm sure others would stone me for saying this, but I think Nick Fury is SLJ's best role ever. :)

Coulson still manages to upstage him, though. Garrett survives the blast from a newly freed Mike/Deathlok and rebuilds himself with Quinn's fancy rebuilding machine, then begins to declare himself unstoppable before being interrupted (again) by a molecularizing weapon wielded by Coulson, who has no comment, no real reaction, and walks away saying "Found it! Told you it would be in here." It all plays such delightful fun with the melodrama of action-adventure.

Some fans (Gail!) dislike Skye with a surprising (to me) level of intensity. I've always liked her, though she's about sixth on my list of favorite team members. I really enjoyed her empowerment (I know, that's a bit of an exaggeration). She's had the least to contribute to the team over the season as a whole, but this time she got to free people and save lives and employ her skills to hugely successful results, and was able to dismiss Ward and pass him off to May for punishment. And oh, what fantastic punishment! Nailing his foot to the floor was one of the bits we rewound. :)

Then there was FitzSimmons. Goddamn, they broke my heart right before the escape. Fitz, for cripes sake, leave my heart alone! He shredded me with "I don't have the courage to tell you, so let me show you." Us hard-hearted, unsentimental Damschroder females admitted to getting a little teary. Number Two is absolutely furious that we didn't get to see him at the end, and the potential implications of his changes.

But the very best moment was when Coulson confronted Fury about T.A.H.I.T.I., saying it was only to be used if an Avenger fell. Fury shoots back, "Exactly" and Coulson's expression is just perfect. They set up the second season amazingly well, IMO.

Oooh! Ooh! And THEN. Agent Koenig! A different one (twins? clones? LMDs?), but played as the same kind of guy, and that was the cherry topping on the big pile of yummy whipped cream that's the only reason to bother eating cake (or pie) in the first place.

As with any show, there are a few tiny quibbly things that would mar the joy with too much scrutiny, so I'm ignoring them. :)

And that is puh-lenty of both gushing and ranting for one (way too long) blog post! If you watch these two shows, let me know your thoughts!