Monday, December 29, 2008


This is quite possibly one of the coolest things I've ever been involved in.

A while back, Orchid Games contacted a friend of mine about beta-testing their romance-reader targeting solitaire game. She had a Mac, so she couldn't do it, but gave some other names. Mine was one, so I got to test the game, called Heartwild Solitaire, and help them work out the bugs and revise their scoring system and stuff.

And now the game is available for everyone! And I'm in the credits! LOL

First off, the game is gorgeous. Every board is richly elaborate art, and the music matches. I like playing stuff like this at the end of the day (which is good, because sometimes I end up playing for four hours and only stop because it's 2:00 a.m.!), and the imagery and sound suit that.

Secondly, the game is FUN. It's a simple matching game, but there are 7 boards for each of 12 levels, plus a bonus level in the middle, and I've played hundreds of times without ever getting bored. There are many different ways to score, so it's challenging.

And finally, it's unique. You may have played games before where each accomplishment uncovers part of a story. This is different because it's a romance! The story unfolds in chapters accompanied by tarot that adds depth to the arc. Very compelling.

Right now you can get a demo of the game for FREE, then decide if you want to purchase the whole game. Sandlot Games will also be offering a "modified for television" type version that lowers the sensuality a little, if that's something you prefer. You can get all the dope at the Heartwild site.

Check it out, and have fun!

Friday, December 26, 2008

The Day After

Merry Christmas to everyone I didn't manage to greet in some way yesterday. I hope you all had lovely holidays, assuming you weren't puking or dealing with puking or recovering from puking. My condolences to those who were.

And Happy Hanukkah where applicable. I don't know anyone who actually celebrates Kwanzaa, but I think that starts today, so have a good seven days!

We had a nice, quiet holiday, just the four of us. Did presents, played Wii, went to a movie (Bedtime Stories, very funny, though Adam Sandler is always better when he doesn't go all the way to total idiocy), had stir fry for dinner. Yep, stir fry. That's what they wanted!

So now we're on Transition Weekend.

As I've mentioned, December is a difficult work month. Everything seems to back up as we concentrate on the holidays and associated activities. Between now and the end of next week, focus shifts. This weekend I don't actually do anything. It's the last week of regular-season football, and tomorrow we're doing Christmas at my inlaws. Today I'm running errands, including using a gift card that will make one of my Christmas presents (an espresso machine) complete. And Sunday, we'll probably take down the tree and stuff, instead of waiting until New Year's Day. Not sure, I might get outvoted on that one. :)

So for the next few days, I'll be slowly making lists of everything I have to deal with after the first:

  • Losing weight Getting healthy. I lost 15 pounds in 2007 and kept off every pound this year...until this week. I don't know why. I haven't changed my eating habits at all, just substituted Christmas cookies for other junk food. But I jumped up four pounds. Plus, after my exercise plan fell apart in May, I completely dropped it this fall. And the kids start soccer again soon. So we're going to be increasing our activity levels next week, and I'll go back to the club the week after, when they go back to school.

  • Writing. My agent hasn't exactly been sitting by her computer waiting for my revisions, but now I have no excuses. I need to get back to them. Luckily, I have a plan for that, too.

  • Taxes.

  • Spreadsheets. I have to set up my organization schedule for next year, reconfigure my to-do list to accommodate some regular obligations, get the old pages out of my day planner, etc. Luckily, my office/desk are clean because I had company. The one bright side to that. The cleaning, not the company.

  • So let the transition begin! (And let the Patriots lead us into 2009 on a positive note. Go, Jets! *gag*)

    This is a day late, but hilarious enough to share all year round. Slightly NSFW.

    Tuesday, December 23, 2008

    Birthday Greeting from Mary

    Because what good is it if you don't share it? :)

    Thanks, Mary!!!

    Quiet Perfection

    In an effort not to repeat myself, I just looked back over my old birthday posts. 2007 describes my birthday in historical (mine) terms, and 2006 describes my crappiest birthday ever.

    Shit. Hold on, I think the dog just barfed.

    Phew. I got her outside. That would have rivaled 2006. Well, okay, not really, but having to clean up dog barf on your birthday is pretty crappy. And justifies the use of the word "shit," though I apologize because I try not to curse so publicly. Kids might be listening.

    Anyway. I started this blog in July 2005 and apparently felt uncomfortably announcing my birthday that year, so I didn't post that day. I did find this post, though, which amused me because I've been having similar thoughts about the whole holiday thing. I guess I probably do every year. Just stop with the annoyance, people, will you? For sheesh.

    Hm. OK Cupid just sent me birthday greetings. Even said happy 38th birthday. I don't know how they know that. I must have told them, but even so, Borders isn't so rude as to call out my age when they send me a 25% off coupon.

    Anyway. Again. Today is very low-key. Even though I get to sleep in for the next 12 days (kids off school), J insisted I not get up this morning. It didn't amount to sleeping in, but it did mean no animal feeding or litter box cleaning, no breakfast making or dishwasher filling, no bus stop in 14-degree cold.

    I spent a couple of hours reading with a warm, soft cat on my lap. Now I'm doing this, and I think I'm going to go to the post office and pick up Neato Burrito for lunch. Dinner is, I think, at Red Lobster, though I tried to decline. And I suspect I have a dark peppermint ice cream cake from Cold Stone Creamery in the freezer.

    No presents from J and the Numbers this year, but you know what? That's beyond okay, because remember what my present is? SALUTE TO SUPERNATURAL in March!!!!!

    I did get some gift cards from my dad and brother, some already spent for real, some spent in my head. I might watch some TV (I have last night's Prison Break recorded, but I think that's about it) and do some more reading.

    Might write, too. I had a new idea this morning, had some scenes writing themselves in my head, and then my brain was trying to turn them into a book while I was in the shower, which always sucks because there's no way to get the ideas down, but it's inevitably where they pop up. I won't work on that new idea, of course, I have way too much pending before I can get to a new book. But thinking about this new idea had me thinking about my already-done books, and how much I love them, despite the work they need before they can sell, and how my purpose in writing the paranormals/urban fantasies I write is to ground the stories so fully in the real world that the reader has very little need to suspend disbelief, and feels like they could really go outside and bump into my characters at the supermarket. You know, between crises. :) And how can anyone not think that was really cool?

    So I'm obviously feeling pretty optimistic and yeah, that's a good way to feel on your birthday.

    I probably won't post again until later in the week, so Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah (why does every spell check give me a different spelling for that word?) to everyone!

    Monday, December 22, 2008

    Did You Remember...

    (Today's post is from The Gab Wagon)

    Well, here we are, on the home stretch. I'm "done" with everything but wrapping, but I'll go out on Wednesday for some stocking stuffers and maybe one final thing for my husband. One gift hasn't arrived yet, but it's in the local distribution center and will get here tomorrow (gotta love online tracking!). And see, all you mood-killers who had everything bought and wrapped, baked and frozen before Thanksgiving? It's perfectly possible not to start until December 15 and get done in pllleeennnnttyyy of time. :)

    But maybe you're not a moodkiller or a middle-grounder. Maybe you are totally about the last-minute shopping. Well, that's okay, too! I have some recommendations for you!

    Books Galore!

    I've been in B&N twice and Borders once in the last three weeks, and every time they were packed. Today we had a humongous line and the staff (shout out to Camp Hill Borders!) was tremendous. It moved like a glacier-fed stream in the spring.

    Anyway. Books (or bookstore gift cards) are always a great choice, and will have the added bonus of supporting both retailers and publishers, helping keep Mac, Monica, Cathy, and me working. (See handy links right there in the sidebar! Hint hint!)

    Whether you buy hardcover, paperback, or e-books; online or in a bookstore or grocery store; children's or adult books...remember to go to this blog. Take a minute to list your book in the comments, and visit often to add to the list or just watch the tally rise. Last week it was jumping about a hundred books a day! Isn't that awesome?


    iTunes is a pretty immediate and universal gift source, too. It doesn't cost anyone anything to download the software or set up an account, and most people have some way of listening to the music or audiobooks they buy or watching the TV shows and movies. iTunes gift cards are ubiquitous, available in grocery, department, and electronics stores as well as in the iTunes store itself. There's also lots of free stuff, so surf around it a little, check it out!

    Up-and-Coming Musicians

    Well, not the musicians themselves, but their music. I'm talking about people like Jo Braithwaite, Jason Manns, Life of Riley, people who aren't filling stadiums on their tours but cute little pubs (or ugly dives, we don't judge!) with their devout but small fanbases. This kind of gift is cool because it's personal, potentially gives the recipient something they'll enjoy over and over, and helps the struggling (or semi-struggling) musician.


    Of course, by now, you've been buried in solicitations for money. Charities of all sizes are probably feeling the pinch, and they always hit us up at this time of year, anyway.

    But sometimes grassroots-level programs are the most rewarding. The money usually goes directly to those in need--no wondering how much of your contribution is really supporting a six- or eight-figure CEO salary and how much is helping people. Check out these awesome enterprises for some real feel-good cheer this holiday season:

    Fandom Rocks (ongoing events ranging from auctions to simple donations, targeting a wide variety of needs such as domestic abuse shelters, the Humane Society, etc.)

    Operation: Winchester (sending goodies to the troops overseas)

    Office of Letters and Light (sponsor of NaNoWriMo, Young Writers NaNoWriMo, Script Frenzy, and, in the past, filling libraries in Vietnam)

    Add your favorite suggestions in the comments!

    Tuesday, December 16, 2008

    I Want to Be a Prison Break Writer

    Prison Break is a show that requires a huge suspension of disbelief. From the first season, they've created alliances and progressions of events that could never happen, not to mention conspiracies of unmanageable proportions.

    But there's one thing they do extremely well, and it's the reason the show has survived even though seasons 2 and 4 actually didn't have anyone in prison for more than an episode.

    There's an old piece of writing advice (I don't know who originally said it, sorry) that goes something like "If your story stalls, run your characters up a tree and throw rocks at them." In other words, make things really, really bad, and then make them worse. I've never seen a TV show or movie or read a book that did that better than Prison Break.

    You'd think that would get exhausting, and it does. This should be the show's last season. These guys (and Sarah) deserve a break, for cripe's sake. But that's a big-picture level. On an episodic level, the writers have managed an amazing balance between success and failure that keeps us totally hooked.

    For example, when they stole Scylla (reportedly a list of every bad guy in every important position in the world), it looked like they were getting caught, but it was part of the plan to get the missing piece. Then they were betrayed and lost Scylla, but Michael had kept part of it, so the double-crossing Agent Self didn't get to complete his plan. When Michael, Sucre, Sarah, and Lincoln successfully get Scylla back, Michael's tumor acts up and flattens him, so Self grabs Scylla again and finds the missing piece. When Michael dies on the operating table during the tumor reduction, he realizes Scylla isn't what they thought it was, that it's much, much bigger.

    There's no relaxing during this entertainment. The level of suspense is neverending, with very short, exciting reprieves and moments of hope. It can't be sustained forever, but day-um, I want to write like that!

    So excuse me while I go throw rocks at my characters.

    Monday, December 15, 2008

    Names and Stuff

    I haven't found myself with much to say lately. Been busy, of course, as we all are at this time of year. Most of what came to mind was of the "why I love December" variety, but geez, how many years in a row do you want to hear that?


    I bought Necco wafers today. I can't stop eating them. I bought one assorted and one chocolate and they're both half gone. I suppose that's not too bad, considering I bought them 8 hours ago.

    Today Megan Hart posted about her name, and asked "Do you like your name?" Because I tend to be long-winded, and because I had no recent posts, I decided to answer here instead of there.

    So. Again.

    Do I like my name?

    Mostly yes.

    I was born Natalie Jeanne Jacobus. Let's break that down, 'kay?

    I never disliked Natalie that I can recall. I've always tried to go against the crowd (without going all the way to outright rebellion), and I liked having a name no one else had. There was one other Natalie in my entire school district (as far as I could tell), and we never crossed paths. I may have had a short-lived dislike of the unusualness of it, maybe around first or second grade, but it wasn't very intense, and I came to appreciate not being Jennifer.

    On the other hand, I never liked Jeanne. Still don't. When I got married, I eliminated it from my legal name.

    Jacobus was always pretty cool, too, despite the typical "Fatalie Jacopiss" and "Jacobitch" taunts. It was unique; different from Jacobs, which was more common. But I never linked my identity to my name, and while I have solid respect for everyone's right to decide how to combine their married names and a mild resentment for the expectation that the woman has to give up hers, Jacobus-Damschroder was even more cumbersome than my favorite teacher's name (Albright-Rivenburg). Plus, logistically, it seemed mean. What if my daughter, Dakota Jacobus-Damschroder, wanted to marry, say, Dean Erickson-Patton? (Just as a hypothetical, there's no boy by that name.)

    So now I'm Natalie Jacobus Damschroder and I will not give up the J. Professionally I am Natalie J. Damschroder, my signature is usually NJ Damschroder (because otherwise it's too damn long), and I even like my initials, NJD.

    But wait! There's more!


    People generally tend to shorten Natalie to Nat. Growing up, I HATED Nat. Hated everything about it. I tried really hard to keep people from using it, but that was difficult, and I realized at some point that I minded the idea of it more than the actuality. IRL, I barely noticed it when it happened. So I let it go. Many people still use it.

    Someone tried to call me Nate for a while. THAT I put a stop to right quick.

    A hearing impaired friend called me Nad. That was before that word got used much for something else, I think, or at least before we were old enough to understand the slang use.

    But my lifelong nickname has been Nuj, and of course, there's a story behind it.

    My mother's initials were TAM (for Teresa Agnes Miller, and yes, she most definitely dropped the Agnes when she got married, and did not take it back after she got divorced and reverted to Miller). She always wanted people to call her Tammy, but no one ever did. I didn't know her then, obviously, but she never struck me as much of a Tammy. (My childhood best friend was Tammy Moran. Hey, Tam, if you Google yourself, give me a holler!)

    Fast forward to my birth, where my father commented on my initials being NJJ. "NJJJJ," he said. "What can you make with that?" So Nuj was born. It led to Nujie (which my little brother used most), and Nujer-Buj, and cutesy stuff like that. I did have a longer period of acute hatred of this name, in my tweener years, but I outgrew it and by high school, I lovedlovedloved it and actively encouraged it.

    When my mother went to Washington (state) to visit the guy who'd become my stepdad, I told her the souvenir I wanted was a shirt with Nuj on it. They didn't know where to put it, so she came home with a baseball-style shirt with Nuj in script on the upper left chest, down both arms, and on the tail.

    I miss that shirt.

    So that's it. I still use Nuj. It's in my e-mail address, my LiveJournal name, and a lot of message board usernames. I even have a personalized license plate with it. If I were to have a gravestone when I die (which I won't), it would be on it.

    I often wonder if my uncommon first name and totally unique nickname have led to my preference for unusual names both in my kids and for my characters. With my kids, the names were uncommon when I picked them, but we apparently tapped into a burgeoning zeitgeist with both. Number One only has one kid with her name in her entire class, a boy, but they often wind up in class together. Number Two has kids ahead of her and behind her with her name. No one in her class so far, but plenty of variants. It really galls me to look trendy. *sigh*

    Your turn! Tell me your name story in the comments! Be as long or as short as you want. :)

    Monday, December 08, 2008

    A Rant and Some Thoughts

    Note: I wrote this a couple of weeks ago, but just got my Neo back from Number One and found it. What luck, since I didn't know what to blog about today!

    I just took a telephone survey about grocery shopping. I do surveys online periodically, too, for Homescan (we scan all our purchases for them) and Entertainment Weekly and People and stuff. And I HATE HATE HATE forced answers. You know, the kind where you have never in your life bought deli meat at Wal Mart and they force you to rate their meat quality on a scale of one to five. It's not hard to have "not applicable" as a category, and if you want honesty, you must have it. Otherwise, I'm getting pissed and giving you all ones. Of course, it was probably Giant doing the survey, and now they'll be really happy because they think everyone else sucks and they don't.

    On the same topic, FFS, people, what's up with the reduced employment categories in that qualification question? I don't have an employer. I am self-employed. Saying "employed full time" or "employed part time" is a lie, and I'm sure as hell not a homemaker.

    Stupid flawed surveys.

    begin thoughts
    When Dean confessed to Sam about what happened in hell (yes, this is thoughts on Supernatural, sorry) we were talking about what he'd had to do. One of my friends said something about at least the people in hell have a reason to be there, even if they just made a deal to do it.

    I was just reading a section in the Supernatural Magazine that listed the people who'd made deals, and I felt compelled to revisit the topic.

    The idea of selling your soul to the devil and being destined to go to hell, even for small things in return, is a concept that, of course, existed long before this show. Certainly, it's difficult not to say "they asked for it" for people like Robert Johnson or George Darrow or Sean Boyden, who wanted talent because they wanted fame or envy or accolades. At 14, though, Bela probably couldn't imagine a worse hell than the sexual abuse she was enduring, and Evan Hudson wanted to save his wife. Even Dr. Silvia Growman used her deal to save lives, which, in karmic terms, probably balanced her desire for success. So saying everyone in hell deserves to be flayed alive over and over for eternity is way overstating. Which, of course, is part of the point.

    The real issue, though, isn't about whether the people deserved it. The real issue, in terms of the show, is how much more it punished Dean to have to deliver punishment than to have to take it. Remember John? Who was in hell for 100 years? I bet Dean has thought about that a lot, and what his father endured. (Though John probably would have hopped off that rack on day one.) I'm sure Dean also wondered how many of the people he was flaying were bad people, seriously deserving of it. How many had done bad things in life that they needed to be punished for, and does it even work that way?

    Ooooooohhhh! I just had another thought, about Ruby!!!!

    We're always wondering why she's different from other demons. What if most of the demons we've met have been bad people already, their nature lending themselves to the full corruption of hell? But Ruby was a dealmaker, good at heart, someone who made a mistake, who has been turned into a demon over a hundred years (thousands, in hell time), but able to remember being human because she started out from a better place?

    We know she was a witch, like the ones in "Malleus Mallificarum," in service to the same demon those women were. And of those women, at least two were greedy and vindictive. But Elizabeth had a kinder nature. Sure, she wanted to win stuff and have a great garden or whatever, but she didn't have the avarice the others did, and she really cared about the people who'd died. What if Ruby started out like her?

    Such a thing would be akin to a good person in real life going though trauma and abuse and coming out the other side hardened and with skills learned through the horrible events. Skills of manipulation and deceit, with a stronger sense of self-preservation and vengeance. I think that describes Ruby pretty well.

    Anyway, that went flying off topic. The point was, it was traumatic to Dean to have to cause that physical and psychological harm to people, no matter what they'd done. And the possibility that the person he was flaying might not deserve it would only make it worse.

    Friday, December 05, 2008

    Catching Up and Stuff

    Okay, that's just another way to say "Random Friday." Sorry. :)


    Busy week. Actually managed to get TWO people bought for Christmas. Should have gotten more than half my list done today, but it didn't work out. Stupid day job.

    If you're all done, I don't want to hear it. I think there's something sad about being "done" for a holiday a month before it gets here. I know it's less stressful and very practical, but it takes away all the magic. Plus, people who are done tend to be all smug. :)


    I was watching the "promo" for Supernatural (which is just past clips, nothing upcoming, but well put together, I think) and I remembered a key point from the second-to-last episode before hiatus that I haven't seen talked about.

    I'd been thinking, since Castiel talked about the 66 seals, that this is going to be a season of failure, and that's kind of depressing. Because as soon as they stop Lilith from breaking a seal, it's done--she can't free Lucifer.

    For example, in "It's the Great Pumpkin, Sam Winchester," the window to raise Samhain was only open every 600 years. So if that was one of the seals Lilith had to break and they stopped Samhain from rising, they'd stopped Lilith.

    But fast forward to where we meet Anna, and she tells the psychiatrist there are actually SIX HUNDRED seals, and Lilith can break any 66 of them. From an "oh, the boys!" standpoint, this is rough. The angels can't predict where she'll strike, so they are constantly playing defense. But from a narrative standpoint, it's FREAKIN' AWESOME. They can have some victories. They won't last, but they'll have them, which will break up what could be a dreary, despairing, downbeating series of events. The tension will be high, and the number gives the writers a lot of flexibility.

    On a side note, some of the upcoming episodes sound like the "Wishful Thinking" and "Monster Movie" variety, standalones that don't deal directly with the apocalypse. Which is good, a lot of people don't like too much emphasis on the season's mytharc. But it's got me thinking...maybe the endgame for this arc won't draw near until the end of season five, like with YED, who stuck around until the end of season two. That will be perfect, because the increasing ratings for this season will feed the possibility of season five (as far as the network is concerned), and keep us from getting too fatigued by the intensity of the arc, and prevent a season five that would have trouble following an averted apocalypse.

    If they could just do an episode where Sam and Dean switch bodies, I'd be in hiatus heaven.

    Okay, this thrills me beyond all reasonableness.

    I'm not sure if I knew this existed. If I did, I dismissed it because it never aired, or at least didn't get picked up. And Jared Padalecki by himself wasn't a draw for me (until he got HUGE and GOOD and I found out I was going be able to TOUCH HIM).

    But he's a draw now.

    And the original show was my all-time favorite growing-up show.

    Combine the two, and I'm just a great big puddle of giddy goo.

    This is a credit video made from bits of the pilot.

    I didn't know what it was at first. One of the TV blogs I read recently had a poll about which show should be remade next, and MacGyver won by a large margin. So I saw the start of that video, and thought, "OMG, Jared Padalecki would make a PERFECT MacGyver in a remake!" Little did I know...


    And I just cannot believe how excited I am to see this.

    Monday, December 01, 2008

    Holiday Hell Contest

    Win an amazing variety of goodies (books, gift certificates, Vera Bradley, and more), including one of TWO Kindles being given away, here.

    That link takes you to the full details of the contest. Follow links from there for the Kindle entries, and make sure to click on Home for the main blog for the most current day's contest.

    Good luck!

    Winning and Losing

    For the most part, I feel like I lost in November. I didn't write the 88k+ I was aiming for, and the half of the book I did write is the worst I've ever written in my life. I finished the month feeling like my skills are diminishing. Many years ago, I worked at a nature center, and I led nature walks during which I'd educate the classes and tourists on plants and stuff along the trail. By the end of the summer, when most things weren't blooming anymore or had changed their greenery, there seemed to be fewer and fewer things I was confident talking about. Over three months I'd forgotten much of what I'd been taught, and when I led a hike, I felt like a fraud. That's how I'm feeling now, where my characters are superficial and unemotional and their actions are rote and the plot is boring and going nowhere.

    Losing sucks.

    That's why I started with that, so I can end this post on a high note. I did write 50,309 words of fiction as well as 3755 of nonfiction (marketing text and biographies). I also revised the 20-page nonfiction report I'd written in October, proofed 116 pages of text of various sorts, critiqued 288 pages of fiction for friends, read through an 88k manuscript while taking revision notes, edited several interviews for my chapter newsletter, and spent Thanksgiving in the ER*. That's probably three times as much as I did last year, so I should feel pretty good about the month overall. I will frame and hang my NaNo winner's certificate with pride.

    *I was not the one needing treatment; the one who was is fine now, and it wasn't a life-threatening situation. I only mention it because I want the sympathy we deserve for missing out on Thanksgiving! :) No need to mention it, I'll just assume you're offering it. *g*

    Now, on into December, traditionally known as "Writing? What's That?" month.

    FYI, both my kids won NaNo, too. Number Two reached her word count goal on Saturday, I think. Number One was a little more complicated. She reached her original goal of 20,000 words halfway through the month and opened another account for another book idea, which she abandoned shortly thereafter for Another Shiny New Idea. Combined, she met her second word goal of 10,000, but felt guilty combining them, so she stayed up late last night finishing 10k (total) of the third idea, which she plans to keep going on now. I mention this partly out of pride and knowing headshaking (Shiny New Idea Syndrome! We all know about that!) and partly as inspiration and taunting for those who need such. :)

    Saturday, November 29, 2008

    We Are Being Taken Over...

    By the Disney Channel.

    Seriously. Who thinks the tweener demographic makes up most of the audience watching Dallas slaughter the Seahawks? Someone does, since they had Demi Lovato sing the anthem and the Jonas Brothers do the halftime show. If you recognize those names, there is a 93% chance you have tweener children.

    Give me Nickelback, or David Cook, or hell, even one of the Lacheys. Enough with these overly made-up teenyboppers with their manufactured images and questionable talent. (Note: My 13-year-old stole the Neo to write on and read this, and told me she totally agrees. \o/)

    So as you can see from my word meters to the right (or here if you're reading this at LJ or MySpace), I completed my read-through of Under the Moon. While I wait to discuss my revision suggestions with my agent, I've worked a little more on Heavy Metal for NaNo. I'm pushing through to 50k, but the story is so all over the place and boring that I really need to go back to the beginning and run through it. A couple of major issues to address: Roxie's abilities and the bad guy's big plan. Until I know that last one, I'm just kind of running in circles.

    But after Monday, that probably will get set aside for a while. First, because I have several books I need to work on ahead of it. More importantly, because it's a sequel to a book that hasn't been submitted yet, never mind sold. So. My plan:

    1. Revise Under the Moon until it's ready for submission
    2. Process critiques for Hummingbird and prep for agent review
    3. Revise Fight or Flight again, if Agent Awesome so decrees
    4. Do first round of revisions for More Than You Know and submit to critique partners
    5. Finish Zoe WIP

    That's at least a good six months of work, probably a lot more. Kind of overwhelming when I look at it all at once, and it makes me chaff at doing anything that's not writing.

    Um. Like blogging. So...yeah...I'm gonna go back over to file 5 and get back to work.

    Wednesday, November 26, 2008


    I wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving. Yes, even the Canadians, who already had it (you can never be too thankful or eat too much turkey/stuffing/mashed potatoes or elk or whatever) and the people who live in other countries all over the world (yep, the UK and that person in France and the ones in Australia and the Phillippines and that one down in Aruba) because hey! Everyone can use a day of family togetherness, eating too much, watching football (or futbol), and thinking about the good things in their lives.

    In addition to the usual (family, shelter, money in the bank, WAHM status) and the obvious (Salute to Supernatural! Padackles! my awesome friends!) I am thankful for the following:

    • The patience and hard work of my agent, who is so determined to help me figure out what's wrong and fix it, and her good cheer even when I get pushy.

    • Friends I don't hear from (and who don't hear from me) for months at a time, yet who know they can turn to me in times of despair. I only hope I can offer a fraction of what they need to help them heal.

    • Kids who have reached the age where they can entertain themselves all day while I work, and who don't resent me for it.

    • The space heater in my office.

    • My kids' friends, who for the most part seem to be decent sorts, not leading them down ugly paths (unless you count those on Team Edward, which I really don't, since Number One is kinda leading that gang already).
    • Kids who are so self-possessed and comfortable with who they are that they choose the kinds of friends above.

    • A husband who is so secure in my love for him that he buys me Legolas for Mother's Day and Jared Padalecki for my birthday.

    • Friends who get me and don't get annoyed (or don't show it, anyway) when I get so freakin' competitive. Cranberries, indeed.

    • A shelf full of books I can't wait to read.

    • A computer full of manuscripts in different phases of completion AND half a dozen viable ideas awaiting my attention, ensuring I can keep at bay the particular doubt demon that worries about running out of things to write for a good long while.

    • You guys. You, right there, the person reading this blog. Whether you ever comment or not, if I know you or we never met in any manner, wherever you are in the world--I'm thankful for you, for giving me a reason to talk to myself on a semi-regular basis. You all rock hard.

    Tuesday, November 25, 2008

    Buy More Books!

    The economy is taking a toll on publishing, as it is every industry. Publishers have laid off staff and either reduced or outright put a freeze on acquisitions. But not everyone is doom and gloom. Check this out.

    Karen Dionne from Backspace has started a list of book purchases. So every time you buy a book you can list it in the comments. She'll keep track, and we'll see how fast we can climb to a million purchases.

    Go check it out now! Every book counts, whether it's fiction or non, paper or e-book. If nothing else, seeing what people are buying will be FUN!

    Monday, November 24, 2008

    Heaven and Hell

    I just realized I haven't posted my thoughts on the last episode of Supernatural (until January 15 *sob*).

    It wasn't my favorite episode. There were three things that bothered me:

    1. Anna

    I guess it was the actress. When she was interacting one-on-one with Jensen, she was fine. But when she was talking to the group, every time, she was, like, fakely overwrought. High voice, jolting speech, physical affectations meant to portray emotion that really didn't.

    2. The "Battle"

    The word "clumsy" came into my head during the angel/demon battle. I don't know if it was the blocking, or the lack of budget, or maybe rushed filming. It just didn't seem as smooth and convincing as their scenes usually are.

    3. Sam at the end

    Once again, Jensen Ackles is not only knocking the ball out of the park, but out of the friggin' state. His revelation wasn't at all surprising, it was what I gleaned from the hints they gave us and non-show mythology about hell. But they had a couple of shots where Dean wasn't on camera, and Sam was just nodding sillily. I'm not criticizing Jared's acting or anything, and what else would someone be able to do while hearing such things? But keep him soft focus in the background, let us absorb Dean's pain.

    And I know I'm not the first to say this, but GOD, Sam, just put your hand on his shoulder! You don't have to go full-blown hug, but he needs a touch, he needs to know you understand, you're not disgusted or think less of him, and despite what he says about you not being able to do anything, that touch can ease his pain, just a little.

    I blame the directing.

    Okay, so what did I like?

    a. The Sex

    Not the actual sex, though that was fine--no, it was the fact of it that I love. A lot of the reviews and recaps and opinions I've been reading seem to be missing the complexity of it. Yes, Sam is sleeping with a demon and Dean's sleeping with an angel, but to say that puts them on opposite sides is very oversimplistic. Sam is sleeping with a demon who is trying to do some good, who is stopping demons and helping Sam exorcise them from people without killing the host. She probably has murkier motivations than that, but at this point, all we know is that the other minions of hell consider her an enemy, or at least an antagonist.

    And sure, Dean slept with an angel, but he slept with a fallen angel, one who committed the cardinal sin of angels, and who fought them to stay alive and free, and who wanted to experience all the good and bad of humanity. There's all kinds of gray from both sides, which I think puts the boys squarely in the middle, with each other, working together.

    b. The Bobby stuff

    I loved how they handled the need for Bobby without the availability of Jim Beaver, and in fact, I think it is more believable that Bobby would be on the road and the boys on their own with this, instead of Bobby riding in to save the day. Again. I adore Bobby and could never have too much of him, but this was handled just right.

    Plus, if he'd been here, we wouldn't have " Hedonism in a banana hammock and a trucker cap."

    c. Dean going to Ruby's rescue

    I don't think he fully trusts her, but when Uriel attacks, Dean is the one who goes to her rescue. Even more interesting is that Sam doesn't. Sam either thinks Ruby can handle herself, doesn't see her as a woman in need of protection/defense, or is ambivalent in his feelings for her. Either way, I love it.

    d. The mythology

    I know I talk about this every week, but I LOVELOVELOVE the way they are handling the angel/demon/God/Lucifer stuff. There are so few absolutes, and it brings up timeless questions about what constitutes good and evil, the ends justifying the means, etc. None of it is exactly fresh ground--much has probably been similarly addressed in other shows and movies (like Constantine, maybe?). But the characters and the relationship dynamics make it unique.

    I think that pretty much covers it. I would be despairing right now over the far-too-long break, but I have the comfort of a Gold Package to Salute to Supernatural to keep it at bay!

    Prize Drawing!

    All of my titles at Echelon can be found here.

    This applies to ANY item, ANY length, including Dollar Downloads! For every purchase, you're automatically entered into the drawing, so it's mega easy. And it applies to all the other awesome books Echelon sells, too. These make awesome Secret Santa and Hanukkah Armadillo* gifts. You can take care of, like, half your shopping list all at once.

    *reference to the TV show "Friends" and no disrespect intended, only laughter.

    Sunday, November 23, 2008

    My "Blog" Personality

    The analysis indicates that the author of is of the type:

    ESFP - The Performers

    The entertaining and friendly type. They are especially attuned to pleasure and beauty and like to fill their surroundings with soft fabrics, bright colors and sweet smells. They live in the present moment and don´t like to plan ahead - they are always in risk of exhausting themselves.

    The enjoy work that makes them able to help other people in a concrete and visible way. They tend to avoid conflicts and rarely initiate confrontation - qualities that can make it hard for them in management positions.


    Friday, November 21, 2008

    Random Friday

    I'm still calling this Random Friday because I started writing it just before I dumped an entire mug of hot chocolate in my laptop and drowned the keyboard. That tends to take the wind out of your blogging sails. I've been working on this, therefore, for three days.

    So, yeah. Stood up to help Number Two pull her hood out. The dining room carpet is thick and the chairs don't slide on it, so when I pushed on the chair, it didn't move. I did. I ended up leaning forward just enough to tip the mug with my heavy winter shirt. I didn't even feel it, just heard it clunk.

    The good news is, I found another keyboard for about $24 and it's already on its way. The liquid didn't seem to get into the laptop itself. The bad news is, one of the screws holding the plate down over the laptop connector was tightened by Big Strong Man, and we can't get it off. It's now partially stripped. Stay tuned for the finale of that saga sometime next week.


    We have officially reached that time of year when I want to renovate my bathroom. Tear out everything in the master bath and the teeny room labeled "Daddy's Room" that's off our bedroom. Combine the two and install a gigantic tub. A tub that will allow me to immerse myself in hot water, from toes to chin, without, you know, half my body sticking out the top and my knees pushed up to my chin and my neck totally torqued.

    I'm tired of being cold. Already.



    Friday night I watched The Christmas Cottage, the Thomas Kinkade movie. It had a fabulous cast, good acting, and nice individual scenes, but it was very slow and self-important. That sense was intensified when I watched the behind-the-scenes stuff. Thomas Kinkade seems like a very nice guy, but I'm always suspicious when someone says, "I have some great ideas for movies from my own life." He and the director acted like they were making a hugely significant, high-impact film that in actuality, didn't go anywhere that a thousand movies before it haven't gone.

    However, I didn't get so bored I wanted to turn it off, and it made me cry at the end, a few times, so it was definitely worth the rental fee. As for Jared Padalecki, he made me forget about Sam, except a few times when he had an expression that's all Jared.

    Next up was Bolt with Number Two, which was fun and funny, with a cute, well-executed premise. As all the reviewers said, the pigeons were awesome (Number Two couldn't stop giggling).

    And finally I braved the teenager-fest and took Number One and her friend to see Twilight. I went in to this with a huge dose of cynicism, after seeing the trailer and reading interviews with Robert Pattinson. I expected high melodrama, and there was some, but not as much or as bad as it could have been. The casting was pretty good. The guy who played Jasper was the worst actor of all of them, and that made me feel bad for him. He looked terrified all the time, when he didn't look constipated. Luckily, he didn't have much to do. Charlie wasn't at all as I pictured him, but he did the job well, conveying the spirit of Bella's dad, if not the image. Everyone else was spot on.

    Unfortunately, Robert Pattinson was pretty inconsistent. He did fine with general interaction, but when he had to convey intensity and struggle by itself, it was with wide-open eyes and flared nostrils instead of emotion. He made the crowd laugh at the wrong times, especially when he first encountered Bella. And his hair was just ridiculous.

    But it was a good enough performance that I think he'll develop through the next three movies.

    Story-wise, I thought they did a great job. Number One said she kept up a constant stream of criticism for what they got wrong (the color of Edward's rug, for cripe's sake!), but I read it the book long enough ago that only the bigger things mattered to me. Two scenes were absolutely perfect--the car/ice rescue, and the baseball game.

    All in all, it earned the highest compliment I can give a movie adaptation--it made me want to read the book again.


    My NaNo words are trickling out. I'll make the NaNo goal, but it will be down to the wire. I have to spend all day tomorrow on a read-through of a previous book, then get started with revisions on that, so the NaNo book will suffer. Which is okay, actually, because it sucks. But that's to worry about later.


    Trying to think of what else I planned to say...I'm behind on all my TV watching, so my Sci Fi Chicks reviews are suffering. And...



    The Supernatural Convention will be coming to Cherry Hill, NJ, in March. That's two freaking hours away from me. And guess what?

    I GET TO GO!

    It's my birthday present, and I am giddy with joy. The only confirmed guest is Jared Padalecki, but if he was the only one I got to see/touch/listen to/get my picture with, it would be worth it. I promised my autograph to Number One, since she's all ticked that I'm not taking her. Honestly, she doesn't need to see her mother being all fangirl. Not like that, anyway.

    So thank you, Megan, for jumping all over this, and thank you, J, for being the best husband in the world, and thank you, JPad, for being so amazingly willing to put yourself out there for the fans. I am full of love for everyone.

    Who else will be there? Gail? That's close for you, too!

    Thursday, November 20, 2008

    I Want It All

    I've had "I Want It All" running through my head all morning, for no reason at all. I didn't hear it, I didn't see the words somewhere, it's just there. I was trying to get it out, because Hello! High School Musical! *gag* But then I thought about the words, and hell, yeah, I want it all. So maybe I need to be like what's-her-face with the dog's name and just go for it. Maybe the mental is what I'm missing.

    I was raised by a lapsed Catholic who struggled between what she was taught and what she taught us. Both sank in, one insidiously. Poverty is noble, hide your light under a bushel, do for others first, yourself dead last, and so on. I try to maintain balance (like, not go to the other extreme) and most of the time succeed. But when it comes to personal success, I have a hard time even breaking center.

    While I work hard to achieve my goals, I think part of me believes I don't deserve them, or believes that if I think I deserve them, that's bragging and putting myself above others and that's not the right way to be. So consciously or not, I avoid it.

    I know that In Real Life, there are always trade-offs. I don't regret the choices we've made or the sacrifices that come with them, and in most areas, they help me check off the list of things that qualify for "All." But that doesn't mean we have to settle.

    I want my kids to get fabulous educations, and my husband to have a great, flexible job that he loves where he doesn't have to wear a suit. I want to not worry about money, which means making more money in the career I'm passionate about, the career that has led to those sacrifices we've made. I want success for my friends, so our get-togethers are a constant stream of celebration. I want my promotional efforts to actually work. I want to see my scattered family more than once a year. I want at least one of my books to be made into a movie, and to be allowed to lurk on the set anytime I want to while it's filming. I want Supernatural to last for five more years with no decrease in quality, and I want to meet Jensen and Jared in such a way that I stand out from all the screaming fangirls and they like me as a person and text me from time to time with things like "Jared is really smelly today" and "Jensen won't keep his hands out of my hair" and "We start hiatus next week, wanna hang out?"

    Okay, maybe that's getting a little carried away. :)

    Bottom line: I'm not going to chase that song out of my head. At least not today.

    Aside: I was watching video of the Supernatural Convention, and I was amazed at all the people who talked about watching the show with their daughters, sons, and even grandmothers, and how the boys treated them all the same. They didn't have more respect for the adults, or give more attention to (or talk down to) the kids. They joked equally with everybody and appreciated everyone who was there. There's no reason why they shouldn't, but I still liked it.

    Wednesday, November 19, 2008

    New Publisher

    Erotic romance authors might be interested to learn about a new publisher, Ravenous Romance. One of the owners is agent Lori Perkins. You can learn more here.

    Monday, November 17, 2008

    Creating Monsters

    Today's post is at The Gab Wagon, about what happens when you encourage your kids to be writers, too.

    Sunday, November 16, 2008

    Of Spoon Thieves and Gas Incentives

    When I left my mother's house to go to college, I took three mismatched spoons. I still have them.

    The spoons from the silverware set we bought when we first set up an apartment 17 years ago? Gone. I think we have one left.

    Then there are the 10 or 12 spoons I bought by themselves a few years ago. Three of those left.

    Luckily (for me and other frugal shoppers), our local Linens N Things is going out of business (I am very sad for those employees). I got a set of 10 spoons for $6.99.

    I have no idea where those old spoons went. I thought they'd gotten dropped below the silverware tray in the drawer, but Number One and I cleaned it out a couple of weeks ago, and they weren't there. So I thought they'd fallen out the back of the drawer down in the pan cupboard, but I dug that out, and found only one of the two grapefruit spoons we used to have (no idea where the other one went, as we have almost never used them.

    I remember being a kid and my mother saying my brother must be smuggling spoons outside to dig in the dirt or something, because they'd all disappeared. So either I generate a teaspoon black hole in my house, or this is a universal phenomenon, like socks in the washing machine/dryer.

    How about you? Do you lose spoons inexplicably?


    One of our local grocery store chains has gas stations in their lots, and one of their incentive programs is that you earn a point for every dollar you spend (pretax) and for every 100 points, you get ten cents off per gallon of gasoline. They also occasionally have extra incentives, where if you buy 6 of 8 particular products, you get an additional 20 cents off per gallon.

    In the past, I've gotten up to 40 cents off at a time. But thanks to Vicki, I became aware of last week's promo, which was 40 cents off if you bought three bulk meat items. So I got snow crab legs (which were muy yummy) and boneless pork chops and skinless boneless breasts (that were MAMMOTH and stuffed nicely with the crab meat). AND I got up to 90 cents off a gallon. Not nearly as good as Vicki got, but still pretty damned good--$1.09 per gallon!

    But I'd counseled J to run his tank down as low as he could, because he has a bigger tank than I do, and I wanted to get the most of this savings. He took me at my word. But when we got in the car to go to dinner last night, and he hit the fancy button that gives us a rotating display that includes how many more miles you can go on the gas you have left... said 0.

    Thank God the local station is only a mile from the house, and half that is downhill, so we could drive without using the gas motor, but then we have to go UP hill, and I was very afraid we'd be pushing. In the rain. That wouldn't have been good. Needless to say, we made it, and that damned car lies, because it only took 14.6 gallons and it's a 17.1-gallon tank.


    I'm feeling a bit down tonight. I really don't know why.

    --Maybe from watching The Lake House today, but probably not, because as much as it made me cry (even the third time watching it!), it's a lovely, happen-ending movie.

    --Maybe from the whole NaNo thing. I'm a Capricorn, and live up to the sign description when it comes to competitiveness. Just ask Misty. :) I'm just as driven when competing against myself as against other people. So even though I'm (usually, but not every day) leading my Buddies on NaNo (Mary's way ahead of me, now), and even though I will have absolutely no trouble winning NaNo, I probably won't make my goal and beat my previous record, which beat the one before it.

    It shouldn't be a big deal. There's no concrete reason why I need to do it, just personal challenge. But I haven't written all weekend (a NaNo double-first) and so I let that personal goal go. Which makes me feel bad about myself and my discipline and focus and blah blah blah, so I get determined to do it anyway, but then I feel despair because at this point, it will be so hard to do. So why bother?

    Such is the circle of my mind.

    --Or maybe from realization and acknowledgment. When you got to a conference, there is usually a small group (or several) of professionals at a particular level of success who are really, really close friends. Like BFFs to the Nth degree. And they all started being successful at about the same time, growing their careers on similar (though often quite disparate) tracks. And you look at them, and hug your own BFFs to the Mth degree close, and know that you'll be just like them someday. And then something happens, and those other friends start getting successful, and you don't, and you watch them flying, and are so happy for them, but the dream has broken down. The time has come when you can no longer fool yourself into thinking that you'll catch up. Can the friendships be sustained when you no longer commiserate on the same things? Will they start looking at you differently because you're just not at their level? Even if things don't change at all from their perspective, can you keep your own from changing? Admitting that maybe not can be a mood dampener.

    ETA: Or MAYBE it's the fact that we haven't had any SUNSHINE for, like, a WEEK, and it's been dreary and drizzly and downright rainy and windy, not to mention dark REALLY REALLY EARLY. Thank God for Teresa! I feel inexplicably better. (And thank you to Cindy for linking to Teresa about Cats in Sinks and therefore exposing me to the most reasonable explanation for my kinda sad mood. Sheesh. And I'm supposed to be smart and self-insightful.


    So. That's kind of a bummer of a note to end a Sunday night post on. Let's end with this, instead.


    Friday, November 14, 2008

    Oh, Yeah, And...

    ...Putting the reunion scene (season premiere) in a new light, I still think Ruby/Kristy was too good in her lack of surprise at seeing Dean, but otherwise I think that all plays fine. She didn't know if that was definitely Dean and wouldn't want him or anyone else to know, necessarily, that she was Ruby. And she kind of stood back and let Sam take the lead on how to handle it, and of COURSE the first thing he's going to do is hide her presence from his brother. So I think I'm okay with how it went down, and Sam's subduedness fits the circumstances.

    ...How is Anna able to see demons in people, and move giant pieces of furniture with her brain, without much effort? Is she one of Azazel's kids? That seems likely to me.

    ...Why does her ability to see the demon in Ruby not faze the brothers for even half a second? Why don't they ask her how she escaped? I know they don't have much time for the latter after they meet up with her, but it doesn't even occur to Sam that she might be YED's. And I'd expect a double-take from Dean when she spots Ruby.

    ...It's not all up to them. One of my friends has commented on how averting the apocalypse is all on their shoulders and it's too much for two people. I need to point out that there are angels all over the world trying to stop the seals from being broken. Six of them died during the rising of the witnesses. I don't think it's ALL up to Sam and Dean, I think they're a weapon. A weapon that has resources (Bobby) and courage and knowledge (Azazel's past) and connections that no other humans have. They're being used by God and the angels, not having the entire shebang placed on their shoulders as G and the A's back off and say, "Have at it!" So while I don't fully disagree that it's a lot of pressure and crushing responsibility, I don't see it as any bigger than in any other show or movie that has end-of-the-world stakes.

    I think that's all. For now, anyway. :)

    Bring on the Hate

    I loved it.

    I loved that Ruby had sex with Sam, that she used that tool to loosen him up so he could maybe focus less on his pain and anger and hate and more on the job he needed to do.

    I love Ruby. I have no illusions. This isn't a romance novel, and maybe she's not a redeemable character, so it's not like I think she's in love with Sam or anything. But I do think she gave him something he needed. I think she has maintained a shred of humanity that helps guide her actions, even if it's just a shred and her motives aren't fully honorable. After everything Lilith did to her, I can't fully blame her.

    Mostly, I love Sam when he's with her. Sure, it's unhealthy for him to go all soft for a demon as if she's a fully human woman, but he's so BIG and HARD and when a guy like that goes soft...guh. Fantasy city.

    As for Dean...if he would ever understand anything, it would be sex. He has sex with skanky truck stop waitresses with weird rashes! Of course it's not a big deal to him that Sam had sex with Ruby. That's SO not important when he thought she was dragging Sam to the dark side. And because she saved Sam, it also makes sense that he'd stop being so hostile toward her. I don't think he's going to go all the way to joining her fan club, but he'll trust her a little, until she shows that she's not trustworthy.

    Which she might not be. Her motives and endgame might be worse than simple revenge on Lilith, but I have a feeling that in the end, she'll sacrifice herself for Sam (and maybe Dean) and their survival. (I can't accept that they won't survive--that possibility is not going to ever take up residence in my brain!)

    I have to watch again...for many reasons...but some have said the episode felt a little clunky. I think the editing might be responsible for that, and that transitions from past to present weren't as smooth as they could have been. There were more inconsistencies than normal, like the angle of Anna's head in the hospital when they changed cameras/takes, and the whole Sam's-bloody-shirt thing (either he changed while he was talking and has two identical shirts, or they forgot he was supposed to be bloody, or they changed their minds about the arm or something and mixed takes they shouldn't have). But even if it was a little clunky, I got very immersed in those flashbacks.

    Man, Jared has become a good actor. We had three kinds of drunk!Sam (fake/Hustler drunk, pit-of-despair drunk, and sullen-but-not-quite-sober-and-oh-my-God-don't-drive! drunk). Sam ordering Ruby around, sweaty poor-student Sam, determined/suicidal Sam, consoling Sam (with Anna). I swear, as much as I love Dean, Sam totally outshone him this week.

    I also loved Sam taking over. At the end of last season, when Sam was trying to get Dean to listen to his viewpoint on using his powers to take on Lilith, and Dean kept cutting him off, I thought, "that's going to have to change." I like seeing Dean relinquish a little of his big-brother, I'm-in-charge role and give in to Sam, and seeing Sam take the lead. I want them to be full partners, and changing lead goes along with that.

    More love:

    --Dean making jokes out of Anna's situation, and her taking it well, just being relieved that they believe her and she's not alone anymore.

    --Ruby inhabiting the maid. Ruby's mannerisms have been inconsistent from one body to another, which of course is understandable given the real life limitations of hello! different actresses! It has felt jarring for the Cortese Ruby to be so different from the Cassidy Ruby, though I haven't found her acting lacking the way some people have. Anyway, it isn't hard to rationalize that a body will hold its mannerisms even if the spirit inside is different, just because some of those mannerisms are dictated by shape and habit. Bottom line: She was funny!

    --The Crossroads Demon was in a boy! Some of my friends rolled their eyes when Sam was burying the box, and I get that, we've had enough of deals at the crossroads, but Sam DID say in the opener that he tried to deal for Dean, and it's in character that he would, especially in the throes of drunken despair and self-loathing. But all that aside--I loved the actor's portrayal. Red eyes are my favorites, too.

    --T-shirts and naked torsos.

    --Self-stitching and setting dislocated shoulders, and that tiny little ice pack.

    --To be continued. Oh-so-infuriating, yet oh-so-delicious.

    The one thing I really, really hate?

    Next week is no more eps until January. And facing this hiatus, being on the downside of the series (if Kripke gets his way and has five seasons), makes me think of what it will be like when we have NO MORE SUPERNATURAL. It's enough to induce depression.

    Okay, now that I've gotten that out of my system, let's see if I can get some NaNoing done today!!!

    Thursday, November 13, 2008

    Retail Therapy

    I read that editor blog post I linked to yesterday, and immediately had to run out and save the publishing industry. Sixty dollars won't go that far, but it's something. :)

    So I'm checking out, and the clerk says something about me doing Christmas shopping. I said, "No, not yet." And she looked totally appalled. "This isn't for Christmas shopping?"

    "No, it's me shopping."

    *more shocked look*

    I felt compelled to explain more. "It's save the publishing industry shopping."

    That snapped her out of it, but I had mingled amusement and annoyance. I mean, for Pete's sake, it's only November 13th! I know that means Christmas isn't far away, but I'm one of those who doesn't do much about it until after Thanksgiving. I always try to do some last-minute shopping on Christmas Eve. For me, it's about the season, not the buying. I do full-body Christmas immersion.

    But more importantly--what the heck is wrong with shopping for yourself? Maybe she didn't think I would read all the books I got (Jim Butcher's graphic novel and the new JD Robb and a new Margaret Weis Dragonlance novel plus two romances). I admit it's eclectic, and the Weis is for J, but Jim Butcher is second only to JK Rowling for my favorite author, and J and I will share that one.

    Maybe I'm projecting. Maybe she wasn't really appalled, or maybe people aren't spending as much on themselves right now as I was (I've barely bought anything since National in July...but hey, why do I feel the need to explain myself?! /defense) and so maybe I just surprised her with an answer she hasn't been getting this week.

    Anyway, I'm sitting in the B&N coffee shop taking a break from a delicious scene between Sam and Nick, and I really should get back to it.

    Go buy some books!

    Wednesday, November 12, 2008

    Poking My Head Out of the Cave

    Don't forget to vote in the PCAs! Link to the right, or here. A little window will pop up and you can log in or sign up or whatever, and navigate back to the voting. The nominations are questionable in some categories, but not in the Sci Fi one. That nominee committee is brilliant!

    So after you do that, scroll down a little and check out my NaNo progress. Things had fallen apart for me earlier this week, slightly because of other obligations, but mostly because of lack of...something. I kept letting other things get in the way. But not today! Today I wrote out a schedule. It looked like this:

    9:00 - 9:05 Dry my hair
    9:05 - 9:50 Write (did 1151 words)
    9:50 - 10:05 Break, walk around, write a review for SciFi Chicks
    10:05 - 10:50 Write (1195 words)
    10:50 - 11:00 Walk outside
    11:00 - 11:45 Write (1365 words)
    11:45 - 12:00 Break, walk around, write a review for SciFi Chicks
    12:00 - 12:30 Eat lunch
    12:30 - 1:15 Write (1263 words)
    1:15 - 1:30 Check the mail (outside) and write a review for SciFi Chicks
    1:30 - 2:15 Write (1269 words)
    2:15 - 2:30 Walk a little and write a review for SciFi Chicks
    2:30 - 3:00 Write
    3:00 - 3:45 Pick up Number Two, go to the library, and come home for homework
    Etc. Crit while we do homework/chores/dinner/get ready for bed (did 60 pages)

    I didn't deviate more than 10 minutes or so for most of that. A couple of phone calls and a not-too-long IM session pushed me to a 10-minute lunch, and I dropped some of the moving around. I reached over 6200 words by 2:30, so I caught up on e-mail then. I just checked, too, and I wrote another 2478 blog words.

    All in all, a pretty productive day.

    I'm happy with where my story is going, and if I have a few more days like this, I can still totally finish the whole book, and not just NaNo!

    So? Gail? Where do you stand? :)

    Check This Out...

    Check this out...

    ...and then go buy some books.

    Monday, November 10, 2008

    Vote in the PCAs!

    Hey, guess what!

    Wait, you should sit down.

    Are you sitting down?

    People's Choice Awards
    Go to


    Hey, it's somethin'! Go vote now! (Plenty of other options to vote for in other categories, too. Tired of awards being given for stuff you've never heard of, for beautiful people looking ugly but nothing else that really seems remarkable? The PCAs are for US! The ones who REALLY know who does an award-worthy job. The end user is the only one who matters, baby!)

    I Have Something I Need to Say

    One of my issues with the anti-gay marriage movement is that they have no logical grounds for it besides "I don't like it." They call it immoral and say it threatens "family values." But no one can ever say how.

    I was thinking about McCain's interview with Ellen DeGeneres and thought of something I'd love to ask him.

    "So you think gay marriage is immoral so I shouldn't have the right to do it. How about if I think having more than two kids is immoral? Should I have the right to tell you that you can't have seven kids, or that the Palins can't have five?" (Note: I know that not all of McCain's kids are his by blood, but he does still have more than two of his own, which is more than zero population growth standards advocate.)

    I wonder what he would say. Because in comparison, having that many kids is not only immoral, it's irresponsible and destructive. It puts pressure on the world's natural and social resources. Those kids need food, space, governmental services. His family will pollute a lot more than mine, unless they manage to carpool their entire lives. They contribute to crowding in schools and competition for that ever-shrinking list of available jobs.

    And while McCain maybe has always made enough money to support his family, and he personally didn't have to raise them because he didn't live with them most of the time, what about that widower with nine children he abandoned under Nebraska's holey safe harbor law? Would McCain tell me that we should pick and choose who is okay to have more than two kids? If so, how about if we pick and choose who is okay to get married? Ellen and Portia would be okay because they show decorum and stuff, but those guys who hang out at the highway rest areas wouldn't be. I bet he'd have a hard time responding to that suggestion.

    Let me make some things clear: I am using McCain as an example only, a representative of all those people, in any political party or out, who has a problem with gay marriage. And while I think having more than two kids does put pressure on environmental and social systems that maybe someday we won't be able to withstand, I don't think I or anyone else has the right to tell people they can't have as many children as they want. (So don't yell at me, Vicki!). That's pretty much my whole point.

    Oh, and the whole civil union thing? What the hell's the difference? Leave it to individual religions to decide if they want to allow gay marriages to be performed in their sacred buildings by their representatives. I got married in a non-denominational church/historical landmark by a justice of the peace, the local mayor. My intent in that marriage is no different than my high school best friend's, who got married by both an Episcopalian priest and a Catholic priest. Saying civil unions are okay and marriage isn't invalidates the entire argument that it's bad bad bad.

    So, I would really love to hear from someone who can give me the opinion I've been seeking for years. IF you can speak articulately, avoid calling me names, and use proper spelling and grammar and capitalization (leeway allowed for true typos), I invite you to enlighten me. If someone can provide a realistic reason that gay marriage is a bigger threat to the family unit than abuse, adultery, absentee parenting, neglect, or divorce, I'll concede the point.

    This was going to be, like, one paragraph. I guess I figured if I was going to violate my own rules and open up the topic at all, I might as well go all the way!

    Saturday, November 08, 2008

    Leaf Pile 2008

    So it's fall. Obviously, the time when trees shed their leaves and we all have to rake them up. That's what we spent much of this afternoon doing. Some things I noticed:

    It used to be everyone was using leaf blowers. I don't know if they realized it takes MORE effort to use a blower than a rake (plus pollutes the environment and kills your ears) or if's totally a fad thing, but I saw only one other person in our neighborhood using a rake. Okay, maybe two. One used a blower and a rake. The rest are using riding mowers or regular mowers with the bags on them to collect all the leaves. I don't know, that still seems like it's not worth it. Run the mower over two rows. Empty bag, walking all the way from the back yard to the front. Dump. Repeat. If you have a riding mower, you can ride to the front, of course, and it will have a bigger collector. But it takes just as much time, it seems.

    We do it the old-fashioned way. We rake into a dozen piles, load them onto a tarp, and drag it around to the curb. Usually, our trees are some of the last to drop their leaves, late in November. This year, they're almost bare and we did about three weeks/collections worth of raking at once. Consequently, our pile is much bigger than normal:

    That high part in the front is up to my chest.


    I've started making a log of my word verifications when I comment on Blogger blogs. They'll make good character names! So far I have Sholosti and Dectio.

    Friday, November 07, 2008

    Random Friday

    I have spent the entire week, but several hours of that just today, trying to resolve a PayPal issue when THEY decided my TOTALLY LEGITIMATE payment from my REGULAR client hadn't been authorized.

    John, Mary, and Bill, you're idiots.

    Candy, you rock hard. Thank you.

    I also ended up yelling at the call center for my bank. One way in which PayPal is full of idiots is that when I try to add a bank account, I get an error message that First Name has to be only letters, numbers, and spaces. THERE IS NO FIRST NAME FIELD. The third person I talked to at PayPal, I mentioned this to him. He watched me try to do it, and told me to find out from my bank exactly how their name is written for online transactions. So I did.

    And they told me I need to put in TD Bank. Apparently, Commerce Bank is now TD Bank. I expressed surprise at this, because I'd received no notice of a change in hands. She insisted that it was in my statements for months, and that at the main web page it tells me this, and forwards me to TD Bank. I told her no, it doesn't, and that I use and have been for 10 years or more. She kept telling me that at it does. I ended up getting kind of snarky at her.

    Then I got off the phone and checked my statements. No notice of a change. I went to and sure enough, there's TD Bank, endorsed by Regis and Kelly, no less (yay). The site looks exactly like what I'm used to, except it's green instead of red and blue.

    Really mad now, I called back. Graham, the supervisor, in his yummy accent, fell all over himself apologizing for the incorrect information. Commerce Bank HARRISBURG hasn't changed, only Commerce Bank of NEW JERSEY has, and the dumbass who took my call should have been able to see my location, even without account info. He calmed me down and I even did them a favor by pointing out that I could access my account info through both and TD Bank. He found out it shouldn't be that way and won't be soon, so I should just continue on as usual.

    Me = vindicated.

    Except that I still can't add an account to PayPal.


    NaNo is getting away from me. Between nonfiction and editing jobs and PayPal issues and meetings this week, I've written very little. I HAVE managed to write every day (before today), which is good, and I'm technically 950 words above the NaNo goal. But I'm about 7,000 words behind my personal goal. Blergh. If you look at my NaNo Buddies list, you'll see that three of them are way ahead of me. I have a feeling they're pretty gleeful about it, too. :) Two are close behind and probably about to pass me.

    I am, however, ahead of CE Murphy. Considering how much she writes and that she's a big-name published author, that's kind of cool. Considering she's also revising one of her books, and that she's written nearly 400,000 words so far this year...well, my accomplishment seems to sink to the "petty" level. LOL


    I don't have much to say about last night's Supernatural. It was one of those episodes that's only okay though there's nothing really wrong with it. It doesn't invite extensive debate, which is good, because we need episodes like that. It was fun and yummy and yielded two supreme brother moments, and that's enough for me.

    Random thoughts:

    1. Sam's voice nearly killed me. I don't know if he had a cold, or if his voice is maturing to match his face, but guh. I'm not eager to watch it again, but I'll turn it on in the background so I can hear him.

    2. I knew Dean was lying! My heart breaks for him for being so alone, and also for Sam for being unable to help him. There was a moment when he said "the things I saw...there aren't words." I think he was going to say "the things I did" and stopped himself. It was one of the most honest moments they've ever had together, and I loved it.

    3. The existential suicidal teddy bear was hilarious. Number One couldn't stop giggling. That was helped along by the tiny bench the boys sat on outside the liquor store. Oh, boys. Gigantic boys.

    4. There were some flaws, which I was surprised to see from Ben Edlund. I wanted a twist where the hot chick had wished for the geek to love her instead of the cliché we had. The resolution of the wishes seemed off. Pulling the coin from the well reversed them, but they didn't demonstrate consistency. Sam was easy--he'd been dead, so there wasn't anything about the wish for him to remember. Mom and Dad were back from Bali, but sunburned, so it wasn't like their wish never happened. Ditto the bear with the stuffing coming out of his head. But the hot chick didn't remember anything. She returned exactly to what she'd been before, except a month had gone by that she doesn't remember. And the bullies remembered Todd turning over the truck, but does Todd remember having superpowers?

    5. On the other hand...there were little things I loved, too. Dean using his own research-fu to find the origin of the coin, while Sam confronted the invisible boy. I like when they switch around their regular roles. "But why am I here?" "For tea parties!" They consistently cast little kids who tickle me endlessly. Dean trying to counsel the kid, sympathizing even though he fully admitted he didn't know what it was like to be bullied, and then playing victim and being all smug when it worked. All in all, I think the good outweighed the less good. This ep will probably be in the bottom half for the season, all told, but that's not an indictment.


    I have to rake leaves tomorrow. Can I tell you how much I really don't want to do that? Mostly because they all seem to have fallen into our neighbor's yard this year, much more than usual. I don't mind raking them from his yard--they are our trees--but he doesn't clean up after his dogs. Which I'm not judging, really--it's his yard--but it gets so bad there's nowhere to step that's not poop-covered. So I'm thinking I won't be touching most of those leaves this year.


    Have a good weekend, everyone!

    Wednesday, November 05, 2008

    Moments of Challenge and Clarity

    All over the Internet, people are demanding to know if I voted. Yes, I did, of course I did. And now here I am so late, instead of joining in the nail-biting, I can report some concrete results:

    McCain took Upper Allen Elementary School. But Obama took the larger, and therefore more significant, Mechanicsburg Middle School.

    I voted early this morning. It went very well, and afterward, I drove away feeling excited. First, because after all the crap, all the fatigue-inducing, anger-driving campaigning, we were finally at the important stuff.

    I was also excited because I'd had some opinions challenged. I'd done the challenging, and it's always interesting to see myself turned, figuratively, on my own head.

    I kept thinking, "If anyone is undecided at this late juncture, they're idiots." And yet I, myself, was undecided. Not between McCain and Obama, there was no question there, but between the candidate toward which I leaned and the person I thought was best equipped to run the country.

    I also don't hold to the idea of a spoiler. Yes, I know that enough votes for someone like Ralph Nader or that guy with the big ears who ran in the 80s (why, oh why, can't I remem--ROSS PEROT. That's it. Phew.) can end up putting the candidate you REALLY don't want in office. But I think it's bullshit to let that push you into a vote you don't want to make. I think it's important to vote your conscience.

    So I did.

    Believe me, I angsted about it for a long time. One of the two official candidates, I *really* didn't want in office. And with the ass-backward system we have in place, my one vote really doesn't matter. But I wanted to be an active part of the process, too, not a passive one, and voting a write-in kind of sets me aside.

    In the end, when I started tapping that screen, there was only one thing I could do. And I knew the poll assistants knew exactly what I was doing as my machine beeped and booped way more times than expected. But I felt really, really good about it. It was the right thing to do.

    J was watching live results tonight as the kids got ready for bed. Number One was telling us about the rousing debate she got into today with some of her classmates about abortion (a mixed gender participation, too!) and Number Two was deciding how she wanted to be informed in the morning (I'm to tell her who took Texas and California, and when she goes to kiss Daddy goodbye, he's to let her know who won).

    All in all, I don't think I could have witnessed a better election day, personally speaking.

    Monday, November 03, 2008

    NaNo Day...What Day Is It, Now?

    I know it's day 3, but I'm already bleary-eyed and behind. Well, not behind the NaNo goal, behind my own goal. It's so stupid to keep trying to write more words faster than the year before, but I'm so self-competitive. And hey, it's great training for deadlines.

    So today I should be at 8,871 for my personal goal. Right now, I'm at 7809. It's not looking good. My eyes hurt. And I'm scared to check my profile and see my writing buddies' counts, because I'm sure skipper and MaryF and probably MarianneArkins are way ahead of me.

    Yesterday the girls and I went to the TSO concert, and because of that and the STUPIDITY of the venue managers (and the Sunday Night Football game, shhh), I stayed up until 2:30 a.m. writing and stuff. Hence, the eye blearies.

    You'll get a review of the concert sometime this week, and I'll keep updating my word count widget, but right now, I just need to go crash. Maybe I'll catch up on...oh, let's see, Tuesday have a meeting, Tuesday and Wednesday finish a nonfiction revision and an editing job, Thursday start a novel crit... Yeah, okay, that would be never.

    Hey, in the meantime, while you're waiting for me to show up again (you know you will be!), go check out Victoria Smith. She's said a lot of great things lately, but this post is particularly brilliant and powerful.

    I'll be back when the blearies go away.

    Sunday, November 02, 2008

    Yes, It Does, Too, Count

    So today was the first day of NaNoWriMo. Yes, I know it's after midnight, which makes it technically day 2. But I haven't gone to bed yet, so it's day 1.

    It was quite a day, too. November 1st should never be a Saturday. I had my local RWA chapter meeting this morning. Then I had to get Number One to soccer (her team lost 1-0, but they will still win their division, and we'd already beaten the team three times this season, so they were due; it was a good game--Number Two won hers, barely).

    I was going to start writing before the meeting, but I ran a bit late. So I was going to write while Number One warmed up, but my father-in-law arrived early, and I had to tell him all about seeing his cousin at my meeting this morning. After the game I had a little time, but I had to eat, 'cause I hadn't eaten all day. Then I had to critique a chapter, and do some e-mailey things, and IM with three people, one of whom just lost her stepmother. Now I have a big revision project to do Monday that scares the bejeesus out of me.

    I got some writing done, but Number One was way ahead of me. I suspect she ended the day somewhere close to 2,000 words. She co-opted my Neo, too! I'll be lucky to be able to pry it out of her hands, if she doesn't hide it from me.

    So around 10:00, J wanted to watch some TV. We have some shows recorded from earlier in the week. I planned to write some more, but it would be after midnight when I finished, and I didn't want the stats to show a zero count for the first day. So I input the 1894 I had done, which was enough to be on track to meet the NaNo goal of 50,000. But it wasn't enough to hit my record (see above right), so I kept going. Even once I hit it, I was in one of those spots where you know what's happening next and it's just as easy to write it as it is to make some notes and you don't want to lose it so you just keep going. So I just kept going.

    And I made it! I also beat Mary's incredible day 1 count, which was unintentional but gratifying. She's going to be challenging this year.

    So my day 1 count is 3894 words, even though my NaNo stats show it split across two days. And yes, it does, too, count. :P

    Anyone else doing NaNo who isn't already my buddy? I love seeing how people are doing, who's on track, who's behind, and the competition (even if they never know about it) is directly responsible for my success. If anyone wants to buddy me, I'm here.

    Friday, October 31, 2008

    So Smote It Be

    I don't have anything coherent to say about last night's Supernatural. You know what that means. I will start with one little thing and then ramble on forever.

    Okay, maybe I'll start with a big thing. I love the way they're handling the angels/God/Lucifer thing. They're staying firmly away from religion and just addressing the mythology, which I've talked about before. I have no doubt there are people out there who are indignantly offended, but such people will be no matter what you do, so who cares?

    Uriel is a black-and-white kind of guy. Actually, after I wrote that, I didn't know how to continue. I was going to talk about good and evil, but I don't think Uriel considers good and evil, balance and humanity (well, for sure he doesn't care about humanity). He considers his side, which happens to be God's side, and Lucifer is the enemy, and anyone who's not with him is against him. Hmmm, sounds familiar.

    Castiel, on the other hand, has doubts, despite the sheer strength of his faith. If I hadn't already loved him, I'd have fallen hard during that scene at the end. Okay, I did fall hard. I've never been in favor of the whole idea of doing what you're told without question, of subjugating your ability to think and reason to someone else's agenda. Castiel wants the right thing, and isn't sure what that's supposed to be.

    Now, he could be playing good cop to Uriel's bad cop, giving Dean someone to identify with and feel like he has an ally, in order to lead him down a path to doing something he otherwise wouldn't even consider doing. But for now, I'm choosing to believe his sincerity, and if I lived in their world, it would give me hope. Staving off an apocalypse wouldn't seem like a win if 1200 people had to die, including me.

    I did like Uriel. I knew I would, when I learned who was playing him. He's intimidating and badass but in a quiet enough manner that will mean when he does go off on someone, it will have huge impact.

    Sam meeting Castiel! How cute was he! And Castiel hesitating, not sure what to make of this guy. I bet he thought he knew what Sam was because of what he'd been given, but when he saw him personally, he wasn't that. Sam was like...well, he was like one of Jared's fans meeting him for the first time. I wonder if that was his inspiration for the gee-gosh approach. :)

    And poor Sammy with his doubts after hearing what they wanted, and DEAN! Reassuring him! Saying Babe Ruth was a dick (they're trying to start a new drinking game, apparently) but baseball is still beautiful. He probably doesn't believe that himself, but doesn't want Sammy's faith to be destroyed because it's so important to him. He probably recognizes that it's one of the things keeping him in control.

    Speaking of control... I know it's wrong, but Sam using his mojo is so frickin' hot. And that sequence, where he gives in because he doesn't have much choice, and he has to fight so hard, so he's struggling to draw the demon out (cool effect with the bullet holes smoke), and sees Dean seeing him, and sees Dean's reaction, and it just tears him up, but he can't stop, and he pushes harder and pops his brain. He showed a lot in a few seconds, and Jared wouldn't have been capable of that a couple of seasons ago.

    Dude. Sammy's more powerful than a centuries-old, all-powerful demon! I know it should be scary, because use of power is what this thing seems to be all about, but it just delights me. Use of power = the Spider-Man credo, "with great power comes great responsibility." The angels and demons both think the power Sam has defines him, and Dean's afraid the power can change him, but Sam has even greater power than that. He has the power to use it wisely, not let it take over. The power to wield the ring.

    Whoops, mixing mythologies there. Sorry.

    In a CW Source interview with Misha Collins, he said Kripke modeled Castiel's look on Constantine. Now, he meant from the comic books, but all I could see was Keanu. (Megan! Dude! A Keanu connection! If you could love it more...)

    It's a little annoying that there were so many slut costumes (ref. both parties, the one where the girl boiled and the one in the crypt), but I dismissed it because it gives the guys something to look at (the guys watching the show, not the guys on the show! geez!). It would be hypocritical of me to drool and sigh and then gripe. But can't there be some middle ground between crotch-level, skin-tight Lycra and floor-to-chin robes (the mom shaking her head at the witch house)?

    Speaking of witches, there was a mission here. I liked the way they did that. After three-plus seasons, it's hard to either introduce new stuff believably (how come they didn't know about rugaru?) or reuse the same stuff without being stale and repetitive. Having the witch actually be a pair of witches, brother and sister, working together and yet using each other...nice twistiness there.

    Ooh, also, the 66 seals thing is tough. If they stop a seal from being broken, it's over. Lucifer can't rise. Well, some seals, anyway, like this one that can only be broken every 600 years. So dramatically speaking, they can't stop the seals from being broken. But that means Sam and Dean LOSE all the time, and that's not acceptable, either. So what happened here is a compromise. I wonder if this thread will carry through to next season or be resolved at the end of this season? I guess it will depend on The CW. If we get a fifth, I betcha anything it continues. I mean, how do you top the apocalypse?

    There was much less humor in this episode, but there was fun. Josh from Kyle XY got to be all party guy and then get shredded by a zombie (in probably the grossest moment of the episode). Dean got to face zombies and ghosts. The burning would have been cool to see, but probably out of their budget.

    Oh, and the opposite of fun is what happened to Dean in Hell. Most of the people I've talked to so far seem to think he doesn't remember, maybe that he's blocked it. I think he does remember, and I think it was like when someone goes to supermax prison. You do what you need to, to survive. The biggest clue is from "Yellow Fever" when Sam said the people getting infected were those who use fear as a weapon. And Dean's hallucination of Lilith said Dean knows what he did. Which has my curiosity level almost as high as it was in season two when we were waiting to find out what Dad told Dean about Sam.

    So, I guess this episode doesn't rank as high as my favorites of the season because it was less intense and revelatory, but it's in the top half, for sure.

    Next week looks like a fun episode, though the CW has been really misleading with their promos. The "Yellow Fever" preview made that one look intensely scary, while it was intensely funny instead (and intensely disturbing, but not the way they implied it would be). For this episode, they showed some of the "Then" shots and the line of Sam's that they'd see every horrible thing they'd ever hunted. That led people to believe they were bringing back actual, specific things they'd hunted. The idea was probably fed by what happened with the rising of the witnesses, but I had my doubts. I remembered how the promos said the shifter from "Skin" returned in "Nightshifter," and it was actually a whole different shifter. So I take the previews lightly and don't let them feed my expectations anymore. Still, the idea of everyone's wishes coming true has huge potential, and I can't wait!

    Man, I love this show.