Friday, October 30, 2009

Freakin' DONE

I finished a book today.

Writing, not reading. Finishing a book I'm reading happens nearly a hundred times a year.

But finishing the first draft of a new novel hasn't happened in a freakin' long time. I started this one in July 2008, and I'd work on it for a while, then set it aside for revisions on something else. The book my agent is currently shopping, or a book I sold, or a book my agent gave me editorial advice on that needed (and still needs) additional work, etc.

It felt really, really good.

You know what else felt good? Those revisions on the book my agent felt needed additional work will be done tomorrow (I hope, unless I fall apart and can't fix it), and so will be my two current big freelance projects.

Viva October!

How is your month going out?

Thursday, October 29, 2009


This is a very interesting article about young adult readers. Two things leapt out at me:

--Only 6% of survey respondents preferred e-books. 79% said paperbacks, 74% said hardcovers (obviously, they could choose more than one format).

Told ya so.


This has been a very packed week. I've been doing a fiction line edit for a client, and a nonfiction edit for another client, and pushing to get both done by this weekend, so I can start NaNo. I'll wrap them both up on Saturday. I also expect to be done with the draft of last year's NaNo book, which kept getting shoved aside for other projects, and the final polishing of an older book, which I will then send on to my agent. That will clear the field!

And guess what my NaNo book is gonna be? A YA! Still romantic adventure, and paranormal to boot, but this is a big departure for me. I didn't think like a teen when I was one, so I never felt I could do this genre. But I've been reading a lot of it, and I've always felt it was important, and wanted to be involved with it. So we'll see if I can. NaNo is awesome for doing this kind of thing--stepping outside your comfort zone, trying something new.

I keep forgetting that Supernatural is new tonight. My mind is preoccupied with trick-or-treating. Yes, it's tonight. Yes, I know Halloween isn't until Saturday. Tell Pennsylvania. They've missed that memo for over two decades. *sigh*

Okay, I have to get back to work. Must input the edits for both projects, work on the draft novel, order RAM for my computer, update the checkbook, order an oil delivery, and start a read-through I kind of promised at the beginning of the week. I hope to get that done while I wait for trick-or-treaters. The rest I need to do before 2:34, when Number Two gets home.

Yeah, that'll happen.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Cheesy Remake Squee and Other Random Stuff

I just saw a picture of the four main characters in the upcoming film remake of The A-Team, and my heart clenched its fists and bounced up and down while making a high-pitched noise. Just like it did when V, a remake of an old TV series, was announced (and which is premiering in a couple of weeks).

Despite the failures of Knight Rider and The Bionic Woman, I'm excited about these remakes. Lots of people roll their eyes and wonder why remake such cheesy fare? I just shake my head, incredulous.

Maybe because of my age, maybe because of my geekiness, I never considered either V or The A-Team cheesy. If I watched them now? Oh, God, I have no doubt. But they weren't made now, and the remakes aren't being remade to 80s standards. They're based on today's culture, perspective, and production quality. So they might suck, but even non-remakes might suck. It's not a guarantee.

In a similar vein, I've been seeing a lot of talk again about a season 6 of Supernatural. It came up because The CW has been giving full-season pickups to new shows, and some fans have uproared without realizing SPN had a full season deal since last spring.

I'm one of the ones in favor of a season 6. Fans of The X-Files and Smallville say no way, they'll ruin it just like they ruined those two shows. But I don't get it. SV was never as good as SPN, and it started to suck in, like, season 3. I stopped watching completely when Lex had that blood cycling thing in the season premiere and it was never mentioned again. The writing on that show has been inconsistent and ridiculous for years. As for X, I can't comment much, because I couldn't watch past episode 4. I'm the Queen of Disbelief Suspension, but there was just too much I couldn't get over.

Anyway, my point is--I think--that we've been very lucky with the writing staff of SPN and have no reason to think we won't continue to be lucky. And just stop saying there'd better not be a season 6. If we get one and you don't want it, don't watch. Then both sides are happy. :)

On a completely UNrelated topic...

Number One had a massive wart on the inside of her right thumb. It got treated two weeks ago, with liquid nitrogen, and it was so big it got a bit overtreated. Most of her thumb blistered up. So on Monday, she tells me this awesome story about how the dead blister skin had gotten snagged with a cat claw, which left it hanging a bit, which was bugging her, so she started picking at it and ended up peeling all the blister skin and the big, black wart completely off her thumb.

Then she looked up and saw the grossed-out expressions on all her classmates. I love it! I was going to post a pic of it, but it's all shriveled and stuff, so it would be anticlimactic.

I had a dream this morning that I went back to work at my old job. The building was the same as the real one, except massive. The "library" had been turned into a bathroom with two toilets and a sink that were so connected that when one toilet started to overflow and I plunged it, the water that drained from it filled the other toilet or the sink, until I finally got out what had been plugging it. Nothing gross, it was a picture in a small gold frame that had fallen off the shelf above. At first I thought it was Ruth and Fran, an older couple from my childhood, but then I saw it was me and my mother, and when I took it apart to dry the photos, my college senior picture was under it. The house also had two or three massive rooms now filled with my coworker Amy's grandmother's furniture. It was lovely, and her kids were hanging out, one of them playing pool on the antique pool table. Cool grandmother.

That's the weird part. The strange part was that I'd worked a full day, despite planning to leave early for a haircut, but there was more work to be done. I realized I'd neglected to check the voice mail that morning, but the code for accessing it had been changed, and every time I tried to call it I either ended up reaching someone else, or answering a call that hadn't even rung yet. I couldn't figure out how to do anything, but the person I was filling in for had come in to catch up on filing and took the last call, at which point my subconscious said "this is unproductive," tossed up my dream-hands, and woke me up.

Back to TV:

...Anyone chewing over the President/Vice President thing from last night's FlashForward? The VP said she was President in her FF, and at the end of the ep, she'd been appointed VP to replace the one who died during the blackout. The natural thing that follows is that the President will die before April 29. But he had a FF, so the only other possibility is that he steps down for some reason. But that aide who was at his press conference opened his bedroom door in the FF, and didn't he call him Mr. President? So is that more evidence that the Evil Congresswoman is right, and not everyone's FFs will come true?

...Glee delights me. The music and dancing make me happy, and while some of the storylines are starting to bug, the dialogue is awesome, and the tension between Shupe and Emma is delicious.

...Modern Family is also delighting me. It's very funny, both over-the-top and understated at the same time.

...Fox and MLB infuriate me. No Bones or Fringe or Dollhouse, and I'm almost caught up on everything, which means nothing to watch this weekend. :(

Considering I have to get up before 6 for a soccer game tomorrow, that's probably a good thing.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

FTC Clarification We Knew Would Be Coming

Since I posted some thoughts on the FTC guidelines about product reviews, which would cover book reviewing, I thought it important to link to some news that should relieve everyone's minds.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Soothing the Soul

I got lots and lots of bad news today. On a normal day, it would send me crashing to the floor in despair. But today, I'm riding on this:

(video courtesy Megan Hart)

So it only stings a little.

Megan wrote eloquently and beautifully about our trip, so I hesitate to write my own thoughts here. But I'm gonna try, with the caveat that she's just better than me. :)

I've said here many times that I'm a music moron. I've never been big into music, rarely ventured in my "younger" years beyond Top 40, and only attended three concerts in my entire life (Billy Joel in 1989 because a friend had tickets, Nickelback for Number One's birthday one year, and Trans-Siberian Orchestra 7 times, but it was essentially the same thing all 7, so it only counts as one :) ). I've never reacted to a musician the way I've reacted to Jason Manns.

Cynics might say it's because of his tenuous connection to Supernatural. It's true that's how he came to my attention, and I did first meet him at a Salute to Supernatural convention. But there are other musicians (like Steve Carlson) associated with the show about which I'm so obsessive passionate, and they haven't had the same effect. Carlson is fine, I have a couple of his songs, but that's it.

Jason Manns is totally different. The opening notes of his guitar set up my anticipation. His voice melts my bones, until he growls, and then it's shiver time. Motorcycles and honeyed clouds. It's like aural serotonin. Then there's what he sings about. I love his covers, because he takes familiar songs and makes them his own (I know, nothing unique about that, it's just that it's HIS voice). But I love his original stuff even more. "Journey" describes how I feel as a writer. "Perfect Spot" is how I try to see my life as a whole. And I'm a romance writer, so how can I not thrill to "Without You"?

A lot of things we love can diminish under exposure or examination, but not this. First, I share this love with friends, and that always boosts it exponentially:

Picture stolen from Megan Hart because it's the best I've looked in years! LOL

Being with them made the trip, and the dinner, and being so close to the stage you can touch it (eat our foresight, bitches! :)) so much fun by itself, I never wanted it to end. Even without the music.

Meeting Jason, though, is the ultimate enhancement to his music. Some musicians are jerks, or divas, or full of themselves, or so shy/introverted they seem like one or all of the above. Jason's sincere, friendly, engaging, sweet to people who act like idiots (no, I don't mean us, though some other people might, it's all a matter of perspective! LOL), and patient when you're trying to take a picture and Smith closes her eyes three times in a row.

This was the third performance I got to see. The first was great, but in a well-lit room packed with people, which makes it harder to sink into the music. The second was slightly disappointing, because his awesomeness was obscured by (incredibly rude) loud talkers in the room, and the lateness/time hogginess of the performers before him (which I actually didn't mind until I discovered it meant Jason's set was limited to, like, four songs), and the poor quality of the sound system.

The Tin Angel was none of those things! Excellent venue, if you ever get an opportunity to see someone perform there, take it. And eat at Serrano first, so you can get a reserved table up front. And call for reservations as SOON as you know you want to go, and you'll be RIGHT in front.

Anyway, the sound was professional and clear, the crowd was all there specifically for Jason so any rudeness was only mildly annoying instead of infuriating, and he had the night to himself so we got two sets of I-lost-track-of-how-many songs. The only way it could have been more perfect was if he had his new CD ready. I wait with bated breath.

So thank you, Megan, Vicki, and Misty, for another wonderful night, and heartfelt thanks, Jason, for helping me forget that I'm supposed to be in a sucky mood today. :)

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Missing in Action

Sorry, I've been busy. And kinda depressed. Might be partly weather related, because four days of ice-cold rain just SUCKS.

This goes a long way toward mood improvement. Even almost makes me wish I worked in an office again, though I never worked in an office this cool. :)

Friday, October 09, 2009

Not All of the Problems are Obvious

For the last few days, discussion about the new FTC explanations of certain regulations has been rampant. You can Google it. I don't have any links handy and I'm kind of in a hurry. Today's post is a case of random collection of tidbits of info and opinion reaching critical mass, requiring me to offer my own thoughts on the matter.

Hey, that could actually describe most of my posts!

Anyway, the basics are that the Federal Trade Commission has stated, among other things, that any blogger who reviews a book or other product and received that book or other product for free must disclose such receipt for free or face a potential fine of $11,000.

Some people have talked about the difference between paid advertising (i.e. guaranteed endorsement/screen time) and reviewing, where even if the person got the item for free, doesn't guarantee you won't get a total thrashing. Some have mentioned how even though we think this is unenforceable on a grand scale, all we have to do is come to the attention of the FTC (be reported by an enemy, for example), and come under fire.

Some people have asked what the big deal is, just say "I received this book for free." It seems pretty simple, doesn't it? But it's not. It's far more complicated than that, especially when some of the regulations apparently will hold the author liable if the blogger doesn't disclose.

First, "free" doesn't automatically mean the publisher or author provided the book. Free could mean borrowed from a friend or the library, it could mean it was the fifth book in a buy-four-get-one-free promotion. It could mean a charitable person bought the book and donated it to a prize basket raffled off to attendees of an event, completely without the publisher's or author's knowledge. Then there's that book-in-the-wild program, where you leave a book on a train or in a restaurant and track its travels.

Second, the FTC doesn't seem to be defining what a "blogger" is. If, as has been asserted in a few places, the FTC is aiming to control certain types of commercial bloggers who are inundated with free stuff but act like they're just regular users or something, that's great. Say so. But the blanket use of "any blogger" includes hundreds of thousands of regular people, most of whom will have no freakin' idea of this regulation.

Plenty of "book reviewers" aren't official reviewers, but normal readers who enter contests or ask authors for review copies. I often provide free copies of my book to places like The Romance Studio. Sometimes I'm given the name of the winner and I send the copy directly to them; sometimes it's part of a package and I never even know. But if they say "Hey, I liked this book by Natalie J. Damschroder" and don't say how they got it, I could be reprimanded by the FTC as the party who most directly benefits from that endorsement.

My mind just boggles at the scope of this. I mean, my teenage daughter could blog about Rosemary Clement-Moore's newest book and get fined for it, based on the vague, broad application of this regulation.

Okay, let me throttle back out of the hysterical paranoia a bit. The people at the FTC have a job to do, and they have a pretty focused view of what that (important) job is. They are targeting a certain segment of business and industry, a certain segment of the Internet. They probably had no inkling of the fog-like effect of their explanation, where it seeps into vast areas they might not even know exist. And enforcement IS going to be impossible, if by enforcement we mean making sure everyone who possibly falls under this regulation complies with it. I mean, are they really going to pay someone to patrol the Internet, pounce on a blog that mentions a book someone read, then force them to prove they paid for the book? Hardly!

Which makes this entire post probably pointless.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Fun with Football Equipment

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. (I know everyone knows that unless they live under a rock, and if you're reading this, you don't. Still, I couldn't help stating the obvious. Sorry.)

The NFL is participating in the campaign this week. The goalpost wrappings are pink. The helmets have pink BCAM decals on them. And the players are allowed to wear non-regulation gear (in other words, pink stuff). Most are wearing pink cleats, gloves, or armbands. The refs' jerseys also sport pink ribbons, and they're wearing pink wristbands, too. Many coaches and sideline staff have hats with pink brims or ribbons pinned to their collars. Very cool.

Even cooler, all of these pink items will be auctioned off for charity. People pay big bucks for items worn by their favorite players, and how much better for that money to be going to this cause? It makes me a little annoyed at the few players who aren't participating.

On the Cincinnati Bengals, receiver Chad Ochocinco (née Johnson) is taking it even further. He's known for being an attention hog, has probably paid a third of his salary over the years in fines for showboating and other violations. This time, he's making something good out of it. He has reportedly declared an intention to wear his pink gear all month (the NFL is only sanctioning it this weekend; after that, it would be considered an equipment violation and he'd be fined). He says he'll match his fines in donations to the campaign. He still gets the attention he craves, but for doing something good instead of something stupid.

If the NFL was smart, they'd donate his fines, too. :)

Friday, October 02, 2009

So Self-Fulfilling Prophecy is Trendy Now, Huh?

On FlashForward, nearly everyone on the planet saw their future. This was a malicious act, or so it seems, so they're trying to figure out why and how it happened. For Mark, the FBI agent, there's a lot he doesn't want to come true. But his vision provided clues that can help them, so he's investigating his vision. He saw a card that had a name, and assumes that name is important because it was on the board--but it was on the board because he saw the vision. It turns out to be very important, but how much of what he saw isn't? The friendship bracelet, for example, was more symbolic than vital. Then there was the Utah sheriff. She didn't see anything, and a short time later, she's dead. But she's dead because they're investigating the visions. If they hadn't had the visions, they wouldn't have been there, and she wouldn't have been killed.

Episode note: How freaky was that ending? Charlie's statement made me gasp. I'm definitely hooked on this show!

Okay, so that's one. Then we have Dollhouse. Spoilers here for "Epitaph One," only available on the DVD. A little less of the self-fulfilling part, because we know what happens in the future because of "Epitaph One," but the characters don't. Still, Joss has said they know what they're aiming for, so they can keep it in mind as they get there. I don't like the inevitability of that. It's nice to see Claire and Boyd displaying an attraction and knowing it will become much more, but horrible to know it turns Whiskey into a mindless doll again. I find a post-apocalyptic battle much more interesting than how we got to the apocalypse. But only for this show. :)

Supernatural is exploring the idea of destiny in a different way than FlashForward is. We know they can change the future even when it's foreseen, because they've done it. Mostly on a small scale, until last night, when Dean made the decision we all knew was coming.

Oh, wow. I just remembered something. I'm reading a book that's not due to come out until next year, and this destiny thing is an element in that. I almost stole one of the author's concepts to explore the whole "we always end up here" thing! Sorry, T!!!!

Anyway. Zachariah and Future!Dean told Now!Dean there was only one thing he could do to prevent the future--say yes to hosting Michael. But Lucifer believed that because of who Now!Dean is, he wouldn't do that, and he wouldn't kill Sam, which meant the outcome was inevitable. None of them recognized the real variable, but then, none of them are fans of this show. You only have to be a casual watcher to know the whole world hinges on Sam and Dean's partnership. So the bottom line is that even though we've seen a future, and even though Castiel told Dean at the end of "In the Beginning" that all roads lead to the same result, we don't believe it. Everything that happens next can surprise us, because that future, with the release of the Croatoan virus, is not inevitable.

Might as well talk about some other elements of last night's show, right?

How can Future!Dean seem hotter than Now!Dean? I was actually in the minority on the Buddy TV poll, but he totally was. Future!Dean was bigger (a matter of perspective due to the way they shot/spliced the scenes) and his Army jacket fit him more closely. He was the same color as the background, whereas Now!Dean was different, partly the blue jacket, I'm sure, but partly lighting and such to differentiate him from the future. Future!Dean was also more intense, which is inevitable given what he'd been through. I'm not saying I want Future!Dean to come to pass, but boy, he was yummy while he lasted. :)

Jensen was incredible doing the two roles and being SO different, in SUCH subtle ways. I know we all say this all the time, but man, he's an amazing actor. The poor guy, doing double duty for this ep when Jard got another free pass!

Jared did well with the little bit he had, though. He was a little too smarmy, I think, but he channeled Mark Pellegrino's way of speaking enough to see Lucifer behind the shell. I'll be quite happy to have real!Sam back, though.

Then we have Misha. I think he's having a helluva lot of fun with his acting freedom. Cas is still deadpan and intense, but he's loosened up a little bit, and I loved his lines in the opening scene, his hint of panic that his time was running out, his implacability at having to wait. And, of course, an entirely new Cas in the future that still held hints of the old (when he recognized Dean wasn't Dean and why). I can't believe I thought the show was so good before he existed! He's total enhancement, and I'd miss him if he was gone too much.

Okay, that's enough rambling. I do have work to do today, much as I want to make it a long weekend. :(

Happy Friday, everyone!