Thursday, December 31, 2009

Last Post of 2009

This week has not been normal at all. In the sense that it's not abnormal the way it's supposed to be abnormal.

In addition to being way busy when it's supposed to be quiet, I don't feel like it's The Change. At all. My kids keep reminding me that it's New Year's Eve and I go "oh, yeah" and promptly forget again.

I have no sense of anticipation for 2010, except that I like the number. It feels right and 2009 already feels wrong, which, again, is backwards. Though I posted something like that on Facebook and then read on Vicki Smith's blog that she keeps typing 1010, and then just now when I tried to type 2010 I typed 1010, then 2030, then 200 before I got it right. Heh.

I could talk about things I'm looking forward to in 2010 (writing retreats, Salute to Supernatural, books, movies) or things that went right or wrong in 2009, but...I just don't wanna. It doesn't feel necessary for me (though I do enjoy reading everyone else's, especially the book lists—I keep adding to my TBB list!).

So I'll just say this. Next Tuesday, go buy Kismet by Monica Burns and Breaking Daylight by M. J. Fredrick. I have it on good authority that they're awesome books, and I'll be buying them myself. Also, MJ is starting a great contest tomorrow, so click the link on her title and check it out.

If anyone else would like me to tout their imminent release, hit me up! I don't want to overlook anyone, but my brain is too distracted to remember if you don't remind me. :)

And hey. Have a great New Year's Eve and New Year's Day. Start 2010 off right. I mean it, now.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Side Effects of a Great Birthday/Christmas

1. Every time you hear a song, you think about how the notes would look in Band Hero.

2. Your back aches from hula-hooping Wii Fit.

3. You glare resentfully at your kids as they read all day long and you have to work, while all your new books mock you.

4. Your teeth hurt from all the peppermint (and non-peppermint!) candy and baked goods you’ve been nibbling for two weeks.

5. You spend long stretches of free time in fits of indecision, with games and books and gadgets and toys calling you.

6. Your living room/bedroom/workroom/storage room is overflowing with boxes you can’t throw away, just in case—and they’re sitting on top of five years’ accumulation of similar boxes.

7. If your kid admits they know the real Santa deal, you can consolidate all the Santa wrapping paper and the non-Santa wrapping paper, and discover the storage area would overflow with that…if it wasn’t already stuffed to the rafters with boxes.

8. Christmas is over, so you unconsciously stopped watering the tree, giving it permission to go to the light and leave all its needles behind.  On the floor.

9. At any given moment, you are dealing with a manic cat hopped up on the new catnip toys, followed by…

10. …desperately whining cats whose catnip toys have disappeared under the furniture.


Those are my side effects. What are yours?

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Winding Down 2009

Now's the time to look back on the year and reflect on its events or list the best of. I love reading that stuff on other blogs, but I don't feel like doing that this year.

Might be because it doesn't feel like a winding down. In the past, I've loved this week between Christmas and New Year's, as the quietest, calmest, most productive week of the year.


I'm sitting here staring at the pile of bills I have to pay, the datebook I have to switch over to the new pages tout de suite or suffer the chaotic consequences, the three big jobs I have to do for my best client, the editing I have to do for my other best client, the post I have to do for Supernatural Sisters, the reminders I have to send to 5 instructors for the PRO Bootcamp starting next week, the cards I have to send out, the stupid magazine contest I have to track down and call to make them pay me the difference between the $10.00 check I sent them and the $16.06 they processed it as, the fall school pictures I have to parcel out to my family (yeah, you'd think I'd have done that when I sent their Christmas gifts, but no), the eye doctor bill I have to submit to insurance, and the therapy bills I still haven't gone through.

Who the hell has time for reflection?!

I did a Christmas write-up at The Gabwagon yesterday, so I won't say much here. Except that we had a great Christmas, we are all very spoiled, and I'm grateful for the lack of stress, given everyone else's mishaps. We did have a bloody nose, dog diarrhea, and a cat coming through the ceiling over the course of four days, but we didn't have a backed-up sewage pipe in the basement or a sideboard on fire, nor stomach viruses or colds. So put this year in the win column.

My gifts focused heavily on books. Between birthday and Christmas, I had tons of money in gift cards for both Amazon and Barnes and Noble. I have books coming from both. :) I also got...


I know! You can expect eaten words discussed here soon, I'm thinking. My wonderful husband wanted to get me a big gift, then decided to get the kids a big gift, too, since we all read tons. I love the navigation and balance of the Kindle. I haven't had a chance to read on it yet, so I'll have to let you know about that, but both kids love theirs and are under dire warnings of the consequences if they don't take care of them.

I bought a bunch of books already, from Shannon Stacey (no more waiting for Gallagher!) and M. J. Fredrick, and damn was that a pain to look up 'cause I never want to put in the periods and the space, and Jody Wallace/Ellie Marvel. I have to figure out who else I know whose books aren't all available in paperback, but the seven things I bought already will keep me busy. Problem is, I have two books from the library I have to read first! They'll go fast, though, then I'll do the Kindle.

I'm going to stop there because...well, see paragraph 4. If I don't get back here before Friday, everyone have a


Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Pure Indulgence

“They” say computers and the Internet are depersonalizing our society, keeping us from connecting with real people.  Once again, I call bullshit.

Today is my birthday.  The first person outside of my house to wish me a happy one?  A guy I knew in college.  The second?  A writer friend I met once, who lives hundreds if not thousands of miles away.  I got dozens of wishes via Facebook, text, and e-mail.

And not a damn one made me feel disconnected and alone.  Instead I felt warm and loved and part of a giant community of people who care about each other.  Imagine that.

So far, it’s been a great day.  My husband took the day off, so he got up at 6:15 with the kids and got them off to school (not that they need much) and did the morning chores (the very best part of having a birthday is not having to scoop litter boxes, stand outside with the dog while she does her business, or load the dishwasher).  I slept until 10.

I know!

Shortly after I woke up, he brought me flowers and tiramisu truffles. I do have a little bit of work I can’t avoid, but otherwise I’m going to write and read and relax.  Then I’ll open presents and go to Red Lobster for dinner and drag said totally awesome husband to the 3D version of Avatar, because I want to see it and because he’s made of awesomesauce (he hates 3D, but he hasn’t seen the new 3D yet).

I’ve opened one present so far.  My brother gave me Tom Brady.  Is that cool or what?  Of course, don’t worry, I’ll let him out for games. :)

Merry Christmas to all of my readers who celebrate it!  May you all have as much joy and love around you as I have today.

Friday, December 18, 2009

So This Nook Thing

I’m a tech geek. Not, you know, insanely so, but I love my laptop, can’t live without my iPod, would make out with TiVo if it had lips.  But even more than gadgets, I love books. For a decade, I’ve been totally unable to convert to e-books.  I have books by authors I love that I’ve never read, because e-books don’t suit my reading style.  But I figured that would change.  I mean, I’ve only ever read on my computer (too stationary), my husband’s old Palm (too tiny and ugly), and an eBookman (also ugly, gave me eye strain, and drained batteries like it was sucking rum and Coke on Friday night).

So I’ve had lustful feelings for the Kindle and Nook, while looking at them askance, like you do the hot-yet-disreputable dude who just moved to your high school.  (I’ve never been attracted to the Sony eReader, as they don’t carry my books.)

So I was in Barnes and Noble today, and they had a Nook on display.  This was the first chance I’ve had to see one in person.  It was kind of cool, for about 30 seconds.  E-ink really looks like paper, amazingly so.  And at first, it was lighter and a little easier to hold than I expected.  I couldn’t grip it by the sides, as my hand isn’t big enough, but I braced the back against my fingers and held the edge with my thumb on top.  Then I tried to use it.

You’ve got to give a display model a little slack, but on the other hand, I’d expect to handle a Nook as much as the public does.  So it was super disappointing to try to turn the page.  Watch the screen flicker and go distorted, then flick back in focus.  It was anything but smooth.  In fact, it made my eyes go buggy, and I only did it twice!  And it was slower than turning a regular page is.  Combine that with the page containing about half the text (though I could probably change that), and I think I’d find it supremely annoying.

Finally, after my minute and a half of usage, my hand and fingers were starting to cramp, and I couldn’t navigate the menus one-handed.  Some of that would change as I learned how (I didn’t find it very obvious or intuitive, the arrows on the touch screen never did what I thought they would do), I’m sure.  But I read hardcovers one-handed, and they weight a helluva lot more than a Nook.  An e-reader shouldn’t be uncomfortable.

And while my experience should in no way impact anyone else—my anatomy and preferences don’t automatically translate—the $259 price tag is effective cold water on my attraction.

So I guess I’ll just keep buying my friends books and failing to ever read them!  Sorry, friends! :(

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Free Game Plus More Me!

Heartwild Solitaire - the game for romance readersRemember a while back I talked about this great game, Heartwild Solitaire? (Click the link to check it out!)

Well, now there's a FREE game using the same beautiful graphics. Treat yourself to this gorgeous classic solitaire game. Why? Because...

1. It has Klondike and DOUBLE Klondike.

2. You want to beat my high scores.

3. It's FREE.

4. The holidays are stressful, and you need this to relax.

5-154. It's got SEVEN short stories by ME and six other wonderful authors (Vicki Smith, Misty Simon, Megan Hart, Dee Tenorio, Sherry Thomas, and Kimber Chin)!

Every time you win, it unlocks a story!

And did I mention that it's FREE?!

Happy Holidays!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

I’m a Slacker

I was just catching up on blog reading, and now I feel like a slacker. I have a friend who has twice as many kids as me, her day job takes her outside the house, she has fifty family and school and extracurricular obligations a week, and she STILL manages to blog every day.

Obviously, I’m not that dedicated.

She also writes funny and fun posts, while I write about paper towels.  It’s a wonder anyone ever reads this thing at all.


My dog is mostly better now, I don’t remember if I’ve said that here.  Her head tilt is almost gone, and she can walk and eat and everything is fine.  Except for the residual effects that have nothing to do with the vestibular syndrome itself.

First, there’s the eating thing.  She doesn’t want dog food anymore.  We hand fed her real meat at the worst of the condition, and she’s gradually gotten back to eating dog food, but she clearly prefers not to eat it.  She’ll snarf around the kitchen looking for crumbs and she’ll eat the cat food, so I’ll put her dish back down, and she’ll turn away.  Too bad.  She can starve.  (Not really—we actually have plenty of crumbs on the floor.)

The other thing is that she can’t walk on non-carpeted floors anymore.  She avoids them, and when she can’t, she dashes across them.  Now, even when she was healthy, she wasn’t the most graceful dog.  You could call her, in fact, one of the least graceful.  So when she dashes down the hall or across the kitchen, she inevitably slips, her feet splay out, she crashes into the wall, and down she goes.

I haven’t been able to take her for grooming because of her balance issues, so I bought nail clippers.  Oh, yeah, you can see where this is going, can’t you?  I bought nail clippers with the plan to clip her nails, thinking if they weren’t so long, maybe she wouldn’t skid so much.  They didn’t have a styptic pencil, though.  So I just decided to be really, really careful.  And I was.  Despite her wiggliness, I was really careful, and didn’t cut down very far at all.  Of course, on the eleventh nail, the blood vessel must have come all the way down to the point, because…yeah, she bled.  All over the carpet, the tile…me.  I sat holding her down as she was desperate to get up and run from me (no pain, she just didn’t like me holding her foot!), trying to get it to stop.  I thought it had, but it hadn’t.  Then I used flour, and that worked.  Phew.  Kept a newspaper bag over her foot for an hour, though, just in case.

Guess who’s never using clippers again?

Saturday, December 12, 2009

NOW It’s Christmastime

I love this time of year.  When we can afford it, I love buying gifts for everyone I know (even when they are really hard to buy for).  I love the lights on the houses, I love the snow and, for a short time, even the cold.  I love the parties and school events and activities, and talking to family that I am disturbingly lax about talking to the rest of the year, and visiting with family that’s either usually far away or even that I see weekly.  I admit that I loooove getting presents, and I get to do it TWICE, with my birthday being two days before Christmas.  I just love the holiday season.

But I don’t love it early.

I didn’t do any shopping until a few days ago.  I have one person and one family covered, and some things ordered, but I have about 50 million other things to order, buy, wrap, and ship.  And I like it that way, even if it means I have to pay extra for faster shipping.  I haven’t done Christmas cards yet, or decorated my house (actually, that won’t happen anyway—not beyond the living room).

The earlier everyone else starts focusing on Christmas, the later I want to.  And it’s not just the stores stocking stuff in mid-November or the commercials or the radio stations filled with holiday songs.  It’s phone conversations where they list the few things they have left to do.  My Facebook news feed is full of “I finished shopping for Christmas today” the week before Thanksgiving.   A week later, everything is wrapped.  I understand it and applaud it—I just don’t want any part of it!

So I’ve had no holiday spirit so far this year.  But today we got our tree.  We went to the fire station, selected the first one we saw (looked at others, but this one was perfect), and let them tag it for delivery.  I had to run to the store, and while I was out, it came and J and the girls put it up.  So when I walked in the door, the whole house smelled like fir tree.

And NOW it’s Christmastime.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Random Stuff

Carina Press has made its first acquisitions! Congratulations to Shannon Stacey and Charlene Teglia! I'm especially excited about more Stacey books that aren't historicals. :)

Aside: When Carina announced itself, an author made mention of them and said they were going to publish erotica. When I commented that they say they're acquiring all kinds of books, she said she thought that was obfuscation. So I'm pretty smug that at least one of the launch titles isn't erotic. :) (Correct me if I'm wrong, Shannon! You didn't call it that, anyway.)

I'm so despondent that we have soooo many more weeks without Supernatural. I'm clinging hard to shows that are still on—Bones and Fringe tonight, and I think How I Met Your Mother and Big Bang Theory are still new next week. But Glee is done (what an awesome show last night—Matthew Morrison is just incredible) until friggin' APRIL, and FlashForward and V until March...I just don't get the way the networks are handling television nowadays.

I'm not done with Full Fusion, the YA book I started for NaNo, but it's flowing very nicely, I know where I'm going with it, and I should finish it next week, as long as I don't let it get buried under the other obligations of December.

Nowadays, we have to take pleasure in small things. Our littlest cat, called BG most of the time because her official name is Baby Girl but Bad Girl suits her better, has a problem with cystitis. She's been on Cosequin for a while, but got inflamed again a few weeks ago, bad enough to bleed and be in the litter box every two minutes. I started mixing the meds with wet food as well as her dry food, and that worked for a little while—she was ingesting more of it—but it didn't last.

So I made some drastic changes, things I really should have done before, but for some reason it didn't occur to me to, and the doctor didn't mention them. I've tried using urinary health treats, but she didn't like them, and originally, I was more concerned with keeping the cats' weight down.

Well, that's not working, so I switched their dry food to a urinary health formula. I spotted "special diet" canned food for urinary health and am using that. I bought (on the advice of my friend Kim, animalloverextraordinaire) a pet fountain. She doesn't drink out of it. She still goes for the dog dish, but since the dog doesn't want to walk on the tile (still has a head tilt and falls all over the place when walking on anything but carpet) and the fountain is within reach of the carpet so she drinks out of the fountain...I'll get rid of the dog dish.

But the biggest change was the cat litter. I used to use Arm & Hammer fragrance-free, but they discontinued that, so I started using Tidy Cat Multi-Cat for Small Spaces. Frisbee has tolerance issues (as in, she won't tolerate something she doesn't like) so I've always been wary of changing cat litter. But I saw that Scoop Away now has a fragrance-free litter (or at least, my store is now carrying it) and I switched to that.

Not only is BG currently doing fine, urinarily, this Scoop Away is so much better than Tidy Cat! OMG, you guys! I can walk through my living room without having pieces of litter stuck to my socks! This stuff doesn't track! Or at least, not past the one-foot radius of the box, and even then, it's minimal. AND it actually does what it says it does, and the clumps stay together, which means I'll have to clean out the entire box less often, and I can't even explain how happy that makes me.

Okay, yes, my pathetic life is full of paper towel rants and cat litter raves. But like I said, it's the little things!

Friday, December 04, 2009

Frugality Sucks

Before I launch into my rant, LOL, take a moment to check out Monica's tribute to her Aunt Bev (video made me cry, in a good way), and Tanya's take on Dean's letter to Santa.

I grew up without a lot of money. I don't like to say "poor," because we never went without anything important, and my mother was very successful at her work even if it didn't bring in very much money. But we wore hand-me-downs and got government butter and cheese and lived in veteran's housing. And we bought generic for pretty much everything. If it wasn't generic, it was the cheapest brand there was. When my mother remarried, my stepfather eschewed generic. And though I'd been told my whole life that it's the same stuff, OMG, I never knew frozen corn could taste so good. (Experience has taught me that they may PACKAGE the generics in the same factories as the name brands, it's not always the same stuff.)

So as an adult, I strive to balance saving money with quality. I clip coupons, I price-shop, I look for sales, and when the quality is less important or is good enough, I buy cheap.

One of those cheap items was Scott tissue. You know the kind—sold in single rolls, touts its 1,000-sheet length even though it's only one-ply. I kept using it once I grew up, because it's super cheap! But then I gave birth, and no more. Cushiness became my buy-word. :) When my mother was dying of cancer and still using Scott tissue, my brother and I were appalled. We went out and bought her the good stuff. She deserved it!

Recently, I got coupons for Scott Naturals paper towels, and even though it took a really long time, I finally decided to set aside my snobbery and give them a try. I mean, nothing stays the same forever, right? Maybe in the face of all the competition they made some improvements. Plus, I don't paper towels on my skin, so it was worth the test. I bought a big package with my $2.00-off coupon.

What a mistake.

These towels are like notebook paper. They are stiff and rough and don't absorb worth sh**. I've reverted to my basic Bounty or cloth-like Viva towels (whichever the coupon/sale combo makes cost the least) because of time-tested success. Plus, they have pick-a-size, which also saves money. Or at least allows me to only use what I need, which isn't necessarily the same thing. I'll save pennies in other ways, thanks.

On a related and disturbing topic...

I did a survey recently about store brands, which is the new "generic," I guess, which used to be white boxes, black lettering, no brand of any kind. The questions were taking the temperature of people's tolerance for, desire for, and reaction to store brands.

Maybe there's no connection, but if there is, I'm pretty pissed at all the other people who did the survey, because when I was grocery shopping yesterday, I went to get some Eggo waffles. My favorites are the minis, which they have always had in the giant box, and Legos. Well, now my grocery store has only TWO kinds of Eggo-brand waffles--homestyle and buttermilk. That's IT. No Lego, no minis, no stuffed or flavored. Instead, they have case after case brand waffles. And none of THEM were minis or fake-Lego-style or anything good.

Maybe the store brand homestyle waffles are just as good as Eggo. But in defiance, I bought the Eggo kind. So there!

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Another Successful NaNoWriMo in the Books

I haven’t updated my graphic yet—it’s on my other computer, so maybe I’ll remember tomorrow—but it’s December 1 so I have to comment on the experience.  Don’t worry, I’ll be brief. :)

I was aiming to finish the book, but got derailed by my solo trip to Massachusetts.  Kind of impossible to write when you’re driving in hurricane-spawned rain.  Or even when you’re driving under clear skies, actually. So I revised back to the 50,000 of the official NaNoWriMo goal.  Four years of participation, four wins, though they keep getting smaller and smaller.  The first two years were 89k months!  Can’t seem to get even close to that anymore.

My kids both did NaNo, too.  All three of us finished, validated, and won on Sunday, a day early.  Number One did 35,000 words on a very ambitious thriller she’s writing for an independent project at school.  I’m glad she has the project to keep her going, because she’s only added 10,000 words to last year’s NaNo book since then. :)  Number Two has decided she doesn’t really care for writing so much, but still had to do NaNo.  She met her goal of 10,000 words with a real-life-inspired journal format, and when she fell behind, she wrote play-by-play of the football games.  Shh.  Don’t tell anyone I told you that. :)

For us, NaNo isn’t only about the writing.  I’m thrilled to share the experience (though less thrilled to share my Alphasmart Neo) with both kids—the agony of writer’s block, the energy of brainstorming, the joy of creation.  But even more, I love how they’re learning stuff without realizing it.  Stuff about setting and meeting goals.  Breaking important projects up into small bites.  Working with other people, even on something solitary.  Relatively few people will have this experience with their kids.

And I think that’s very cool.