Tuesday, August 24, 2010

New Toy

About 10 or 11 years ago, my wonderful husband bought me an all-in-one printer/fax/scanner/copier for my birthday.

I think I managed to scan one picture before the scanner function stopped working. I was never able to get the scanner to communicate with the computer--all three of the ones I've had since getting the printer.

A couple of years ago, it stopped communicating as a printer, too. That was really annoying, because I could no longer print color documents for promotional purposes or copy photos and stuff. But I still had the laser printer, and I could use the all-in-one for faxing and copying.

Then a few months ago I started getting a message about the scanner being on the blink and to turn the machine off and on. I'd do that once, and it would work fine, still scanning the original to fax or copy.

Last week, turning it off and on stopped working. So I couldn't copy the insurance card I needed to copy. Worse, it meant no more faxing, either. Which meant not faxing our order to Neato Burrito.

Well, that was just not acceptable. So I bought a new printer, another all-in-one that's much smaller and sleeker. And guess what? All the features work! So now I can subject you to stuff like this:


Monday, August 23, 2010

When Blood Calls by JK Beck

I love Julie Kenner's books. The next one can never come out fast enough for me. (Seriously, HOW long do we have to wait for another Demon-Hunting Soccer Mom Book?)

But she's not actually working on those right now, I guess. Julie is a bit consumed with her alter ego, J.K. Beck, author of The Shadow Keepers. I was a little skeptical about this series. I mean, I've always liked everything she wrote, so it has to be good, but...it's vampires.

And really, I'm so very tired of vampires.

But she was giving away a mega-ton of ARCs (advance reader copies), so thought "what the hey" and signed up. And got one! Which was kind of genius, because I probably wouldn't have bought it. You know, because of the vampires. My hope was that I'd read the first book, love it, and then have to buy the other two. I'm sure her hope was something like that, too.

The condition for receiving the ARC was, if I liked the book, I'd help spread the word via social media promotion. If I didn't like it, she asked that I pass it on. (That's full disclosure, FCC. :) )

So, since I'm blogging about this book, I guess you can tell I liked it. :) I admit it did stumble over a few of my personal bugaboos, but they're completely personal. The book is incredibly well written, with a fully realized world we get immersed in from page one, without the stumbling around that a reader sometimes has to do before getting acclimated.

The characters are excellent. I like ambiguity in my romance and in my characterization, and she provides just enough to keep it interesting, without making us feel lost. We also get multiple points of view, a lot more than just the main couple, which makes for a more complex experience.

When Blood Calls, the first book in the trilogy, is out next Tuesday, August 31. You can preorder now, of course, and that link takes you to her page with links to all the most popular retailers. When Pleasure Rules and When Wicked Craves are coming out in October and November, so yay! We don't have to wait this time! :)


Thursday, August 19, 2010

Poor Kitty

I wonder how long cats' memories are.

BG, our youngest, most curious, most social cat just stood outside my office door and gave an inquiring cry. She's been wandering around kind of aimlessly, and I know why—the kids aren't here.

All summer, she's been going back and forth between their rooms, hanging out on their dressers and stools and beds. We've had a lot less Camp Nana this year, and she's always out of sorts when they're gone. She kept crying at us last night, too, like asking "Where the he** is Number Two? It's bedtime!"

We're a week away from the start of school, and we've had BG for three years now, so I know she'll adapt to the schedule. But always before, I've been home most of the day. If she wanted company, she'd come to my office. Now ALL of us will be gone.

Whatever will she do?

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

This is It

My last full, true, personal day.

Numbers One and Two are at the final Camp Nana of the year tonight, and will be there all day tomorrow.

I don't have to work tomorrow.

For the first time since I started the job, I don't have three appointments and mandatory grocery shopping to do on my day off.

What I do have is a large to-do list that's a mix of personal (ordering gifts), professional (updating the Contests and Conferences column on the RWA website), and writing related (finish applying Angela James' self-editing workshop to Hummingbird, work on formatting of Soul of the Dragon, start revisions I just got today for Fight or Flight, my spring release from Carina Press). I can't wait, and I'm going to wallow in every blessed minute.

After that, I'll still have Thursdays off, but my kids will have school, which means up early to see them off, etc., and many of those days off will have the aforementioned appointments and errands packed into them.

Hey, remember this post? Ignore the self-indulgent and boring descriptions of the dreams themselves (gah, why does anyone read this thing, anyway?). In that post, I talked about my old friend Peter, and guess what he did? He Googled himself. And e-mailed me. Ack!

But really, how cool is that? After 20 years, I've heard from two old, very close friends in the span of a few weeks. I LOVE the Internet!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Things I Did This Summer

I love when I get a blog idea from someone else. :)

Things I Did This Summer

1. Coached a 3v3 soccer team to a close final race (but no championship game).

2. Edited 3 client manuscripts.

3. Chauffeured my kids to and from strings camp and biology lab, and a few soccer practices.

4. Attended the Salute to Supernatural in New Jersey.

5. Hugged Matt Cohen.

6. Got a job.

7. Picked up an editing client.

8. Worked on at least three different books (of my own!) at different levels (final final critique/edit, new writing, revision) but finished nothing.

9. Submitted multiple projects to agents and editors.

10. Compiled 3 RWR columns.

11. Sold a novella:

12. Commissioned a book cover:

13. Entered the Twitterverse (@NJDamschroder)

14. Went to Hersheypark (twice, counting tomorrow) and finally rode the Fahrenheit.

15. Since I needed a #15, today I sold Fight or Flight to Carina Press! Stay tuned for more details!

Sunday, August 08, 2010

This Week's Goals

Several of my blogging friends regularly post goals for the week or day. I want to get into that habit, but don't expect to, since it's been a "want" for years.

But here are my goals for this week:

1. Talk to childhood best friend, whom I lost track of decades ago and haven't been able to find, who just found me a few days ago.

2. Judge the 5 contest entries awaiting my thoughtful and compassionate critique.

3. Actually do the assignments in the Savvy Authors workshop I'm taking, because otherwise, what's the friggin' point?

4. Write query letter for Hummingbird and start submitting to agents.

5. Read through Entanglement to get back into the story and continue writing.

6. Start formatting Soul of the Dragon.

7. Make follow-up appointment for hyperthyroidic cat.

8. Make eye appointments for me and Number One.

9. Camp Nana!

10. Hersheypark!

11. Number One's sports physical.

12. Prep for booksigning on Saturday.

Man, that's a week. I'm tired now.

Friday, August 06, 2010

Oh, Yeah, I Keep Forgetting...

at Waldenbooks—Lebanon Valley Mall

Authors scheduled to appear(subject to change without notice)

Frank E. Bittinger
David Boyle
J.F. Gonzalez
Brian Keene
Ron Malfi
Joe Schreiber

Arthur Ford
Thomas Lipovsky
Robert Vogel

Vicky Burkholder
Natalie Damschroder
Lucy Finn
Megan Hart
Savannah Russe
Misty Simon
Victoria Smith

Sandy Asher
Kelly Ann Butterbaugh
Jeff Clineff
Olga Jaffae
Dana Smith-Mansall
Murphdog® and Company
Ruth Zavitsanos

Young Adult
Ellen Jensen Abbott
Cyn Balog
Beth Fantaskey
Charlene Haines
A.S. King
Jeri Smith-Ready
Maria V. Snyder

Byron N. Morrison
Andy Pete

Historical Fiction
Gene Gomolka

Janette Kortman
Joan Landis

Amaryllis Santiago
Doris Washington

John Sabol

Dr. Lazslo Geder
Dashaun Jiwe Morris

20% of the proceeds will benefit the Lebanon Library. Storm Troopers will also be appearing. Various merchants from the mall along with local businesses
such as Longaberger and Partylite have donated raffle items. For every book purchased you will receive a raffle ticket. Pre-purchased books not eligible. Raffles to be held around 1:30 p.m.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Summer TV Verdict

Now that the last show on my "check it out" list has aired, I can talk about the shows I've been watching and what I think about them. In order of worst to best:

While movie critics are almost never on the same page as me, TV critics often are. So when they raved about Rubicon, I added it to my list. Yawn. We spent the whole first episode feeling like there were chunks missing. We could understand what was there, but still felt lost. But more than that, I didn't care. I got no sense of any of the characters, despite the tidbits they dropped. When they said Will is morose because of losing his family in 9/11, my reaction was "Dude, that was 9 years ago!" It's a horrible thing that happened to way too many people, but suspension of disbelief was just not possible for me, that he'd still be so mopey, as if it happened a year ago. When everyone was saying they didn't want Grant as a boss, I had no idea why. Plus, the fashions were stuffy. The whole thing just felt self-important and therefore pretentious without an ounce of justification.

I gave this one a try for the supernatural elements. I'm kind of meh on it. It's intriguing, and I like Audrey and Nathan. Duke's okay. I'm not drooling over him like a lot of people are. :) I think the mysteries each week are creative, and I'm eager to find out what triggered The Troubles. I was surprised to hear people complain that Audrey bought into everything too easily. I thought they established her motivation very well—that she already sought the weird and unexplainable, so it was right up her alley. Plus, come on, she got thrown across the sidewalk by a swirl of wind. I'm more exasperated by characters denying strange stuff when it's right in their face. Plus, IRL, I'm always wishing I'd witness psychic or supernatural phenomena, so I'd buy it that easily, myself. :) What does distract me, though, is Nathan's condition. I guess, like any "disability," he would adapt to it. But I feel like he's way too competent. He can't feel anything. Not the sun, not breath on his skin, nothing. So how does he know he's holding stuff? He never drops anything or fumbles. How does he put on a button-down shirt if he can't feel where the sleeve is? In many scenes, I find myself thinking about this stuff. :) Distracting.

The Good Guys
As I've said in the past, I don't care for crime dramas. But I tried this one because I like Bradley Whitford and Colin Hanks, and because of the concept. I was skeptical. I thought I'd hate Stark's over-the-top character, and watching bumblers always makes me too embarrassed for them. Not what I want in my entertainment. But this show was hilarious. The finale? "Don't Tase Me, Bro"? Comic genius. Whitford is amazing, his performance is so thorough. This one is definitely staying on my list for fall.

Covert Affairs
Okay, it's official. I can no longer say I don't like crime dramas! LOL I love this show. I love Piper Perabo, I love Auggie...actually, my husband said something about new crush, and I said no, I've loved Christopher Gorham since Jake 2.0, and he said old crush, then, but it was never a crush, really. After a few more episodes, I fully admit to a crush, but it's totally on Auggie, not the actor. I admire the actor for his performance (his deliberate actions, his need for tactility, his sometimes indirect gaze) but my crush is on the compassionate, smart, charming, total playah of a character. :) I also like Annie, and that even though she was totally manipulated into becoming a CIA agent, she's a damned good one. She avoids being a Mary Sue by making mistakes and overestimating herself (and losing about every hand-to-hand situation she's in), but she is also always determined to make it right.

I'm also still enjoying Eureka (the change-up is rife with conflict, though often uncomfortable), White Collar (I love that Mozzie's role is so much bigger), and Royal Pains (could really do without the other doctor, though).

So, where do you stand on these or any other summer TV?

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Bats, Dragons, and Naked Men

Late last night, I was on the phone with my cover artist for Soul of the Dragon (this is a cool cover, she captured Cyrgyn darned near perfectly) when Number One freaked out that there was something in the living room. "It's your shadow!" I tried to tell her, just as a winged creature zoomed into the dining room, then back into the living room, down the hall, and back again.

Now, I love bats. They don't scare me. But when they're panicking in a confined space and zipping down over your head, you tend to duck. And maybe cry out. A little. The kids were screaming and laughing, I was yelling and laughing, the poor thing kept circling the living room and stopping for half a second ABOVE the open front door instead of going through it. J finally managed to capture it in the Tupperware he'd brought downstairs the night before, after waking me at 12:39 a.m., to help him catch the thing in the ceiling. (I called him delusional and went back to bed--not that there wasn't something in the ceiling, because there most definitely was, but because there was no way we'd catch it. I'm pretty sure it was the bat.)

So that's the bat and the dragon. The naked guy is this:

I'm excited to say I have a new story coming out the week of September 26 from Amber Quill Press. Afterlife will be available in several e-book formats. Here's the blurb:

When adrenaline junkie Chloe Franklin’s chute fails, she’s sent directly to the afterlife. She didn’t know what she expected, but processing by committee wasn’t it. They tell her that she had the rare luck to find true love in life not once, but three times. Now she must decide which one she wants to be with forever. Given one day with each man, she rediscovers what each one means to her as they take each other to heights of ecstasy they’d barely known in their first go-round. At the end of the three days, she will be forced to set her eternity…and choose only one.

I think that's my favorite cover ever. :)

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Sunday Stuff

"Farther" and "Further" are both acceptable to use to denote physical distance. Some editors prefer "farther," and sometimes it's house style. But I HATE that word and will always, always use "further" unless forced to change it. Which I will do without argument, but then never read my own work again. :)
I started reading a book on Friday that got a lot of attention recently, including bestseller status and critical acclaim. It had an interesting premise, so I picked it up, despite it being something that was way outside my usual interests. *sigh* I should have ignored all that other stuff. I got one page into the book and was bored out of my mind. The dialogue was mundane and stale and I had no sense of the people saying it, except that they both seemed like twits.

Luckily, the book I read after that was the extreme opposite, and I finished it the same day, which hasn't happened in a really long time.
I finally caved, and I'm on Twitter. The main reason is because Brenda Novak is having a Cyber Launch Party on Twitter for her new release, and will be giving away great stuff, including iPads. I considered not mentioning who was giving the event, to avoid beefing up the competition, but that would just be wrong. So good luck! :)

Setting up a Twitter account was pretty gratifying. I followed a few people/groups, and some immediately followed back and mentioned my new account, one even saying "Hey, everybody, Natalie's here! @NJDamschroder (Finally)." I love the "Finally," as if they've been waiting for me. LOL I also got followed by some people I don't know, which was flattering.

Still, I doubt I'll use it much. It will languish for long periods of time, like Facebook does, in part because my cell phone? Is just a cell phone. And probably always will be. Also, I rarely have interesting things to say.
So that was one thing I did this weekend. Others include such boring stuff as:
  • Shopping for work shirts suitable for embroidering
  • Shopping for household stuff like box spring sheets*
  • Trying on shoes I didn't buy**
  • Grocery shopping
  • Cleaning the house
  • Moving furniture out of the living room
  • Reading through Soul of the Dragon to ready for publication***

*BG is our big fabric clawer. (Maya prefers gouging wood, and Frisbee enjoys picking at the screens in the front window.) BG destroyed Number One's old box spring, so I told the girls we were getting bed skirts to protect the new mattresses. The protests hurt my ears. So I decided to get cheap sheets to put over them instead. Turns out I could get an entire sheet set for $5–10 less than a bed skirt, anyway.

**After four hours of non-stop running, my feet and legs are killing me. I've tried three different pairs of my better shoes. One pair is too battered, and my feet were overall okay but the toes were tender afterward, because my feet slide in them too much. One looks best with capris, but the edges of the leather chafe my feet too much, and the unbroken leather makes them sweat, which doesn't help. One pair is the most comfortable, but even with a cushioned insole, isn't giving enough support, so I hobble out of work at the end of the morning.

I tried a few things on yesterday. The problem is that I have weird feet. They measure about a 6.5 EEE (in good shoe measurements) but I really wear a 9.5 or 10 D (wide). Not many shoes are made wide, so I end up getting them longer than I need, and they're still too snug. The most promising pair of shoes I tried on were Keds that had decent support and cushioning but looked like giant, glowing boats on my feet. I don't know if I can walk around the office like that. I'll blind patients when they lie down for lumbar stim.

***I don't think I've mentioned this yet, but I've decided to give Kindle and Smashwords a try—as an author, that is—and self-publish my first paranormal romantic adventure, Soul of the Dragon. It never found a home with a traditional publisher for various reasons, and I still love the story. I've been reading through it (editing as necessary), and it holds up, despite how long its been since I wrote it. It was the first book of my heart, and as such, deserves to see if it can find an audience. So stay tuned for more as I head toward publication!