Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Winners, Whining, and Whiplash

Cathy Pegau is generously awarding copies of Rulebreaker to both Misty and Jen B. Congratulations! She'll be in touch to make sure you get your prize.

This week has been so up and down. Monday started off fine, with the kids off to the first day of school. But then...
  • You know how my iPod got stolen and I replaced the battery in my old iPod Photo? Yeah, well, it died. So I burned a few podcasts to CD. That wouldn't last long, as I don't have that many CDs and they're only CD-Rs, but it would gave me a few days of listening during my commute. Right?

  • Wrong. The CD player in my car stopped working. Right about the time...
  • That I hit the road closure on the main road between the town where I live and the town where I work. I was half an hour late looking for a way around, because they didn't set up any detour signs.

  • Then my eyes went wonky. I had to keep blinking at my monitor at work to shift my contacts, but they kept sliding out of focus.

  • My work plan failed. Interruptions, problems, stuff I couldn't finish because I had to chase down people to ask questions, and help out in other departments because things got so busy.
Between working late, running the kids to and from the doctor (around the road closure) and soccer practice, followed by client work that had to be done, I was wiped out and couldn't write.  

Tuesday was so much better by comparison. First, the CDs worked in my car! We had a decent detour in the morning, and the road was open by evening. Work was much smoother and productive. I had to work the morning shift and the evening shift, so in between I worked on Heavy Metal on my laptop. And Tuesdays are slow, so I got client editing done before I left.

But then I got home, with more soccer-practice-running-around and kids needing me for homework and dinner-making. Then I had half a dozen projects to edit, but lost e-mail access so I couldn't do those until today. Today was a longer day at work than it was supposed to be (due to training a new person), MORE chauffeuring, and more dinner-making. (Why do we have to eat, huh?)

So here I am, nearly 9:00 p.m., with hours of client work ahead of me. I must work on both Heavy Metal and TBWNN tonight, too.

I'm thinking all-nighter.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Random Thoughts on Bees, Age, and Clear Skies

  • Age does not automatically make someone worth listening to. Experience can bring wisdom, but it can also reinforce prejudice and rigid thinking. I respect everyone's right to an opinion, but being 94 doesn't turn those opinions to gold.
  • The horror of nature's destructive forces can't be overstated. But the flip side of a hurricane is incredible clarity and freshness. I'm drunk on the breeze coming through my window.
  • We have a colony of bumble bees nesting in some old rodent holes in our backyard. If the rains didn't drown them out last night, we'll have to get them taken care of, because apparently—and contrary to what I was told all my life—they not only sting, they can be nasty about it. But wow, are they stupid! We watched them coming and going for a few minutes Saturday, and they had a really hard time finding the holes. They kept landing and trying to burrow into solid ground.
  • Google "stupid ground bees," and guess what comes up? Government stuff! :)
  • Last night's episode of Doctor Who was brilliant. I find myself longing to be in the middle of a past season so I can marathon new episodes again. This waiting stuff sucks. But the mind-twisty writing, the acting, the depth of emotion, and the places this storyline can go...delicious.
    • Writing is going very well today, so I shall get right back to it. Fill my comments with your random thoughts!

    Friday, August 26, 2011

    Still Time to Enter!

    Can I just say this has been a super-long week?

    Evidence: I told myself I'd worked two whole weeks since I returned from vacation, so I must have gotten adjusted (I work at a chiropractor). In reality, I've been home 5 days. And I hadn't gotten adjusted.

    Evidence: I totally stepped all over yesterday's guest. I was actually proud of posting, until I realized about two hours later that it was the same freakin' day. Two days hadn't passed since I welcomed Cathy Pegau, author of Rulebreaker!

    So please, scroll down or click the link and comment on Cathy's post to be able to win a copy of her very cool book!

    Thursday, August 25, 2011

    I Swear, I'm Atrophying

    I've been working so hard, yet sitting all week. In my car an hour or two a day. At my work desk for 7 or 8 hours, many of them nonstop. Then, after a brief burst of running around that burns no calories at all, several more hours at my desk in my home office.

    If I'm lucky, I lie on a couch or bed for 42 minutes and 37 seconds to watch a TV show with my husband. That happened once this week, I think.

    My arms and shoulders ache because their range of motion is about 30 degrees. My hips and legs ache from the pressure of so much sitting. The only thing that doesn't hurt are my feet, except when—

    Oh, yeah. I did have 8 hours of frantic activity when I worked therapy on Monday and Wednesday mornings. So my feet hurt then. I guess the aching is more intermittent than it seems.

    The phone is ringing, yet it's not here on my desk where it's supposed to be. So I'm not answering it. That'll teach 'em.

    I did manage to get a little exercise yesterday. Twenty minutes of walking to and from the City Islanders stadium, with 2 hours of sitting on bleachers in the middle. We went to watch a "friendly" match against our affiliate MLS team, The Philadelphia Union. After a dirty second half and a bench-clearing shoving incident, they called the game with no stoppage time.

    There was a very cool element to the game. Since the game was a special, non-league-season game, they had general admission, so the fans were all mixed up, with season ticket holders together with the unwashed masses. One of the defensive captains, Dustin Bixler, has been out most of the season due to a knee injury and surgical repair, and he ended up right next to me!

    It was pretty funny. This woman had been holding space in our area for, like, 10 people. Right before kickoff, they finally showed up. This guy in a team jersey starts to step into our row. I glance at him, and he looks familiar. (I just now realized why it took me a few seconds to recognize him—he was clean-shaven!) I glance down at his...knee, and see a brace. My eyes shoot back up. OMG, it's Bixler! One of our favorite players!

    I look at Number Two, who's watching the field, not the stands. When I make Significant Eyes at Number One, however, she's making Significant Eyes back at me. He passes us and stands on the bench next to me. I lean and tell Number Two who it is. She looks up and widens her expression into Significant Eyes, then covers her mouth to hide her excited giggle. (She's so going to hate me for saying she giggled.)

    A little while later, a fan asks us to pass a beer to Captain Bixler. Number One hands it over to me, and I hand it up. Later, she tells me the whole time she was going, "I'mHoldingHisBeer I'mHoldingHisBeer I'mHoldingHisBeer."

    It was fun being near Bixler and his insider friends. They were full of affectionate snark directed at their teammates. My favorite was "Where are you going, Schofield, at 300 miles an hour."

    The guys all call each other by nicknames, and the fans have picked up on those. So we call them Schoey (Schofield), Pellie (Pelletier), Callie (Calvano), etc. When one of the players on the field called Hotchkin "Hotchie," I told Number Two I was going to ask Bixler if they call him Bixie. She forbade me, though if he'd ever sat down and brought his ear within six feet of my mouth, I'd have done it.

    It's funny, the giddiness of being near a local celebrity. This is a very minor league team, in a very minor city, and it's not like we don't have access to the players if we want it. They hang out on the field after every game to sign autographs, and go to a local pub to mingle with fans afterward. They even coach kids' soccer. But it still added a dimension to the experience that we enjoyed.

    Okay, time to get back to work. Yes, sitting at my desk. Maybe tomorrow I'll find time to exercise...

    Support Your Local Writer (Guest Post with Giveaway!)

    Please welcome debut author Cathy Pegau, "all the way" from Alaska! (I know where she is isn't relevant, but I'm dying to visit Alaska some day, so I'm jealous that's where she lives. :) )

    I remember when I told my husband I was writing a novel. Our first child was about two years old. We were both working, doing well for a young(ish) couple. His response: Sounds great. (That is, by the way, rousing enthusiasm from my laid-back spouse.) He’d ask how it was going from time to time, and I discussed plotting or character issues now and again, but generally he left me alone to do my thing.

    Throughout the past dozen or so years, as I told friends and family what I was doing, I received responses from “Oh, that’s nice” and a change of subject to “Oh, cool! What’s the story about? When can I buy it?” All the important people in my life said the thing that kept me going even when the rejection letters came in bunches or the story was giving me fits. They all said, in one way or another, we’re proud of you, and if you’re happy doing this, we’re happy for you.

    My best friend, Sharron, who had sold her first novel, also became my first critique partner, offering advice and allowing me to learn from her experience. My husband took over in the evening with the kids while I went to a nearby café for a few hours or met with my weekly writers’ critique group. My in-laws watched the kids when I traveled to my first RWA National Conference. My critique group expanded. I met a writer through a loop who offered to read pages then invited me into her small critique group. The group eventually disbanded, but that writer became a friend who still is one of the first to read my stuff. (Hi, Jody!)

    And through the years, both writers and non-writers in my life all said the same thing: We’re happy if you’re happy. They listened when I lamented about yet another rejection. They rejoiced when I did well in a contest or got a request. Not all of them read the sort of fiction I wrote—fantasy with some romance, for the most part—but they shared my enthusiasm.

    When I started to write Rulebreaker, however, I worried how my friends and family would take it. This was a story unlike any other I’d written, a coupling that many wouldn’t expect from me. My critique partners got to read it first, of course. I think they were a little surprised, but that didn’t deter them from tearing into the plot and telling me my characterization was off. My husband read the synopsis (I’d learned long ago that having him critique the manuscript was not the way to keep our marriage healthy :). He said nothing of the relationship but suggested killing off one of the secondary characters (See? That’s why he’s not an early reader for me).

    I admit I skirted around the f/f aspect of the novel for a long time, getting the feel for how certain people in my life might react. I shouldn’t have worried so much. They may have been surprised at the content in Rulebreaker, but they were no less enthusiastic. And when I announced the sale to Carina Press, they cheered.

    Writing is an individual endeavor, a personal journey of getting thought onto page, but we need a support system. People to tell us our efforts are worthwhile, to pat us on the back when things go well or pat us on the hand when we feel like throwing it all in the trash. Someone who’ll take the kids for the afternoon so we can finish a scene or a chapter. Someone to kick us in the pants and tell us to stop acting like a diva and just write. I can’t thank my friends, family and critique partners enough for that. You have made this potentially lonely journey into a group effort, and for that I will always be grateful.

    Thanks for having me over, Natalie. I certainly appreciate all of YOUR support : )

    Tell me about your support system, or how you’ve supported writers. Leave a comment and I’ll pick a random winner of a copy of Rulebreaker sometime Monday August 29.

    About Rulebreaker
    Liv Braxton's Felon Rule #1: Don't get emotionally involved.

    Smash-and-grab thieving doesn't lend itself to getting chummy with the victims, and Liv hasn't met anyone on the mining colony of Nevarro worth knowing, anyway. So it's easy to follow her Rules.

    Until her ex, Tonio, shows up with an invitation to join him on the job of a lifetime.

    Until Zia Talbot, the woman she's supposed to deceive, turns Liv's expectations upside down in a way no woman ever has.

    Until corporate secrets turn deadly.

    But to make things work with Zia, Liv has to do more than break her Rules, and the stakes are higher than just a broken heart…

    Rulebreaker is available at Carina Press, Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other ebook sellers.

    Visit Cathy at her blog, her website, on Facebook or on Twitter.

    Wednesday, August 24, 2011

    Join Me Tomorrow with Guest Blogger Cathy Pegau!

    Tomorrow my friend and debut author Cathy Pegau will be here talking about...well, I don't know yet, but something really good, because that's how she is.

    In the meantime, check out her new release, Rulebreaker!

    Sunday, August 21, 2011

    The Back-from-Vacation Slam

    I don't need to explain it to you, right? Most of you have taken a week-long vacation (mine was in Williamsburg last week, so I had a good excuse for the blog silence—for once :) ) and come back to have all of the tension you've relaxed away hit you harder than ever. If you're lucky, it's only ten-fold. If not, it's a hundred.

    I've been cranked up to a thousand.

    The good news: I finished line edits on Under the Moon and sent those to my editor, and submitted a requested manuscript elsewhere. I have a cover for Behind the Scenes, and should soon get the final JPGs so I can post it.

    The challenge: Juggling writing one manuscript and revising another with working extra hours and keeping up with client work. While handling soccer practices, the start of school in a week, and half a dozen appointments for the kids and myself. Head down, keep going until everything is done, on time. Ready set go.

    But you're not here to listen to me whine about good things! Deadlines and client work and extra hours are good things! They sure beat rejections and unemployment, for pete's sake.

    Unfortunately, deadlines and extra hours leave me precious little to talk about here. *thinks*

    Okay, some of the usual fallbacks:

    We saw Captain America on vacation. I was so happy the timing worked out so I didn't have to go to the Glee movie with the kids. I like Glee, but I don't need Gleemersion. The kids liked it more than they expected.

    I loved Captain America. Well, I found the overly skinny CGI distracting. Ditto with the overly buff CGI. Once they padded Chris up instead of sticking his head on another body, it all worked a lot better. But other than that, I liked the story a lot, and loved Howard Stark and the Red Skull. The ending wasn't what you'd expect or even want if the movie were stand alone, but knowing it's all setup for The Avengers made it okay.

    And hey, if you haven't seen it yet, stay after the credits. We were the only ones in the theater who did. I was all, "seriously?" They were obviously not even semi-dedicated fans. All these movies have a quick scene at the end. Maybe they didn't like those. Maybe they thought finding Thor's hammer at the end of Iron Man 2 was lame, or that Loki being alive at the end of Thor wasn't worth the wait. But this one was so worth it. They had a trailer for The Avengers, and OhMyGod, I don't know if I can actually handle watching that. All those superheroes in one room? Tony Stark and Thor and Captain America? *shiver*

    Many of my summer shows are done already. I miss Auggie. Like, a lot. But I'm loving Haven, even though, really, all of my enjoyment is wrapped up in the anticipation of something happening between Nathan and Audrey. I just want to see that look on his face when she touches him. And she's so oblivious! It's not just that, of course, the mystery is intriguing, and the Troubles they come up with are clever. This show will hold me into the fall. Especially since I won't have any time for TV!

    I can't say I'm liking Torchwood as much as I have in the past. There's way too little emphasis on Torchwood itself, and too much on the horrors of no one dying. I'm two episodes behind, so I don't know if that changes. I hope so. That's a lot of money for a show we don't like.

    So that's pretty much all I've got! What about you? Comments on these things, or other entertainment that's been filling your summer? How was your vacation?

    Thursday, August 11, 2011

    Want to Try Natalie J. Damschroder Risk Free?

    Guess what, everyone?

    I've sold another romantic adventure to Carina Press!

    So my release schedule looks like this:

    October 31, 2011
    Behind the Scenes, romantic adventure, Carina Press (digital)

    November 1, 2011
    Under the Moon , paranormal romance, Entangled Press (digital and print)

    Spring 2012
    Heavy Metal, sequel to Under the Moon (digital and print)

    New Book with a Not-Yet-Determined Title, romantic adventure (digital)

    Fall 2012
    Third book in Goddesses Rising trilogy, tentatively titled Sunroper

    I have become totally fed up with Yahoogroups, so I have a fancy new newsletter list now. I want to encourage people who are interested in VERY infrequent e-mails telling you about my books to sign up on the new list.


    I want you to have a chance to try my romantic adventure voice. (Even the Goddesses Rising trilogy is romantic adventure, it just happens to also be paranormal.)

    Starting September 18, 2011, I will give away a digital copy of my romantic adventures every week to a subscriber to my newsletter. There will be:

    TWO copies of Brianna's Navy SEAL 

    TWO copies of Cat's Claw 

    TWO copies of Fight or Flight 

    How do you get involved in this action? Go here:

    You only need to provide your e-mail address. First and last name are optional.

    But wait, there's more!

    It's not just a one-time thing. You'll have opportunities to join the Goddess Society (to celebrate Under the Moon) and the Film Crew (to celebrate Behind the Scenes). There will be swag, and more prizes, and exclusive content like short stories, and opportunities to discuss my books with each other.

    But I promise, I won't bombard you with posts. They'll still be occasional. So take just a few seconds to go to that link and subscribe! Feel free to pass it along to others, as well.


    Thursday, August 04, 2011

    Drive-By Posting—Spam, Supernatural, and Jason Manns

    I recently read in a blogging advice article to turn off the word verification, because spam isn't really that big of a problem, and it deters commenters. I didn't have a problem with spam, so I turned it off.

    And got bombarded with spam. YIKES, have I gotten a lot of spam. Luckily, Blogger has a fantastic spam filter. Every spam comment has ended up there, and no real comments have. So I'll leave it for now, though I don't think it matters much. Comments are rarer and rarer anywhere you go.

    Supernatural gets 23 episodes this season! That makes me extraordinarily happy. I am so ready for the show to be back. Still way over a month to go, which makes me pout. But the other TV I watch is all finale-ing, so I'll have some time to watch seasons 5 and 6 again before season 7 starts.

    In case you missed it, I recently admitted on Twitter and Facebook that I have become a Sam girl. I've always considered myself almost equally in love with Dean and Sam, but slightly tilted toward Dean. But in the last couple of seasons, as Sam's character has done so much, and Jared Padalecki has become close to Jensen Ackles' equal, I've slowly slid over to the other side.

    Please don't throw things at me.

    Jason Manns is finally coming back to the east coast this weekend, with a show at The Bitter End in New York on Tuesday night. I am so there! As much as I've missed Supernatural, I've missed Jason. I hope he sings for hours. (He won't. He's third in the lineup, and that usually means he gets shafted and can only sing a few songs. Still totally worth the 8-hour round trip and the three hours of sleep I'll get before working Wednesday.)

    That's all I have time for today. I am working hard on Heavy Metal, book 2 of Goddesses Rising, and eager to get back to it. Please post something random in the comments, to enhance the fun of the drive-by posting concept. :)

    Monday, August 01, 2011

    New Author Photos!

    Tell me which one you like best, and then I'll tell you my favorite!