Saturday, December 31, 2011

My iPod is Ruining My Life

I know. I've been complaining for six months (exactly) about my old iPod (Remington) being stolen, and how awful it is to have to listen to the radio. My long-suffering husband is now reunited with the iPod Classic he let me use for months, and I have a fantastic new iPod Touch.

It's too fantastic.

I can't put the damned thing down! The first night, I just kept checking Twitter. Then Facebook. Then mail. Then playing Angry Birds. When I forced myself away from Angry Birds, I had to do one more check of e-mail. Then Twitter. Then Facebook. Then Twitter again. Okay, maybe I'd play more Angry Birds.

The novelty has not worn off a bit, but it's dulled enough that I'm not turning off the light at 2:00 a.m. Of course, I'm now working until 1:00 a.m. because any time I have a few seconds for a break, I start playing a game (or checking Twitter, etc.). The trek to bed, always slow because I'm a night owl and hate to go to bed, is longer and slower now.

I get an NFL newsletter and check for news on the Patriots app. I add items to my reminders, check the weather, and surf the Internet, which is a challenge, let me tell you, with those tiny links. (I know I can zoom in, it's just more fun to be challenged!)

I work on a computer most of the day, so eyestrain is already a problem. It's reached epic proportions, and our electric bill is going to be huge this month, between my constant recharging of the iPod and my husband's of his own new toy. My only complaint is that it's more complicated to use it for its primary purpose. When I'm doing dishes or laundry or cooking or cleaning and the kids need me, I can't just hit pause. I have to hit home, swipe it unlocked, wait several seconds because for some reason there's a delay when I'm listening to something, then hit pause. Small complaint, though.

My Kindle and the stack of paperbacks on my shelf have been a bit neglected. I've actually been trying to carve through the print books, but a lot of them are ones that were given to me that I wasn't sure I'd like. I've added nearly half a dozen to my "did not finish" list. Not because they were bad, they just weren't my thing. I'm trying really hard to keep going with the one I'm reading now, because it's well written and interesting, if some of the details are off and the characters aren't the type I'd naturally gravitate toward.

Anyway, I have to break this new addiction toute suite, because the "lull" of the holidays is almost over and I won't be able to justify so much leisure time anymore. (My brain is whispering that TV will still be on hellatus and I'll have time to play, but I can't extend the habit. I'm standing firm!)

Speaking of TV, I'm kind of excited. We're getting a new DVR unit. The one we have has been eating chunks of shows. Last season it ate stuff that had been on it for a while, so I was unable to rewatch Supernatural and had to buy some episodes of Doctor Who that I had let collect for a reason I don't remember. The current unit was refurbished in 2007. It's so old they don't want it back. I'm looking forward to seeing if it has any new features.

So tell me. Am I alone in my new addiction? Anyone else stuck on the pretty and the cool and finding it difficult to get back to routine?

Monday, December 26, 2011

Birthday and Christmas Highlights

I've been meaning to post ever since Friday, but I've been held hostage. By, yes, Angry Birds.

My big birthday gift was an iPod Touch to replace the iPod that was stolen in NY in June and so my husband could have his iPod back. I love the damned thing so much. I keep going back and forth between e-mail and Twitter and Facebook and the Patriots app and Angry Birds. I spent much of Christmas day troubleshooting my in-laws wireless network so we could all connect to it. (And much of the rest of it getting my father-in-law started with the Kindle he didn't want. He likes it, though!)

I did go get adjusted on Friday, because my back was worse when I woke up. It steadily got better until yesterday, and the way I was sitting or the jumping around during Catchphrase. I was teamed with Number Two and my nephew, both of whom preferred the Sports category, and my MIL, who excelled at the Entertainment stuff. We kicked butt in the number of words/phrases we guessed, but the other team (my husband, his sister, his father, and Number One) would drag out their clues/guesses so long that inevitably, we got the buzzer just before it buzzed and never had time to do one more. It was raucous fun.

My big present for Christmas was a new widescreen monitor. I f'd up my computer so I haven't loaded the Windows 7 I bought today, but I can't wait to do that so I can take full advantage of all the wide goodness.

Watched Doctor Who last night, and it was a decent enough Christmas special. It served mainly to make me long for the series to come back already. I'm tempted to go back and rewatch it all, because I have the Netflix app. :)

Some other highlights from Christmas:

Number One got a guitar, and she has barely stopped playing. She's teaching herself "Chasing Cars" by Snow Patrol and her fingers are purple. She also loves her gift from her sister, which is a soccer ball signed by Abby Wombach. It was an item in a silent auction at her school, and she didn't even think twice, just instantly bid $100 and chewed her nails the rest of the night hoping no one would outbid her.

The Patriots won on Christmas Eve. That was good, especially when they were down 17-0 at halftime. Wes Welker is on Twitter now, and yes, that's a major reason I couldn't put the iPod down on my birthday.

Number One also put together a special present for us all. We had to open her gift from us last. Each of us got a piece of a puzzle, that put together looked like this:

I bet no one else got this gift in 2011! :)

So what was your best gift or best part of the holiday this year?

Thursday, December 22, 2011

I Would Take a Breath if it Didn't Hurt So Much

I don't know if I slept funny, or if it's from all the cleaning and hauling and everything, but my back is killing me.

Luckily, I work for a chiropractor.

Unluckily, I can't get adjusted until Tuesday, and that will be iffy. We're closed on Thursdays, tomorrow I'm off because it's my birthday, then the weekend, we're closed for the holiday on Monday, so Tuesday will be the busiest Tuesday EVAR, and I don't like to ask for an adjustment when the docs are that busy. So it will just have to resolve itself.

Anyway. I have cleaned the entire upstairs (except the bedrooms). I've done the dishes and wrapped all of my husband's gifts. All the other family gifts are done, too, so it's just the kids' to wrap on Saturday night.

BG has claimed a new favorite spot:

She's there all. the. time. She might choose a different present from time to time, but man, does she glare when we laugh at her.

I don't have any client work pending today. I have to eat breakfast (I guess it's lunch now), shower, and go to the grocery store so I can spend $50 and get 30 cents off per gallon of gasoline. Then I can tackle some of the things that have been on my "nonurgent" to-do list. You know, the things you REALLY need to do but always get shuffled. They include:

1. Updating my website
2. Designing a new website
3. Revising Entanglement
4. Sending Keri the updates for my sidebar book covers at Everybody Needs a Little Romance.
5. Taking the Scrivener tutorial so I can actually start using it.
6. Transferring the little bit of Sunroper I've written to Scrivener and work on that book.
7. Researching and planning my contest strategy
8. Writing a novella in the Goddesses Rising series
9. Coming up with a novella idea so I can write it!

As you can see, I still have plenty to do. But no in-my-face deadlines for the next week, so I'm taking a breath.


Thursday, December 15, 2011

Guest Blogger Megan Hart with FREE copy of ALL FALL DOWN

A lot of people have been asking me why I chose to write about a cult. The short answer is, because they’re scary. The longer answer is, I didn’t write a book about a cult, I wrote a book about a girl who was raised in a cult and is forced to join “normal” society after her mother forces her out. With no place to go, Sunshine takes her three kids to live with the biological father she never knew existed and his wife Liesel, who thinks this ready-made family might be the answer to all her prayers.

I wrote a book about a family trying to learn how to survive and how to make a life together when everything they all ever knew has been turned upside down. I wrote about losing everything you’ve ever believed is true and trying to find a way to move forward instead of being held back.

The cult is just part of the background. A fascinating, scary part, yes. But I also tried to show just why someone would not only want to join a cult, but how someone might genuinely feel like life in the cult is better and more normal than the type of life general society agrees is right.

Sunshine was sort of difficult for me to write, because I’m not sure why people would ever let themselves be brainwashed into following a leader, no matter how charismatic, whose teachings bring them harm. Yet as I researched cults, I discovered something disturbing...I began to understand how something so different, so off-beat, could become appealing and eventually, overwhelming.

I hope readers of ALL FALL DOWN enjoy the story and maybe discover within themselves how it feels to find out that everything you thought you knew about yourself can be turned upside down.

Want a copy of All Fall Down for your very own? Comment here about a time you changed your mind about something you thought you knew. Or just comment, I’m easy that way.
Learn more about Megan here:

Click for Excerpt

In the midst of a chaotic midnight assembly, Sunshine is forced out into the darkness. Holding a scrap of paper scrawled with a stranger’s name and address, Sunny grasps the hands of her three small children and begins her escape.

Liesel Albright has dreamed of starting a family. She never bargained on inheriting one already in progress…or one so deeply damaged. When nineteen-year-old Sunshine appears on the Albright’s doorstep claiming Liesel’s husband Chris is her father, all they can think to offer is temporary shelter. The next day, they’re stunned by the news that the Family of Superior Bliss, led by a charismatic zealot, has committed mass suicide. Sunny and her children haven’t just left the compound–they’ve been left behind.

Now, instead of a baby of her own, Liesel must play mother to the four survivors while Chris retreats into guilt and denial. For Sunny, however, a lifetime of teachings is not easily unlearned. No matter how hard she tries to forget, an ominous catechism echoes in her mind, urging her to finish what the Family started.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Magnificent Megan

Tomorrow I'm going to host guest blogger Megan Hart about her newest book, All Fall Down, and writing about people connected to a cult. Don't miss it!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Juncos, Middle-Aged Movie Morons, and Imputed Value at Starbucks

The other day, I heard something rustling outside my window. I couldn't see much, since I have books on my windowsill, but it reminded me that bird migration will be coming soon, and how much I love seeing the juncos in January, especially if they're on snow. Then I stood up, and the bird rooting at the base of my rose bush? A junco.

WTF? I so don't want to know what that means.

The girls and I went to see New Year's Eve Friday night. It was okay. Fun, and funny, with some good kissing and some good cameos and a couple of surprise connections. Not as good as Valentine's Day, which I now want to watch again. The clips (including outtakes) over the end credits were awesome and made the whole thing worth it.

But I gotta tell you, I don't think I've been near such obnoxious people at a movie since Twilight. When we sat down, one of the middle-aged women behind us said, "Oh, I forgot the wine." I knew we were in for it then. This group talked—LOUDLY—over all the previews. At the end of the Hilfiger commercial, the guy said "Happy Holidays from the Hilfigers." One of the women said "Say Merry Christmas, please." Why? Because only YOUR holiday is the only important one? Because you don't consider New Year's a holiday?

That's what's really wrong with the world, you know? That people are being polite and wishing you well. Jerks.

Anyway, when these women kept talking once the movie started, and STILL were talking when the voiceover began, I turned around and opened my mouth to say "Seriously? You're going to act like you're in your living room for the whole movie?" But Number One went "SHHH!" before I could. And they did. There was just the one who had a really loud laugh, but it's not like she can help that.

I was just reading this post about e-book pricing. It talks about imputed value, and uses the example of Starbucks, saying people pay six bucks for coffee because they expect that coffee to be good, and assume everyone else thinks it's good, so they buy it and drink it even if they don't like it.

I don't think that gives people enough credit. I mean, how many people really pay six bucks for coffee they don't like? I don't like coffee at all, but I love Starbucks' mochas (which only costs four bucks, actually). I make some at home, but they're a pain and I don't have time most days. I used to get them at a coffeehouse near my old job, and they were fantastic. When I left there, I got them at Sheetz, but then I started driving past Starbucks (with a drive-thru!) and suddenly, the Sheetz ones tasted horrendous. So I stopped getting them, even though they cost less and I can get one free after I buy 10.

My brother and his wife don't like Starbucks. They're Dunkin' Donuts aficionados. I tried DD's, and really didn't like it. Tried McDonald's, too, because it's a lot less expensive. Gross! (Though their peppermint hot cocoa is really good. Might get one on the way to work tomorrow...)

My point is that we all have our own tastes. Maybe way back in the beginning Starbucks succeeded on imputed value, but I really don't think it would have grown the way it did without having actual value, too. Which, to be fair, is the point the poster linked above eventually got to, with regard to e-book pricing.

I all comes down to my motto up there at the top of this blog. "Read what you want, watch what you want, and live a life that makes you happy." If an expensive cup of coffee tastes good, drink it without guilt or defensiveness.

And go buy some e-books. :)

Thursday, December 08, 2011

You're Done Working. No, Seriously. Shut it Down.

I currently have a love-hate relationship with Thursdays. The chiropractor where I work is closed on Thursday, so it's my day "off." Which means most weeks—like today—I sleep in, come downstairs about 8:00 still in my jammies because I've already wasted an hour and a half, and sit at my desk working until my eyes are so strained I can't see the words on the monitor. That's when I take a lunch break, kind of panicking because it's already 1:00 and I'm only halfway through my to-do list. Yesterday's to-do list. After lunch, I work until the kids come home, do laundry and dishes while they ignore my presence, then go back to work until I'm forced to stop.

Tonight it was Maya doing the forcing. So I left 8 things undone (luckily, they weren't "important" things) and shooed her away long enough to write this post. Now, since my husband is watching the Cleveland Browns play some form of professional football (probably the bad form), I'm going upstairs to watch Tuesday's episode of Covert Affairs. It looks Auggie-centric. *sigh* Love Auggie.

Come on, Maya. My lap is all yours.

Monday, December 05, 2011

Finally Facebook Official

Thanks to a kick in the pants from a Harlequin-offered webinar, I've finally started an official author page on Facebook. Now I should look all professional-like, and not amateurish for just having a basic profile. Feel free to go like me!

Now I have to update my website (which really needs a full overhaul) and this blog, which I should integrate into the actual website. I just have to find—say it with me now—TIME.

The blog tour for Under the Moon continues. The paperback actually releases tomorrow! Yay!

Tomorrow I'm also starting a giveaway through Goodreads, with TWO copies of Under the Moon in paperback. Check it out!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Under the Moon by Natalie J. Damschroder

Under the Moon

by Natalie J. Damschroder

Giveaway ends December 23, 2011.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win

Anyway, back to the blog tour! Yesterday I had an interview at Books Books the Magical Fruit (hee!). A copy of Under the Moon is being given away there, too! You have until 12/11 to enter.

Today I was interviewed at Workaday Reads, and tomorrow you can find me at Laura Kaye's blog. I have ANOTHER interview on Thursday at Manga Maniac Cafe. You guys are going to know ALL about me by the time this is over! The cool thing is that there's little overlap in the questions, except those that pertain to the details of the book.

On Thursday I'm also at Attacking the Page, this time with a guest post about my road to romantic adventure, and featuring my other fall release, Behind the Scenes.

I can't believe that by the end of the week, it will be nearly halfway through December. Fphoy! And no, I'm not ready for Christmas. We didn't get the tree yet, or start shopping, or do any decorating. It still feels too early!

I can't finish up this post without mentioning last week's episode of Supernatural. I can't believe I'm saying this... I never thought I could be okay with Bobby dying. (Not that we know what his final status is. Gotta have that midseason cliffhanger, after all.) But the episode was so beautifully done, and so well acted all around, that I was strangely satisfied at the end. No negative feelings from me, no matter what's about to happen.

Okay, I am freaking STARVING, so I'm off to make some dinner before How I Met Your Mother starts. Gotta go find out if Robin has any clue which guy is responsible for her pregnancy. :)

Friday, December 02, 2011

Yay, December!

Can I tell you how happy I am that it's December?

There's no real reason. Well, okay, there is. But even if there wasn't, December would still be one of my favorite months, along with May and October. (My least favorites are March and November, with April tagging along with them and February maybe joining the group periodically.) I just like those months, the way you like a certain pillow or tree or painting.

Of course, I'm predisposed to December because it holds my birthday as well as Christmas. I don't care if I get any presents, I just love not having to do any chores on my birthday. I get to take the day off from work this year, and I'll sleep in, get a nice breakfast made for me, watch some TV and read and maybe go to a movie and out to dinner. It's always awesome, even the year my husband was sick in bed all day and I was recovering from a mega-migraine from the day before. I just sat in a chair and read all day, napping a little in the late afternoon.

I also love December because I feel like big things are going to happen. Sometimes they do, like a book contract or babies being born. Sometimes big things that aren't good happen, like my mother's terminal cancer diagnosis or a rejection from a publisher I was hopeful about. But it's not really about what will or will not happen, it's about the anticipation of it.

That's what I'm going to focus on. :)