Wednesday, December 31, 2008

2008 in Review

Since today is New Year's Eve, it seemed the best time to look back on this strange, wonderful, scary, frustrating, and rewarding year. I'd taken a blogging hiatus this time last year, mostly due to work stress and anxiety, so I don't have a list of goals to check. I'm sure, though, I started 2008 with the same goals I'd had in previous years: get an agent and keep writing the best stories I can.

Guess that worked out, huh? In May, I signed with a terrific agent. In August, we accepted a two-book deal. I also moved closer to home, put one of my cats to sleep, wrote my second contracted book, started two other WIP's that have stalled around a hundred pages, bought a website, lost an uncle, paid off three credit cards, and supported my parents while my dad had quadruple bypass surgery. Hence the long list of adjectives in the first sentence of this post--it's been quite a year.

I also commented to a friend that I've read more books since October than I had the entire preceding nine months of the year. I really don't know why that is, but I'm glad for the change. I feel fresher, a little more open-minded, as I feed my brain with other people's stories. My list of books read isn't terribly long, but here are my five favorite from the year:

5. Riding the Storm/Unleashing the Storm, by Sydney Croft. I don't know who the two halves of this writing duo are, but this series is super-cool. The ACRO world is fascinating, and I am just mesmerized by their supporting cast.

4. Dirty, by Megan Hart. I fell to pieces reading Hart's Broken last year. This one packed a similar emotional whallop, and was one of the few non-paranormal books I read this year.

3. Savor Me Slowly, by Gena Showalter. I almost put Gena on my list twice, for this one and for the Lords of the Underworld series. But something about SMS just hooked into me and didn't let go. Maybe it was the fact that it started with the hero in mid-torture and it brought out the hurt/comfort lover in me. But I've read several of Gena's books this year, and this one is definitely my favorite.

2. Halfway to the Grave/One Foot in the Grave, by Jeaniene Frost. Dark, sexy, and limit-pushing in some ways, I adore these books. And it doesn't hurt that Jeaniene herself is a very kind, generous author.

1. Storm Front, Jim Butcher. Great hero, amusing voice, very well-built world. It's the book I really wish I'd written. The next three Dresden books should be arriving from Amazon soon. I can't wait.

Monday, December 29, 2008

It's Been a Long Time...

...since I've read a book in one day. A really long time. As a kid, I used to read at least that many in the summer, usually sprawled on a giant swing at my grandparents' house. Reading and getting a tan--yeah, that was nice.

I wasn't so much about the tan today, since I was curled up in bed with a marathon of "Psych" playing in the background. I hadn't even intended to spend the day reading (::eyes the open and untouched WIP::). Just picked a book off my shelf to verify if was my next choice*, glanced at the first page...and kept going. Four hours and 2/3 of the book later, I surfaced from the words because I really had to pee.

What's the book?

One Foot in the Grave, by Jeaniene Frost. Fantastic book. I tend to latch onto supporting characters, and boy howdy, someone hand me Tate wrapped in a big red bow, and nothing else. Please? If you haven't read Jeaniene's Night Huntress series, go do it now. Seriously.

Book three, At Grave's End, released tomorrow. My timing is (abnormall) impeccable.

*I stayed up late to finish reading Dead Until Dark, by Charlaine Harris. Can't believe I haven't picked it up before. Awesome book (and again with the supporting-character-love, if I can't have Tate, I want Sam). Now I really can't wait for "True Blood" to come out on DVD. Or iTunes. Anything, so I can watch it!!!!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

The Worst Feeling in the World... being absolutely certain you have something, but being unable to find it.

Last night, I wrote out the last check in my checkbook. Not a problem, I had a box of a hundred more (I'd just ordered them back in July and rarely write more than four checks a month for various bills). I also knew I'd just seen them a week or two ago, so they should be easy to find.

Nuh uh.

I searched in every drawer and even in those plastic tub things under my bed. Twice! No dice. That box of checks is well-hidden. I'll probably find them in March. I'm not panicking, because I know they're in the house. And I suppose it's as good a reason as any to order new checks with my new mailing address.

Still! I hate not being to find something I know exists! Grrr....

Anywho, I'll be off to my grandparents' house in a few hours for Christmas Eve festivities. Since my roomie is going to out of state to see her family, I've got the house to myself tonight. I think this is the first Christmas Eve night I've ever NOT spent at my parents house. Just me and my cat.

Oh, and the fudge? Semi-sweet chocolate with orange extract. YUMMY!!!!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Top Ten Christmas Movies

Shopping is complete. Presents are wrapped. Cookies are mostly done. Still need to make fudge tomorrow. But all in all, I'm looking good (and feeling better, if I could just get rid of this daggone cough!).

One of the things I remember most about Christmas is decorating the tree with my parents and sister. My mom would string the lights. My sister and I would put on the ornaments. My dad would sit on the sofa and watch. In the background, we'd play a stream of Christmas specials - Charlie Brown Christmas, Mickey's Christmas Carol, Christmas on Sesame Street, etc... All of those old videos hold a special place in my heart.

I also try to watch my favorite Christmas movies around this time of year. Haven't gotten to many of them yet, but I thought I'd offer my top ten (and if anyone feels like sharing, please do).

1. The Ref
2. Scrooged
3. A Muppet's Christmas Carol
4. The Santa Clause
5. Home Alone
6. Mixed Nuts
7. The Family Stone
8. Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer
9. Trapped in Paradise
10. Gremlins

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Holiday Musings

Saturday came and went pretty darn fast. Technically, there are still five hours left, though, so not quite done. I spent late morning and early afternoon visiting my dad. Trying to offer a bit of relief from house-bound boredom. And lunch from my favorite local deli, Capriotti's. Their sandwiches are amazing--they use real chunks of turkey and beef and chicken, not deli slices. As Rachel Ray would say, "Yum-O."

On the drive home, I had holiday baking on my mind. Mostly because it's December 20th and I haven't done any, yet. In my defense, I've hosted both Thanksgiving dinner and a baby shower over the last three weeks, so I think I've done my fair share of cooking. I just love holiday baking. I love making cookies and cheesecake and candy and fudge. Especially fudge. There's this super-easy recipe on the side of marshmallow whip jars, and two of the ingredients are vanilla extract and chocolate chips--two things I love to tweak. I'll play around with extracts and chips to make fun new flavors. This year I have a bag of chocolate-raspberry twist chips that will become fudge.

At least my shopping is basically done. I need to pick up one more thing for mom/from dad, and still something for my grandmother. Wrap the last odds-n-ends, and then I'm done. Well, except for Christmas cards. I am always so late in sending those out. Always.

Oooh, the timer is beeping. Another batch of cream cheese cookies is ready for extraction!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

X-Men Origins: Wolverine Trailer Out

I suppose I could have saved my 200th blog post for something with a little more meaning and substance, but it's Hugh Jackman! And it's X-Men!

The trailer is out, and OMG, I am so excited to see this movie. May 1st cannot come soon enough.


SPOILERS for trailer content!

Duuuuuude, they've got Gambit! And Liev Schreiber as a young Sabretooth. And Deadpool! OMG!

And could I use any more exclamation points? Probably, yes. *g*

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Amazing (and humbling) Blurbage

Now that I've come down off the ceiling, I can share the two amazing blurbs I've received for THREE DAYS TO DEAD. For anyone curious about blurbs, take a peek at the cover of your nearest paperback. See those quotes adorning the cover, the ones from published authors, endorsing the book? That what I just got. *g*

The first is from bestselling author Gena Showalter (long time blog readers know I adore her books):

"Dark, dangerous and delectable. A fantastic debut impossible to put down!"

The second came from the lovely and talented Jackie Kessler (if you haven't read Cat and Muse, you are so missing out!):

“THREE DAYS TO DEAD is one of the best books I’ve read. Ever. Evy Stone is a heroine’s heroine, and I rooted for her from the moment I met her. Kelly Meding has written a phenomenal story, one that’s fast-paced, gritty, and utterly addictive. Brava! More! More! More!

I am so over the moon right now!

Monday, December 15, 2008

FF&F Member

I've mentioned the amazing livejournal community Fangs, Fur & Fey many times, and after joining as a Member last month, I finally posted my Intro. Come by and heckle me, if you haven't already. I'm really excited to be part of this fantastic community of writers (also a community of fantastic writers).

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Why Do Today -- Follow Up

Several follow-ups, actually.

Well, Dad was supposed to come home from the hospital today. Unfortunately, his heart went into a-fib. They got it back to normal and have him on a new drip. The doctors assured us it happens with heart patients. *sigh* We've got our fingers crossed for no more problems and getting him released tomorrow. His dog is just beside herself missing him.

I've also been thinking more about "The Dark Knight." Even before the phone call last week, watching it again on DVD just didn't feel as...awesome. The more I thought about it, the more I came to this conclusion: TDK is a movie theater experience. It translates well to the small screen, but watching it at home doesn't have the power of widescreen, surround sound. The explosions and car chases and the musical score....I didn't get the same power from those things last week, not like I did after seeing it twice in the theater. It was almost disappointing.

I wonder if anyone else felt that way after seeing it at home.

And on a HAPPY personal note, yesterday's Big Sister Baby Shower went off smoothly. I had a lot of fun and, apparently, so did my guests. Lots of compliments on the decorations and the food (YAY!). Big Sister got lots of cool gifts. I got to see some family I hadn't in a long time. I was completely exhausted after I finally cleaned up and was able to sit down. I was in bed at 10 pm, which is hugely early for me. I'd been planning this for two months; now that it's over, I still feel like there's something I should be doing for it.


Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Why Do Today....?

...what you can put off until tomorrow?

So yesterday (Tuesday), my dad had another morning in the cath lab, getting a balloon inserted into a clogged artery. He's had these before. No biggie, right? Until my mom calls me last night at 9:15 pm (yes, that late at night). We're watching The Dark Knight and, ironically, it's the hospital scene with Joker and Harvey Dent. I pause the movie and answer the phone. Mom asks if I have a few minutes to talk about the day. I say sure, figuring it's just a quick update, Dad's fine, blah blah.

Nope. Apparently, they found more blockages that they couldn't get with a cath, so guess what that means? Yep. Coronary bypass surgery. You know that feeling where the world just goes very still for moment? That happened. She said the surgery would be early this morning, and that she'd call when she had details.

I made it through the rest of the movie, but for all the love I have for TDK, I just couldn't pay attention. Worried all night. Worried all morning. And then I get the new message--they're postponing the surgery until Thursday. M'kay. In a way, I suppose it's good news, right? It means he's not critical, but it also means more waiting. And I hate waiting.

My awesome boss gave me the day off tomorrow, so I can take my mom out to lunch and distract her for a while. She has to do so much of this by herself, but I'm so grateful to be closer to home now and able to be there.

But you want to know the ironic part of my day? For all of the stress and worry over this surgery, I was bouncing around my bedroom tonight--got my very first cover blurb! It's an awesome blurb from a super-awesome author. I promise to share as soon as I'm able.

All in all, it's been a very mixed-up twenty-four hours.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Random Musings

I've been flittering all over the place lately, hence the lack of blogging. No one single thing I've done has seemed all that interesting, so I figured I'd save up and spew all at once.

I finally finished reading Storm Front, by Jim Butcher. Oh Harry, how do I love thee? Apparently Butcher likes to whomp on his characters as badly as I do. I adore hero who takes his licks and keeps on pushing forward. I haven't bought any others in the series, because my TBR pile can't support anymore dead trees. But I will, now that I know what other fans are raving about.

Agent Nathan Bransford is having another CONTEST. Go. Play. Enjoy.

Two agency sibs, Mai Sato-Flores and David Oppegaard, have new releases. Congrats to both!!

Dollar Tree is one of the best stores ever. Especially if you can find a massive one, like I did. Seriously.

I'm almost done Christmas shopping. Yay! Now I just need to organize and start wrapping. After the baby shower. Which is in five days. *checks list of things still to be done*

*starts to panic*

In actual writing-related news, I'm almost finished round-one editing on AS LIE THE DEAD, and it will be out to my critters soon. Woohoo!

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Remembering Why

Through a series of random link-clicking, I found a post on a blog I've never visited that made me remember why I write.

Check it out on Murderati.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The turkey is thawed. The sweet potato biscuits are done. Dessert is in the fridge. The house is (mostly) clean. And my feet hurt...but in a good way.

I did take an hour out of my cooking/cleaning schedule to watch "Bones." Okay, so it wasn't quite an hour, because I was up and down during commercial breaks, vacuuming and measuring ingredients out. Anyway, I mention it because of the small amount of amusement I get from seeing actors guest star on more than one series with one another.

Tonight's ep guest starred Gina Torres ("Firefly"!), who seems to be making the rounds, since I just saw her on an episode of "Eli Stone." It mostly amused me, cuz Gina also guest starred on David Boreanaz's other series (you may have heard of it), "Angel." Kinda like when Adam Baldwin guested and I was giggling because Angel and Hamilton were at it again, I was giggling tonight because Angel and Jasmine were at it.

Well, not *at it*, but you know what I mean. Yes, the small things in life amuse me. Maybe Alexis Denisof with stumble his way into the Jeffersonian sometime soon (since he's back on TV again, a la last week's "Private Practice").

Also, in honor of Turkey Day, I leave you with an amusing email that's been making the rounds.

Recently I received a parrot as a gift.

The parrot had a bad attitude and an even worse vocabulary.
Every word out of the bird's mouth was rude, obno x ious and
laced with profanity.

I tried and tried to change the bird's attitude by consistently
saying only polite words, playing soft music and anything else I could think of to "clean up" the bird's vocabulary.

Finally, I was fed up and I yelled at the parrot.

The parrot yelled back.

I shook the parrot and the parrot got angrier and even ruder.

So in desperation, I threw up my hands, grabbed the bird and
put him in the freezer.

For a few minutes the parrot squawked and kicked and screamed …… then suddenly there was total quiet.

Not a peep was heard for over a minute.

Fearing that I'd hurt the parrot,

I quickly open the door to the freezer.

The parrot calmly stepped out onto my outstretched arms and said "I believe I may have offended you with my rude language and actions. I'm sincerely remorseful for my inappropriate transgressions and I fully
intend to do everything I can to correct my rude and unforgivable behavior.."

I was stunned at the change in the bird's attitude.

As I was about to ask the parrot what had made such a dramatic change in
his behavior, the bird continued, "May I ask what the turkey did?"

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Battlestar Galactica Returns

Okay, so it doesn't return until spring 2009. But the new trailer is out, and DUDE.

I. Can't. Wait.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Why Are Copy Editors So Awesome?

Because they prevent from you using the word "recreation" when "re-creation" is the one you want, thereby giving the noun of the sentence (the female figure, in this case) an entirely new (and innuendo-laden) meaning.

Yes, copyedits have arrived. I'm pleased to say I seem to know my way around a comma and (as of getting through 306 of 401 pages) no egregious errors in continuity. One more step toward having that bound book in my hands. It's also my last chance to make any significant changes (not that I think I need any, but the option is there).

Busy week? Ha! Thanksgiving...high school reunion on Friday...someone pass the rum...

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Time Ticking Away

I had a moment of self-awareness this evening while watching "24: Redemption." It had nothing to do with my adoration of Kiefer Sutherland (that's nothing new), or how excited I am for the new season to start (hello, He Who Does Not Stay Dead!). It occurred to me that even while it's been off the air for a year and a half, that ticking clock has never really gone away.

I can trace my own affinity for ticking clocks and time crunches directly to this show, and I think it may have unconsciously affected me when I originally wrote THREE DAYS TO DEAD. Evy's three days are counted down by a ticking clock of sorts, that traces the hours as they pass her by. When I sat down tonight to watch the "24" movie, and that familiar clock started to tick, I immediately flashed to my own manuscript.

It's funny how we can connect things sometimes.

And on a slightly spoilerish note, I have a message for any remaining old pals of Jack Bauer's: just paint a big-ass target on your back and get it over with.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Another One Bites the Dust

I believed in Eli Stone. Too bad the execs at ABC didn't. *sigh* Another worthy show gets the axe.

At least season one is available on DVD (it's going on my Christmas list). Hopefully they'll release season two.


Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Name Meme

I found this meme on Jeaniene Frost's blog, with a "consider yourself tagged" message attached. So here we go.

Name Meme:

1. WITNESS PROTECTION NAME: (mother's & father's middle names)

May Charles (hmmm....)

2. NASCAR NAME: (first name of your mother's dad, father's dad)

Elwood Arthur (sorta fits)

3. STAR WARS NAME: (the first 2 letters of your last name, first 4 letters of your first name)

Mekell (I think I'm going to use this....)

4.DETECTIVE NAME: (favorite color, favorite animal)

Red Cat (sounds like a superhero)

5. SOAP OPERA NAME: (middle name, city where you live)

Renee Berlin (HA!)

6. SUPERHERO NAME: (2nd favorite color, favorite alcoholic drink, optionally add "THE" to the beginning)

The Blue Whiskey Sour (*snicker*)

7. FLY NAME: (first 2 letters of 1st name, last 2 letters of your last name)

Keng (*giggle*)

8. GANGSTA NAME: (favorite ice cream flavor, favorite cookie):

Cookie Dough Oreo (seriously?)

9. ROCK STAR NAME: (current pet's name, current street name)

Anya Jefferson (boooooring)

10. PORN NAME: (1st pet, street you grew up on)

Piggy Janice (*falls down laughing* Yeah, my first pet was a guinea pig named Piggy...sue me, I was five)

Thursday, November 13, 2008

It's Like a Class Reunion

Only not.

So I've said a few times that I'm trying to tune in and watch the final season of "E.R." Tonight's episode was touted as featuring Anthony Edwards, in a return as Dr. Greene. Naturally, I zoomed home from work to watch it (come on, who didn't think the beating heart of that show died when they killed off Mark Greene?).

The ep started with an intro from former castmate Eriq laSalle, extending condolences on the loss of show co-creator Michael Crichton. *sniffle* Then not only did we get a good twenty minutes of Dr. Green scenes set during the tumultous diagnosis of his brain tumor, we were also treated to cameo appearances from (SPOILER IF YOU HAVEN'T SEEN IT YET) Laura Innes (Kerry Weaver), Abraham Benrubi (Jerry), and Paul McCrane (Robert Romano).

As a diehard Romano fan, I was especially fond that that little exchange. Romano yelling at Greene for holding up his chemo, saying "No one told you to go and get cancer." Romano storming off, then pausing. Realizing. I just sort of smiled.

As far as November sweeps go, it wasn't a huge episode. But it was worth watching.

Now I'm all nostalgic for first season episodes. "Love's Labour Lost" anyone? Best. Episode. Evah.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

It's the Little Things...

...that make me grin like an idiot.

Like finding myself on someone's Amazon list for upcoming UF series (without an actual Amazon listing yet).


Concentration and PSA's

I know I've been a little quiet lately. Blame it on the feverish desire to finish the first draft of AS LIE THE DEAD (which I did, on Sunday), and with it, the insane schizophrenia that always attacks me when I finish a first draft. I tend to aimlessly wander the internet, read blogs, watch TV, and stare out the window, wondering where the hell my concentration went. It only lasts a day or two, until I figure out on what to refocus my poor brain while I let AS LIE sit and marinate for a while.

I think I know which project to tackle next, but now, here's a quick PSA.

Inspired by several other authors/blogs, including agency sib Jaye Wells and posts at the AW Watercooler, BUY BOOKS.


I posted not long ago about supporting your favorite retail stores by buying something at full price. Now I'm also asking you to support the book industry by buying a couple of books at a brick and mortar bookstore. Just a seven-dollar paperback. With gas prices nearly cut in half since September, it can't be that hard to scrape together a few extra dollars.


What have you bought recently?

Here's my list:
One Foot in the Grave, Jeanine Frost
Hotter than Hell, anthology edited by Kim Harrison
Unleashing the Storm, Sydney Croft
Tempted, Megan Hart
The Iron Hunt, Marjorie M. Liu
Dead Until Dark, Charlaine Harris
Mysteria Lane (anthology that includes PC Cast and Gena Showalter)

Saturday, November 08, 2008

The Gift that Keeps on Giving

<---- This is the pillow that goblins bought.

And it's niiiiiiiiice.

When I got my first advanced, I treated myself and my best friend to dinner at a nice restaurant (crab dip, OMG, it was amazing), and a movie. Didn't really splurge on anything, since a good chunk of the money is going toward silly things like credit card bills and student loans.

Last week, I received the Delivery & Acceptance check for THREE DAYS TO DEAD. I hadn't intended to splurge today, but I was browsing through Bed, Bath & Beyond, checking prices on electric blankets and space heaters, and I found this nifty little gadget. It was the sample they had out that did me in.

When I took it to the checkout, a very bubbling clerk asked if it was a gift. I just smiled and said, "Yep, a gift for me."

The only bummer is that I can only use it for twenty minutes at a time. :-)

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

R.I.P. Michael Crichton

After a private battle with cancer, author Michael Crichton passed away at age 66.

I admit to having only read "Jurassic Park" (a copy of "Timeline" has been sitting on my self ever since the movie came out), but I've been a long-time fan of "E.R." Some of his forays into television producing have been hit-or-miss, but the realism and humanity of "E.R." has lasted a decade and a half.

We've lost a great storyteller.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Counting the Days

Days Until Thanksgiving: 22

Days Until Sis's Baby Shower: 38

Days Until Christmas: 50

Days Until My Head Explodes: __????

Monday, November 03, 2008


Happy November! And GOOD LUCK to everyone busy with NaNoWriMo. I had too many other things to juggle this month to manage it this year. But there's always 2009.

Clarkesworld Books has temporarily re-opened their online bookstore in order to liquidate some stock. They're having some amazing sales on SpecFic, so check it out!

The awesome folks at Fangs, Fur & Fey are having two great discussions on Urban Fantasy. What is Urban Fantasy today? Terminology and History.

Agent Kristin Nelson has a fun Behind-the-Scenes blog entry on how the cover art was put together for one of her clients.

In Hollywood news....

FOX's "24" finally returns with a two-night, four-hour event beginning Sunday, January 11th. I'm so excited to see this show return, after a year and a half off the air. I'll forgive them for season six, as long as season seven has lots and lots of "He Who Was Dead." *eg*

And with a season that had divided fans and critics, "Heroes" just lost two of their original producers. Not good. Honestly, I love what they're doing. If everyone says on the same path, the story gets boring. I like seeing good guys become bad, and vice versa. It keeps it interesting.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Five Hundred Twenty-Five Thousand Six Hundred Minutes....

Nope, not a RENT post, but definitely about a year in the life.

In October of last year, I finished the first draft of a book about a bounty hunter named Evy Stone. I had a hell of a time coming up with a title for that book. I started with Marionette, then changed it to Dark City. Neither really worked, but I went with it for a while. I did a hard edit. My betas sank their teeth into it. I got feedback on my query, and I was off to the races (and everyone knows this story has a happy ending).

The point is that one year ago, October 2007, when I was typing THE END on what is now "Three Days to Dead," I never imagined what I'd be doing in October 2008 -- receiving fully executed contracts for the publication of two novels, my advance, and turning in my final edited draft to my editor (plus all the other neat perks, like guest blogging and setting up a website).

I'm starting to love October.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

It Only Took 28 Years...

...but the Phillies finally won another World Series!!!!

I had just finished watching a movie and jumped over to FOX to witness the final two pitches of the game. Top of the ninth, two outs, Phillies ahead by one. It was pretty cool. I called my dad, whom I knew was watching. When he answered, the first thing I said was, "It only took them twenty-eight years!"

I don't really follow MLB (or any sports, for that matter), but my dad has been a dedicated Phillies fan my entire life. Delaware doesn't have a Major League baseball team, so for those of us who lived there, it was pretty much the Phillies or the Baltimore Orioles (my uncle was an Orioles fan). The Phillies won their first championship in 1980, when I was about four months old. I love that they won again this year, when the thing I wanted most in my life (a publishing contract) finally came my way.

So here's to the number TWENTY-EIGHT!!!!


Tuesday, October 28, 2008

First Guest Blog Gig!

This week the League of Reluctant Adults is hosting a Halloween extravaganza, complete with guest bloggers, videos, recipes, prizes, and other shenanigans. Agency sib Jaye Wells invited me to contribute, and my entry is now live!

Go, read, comment! Maybe you'll win. :)

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Saw V

I have a confession to make: I hated the first Saw film. I thought it was boring and confusing, and barely remembered it being in theaters (I rented). The major twist about the "dead body" in the bathroom was cool, but overall? Didn't like it. So the only reason I rented the second one was because of Donnie Wahlberg. And I really liked Saw II. I liked the characters and twists, and the way it connected to the first movie.

So I rented the third movie, because of spoilers that Donnie was in this one, too. Liked that one, was well. Not as much as the second, of course. So I went back and watched the first movie again, sure I'd missed something the first time around. And I think I had, because on second viewing, I liked it much more. And no, I don't like these movies for the gore. I like them for the growing mythology and puzzle that builds with each installment.

Anyway, finally hooked on the series, I actually spent money to see Saw IV in the theaters. And I was a little angry about that. I found it terribly confusing, with too many parallel story lines flowing into each other, out of each other, around each other, and bleeding into other stories. It was a gamble to put so much information and so many timelines into one film, and I think it could have been done better. It took two DVD viewings to figure it all out.

I was iffy when I first saw previews for the fifth film. But I treated myself to it anyway.


Even with black hair, I look at Julie Benz and all I see is Darla (from "Angel"). And Carlo Rota will forever be Chloe's ex from "24." She so would have sicced Jack Bauer on Hoffman's ass for blowing up her hubby like that. *g*

But the story wasn't bad. I like how the movies go backward and fill in details and gaps from previous films, and show how everything and everyone is connected. This time the main story was more about the cat-n-mouse with Hoffman and Strohm (and boy wow, that little fistfight at the end was kinda hot) and how Hoffman was recruited by Jigsaw, than about the people in the Jigsaw traps. Which was cool. Less gore, more story.

Best lines were near the end, when the two trap survivors realized what they had done wrong since the beginning of the ordeal.

Mallick: Whoops.
Brit: Yeah, big fucking whoops.

And I can't help but love that music. Once the first few chords of the closing theme start, you know it's time for the dramatic wrap-up (and usually something quite painful for the "hero"). Poor Strohm. OUCH.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Mutton Bustin'

I don't watch the news very often, because, let's face it, if it isn't about the election or the economy, it's about someone getting murdered/raped/beaten/robbed. Life is depressing enough.

Once in a while, though, there's a story featured that makes me bust a gut laughing. And last night was one of those rare times.

I present... Mutton Bustin'.

Children that weight under fifty pounds, riding a sheep like a cowboy. These kids are adorable.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


...I'm doing my part in furthering the disintegration of traditional family values. And I had no idea.

It seems I'm doing this by supporting and loving a close family member who chose to live (unmarried) with a man and have his baby.

Someone punish me. I'm a terrible person.

I also forgot that Narrow-mindedness was the new color for fall.

*rolls eyes*

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Subconcious Vampire Influence

Thanks to the book I finished reading last night, I dreamed about vampires. Oddly, though, I dreamed about vampires in a beach resort town. Not quite like Lost Boys, though. The beaches I dream in are more like the ones I grew up around, not the Pacific Northwest.

Anyway, in my dream, these vamps had a pretty sweet set-up: rent a furnished cottage to an unsuspecting family, complete with clothes and accessories they can use (ha! Where did all this stuff come from, you stupid Human Appetizers?). Fortunately, I was the Smart One in my family and decided to investigate. I was ambushed, but somehow developed the super-cool ability to completely kick vampire ass (yay for book influence!). So I kicked some ass, then went to save my family.

My cat woke me up somewhere around there, so I have no idea if we won or if we became vamp kibble, but it was a fun dream.

And the book that influenced it all: Halfway to the Grave, by Jeaniene Frost. It was another from my "started, but never finished" pile, and I have no idea why I waited so long to get back to it. I put off reading the last few chapters for a couple of days, because I didn't want the story to end. But last night I gave in and, ss some friends from AW would say: Awesomesauce! I finally know what her other fans already know--Cat rocks. Bones rocks. The sequel's going on my Christmas list.

Good news is the pile of "started, but never finished" books had now been cut in half. Three left, and then I can begin relieving my overstressed bookshelves of other novels begging for attention.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Isn't It Ironic?

Alanis Morissette has nothing on this.

Everyone knows the economy isn't great, and those of us whose Evil Day Job is in the retail world feel it every single day. We see traffic counts lowering, customer conversion slumping, and the average retail ticket splatting to the ground. Markdowns are sought after, while higher price furniture sits and stares at us like mushrooms on a log.

Where's the irony?

A customer came in today, all smiles and sunshine. She shopped around for a bit. On her way to the front doors, she looks over her shoulder with another smile and says, "I love this store, you guys are my favorite." And then she leaves without buying anything. If you love something, then show your support, people! Even if it's a two dollar hand soap, buy something.

And no, not one of the 75% off bargains--those don't help us at all, because we don't make anything off such a deep discount. Often we don't profit off something that's 50% off. I'd rather you spend five dollars on a full-price candle than fifty bucks on chair that used to retail for $250. At least the five bucks will shoot us some profitability. We can't stay in business off of "I love your store."

In the last year, two of our major competitors have gone out of business. We are surviving, but it's difficult.

So if you have five bucks laying around, spend it at your favorite store. Buy something at full price. I don't care if it's Starbucks, Wal-Mart, Del Taco, Linens'N Things, or Tiffany's (although I doubt five dollars will get you anything here, except a few snide looks).

Friday, October 17, 2008

Overheard at Wal-Mart

I can't be the only person who runs in for a bag of cat food and walks out with forty dollars worth of stuff I really don't need (although in my defense, one of the purchases was a novel by one of the author's of my editor, so I'm filing that purchase away under Market Research).

Still, as I was browsing the book aisle, four women flocked in around me, nattering away. Two were adult women, two were teenaged girls. Their conversation went like this:

Woman One -- What's that book I was looking for?
Girl One -- Which book?
Woman One -- You know that book I said I wanted to get. Do you see it?
Girl Two -- I don't know, Mom. All those vampire books are the same.

I was try hard not to snicker as I walked away, book in hand. I was also wondering, for a brief moment, if any of those women would wind up buying my book next year.

I'm also loving Wal-Mart's policy of age restriction on R-rated movies. After scanning my purchase (two-disk, special edition L.A. Confidential!), the checker's register squealed.

Her -- How old are you?
Me -- Er...twenty-eight.
Her -- Can I see your ID?
Me -- Sure.
Her -- (after checking my license) Thanks. You look good for your age.
Old Man Behind Me -- Hey, you going to card me, too?

Um...when did twenty-eight become old? Or maybe I just looked a lot younger than usual with my jeans, sweats and ponytail? It was just...odd.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

"Eli Stone" Returns

Okay, so I friggin' adore this show. And it's not just because Johnny Lee Miller is adorable and sympathetic and endearingly funny. Or because the relationship between Eli and his brother Nate is one of my favorite on TV right now ('cuz I'm also loving on the father/son duo of Walter/Peter on "Fringe"). It's just a damn good show. It's hopeful when so many shows are cynical.

I'm so glad this show got a second season. And so far, it's off to a good start.

Monday, October 13, 2008

October AW Blog Chain

It's once again time for the AW Blog Chain. I haven't participated in one of these in a while, so I was glad to climb on board this month. The theme is writing, and over at FreshHell's blog (how cool of a name is that, by the way?), she wrote about discipline and creating deadlines.

Very cool, says I, because discipline has been my big thing lately.

We say it over and over again: writing takes discipline. And as I'm finding out, writing professionally takes discipline to a whole other level, because with it comes deadlines. No more, "I'll write as often as I can, and it's finished when it's finished." Oh no. Now it's, "I have to write every day, so I can finish it by __." Which isn't usually a problem for me, because I'm a fast typer and I tend to think out the next scene while at work/driving/showering/cooking/etc…, so I don't have to stare at a blank screen and figure out what the hell I'm saying next.

There are certainly times I don't want to write. I'd rather catch up on two hours of "Bones" episodes I've missed, or spend a few hours knocking around the Blogosphere, in search of something fun to read. I write anyway, and use the other stuff as rewards. After all, don't we all perform better when there's a reward involved?

Speaking of which, I've only got a few hours until "Heroes" is on, and haven't written a thing (blog posts don't count, HA!).

Next on the chain is razibahmed .

Me (Ralph Pines)
Unfocused Me

Friday, October 10, 2008

Half Moon Rising

Today has been somewhat surreal.

It began with a mission to get our cars inspected (mine and Roommate Melissa's). We knew it was a little pricey, so we called around and found a reasonable place. Thinking we could drop them off, hang for a bit, and then take them home, we went armed with coffee and notebooks. HA! Apparently, the state of Maryland requires extremely thorough inspections that take about 2.5 hours EACH. Yep. And there were already two cars ahead of us.

So we left mine and went home in hers.

Which began a long, slightly schizo day at my computer. I alternated between surfing the 'Net and working on ALTD. Got about twelve pages done. Watched TV. Read some. Looked at the clock and it was six pm. Still no word about my car. Hmmm...

I called. They said the inspection was fine, but they had to take a screw out of the rear right tire. Promised it would be done that night (they close at 9pm). Seven-thirty rolls around. We haven't eaten dinner yet, so we decide screw it. It's a half hour drive to get the car anyway (yes, we now live in a town far from many things). We get there a little after 8. Car's done. Yay, dinner time!

We end up at Olive Garden. Sit down at our table. I'm facing into the dining room and across from me is a round table of five. Three kids and parents. Dad is sitting in the chair, his back to the dining room. Er, I should say, his backside to the dining room. Yes, I was treated to a crescent moon during my entire salad, breadsticks, and entree.

And it just kept getting bigger as the night wore on.

As we were waiting for the check, we have this entertaining conversation:

Melissa - Where's your character Evy when we need her? She'd go over there and say something to him.

Me - *giggling* She wouldn't even bother going over. She'd just shout across the room, "Hey, dude, pull your fucking pants up!"

*more giggling*


I mean, seriously? Could he not feel the breeze?

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

10-09-08 and Other Random Things

Yes, tomorrow's date amuses me.

Fall has definitely settled in here on the Eastern Shore. The leaves are falling, the sweaters are coming out, and the porch plants are coming in. I broke down and turned on the heat last night. I've never had to heat a two-story house in winter, but our landlord offered us a kerosene heater to use downstairs. We may take him up on that.

In writing news, I turned in the first round of edits for TDTD on Monday. I had to tell myself to stop picking at it and send. I could tweak for hours. Yesterday I managed to get back into writing mode (Yay!) and added 9 pages to the sequel. Right now, I'm calling it AS LIE THE DEAD, but I'm waffling. I picked it out of a poem that I liked and was applicable to the story. It's just not as snappy as I'd like. Oh well. TDTD could change, too, before the process is done.

And for complete universal randomness, here's a funny story from this past Saturday. This gets filed away under "if I wrote it into a story, everyone would scream easy coincidence!"

I attended a regional meeting for my management position, in a store in Crofton, MD. Other managers were there from about twelve different stores, including the first store I ever worked for in Rehoboth Beach (it's been five and a half years). We were all taking seats and chit-chatting, and the two managers from Reho sat across from us Salisbury girls. We all said hi, and it occurred to me that the one lady seemed familiar. I just didn't ponder it.

We went around and introduced ourselves. I remember hearing her say her first name, Lisa, but again, not really paying attention. I was the final person to intro. Lisa looks at me and says she thinks she knows me or my sister, and asks what my last name is. I tell her. Now I'm starting to realize yes, I think I know this woman, too. She says she thinks her ex-husband worked with my mother.

I stare, then ask what her last name is. She tells me. Holy crap!

I used to babysit her kids when I was in high school. I remembered their names. I remembered their house. The very last night I sat for them was the night Princess Diana died (I was watching news footage in their kitchen when they came home). She showed me pictures. Her oldest is a senior at Temple, on a full academic scholarship! I couldn't believe it.

Small, small world.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Greywalker, by Kat Richardson

This one was sent to me by a good friend, after she read and enjoyed. It took me a while to get to it, but I finally finished reading it last night.

The concept was pretty cool: after being dead for two minutes, spunky PI Harper Blaine becomes the titular Greywalker. Someone who can go in and out of another plane where ghosts and creepy things live. Only she doesn't want to.

It was the first private-investigator-as-lead urban fantasy I've finished (I'm about forty percent into the first Dresden book, which is why I say finished), so it was a little different than expected. But still a great read.

I liked so many of the supporting characters. Quinton was the most interesting to me, because I have a weakness for clever, male sidekicks. And we were given just enough hints about him to make me want to know more. The Danzingers were a realistic couple, especially their argument at the end of the novel. And Cameron amused me.

Plus who doesn't love a ferret named Chaos?

I definitely wanted to know more about Harper by the end. There isn't a lot revealed about her throughout the novel--her past, her likes and dislikes, or her goals beyond solving her latest case. I wanted to know something else personal about her to help me root harder for her to win. Hopefully there will be more tidbits in the subsequent books.

I truly enjoyed many of the twists that came in the last seventy-odd pages, and the final "showdown" was pretty cool. I don't want to say more, because it'll spoil stuff, but it's definitely not a "villain" I've seen before.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Free Stuff

Who doesn't like free stuff?

I'm not giving anything away, but here are a few cool people who are:

Kelly Link. The editor of "Lady Churchill's Rosebud Wristlet" has offered up a collection of her short stories via web download.

Donald Maass. Literary agent and author Maass is offering free downloads of his nonfiction book, "The Career Novelist."

Friday, October 03, 2008

Hollywood On Demand

According to Publishers Weekly, Patricia Briggs' novels have been optioned by Hollywood. More good news for us paranormal authors, especially after the success of HBO's adaptation of Charlaine Harris' novels.

Although I'm mad at both HBO and Comcast. Why in the world would my On Demand service list premium channels and their programs, if I can't friggin' access them? Is it some hellish method of teasing us hapless, basic package user? A way to trick us into subscribing by taunting us with programs we can't watch?

I was all excited to sit down and watch "True Blood" last weekend via On Demand, and then the screen told me I didn't have permission. Grrr!!!! So not cool.

Thursday, October 02, 2008


I think the last time I cried this hard over an episode of E.R. is when Mark Greene died.

RIP, Dr. Pratt.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Happy October!

Now's probably a good time to change my calendar over. *sigh* This is my second year in a row with a "Grey's Anatomy" calendar, and while staring at Meredith all September wasn't awful, now I'm stuck with a mopey picture of O'Malley for the next thirty-one days. Why can't they do a 16-month McDreamy calendar? Why???

I've finally worked my way through my TDTD manuscript and entered the edits into the digital file. Time for another printing and read-through (I adore my laser printer. Have I said that lately?) . I added quite a few words in order to clarify some points and add dimension to some supporting players, but now I feel like I should chop some. Which is entirely possible, because I think I accidentally repeated a few points too many times. Hence the read-through. I just can't catch those things on my screen as well as I can on paper (plus, I love using my purple pen).

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Icicle Impalements and Other Acts of Karmic Violence

"Yeah, and I was karmically impaled by an icicle for saying it."
-Cristina Yang

The best line in Thursday's season premiere of "Grey's Anatomy." Seriously.

After a rocky season last year, the show is showing some promise. The Chief's "you're on notice" speech at the end had better pay off. In some ways, it felt like creator Shonda Rhimes talking to both the cast/crew and her viewing audience, saying that things will only get better (and really, can they get much lower that Gizzie?).

Character rundown:

Meredith - The real character deserving of icicle impalement. Her back and forth on moving in with Derek was getting annoying, so Yay! on Cristina for telling her to just shut up. Mer has grown a lot since the beginning of last season, but she's still annoying for a narrator.

Derek/Rose - Anyone else was to smack her for stabbing him with a scalpel? And how hot was Derek when he was yelling at the Chief?

Izzie/Alex - While I love to see the softer side of Alex, I also love to see him in his full-on asshole gear. But his conversation with Sarabeth, about why her husband may not have wanted to show weakness to her, was awesome. He's awesome, when he's not busy being an ass.

George/Lexie - I'm going to gouge out her puppy-dog eyes in a minute. Seriously.

Callie/Erica - I like those two. The "virgins" conversation was so cute. Although I can just see the George-moping when he finds out his ex-wife is with a woman....

Sarabeth - Can I just say how much I adored seeing Bernadette Peters in this role? She always plays outspoken, brassy characters. But she knocked this part out of the friggin park, with her quiet desperation and slow breakdown. Just wow.

Cristina/Sergeant Badass - HOT! HOT! So glad he's around for more than one episode....

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Reading Round-Up

When I logged on this morning, I realized it had been a couple of days since I'd made the rounds of my favorite sites and blogs (usually an everyday thing, but I've been so busy with edits this week....). So I thought I'd link to all of the things I found amusing, education, and just plain bizarre.

Half-Pint on Twitter. I grew up reading the "Little House on the Prairie" series, so this little feed is beyond giggle-worthy. I like the one about the corn cob doll that won't stop staring. Hehe.

Asking the Right Questions. I don't write YA, but best-selling author Ally Carter does. And she's blogged a list of the right questions YA authors should be asking. It's informative and a good read for any aspiring author.

Updated Want-List. Agent Jessica Faust (BookEnds, LLC) blogged about what she's currently looking for. Query her, if your book fits. She's awesome!

Lindsay Lohan has a girlfriend. I don't know why this amuses (or surprises) me, but it does.

And last, but not least, a thread on AW pointed me toward a blog I'd never heard of and a post that just made me laugh out loud/scratch my head/roll my eyes. I'm not linking to it, because this poor delusional soul doesn't need anymore blog traffic. I'll summarize by saying 1) Don't ever try and trick an editor into thinking they know you, because it won't work; 2) Advance checks don't come with unsigned contracts; 3) Editors don't send contracts without first offering a deal, be it by phone or email or other apparatus; 4) Beware bloggers who say they want you to help them write their second contracted novel as a "group project."

Monday, September 15, 2008

Shiny Pretty Thing

So I was all set to post some pix of the Pretty Thing I received via FedEx Overnight. Only I seem to have killed the cord that connects my digital camera to my computer (apparently my iced Dunkin' Donuts coffee sweated all over and around the coaster, and then leaked into the tip of the cord, causing malfunction). Hopefully Wal-Mart has a replacement, because the nearest Circuit City (where I bought it in the first place) is a half-hour away. Blah.

Anywho, onto the Pretty Thing.

It's a printed copy of my manuscript, complete with penciled notes and my very first editorial letter. *bounces* I received a copy of the letter on Friday, via email, so I've had plenty of time to mull over the notes and changes. Now I can sit down and really comb through it, page by page.

For me, editing is a challenge. It's a way of saying, "What can I do to make this story BETTER?" Because no story is ever perfect, but as authors, it's our job to make it the very best we possibly can before sharing it with others.

I just wish I didn't have to go to work in four hours. *sigh*

Friday, September 12, 2008

Two Books Sold to Bantam Dell

You have no idea how hard it's been to keep this quiet until the contracts were finalized, but now they are. And now I can share!

From Publisher's Marketplace, August 20th:

Kelly Meding's THREE DAYS TO DEAD, about a supernatural bounty hunter who wakes up in a morgue in someone else's body, with only three days to stop an impending war between humans and paranormals before she dies again, to Anne Groell at Bantam Dell, at auction, in a two-book deal, by Jonathan Lyons at Lyons Literary (World English).

I'm not being fake-modest when I say I probably couldn't have gotten here without AW. I discovered the world of Query Hell, innumerable agent and author blogs, and threads on writing and editing and editing some more. I've had several terrific folks here beta for me, on this project and others, and I owe them so much.

TDTD is my seventh finished novel. After three years of querying three projects, dozens of rejections, dozens more no-responses, twenty-or-so partials, and a dozen fulls, the right manuscript landed with the right agent, who read it over Memorial Weekend and offered representation that Tuesday. After a month of revisions, we pitched to six editors the second week in July. By August 15, we had three rejections, two offers, and one more pending, so we went to auction.

On August 20th, the results were in, and we accepted an offer. In the middle of an excitement fraught call to my dad, the Call Waiting beeped in. The ID said "Random House." Not something I ever thought I'd see on my telephone. I spoke briefly with Anne Groell, who wanted to welcome me to RH and complimented my book.

Did I mention I probably babbled a little?

With contracts ready, all that's left is to tackle this Editorial Letter.

*dances around the room*

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Ocean City in the Storm

While the rest of the Md-Atlantic was getting pelted by Tropical Storm Hanna, we were only getting her fringes. A few hours of heavy rain and wind, followed by a mild night (Sunday, by contrast, was gorgeous). So what are two storm-prepared women to do when the squall they've prepared for turns out to be a small throat-clearing?

Drive down to Ocean City, Maryland, and take pictures of the Inlet/Boardwalk. And from the pic below, you can see we weren't the only ones out and about.

Rain smacked us, sand pelted our legs, and we left thoroughly soaked and sticky, but it was quite fun. I've never seen that parking lot so deserted. A few brave businesses were still open, but most of the Boardwalk had shut down. There was even one idiot out in the water, trying to surf. Needless to say, he didn't succeed.

For all of the prep, Hanna stayed to our west and actually drenched NoVa. Right were we used to live. I joked with my roomie that "our Hannah went home."

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Coffee's Perfect Mate

I love coffee. I need my morning fix, lest nasty things happen to those around me (not to mention the screeching headaches). I blame an old college roommate for this addiction. She introduced me to the wondrous thing that is Amaretto Coffee. It was all downhill from there.

I used to only buy flavored coffee (Hazelnut is still my favorite, as is a specialty blend from The Coffee Beanery called "Sinful Sundae). Now that International Delight and CoffeeMate are creating so many rich, yummy, addictive creamers, I can get away with plain old Folger's.

CoffeeMate has just come out with their "World Cafe" line: Italian Sweet Creme, Tiramisu, and Hazelnut Biscotti. Much drooling has ensued over these flavors. Italian Sweet Creme goes especially well with stronger blended coffees (it's fabulous with Ikea's blend). CM already sells so many drool-worthy flavors (Chocolate Raspberry, Vanilla Nut, Coconut Creme, Toffee Nut,Black Cherry Streusel, and Peppermint Mocha), that now I think they're just showing off.

We've already worked through two bottles of Tiramisu and one of Italian Sweet Creme. I went to the store yesterday for more. And to what my wonder eyes should appear? A bottle of International Delight's Mocha Almond Brownie creamer. And it really tastes like brownie batter!

I think I need to invest in some decaf coffee, so I can drink these decadent flavors more often.


Friday, August 29, 2008

Viewer's Choice

All day today, SciFi Channel is airing a Star Trek: Enterprise "Viewer's Choice" marathon. I'm a fan, have been since day one. Sure, the show had its flaws (quite a few of them, actually) and its share of cringe-worthy moments (although nothing quite so cringe-inducing as Deanna Troi on the first two seasons of TNG). However, I love it.

I take that back: I love Trip Tucker. He's battled with Worf as my favorite Trek character, ever, and I finally decide to let them share the #1 spot.

Anyway, after perusing the list of episodes "chosen" for the marathon, I have a funny feeling there are a lot more Trip fans out there than I thought. While "Unexpected" is a glaring omission from the playlist (Funniest. Episode. Ever.), all of the other Trip-centric eps are listed: "Shuttlepod One," "Similitude," "Cogenitor," "Twilight," and "Terra Prime, Pt 2." Alas, "These Are the Voyages" also made the list, but no list is perfect.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Author Talk: Jackie Kessler

I'm a regular reader of Gena Showalter's blog, and last Friday the Author Talk segment was with AW member Jackie Kessler. I adored Jackie's debut, HELL'S BELLES, and am saving up for her other two novels. So go check out the segment, if you haven't seen it yet.

Rituals and Torture Porn

The topic of "How do you write?" comes up on AW time and again. And I don't mean the "computer v. paper" argument, or outline v. pantser. I mean in the sense of "What's your ritual?" I usually answer with some variation of: I sit down, boot up Word, and start typing.

Putting yourself into a ritual can be a dangerous thing, especially for new writers. It gives you the perfect excuse to not write. "I'm out of tea, I can't write." "The radio is broken, I can't write." "I only have five sharpened pencils, instead of six, I can't write." Chronic procrastinators know these tricks well.

I'm thinking hard about this today for two reasons.

First, a conversation I had yesterday with Serenity about procrastinating. She knows she can't read my next novel until she shows me pages of her own. Our conversation went something like this:

Her - Once my room is finished, I'll start writing again.
Me - Unpacking is a process that could take another week. Instead of saying 'I'll do this when this is done,' say 'I'll unpack an hour, and then write an hour.' Don't set yourself up to not write.
Her - I hate it when you make sense.

Don't worry, though; I don't make sense all that often. :)

The second reason I'm pondering the ritual thing is that I just put my DVD of Saw III into my player (don't judge me for liking torture porn, this series has Donnie Wahlberg!). I'm not sure why I picked this one, considering I own about a hundred and fifty movies. I wanted something on in the background for when I started writing. Doesn't matter what, because I won't really pay attention, anyway.

Actually, this particular movie might be inspirational. Evy's about to hit up a Halfie hideout and kick some ass for answers. Maybe it wasn't such a bad choice, after all.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Hari Puttar vs. Harry Potter

Seriously? Warner Bros. needs to find something better to do with their time. Suing an Indian film company because they used the character name "Hari Puttar" in the title? Yeesh.

Maybe it's because I've been reading a thread on AW in which someone is super-paranoid about beta readers stealing their golden words, but wow. I don't get it.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

So Much In a Week

Yes, the blog updates ended with two days left until the big move.

No, that doesn't mean the move didn't happen.

What it does mean is that Verizon-MD are staffed by ijits. We called them to order our phone and DSL service way back on August 5th. Phone was working fine when we got here (I know, because I took a call from my agent on move-in day). DSL? Not so much. After a weekend of runarounds from Tech Support and the local business office, we were told to try a different number on Monday. So we did. After an hour and a half on the phone, we're told that Someone, for Some Reason, had cancelled our DSL service.


We didn't cancel it. We certainly didn't receive any notification that it had been cancelled. So the guy on the phone set it up for Thursday (today). Out of the ashes, we did score six months free for their royal screw up. Obviously we have our 'Net back, but now my MSN and IE browsers are wonky, so I've bitten the bullet and downloaded Firefox. So far, my only real complaint is that Photobucket doesn't seem to work right. Grrrr....

But the move went well. I love the house and will be posting pictures soon (when I get this photo program thingie figured out). My new room is nice and cozy. Anya made the trip well, and she's adjusted to life in a two-story house. There's a window at the top of the stairs, facing the backyard, that she loves to sit in. The weather's been awesome, too. AC's been off since Saturday, and it gets downright chilly at night.

The new job is going well. So far, I like the staff and they seem to like me. Lots of visual stuff, which is fine by me. I'd rather reorganize a display, than design someone's table setting.

Stayed up way too late last night reading the end of a book. Good book, though. I'll review it here in the near future.

In personal writing news, the results of the auction are in. You'll just have to stay tuned. *eg*

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Bittersweet and Super-Sweet

Countdown to the big move: 2 Days


In about an hour, I'm leaving for my last day of work. It's bittersweet. I've longed for this day, and still, I find myself hoping I don't cry when I leave. I worked in that store for five years, five months, and six days. I've seen changes in staff and merchandise. The fixtures and floor plan has been altered numerous times. We've even gone through three property managers. It's been a second home, a place in which I spent at least forty hours a week, with people I saw more often than my own family. No more joking with my regular customers, or asking them how things worked out.


And mixed in with that is pure candy: I received a call from my agent yesterday, telling me that a second editor has offered on my book. Which means? Anyone?


Yes, boys and girls, my debut novel, THREE DAYS TO DEAD, is going to auction. I was actually jumping up and down when I got off the phone. I called my roommate, my sister, and my parents. It's all too surreal. Something I often dreamed about, but never entertained as an actual possibility.


Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The Endless Prologue Debate

Countdown to the big move: 3 Days


Prologues. Some books have 'em, some books don't. And until I joined AbsoluteWrite Watercooler, I never realized there was such a debate about them. That people could get so worked up over whether or not to include them, whether or not they read them, and if they really serve any purpose to the story being told.

I'm not going to argue pros and cons of prologues, reading or writing. They exist. Deal with it.

It just struck me hard today--a thread over on AW had to be moderated, because some of the members were And a little rude to each other. Over something as silly as whether or not to include a prologue.

Do what works for your story. If you think it needs a prologue, write it. You can always take it out later, if it turns out you don't. Worry about what readers might think after you've finished the novel, polished it to a shine, got an agent, and sold it to a publishing house.

Monday, August 11, 2008's Sexiest SciFi Stars

Countdown to the big move: 4 Days


So posted their Sexiest Sci-Fi Stars. Considering the simple fact that it was a reader-nominated and voted poll, the results shouldn't surprise me. But they do.

15. David Duchovny (The X-Files). Okay, this one I can agree with. In his heyday as Fox Mulder, the man was hot. He's still good-looking, but age has taken away a little of that puppy-dog adorableness I loved.

14. Eliza Dushku (Buffy, Tru Calling). Good choice.

13. Gillian Anderson (The X-Files). Meh.

12. Katee Sackhoff (Battlestar Galactica). Should have been higher on the list.

11. Ben Browder (Farscape, Stargate:SG1). Hot, but not top 15 for me.

10. Nathan Fillion (Firefly). Should have been in the Top Five.

9. John Barrowman (Torchwood). My first reaction was, "Who?" Then it was, "Really?"

8. Joe Flanigan (Stargate: Atlantis).

7. David Tennant (Dr. Who). Hell no.

6. Jamie Bamber (Battlestar Galactica). Number One Baby!

5. Alex O'Loughlin (Moonlight). Never saw it. He's cute, but not top fifteen.

4. Allison Mack (Smallville). Blah.

3. Tom Welling (Smallville). Too high on the list, but definitely belongs.

2. Jarod Padelecki (Supernatural). Blah.

1. Jensen Ackles (Supernatural). Blah.

Can you tell Supernatural and Smallville fans read a lot of

Missing folks I would have put on the list: David Boreanaz (Angel, Bones), Connor Trinneer (Enterprise), Richard Dean Anderson & Michael Shanks (Stargate: SG1), and Michael Landes (Special Unit 2).

Saturday, August 09, 2008


Countdown to the big move: 6 Days


Today the living room was tackled, and in doing so, a stack of magazines was delivered to my bed. Mostly copies of "Entertainment Weekly," plus a few assorted cooking magazines. The cooking ones went into a pile for recipe clipping. The EW's were divided between HaveRead, MustRead, and Save. It's kind of sad that the MustRead's outnumbered the Save's, and were about fifty percent the amount of HaveRead's (which went into the trash).

Makes me glad I cancelled my subscription. I liked finding a magazine to read every Friday evening (or every other when they published those annoying double issues). But I rarely sat down and read it the same day. Usually it was a few days later. Or they were forgotten, and now sit comfortably in my MustRead pile. And on top is the most recent issue, with the boys from Tropic Thunder (which looks hysterical!).

It's all about de-cluttering. I don't need the magazines. I can read most of the articles on their website. It'll save me money when my subscription is due (I'm even getting a small refund, since I cancelled early). All in all, a good thing.


Friday, August 08, 2008

Friday Blog Round-Up

Countdown to the big move: 7 Days


I think I'm one box away from being completely finished with my room (sans computer and TV, two things that won't get packed until the very last). Now I just need to take all the screws out of the wall and putty them. Also take the big, honkin' "Enterprise" poster off my wall (another thing that will wait until last, because the wide, white walls freak me out). And take down the curtain rod. And pay my car insurance. And switch over all of my credit card billing statements.

Instead of doing all that, I'm going to do a quick blog round-up. Some of the fun things I've read this week.

If you don't already watch Author Talk, it's worth checking out. Gena Showalter and Jill Monroe post hilarious author interviews, and there's a new one up this week with Vicki Lewis Thompson and Special Guest.

The ladies at BookEnds always post some great advice, but this one (posted by Jessica Faust) is worth taking a look at. Especially if you're an aspiring author on the hunt for an agent.

Here's a video segment from Kristin Nelson's Pub Rants. It's a public talk with author Ally Carter, in which she tells the story of how her novel I'd Tell You I Love You But Then I'd Have to Kill You came into being. I've not read any of Ally's books, but just listening to her connect with her fans makes me want to pick one up.

There's also a couple of new Author Introductions and Author Interviews posted at Fangs, Fur & Fey. Happy Reading!

Thursday, August 07, 2008

:Insert Clever Title Here:

Countdown to the big move: 8 Days


So there's been stupendously good movement in the Great Editor Hunt. I don't want to jinx anything by blabbing about it now, but I'm marking today (August 7th) as the day I realized that I *will* be published.

//runs around in circles and crashes into the wall//


Have I mentioned that Reese's Peanut Butter Cups with White Chocolate are amazing? Heaven in a little bite. I've become a huge fan of peanut butter and white chocolate. I think white is more complimentary to the peanut butter than milk chocolate.

I've promised myself I would finish packing my room tonight (everything but a few things on the desk and the girl-stuff I need on my dresser). Can't dally long. I cannot believe that a week from today we'll be loading the truck. Emptying out five years worth of stuff.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Kitty Valium

Countdown to the big move: 10 Days


I had something in mind to blog about today, but it's completely flown from the reaches of my brains. Oh wait...I remember. I was going to brag about the cool cache of graphic novels/comics I'd just won off an eBay auction. Only I didn't win. It ended while I was at work, and some yahoo outbid me. *best Jack Bauer voice* "Damn it!" I hate that. Oh well. At least it saves me deciding where the seller should send it (here and hope it arrives before next Thursday, or the new address in MD).

I think my other cat, Anya is stressed out. She's been grooming a lot lately, losing small tufts of fur, and getting little scabs on her neck. The flea comb didn't find anything, so it has to be stress. Between losing Hannah last month, and all of the packing activity around the apartment, it's no wonder. I just wish I had some Kitty Valium for her.

I also wish she'd stop vomiting up hairballs in the middle of the night...on my bed....yuck.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Google-Fu and Patron Saints

Countdown to the BIG MOVE: 11 Days


So I was playing with the sequel to my agented novel (yes, yes, don't do that until the first one is sold, I know), and I realized that in the three times I mention the city's hospital in Three Days to Dead, I never actually named it or said where it was. I had to go back and check both manuscripts to make sure. The only thing I did say was that it wasn't on the same side of the river as Parkside East.

Whipping out my trusty, hand-drawn map of the city, I decided on a location. Then I needed to name it. I liked the idea of naming it after a saint, but also a saint with some meaning. Not being Catholic, I hadn't a clue who to use. Enter Google. After a couple of clicks, I found St. Eustachius. He died as a martyr and is the patron saint of Hunters. Seems to fit (not necessarily the martyr part, but definitely the Hunter part).

I do wish I'd gotten more writing done this vacation, but I packing was the priority. There's still more to do. And oh my Lord, U-Haul trucks are expensive! *faints*

Sunday, August 03, 2008

RITA Awards

Romance Writers of American have announced the RITA Award winners. When I read it, I stick to paranormal romance, but I'm excited to see Melissa Marr's Wicked Lovely on the list of winners (for Young Adult Romance). It's in my TO BE READ pile (and stuck there for a while, since the box it's in is....uh...somewhere).

Yay! To all the winners.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Let's See What August Brings (and hope it's awesome)

Cuz July kinda sucked eggs.

So far we're off to a ho-hum start. We planned a white water rafting trip today, since Serenity's never been and we're moving far from any potential rafting sites. Day started with us getting lost. Friggin' Yahoo!Maps had us going in the exact wrong direction, so we got there fifteen minutes later than we should have (but we weren't dead last, so all was well).

It was a fun trip down the Potomac River, coming out where it meets the Shenandoah at Harper's Ferry, WV. Fun, but not exciting. We had one Class-3 rapid at the end of the trip. Most of them were Class-1 and 2. Two sections of just flat water that required lots of paddling. We were able to get out about halfway and swim down a section of the river. I swallowed some water on the second trip down. Hit my butt on a rock both times.

Again, fun, just not a river I'd do again unless the water was up to more Class-3 and 4 rapids. Definitely the mildest of the four river trips I've been on (elsewhere in WV, PA, and NC).

Now that I have my Dunkin' Donuts iced coffee, I'm starting to wake up. Maybe get some writing done.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

The Week in Review

Once in a while, we all do really dumb things. Like just a few minutes ago. I decided it was time to finish cleaning/packing my bedroom closet. So I open the door and start taking out a few things. Pick up a bag of bubble wrap without looking at what may be resting on top of it. And a glass plate falls smack on the top of my foot.

Much cursing ensued.

So now I'm back to sitting at my desk with ice on my foot, hoping it's just really, really sore. And I'm sure it is just really, really sore. And eventually, really, really frozen.

Sometimes I wonder if moving closer to my parents is really such a good thing. Instead of 3.5 hours of travel, I'll only be 45 minutes away. Good in some ways. Bad in that they are having some...uh, issues, and my mom seems determined to put my sister and I right in the middle. But Sister had a good point the other day: they are the parents, and parents don't put their problems on their children. (Sister is a therapist, dontcha know?)

I saw the house we're moving into. The downstairs is frickin' huge! I mean, the dining room is as big as half our apartment. Berlin, MD is a cute little town. Very small, very old. We're literally right off Main Street. Lots of quaint little shops and restaurants. The drive to Salisbury (where my current job is waiting) isn't too bad. It's a straight shot up the highway, just sort of flat and boring. The sort of drive made for books-on-tape, only my mind tends to wander and I miss stuff, so that's out.

Also got to see The Dark Knight again. Loved it just as much the second time. It was fun to pick out all of the hints and foreshadowing this time around. I also realized just how amazing the musical score is. But when two giants like Hans Zimmer and James Newton Howard team up, you can't get anything short of amazing. I'm listening to it right now, and loving it all over again.

On the book front, we've heard back from one editor so far. She liked it (yay!), but wasn't sure it would find a home in today's market (boo!). Still, liking it is encouraging, even if it is a pass. Jonathan's awesome, in that he emails even to say he's got no news.

Well, the good news is the foot isn't swelling. Only a tiny bruise so far. I gotta be more careful.

But at least I didn't drop this one on my head! As is my tendency to do. Sofa, table leg, iron skillet....yeah, I have a hard head.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Updates and Downers

So my novel's officially been out to five editors for nine days. Nine days. The funny thing is, my life is so chaotic and topsy-turvy right now, I haven't had a chance to sit down and fret. No fingernail biting, no worrying. I have a whole slew of other things to deal with right now, so why spend energy stressing over something I cannot, in the long run, affect?

I'm almost ready for Saturday's yard sale. Four of us are doing it together, so it's going to be huge and fun. I'll drop a load of stuff off at the house tomorrow, and then bring the rest (melty things like candles and makeup) on Saturday morning. I hope I can unload some stuff and put some money away. A good friend coined a new phrase I've become fond of: The Hannah Debt Relief Fund. My pretty kitty would be so proud.

I still can't believe I'll be out of here in twenty days. I've lived in this apartment for five years and four months. It's familiar and comfortable. But it's time for a change. Even if the change isn't what it was supposed to be (sordid story involving some of those aforementioned stresses), and not all parties are participating as they agreed. We'll muddle through. For the last two years or so, Mel and I have been *talking* about moving. Well, no more talking now. Circumstances are different, but we're still moving, dammit.


So say we all.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Dark Knight

If you haven't seen it, then don't read this entry. SPOILERS ABOUND.

WOW. Just wow.

I had all kinds of expectations for this movie, and it met every single one of them (and even blew a few of them out of the water!). The movie was how long? Didn't feel like it, and that's always a bonus in my book. I didn't want it to end!

Sterling performances from the entire cast. Christian Bale, Morgan Freeman, and Michael Caine were top notch, as always. Gary Oldman was excellent, especially in the last scene with his family. Heath Ledger was, of course, genius as the Joker. Posthumous awards are definitely due, and it's a terrible tragedy we lost such an amazing talent. And I why, oh why couldn't they have had Maggie Gyllenhaal in the first movie? Sooooo much more believable as a lawyer than Katie Holmes.

But the most underrated member of the cast was definitely Aaron Eckhart. I've been a fan of his since Erin Brockovich, and he just nailed his role as the tarnished White Knight. I don't know much about the comic character of Harvey Dent/Two-Face, but the symbolism of this character was, in many ways, the heart of the movie and its core themes. In my opinion, Eckhart deserves a few more accolades than he's gotten for such a great balance of good and evil.

The supporting cast was like a who's who of TV genre character actors! Holy cow! We had Nestor Carbonell (Lost), Eric Roberts (Heroes), Ron Dean (what hasn't he been in?), Anthony Michael Hall (The Dead Zone), Keith Szarabajka (The Equalizer, Angel, Profit, etc...), William Fichtner (Invasion, Prison Break), and Tommy "Tiny" Lister (The Fifth Element, former wrestler named Zeus).

Kudos to the writers for killing Rachel, too. I always liked Batman more than Superman, because Batman didn't always win. The people in his life die (Robin II) or get seriously injured (Barbara Gordon). Batman loses once in a while (Hello, Bane!). It shows the human side of the character. You can throw bullets and cars and thugs in clown masks at him, and he keeps pushing through. You start killing the people he cares about, and you really hurt him.

I liked Batman Begins, but I love The Dark Knight. I think this one's going to bump its way up into my Top Ten Favorite Films list.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Pitch Day

It's quite odd, really, how things right now are so bittersweet.

A week ago today, Hannah died. Only a few hours after, I got the editor list and final draft notes from my agent. Bittersweet.

Today, a week after Hannah left us, my agent will begin pitching my novel to editors. Bittersweet.

But I suppose a lot of things will be that way. At least, until we finally move out of this damned apartment. She's everywhere. On my bed, in the closet, on the back of the sofa, scratching at the bathroom door. Moving Days are tentatively August 14 and 15, which is one month from now. So much to do, so little time.

I'm someone who doesn't handle big changes well, at first. All of these crazy things happening at once (Hannah, my book, moving, changing jobs) is driving me nuts. Adding on the stress. Making me freak out.

Chocolate. Need chocolate....

The Steampunk Archetype Test

I admit, the most steampunk I've been exposed to was in the film The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. I found the link to this test in an AW post and found the results quite amusing.

I am an Aetherist Bodger.

The aether carries the information, the aether is information. You are one of the few who know the ins and outs of Aether Terminals. You can access information across the Aethersphere, tapping into the Aetherpipes of anyone you want and stealing the information stored in their datatanks. Some think of you as a myth, a legend created to scare people. You are no myth or legend, you are quite real and you are currently reading the Queen’s AetherMissives.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Having a Foundation

Once again, Shore Leave 30 has come and gone. I'm always a little melancholy afterward. It's a trip I look forward to every year, it lasts two and a half days, and then it's over for a whole year. But I had a great time. Listened to some very entertaining actors, sat in on a few good panels. Attending a few about writing, as well. I'll post some pictures of the actors as soon as I get them from my roommate (my digital camera does well with close-ups, but sucks at taking good distance shots).

I wanted to mention something else, though, from the con. I was in a writing panel Saturday afternoon, and one of the writer panelists (Howard Weinstein, FYI) was discussing discipline, which led one of the attendees to mention "inspiration." At which point author Michael Jan Friedman made the following comment (and I'm paraphrasing from memory here):

"Many people liken inspiration to a lightning bolt from on high. Something that comes down and strikes you. But what most people forget is that lightning comes from the ground, not the sky. The ground is a solid foundation. Instead of waiting for inspiration to drop down on you, start with a good foundation."

He went on, illustrating his point that a foundation in discipline, mechanics of writing and storytelling trumped waiting for that inspirational strike from above. And I happen to agree with him.

Inspiration is awesome, but it can also be used as a crutch and an excuse. "Oh, sorry, the Muse is on vacation, so no writing got done today." "I don't know how to get Max out of the Dungeon of Doom, so I'm going to drink a latte and wait for inspiration to strike." Um, yeah. You could be waiting for a week or more. This is where the discipline part of that foundation comes in handy. By putting your Butt In Chair, no matter what, and writing something, no matter how dreadful or delete-worthy, you are giving yourself the discipline to finish something.

Rewriting is okay. Revising is always necessary. But you can't finish a first draft if you let yourself off the hook with, "I'm waiting for inspiration." Discipline yourself to write through the trouble spots, and you won't have to wait for inspiration. I'll be there waiting for you when you sit down to write.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Some Much Needed Shore Leave

It's that time of year again. Time to pack up and head out to Hunt Valley for Shore Leave 30. Adam Baldwin was this year's big draw for me, but he had to cancel due to a scheduling conflict. Still, we've got George Takei, Malcolm McDowell, David Hewlett, and Jewel Staite on the menu, plus whatever programming comes out way.

I'm mostly looking forward to a few days away from this apartment. I hear a rustle of paper, turn around, and expect to see Hannah beneath my chair. Or leaping onto my bed. Or jumping onto my desk to block my monitor from sight. *sigh*


Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Death in the Family

My baby girl passed away this morning. They couldn't keep her BP up, her red blood cells stayed too low. They had to go in and drain fluid from the surgical site (enough from one side to be notably bad). The seizures were lessened by Valium, but they couldn't be sure there was no underlying neurological problem. Even if they continued transfusing her, kept her on the BP meds, and started new therapies, there was no guarantee she'd had a full recovery.

We sat with her when she passed at 9:30 am, so quietly. So unlike her. But with her trademark scowl on her pretty face.

I stayed with her for nearly an hour after as we finished the paperwork and made "burial" decisions. Her ashes will be spread in an apple orchard in Maryland, and I love that idea. It sounds peaceful. Serene. A nice place to rest.

It was so hard to walk out that door. To kiss her ears for the last time. To pat her back and touch her paws. But I did.

It seems so unfair. So much money, so much effort, and my baby died anyway.