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).