Tuesday, January 31, 2012


It's time for the forceful removal of this pain in our collective arses! GADS! And Good Riddance, I say!

I really love this movie.
I think it's a Michigan thing. It really used to be February I hated so vehemently... February being the month that in OREGON seemed to be holding off spring. In Michigan though, that dubious honor goes to April. January is hated for being COLD, and POOR... (Heather blogged on this yesterday—the annoying habit of employers to pay you for December BEFORE the holidays, so the check meant to sustain you in January needs to last 6 weeks, rather than 4.5)... and at our household it seems to be the ILLNESS month and the FINALS month.

And I am SO GLAD to see it go.

What did I accomplish in January? Mostly I panicked a lot... I sorted and shuffled and supported...

I am nearly done with my ABNA revision (just in time—should be getting a go ahead or NO ahead from my editor on my Begonia Bribe revisions and either way will need to jump to it as soon as I know).

February is ALSO slated for first revision of Chrysanthemum Campaign. So I will be up to my eyebrows in FLOWERS. Which is good. Should hold off my snow irritation... Not that I mind SNOW, so much as I get really tired of how long winter drags on around here... (did I mention hating Michigan winters?)


On the plus side, it's OVER!!!!!

You know, theoretically, January ought to be a right good time. Janus is the Roman God of beginnings... but if you read further, he was two-faced (one looking back and one forward) and intertwined with chaos. So maybe we've gotten just what we bargained for.

Say... it says he was the God of gates and doors, too.

Erm... that ringing any bells for anybody? (Door bells?)

No, me neither...


But at least we are solidly into Aquarius, the sign where people are their own unique selves, unconcerned with the uptight proclamations of the masses of how people ought to be. I really LIKE Aquarius. If I could have picked my own sign, I think this would be it, even if it WOULD put me stuck with a birthday in my least favorite time of the year. It is just my favorite personality profile. And for the record, in spite of Jo giving Luna an August birthday, LUNA should have been an Aquarius. Open, accepting (a bit odd). And absolutely herself. So much so that she wins everybody over.

Do you all have a time of year you really hate? How do you cope?

Monday, January 30, 2012

Megan Bostic's Never Eighteen (Pass it On!)

I have been looking forward to reading this book since I first heard about it, so when Megan asked who wanted to be a part of her promotional tour, I jumped at the chance. The theme is clever and fitting for the book, but I think I will give you more of that after a brief review:

Never Eighteen, currently resting in Ann Arbor, MI.
(from the back): Austin Parker is never going to see his eighteenth birthday. He probably won't even see the end of the year. But in the short time he has left, there's one thing he can do: he can try to help the people he loves live—even though he never will.

It's probably hopeless.
But he has to try.

You see, Austin has Leukemia. He was a strong, popular athlete. But now he is somewhat shrunken, tires easily. And he's on a mission. He wants to right some wrongs—only one of which really seemed his fault, but he's been watching people. There is a soft undertone of jealousy—people who HAVE life ahead of them who are wasting it. But mostly there is just a need to make a difference. To leave the world around him just a little better than it was before.

Megan says the original title was Mending Fences. I like the new title better because it carries the darkness that underlies death. But Mending Fences is very fitting for what Austin is trying to do.

I loved this book. It was a wonderful mix of sadness and hope. The characters were very real—Austin is perhaps more introspective than most boys, but I think knowing you are dying will do that.

Austin's journey to get people to engage in their own lives again hits a ton of teen (and adult) issues, but briefly enough and softly enough that they don't drain us. I think for teens this offers a wonderful chance to talk about some big stuff, and whatever their situation, see... it could be worse... and even if it IS worse, they can handle it with grace.

So I thank Megan for giving me the chance to read!

As for the Pass It On...

The marketing campaign was to SHARE this book, even as Austin is trying to share in the futures of people who will still be around. I knew when I first heard the idea that I wanted to share it with one of my teacher friends, preferably someone who keeps BOOKS in the classroom, so teens can have a chance to read it to.

I scanned the list and the first to come to mind was Chary—she is a fellow Burrower who teaches at a High School in New York City. She said she did indeed keep a library in her classroom for students to read from and it was decided.

Headed to a classroom New York City
I decided to sweeten the pot, I would add another YA book I have loved recently. I am a hoarder, but isn't it really better to share books with people who will get them read by dozens than keep them in a stack on my shelves?

So today this pair, Never Eighteen and Gae Polisner's Pull of Gravity, will be shipped to New York City to share in Chary's High School classroom.

I will have Chary post a picture when the books make it to her, and I thank Megan and Gae for writing such amazing books that I want to share them like this!

Both of these are available to buy:

(I think the paperback for Gae is coming soon—I will give you a heads up)

I ALSO wanted to throw out a HUGE congratualtions to Jessica Bell who had a FABULOUS weekend for the popularity of her books. String Bridge spent a day as MOST POPULAR on Amazon's comtemporary fiction list and Twisted Velvet Chains made the top five for poetry—What a Saturday, eh? Contrats, Jessica!

Just FYI--I am regrouping, recovering, etc. But have two books to get edited in February, so I think I may be a 3 blogs a week girl for at least another month, just so you know what to expect...

Thank you all for your patience!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012


And just when I thought I saw the birds circling that must mean an island was near...

Health issues, not my own, are determined to sideline me. I am trying to plug away, but I am currently spending a few hours a day being more nurturing than comes naturally, because let's face it: I am an only child in addition to being a fire horse and only children who are also fire horses do NOT nurture all that easily, no matter how badly they want to. But our household is in high crisis mode and once again, I've been nominated to be the sane one.

My ABNA project: cover by Joris Ammerlaan
I'm starting to question this decision to stay sane, but the truth of it is, somebody has to be. Story of my life. Seriously.

And THAT looks like a big whiny baby plea for sympathy. It only is a little. Mostly it is explanation for why, intentions aside, I got nowhere yesterday and can't make promises for a couple days. I am taking time off of work to get a plan established, which means when I AM at work I need to work like I am on deadline. (and when I am NOT at work, I am largely NOT online).

And I STILL have manuscripts to edit. So I may or may not blog regularly for the next couple weeks... and I probably will remain slow on getting around. I feel so guilty on the matter, but it is what it is.

On the positive side, I got my 3 chapters to my editor that were DUE. Hopefully she likes them. (I have to do the rest of the book, but am pretty sure I can have a little time there... not a lot, but a little).

Also on the positive side, I have a version of LEGACY entered in ABNA. It isn't the version I want in there, but I didn't want to lose my spot, and until it closes, I can revise, so replacing with 'best available' every few days is my plan. This is one of the MSs I am editing...

Also Also on the positive side... in fact on the SQUEEEEE side... I got book cover samples which include all the back cover copy!!!! Check it out!

And because it's hard to read:

Roanoke, Virginia, is home to some of the country's most exquisite gardens, and it's Camellia Harris's job to promote them. But when an out-of-towner turns up dead, she discovers there is no good way to spin murder.

Camellia Harris has achieved a coup in the PR world. The premiere national magazine for garden lovers has agreed to feature one of Roanoke's most spectacular gardens in its pages—and world-famous photographer Jean-Jacques Georges is going to shoot the spread. But at the welcoming party, Jean-Jacques insults several guests, complains that flowers are boring, and gooses almost every woman in the room. When a body is found the next morning, sprawled across the azaleas, it's almost no surprise that the victim is Jean-Jacques.

With Cam's brother-in-law blamed for the crime—and her reporter boyfriend, Rob, wanting the scoop—Cam decides to use her skills to solve the murder. Luckily a PR pro like Cam knows how to be nosy...

So there it is... the silver lining. No worries... I am hanging in there. I always do. Just feeling a little pouty at the moment that life refuses to fall into line with my nefarious plans...

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

ABNA Over at BB and B

So this is a decoy post... I am really blogging at Burrowers, Books and Balderdash today about the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Contest because THAT is what is going on.... It's Topical Tuesday.

But if you'd like it to also be Naked Tuesday, I am not stopping you.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Dragon Speaks

So I am crawling out of the crypt. I feel a little like my fingers are bloodied and I am inching my way slowly. Hubby's health stuff is not moving much, which is stressful—I feel like he's strapped to me and I am having to pull him along for each inch I move. But I have heaved past the revisions my editor needed (One polish round still needs finishing, but the big work is done). It scares me a little that I need to keep plugging through the whole book to accommodate the changes, but I can pace myself more on that. For NOW, I turn to finishing my ABNA tweaks, as ABNA is OPEN. More on that tomorrow.

Today, I wanted to give you a heads up.

He looks menacing, but I love dragons.
It starts the Lunar New Year, otherwise known as the Chinese New Year. And it is the Year of the Dragon. More specifically, it is an Earth Dragon in Water year (most stuff says Water Dragon—I can't figure out what the subtlety is about): The Black Dragon.

Happy Black Dragon New Year!

Whether that is good news or bad news for you depends on your animal and element. This site will help you figure that out.

Here are the fortunes: http://www.geomancy.net/resources/yearly-forecast/fortunes-2012.htm

If you don't know your sign and element, it is probably best to go here first: http://www.geomancy.net/reports/free-report/freerpt-element.htm

I've known for years I was a fire horse. I had had NO CLUE that I had an element besides that—it looks like it might be related to western astrology signs, as mine is 'weak water' (Cancer is also water and I am early in it). The other new information I found that I LOVE is in the Chinese calendar I was born the 5th day of the 5th month. Five has been my favorite number since I was (you guessed it) five.

But other than that vague 'it will be a good year' what does a dragon year have in store generally?

The Feng Shui forcast says this:

“this year is going to be a transformational life-changing year! Generally, there are more goodies in store for you in the year 2012 than 2011. It’s a good year to improve oneself, take calculated investment risks and to build wealth. The year 2012 holds much promise and may be a major transition in your life. Whether it turns out extremely good, or really bad, will depend on how you ride the mighty Water Dragon!

The three powerful stars present in the year’s chart are the Star of Aggressive Sword, the Star of the External Flower of Romance and the Star of Powerful Mentors.”

The rest of that site was trying to sell amulets, so I will leave their grim predictions there...

This depressing site that looks like the equivalent of the Farmer's Almanac (and helpfully explains that earth and water thing—water ON earth) predicts a bunch of earthquakes and water disasters (erm... and epidemics). But thankfully less violent fighting:
http://www.fengshuitoday.org/features/the-year-of-the-dragon (not incompatible with those pesky Mayans)

But I am going forward hopeful, as for a fire horse who is weak water, it is predicted to be a good year. And my personal horoscope gave years when things would be 'lucky' versus unlucky in terms of financial fortune and unless I live past 105, the rest of my life looks lucky (the first half looked pretty darned grim—a truism)--so I've got that going for me...

I wish you all a great year. Please pay some homage to the moon and go out and dance naked tonight, even if there will be no moonlight...

Friday, January 13, 2012

Brief Break

Some of you may have noticed a big giant FAIL on my part to get around adequately. Instead of a nice big dose of blog hopping, I have been down around 10 a day—visiting new followers and a FEW comment returns, but I am having trouble with it. The writing deadline at home and a swamped workload at work. So I think the best thing for me to do is take a break until I both have more time for thoughtful posts AND am in a position to reciprocate. The break will last until I get this revision back to my editor—I suspect by mid-week next week I should be back, but it really depends on my concentration. I have done first round on 2 of the three chapters under deadline, but there is research to do to fill in a little, and then a cleaning up... So we will see.

Anyway, I apologize for my absence and I super-duper double apologize for my low rate of getting around to see all of you.

I will leave you with a little amusement:

If you end up WITH pants however, it was BAD. Very BAD.

The science cats are always my favorite.

Where is a frog like this when you need him?

Anybody suspect we've been infiltrated?

We'll call this one gallows humor...

I'll miss you guys!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Fairy Godmuther Complaints

But not here... I am at Burrowers, Books and Balderdash today.

(is is bad that I kind of luuuurve him?)

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

What Do You MEAN High School?

Does he look ready for high school to you?
Last night we went to the first of what will be three high school visits to choose where my BABY—My Youngest Child... the LITTLE ONE, will go to high school. HOW DID THIS HAPPEN?

And whose idea was it to give thirteen year-olds CHOICES that will impact their lives for YEARS?

And how did I get so OLD?

OK, so mine weren't this cool...
Okay, that last may be the crux of the matter. And it shouldn't. Among my high school class I know GRANDPARENTS for Pete's sake. But somehow these milestones of the younger close a chapter that was my last grasp at young hipness... erm... never mind that I've never given a fig about being hip. (except maybe that badass Doc Marten phase in my late 20s)

The school we went to is the one my daughter attends. It is one of the original magnet high schools in the US, nearly 40 years old, but housed in a hundred year old stone building that was once an elementary school. It has been a great fit for my daughter, but I think it is flexible enough to also be a great fit for my very DIFFERENT son.

OK, no pom pon, either...
Speaking of which... how is it children from the same two parents can be so completely opposite? I've got my affectionate, artistic, passionate (possibly dramatic) daughter who likes hippie beads and incense (though country music, among other things) and my sarcastic, smartass, booksmart skater child [not that he has any sarcastic, smartass parents *shifty*]. (who is looking an awful lot like Where's Waldo these days—it is the combo of the new glasses and the striped hat—and yes, the swirly hair... Though Waldo wears his pants too high (gotta make sure the girls know you are a boxers guy, after all. Briefs are lame. And binding.) Son ALSO has four fingers on each hand, not three. Um... and blond hair. And prefers hoodies.

But I digress... [and there was much rejoicing].

So that isn't much of a blog. But YOU try to think straight when you get hit with your baby going to high school! Can't be done!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award 2012

Y'all know about my FOMS, right? No? FOMS is an acronym for Fear of Missing Something. Gimme an event and I'm in. Throw a party and I HAVE to go, because if I DON'T something might happen and I will have missed it!

But see, these writing events have an additional purpose besides proving I am paranoid about what goes on in my absence... They provide structure to my writing life.

I've written 12 books, right? But the only ones I've polished adequately to SHARE have had deadlines to get them polished by... I have my writing contract, so those fit, but the others? This Amazon Contest...

So you want the Scoop?

What the Heck is it?

The Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award is a novel contest whereby the winner(s) get a $15,000 writing contract with Penguin for their book! Now just to be clear, that $15K is an advance, so if you sell the heck out of the book, you get more money... and as advances to debut authors go, that is relatively generous, though it depends of course on genre. The only type of books that regularly do better than this, though, for an unproven author, are award winners and thrillers.

Who Can Enter?

I think you have to be 13... There are a handful of excluded countries and I don't KNOW why... You need to ENTER the book under the name you want it published under. You can't be an Amazon or Penguin employee... mostly though, it is first come first serve within the two week period submission is open.

WHAT Should Be Submitted?

Fiction. Novels. No non-fiction, no anthologies or collections. There are two categories, general and young adult. Each category will take 5000 entries. All entries should be between 50,000 and 150,000 words. This is a HUGE range (though I confess to having to pare mine the first time I tried). But honestly, this is more leeway than you will ever get from publishers, normally, (though some YA books, particularly 'middle grade' are shorter). There is a 'nothing offensive' rule that seems to be an 'only applied if...' but they don't include erotica, though sex and language that fit the story have never disqualified anyone that I know of. I think it is just 'genre erotica' that is out. Books can have been SELF published or NEVER published, but not published through anyone. (they ask you not to shop it while it is still in the contest, but that is shopping for PUBLISHER as I understand it--you can still query it. In fact that was how I ended up with Fabulous Agent #2--querying my semi-finalist.

When Does This Happen?

it happens when it's like this outside...
Submission this year is between January 23 and February 5, 2012. Now remember, first come first serve... that said, YA has never quite filled and general fiction takes several days (more than a week?) What I do is enter early and keep working on it—you can upload revised versions until they close, and they close when they are FULL or Feb 5. That way at least ONE version is in there, on the off chance they fill up, but they get (hopefully) better as I continue revisions.

HOW does one submit?

Go HERE and they will have the link and up to the date instructions. They don't currently have the entry links, probably because they are not yet open.

How is it Judged:

Round 1: 5000 per category becomes 1000 based on a 300 word PITCH. (hint: get a ton of feedback. The discussion boards have a spot for it. There is a facebook group for it. Ask experienced people. This is the round where your BOOK is not speaking for you—your marketing device is, and it is a different skill, so get help!)

Round 2: 1000 becomes 250 based on the excerpt. This is the FIRST 3000 – 5000 words. (hint: if your book hasn't reached the 'exciting part' yet, you will want to revise... but you would want to revise ANY book that takes that long if you are hoping for traditional publishing. Hint 2: leave it on a cliffhanger if possible. You want them craving more. So 3000 words that leave them craving is far better than getting every last word allowed in there... in fact I'd err toward the shorter end ANYWAY—the feeling of 'is it over already? Helps you.) [note: everybody who makes this round gets two reviews on their excerpt]--those who get past this round are 'quarter finalists'.

Round 3: 250 becomes 50. This is based on the whole book. Just make it as good as possible. Winners this round are semi-finalists (note, 50/5000 is top 1%, so this is a big deal)

Round 4: 50 becomes 3. This is based on Publisher's weekly editor reads of the semi-finalists (and all semi-finalists can use those reviews to help sell the book if they are good, improve it if not.) All 3 finalists—which is really 6, 3 from each category—get a trip to Seattle (or some other city they pick) for the final event where the winner is announced.

Why the Heck Would I Subject Myself to This?

It's FUN! It is actually set up to mirror the agent or publisher process well—pitch, partial, full, so it is a good experience, but when you query, you are ALONE. HERE, you do it with 9000 of your closest friends. Seriously—very supportive. It's a great bunch of people. And of course it provides the infamous deadline some of us really need.

If you have questions about rules and such, they are all here.

So who's in?! (Come on. All the cool kids are doing it!)

Monday, January 9, 2012

Helplessness: An Analysis

In my coping (and not) this weekend, I've been pondering something that strikes all of us in various places in life and I thought maybe we should talk about it a little bit.

Damn if I'm not a little bit of a control freak. But never mind.

Helplessness source
This weekend has had me thinking a lot about helplessness. Saturday's blog confessed that I was useless in a crisis, but that is PHYSICALLY useless. I just don't know what to do do save somebody. I mean I've had first aid (half a lifetime ago) so if they were choaking... or possibly even if they were not breathing... (no CPR skills, though I've seen it enough that if we were REALLY alone, I'd give it a shot)... but all that in between stuff. USE. LESS.

So HWMNBMOTI is home and physically okay, but his sense of panic... of not-rightness... has not subsided. It has left me tense and worried, too. I am not worried his physical problems have not been dealt with, but rather that his stress and emotional worries are manifesting themselves physically and that this risk won't go away until we deal with the big hairy monster of anxiety.

Anxiety isn't new to us.

When our kids were small, HWMNBMOTI was a 'stay-at-home-dad' and PART of our reasoning was his earning power didn't cover childcare for two kids. But part of it was an anxiety issue that cropped up during my first pregnancy. It is related to myriad issues of self-worth (or lack thereof) and CONTROL issues that can't be controlled in work environments. The latter made jobs dissatisfying in the extreme and the former made it really hard to look for work... not feeling worthy and all.

See, though. In thinking about all of this, even my uselessness is not fully worthless if I PAUSE and think about it.


Problems are not large hairy monsters. They are armies. They can be divided, and different people can conquer pieces of the problem, and most problems I am capable of handling some portion of.

1)  I am so calm I've been accused of being comatose. Especially at work, I am hard to rile. I don't buy into the group panic, and I can break out my responsibility and get to it. Coworkers seem to love this. (though I have found tears useful when expectations are unreasonable)

2  )I am REALLY GOOD at breaking apart problems into pieces.

3)  I am ALSO good at talking down panicking people, and at LISTENING (something 99% of men I know are singularly bad at, just FYI—men want to fix it and often will give unhelpful suggestions just to be GIVING a damn suggestion...)

4)  I am also a pretty good advocate. Some people don't really see where their rights lie, and need someone to step in and say to [the professional or source of help] 'look. This is what's needed and nothing less will work.']

So I have broken down HWMNBMOTI's issues and advocacy and calm are indeed what I bring to the table. I've taken Monday off work to make the calls because at the moment he doesn't feel he 'deserves' to be a priority. He does. People count on him. Personally and professionally. But that self talk is powerful, and when there are physical issues compounding it...

And you know what? I made that decision on my walk with Oliver's person last night and I felt SO MUCH BETTER at just that: take the day off to advocate. Finally I had realized what I really could do to help.

The PEACE Piece

There are things really out of our control. There are things none of us can do anything about. Whether it is another person or a situation, life has a lot of stuff that just comes down, no fault or responsibility of our own. There is a SKILL to letting this go.

Once upon a time I attended AlAnon meetings for a loved one who was an addict. And I learned MANY lessons that will stick with me forever there. Say it with me:

NOT. MY. STUFF. If it is in somebody else's control, you can't let it impact you emotionally. Sure, you can feel a little sadness over someone's bad decision, but there is no guilt, no lingering anger or sadness. It is NOT YOUR STUFF. Let it go.

CAN'T CONTROL IT. Publishing is huge here. We can write the best book ever, but can't control who we are competing against for attention, how many books a company is willing to produce in a year, what readers want to read... A huge portion of this is not in our control. So don't pretend you can. It will only make you feel inept.

We need to make peace with all that stuff not in our control. It's not like it is a malicious design. It is just the setting.

One of the things I found helpful early on, especially when I was mad, was to write down what I resented or regretted, and then burn it. (add a little sage if you want to make it spiritual—sage is a spiritual cleanser). The other trick was writing it down and closing it into my AlAnon book (a Bible or other spiritual book would work here)--releasing it to 'your higher power' was the point, so if you are on speaking terms with your higher power, it will probably work well.

Some people meditate.

I've been known to power walk...

WHATEVER WORKS. But you need a system to let go of the stuff you can't change. Because there is a lot of stuff you just can't change...

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Stress Response...

So yesterday afternoon I got a call... HWMNBMOTI's number... not him. It was my wonderful Couch to Keg partner... she was at my house because she'd been asked to help... HWMNBMOTI was having dizzy spells... thought he needed an ambulance.


So I said I'd meet him at the hospital (I work for the Med School, so it is just a string of buildings away).

Call 5 minutes later. Same number. PANICKED daughter... sobbing, scared... 'Dad has to go to the hospital'.

“I know sweetheart, but then they will figure out what it is and fix it.”

So I headed over and met him at the emergency room as the ambulance arrived.

His vitals were all stable and the ER was PACKED so we had to wait a fair while. I could tell he was anxious—wondering what was taking so long. But he was also worried about our upset daughter at home. He had me go call and check in, but she was even MORE upset then because he hadn't gotten in to see the doctor yet.

We finally got him in there and the nurse asked a ton of questions, measured all the things he needed to measure, but HWMNBMOTI was getting progressively MORE anxious. He insisted I go home to check on our daughter. So I called daughter (she has a car through a research project and since I walk to work and HWMNBMOTI arrived by ambulance, I was without, so I had her meet me back at my office to give me a ride home.

As it turns out, the treatable disorder is an upper respiratory infection. He was given a few rounds of breathing treatments, prescriptions, and a long list of instructions (including that he had to quit smoking from each of the 47 people who came through his cube). But the dizziness had been a confluence of 3-12 hour days without eating hardly anything, low sleep, a head cold and because of the cold an increased use of his inhaler which can CAUSE dizziness.

He will be fine. Hopefully this is the butt kicking he needed to really quit smoking. He quit two years ago for 3 months, but hadn't tried again since.

What I wanted to note though, was this:

[begin Digression] last week one of our neighbors came over—she'd just gotten home and there was a bicyclist sprawled across the road unconscious. (it was icy, and an apparent bike wreck) HWMNBMOTI went out to check. The man came to—a neighbor, but he was disoriented (and bleeding from a large head wound). He didn't know who HWMNBMOTI was or what day or year it was. He kept trying to wander off, but HMNBMOTI talked him into waiting for the ambulance.[/end digression]

The point of that was how CALM he stayed. He helped the neighbor and told the ambulance people everything he knew, called around to find out if any other neighbors knew how to contact any relatives, as he lives alone. He's really great in a crisis.

Unless it's his crisis. When it is HIM, he gets panicky, and I learned, he and my daughter feed off each other badly. He's worried about her but she's only worried because of how upset he is... but it spirals into both of them panicking.

[note: she is lifeguard and CPR trained and at school has actually helped a fellow student having a seizure and near her work called an ambulance for a person who really seemed disoriented who was hovering outside—she is good in a crisis, TOO, normally]

But that feeding off each other was HUGE.

Now me, I am hard to rattle. But I am also pretty darned useless. I don't know what to do, don't carry a cell phone, so can't call directly. I've been known to knock on doors and ask someone else to call and to stay with someone who has something happen, but I KNOW NOTHING.

Yet had I been home, I would have insisted on driving (no ambulance) and going to Urgent Care (not the ER)--I probably could have talked hubby down a little. I am a person who tends to downplay things though, so maybe that is a lot of it. I am optimistic to the point of delusional and just assume things can't be THAT bad.

So how are you? Are you good in a crisis? Bad? Does it depend on who is hurt? Do you know what you're doing?

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Kitteh fanx

You guys are the best. Yeh know... Yibus cheered me yesterday, so I am leaving you a little kitteh love today.

How was your New Year's Eve?  Good?  Was it THIS GOOD?

If you are having resolution trouble... you are not alone...

yeah. this.

We used to have a cat who did this. It is why we are solidly ROLL FROM UNDER at our house... (we also shut the lid because the same cat used to sit on the side of the toilet and scoop toilet water out of the bowl. She occasionally did it with the dog water too, but that was somewhat less disgusting, if no less slippery.

I captioned this one myself...

I wish all of you a happy Thursday and hopefully will be more coherent tomorrow!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Head in the Sand

I am participating in Alex's Insecure Writer's first Wednesday (check link for details and the list of other participants) and... the ether must have known I needed some content... *sigh*

So my agent called me yesterday. Now when an agent picks up the phone, you KNOW it is either good news or bad news... they are very busy and hardly have time to just chat and see how you are...

This was the bad sort.

Not horrible. Not... canceled contract or I hate this type news. But still... “You're going to need to make some changes.”

I don't know if it's me, but I always feel like I've been called out into the hall by the principal. Like somebody ratted me out for streaking through the gym, even though I had a bag over my head. I worry that I'm not just going to be asked to fix it, but I might get suspended or expelled because... well... maybe because I'm a FRAUD... Maybe I don't measure UP.

The reality of it is I didn't have enough rounds of revision, and one of the rounds that (oops) I really skimmed was infusing this GARDENING THEMED Cozy Mystery with... duh... GARDENING.

The trouble is I don't garden in real life. And I don't live in a zone 7. So every single detail of it has to be carefully researched... And I just fell down on getting enough of it in there that it FEELS like Gardening is a theme. I mean there are gardens and flowers. But... and here we hit the other 'my failing' things... I tend to run low on description (because honestly, I don't care to read it) and THAT is where much of this would go...

But what a bonehead thing to not remember to make sure I've done, eh?

This series really spoke to me when I auditioned for it because of the Public Relations and Media stuff—I've worked in that world and really felt like I had great character insight. And my research on Roanoke has been pretty good because ACTION requires people to go places and do things, so all that research sort of has to happen pre- or during writing. So somehow in my head I thought 'okay, just clean it up' rather than marking all the places it needed an infusion of flowers or gardening.

See, I got caught up in this torrid thing... and forgot gardening.
Maybe I need a Gardening 101 course so this stuff just comes more naturally into my brain.

Whatever the case, I'm feeling like a real Dunderhead and like I'd really just feel better if I could solve it all by detention with Snape.

Anybody ELSE die a little recently? Anybody have BIG goofs like that to confess? Recurring nightmares about anything?

Nothing to do but own it. Guess I just added to my January to-do list by A LOT.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

What's So Funny?

Y'all know I am dark, mysterious and edgy, right? Some of you are even scared of me, yeah? No? Come on. Not even a little scared? You KNOW that is my goal in life! That and sexy and sleek... *nods*

My aspirations to be quirky and strange are... well... sort of the leftover result when I can't control myself? The result of not quite hitting that dark mysterious thing, so here I am, naked and awkward? But being me, I am practical and so thought, FINE. I will work with that. See... I don't MEAN to be funny. But the word is I am... And I guess if I can't be edgy and beautiful, funny is a pretty good alternative.

Today's blog is part of a Blog Carnival (which is like a festival, but you know... international) Christopher Allen is hosting it through the Language Place. The theme is really anything to do with humor. So I am analyzing my accidental humorousness and sharing a few places that make me laugh.

So back to the... I'm told I'm funny. And seriously, as suggested above, it wasn't really anything I tried for. Oh, sure. I suppose I'm easily amused... I do like to laugh. I particularly like to laugh WITH people... I love word play and innuendo.  Misattributing is even my superpower (you know... intentionally mishearing and responding to what you HEARD that is bizarre or funny, or IDEALLY, innuendo). Silliness in its purest form is good. (I even have a number of physical things I do that are funny, ranging from an egg drop off a diving board to my cartoon face).


You know I am not a mainstream comedy fan for the most part. Sketch comedy often cracks me up, as do many comedians, but in the U.S. so much humor is based on either somebody being STUPID or somebody being MEAN. And I don't happen to think stupid or mean are funny. (except in the case of stupid people really proving smarter than the others—Phoebe from friends is a good example here, or in the case of mean people being seen by the AUDIENCE as shallow and low). I ALSO think much U.S. humor is very adolescent... I hate that (I would rather stick forks in my eyeballs than watch an Adam Sandler marathon). So why do I LOVE the French Taunters in Holy Grail waving their privates at people's aunties? Well now THAT is funny.

I guess maybe it comes down to the UNEXPECTED. And perhaps the British have a huge advantage there, because stiff upper lip and insane silliness fit so unexpectedly together, even your 427th time watching the Holy Grail.

But what I LOVE is understatement ['you keep saying that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.'] I love precious humor... think Dori in Finding Nemo... what is more precious than a fish friend and traveling companion with short-term memory issues (voiced by Ellen, no less). But yes, unexpected wins [“I bought it at a muggle store! I happen to like a little air about my privates!”--Archie from the Quiddich World Cup, Goblet of Fire]

So how does all this end up with ME being funny?

I don't actually try to be (though you might see redundancy is some sort of effort at it *shifty*). Most of the intentionally funny blogs I read are done by men. I have some blogs I LOVE: Cheeseboy's blog, or the Powdered Toast Man's. And they really are hysterical--intentional silliness. But I also have a number I read that I laugh at much of the time that are more sideways:

The Middle Ages: the FUNNY stuff is the overshare on life... the shared pain we do or WILL go through...
That's Why: the life difficulties... between unemployment, parenting, political climate...
Giraffability of Digressions: observations, both life and political...
The Quiddity of Delusions: okay, sometimes Mark is just plain bizarre, but man, oh man, I love him...
Guns and Giggles: a lot of life observations...
Procrastination Princess: Alright, Tara is a dose of straight silliness. But then she's a Taff...
Tartitude: My sister tart writes on life and writing... but in a falldown funny way.
I'm not Hannah: mostly about life, and the stuff that makes me laugh and cry at the same time.

[interesting. I just realized I would invite ALL of these people to stay in my home (not at the same time, my home is very small)--but shared humor is a very serious bond--I mean I have other blogger friends I would... But ALL the ones I rank as frequently funny?... I think for me it really helps me feel like I know someone well]

But notice MOST of this is just approach to normal life stuff. It is the things we all go through observed through a humorous slant... or even a shared pain slant. Whether it is the TMI thing I share with Deb, Barbara, Heather and Lisa, or the really sideways observations of Mari and Mary...

Most of it is stuff that would be HARD if we couldn't laugh about it.

I guess I think humor is an attitude. Or maybe even a decision. And it doesn't have to be mean-spirited, though I've been known to enjoy some sarcasm or snark if the target isn't really victimly...

I have guests who, when I suggest my readers are used to something a little bit funny, say... “Oh, I can't be funny.”

And maybe that's true. I don't know if some people just have such a solid hold on reality? Or maybe they listened too carefully to what is ladylike? But I think probably it is that the IDEA of 'funny' is intimidating. TRYING to be funny usually ends in awkward (and only a few of us really embrace awkward)... Erm... some people just have a serious approach to life. It's not bad... some of these more serious folks are quite helpful, and that is... you know, more helpful than I am. Most are very nice... in fact everyone I visit is SOME variation of pleasant. Or I wouldn't bother, yeh know?

But I guess for me, what I do well is play. And maybe playing is funny. It is certainly silly. I get the most laughs when I make fun of myself or what society perceives as proper, so there is that. I think the only trick I've ever applied to it is to turn off the filter. Anything can be deleted on revision, so writing whatever comes to mind OFTEN leads to a lot of nonsense. And sometimes that nonsense is funny. So there there you have it.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Best Story Ever

Or I thought so anyway. New Year's Eve Eve, HWMNBMOTI were invited to a little neighborhood party.

HWMNBMOTI knows more neighbors than I do... he walks the dog and meets people, and frankly has a bit of a Mrs. Kratitz personality—always likes to know what's going on, which requires knowing who everybody is. So he's been telling me about this man he's made friends with who is a nurse--(HWMNBMOTI has nursing goals and finding other males is a bit of a rarity).

So finally at this party I met this man... and he told me this story...

“You know, when I first met [HWMNBMOTI] I was working in my garage. I'm a gregarious guy and we were new to the neighborhood, so I called 'hello'. He and the dog came up to talk and started talking about what we did. And he told me his partner studied pain.

“So you see... I made an assumption... partner... and... well the dog is named Joel...”

[I started laughing here]

“But that's okay. I have brother who's gay who's been with his partner for a number of years. I wasn't bothered. So we kept talking when we'd run into each other. Then one day, several month later, he says something about his wife, Tami, and... well in the same conversation, he tells me how the two of you moved from Portland. I couldn't wait to get inside to tell my wife.

“[HWMNBMOTI] isn't gay! He's from Portland!”

We went on to a delighted conversation about the enlightened people of Portland who might appear gay to midwesterners... If you don't know Portland, you might not understand this story at all, but it sure amused me a lot.

I am back to the day job tomorrow... on to the resolutions... beginning a round of editing for the Amazon contest (more later this week on that). I have had a WONDERFUL long break though. I finished Chrysanthemum Campaign and RELAXED a lot. I am not eager to get back to it, but at the same time, I really love fresh starts, and since I am not a student, the new year is about as close as I get to that...

I wish you all the very best in 2012!