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Showing posts from 2014

So long 2014.... in pictures!

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Good lord, 2014. You were a crazy year.

Let's see, what were the highlights? In the life of my family, 2014 was a rollercoaster. Babies and weddings, weddings and babies, with a bonus college round for Jim.

• I celebrated my last birthday, folks. I turned 39 in March, and from now on I will be 39 plus tax, thankyouverymuch. If we gather in Memphis next March for cake and ice cream, there will be no number beginning with a 4 involved. Harrumph.

• My stepdaughter, Mallory, had an exciting year as well! First she became a wife...


... and then a mom. Which makes me a grandmother.


• Speaking of babies, my sister went and had herself one! Although little Olivia's timing meant that Melanie sadly had to miss our wedding, the world is a better place for more headstrong Donald women running amok in it. Here, meet my new little niece!


I'm thinking of writing a YA adventure of Olivia and Isabella. They're smart, brave and kickass. Olivia is the fighter and Isabella is the bookworm…

Hmmm.

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Look, I'm not saying that Jimmy is really Jeffrey Dean Morgan hiding in suburbia. Definitely not.


His Royal Fredness

Goddammit. Just when I thought we were going to get out of this year without losing anyone else, Fred Grimm has a stroke, and isn't expected to make it to New Year's.

So how is that allowed, since Fred is eternal?

Fred and Stephania Grimm have been friends for years. I don't always end up friends with the folks who run the cons; cons are business, and I try to be a professional. But once you meet Fred and Steph, you're not just friends; you're family. That's one reason why Hypericon has been such a blast each year: it's like a big, rowdy family reunion with costumes.

I introduced Jim to the Grimms when we did Hypericon earlier this year. We were talking about Fred stories, and Jim said, "But I only met him that once." I said, "And that's all it takes. You experienced Fred."

And that's really how I think of him. His personality fills the room. The eternal smartass - God, what a smartass! He loved reading and collected authors, enj…

Happy Hanukwanyulemas!

And with that, folks, I'm stepping away for the holiday. Jim and I are celebrating our first Christmas as a married couple, which means we're going to watch a ridiculous amount of movies, eat way too much stuff that isn't on our diets, go to church tonight to sing "Silent Night" amid the candles and incense, and possibly drink some of that rum we brought back from Jamaica. I bet it mixes well with egg nog.

What we aren't going to do is spend the whole holiday online. I'm thinking of confiscating the cell phones. We'll unplug for a day or two, and enjoy our Christmas alone together.

Whether you celebrate any or none of the winter holidays, I hope you have a little span of peace and grace. I hope you hug your loved ones, and if you cannot, send them your good wishes and a little love. Blessings and joy be on all of us and all of you, and let us each leave the world a little brighter for our presence.

See you on the flip side.

Noon Foodiness: Lasagna

According to the Man, tonight's lasagna was a roaring success. And as promised, the recipe will follow.

(What do you mean "tonight"? I do these things in advance, goofy. If I actually posted blogs at the time I wrote them, they'd all post at 11 p.m. and nobody would read them.)

Before I get to the details, though... many thanks to my dear friend Stephen Reksten, whose lasagna pan was the first wedding gift we opened. Finally I got to use it for its actual purpose! Om nom nom.

For the record, this recipe was compiled from three different recipes I found on Pinterest. If you have suggestions, please share them in the comments! The only downside: It made a GIANT lasagna and Boy is with his father for Christmas this year, so we will be eating lasagna for days.

Notes: I was out of ground beef, so I used all sausage. Man did not mind. Also, I only used one container of ricotta cheese, but that wasn't quite enough for three layers, so in the future I will use two.

LASAG…

Recipes for Writers

Because this was requested multiple times, here are the famous wontons that I served at the Eville Writers Hanukwanyulemas party. It is not my creation; it is shamelessly stolen from my awesome stepsister Kim. Below is the pie recipe, if you missed it on the group; also not mine. :)

KIM'S WONTONS

1 pkg. wonton wrappers (small, not the egg roll size)
1 roll ground pork sausage
shredded cheddar cheese
ranch dressing
buttermilk
red bell pepper (opt.)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Meanwhile, line the wells of a standard-size muffin tin with wontons. Make sure they don't fold over, but form little cups. Bake them alone for 5 mins.

(I generally find this recipe makes about two muffin sheets' worth of wontons; if you plan to make more, double the filling.)

In skillet, brown sausage and drain excess fat. Mix in cheese, optional red pepper (I usually leave it out) and enough buttermilk and ranch dressing to coat the sausage. Don't overdo the liquid or it'll soak the wontons. …

Buy now or forever hold your pieces

Given the surprise I heard when I said the words "out of print" a couple of times at Dragoncon, it occurs to me I haven't been clear enough about what's going on with the books.

Many of my titles have gone out of print or are going out of print this year. This isn't necessarily a bad thing; it's the nature of the industry. I consider myself damn fortunate that Setting Suns is still in print and available nearly a decade after its release; that's like a century in book years.

However, the Blackfire zombie series is out of print due to the demise of Sam's Dot Publishing. I still have a decent inventory of paperbacks, but when they're gone, they're gone. Does that mean the end of Major Sara Harvey and her bloodsoaked crew? Of course not; there's a final novel to write. I am in negotiations with interested parties, and when the Blackfire series has a new home, I will be happy to share the news.

The Nocturnal Urges series also will be going out…

Countdown to Crazy: Minus One

Probably when one is running as far behind as I am in preparing for an 11-day business trip, blogging is a dumb thing to do. But I never claimed to be smart.

Remaining on the to-do list:
• Pack Dragoncon suitcase
• Pack respectable-journalist suitcase
• Put checks in mail
• One last load of laundry
• Finish packing books and electronics
• Do itinerary for Jimmy
• Finish promotional flyer layout
• Finish Kindle programming and send
• Email publisher
• Email Mom
• Email Stephen
• File time card
• Find photo sites for post-DC shoot
• Reserve hotel for Nashville
• Tomorrow before leaving town: load car, pick up flyers, drop off Boy's prescription, drop Jimmy off at the college and return library book that will be screamingly late if I don't return it before I leave town.
• While on the drive: Call the reception site to find out when we get access to the space, so I'll know what time my wedding will be, so I can order my wedding invitations, so they'll be ready when I get …

Dragoncon Stalking Guide

Yup, friends, it's that time again. Time for the ravening hordes to descend upon downtown Atlanta and hang out with 60,000 of your closest friends. As usual, I will not have my books available in the dealer's room unless a dealer with shelf space magically appears out of the genie bottle in the next week, so you'll have to catch up with me if you want my NEW NOVELLA.

Or, y'know, any of my other stuff. Or a hug. Though it's going to be 91 degrees and there's a tropical storm bearing on us, so hugs might get sticky.

Here is my Stalking Guide. I don't have an app code yet, because I'm old and dumb and haven't figured out how they work. But I am open to (most) suggestions, and looking forward to seeing my awesome folks in Atlanta! Yes, even YOU.

FRIDAY

Reading -  4 p.m., Vinings in the Hyatt. What will I be reading? Whatever y'all want to hear, or the new novella or possibly interpretive dance. That last one is directly proportionate to the amount …

Ker-splash.

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Jimmy and I had the pleasure of visiting Dad and Karen in their lovely new lake house this past weekend, and it was a pile of fun except for the part where Jimmy nearly drowned.

Okay, that's overstating a bit. It was all fun. Including the part where Jimmy nearly drowned.

Dad retired at the end of last semester, and he and my stepmom sold their house in Our Town and moved to the Lake of the Ozarks. (Karen's right behind him on the retirement train, but she's still working one day a week for now.) Now they live just far enough away that we can't harass them on a weekly basis, as was our wont, and probably half the reason they ran away as quickly as possible.

Or it could be they wanted a beautiful house in a quiet forest, so they could go out on their boat anytime they wanted. Something like that. Here they are with their new boat, which needs a name, folks - help us out there?


We had a delightful time, including a fantastic, luxurious spa visit for me, Karen and my step…

Rollin'

Boy has his learner's permit. Wasn't it just the other day he was seven years old and waiting in line to meet Mickey Mouse?

I took him out for his inaugural drive yesterday, in the most remote parking lot I could find on the college campus. He practiced backing up, pulling into a parking space, and driving around in circles. At first we stuck to idling speed, so he could get a handle on the car before we started accelerating.
You should know that our car is a Honda Fit. It's a teeny little hatchback with a snub nose, and I adore it. It's a Tardis: fold down the back seats and it's got huge cargo room, while still being a little teeny car. But it does have a lighter engine than, say, the Honda Accord; 130hp vs. 185, for example. 
When I test-drove it, I cracked that it had two little hamsters in wheels for the engine. Whenever the car has to do something special, like go uphill with the entire Literary Underworld in the back, we encourage the hampsters to run faster…

Fighting the Beast

I want you to meet David Black.

I met David when I hired him to be my son's tutor. Ian was struggling with middle school, ADHD and generally being a teenager. He was very good at being late to class, ignoring his homework and not paying attention; he was very bad at passing the seventh grade. His teachers were giving up on him.

I didn't have the luxury of giving up on my son, and David was our lifeline. Hired with the generous help of my folks, David was more like Ian's warden than his tutor. Every day after school, he picked up my son and took him to the library. They studied American government and English and fractions every afternoon, with an extra dose of study skills and work ethic.

David had just graduated from the university with his teaching degree, but it was the recession, and he hadn't snagged a full-time job. So Ian became his classroom. He had worked extensively with special-education kids as a student teacher and came with glowing recommendations that tu…

The Wal-mart Trip From Hell

Or is that redundant?

The pre-con trip to Wal-mart is always exhausting. Partially because I'm allergic to Wal-mart, but cannot avoid it completely. Partially because I'm constantly trying to find ways to feed us on the road without breaking the bank, which is not easy when all three of us are traveling. Jimmy and I can subsist on one meal and a few add-ons a day; Boy requires vast quantities of food. And we are stony broke this week.

First, household goods. A bike lock, a new flashlight, toothpaste and deodorant. Boy was nonspecific as to his deodorant needs, and lately he's been using Old Spice, which smells just as awful as you remember. But of course, he was home alone and therefore blaring music throughout the house, so he did not respond to multiple (and increasingly capslocked) texts requesting clarification of his demands.

As usual, I had texted my Menfolk for their last-minute additions. Oh, I could be the hard-ass and insist they only get what they physically wro…

Mazel tov!

This weekend, two friends of mine will marry.

Technically, they've been married for a while... as long as it was legally permissible for them to do so. But this will be their formal ceremony in accordance with their faith and surrounded by their friends and family.

And that is important. As much as people have told us, "Just elope, it's not worth the drama," we believe that the most important part of getting married is the presence of family and friends to support us and share in our happiness. If Jimmy and I had all the money in the world, Christ Church Cathedral could not hold all the people we would want at our wedding. Joy multiplies when shared.

So we were honored and delighted to be invited to Selina and Lynn's wedding this weekend. And it's absolutely breaking my heart that we can't be there. We hemmed and hawed all the way up to this week, but finances being what they are, we just couldn't do it. Someone needs to invent a teleporter right now,…

Rethinking this whole "til death do us part" thing...

Ian and I marched from the kitchen into the bedroom, where Jimmy had just gotten off the phone. We stood in the doorway with twin expressions of dismay, arms crossed.

JIMMY: What'd I do?
ME: The chocolate fondue I made for the party. Dark, rich, delicious molten chocolate from scratch.
JIMMY: Down the drain.
ME/IAN: *SQUAWK*
ME: Nooooooo!
IAN: Chocolate!
JIMMY: It had gotten all hard!
ME: It's CHOCOLATE. You plug the pot back in and it melts again!
JIMMY: Oh.
ME: You killed the chocolate!
IAN: He needs punishment.
ME: He does.
IAN: He's grounded!
ME: Or something like that. You are a bad man! A bad, bad man!
JIMMY: I am not!
ME: From scratch. That was good chocolate. You know what that costs? You owe me chocolate.
JIMMY: I will buy you chocolate tomorrow when I get paid.
ME: It's not the same.
JIMMY: *tries to kiss me*
ME: No! I do not kiss bad men.
JIMMY: *kisses me*
ME: Bad, bad man!

Laundry Day

Jimmy walks into my office (isn't that usually how this happens?)

ME: ...
JIMMY: What.
ME: Honey, what are you wearing?
JIMMY: Around-the-house stuff.
ME: *grins*
JIMMY: What?
ME: Black sneakers and white socks. Shiny red Santa shorts. And a KISS T-shirt with the sleeves cut off.
JIMMY: It's around the house!
ME: *hysterical giggles erupt* Oh baby, you're so sexy. I mean, I just want to rip your clothes off. No, I mean I really want to rip your clothes off.
JIMMY: It's my Redneck Ensemble.
ME: It's laundry day.

More random snark

Me: So that pork roast? I found out why it was cheap.
Jimmy: All that fat? Me: It wasn't fat. It was skin. It still had the skin on. Jimmy: Did you take it off? Me: I couldn't get it off! I hacked and hacked at it, but it wouldn't come off. So I looked it up on the internet, and it said you can roast it with the skin on and it will actually add flavor. Then it'll just slip right off. Jimmy: Then we can roast it in the oven. Me: What? Jimmy: Roast the skin, and it'll turn into cracklings. Me: Cracklings? Jimmy: *pats my knee* It's okay, northern girl. Me: WHAT. Jimmy: Cracklings. Roasted pork skin. Me: You just bake pig skin and eat it? Jimmy: Mmmm. Me: I have a theory that weird southern cuisine goes back to the Civil War, when everyone was starving to death, so they ate whatever they could. Then it became a point of pride: "We ate shit and we liked it!"  Jimmy: *laughs* Me: It explains giblet gravy. Fried pork skin indeed. Jimmy: It's just pork r…

I defy you, stars

Boy's English class is reading Romeo and Juliet. They are watching scenes from the Zeffirelli movie, because the Luhrman has violence, sex, drugs and transvestism - you know, just like the play. 
Seriously, I don't blame them for sticking with Zeffirelli; it's safer than risking the parental reaction to Luhrman. But it means the kids miss the glory of Harold Perrineau's Mercutio, which is simply the finest Shakespearean performance in film. Luhrman's work is hard to take; it's frenetic energy and wild choreography hit you between the eyes, and it's often too distracting. But if you can make it through the first twenty minutes, your mind acclimates to Luhrman Land and that's when amazing things happen.
I always liked DiCaprio's Romeo - he didn't play a lovesick waif, but a street-tough young man with intelligence and common sense who is simply bowled over by love. Claire Danes is passable as Juliet, but the supporting cast really shines, even in…

Signs you're too tired to write

Bottle of hard cider, check. Boy in bed, check. Earbuds playing slightly creepy classical music, check.

Distracted by internet. So what else is new. I turn on Freedom for Mac and instruct it to shut off my internet for a while.

Freedom reminds me that I'm still in my trial period for this program, which leads to twenty minutes of searching my receipts file because I'm quite sure I paid for it, quite sure indeed, and there's no receipt so maybe I'm just dumb. Fine, turn off my internet, Freedom.

Then I go to find the cemetery story file.

It's not there.

Oh God. That was a good story I had started. It was 1200 words of writing, and that's not much if you're, say, Bryan Smith or Angelia Sparrow. For me these days, that's an afternoon miracle.

So then I was searching every possible corner it could have been auto-saved, trying to remember how I titled the file since the story doesn't have a title yet, and desperately hoping that it wasn't victim to t…

The Muse Drops Me a LIne

ME: Urrrrrrrgh. I'm awake.
MUSE: No, you're not.
ME: Am too. I'm sitting up in my bed, holding my iPad.
MUSE: Better put it to use, then.
ME: You. YOU. Where the royal fuck have you been?
MUSE: Working on this. Here, have the entire plot and every word of that project. *waves*
ME: Holy crap. I know what happens. I know how it ends. I even know how to get to how it ends. I have the whole damn thing in my head. Fucking finally.
MUSE: Told you I was working.
ME: You might've shown up a bit earlier. This thing was due months ago.
MUSE: Fuck you.
ME: Glad to see you still have the same agreeable nature.
MUSE: You gonna write that down or what?
ME: I don't think I can get it all in the iPad. I should go downstairs and find my laptop.
MUSE: You're not gonna be able to do that.
ME: Why not?
MUSE: I told you. You're not actually awake. You're dreaming.
ME: What? I'm dreaming? So what about the story? The words? All this in my head -
MUSE: It'll be gone w…

Snark, thy name is Boy

BOY: Mom, can I have a cuppy cake? ME: Hmm. How many did you have this morning? BOY: Two. ME: That's a lot of cupcake.  BOY: Pleeeeease? ME: First explain why you're calling them cuppy cakes. BOY: I've always done that. ME: You have not. You started when you heard Jimmy do it. BOY: Pleeeeeeease. ME: Okay. BOY: *arrives* ME: I said ONE cupcake! BOY: This one is for my imaginary friend. ME: Oh really. Who's your imaginary friend? BOY: Bob. ME: That's the best you can do? BOY: Wilfred the Magic Dragon. What. ME: Better.

Emptying the ocean with a cup

Fighting with people online is like sitting on the beach and trying to empty the ocean with a cup. You pour it out on the sand, and it flows right back in.

Social networking is a constant love-hate with me. I love that I can stay in touch with my family and old friends who live [anywhere but here] on a daily basis, bringing us much closer together than we ever were as children or as young adults. I love that I can talk to my readers, have a convenient feed of interesting material from wildly diverse sources, and toss my own stuff out for those who might be interested. The Social Network is a fun place for diversion.

And I'm much better than I used to be about getting into fights. In fact, I first wrote this a week ago, and then shelved it because it wasn't worth the inevitable nastiness. We all know it's pointless to sink into the drahmah. But it's a struggle for me, because the very nature of my profession is to dispel ignorance with facts. Not truth - truth is a matt…

Happy Birthday

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Today is my little sister's birthday.

I don't care that she's turning thirty-six. (Ha ha, Mel, I ratted you out.) She's still my baby sister, and the biggest regret I have in life (alongside getting student loans) is that she and I have spent most of our adult lives living in different time zones.

It sucks. I want to hang out with her and get manicures or girly shit like that. I want to have lunch with her, just for the hell of it, and talk about nonsense. I want to call her up at the end of a tough day and say, "First margarita's on me."

Social networks help alleviate it a bit. Neither of us is one for long phone conversations; we talk by text and internet.

There are a lot of reasons why this year's especially difficult. I don't intend to detail them right now. Suffice to say, it's a special year. And I want to be there.

Since I can't, I'll settle for embarrassing her with photos from that long-ago day when my parents brought me the b…

Guest Blog: "Wrote What?" by H.C. Playa

In case you haven’t read the disclaimer on my publisher’s website, Fated Bonds contains erotic scenes. If my book ever appeared on television, it would be on HBO. 
Aside from the usual hero and heroine romance, there’s a secondary romance. It just happens to be between two males. Since I wrote the love scenes between Tala and Alexander explicitly, it was only fair to do the same for Kevin and Derrick. In both cases, the sex is a part of the character growth and an expression of their affection for the other person. 
Some readers may think, “ick” at the idea of reading about two men, but the love of those two characters was no less “right” than the main characters. They deserved the same stage as the main characters. I’m well aware that there are people out there who disagree. They can read something else.
Of course, there’re logistical differences to consider. In the rough draft, I basically took my best guess and then passed it to a fellow writer who could comment from firsthand exp…