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« December 2009 | Main | February 2010 »

10 posts from January 2010

Here NowJanuary 29, 2010

Right now, I am content.

Why can't I rest in this feeling more? It could have a lot to do with the fact that I just ate a bunch of chocolate (Riesen caramels), but I don't think so. It's just so.

It might be true that sometimes I do too much. Too fast. I don't relax well, if at all. I'm a bit of a whiner. And I know, theoretically, that I need to Be Here Now. But in practice, I'm a big Livin'-for-Tomorrow kinda gal.

Right now, I'm here. I love this feeling. It's good.

Other feelings:

Oh, the knitting ennui! Bah. I just can't ride the wave right now. How about you? I'm trying to finish up test-knitting a sweater for my book, so I can finish the pattern, so I can send it out to my test-knitter (hi, Kiyomi! Haven't forgotten you!), and I'm not a fan of knitting things twice, I suppose, especially miles of stockinette. Muddling through. Soooo slowly.

Sleepiness. I've been sleeping GREAT. Hoo boy. I could sleep right now. But I won't.

Reading. I've been reading constantly. One perk of being a (really-soon-to-be) Published Author and a member of RWA is that you get to judge the RITAs, which is biggest award in the romance industry. It's the Oscar of romance, if you will. And they SEND YOU FREE BOOKS*. Lots of them! I got eight! Good ones! Ones that were actually on my list to buy and read! And I only have about five weeks to read them, so I'm reading like crazy. I've read three so far, and I'm on the fourth. Three are GREAT. One was okay. Not bad odds, huh?

*One of the funniest moments was when I opened my box of books, and the very first book to slide out was my friend. partner-in-crime, and fellow PensFatales Sophie Littlefield's A Bad Day for Sorry. Out of 1200 books? I got hers? I returned it, because I'm honest, and I couldn't judge it without a conflict of interest ALTHOUGH I WANTED TO and you should totally read it because it was one of my favorite books of 2009. It's wonderful. It's crime fiction about the owner of a sewing shop, and it kicks ass, just like Sophie does.  

A taste of Sophie's book:

Whuppin' ass wasn't so hard, Stella Hardesty thought as she took aim with the little Raven .25 she took off a cheating son-of-a-bitch in Kansas City last month.

What was hard was making sure it stayed whupped.

Especially on a day when it hit a hundred degrees before noon. And you were having hot flashes. And today's quote on your Calendar For Women Who Do Too Much read Find serenity in unexpected places.

"Fuck serenity," Stella said. And she shot the trailer.

A Surprise for You! January 25, 2010

Guess what! I have something for you! In celebration of the fact that I made Book Two all nice and pretty, and finished my editor's revisions (o frabjous day!) and just sent them off this morning, I thought I'd give you a little sneak peek into Book One!

Here you go. Enjoy.

(PS - no sign of Mr. Julius cat yet. Still waiting....)

Another Sad Cat January 23, 2010

I'm at my desk, waiting for the humane trap outside to snap shut with a metallic clang. Hoping for it. Dreading it.

There's this big old tomcat in my neighborhood. He's a funny-looking guy, and he's been instrumental in the creation of many other funny-looking cats around here. He's battle-scarred and tough and walks by my office window in the mornings. I've always liked watching him go by -- cocky and self-assured. You know that kind of cat. He's part of the scene that passes in front of me while I'm typing, a handsome part.

Yesterday, he dragged himself by. I rushed out, and he was moving slowly enough that he couldn't even get away from me. He let me touch his head without hissing, and he had one badly damaged eye, and what appeared to be two broken legs (one front, one back) and maybe a broken pelvis. He was in extreme pain. But he picked up the pace and I followed him, begging him to stop (because I'm an idiot) and he led me right to the hole under our house that I've been looking for: We've been hearing cat(s) under the house for about four or five days. We thought they'd gone under there to mate and scream and yell, and when the rain let up, we were going to figure out how to fix the hole and make sure cats didn't make a permanent home down there, on the warm furnace.

Turns out it was him. Probably yelling in pain for the past few days.

I went inside and got cat food, and then went under the house into the crawl space. He was already on the furnace and hungry enough to let me put it right next to him. I sat with him as he ate.

Then I went up, covered myself in a LOT of clothing in case he fought viciously, got a big towel and a cat carrier, and went back down again.

He won. At one point, the towel was over him, and he was running around underneath the house, unable to shake it off, so there was just a big red towel streaking through the dirt.

It probably hurt him more, damn it.

He got out from under the house, and I spent the rest of the day freaking out, unable to bear the thought of my neighborhood friend living in that much pain.

Now, I hella heart Oakland, you know that. I love this town. But animal control, not so much. They are spread way too thin, and they just don't come out for things like injured cats. (Well, you can leave them the message. I've done it before. And nothing happens.) So I went down there. Waited in line. Asked about humane traps. And I was referred to a company that I could pay to come out to rid my home of unwanted raccoons. That's all they could do. A couple more places wouldn't answer their phones, and a few rescue agencies stated flat out they didn't loan traps.

I tweeted, hopelessly frustrated. 

And while I was crying in my car, barely having sent the last tweet, my phone rang in my hand. Becca offered me the use of her humane trap.

Knitters. They are teh awesome. Always.

Last night I caught an orange tom who really liked tuna and really hated me before I had to put the trap away to go to bed. But it's out there again now. I don't know if old Julius (yes, I accidentally named him while driving around yesterday) will make it back to our yard. He certainly doesn't trust me anymore. But I put it right by the opening to the crawl space, and tuna smells good....

And then, if I catch him, I'll have to have him put down, as fast as possible. There's no saving this kitty, that's pretty clear.

He's just one of those things that, in my mind, makes me Bigger Than Sad. You know? Because if I feel like this about this poor old cat, what about all the other cats? And what about the dogs? And the kids? And the people starving? And Haiti? And cancer? And... and...

Sometimes, I think it's good to have compassion, a lot of it, for one thing at a time. To try to ease that pain, if that's all you can do. Right here, right now. (Shit! I keep hearing the trap snap, but when I check, nothing's happened. Phantom snapping.) 

And that's all I've got right now. Carry on. I'll keep you posted. Kiss your furry things, and your people, too, for that matter. xoxo

I'm So ExcitedJanuary 21, 2010

And no, you guessed right. I just can't hide it.

Romantic Times gave How to Knit a Love Song four stars, calling it "intricate and clever" with "down-home sense." (If only that were MY description. Wouldn't it be lovely to be described like that?)

Let me explain, my knittin' chickens. Reviews don't matter. That's what they say. And someday, I like to think they won't matter to me. People buy books because they're in the store, or because someone (a friend) tells them about them.

But I was worried about this review. This was the one I was waiting for. I feel like I can exhale now.

Hatlskg 

(At BART, in Beth's hat.)

BIG NEWSJanuary 19, 2010

I HAVE A LAUNCH PARTY DATE, and you should mark your calendars if you're going to be anywhere near the area, because you're invited. YES, YOU! 

Oh, yowza! It's going to be MY LAUNCH PARTY, and OHMYGOD, have we been waiting for this, or what?

March 16th! TUESDAY! 

Bookshop West Portal, San Francisco. Time to be announced, keep your eye right here.

Will you drop a comment or email me if you think you might make it? I'd like to keep a (rough) headcount so I know how much cheese and crackers to buy.

And DUDES! There's going to be a kick-off at that party for a raffle giveaway that is SO COOL (that ALL y'all will be able to get in on afterward, whether you're there or not, don't worry), so you don't want to miss it if you can help it.

*

And hey, other places I'll be that I know about so far:

May 1st, Romantic Times, Columbus, OH

July 31st, RWA, Nashville, TN

I'm hoping for Rhinebeck or maybe even a pop-in at Maryland, but I can't say that either of those will happen. (But wouldn't it be cool if they did?)

And does anyone live in/near Boise? We're planning on coming through at the end of March to see the in-laws, and it would be great to set up a reading there... Hmmm?

WOOT!

Of Cats and KingsJanuary 18, 2010

Oooh, hi. I missed you. I really did. I've been missing you and unable to get to the blog, and getting here and typing feels like a relief.

Ahhh. Let's take a moment. Pull up a chair. Have a cup of coffee. Listen to those angry baby birds outside. I hope to God they're not pigeons in the roof eaves (I think we got rid of those, but damn, they're stubborn). (Isn't eaves a nice word? I love that word.)

Fair warning: I'm rambly today. Know why?

I finished my editor's revisions yesterday on Book Two! WOOOOOOT!

This is exciting. I've been working my ass off, seriously, I might have mentioned that. I've been lucky enough to have been able to take some time off this last month from the J.O.B. to work on the revisions, but I've still been working 12 hour shifts, and then, on my days off, I work 9 to 11 hours on revising. Without a break. Every day. It's a blessing and a curse, being a dispatcher, trained to work so long without taking breaks -- I'm used to Just Working.

But yesterday, can we talk about yesterday for a moment? You know that state of flow people talk about? The elusive zone? I think it's right up there with the runner's high. Sure, when I was running regularly, running used to make me feel pretty darn good, but I was always wondering, is this the high? Is this it? Then, one day, when training for the marathon, I think I was at mile thirteen, and I hit it. All the endorphins flooded my brain, and it was one of the best feelings I've ever had. I had it, and I knew it. I could have run forever, and it lasted a good three miles. I was floating, dancing, ephemeral. It was AWESOME. (Then of course, the pain hit. Oh, God.)

Yesterday, I hit the zone. I woke up early, knowing I'd finish the book. The ending, which I still had to write, was completely new, and totally drama-filled (we're talking death-defying plunges and will-she-make-it moments). I sat at my desk and lost myself for nine hours. Usually, when I work nine hours, I'm COMPLETELY CONSCIOUS of it. I can look up at say, HEY! I've worked four hours and thirty-two minutes, go me. Yesterday, there was no me. There was just the story.

I've been reading this awesome book, The Happiness Project, by Gretchen Rubin, and she talks about the fog of happiness, and how it translates to both parenting and writing. Now, I wouldn't know about the first, and the book is far away in a room where one person and three dogs are sleeping, so forgive the paraphrasing, but she says that the fog of happiness is very real. Parenting, as a whole, is full of things that aren't very fun. Lots of things that no one enjoys. So is writing. Sure, we love (or some of us do), the networking, and the thinking about writing, and the reading about writing, but there are few of us who really enjoy the getting in there and getting it done. Sitting at the desk, day after day after bloody day and writing. More writing. And then more. And yet, when we look back at it, when we think about it (and this is what she says about parenting, too), they're some of our richest, happiest feelings. They're surrounded by a fog of happiness, even if a lot of the time the kid is a punk and you can't write your way out of a paper bag*. 

But not yesterday. Yesterday was bliss. Honestly. Right down to where I wrote The End and brought out my old Epilogue and found out that it fit, exactly, every word, as if what I'd written had been directed this way, the whole time (and it had been, I know it).

Now, just some clean up to do, and some critique partners' eyes going over it, and then, after they look at it, some more clean up, and it'll go back out to my editor. I'm proud of this.

And the first book is SO close now, isn't it? T-minus 5 weeks! Would you like an excerpt later this week? I have one all queued up to give you (one you've never seen -- I think you'll like it. It's yarny). 

And on a totally different subject: I have to tell you this. We girls met my dad's girlfriend this weekend. Lola. (Lala and Lola! Ha!) And we were nervous, but we had the Let's Get this Over With mentality and Have a Nice Dinner attitude. They drove up from down south, and we met them at the restaurant.

She. Was. A. Doll. I'm so happy for my dad. She reminded me of me, in the way that I can run at the mouth (in a good way!) when I'm nervous and say anything that comes to mind, and in that she has a strong, loving personality and huge laugh (we were a boisterous table, so much so that a woman came over and asked my father how he'd been so lucky to end up with all these women). They've been together a while now, and already have stories, and I really liked hearing the way they told them together. Then at the end, Lola said something that absolutely endeared her to me (not that she hadn't already) -- she confessed that she'd been SO nervous before coming that she'd asked my dad to duct tape her feet so that she wouldn't stick them in her mouth. For some reason, I'd only thought about us, the kids, being nervous. It hadn't occurred to me that she, the ostensible Adult (hello, I'm 37!) would be nervous, too, and duh! She was meeting FOUR of us, and we were only meeting one of her! She was so brave!

And she reads my blog, so hi, Lola! And hi to your work partners, and I'm so glad I got to meet you. Keep my dad in line, okay? Don't let him blow anything up, please. Thanks.

Geez. I TOLD you I was long-winded. It's POURING out there, and the cats are running all over the furniture in their regular early morning aerobic session (DAMN, I MISSED YOGA -- whoops) and I guess, since I'm not going to yoga, I'll just work on cleaning up the manuscript some more. 

* Bethany reminded us at dinner that Dad used to silkscreen her paper lunch sacks with Joe's Mortuary and Meat House. Heh.

The New Dog's NameJanuary 15, 2010

is announced in a blog-post that was worth waiting for. (And it's not Orangey, as the title would have you believe.)

IMG00537-20100107-2100 

(Strangely, she's the one thing that will get Adah off the top of the fridge. Adah lurves her. Weird.)

Thoughts About Breaking UpJanuary 14, 2010

Oh, Juno. Now you've done it.

I've been thinking about breaking up for a while now. And your post has really gone and done it, I think.

(Martha Flynn, you shouldn't read this. You're not ready.)

It's time to get rid of cable.

Now, I'm not going to go whole hog, like she did. She's actually giving her TV to Michelle (which was a pretty funny Twitter exhange to witness in real time, actually), and I still have plans to watch shows sometimes, things on Hulu, movies on Amazon and iTunes. But it's just kind of ridiculous to have the whole computer system that Lala set up (an Apple Mini, so we have a hub, right there, at the TV), and not utilize it the right way.

I don't watch much TV. Maybe five hours a week, which is even less than Lala does. But I really, really, really enjoy those five hours (even though I'm famous for pausing the show and walking away eleventy-billion times during every show to do something Very Important That I've Just Remembered Needs Doing). That's so not worth the cost of cable.

I could be hanging out with family more. Reading more. Watching more movies.

It's time. (I'm SO NOT THINKING about the fact that Big Love just started. Can you get that on iTunes?)

What do you think?

Nameless OneJanuary 8, 2010

Lala got a dog.

I know. I can hear you from here. But I have a border collie and four cats. She has a chihuahua. Doesn't seem quite fair, does it? She'd been looking for a great dane, so I tell you what, when she saw this little charmer, I was all over it. NOT A GREAT DANE.

Miss Idaho, the tropical chihuahua-bird, looks over Lala's shoulder at the new addition: 

IMG00511-20100107-1905 

We think she's a pit bull/beagle mix, and she's the sweetest, most gentle little thing. I think she might have a little boxer in her, too, but it's hard to tell. She doesn't seem to mind the cats or show much interest in them at all (even though Digit has boxed her ears twice now -- she just looked confused and sad), and she wants to be on a lap and cuddle all the time.

IMG00527-20100107-2004 

She is SO cute we can't stand it.

Waylonnamelss 

Waylon and the Nameless One, getting acquainted.

No name yet! Lala takes these things seriously! I'm one of those people who thinks hard and fast, and comes up with names in under ten minutes. Maybe fifteen. Lala takes days. It's driving me CRAZY, I tell you.

IMG00521-20100107-1933

But I'll admit she's good at naming, so it'll be worth waiting for. Good dog.

Slipper Genies GeniusJanuary 4, 2010

I think I may have just used these in the wrong way, but I loved it:

Slipper
Those are my Slipper Genies that I got for Christmas. Lala was was a little nervous when I opened them, lest I bop her over the head for getting me the equivalent of a vacuum cleaner, but she knows me well -- I love them. 

I was just over at Amazon looking at them, and now I realize that you're supposed to dust mop with them. Are they crazy? We have a lot of animals and a lot of hardwood/tile. That kind of fur-real estate requires a huge dust mop and a Dyson and a Roomba (when it's running). Two little slippers wouldn't do the trick in our house, even if I wore them all the time, and if I did, then I certainly wouldn't want to fold my legs up under myself because EW.

But check this out: I have a cleaning solution that I use for just about everything. It's one part white vinegar, two parts water, (plus a healthy squirt of your favorite kind of Dr. Bronner's soap -- I like lavender). I put it in a spray bottle and it works on hardwood floors, tile, kitchen counter tops, tables, all surfaces, the bathroom, even glass and mirrors. The only thing I don't use it on is the tub and the toilet (the toilet gets a half-vinegar-half-water mixture and the tub gets.... whatever. I hate our tub. Someday we will have a nice tub. Until then, I've given up. Lala handles it). I love my cleaner because it's totally non-toxic, TOTALLY cheap, and if you accidentally spritz the apples with it, who cares?

So today, I got out the spray bottle, put on the slippers, and danced around the house, spraying and mopping with my feet. It was AWESOME. (I am a cleaning nerd.) Then I ripped off the velcro bottoms and threw them in the washer with the towels, and they are scrub-a-dubbing right now. 

That's the kind of thing that lights my fire. It makes me want to get three more pairs, which is ridiculous. I will stick with this one pair. That, my homemade cleaning solution, and knitted dishcloths, and I'm a happy girl.