Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Wandering Wednesday

Saw two movies recently, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs and Fame. Both, of course--following today's trends--based on old materials.

When we first found out Cloudy was being made into a movie, my kids were all excited.

Number One: I love that book!

Number Two: Me, too!

Mom/Dad: What's it about?

Number One: I forget.

Number Two: Me, too.

So we got the book from the library and all read it, and then a few weeks later we saw the movie, which had lots of funny parts (including Neil Patrick Harris voicing STEEEEVE!) and good casting but a pretty mediocre storyline. It just strayed too far sometimes, I thought, and instead of a hero who had good intentions but screwed things up through no fault of his own, we got a hero who was really an idiot. The "be yourself, even if you're a dork" subplot was incredibly sexist and kind of missed its own point.

Overall, fun movie, glad I paid matinee fees.

Fame was a little disappointing. Well casted, well acted, some tremendous production numbers, but no plot, no really strong character development/growth, too many things left hanging. It was a bunch of scenes just thrown together, albeit in chronological order. At one point I thought, "this would work great as a series." Heh. (For those of you too young to know, Fame was a movie that became a series, so I won't be surprised if they do that again.)

All of that makes it sound like it was terrible. It wasn't. There were some small messages that worked, even if they lacked substance because there wasn't anything supporting them. I did buy the soundtrack immediately, as well as the original theme song, and parts of the movie have stayed with me over the week.

Unfortunately, the part that has stuck hardest isn't a good one. MILD SPOILER ALERT. There's one character, a dancer, who for some reason is accepted into the school even though they don't meet the instructor's standards in the audition, and she even says to expect to go home sooner than expected. But this person does get a slot, and the only bits we see of them is demonstration that they aren't very good at what they do. Near the end, the dancer is told the instructor can't write a letter of recommendation for them, that they never met the potential they originally demonstrated, and maybe they can teach instead of perform.

That's been resonating a lot with me. Any creative performance-based industry has a tiny percentage who succeed. The vast majority don't. There's no formula, no way to tell who will make it and who won't, who will overcome a talent deficit through hard work or who will get the lucky break because circumstances align. So we all just keep plowing away, working hard, never giving up even though the obstacles are inches apart so you barely get over one before the next one is in your face.

You can't succeed if you don't assume that you won't be one of the ones who doesn't live up to their potential. But how long do you maintain that assumption? When do you realize that you can't learn enough, practice enough, produce enough to run out of obstacles? When you hit rock bottom, when you start to think that might be true of yourself, do you quit? Or do you stick a cushion on that rock to make yourself comfortable and just keep plugging away because that's what you do? Because you don't know any other way?

What's perseverance, and what's delusion?

Just some light thoughts for this wandering Wednesday.

Verdict's in already for my fall TV Schedule:

The old standbys, How I Met Your Mother and The Big Bang Theory, while not superb so far, do put a nice cap on the hardest day of the week. Castle, on the other hand, has been great. Much, much better writing this season--last week's episode was their best one yet.

I have nothing. The Forgotten is...god, I don't want to say it, but it's true!...unmemorable. It was okay. Not horrible by any means. But I have no interest in watching it again.

Talk about waffling. I decided to try Eastwick but didn't have high hopes. Almost deleted the premiere unwatched, but turned it on, saw hot and sweet Matt Dallas, and settled in. But I'm not going to watch any more. I hate Darryl Van Horn, and I think it's both the actor and the character (I'd like the actor in another role, probably). I don't like a character who really grabs my sympathies turning into an immoral, selfish thief in less than an hour. I love the actress who plays the put-upon, married-to-an-ass doormat, but I hate that storyline. So I'm deleting that show from my season pass.

Modern Family and Glee I'll keep, but I ended up not watching them last night even though I could have. I'm sad that I feel that way. I prefer to be driven excitedly to the TV. Which brings me to:

I've been catching up on Fringe on DVD, and I don't feel any differently about it than I did when I stopped watching last season. I'll continue watching because I love the characters, but if I had to stop, I wouldn't miss it. The Mentalist didn't leave me happily satisfied like it usually does, but I'll keep watching because it's better than The Forgotten. Bones I still love, and I'm hopeful the things I want to happen, will. Funny thing: Number Two's teacher is fresh from college and very tall and thin with a long neck. Every time she tells me about her day and I picture him, I'm picturing Sweets. :)

FlashForward was all it was hyped to be and I'll probably stick that one out for the duration. Even Number Two is dead curious about the answers, and made me promise to tell her every week what happened, since she's too young to watch it.

Vampire Diaries? Gone.

I don't think anything needs to be said about Supernatural. :)

Nothing new here. Numb3rs and Dollhouse, providing the same things they provided last year, giving me enjoyable TV. Actually, it's interesting to juxtapose these two. Numb3rs offers the same thing every week. I know exactly what to expect and always get it. (I often disdain that about TV shows I don't watch, but this one gives me stuff *I* like, so it's okay. LOL) Dollhouse, on the other hand, is the opposite. It makes me think, sets up surprises and excitement--I never know what I'm going to get, and I love it.

There. I just spent an amazing amount of time I don't have on stuff that probably is of no interest to anyone. But then, I suppose that's what this blog is all about. :)

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Musical Circus

We just turned on home sharing in iTunes this weekend, and started snagging music and video and podcasts from each other. My husband wanted "Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap" from me, and ended up taking over 100 things. But he was making fun of my library. It's a bit eclectic. I kind of figure most people's are, but let me give you a sampling, and you tell me how weird I am:

From Shuffle:

"He's a Pirate (Tiesto Remix)", Hans Zimmer et al, Pirates of the Caribbean soundtrack

"Big Bird in a Small Cage," Patrick Watson, Wooden Arms

"Burn it to the Ground," Nickelback, Dark Horse

"Generator Room," David Newman, Serenity soundtrack

"SOS," Tim Curry, The Best of Tim Curry

"Come Away With Me," Norah Jones, Come Away with Me

"Bullets," Creed, Weathered

"Leaving on a Jet Plane," John Denver, The Essential John Denver

"You Can't Take Me," Bryan Adams, Spirit: Stallion of the Cimmeron soundtrack

"The Chipmunk Song (Christmas Don't Be Late)," Alvin and the Chipmunks, Greatest Hits: Still Squeaky After All These Years

"Nothing Compares 2 U," Sinead O'Connor, I Do Not Want What I Haven't Got

So, what do you think? Normal? Or further evidence of my Weird Brain Status?

Monday, September 28, 2009

Ups and Downs

First, I got a nice ego stroke when I got a comment that The Daily Reviewer selected this blog as one of the top 100 romance blogs. Sure, I gotta take it with a grain of salt. I mean, how likely is it that they really got nominations about me? They feed my content to their ad-supported site. But on the other hand, their links to my blog also feed my Google rankings, so that's a benefit to me. And I have a nice pretty badge to paste here.

Then, I got word that a book I edited is now available at Amazon. And Amazon lists me as editor! That was pretty cool. Most of the stuff I work on, I don't get public credit for, which is fine. But it's nice when I do, and I am happy to say I'm proud of our work on this book. It's got a pretty decent approach to dieting, too, IMO.

But then...

Then I got an e-mail that Kate Duffy had died. I never had the pleasure of meeting her personally. I have been rejected by her, dating all the way back to my second book. She was one of the powerhouses of romance publishing, someone known to be blunt and challenging, who really knew her stuff. If she liked your work, you could bask in the glow of that for a week. We will suffer for this loss.

Hitting a little less close to home, a little more in an "end of an era" kind of way, was news of William Safire's death. It's been a long time since I heard anything about him, or read anything by him, but when I was in high school and college and first starting out in my career, he was The Word on everything to do with words. If he said put the period inside the quotation marks always (and he did say that), by gum, I put the period inside the quotation marks. Always. So even though he has no current impact on my life...he'll be missed.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Exploring "Free to Be You and Me"

I just read a bunch of snippets of recaps so I'm not inclined to address the whole episode of last week's Supernatural episode. Instead, My Ramble: Let Me Show You It.

(I can't decide if it's fun or sad that the whole world is speaking in LOLcat nowadays.)

So the biggest topic is, of course, Vesselism. Zachariah told Dean he's to be Michael's vessel, and Lucifer told Sam he's to be his. I love the symmetry of it. A couple of things I read expressed disappointment that Dean isn't God's vessel, because that would be epic, but they're missing the fact that Lucifer is not God's opposite. God created Lucifer, who was just an angel. Michael, being the current leader of the angels, is the counterpart. Anyway, symmetry: brothers hosting brothers to fight to the death. Pretty cool.

However, I can't see this coming to fruition. The show is successful because of who Sam and Dean are. Let Michael and Lucifer take over--something that in any other show or creative work would be amazing--and we lose Sam and Dean completely. And what's the point of that? (I reserve the right to change my mind after next week, when we presumably see Sam hosting Lucifer in the future [why else would Sam be wearing those horrible shoes?], but I don't think I will.)

John seems to be the most obvious vessel for God, as the father of the vessels for God's most powerful sons. Of course, John got salted and burned at the beginning of season 2. On the other hand, Anna was vaporized and Castiel exploded into chunks, and both of them "pulled some strings" to get their bodies back, so lack of actual matter doesn't seem like a true obstacle. On the other other hand (other foot?), bringing John back hinges on Jeffrey Dean Morgan's schedule, and he can't even show up for 30-second shot driving the Impala in a flashback. So that doesn't seem likely.

BTW, I hate how everyone keeps saying "because it always had to be you" when Sam asks why him. THAT'S NOT AN ANSWER. It's like saying, "Why is that a carrot?" and getting "Because it always had to be a carrot." It's driving me insane. Okay, maybe it takes too long to say "Because finally some kid was strong enough to 'win' Azazel's crazy game and open the Devil's Gate so Lilith could get out, and you happened to be there and kill that kid so he couldn't do it, and you just happened to have a brother who was codependent enough to bring you back from the dead AND do that by making a deal that would put him in hell AND be righteous enough to break the first seal, which of course had to happen in your lifetime in order for you to be a suitable vessel for me, and oh, yeah, it had to be you because Ruby and Lilith decided no one else would be strong enough so they set it all up for it to be you, and made sure you did all the stuff that had to happen to line up the cards and stuff so I'd get free."

Of course, he could just say, "You're wicked big, man. And I'm vain enough to want someone hot."

Anyway. What else?

I'm loving Castiel. Misha Collins is playing him brilliantly. He's got so many extremes, but everything is played subtly enough that it doesn't seem impossible for him to be so scared at the brothel, but so intense with Raphael.

Speaking of Raphael, how good was he? There was heartbreak in his voice when he said they just wanted paradise. I find it difficult to condemn him, where I found it less so to condemn Zachariah. It's like corporate management, in a way. Those closer to the main/regular work force have more connection to and empathy for them, and have a harder time making changes that negatively affect those people, and when they don't, shame on them. Executives don't have contact with the masses, so they can make more dispassionate decisions. That metaphor only stretches so far, though, because the angels have been working for humanity, trying to save our sorry asses (or whatever) and fighting a losing battle. No reward, no success? No fatherly thanks or praise? Who wouldn't want rest?

It makes me think a tide will turn somewhere down the line, that Cas and Dean will get more angels back on their side. They're all walking among the humans now, so surely they'll see some of the redemptive elements of humanity, those quiet things that make us special but rarely get fanfare and wouldn't be apparent to someone watching from afar. I guess that's one thing we'll have to watch for.

In the meantime, I'm banking on one more painful episode before the brothers join up and we get some true hilarity with the Paris Hilton episode. Then they can start showing signs of rebuilding. Last season, with the brothers falling apart and Sam's horrible spiral, it dragged me along reluctantly because it was so well done, but where it was going was a place I didn't want to see. This season is the opposite--as dark as everything is, we can only go up, climb to a much better place than they've ever been. As long as it doesn't take 18 episodes to get there, I'm a much less reluctant passenger this time around.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Waay-ay-ting is the Hardest Part

So, as previously mentioned, I can't watch Supernatural tonight. It's pushed back for baseball. I had to close Facebook to avoid the reactions.

In the meantime, I'm sitting here listing left and right because of vertigo I started suffering at 6:30 tonight. It was weird. I wrote for half of practice, then took a nap, and when I woke up everything swam around me. The kids both had very brief bouts with a cold, and I'm thinking I caught it, but in the ears instead of the sinuses. I'm feeling clogged.

I watched FlashForward tonight, and it was as good as I expected. The acting is superb, and the mystery has me totally hooked. I'm so tempted to go around saying "What did you see?" to everyone tomorrow. :)

There are obvious parallels to LOST. The show opens with the central character coming away from an accident, disoriented and surrounded by screaming, terrified people. Instead of a polar bear, there's a kangaroo. And there's a very strange, overarching mystery with lots of questions and bound to generate tons of debate. The central question of destiny and free will is an old one, of course, but that doesn't make it any less compelling. So far, this is my favorite new drama of the season! (Modern Family is my favorite new comedy, so far).

I'm going to go lie down and watch Bones now, see if I can manage to stay up late enough to watch Supernatural. I can't stand that the rest of the world knows what happened and I don't! :(

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Too Much Sleep?

I've been trying to be responsible lately, with the whole sleeping thing. So the last two nights I've gone to bed early. Today I even slept until almost 6:30 because Number One needs nothing from me, Number Two only needs my presence most mornings, and even that's not until we're ready to go to the bus stop. But I've still been tired mid-afternoon, and there have been other odd effects:

Like, this morning, I conditioned my hair twice.

And then, after I returned the dog to the house, I went out to do my morning exercise walk--in flip-flops.

Actually, those could be explained by a busy brain as much as a tired one. In the shower, I was deep in thought about a client's manuscript. I rinsed my hair, and somehow that was triggered as "shampoo out, conditioner in" even though I was actually ready to get out of the shower.

The flip-flop thing was just unthinkingness. I realized it on the second hill. I was working way too hard to keep my shoes on. LOL I have these Adidas flip-flops that have cushioned insoles and silky fabric, so when I've had them on for a little while, the cushion compresses and they're roomier and also therefore slippery. It actually made for a decent walk, though, because I used all the muscles in my legs more. But I had to come down the last hill barefoot--it's so steep, I was afraid I'd break the thong of the flip-flops, and they're new.

Anyway. My brain doesn't feel like it's working right today.

I also had this weird dream last night. It was a "back in school" dream, though not one of the typical anxiety ones. I was in a big room stuffed with stuff. Kind of like on Fringe, where the lab they're given is a storage room for old furniture and equipment? One of the things was a big unit of old-fashioned mailboxes. They took a key but also had a combination--you put in the key, then turned to the proper numbers. I had three mailboxes and opened two of them (my mother had sent me some weird stuff) but for the life of me, I couldn't open the third one. It had something important in it, I knew it...or hoped it, though I always have hope there's something important and there never is. So I think I understand the metaphor. *sigh*

So I guess we can come to the conclusion that it's not "too much sleep" so much as my brain is weird. And I'm sure no one is surprised by that.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Premiere Week

Fall TV actually premiered two weeks ago, but the majority of shows are coming back this week. Here's what I'm watching and how I feel about it so far.

I know, Duh. And you know how I feel about it. Though I do have one thing to say: This summer, when I was watching all four seasons over again, I discovered that as much as I loved season 4 while it was airing, and as a whole it's awesomely done, it's not my favorite season. The episodes I get excited about when they come up on the next DVD are all in seasons 2 and 3. And so far, while I still consider "Sympathy for the Devil" possibly the best ep ever, I don't think it will hit that Favorites list.

It's a damned good thing I'm not the one writing the recap at Supernatural Sisters this week. For the first time in four years, The CW is airing a Phillies game and pushing the show to midnight. Which of course means it COULD air at 11, or at 1, so recording it will be tricky. I know this has happened to others, sometimes often, and we've been lucky so far. Doesn't make me feel better. :(

Still loving it, though the musical numbers always bug me. Even though I dig them, they're so slickly produced and obviously overdubbed, it takes something away from the show overall. I do hate the wife a little less, which is good. In the pilot, she came across as a selfish, conniving, manipulative bitch, which makes you think the hero is stupid for staying with her and not seeing through her. But now she's just a self-centered moron who does seem to love her husband, at least. I still don't like her, but it harms how I feel about him less. My eyebrows went up last week at the implication that Quinn might be shifting from cliché bad-girl cheerleader to someone worthy of Finn.

Vampire Diaries
I liked it much better than I expected to, though I swear Nina Dobrev is a clone of that girl on Roswell and now that they've kissed (not that I didn't want them to), I'm less excited about where it's going. I mean, is Damon just going to tear through Elena's friends? A murder or attempted murder each week? *yawn* The obvious conflict when Elena finds out what Stefan is and why he came to find her isn't something I'm looking forward to, either. But I'm not dropping it yet.

Ausiello of Entertainment Weekly had a blind item last week about a show with a will-they-or-won't-they couple, and how the network is making the showrunners hold off on bringing them together for two more seasons. Everyone in the comments assumed it was Bones, but he said it's not. Still, after last week's premiere, it's clear they're not paying that off immediately. I didn't really take issue with all the people cautioning him to make sure of his feelings before pursuing them. Most of them were right about Brennan's vulnerability and protection of it. But Sweets, I wanted to slap silly. He's such an idiot! Everyone around Booth and Brennan know they're in love with each other and have been for a long time. I love Sweets, but his idiocy was eye-rolling.

Returning Shows
How I Met Your Mother and The Big Bang Theory came back last night, and were okay. Castle was a nice surprise. The writing has gotten better, and the cast chemistry is more natural. The rest of the week brings Dollhouse and Numb3rs and Fringe, though the latter I have to catch up on DVD because I got bored last spring, apparently just as it was getting good.

New Shows
Replacing all my mourned cancellations, I'm adding Modern Family (I got to watch the pilot a couple of months ago and it was great!), The Forgotten (meh, but Christian Slater), and FlashForward, which has things in common with LOST but not the things you think. Well, okay, Penny is probably one of the things you think. :) I started watching LOST because Dominic Monaghan was going to be on it, and that's part of my reason for picking up FF. The rest of the cast seems fabulous, too, though that's not always enough (ref. The Nine and Daybreak). The little bits I've seen also make it look like it will be an intriguing show. Then will come V in November, but geez, why are they waiting so long?

So that's it. Did I miss anything worthwhile?

Friday, September 18, 2009

How to Build Narrative Tension...Or, Damn You, Sera Gamble!

Sera Gamble is very clever.

Executive story editor for Supernatural and Kripke's right arm, she's well known for killing off our most beloved secondary characters--and heck, even some of our primary ones. We hate her for it, even as we love the story she's taken such a large role in shaping.

But that propensity ratcheted up the tension in last night's episode to 11. None of us would ever put killing Rufus, Jo, or even Ellen past her. So every minute they were under fire, I expected them to take a bullet. When Sam and Dean finally confronted War and Ellen was fighting off that military guy (hey, wasn't he kinda cute?) with the knife at the base of her throat...well, in most movies or shows, she'd have gotten that last-second reprieve. But this show doesn't do that most of the time. Believing it could makes for a far more engrossing show, and when it doesn't happen, the relief that much sweeter.

That aside...

I can't watch this show with Number One anymore, not if I want to stop feeling slow. Not stupid, because I was coming around to the amulet, and if I hadn't been so busy lusting over the car I would have instantly known one of the horsemen was there, and I did notice the lack of effects with the knife immediately. But she's calling them much faster, most of the time.

I think my favorite part was Castiel in the beginning. His passion and fire was beautiful. He's not technically working for anyone, including God, but his belief has been fully restored. Since he's been cut off from heaven, he's more connected to humanity and emotion--but still doesn't have a sense of humor. "God is not on a flatbread."

No, wait, my favorite part was the music. It's like the Impala was off the show for almost a full season, and now it's front and center. LOL The music in the actual show, not just the recap, made it feel whole for the first time since season 2.

Bobby's depression and anger are heartbreaking. I didn't think anything could faze him, and I hope he pulls himself out of it quickly. I'd rather see a butt-kicking wheelchair Bobby than a self-pitying one.

Speaking of self-pity...

I also hope next week signifies rock bottom for the boys, and things start going up from there. I have no complaints about the way things have gone so far. But the addiction thread can be resolved now--all connections to reality aside, I'm done with it. I don't watch this show for reality. Sam can stop using "what's inside him" as a scapegoat, take control of his own actions and strengths, and forgive himself so he can realize his full heroic potential.

Same goes for Dean. I don't think he's being a dick for no good reason, and it doesn't make me mad that he's acting that way. He's carrying a shitload of guilt (and, yes, therefore, self-pity). He broke the first seal. He didn't stop the last one. He didn't save Sammy, who turned on him. The hardest thing Dean is going to have to do is let go of Sam. Not as his brother, but as someone he is responsible for. Like any parent, he can't stop Sam from making bad choices. Hopefully, without Dean's tight hold to struggle against, Sam will stop making them.

Once Dean and Sam can stop wallowing in their weaknesses, they can go shoulder to shoulder to take on heaven and hell to save earth. Full partners, the way we've always wanted them to be!

Oh, here's something else cool (besides the symbols all over Dean's ribs! how awesome is that?!)--the Buddy TV recapper noticed that the guy who played War was Jacob's antagonist on last season's LOST finale. And Jacob, of course, was played by Mark Pellegrino, the actor now playing Lucifer's host. I wonder if they went after him on purpose, or if it's all coincidence.

I also wonder about the rest of the Horsemen. Will War have a different body next time, since he was emulating one of the locals? And who will play the others? How will their storylines play out?

I can't wait to find out.

Thursday, September 17, 2009


I'm totally geeking out.

I love an author who inserts tributes into her books, and tributes to the things I'm obsessive passionate about make me giddy with insidery geekiness.

In the space of a few pages, CE Murphy's latest, Walking Dead, references Star Wars (lightsabers), Supernatural (shotgun loaded with rock salt, holy water in sprinklers*), Firefly (big damn heroes), and The Princess Bride (rodents of [un]usual size).

CE Murphy is so cool. (And powerful. I wasn't allowed to say "My hair was doing its Hermione Granger impression" in one of my books, and hers is peppered with pop culture--even some things I have to look up!)

*Salt and holy water are standards in mythology, so it's likely she came up with these before the SPN writers did. It still feels like a tribute. :)
I paused in reading to write the above, and planned to leave it at that. But I loved the book so much that my geeking out made me not pay attention to what I was reading, so I decided to write more.

Generally speaking, I don't want to be the next anybody. I have my own voice and my own style, and I want people to chomp at the bit to get the new Natalie J. Damschroder book because it's not like anything else they read. But there are a couple of authors I want to emulate. I want to make readers feel the way I feel when I read them. CE Murphy is one.

Though I have a lot of friends who are authors, she's not one of them. She doesn't know me from Adam, but I read her blog. What she says there makes me marvel even more. I'm reading this book, and it's so perfect. The balance of action and introspection, the level of humor, the characterization, the progression of events. Nothing lags or fluctuates.

The thing is, because I read her blog, I know this book didn't start out this way. Most of her books, she talks about rewriting a third or two thirds of the original. Her agent gives her revisions, then her editor gives her revisions, sometimes twice. She works really hard. But it's skill that makes her hard work result in such a good book. I thrill to it as a reader, and I'm challenged as a writer to achieve her level, eventually. The little bud of despair that I might never make it? I refuse to water it or offer it any sunlight.

So that's all. Now I'm going to debate myself over spending the rest of my time in the auto service waiting room reading this awesome book, or writing my own.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Triumphs and Frustrations

Today was loaded with triumphs and frustrations.

I spent the entire--and I mean ENTIRE day working on the kids' computers. They had a .NET problem for the past year that I've tried to fix intermittently, but never could get working right.

Today I found the right utility and got that taken care of on both computers. That enabled me to load service pack 2 on both, so they're fully updated now.

Number One's computer is having major problems, though. I bought Registry Mechanic and ran that, hoping the startup problems it detected would solve the issue, but it didn't.

I researched the problem, and many similar issues seemed to be solved by replacing the PSU (power supply unit). So I went and bought a PSU and swapped them out. That's the triumph. I'm always proud of my success at techie stuff like that. But it's marred by...

It still didn't solve the problem. So I'm going to have to take the computer to someone, unless one of my super-smart blog readers can tell me what is probably wrong when the computer turns on but won't boot up--the power button stays orange and everything has power, especially the fan, which revs to jet engine levels. We power it down, then try again. And again, and again, and again, and again, and again, and again. And then one more time. And then it boots, and is fine. Until we shut down or restart, and go through it all over again.

My iPod case broke this weekend. It was nothing special, just a slip-in case that came with my iPod Photo years ago, and I use it for my iPod Classic now. But the clip came off, and since I primarily use the iPod when I'm working out or grocery shopping, I MUST have a clip.

So at Staples I also bought a new case. And while I was at it, I grabbed some new earbuds, as the old ones were getting grody (a novelty, since they usually crap out before then). The case is leather and has windows, so I never have to take the iPod out again, and the earbuds slipped divinely into my ears and stayed there without wedging or compressing, which means they won't hurt even when I do an hour on the treadmill or a marathon shopping session.

The even bigger triumph? I saved 9 bucks with my toner recycling rewards. \o/

Your turn. Any triumphs or frustrations today?

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Nature Wins Out

I'm a pretty self-aware person. I think it comes, in part, from being a writer, and having to dig deep into what makes people who they are. But there are some fundamental things I know about myself:

1. I need 8 hours of sleep a night.

2. I am required to get up at 6:20 a.m. on weekdays, and sometimes even earlier on weekends with away soccer games that the bleeping officials set for first thing in the morning even though we have to travel nearly 2 hours to get there.

3. I am not a morning person. It's difficult to struggle out of bed any day, never mind when I'm operating on too-little sleep.

I've known these things for a very long time. Before my kids started school. Before I had a 45-minute commute to an early day job. Before I scheduled 8:30 classes in college (frosh mistake--I hate being a cliché!). So why is it such a challenge for me? Simple equation:

Bed at 10:00 + Up at 6:20 = full complement of sleep = happy Natalie

But there are a couple of other factors that trump this self-awareness and solid logic. I'm not only not a morning person, I'm very much a night person. My body tries very, very hard to follow its preferred pattern: Stay up until 3:00 a.m., sleep until 11:00 a.m., repeat cycle. Some nights this summer I was up until 4 or even 4:30, and it was easy. I wasn't tired! Not at any point during the day!

Yes, some of it is a matter of training. If I force myself to go to bed at 10:00 or 11:00, I can maintain the week with no trouble. So far, I haven't been able to make that happen. The problem is work.

Any of you who freelance or work for yourselves know that one of the drawbacks is constant availability. It's okay if I don't do this data entry while the kids are at school, because I can do it after they go to bed. I'll critique this friend's manuscript over the weekend, which will let me work on my own book Monday...until the proofing jobs come in, pushing the writing back to after the football game. That kind of thing.

So what happens is I come back down to my office after the kids are in bed, and that's it. I keep working and working until it's stupid time, then I need unwinding time (pleasure reading, and--an unfortunate side effect--a snack, because it's been 5 or 6 hours since dinner and my stomach is growling).

It wouldn't be so difficult if I got progressively tired. But I don't. I'm at my most tired between 3 and 7 in the afternoon/evening. But I have to push through, because of after-school stuff and soccer practices and meetings and school events and kids' bedtime activities. Then I have my second wind, and if I'm not tired, I should be productive!

Then the alarm goes off at 6:00 a.m., and I want to stab somebody in the head for being such an idiot.

After three solid years of this with no real change, I've come to decide that imposition of a "smart" pattern is impossible. Nature is winning, and all I can do is hold on until the kids are both old enough to not need me, and then I can follow my own pattern...for the rest of my life, if I'm lucky.

I know Mary either has the opposite nature or has greater control over her natural rhythms (as evidenced by daily 4:00 a.m. blog posts). How about the rest of you?

Monday, September 14, 2009

Let's Not Do That Again, M'Kay?

I felt like I was watching the Browns.

But kudos to Stephen Gostkowski for being unafraid to dig around another man's crotch to secure a fumbled football. That takes a real man! LOL

Boo to the media for being too afraid to post a picture of the recovery. This will have to do, until I'm told to take it down:

Photo by Jim Davis, Boston Globe

Are You Ready for Some Footbaaaaaall?

funny pictures of cats with captions
see more Lolcats and funny pictures

I know, the NFL officially kicked off last Thursday, and most of the games were played yesterday, but my team plays tonight, so THIS is the kickoff of MY football season.

Yeah, like any of you care.

Friday, September 11, 2009


An hour and a half ago, my husband went up to bed. I said I'd be up shortly. He said, "see you at 1." Well, look at that. He's prescient.

I've spent the last hour reading some discussions of the announced closing of Quartet Press. I'm exasperatedly amused by people. I am still quite uncertain of what ACTUALLY happened, and while I've speculated, my ideas haven't been in the same realm of other people's. I mean, people who've never started a business yet assume that it's so easy to figure out every single possible startup cost BEFORE you announce the formation of your business. People who really don't know what a business plan is who assume that "certain costs didn't line up with projections" means "we never bothered to create a business plan." Sheesh.

And hey, how about those people who are blasting us 7 authors who contracted with Quartet for getting what we deserved, taking a chance on a startup? Uh, sorry, I knew exactly what I was doing, and I'm not harmed in the slightest by this development. Disappointed, yes. "Destroyed," no. You know what I get? Reversion of rights on a book that is now 1,000% better than it was a month ago.

Here's a point: Many authors pay hundreds for the free editorial I just got, and now I can submit this book elsewhere if I so choose.

Then there are those who are scoffing at all the "hype" and taking the closing to mean the people involved in Quartet AREN'T smart, savvy businesspeople. Well, maybe they're not. I'm not in a position to say. But the "hype" wasn't hype, it was buzz, and everyone was watching to see what would happen, not predicting the saviors of digital publishing, for cripe's sake.

Anyway. That's really not what I was going to post about.

*takes off author hat*

*puts on fangirl hat*

OMG. There is so much joy in me over tonight's (last night's, but I haven't gone to bed yet) episode of Supernatural. It gushed all over my keyboard earlier. Now I'm tired, so it's just a bloat of joy instead of a geyser.

I knew immediately, with "The Road So Far," that this season was going to be AWESOME. AC/DC, the fast-moving clips--it said, "Please keep hands and feet inside the car at all times. Fasten your seatbelts, hold on, and enjoy the ride!"

And then it flung us out into space.

The size and sound of Lucifer's rise. The boys appearing in an airplane, then just missing the burst from the convent. It was disorienting to see them suddenly in a car, NOT the Impala, but it wasn't choppy editing, it was symbolic of how they had to be feeling.

Then Dean slams a bloody hand on the door and sends the angels soaring. Like, WHOA. I tried to figure out when he did that, but we only saw him turn away from Sam and Chuck. Speaking of, OW, but *laughs*.

Then the continuity, OHHHH, the continuity! Dean had been at Bobby's when the angels took him, so that's where the Impala was, so of course Bobby brings the Impala to them. And of course a demon follows and rides him inside. Number One totally called his possession. She flat out didn't believe he'd say those things to Sam. But I hesitated to guess that, because I guessed it at the end of last season, when he questioned if they should just let Sam out to do what he was capable of doing.

Then came the biggest gasp. I expected Bobby to knife the demon behind him, but himself? No one can ever say now that Bobby is not teh awesome.

The whole sword of Michael thing was so cool, too, how they tricked Dean into going there, and upped the stakes over and over, but Dean just kept saying no, and then CASTIEL.

We had some debate over what happened there. I first thought "Ha, Michael doesn't want that meat suit, Zachariah!" but as soon as Castiel started talking (after his badass fight--so much better than his fights last season), I thought "geez, no, that's god getting involved there." One of my friends doesn't trust him, thinks maybe Lucifer put him back together and got him involved, mainly because he was knifing angels. Or she thinks Michael. But I thought Zachariah was far too certain that Michael would just dive right into Dean as soon as he allowed it. Seems like he had to have been guided by Michael in that. I could be wrong, he could just be assuming Michael would take his place at the head of the army. So I'm thinking maybe Gabriel is the one who put Castiel back together and sent him in there. After all, he was knifing angels who'd defied God's will, who had actually stopped believing God was "in charge" anymore. If Anna had a death sentence for a bit of doubt and longing for emotion, and Lucifer was imprisoned for siding with the angels over humanity, then these guys actually got off easily.

So I'm reserving judgment on Castiel.

I saw the clip with the fangirl, so my delight over her was diminished due to repetition, but we giggled over her fanfic and her Galaxy Quest-esque reaction to Chuck's call. How many wanted to be her, feeling up Sam's chest? Show of hands. *raises hand* And how many wanted to comfort Dean and assure him we love him just the way he is? Show of hands. *raises hand*

We returned to teh awesomeness of Bobby back at the hospital, when he roared at the doctor over his caution that he might not walk again. Dean's speech in the hospital room was great, especially the GED/attitude line.

I loved the entire show so much, even though I knew I should be sad at the ending, I couldn't stop smiling. Partly because I know this is pretty much rock bottom for the brothers, and they'll be going up--maybe not directly from here, but it can't take too long for the healing to begin. I mean, Sam made some very poor decisions and let himself be manipulated, but his intentions were always, always good, and you can't argue with the fact that he did save lives. In the big picture, I can't condemn him.

Of course, Dean's pain doesn't come from the big picture. It can't. He's just as culpable. He was pushed to it, manipulated exactly the same (well, okay, not exactly) by Alistair into breaking the first seal. If he hadn't done that, Sam never would have been able to break the last one. So they have to be considered equal there. (I kept waiting for Dean to confess. I don't think he ever really did last season, so I'm not sure if Sam and Bobby know he started things off.)

Anyway, Dean's pain and his lack of trust don't stem from the end result of Sam's journey. They stem from that one moment when Sam broke with Dean and chose Ruby over him, almost killed him, in fact. It's completely personal and justified. And he's absolutely right, they can never go back to what they had before. But in the long run, they'll build something new, stronger, healthier, and probably far more worth loving by the fandom.

And that's saying something. :)

Thursday, September 10, 2009


I kept forgetting. I had a meeting today with some other authors, and we talked and talked about everything under the sun. Then I'd remember at random moments...

Tonight is Supernatural!!!!!!!!!!

And I'd feel a squeal of glee.

Now it's half an hour away, and I can't waaaaiiiiiiiiiiitttttttt!!!!!!!!!!!!

Off to make popcorn!

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Welcome Guest Blogger MJ Fredrick!

I’ve always written stories to relax, telling myself stories to go to sleep, telling myself stories on road trips, telling myself stories because I liked having a situation I could manipulate to please me. Sometimes it meant having a movie star fall in love with me—yes, I wrote a lot of Mary Sue heroines. I was able to take mental trips to places I couldn’t afford to go, to have adventures I am not brave enough to have.

Never was writing more of an escape than the summer I started writing Beneath the Surface. I’d ended a terrible school year with the principal from hell. I was ready to give up my teaching certificate if I couldn’t get another job. My grandmother, who I loved with my whole heart, fell and hit her head and was in the hospital that summer. At first everything seemed fine, and she was sent home, but she wouldn’t eat so had to go back into the hospital and eventually into a nursing home and then to hospice.

I spent time every day wherever she was, and I’d come home and write. I wrote about adventure and treasure and lost love reunited. I wrote about pain and sorrow and loss. All the time I wrote, I knew this was the first book of mine my grandmother wouldn’t read, but I wrote, every day, diving into the world of Adrian and Mallory, digging to find their conflict, revealing the love that had only been buried. I could find joy in this world, no matter what bad happened to Adrian and Mallory, I knew they would have a happy ending.

That’s what I tell people who ask me why I love to write and read romance. No matter how bad anything else is, I know I’ll find a happy ending in the pages of a romance.

Here’s the blurb for Beneath the Surface:

In retrospect, perhaps archaeologist Mallory Reeves shouldn’t have delivered the divorce papers to her estranged husband mere weeks before her marriage to another man. She knew seeing Adrian again would stir up memories, but she didn’t expect so many of them to be good, not after the mess they both made three years ago. She also didn’t expect to want to stay at the dig site on the Yucatan Peninsula. But the lure of the ancient ship and, yes, her sexy ex provide more of a draw than the white picket fence she thought she wanted.

Marine archaeologist Adrian Reeves has good reason to trust no one. His former partner—and former best friend—made off with his last archaeological find. And his wife left him, frustrated by his obsession for professional revenge. Now both Mallory and his nemesis have returned, and it can’t be an accident that they’ve turned up in the middle of the most important excavation of his career. Seeing her again unearths old pain—and rekindles never-forgotten desire. Now he has to decide if he can trust Mallory again. More importantly, if he can trust himself with her.

Thanks, MJ, for guesting here today! I can't wait to read BTS!

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Or is it EVP?

I had a weird moment the other night. I was getting into bed, and the "in use" indicator on the telephone on my nightstand was flashing. It was, like, one in the morning, so there was no reason for that. I picked up the phone, and the screen said "line in use." Trepidatiously, I hit the "on" button. Static. And then an electronic noise similar to a fax machine, but not exactly like a fax machine. I turned the phone off and then on, and it was gone.

"This is how every paranormal horror movie starts," I thought.

But then I figured it out. The TiVo/DVR was probably calling in for updates. That had to be it.


I have a deficiency of book discussion on this blog, and I harbor a fairly high level of guilt about it. I'm so afraid I'll miss one friend's release or announcement, that I just don't mention any. Ditto when I read books by people I know--I don't want anyone to feel bad that I neglected to post about their book, so I don't post about any reading, most of the time. But there is one surefire way to make absolutely certain I'll post about you and your book--be a guest blogger! :)

So tomorrow I'll be thrilled to host MJ Fredrick, author of Hot Shot, Where There's Smoke, and last week's release, Beneath the Surface. She'll be talking about writing as escape, so don't miss it!

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Cohesive Fail

I can't seem to post a single-topic post this week. *shrugs*

I'm doing some Facebook catching up right now, and this appears a lot:

" No one should die because they cannot afford health care, and no one should go broke because they get sick. If you agree, please post this as your status for the rest of the day."

At first, who posted it made sense. The first three or four were authors, and we're a small world. But then I saw Christopher Lennertz, a composer (video games, movies, and SUPERNATURAL), who is very much not in the same world. Kinda cool.

I don't care how many people tell us technology is distancing us from each other, I keep seeing more and more ways it's doing the opposite.


So today Number One was telling me about this story she's reading in English. She gives a little rundown of the story, and says as she read, first thing she thought was "The Benders!" I said, "Ray Bradbury, The Most Dangerous Game" and she was floored that I knew what she was talking about. *snort* Kids.

(But srsly, as good as Bradbury is, and as teachable as that story is, why does generation after generation get taught the same musty old literature? How about some contemporary stuff that comments on the human condition NOW? Mix it up a little, people.)


Productive day today. Cleaned my office (whoa, there's carpet in here!) and did my filing, which necessitated spreading the foot-tall pile over the pool table. To-do list is decimated. Not really smaller, but it was a good day.

Now I'm off to watch some Supernatural season 4 DVD bonus features and write an analysis for Supernatural Sisters! Check it out. After midnight. Central time.


Wednesday, September 02, 2009

First Week of School Annoyances

1. Teachers who have typos or errors in their course descriptions. "Everyday" is an adjective. And yes, I made proofreading marks on half of Number One's papers I had to sign.

2. Parents who ignore the rules, particularly pertaining to drop-offs. The ones who stop dead center in front of the walk to the main doors instead of pulling up so five more cars can fit and drop kids at the same time are irritating. What, their preshus babays can't walk 15 more feet?! But worse are the ones who stop in the passing lane because they don't want to wait their friggin' turn. They hold up the flow of traffic, endanger their kids, and risk fender benders. Morons.

3. Time speeding by at three times the speed it did in the summer, so I only seem to get a third as much done, despite being alone with no interruptions (except Tracy)!

4. The need to eat. I'm trying to work on my book, and my growling stomach is totally distracting.

5. People who post answers on loops several days after ten other people already posted the same answers. I admit I learned the hard way, but I read all my mail before I answer it, because other people's time is valuable and I don't want to look like a moron.

6. Not getting e-mails back when I want them. This one is totally internal because I don't expect everyone to work on my timetable. That would be obnoxious. Still, it would be nice to get the ones I'm waiting for now, instead of in half an hour when I'll be deep in an escape scene (or, even better, the last few pages of the book!) and will be compelled to break the flow to address the issues related to the e-mail. (I have problems leaving things hanging.)

7. All the Supernatural stuff flowing around me. I gave in and watched a clip, and it didn't ease my gnawing need for the show, it made it worse. And reminded me there are tons of reports out there from Vancouver, and I don't have time to go find them and read them, but the addiction is giving me the shakes. September 10th is toooo far away!

8. Computers that need serious maintenance when I don't have time to do it! (Not mine, knock wood).

Not everything is annoying. I am alone, so I can work guilt-free. The inevitable bus issues on Monday were quickly worked out, and even Number One's horrible first day was eradicated by how well the second day went. Our evenings are busy, but not to the level of hectic, and tonight I have virtually no obligations. Looking forward to weekend activities and not even minding the school schedule that gives us a four-day weekend.

Now, if I could just get through this to-do list...