Thursday, April 17, 2014

Filling You In, Catching You Up

This is why I couldn't clean out my gutters.
So today I thought I'd update you on some of the things I've posted about recently. (Of course, "recently" is a relative term. Heh.)

There's a new thing to add to my "Happy" list. This Saturday is the City Islanders home opener. Local professional soccer. I have come to love attending these games so much, and I have occasional anxiety about it because Number Two is finishing her freshman year in high school so the countdown has begun to when I have an empty nest. Now, no kids in the house does not bother me. Them moving on to their own lives, possibly far away? Great! That's what's supposed to happen! I have plenty to keep me busy and Number One can tell you I'm not the Meddling Mom type.

But what if they do both decide to live several hours away? What will I do about the City Islanders? My husband only goes to a couple of games a year because it's a family thing. I have no friends who like soccer. Do I really want to be that creepy woman all alone in the top corner of Section 7 every summer?

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I have not been killed by Silent Sam. So there's that.

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I got to read Misty Simon's next Ink book, Protective Ink. It's even better than Wicked Ink! I'm very happy to say she's hard at work on the next one and has ideas for the one after that, so we're set for a while! :)
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I'm writing lots! Well, in comparison to the not lots I was doing before. Harte and Soul is going well, and I'm pleased with its progress. I'm really tickled by the imaginative idea I had in the current chapter. It's a small thing, but it made me smile. Aftershocks is under consideration by my publisher so I'll let you all know if/when I have news on that. It's a little different from my usual romantic adventures, in that it's longer than the ones that have been published recently, and there's some ambiguity about the hero. As in, there are two guys who could potentially win my heroine. That's risky!

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Plumbing! This is the main reason for this post, because I never updated you all on the clog situation, and I'm sure that bothered you as much as it bothered me that there's not a sequel to Kasie West's Split Second.

So my expert plumber guy came out, used a powered snake, sent that about 20 feet through the pipes, closed everything up, and the clog was still there. So he opened it all up again, went 42 feet, which is an incredible distance and HAD to be outside the house. Hit something he couldn't get past, which we both hoped was just a cast iron bolt in the outside plumbing and not something, like, collapsed. But that did it, and the drain has been clear ever since, and we haven't had any soggy spots in our yard or anything. So fingers crossed that's the end of it.

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Victoria Smith has a new book out! For the Love of Isaac. Which I haven't read yet. Because I am a bad friend. The pressure is off after I buy the book. But I HAVE read her next one, and it's a great paranormal that has a feeling like Supernatural. Keep watch for that!

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Okay, last one. I had a post about being sick of winter and talking about the weather, and despite spring finally making an appearance, we had a wintry mix this week and it's been in the 20s at night. Sigh. A coworker and my daughter are both all, "I refuse to wear a winter jacket in April!" and I'm like, "You know Mother Nature doesn't care, right? You're only spiting yourself." They both kind of gave me a look.

The birds are indeed ALL back, and they're nesting. On my ladder. That we need to get to the roof. So that we can put up this giant piece of flashing that fell off.


Did I say Yay, the birds are back?

Monday, April 07, 2014

There's Something to be Happy About Every Day

Hi, all! I know, you don't remember who the heck I am, since I post so infrequently! I have had little to say and no time to say it, but I've been thinking about this one for a while. So here's a quick hit, with hopefully some more rambling stuff to come soon. :)

Monday
On Mondays I am happy because there is a new Football Today podcast to listen to.

Tuesday
On Tuesdays I am happy because there is a new PFW in Progress podcast to listen to, plus Agents of SHIELD and Supernatural are on TV.

Wednesday
On Wednesdays I am happy because my Entangled sales are updated. Even though I'm far enough past my newest release that they aren't "big" anymore, it's still exciting to see how many copies have been sold. Also, my first Friday of the week, so I feel okay staying up late to watch TV shows recorded the last three days, even though I typically get up very early on Thursday, anyway.

Thursday
Another new Football Today podcast AND another new PFW in Progress podcast. I'd never get through my daily commute and household chores without them. And since it's the offseason, Ayisha Tyler's Girl on Guy and EW's Inside TV Podcast get me through the gaps, but I don't know what days those release. ALSO on Thursday, Carina sales are updated, AND I don't have to leave the house to go to work. It's my catch-up/writing day.

Friday
The busiest day at the day job is also my second Friday of the week. LOL

Saturday and Sunday need no explanation.

What makes YOU happy each day?

Sunday, March 09, 2014

This Is New

I got this in spam mail last week. It really speaks for itself, don't you think?

From: yanglim177 at a yahoo e-mail address

Subject: SAD NEWS!!!

Re: YOU NEED TO SAVE YOUR LIVE

Attn:
          
I AM VERY SORRY FOR YOU, IS A PITY THAT THIS IS HOW YOUR LIFE IS GOING TO END. MY DUTY AS I AM MAILING YOU NOW IS JUST TO KILL YOU AND I HAVE TO DO IT AS I HAVE ALREADY BEEN PAID. SOMEONE YOU CALL A FRIEND WANTS YOU DEAD BY ALL MEANS, AND THE PERSON HAVE SPENT A LOT OF MONEY ON THIS PROJECT, THE PERSON ALSO CAME TO US AND TOLD ME THAT HE WANT YOU DEAD AND HE PROVIDED US WITH YOUR NAME, PICTURE AND OTHER NECESSARY INFORMATION'S WE NEEDED ABOUT YOU. SO I SENT MY BOYS TO TRACK YOU DOWN AND THEY HAVE CARRIED OUT THE NECESSARY INVESTIGATION NEEDED FOR THE OPERATION ON YOU,  AND THEY HAVE DONE THAT BUT I TOLD THEM NOT TO KILL YOU THAT I WILL LIKE TO CONTACT YOU, NOT SINCE THEIR FINDINGS SHOWS THAT YOU ARE INNOCENT.

I CALLED MY CLIENT BACK AND ASK OF YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS WHICH I DIDN'T TELL WHAT I WANTED TO DO WITH IT, GAVE IT TO ME AND I AM USING IT TO CONTACT YOU NOW. AS I AM WRITING TO YOU NOW MY MEN ARE MONITORING YOU AND THEY ARE TELLING ME EVERYTHING ABOUT YOU.

WARNING: DO NOT THINK OF CONTACTING THE POLICE OR EVEN TELL ANYONE BECAUSE I WILL KNOW. REMEMBER, SOMEONE WHO KNOWS YOU VERY WELL WANT YOU DEAD! I WILL EXTEND IT TO YOUR FAMILY, IN CASE I NOTICE SOMETHING FUNNY. DO NOT COME OUT ONCE IT IS 7:PM UNTIL I MAKE OUT TIME TO SEE YOU OF THE DISCUSSION WITH THE PERSON WHO WANT YOU DEAD FOR ANY LEGAL ACTION.

TAKE CARE.
Name: SIR. SILENT (INT' KILLER)
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Okay, yes, it speaks for itself, but here's some commentary anyway.

Um...how am I supposed to save my live? There's no demand for me to do anything except "not come out." There's no link for them to infect me or demand reparation of some sort. So what's the point?

I love that the value of my death is only $500. Oh, no, wait, that's what my husband said he paid when I read this to him.

I have so many questions! How am I innocent? Or not innocent, if that's not a typo? Why would the person who hired SIR. SILENT to kill me give him my e-mail address without demanding to know why he wanted it? Why would he be willing to extend it to my family with no additional payment? That's not very professional.

So tell me! Anyone else getting this in their spam mail? Is there an epidemic of murder-for-hire, or am I a lucky one? :)

Friday, March 07, 2014

Listening while Writing

Today's guest is my very good friend Misty Simon, another of the authors in the Harlequin E urban fantasy launch anthology! Misty, take it away!

I know a lot of people make play lists when writing books. I’ve tried this before and have failed miserably. I tend to listen to a whole album when writing a book. Phantom of the Opera was on the iPod while I wrote Wicked Ink for the Paranormal and Urban Fantasy Box Set for Harlequin E. There was something about the dark music and the thought of what could have happened if the Phantom had been redeemed. Yes, there’s a Point of No Return but what if he’d been brought back from the edge?

It was quite the experience to write to that music and hard to find a different album to write to for the next book in the series, Protective Ink. I’ll tell you all about that when the next book comes out!

In the meantime, do you use music to set the mood? And I’m not just talking about writing. My daughter and I dance around the kitchen to techno when we’re making dinner and I have Bach for Book Lovers for when I am reading. There are Saturday night dance parties in the bathroom at my house and music is a constant. But what do you put on when you want to exercise or think or relax? Lay it on me! Maybe it will be the next soundtrack for another Ink book!

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Wicked Ink can be purchased in the Box Set in all retail outlets but here are the top sites:


Garrett’s gift for violence is tattooed on his flesh. Dory looks like the typical girl next door, but she has dark secrets of her own. When a predator strikes, Garrett learns that Dory is the only one who can save him. But first, he’ll have to save her….


Thursday, March 06, 2014

Planes, Boats, and Nausea Relief Bracelets—Guest Blogger Naomi Bellina

Everyone, please welcome my guest Naomi Bellina, one of the authors in the Harlequin E urban fantasy launch anthology!

Every year, traveling sucks a little bit more. I take a plane trip in October to visit family and I don't know, maybe it's just me, but the whole adventure seems to be weirder each time. This last trip through the airport I had to stand in this strange machine I can only assume was scanning my body looking for contraband. The position I assumed was feet slightly apart, arms over my head with my hands almost touching. I swear, I almost rose up on my toes in a “pointe” ballet move, which would more than likely have resulted in a not-so-graceful teetering fall not to mention an increased interest in searching me more thoroughly. But it was tempting.

Riding in the airplane is actually big fun to me. I love being in the air and looking down at the landscape and the clouds. The take-off is awesome and the landing is even better! I've never been in a small plane, but that's what was required for my heroine in Her Wild Protector. Not only does she have to board a Cessna, she also has to ride in a small boat. Tara doesn't do so well with either of these and is given some relief by using bracelets designed to combat nausea. After doing the research on these, I'm thinking about getting a pair. I'm trying to work up the courage to take a cruise soon and the bracelets might be just the thing to fight off a case of the pukes. After spending one stormy night on a smaller-size gambling boat with my head in the toilet, I don't want a repeat of that.

All the research for this story was fun. I now know a lot about the Bahamas and how to get there. Only certain ones have airports large enough to land a big plane, so if you decided to go to one of the smaller islands, you'll be traveling by small plane or boat , just like Tara. Check out this great website if you want to know where you can and can't land, then enjoy this excerpt from Her Wild Protector. http://www.pilotpub.com/bahamas-airport-map.php

It's out now as part of the Paranormal and Urban Fantasy Box Set from HarlequinE, at a great price!

Buy links: Amazon | Barnes and Noble | iTunes | Kobo


Excerpt: 

Tara jogged inside and found the small bathroom. Obviously a male hangout. The bar of soap was dirty with grease and the seat on the toilet was up. She squatted, thankful for strong leg muscles. She washed her hands, put on lotion and ran a finger under her eyes to fix her makeup. Back at her apartment she’d taken just a minute to apply a bit of eyeliner and mascara, and the hurried application wasn’t quite a success. Under the dim lighting in this room, she looked like death warmed over. Of course, considering what she’d just seen, her pallor was understandable.
She pulled out her phone and turned it over in her hands. It wasn’t too late. She could call the cops, run out the back door, find a place to hide…
A light tapping on the door interrupted her thoughts.
“Tara, come on out of there. We need to get moving.” Marshall spoke in a low tone. She opened the door and stuck her head around.
“I don’t want to go.”
“Come here,” he beckoned, crooking his finger, still using the gentle tone one uses with a frightened animal. She emerged halfway from the bathroom. He took one hand and squeezed it, then gently pulled her all the way out. “I know you’re scared and this is all pretty strange to you. I’m going to do my best to make sure you’re safe. I promise.”
“Take off your glasses—look me in the eye and tell me that.”
He removed his shades and stared at her intently. Those gorgeous eyes! She forced herself not to focus on Marshall’s good looks but instead to study him to see if he was telling the truth. Tara liked to think she was good at reading people, but she knew she was far too trusting. Saying “I do” to Karl proved that.
In Marshall’s eyes she saw sincerity. He truly believed he could protect her and her gut feeling told her to trust him.
“I will keep you safe,” he said, still holding her hand, and this time the low timbre of his voice stirred feelings deep inside. Her knees wobbled and her heart sped up. A familiar tingle that she hadn’t felt for a long time ran between her legs and heat rose to her cheeks. She ducked her head. She would not let him see the effect he had on her. He would use that to manipulate her, she was certain. Already he’d convinced her to climb into a small tin can and fly to who knows where.
“This is the best option, believe me. If you stay here you’re in danger,” Marshall said, and still holding her hand, they walked to the airplane. The warmth and pressure of his grip gave her comfort but she pulled away, not wanting to get so drawn into his masculine presence that she couldn’t think clearly. She had a feeling that was easily possible.
“It’s got blade thingies,” she said when they reached the plane. It seemed even smaller close up.
“Propellers, we like to call them,”
“What kind of plane is this?” Still stalling, Tara walked around and kicked one of the tires. It felt solid.
“It’s a Cessna Conquest. I ride in them all the time—it’s perfectly safe. Hop in.”
She climbed the steps and looked inside.
“It’s kind of small.”
“There’s plenty of room. Grab a seat and buckle up.”
Tara did so, wiggling around. The chair was roomier and more comfortable than she remembered from her other flights, and there was enough room to stretch her legs. The interior was actually fairly spacious, she noted, now that she was seated. She let out a breath. Claustrophobia wouldn’t be a problem.
Marshall joined her a few moments later, sitting in the seat across from her.
“Hang tight, we’ll be in the air shortly. Use this if you feel nauseous.” He handed her a bag.
Tara gripped her purse as they taxied down the runway. The scenery flew past and suddenly they were in the air. Her stomach lurched and she grabbed the airsick bag Marshall had given her. The droning sound of the engine pulsed and she could feel the plane vibrate.
She turned to find Marshall watching her, his brow furrowed and a look of concern in his eyes. Damn it, she did not want to get sick. She hated to throw up, despised that burning feeling in her throat. She also found, to her annoyance, she wanted to make a good impression on Marshall. Taking a deep breath, she stole a glance out the window and was instantly distracted. The view was breathtaking! Sunlight sparkled off the water where shades of blue and green blended together to form a colorful mosaic.
“Wow, the world looks different from up here,” she said.
***************** 

About Naomi:

Naomi lives in beautiful sunny Florida with the love of her life and a magical calico cat. She writes for various fiction and non-fiction markets, but finds she is drawn to romance because her characters insist on canoodling and falling madly in love. So she lets them. Occasionally, however, they go to dark and strange places. She lets them do this also. Most of her stories will surprise readers with unexpected twists and turns, because isn't that what makes life exciting?

Her interests include dancing, hula-hooping, drumming, and creating healthy meals. She takes the opportunity to play, have fun, and indulge in the pursuit of passion whenever possible. She hopes you enjoy her stories and would love to hear from you at naomibellina(at)live(dot)com. Visit her website at http://www.naomibellina.com/ and chat on Facebook at
http://www.facebook.com/NaomiBellinaAuthor


Her motto:  Never pass up the opportunity to have an adventure!


Monday, March 03, 2014

My Writing Process—Blog Tour

Just Released!
I was invited by Sherilee Gray to participate in the ongoing "My Writing Process" blog tour. She talked about hers last week. I find it fascinating how different we all are. :)

So here are my answers to the tour questions:

1.  What am I working on?
I have two projects going at the moment. One is a romantic adventure I'm revising called Aftershocks. Zoe's past has come back with a vengeance, threatening the life she's worked so hard to build, as well as the lives of her fiancé Kell and the people she loves. The only way to eliminate the threat is to revisit old pain. That brings her back in contact with Grant, the first guy she ever loved.

I'm also working on the third book in the paranormal romance Soul series, Harte and Soul. It's been a real struggle to find time to write this one, and I apologize to all those who've been waiting impatiently! The hero in this book is Peter Ranger, the brother of the heroine from Soul of the Dragon, and the heroine is investigating his daughter and the abilities she has.

2.  How does my work differ from others of its genre?
My paranormal romances are very grounded in today's world. The people who have abilities are either out in the open with them, or they are alone rather than part of a hidden society. That makes for some unique challenges.

My romantic adventures are different from the typical romantic suspense because they focus more on excitement than fear. My characters also tend to work around the law (or all the way outside it) rather than being members of law enforcement. They're a little closer to being regular people dealing with extraordinary circumstances.

3.  Why do I write what I do?
I guess I write what I love to read. I like fast-paced, action-oriented books with high emotional stakes and really strong heroes and heroines, and I enjoy finding circumstances that test and challenge characters like that.

4.  How does your writing process work?
I scribble ideas down at random moments, and eventually those ideas coalesce or click together into a book-sized concept. Lately, I've been working on contracted projects that were already defined, so that organic process hasn't been given much rein. That means I have several projects that are conceptualized and just waiting for me to get around to them.

Usually I start with the main ideas and the main characters and just start writing until I get stuck, then I go back and revise and/or work out where I'm going. In the case of Harte and Soul, I got solidly stuck and for the first time, I mind-mapped some of the story elements. So now I can start in a stronger position. I tend not to do a lot of preliminary work, but I keep spreadsheets and notes pages to keep track of my characters, story details, and plot points.

My process means a lot more work on the revision end, because at some point I just grab the story and run with it until the end, and that can make for some rocky progressions. :) I've been blessed with great editors who've helped me strengthen the core of the story and make sure everything is clearly motivated.

Thanks so much for stopping by! Check out Sherilee's link up above so you can read her process and the other two authors she's tagged, and next week look for new posts by these great authors:

Misty Simon loves a good story and decided one day that she would try her hand at it. Eventually she got it right. There’s nothing better in the world than making someone laugh, and she hopes everyone at least snickers in the right places when reading her books. She lives with her husband, daughter, and two insane dogs in Central Pennsylvania where she is hard at work on her next novel or three. She loves to hear from readers so drop her a line at misty@mistysimon.com.

Victoria Smith moved eight times before finally settling in Mechanicsburg. She writes paranormal, urban fantasy, and dystopian - all with romance. Who doesn’t love a happy ending? She currently publishes with Liquid Silver Books. http://vickismith.wordpress.com/

Vicky Burkholder grew up in the Mechanicsburg area, but now lives in Lititz. Her writing spans the fantasy, science fiction, paranormal and romance lines from YA to adult. No matter the age or genre, all of her books have a touch of romance in them and have to have a happily ever after ending. She currently publishes with Liquid Silver Books and Ellora’s Cave. http://burkholv.wordpress.com/


Saturday, March 01, 2014

Plumbing in My Underwear (Not a Euphemism)

Don't you hate it when something minor turns into a big thing and derails your entire day?

That happened to me yesterday. Our sink had been clogged. Slow to drain, but repeatedly clogging. When I got home from work today I tried a new, all-natural de-clogger. Didn't work. So I plunged the sink for a while. (It's okay, the all-natural de-clogger instructions said to do it. It's not like Drano.)

Ugh. I first sucked up black bits and junk and brackish water that smelled like vomit. I plunged and plunged and got nowhere. So I got a bin, put it under the pipes, and unscrewed the trap. Despite my care, the water (far more water than was in the sink itself) gushed out, bounced off the bottom of the bin, and soaked my sweatshirt.

Did I mention the water smelled like vomit?

So I took off the sweatshirt. A few minutes later, I got up and realized I had not caught the water on the floor, and I had a wet patch on my jeans. Off came the jeans.

And yes, wearing only my undergarments, I fished the trap out of the black, sick-smelling water. It was perfectly clear. Yay. Notice the lack of exclamation point. That's because the trap wasn't clear because the clog fell out of it. Oh, no. Because I replaced it and tried the sink again, and up swelled the water.

At this point, I had to go pick up Number Two at school and take her for a doctor's appointment, so I put on some clothes, threw my yucky-smelling ones into the washing machine, took care of all that, and came back, changed into old, household-chore-type clothes, and tackled the damned sink again. Fully dressed this time. So of course, I got wet again.

This time I took off several pieces of PVC pipe. All clear. It appears the main pipe into the wall is where the clog is. Due to a combination of the builder's stupidity and our installation of a deep sink, the pipes are a little convoluted. But using drain cleaner/de-clogger probably isn't going to work because it will sit in the trap instead of being pushed up to where the clog is. We can't snake it because the snake won't navigate two bends. So I'm probably calling a plumber on Monday.

On the plus side, see that piece of duct tape on the back of the sink in the photo above? I replaced that with a tightly sealed white cap. I can also proudly report that after a leeetle trial and error, I got all the weirdly cut PVC jointing back together and nothing is leaking.

At least I can feel accomplished about something.