Tuesday, August 31, 2010

I'm an idiot.

While packing today my friend came across a few CDs mixed in with some other random junk.  "Oh, just put them in that storage tub over there," I said blithely.  I just realized, approximately 9 hours later, that was also the tub that had some extra space at the top, so that's where I stuck my super B.O.B. and all it's attachments.  Whoops!

Friday, August 27, 2010


It's garage sale day!  Kill me now.  My apartment is piled high with attractively displayed stuff.  Or unattractively piled crap.  (That's the kitchen, which I did.  My friend Vicki did the living room, and it looks really good.)  I feel like I'm writing this from a thrift store.

If you've got any spare vibes, please send them out for lots of shoppers and lots of sales for the next two days.  I need all the help I can get!  I have a lot of crap to sell.

Edit: Day one of the Great Garage Sale was a bust.  I had one person show up early to take a look at the car, and that was it.  Nothing for the whole rest of the day.  Think more good thoughts for tomorrow, or SELL ALL THE THINGS! is going to turn into DONATE ALL THE THINGS AND TAKE THE TAX WRITE OFF!  Not quite as catchy, is it?

Edit #2: Day two was a lot better.  Or actually, I guess I should should say the after sale was a lot better.  I only had one customer during the posted hours yesterday.  But a neighbor showed up at 5:20 about bought a boat load of stuff.  And they may be coming back today for more.  And bringing friends!  And someone answered the desperate craigslist ad I placed last night and bought my washer and dryer.  There's still plenty of stuff for the donation truck on Tuesday, but there's a nice bit of money in my pocket, too.  Yay!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Good Things

I decided it's time for another Good Things post.  I had a different, miserable post all ready to go, but I just couldn't put all that "I'm so tired, I'm so sore, I have so much to do" out into the universe one more time.  I know the tag line for this blog ends with "and whining", but I feel like I've been taking that a little too seriously lately.  In fact, I'm thinking that I want to change the name and the tag line of this blog.  After the move.  I can't take on one more thing, no matter how trivial right now.  But if you think of something good, let me know!  Sometime after Labor Day I should have time to think about it again.

Anyway, I was going to come up with a list of good things.  I didn't promise ten this time because I don't want to strain my brain.  So here, in no particular order, are all the good things I can think of.

I get to meet my best friend for lunch tomorrow and see the baby for one last time before I leave.

Another friend is coming on Thursday to help set up for my moving sale, where I will hopefully make scads of money.

My brother and his friend are flying down Friday a week to drive a truck load of my stuff up to Indiana to be stored until Mom and Dad sell the house and we all move west.

My brother's friend's birthday is that Friday, so there will be birthday cake!

In 11 days this whole fiasco will be over, and I'll be settling in for my first night in Massachusetts.  Where my mommy will cook all my meals for me, and spoil my cat rotten, and I fully intend to sleep for a week straight.

When I finally wake up from my long summer's nap, it will be time for Lani/Lucy's Discovery class!  Yay!

Next week Jennifer Crusie's new book, Maybe This Time, launches!  Double yay!  I already have it on pre-order for my Kindle, and my big plan is to start reading it on the plane.

Every time the title of Crusie's new book comes up, I think of the movie Connie and Carla, which is definitely a good thing!

So, it looks like I was able to come up with 8 good things without even trying.  And I feel much better now that I did after writing that other post.  When I start getting cranky again (and I guarantee I will), someone give me a sharp poke and remind me to do a good things list.  Hopefully we'll all be happier for it.

Edit: And now one more good thing to add to the list.  I just got an email from someone asking for more information about some of the items I listed for my moving sale!  Cross your fingers that she wants them, folks!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Help! Need More Books!

Last night, after waffling around for quite a while, I signed up for Lani/Lucy's Discovery class.  This morning I got a welcome email with one pre-class homework assignment: read.  (I knew there was a reason I liked her!)  I never need an excuse to Read All The Things-- I spend a good chunk of my free time doing that anyway.  But this time I'm a little stumped and could use some recommendations.

The details are still a little fuzzy to me (which is why this class is perfect timing), but I know I want to set my story in Texas somewhere in the 1830's-1901.  A lot of cool stuff happened here in those years.  You know what else those years roughly represent?  The Victorian era.  Steampunk!  Which is perfect for my story, since there is some time travel going on. 

This is where you come in.  I've read a little steampunk, but not a lot.  Can you make some recommendations?  What is good?  I like some romance in my stories, anything from a slow growing tension over several books in a series to hanky panky on the first page.  But I don't have to have romance as long as the story is well told and exciting.  I just want to get a feel for what's happening in the genre.

If you've read any of my other posts, you know I'm up to my eyebrows in moving right now.  So I really need books that are available in e-format.  Books that might be available from Overdrive would be great, because my library has an excellent subscription with them.  And I have some credit built up at Amazon, so books available for the Kindle would be good, too.

If you don't have any steampunk recommendations, what have you read and loved lately?  My tastes are fairly eclectic.  It all mixes around in the soup pot in my brain, and you never know what group of disparate things will spark off each other and create a new story idea, or take an old story in a totally new direction.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Baby Hats! And then it gets depressing.

The other day I mentioned the baby hats I've been knitting, and I've finally gotten around to taking a picture.  They're cute, if I must say so myself!

I didn't have 5 little baby heads sitting around the house to display them (um, ew), so I searched the pantry and found 5 cans instead.  Not the perfect option, but it works.  In the background you can see my empty bookshelf, except for a small stack of stuff that still needs to go to Half Price Books.  I'll get to it this week.

I've made a lot of progress, although there's always more to do.  As of this morning I have an airline ticket for Sept. 4th.  My brother is coming down to drive my car to Indianapolis, and I'm flying to Massachusetts.  In 18 days I won't live here any more.  I emailed my best friend, and she and the baby are going to meet me for lunch next week.  I've been so frantically busy these last couple of weeks that I've been able to totally ignore what all that frantic busy-ness was for.  I'm leaving my home.  I've been teary for a good part of the day.  I think I just need to put on a really sad movie and get it over with.  I know I've been joking that the plan was to keep it together until everything is done and then fall apart spectacularly.  I'm beginning to worry that the spectacular even might occur while I'm sitting at the airport, waiting to get on the plane.  Or even worse, on the plane.  I think maybe it's time to stop being so tough about this.  Airport officials get nervous these days when a passenger bursts out in hysterics, even if said passenger has a good reason for the hysterics.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Review: Zero at the Bone by Jane Seville

After witnessing a mob hit, surgeon Jack Francisco is put into protective custody to keep him safe until he can testify. A hitman known only as D is blackmailed into killing Jack, but when he tracks him down, his weary conscience won't allow him to murder an innocent man. Finding in each other an unlikely ally, Jack and D are soon on the run from shadowy enemies. Forced to work together to survive, the two men forge a bond that ripens into unexpected passion. Jack sees the wounded soul beneath D's cold, detached exterior, and D finds in Jack the person who can help him reclaim the man he once was. As the day of Jack's testimony approaches, he and D find themselves not only fighting for their lives... but also fighting for their future. A future together.

I'm a little behind the times on this one- Zero at the Bone came in second in this year's DA BWAHA tournament.  It's the first time a GLBT novel has ranked anywhere near that high, so I figured it must be something special.  I was right.

I don't read a ton of m/m romance, but I've read enough to be at least familiar with the sub-genre.  This is by far the best written m/m romance I've ever read.  Jack and D are real people with serious, complex problems.  And while it took one of them some time accept the attraction, there was refreshingly little gay angst.  Jack and D have enough problems, serious life and death problems, without worrying about how family or society will feel about their relationship.

The outside threats to the couple weren't straightforward, either.  Jack has the mob after him, which is dangerous enough.  But D has been in the business for years and has built up some treacherous enemies himself.  The mystery of exactly who is pulling the strings kept me guessing through the middle of the book.

There were some things that bothered me about the book, however.  Jack and D had a tendency to squabble, which got annoying after a while.  I know that fights are often used in romance novels to up the tension and signal buried attraction.  But somehow that didn't work between these two.  It felt like the same argument over and over again, even if the subject wasn't the same.  I'd rather have seen some real conflict in those scenes than fights that never go anywhere.

Toward the end of the novel, D does some things to make it safe for Jack to go back to his old life.  But he refused to tell Jack at first what he's done.  The reader knows, so there's no mystery there, and there was nothing wrong or shocking in his actions, so I don't know what the point was.  It just created more unnecessary conflict in the relationship.  D had already revealed a lot about his life as a hitman, so why does he feel the need to hide this?  I was ready for these two to get their happy ending already, and it was frustrating to me that this refusal to share caused problems.

Which leads me to my biggest problem with the book.  Romance has expanded to encompass a lot of things-- heroes can be cowboys or vampires or, in the case of D, even hitmen.  They can be set in the past or the future or on a whole different planet.  For many readers, including me, the couple can be gay, straight, or more than a couple.  But there is one contract you can't break.  There has to be a Happily Ever After.  You can even bend that one a little bit and leave them with a Happy For Now in certain circumstances.  But there is no Happily Ever anything for Jack and D at the end of this book, which seriously impacts my reading satisfaction.

If the author had finished with Chapter 29, I could have believed as a reader in Jack and D's happy ending.  But the author spends the last 10% of the book (30 pages or so?  I don't know for sure as I read this on my Kindle and it gives me percentages, not pages.) showing Jack and D having relationship trouble.  Realistic?  Yes.  But romance lovers read for fantasy, not reality.  They clearly love each other, but neither is happy in the relationship as it stands on the last page, and that is a disappointment to me as a reader.  There's a note after the last line that says, "Jack and D's adventures aren't over," and invites the reader to visit the author's website.  The website has a couple of short stories and says that Ms Seville is working on her next book featuring these two heroes, which is good to know.  But I want some sort of relationship resolution now, in this book.  I don't want to have to find the author's website or wait for the next book.  It doesn't have to be Happily Ever After.  I'm OK with a sequel, although you don't see that too often in romance novels.  I'd like to read more about these two characters.  But to give me a satisfying reading experience I need at least a Happy For Now ending.

To sum up, the characters were well defined with exceptional depth.  But there were some problems, especially with the ending.  Overall, I'd give this one a B+.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

McDonald's sleeping bag

Does anyone know anything about McDonald's collectibles?  I have an old sleeping bag from the 80's that looks like a big order of McDonald's french fries.  A friend was here today helping me sort stuff, and when I asked her to throw it on the garage sale pile she said, "You know, that could be worth something."  I've been Googling around, trying to get info on it, but I've come up with bupkis so far.  (My Google-fu, it is weak.)  Lots of other McDonald's collectibles, but no sleeping bags.

It's about in the condition you'd expect something like that to be in after a childhood filled with slumber parties and sleep overs and then being stuffed in various storage closets for years.  A little faded, but doesn't look to be stained.  (I haven't unrolled it to take a good look yet.)  No tears or anything.  I kind of doubt that it's rare and valuable.  But if they were made by the millions I'd think I would have at least found something in Google Images.

So, what do you think?  Have I hit the jackpot of McDonald's collectibles, or is this something so mundane that no one has ever bothered to take a picture and put it on the internet?  Is there anything that hasn't been photographed and put on the internet?

Monday, August 09, 2010

21 Days

Last week a lot of things broke loose for me, and the disability situation felt a little bit less hopeless.  But now it's Monday, and the anxiety levels are creeping up again.  I have 21 days to get my Social Security straightened out and keep my insurance, pack up the apartment, have a huge apartment sale, and donate the rest.  You can barely walk for all the junk in my living room right now.  And then it looks like I'm headed for a lay over in Massachusetts.

Honestly, I think the Massachusetts part is adding to my stress levels.  Mom and Dad have a nice house, and there's certainly room for me to crash there for a while.  But other than closing myself in the bedroom, there's not much room for privacy.  I'm used to being on my own, and I'm not looking forward to suddenly being in a three person household.

As far as the physical sorting and packing goes, it's pretty overwhelming right now.  There's just SO MUCH to do, and I'm not sure what to concentrate on next.  It's all complicated by the fact that as much as I want to just have Goodwill come in and haul it all away, I really need whatever cash a sale will bring in.  A friend and her son will be coming by tomorrow to help, so maybe I can get some of the stuff that's not likely to sell out of the house.  It would be nice to be able to move around without tripping.

Am I blathering?  I feel like I'm blathering.  But I've got to let some of this out or I'm going to explode.  My own blog is the safest place to do it right now.

On Friday I hired a law firm to help with the Social Security appeal.  Hopefully I'll find out who my contact there is today.  I'm also waiting to hear back from the insurance guy about some issues with my long term disability.  There's so much to do, so little time to do it in, and I'm WAITING.  Really, it's a very good thing no one will be taking my blood pressure today.

I think I'm just going to pick a direction and start working.  It's not like there aren't piles of crap everywhere you look.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Happy Anniversary, Sweetheart

Today is my anniversary.  It's been one year since I purchased my Kindle.  I can't believe it's been a year already!

I wanted a Kindle because I thought they were cool.  I've never been a big gadget person, but I've always been a reader, and after listening to Sarah over at Smart Bitches, Trashy Books go on and on about ereaders, I was ready to take the plunge.

But what really made the decision for me was J.R Ward's chracktastickh Black Dagger Brotherhood series.  I read the first two books while lying on the couch, too miserably sick to move.  I finished those books and wanted DESPERATELY to move on to the third book, Z's story.  But I couldn't.  I didn't have it on my shelf, and I didn't have the physical strength to get up off the couch, go to the bookstore, and buy a copy.  I lived by myself at the time (and still will for the next 26 days), so there was no one to send out to the store on an emergency book run.  Friends were occasionally helping out by picking up groceries and such for me, and I have a few reader friends who totally would have understood the concept of book as urgent necessity.  But I was struggling to accept the grocery thing at that point.  I couldn't call up a friend and ask them to go to the bookstore for me.  And ordering online would have taken DAYS.  At that moment I knew.  Someday I was going to have an ereader.

It took another 7 or 8 months for the dream to become reality.  I did a TON of research, trying to make sure I picked exactly the right one.  I made a pros and cons list between Sony and Kindle.  They came up exactly even.  (No decision this important is ever easy.)  Finally, I went with the Kindle, because that's the one I really, really wanted.  I've never regretted my decision.

I was so excited about buying my Kindle that I even sprang for next day shipping- something I never do.  I stalked the UPS website all the next day, tracking my package over and over, afraid that it would be delivered to the apartment office and I wouldn't find out until after they'd locked up for the night.  The UPS guy finally delivered it around 7 that evening, dumping it outside my door, knocking loudly, and then taking off.  But I didn't care, my baby was here! 

As much as I love the instant access to more or less any book I want, there's an even bigger benefit that I never would have realized if I hadn't started using an ereader.  Holding a book puts stress on the hands and arms.  The Kindle is lighter than a hardback and doesn't have to be held open like a paperback.  It puts less stress on the body.  That might not seem like such a big deal, but to those of us with joint issues, it's a lot.  I was amazed at how much less pain I had when I made the switch.  Ereaders have the potential to give books back to readers with arthritis, pain issues, or other conditions that affect manual dexterity.  You have no idea how huge that is.  Health problems can take so much away from you.  To not even be able to do something as simple as hold a book can be devastating.  Getting that back is worth more than you can imagine.

I celebrated today by reading on the Kindle in a doctor's office, hooked up to an IV.  (No emergency- this is routine treatment for me.)  I thought about using some of the Amazon gift card credit I have saved up to buy a new book wirelessly from the office, just because I could.  But in the end I decided to read one of the 259 books I was carrying around in my purse, all on one little device.  Happy Anniversary to me.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Twittascope Almost Got It Right

My Twittascope for the day:

"You may feel as if you have been shortchanged and that something is missing in a relationship. But this can be a reflection of residual childhood longings, especially if you're reminiscing about your family, children or a pet. Exploring memories can be helpful to a point, but letting go of sentimental feelings frees you to find real happiness in the here and now."

Substitute "career" for "relationship" and I'd say that's pretty damn accurate.  I've always dreamed of being an author, for as far back as I can remember.  And I've self-identified as a writer for years even though I've done almost no writing since I got sick.

Lately I've been feeling the pull of the story again.  I have the germ of an idea floating around in my head, and I'm dying to take the time to play with it and see where it goes.  I've love to take Lucy's Discovery class.  If I can pull $180 out my couch cushions, and find a way to not feel guilty about spending it on something like this when my 62 and 70 year old parents are supporting my expensive ass, I am so there.

I've felt this longing for a while now to be writing again.  To be creative.  But not only is my physical and mental state getting in the way, I've been choked with fear.  What if I actually finish my novel this time?  What if I send it off and someone actually wants to publish it?  And then what if Social Security (which I don't even have yet, by the way) decides that publishing one novel counts as "substantial gainful activity" and dumps me?  What the hell am I supposed to do then?

I realize that all this is putting the cart before the horse.  In fact, the cart is so far in front of the horse that the horse can't see it anymore.  In fact, the cart and the horse may actually be travelling in different directions.  But the fear is still paralyzing.  What if I accomplish the one thing I've always dreamed of, and in doing so destroy my ability to medically and financially take care of myself?  Most authors have day jobs, which I can not do.  Once I start, can I produce enough to even minimally support myself if I lose all disability coverage?

If this were a romance novel I'd be the spunky heroine who goes for her dreams no matter what, and in leaping into the void I'd discover my prince charming (who is also a billionaire, possibly Greek, if this is Presents).  He'll stand back, ready to catch me if it looks like I'm going to crash and burn, and pull strings with all his business contacts to ensure that my book will be picked up.  But it will be so fantastic that everyone wants to publish it on it's own merits.  When I discover his back room dealing, and the implied lack of faith in my talent as a writer, I will leave him with much gnashing of teeth and slamming of doors.  But I will forgive him completely when he appears with dozens of roses the day my book debuts at number one on the NYT bestseller list, and we'll all live happily, and richly, ever after.

And that is how my Twittascope ties in.  That fantasy maybe isn't the way I always dreamed my writing career would go, but it's not far off.  (My day dreams have always had more adoring fans than Greek billionaires.)  Clearly there's very little fantasy in my life right now.  It's all about reality.  How am I going to pay for this, where am I going to live, how am I going to do everything that needs to be done in the next month.  One of the realities I need to figure out is: how am I going to incorporate fiction writing back into my life?  Clearly I need it.

Monday, August 02, 2010

Finally, Some Good News!

There are many reasons I'm going to be sad to leave Texas.  I'll miss my best friend and her baby, my critique partners, my doctors, even my gym with the special water arthritis classes.  I'm going to miss living on my own, and I'm flat out going to miss Texas.  My family moved around a lot when I was a kid, and Texas is the only place I ever chose for myself.  But now there's one thing I won't have to miss.

Blue Bell ice cream started off as a small, local creamery.  They make The Best Ice Cream Ever, amen.  For a long time you could only get Blue Bell in Texas.  Back when airline security was less of a hassle, I'd pack a cooler with Blue Bell and dry ice and take it with me on visits to my parents' house, because my dad missed it so much.  Once, as I put the cooler on the belt to be scanned, the security guy looked at me and said, "Blue Bell, huh?"  I guess I wasn't the only one taking pints of creamy goodness to loved ones far away.

Apparently, while I've been happily living in Texas and eating all the Blue Bell I could hold, they've been slowly growing their market.  I was on their website checking the availability of a special seasonal flavor (Summer Berries- so yum!), when I came across this little announcement.  Blue Bell is opening a distribution center in Indianapolis!  Wahoo!  When ever I get homesick I can search the couch cushions for change and then run to the store for a little taste of home.