Life, Our Universe, and Everything..including a FREEBIE!

I realized that I forgot to actually say that The Boy really enjoyed his stay at soccer camp this summer at Ohio Northern University. It’s my alma mater, so it was really interesting to go up there and see all the things that have changed. Silly me, I’ve been up there to judge mock trial competitions in Hill building and the law school building several times over the years, but I haven’t gotten past those buildings to see the rest of the campus in a long time. The trees in the Tundra are much much taller and the residence halls are soooo much nicer; they’ve done a lot of work on campus. It’s changed a lot since I was there. Some of those were good changes; some were changes that weren’t unexpected, but I was disappointed to see the change.

We’re heavily into fall already, even though it’s only August. The Boy is running cross country this year, as well as playing for the Springfield Thunder soccer club, and starting seventh grade, so we’re a little nuts running to All The Event Things. The Boy, on the other hand, is vacillating between “I’m too hot and tired to eat,” and “EAT ALL THE FOOD THINGS!” Even so, we wouldn’t change it a bit.

Hubby and I haven’t had the Model T out much this year, because my wonderful husband hurt his foot pretty bad at the beginning of summer, and hasn’t been able to drive it. (Handy tip…when playing soccer, one is supposed to land on the BOTTOM of one’s foot, not the TOP). We are hoping to get a bit of driving in before the weather makes it impossible to do so.

We’re crazy busy around here, but that hasn’t stopped us from going together to Fandom Fest in Louisville, KY, attending the Champaign County Fair, and getting The Boy ready for school. I’m constantly staring at a computer a lot, working the day job, the part time job, the private cases, and, of course, working on two different novel projects. AND…trying to blog more often. I need to get better at this, I know.

ALSO my birthday is TOMORROW….and for TOMORROW ONLY I’ve signed up with my publishers for a FREEBIE DAY. I’m giving YOU a present to celebrate my birthday. TOMORROW ONLY you can get THE GRIMM LEGACY in ebook for FREE!!

That’s right. FREE. Check it out. And then, once you’re totally in love with Bert, Janie, Aiden, Mia, and the rest, check out books two and three.

 

 

 

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WHEW!

Life is what happens when you’re looking the wrong way…or something like that.

Well, last week was INSANE.

I was obsessing over the last details of THE ANDERSEN ANCESTRY last week (yup, hit my deadline. Yay me!), when everything else seemed to be exploding at the same time.

Last Wednesday, the day before the book was due, I thought I was doing pretty darn good. I’d gotten up that morning and everyone in my household was getting things together and out the door early. That doesn’t always happen. The one snag was getting after The Boy for putting his shoes up on the couch as I was reaching for my own shoes…

Only to find, when I got to the office, that I was wearing two different shoes. Both black, both platform heels of the same height…but one was a Mary Jane style shoe and one was a penny loafer style shoe. What still amazes me is that I’d grabbed a right shoe and a left shoe and put them on, walked to the car, drove to the office, and then got halfway to the office door before I realized I’d done it. Oops.

Thursday morning, BF said he wasn’t feeling well. I’d mentioned that I had a hearing that morning, and was running around like mad (and of course, checking my shoes) to make sure I had time to go to the office first. As we all ran out the door, we found that I had a flat tire. And I’m not talking about a low tire…I’m talking flat-as-a-pancake. Turned out I’d somehow picked up a roofing nail in my tire, without realizing it. BF had me hop in his car, and he dropped me at the office after he dropped The Boy at school. He asked for my key, and I gave it to him.

What I didn’t think about was that my door handle was not working correctly, so the key wouldn’t work. I hadn’t given him the keyfob thingy, so he couldn’t get in the car. Instead, he couldn’t even get inside the car to drive it to the tire place with the spare on because he couldn’t get inside the car. Before I knew it, he’d dropped the key at my office…but I had no idea where my car was. He headed on to work, and ended up busy, so I couldn’t get an answer about where to find my car…I was even calling the tire place asking if they knew where my car was. (It was still at home, since he couldn’t move the car itself he took the tire off, took it to the store, had them patch it, came back, and put it back on the car.)

Friday, I realized about halfway through the day that I’d left my wallet at home. Of course that was the day that I’d planned to do the after work grocery run.

And then, just Tuesday morning, we got skunked.

I’m not kidding.

A skunk sprayed the side of the house right behind the kitchen windows, near the sunroom (which BF corrects me, and he’s right…it’s now really the Man Cave). We don’t know why. We don’t know what for. We do know, however, that it must have been REALLY upset. I have a theory that one of the neighborhood cats might have ticked it off right beside our house, but I don’t know that for sure (I just know that I’m constantly chasing cats out my backyard).

Two days later, I’ve got bowls of white vinegar all over the house. I’ve got a couple of small plates of coffee grounds sitting out as well to soak up odors. We have a trap set beside the house to catch the skunk, and I’m planning to scrub the house from top to bottom when it’s caught and gone. We’ve changed the furnace filters, and we’ve Febreeze-d the house within an inch of its life. Elizabeth the fuzzy minion has been CLINGY beyond belief, because, of course, she’s stuck here all day smelling it while we get out and go to work.

I’m so paranoid about smelling like skunk that I’m Lysol-ing and Febreeze-ing myself on a regular basis. I think its just stuck in my nose and I can’t get it out.

So…if you were to walk by my desk at work and smell lavender, it’s the air freshener and odor neutralizer I’m keeping on my desk, and I’m using enough of it to neutralize just about the worst smells you could imagine.

On the other hand…it is getting somewhat better.

So who’s got a good de-skunking idea? Remember…I don’t want to use tomato juice because it stains, and because the skunk didn’t actually spray the inside of the house. It’s just the odor to get rid of inside the house.

Any suggestions?

Lotsa stuff…Not much to talk about

There’s a lot going on over here at Chez King…

Wedding crafts are all over the place, but slowly getting completed and put back into storage.

Wordcount is slowly but surely growing on THE ANDERSEN ANCESTRY. Silent giggling is going on as I’m adding new wrinkles to the outline I already had. It’s part of the process for me…I need to have some kind of plan, but sooner or later, somewhere, somehow, I’m going to go off outline. Generally that’s a good thing. Some of the best scenes I’ve written have been off-outline, brain sparks of inspiration that just flowed. And scenes with Bert the frog tend to come out that way. However, this time, it isn’t. And that’s all I’m going to say about that. 😉

The Boy has started indoor soccer tonight, so I got writing time while BF took him to the game, and I had a cousin stop by with her daughter, who was selling Girl Scout cookies. I’ve somehow managed to resist the people selling them at work, but I couldn’t say no to her. I think I showed restraint by stopping at two boxes. Hey, I do have a wedding dress to fit into, after all!

The Fuzzy Menace is being clingy and needy these days, and has been trying new and interesting ways of attempting to fit onto my lap while I write. I swear she’s going to end up on top of the keyboard sooner or later, but it’s incredibly cute and all kinds of distracting. I am learning, however, that no matter how much lap I might have, a netbook and a fourteen pound cat is too much for my lap to hold all at once, although Elizabeth the fuzzy menace keeps trying to find a way to make it work. Right now, she’s lying across my right leg, while I have the netbook balanced on my left, and she’s leaning up against the back of my right hand, purring as loud as a diesel engine.

I’m still working on putting together a schedule of appearances, etc., for 2013, and will post them soon. There will be some online stuff coming up as well.

Needless to say, life is a lot insane lately, and not a lot of news to report, so suffice it to say that the new book is coming along, and I’ll post as I get more information that I can share.

Welcome to Crazytown, Population: Me

There’s a lot going on here at Chez King, but not a lot that I can talk about. Needless to say, plenty of stress, plenty of holiday, plenty of family, and plenty of fun…and editing deadlines and conference appearances and writing, oh my!!

Lots of overwhelming gratitude and thanks go out to Jamie-Kristal Lott and Matt Teel, my editor and the head of the Urania fantasy imprint at Musa Publishing, respectively, for being prompt and thorough with all their work on my book, and for their patience in dealing with an author who is still figuring out how to make deadlines work with real life thrown into the mix. Now wait, that sounds bad. I did hit my editing deadlines with time to spare, but still, it was nice that they were so understanding about my questions and concerns. And they GET the book. It makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

I’m just days back from MARCon, where I appeared on some interesting panels. Those who know me, know that I’ve just about always got plenty to say about just about anything…the question is whether I’ll say it or not. The panelists were all interesting and knowledgeable, and I hope that the people who attended got as much out of them as I did. I had a blast! Got to see some old friends and make new ones, and enjoyed the heck out of the time I spent there.

The only downside to the conference was that I was on LATE panels and driving back and forth to sleep in my own bed, and Easter Sunday was the last day of the conference. I chose to go to church with the family and eat way too much Easter dinner rather than come back for the third day when I found out that I was not on any panels on Sunday. I’d make the same choice again, although, next time I might need a steady IV of coffee to get through it all!

I’m through a bunch of edits on my novel, THE GRIMM LEGACY, which is still scheduled for release on May 25, 2012. I’m hoping to have more news soon regarding this, and some fun stuff for when it comes out, but those are still in the works, so rest assured…stuff is being planned. More stuff is being talked about. Miscellaneous stuff is being pondered. (And yes, Brother, that joke still works).

I’m finishing up some legal work tonight, and then hoping to dive back into writing tomorrow night, where at least two (and possibly three) projects will be claiming my attention. Plus we’re making plans for fun activities for the weekend. Life is all kinds of hectic, but in a pretty darn good way.

Meanwhile, Fuzzy Minion wanted to say hi.

And now I must step away from the computer and pay homage to the Fuzzy Minion. You see, it’s her house. I’m just allowed to live in it and pay the bills.

Silence and a Learning Curve

I’ve been silent here because there are so many things going on that I wouldn’t know where to start. There’s also a lot of things in the news that make me crazy, but I possess both the right to remain silent, as well as the capacity to know when to keep my trap shut, so I’m being quiet. I’ve written many blog entries, and consigned them to the trash heap corner of my flash drive, where they will likely never see the light of day…and that’s probably for the best.

My personal life has gotten a lot busier than normal…but that’s not a topic I generally discuss on the blog.

I don’t have any major news to report regarding the writing. According to the conversations I’ve had over email with my publisher/editors, we’re on track to release THE GRIMM LEGACY right on schedule on May 25, 2012.

I’m learning real quick about working to deadline…I’ve had a bunch of those lately. And I’ve been learning about my own ability to meet them….as well as being realistic about hitting them without losing my mind.

I’ve been talking to people about different things with regard to the release of the book in May, but I don’t have anything to report yet.

I CAN tell everyone that I am scheduled to be at MARCon in Columbus, Ohio on April 6-8, 2012, and am scheduled to be on four different panels while I’m there.

Here’s the schedule…

Friday April 6, 2012

8:30 p.m.             Writer’s groups-the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

10:00 p.m.           Paranormal Romance

Saturday April 7, 2012

4:00 p.m.             The Urban Fantasy

11:00 p.m.           Beyond Sex: Writing Realistic Relationships in Novels and Short Fiction

As usual, there will be someone at the house when I’m not there, and Elizabeth the amazing whiny cat will be on her usual guard patrol.

More to come as I get deeper into this process!

Aw, You Like Me. You Really Like Me!

I’m not sure how to top the news from yesterday. I don’t think I can at this point.

I’m overwhelmed at the support, and the encouragement I’ve seen since I’ve announced this…the number of comments and likes on Facebook, the responses on Twitter, and the number of visitors to the site in the last 24-48 hours has been phenomenal.

You guys do get that just because I signed the contract this week doesn’t mean that it gets released tomorrow, right?

The official release date has not yet been set. It’s likely several months away.

Let me lay a few things to rest:

1)      No, I’m not quitting my day job.

This is my first published novel (not the first novel I’ve written, but the first one to be accepted for publication). To date, my writing income is a four figure amount…if you count the figures that come after the decimal point. I’ve got a mortgage, a student loan payment, and a car payment, and I’d like to, well, buy groceries and pay the electric bill, too. All of that means I need the day job.

And well, the health insurance and dental insurance are nice, too. Writing doesn’t come with benefits, usually.

2)      You’ve made it…you wanted to get published. You ready to put that writing thing away yet?

Boy, if someone’s thinking this, they sure don’t know me. I’ve been writing fiction in various forms and states of completion since I was eight years old. Writing’s not ever gonna go away.

Technically, however, I’m already published, even before my news yesterday, with the anthology MYSTERY TIMES TEN, which came out this past summer. My short story, “Poltergeist on Aisle Fourteen” was included. That didn’t stop me from seeking out a publisher for my novel. And it hasn’t stopped me from working on the novel I’m writing now. Or the outline for the novel after that. Or making notes for other projects. Or working on new short stories. Or submitting the short stories that are ready.

So what’s my bigger goal?

Well, to take over the world, of course.

No, seriously, it’s not. I’m kidding. (Maybe 😉 But I believe that setting goals for ourselves is important. And when you reach a goal…you set a new one…who knows, maybe my next goal will be learning to juggle baby geese (bonus points if you get this reference!)

Nah, it’s to finish the current novel.  I’m allergic to feathers, anyway.

3)      What did you do to celebrate?

Well, my best friend lives a couple of hours away, with her husband and baby. We all love to cook and try new foodie things, so I went down there for the weekend. Brother and his girlfriend live closer to them than to where I live, so they joined us. We joked and laughed and talked and watched movies and opened a bottle of wine or three, had yummy snacks and a lovely dinner…and Boston cream pie for dessert.

And talked life, the universe, and writing, among other things.

Because I am that kind of geek.

And then, breakfast with friends, driving home for a writer’s group meeting, and cuddling up with a good book at the end of the night with the fuzzy minion purring away in my lap.

I count that as a pretty awesome weekend.

The Easiest Mood Cure in the World

So I was cranky when I got home from work last night.

It wasn’t that I’d had a bad day. Far from it. It had been a strange day, with oddball cases in court, but for the most part, the day had run on schedule.

But it was hot. And I don’t just mean shorts and a t-shirt hot. I mean humid and hot, as if I was breathing soup instead of air. I grumbled into the house about having to go out later and water all my flowerbeds and gardens, checked on the goldfish in the pond, and went inside to deal with Velcro-kitty.

The cat was GLUED to me. For some reason, beyond my understanding at the time, she was absolutely wigging out. And she wanted to sit rightthere, attached like Velcro to my hip, as I tried to check my email.

We’ve been in need of rain for quite some time. It’s so hot that plants are getting scorched in the sun.

I decided that I was going to sit down, pay the fuzzy minion some attention, have an adult beverage, and relax, to shake off the cranky-pants mood I was in.

And then it began to pour down rain outside, sheeting against the front windows, thunder booming and echoing outside. No wonder the cat was freaking out. She’s terrified of loud storms, and had known it was coming. It rained and poured and there was lightening and thunder.

And then I realized I’d forgotten to get the mail. Luckily, the mailbox is on my front porch, which has a roof over it, so I could step outside and get the mail and take a minute or so to watch the storm without getting wet.

And then I saw it. It was a package I’d been waiting for. It was my author copies of the anthology coming out this Friday. It was the first time I’d seen my own fiction in print, the first time I’d seen my name as a byline under a title of one of my own stories, the very first paid publication credit I’ve gotten.

I started grinning. It hasn’t stopped yet, twenty hours later.

(Yup, that’s my hand. I couldn’t figure out another way of taking the picture without terrible glare from the overhead ceiling fan.)

There is nothing on this earth that jollies one out of a bad mood faster than seeing your own name in print for the first time.

And I’m still smiling.

(FYI, it is available for pre-order on Amazon now, and the release date is THIS FRIDAY!!)

My Long Hiatus

Well, I kinda fell off the face of the earth lately.

Many of you probably already know…and I posted here a while ago…the news that I was being laid off from my job as an assistant prosecutor.

Most probably don’t know that I’ve landed a job as Champaign County, Ohio’s child support enforcement attorney.

I’m just past my first week at the new job, and I’m very much enjoying it. I’ve got a lot of friends at the new office, and am also enjoying the challenge of learning something new.

I didn’t post a lot about the layoff. Yes, I’ve got a lot of thoughts about how all of that happened. No, I’m not going to share much of that.

You see, there’s quite of few people out there who have stated, quite bluntly, that if anyone deserved to have an opinion on all of the state and local budget issues and what’s behind it all, that I deserved to have such an opinion. I don’t disagree with them. I deserve to have an opinion. And I have the right to share it, if I wish. I just don’t think it’s a good idea to do so.

Many of my close friends and family members have heard my thoughts about what happened, and I’ve been very careful about what I’ve said. Why?

Well, no matter what I thought, or felt, I was still looking for a new job. Showing my snarky side on the internet just isn’t a good idea when one is looking for a new position.

Second of all, my boss at the old job didn’t want to lay me off. He did everything he could to prevent it from hurting me, going so far as to tell me privately, explaining all of the budget numbers to me, as well as to the whole office, making it clear to the entire community that it had nothing to do with my job performance, and giving me a glowing recommendation during my job search. I can’t thank him enough for all of his support. My point? He doesn’t deserve to have me go off like a cracked out jackass on the internet about the issues. Those issues weren’t anything that he could change (and I think he actually tried everything he could). Obviously, no one was happy with the decision, but it’s hard to argue with the numbers…there was an Addie-shaped hole in his office budget…when you added up my salary and benefits (which don’t add up to much, but in a small office taking a big budget hit, it is a lot) and compared them to the budget cuts the office was facing. I also know the rationale behind me being the one cut. I can’t disagree, when looking at it dispassionately. That’s hard to do, but it is the truth.

I’ve had my ups, and my downs, and my stressed out moments in the last month or so in dealing with this. I’ve done very little writing as I tried to wind down the old job, gear up for the new job, pack up the office at the old place, and get the house ready for the already-planned office cookout at my place.

Oh…and my brother moved out of my house, I put in the garden I’d been planning for two years, and finally unpacked many of the boxes that I still hadn’t unpacked from moving two years ago.

In other words…my plate was a bit full. I made a comment to a friend a couple of weeks ago that I don’t ever remember being that stressed out. In fact, I said that hadn’t been that stressed when I took the bar exam…and that’s saying something because I was a walking stress-ball when I went through that.

I know that some people began worrying about me, because I became a little bit of a hermit. I also joked that I had gone from frugal to flat-out cheap. I wasn’t going anywhere on my free days because I was refusing to spend money on gas for my car. I downgraded the cat to cheaper food (not easy to do with her food allergies, but I think I found something that’s working). I negotiated changes on my cell phone bill, my cable bill, and slashed everything I felt that I could. I stopped going out to lunch, or eating out, well, ever. I also cut other things out of my budget wherever I could. I probably could have gotten out more, but I had to deal with what was going on, and I needed to be in control of the thing I was worried the most about…the ability to pay the bills and not lose my mind.

The good news is that I have landed a job with a similar salary and benefits. I’m going to be fine.

I had even dropped out of going to writer’s group meetings for a while, in the interest of saving money. Both groups I belong to involve driving out of the town I live in, and one of them meets over dinner at different restaurants every week. Yesterday I went back to a writer’s meeting, and got a lot of encouragement and support from the other writers in the group. It felt good, being back.

So, here I am. I’m getting back into the swing of things. I’m keeping my trap shut here about my feelings with regard to current policies setting budgets on a federal, state, or local level.

So why do I bring it up at all? As an example of both having the right to remain silent, and being blessed with the capacity to do so. There are quite a few people out there who lack that capacity, even in the face of discretion being the right way to go.

I’m under no delusions that this blog has a huge reach. It’s getting bigger all the time, but I have no pretensions to that effect. That being said, I do believe that a lot of people forget sometimes to be careful of themselves online. While I’m a big believer in the idea of freedom of speech, I’m also a believer in wisdom of silence. There are times that keeping one’s trap shut is a bad idea. There are times when discretion really is the right way to go. This is a time that falls in the latter category.

On another note, I have been spending some time doing research on some new writing projects. I’ve got some cool new ideas under my hat. Now that I’m firmly into the new job and a lot of the stress is draining away, I’ll be back on the internet and back into the writing routine more often than I have been lately.

She Who Has Been Trained

There are times that I tell stories about my cat.

She seriously has learned some commands. If I say “sit”, she sits. If I say “paw”, she lets me shake her paw. (This is a major accomplishment, since up until we mastered this command she had perfected the “I-will-shred-your-hands-and-set-the-world-ablaze” response whenever I tried to touch her feet. This made claw trimming a two person job.) If I say “up”, she sits up. If I hold out my index finger and say “kiss”, she touches her nose to my finger, and then rubs her face along my finger and into my hand for scritches.

But she is a cat. And therefore she is planning to take over the world. And she is starting by bending me to her will.

I am the Keeper of the Food and the Treats. I am also the Keeper of the Dreaded Claw-Trimmer and the Dastardly Grooming Brush. She hates them both, but will put up with them for the aforementioned Food and Treats. That also means putting up with my Stupid Human Tricks and Requests for Training.

Despite this, she wants a rigorous schedule. And when I say schedule, I mean mealtimes. She gets two meals a day; one in the morning, and one in the evening. She wants them on HER terms.

Which means that she wakes me up at unearthly hours of the morning for breakfast. And demands it until I get up and provide it.

And if I walk in the door at night and do not immediately give her attention and dinner, she cries and whines until she is fed. You’d think I was starving her (one look at my fourteen pound terror will abuse you of that notion, but if you hear her crying you would think she was wasting away).

So I had started trying not to feed her right away when I got home; the hope was that if I waited a little later in the evening, that she’d let me sleep a little longer in the morning.

Oh, she whined.

And she cried.

And she became obnoxious.

And began doing things that got her in trouble for the sole purpose of getting my attention until I finally caved and fed her, just in the interest of getting her to calm the heck down so I could get other things done without a perpetual whiny trip hazard under my feet.

Even so, I’d been able to wait an extra hour and a half in the evening before feeding her. I rejoiced, hoping that meant I could sleep in a little long this morning since she’d eaten later the night before.

I was wrong.

She woke me up this morning at five a.m. A good hour earlier than I try to start becoming coherent. I tried to roll over and ignore it, but she got louder.

Finally, I put out some treats on the bedspread for her, hoping against hope that getting something in her stomach would shut her up long enough for me to get another hour of sleep. Or five minutes. I’d have settled for five minutes.

She gobbled them up, and whined louder.

After a few more tries of the same pattern, I stumbled downstairs, put food in the bowl, and collapsed under a blanket on the couch.

When Brother came downstairs this morning (he’s temporarily living at my house), he found me half-asleep, face-down on the couch. The Fuzzy Minion was curled up, with a self-satisfied glare, in full purr, on the small of my back, sated and happy at her victory.

Apparently, I have been trained.