Do you re-read?

Do you ever re-read?

I’ve decided to re-read all of the Harry Potter series.  (Don’t be surprised I read more than just smutty smut.  It’s important to be well-rounded, dears.)

I’ve wanted to do this for a while, because unlike other novel series, it was clear at the end that J.K. Rowling planned everything from the start and left clues throughout the earlier books.  So, you see, I have to go back to appreciate all of those clues. :)  And also because, well, who doesn’t love the series and all of those excellent Dumbledore quotes?  (He really does have all of the best lines, except of course, for my favorite line of Snape’s.  Sigh, that was a lovely line.)

Most books, though enjoyable, don’t warrant a second or third reading.  But every once in a while, you find that special one…and once is never enough. ;)

So, how about you?  Do you re-read?

Also, I just signed up with Bloglovin!  Woohoo!  Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Thoughts on Hygiene, By Bella

Musings on life by Bella (the cat-dog, so nicknamed for her doggie nature and cat-like snark)

Sunday was traumatic, as it was marked by the inconsistently timed ritual known as grooming.  If my human were better at planning, perhaps I would be able to prepare or foil her attempts at grooming me.  But sadly, the randomness allows her to catch me unaware.  So sneaky.

image

First, there is the bath.  This, my friends, this is the place of terror.

I once escaped the bonds of the plastic prison and led my person on a jolly (and wet) chase around the living room…only to be lured back to the tub by treats.  Alas, the treats, they are my greatest weakness.

Sometimes the grooming ends there and I am rewarded with treats.  But I was not that fortunate on Sunday, as my person decided that I was in need of a haircut.

I did go to PetSmart once to get a haircut.  But they tied me up and muzzled me, which I did not appreciate at all…apparently I gave them a “hard time.”  So now, my enterprising person has (for better or for worse) taken over my grooming.  There are no muzzles or leashes.  However, there are rules:

1) No talking – It is my understanding that people generally converse with their hairdresser.  However, my person greatly frowns upon any attempt at conversation or diversion during haircuts….really people, a growl could mean so many things.

2) No biting – Not that I would ever bite.  Sometimes, I think about it.  I open my mouth just a little – testing to see if my person notices.  When she gives me that look (that look that says that she controls my treats), I masterfully turn my open mouth into a yawn.  We do this several times throughout the haircut and by the end it is terribly amusing.  I would laugh if I could, but see rule #1.

3) Treats are given during the grooming process and…at the end!  This is what makes it all worthwhile.  My person tells me I’m a pretty girl (duh), puts my collar back on (a sign that the trauma is over), and gives me more treats.

Let us hope that this is my last bath  and haircut of the year…

Conversations in Transit

This week, I was a bad blogger.  :(  But this was because of a last-minute business trip and a crazy week (I know – excuses, excuses).  I often travel for business and I’ve found that sometimes, I have pretty good conversations with strangers that sit next to me on planes.  So, I decided to catalogue one of them.  Perhaps I’ll write more of them…though I must warn you, some of it has been fictionalized to protect the innocent and of course, to amuse me.  So let’s just call this creatively fictionalized non-fiction. ;)

 

To Dallas I Go

I sit in the middle seat of a cramped back row on an airplane bound for Dallas. My body is sandwiched between a prim southern belle and a man who looks in desperate need of a shower.

He fidgets in his seat and my eyes spot the signs of a person that does not like to travel. What makes it so easy? Like senses like. I don’t like to travel, but by some great joke of the universe, I’ve landed a good job that requires me to travel. Unlike the man beside me, I’ve travelled enough to lose the fidgeting, though clearly not enough to land me glorious upgradable status. My boss is in the front of the plane right now and oh, how I dream of the day when my ass will grace a wide seat of first class. The promised land, where I can sip anything from a champagne flute and carelessly laugh as the unwashed masses (my seat-mate smells) of economy class wait for their beverage service. But, I digress.

The fidgeting beside me stops and a string of curses erupt from my seat-mate’s mustache framed mouth. I glance at him, just as he reaches to the ground beneath the seat in front of him.

“Damn drink,” he mutters. “Sorry ma’am.” As he reaches further to clean his spilled drink, he leans down and toward me, his head only inches from my lap. The book in my hands has no chance of being read now as several sly comments spin in my mind. I usually don’t try to make conversation with a man whose head is in my lap, but hey, rules are made to be broken.

“Do you need help?” I ask, not able to withhold the laugh that bubbles from my mouth. I can see the Southern belle from the corner of my eye as she shakes her head in disdain.

“No, I almost got it.” He pops up mere seconds later, face red and drink firmly in hand.

“Great,” I say and watch as he returns to fidgeting. “Are you nervous?”

“Yeah. I, uh, don’t like to fly much.”

“Not many people do.”

“Well, this is my third flight. Just coming back from overseas.”

I nod my head, “Is Dallas home for you?”

“Yep. Texas born and bred.”

I can’t suppress a grin. I’ve only heard that in cheesy movies and TV shows. “Well, you’re nearly there.” By then the flight crew has begun making their announcements.

I turn to my routine for takeoff. I close my eyes and breathe, feeling the rush of the plane’s wheels against the runway and the nose of the plan tipping up. I try to pinpoint the moment the rear wheels leave the ground and join the others in the air. The engine roars in my ear, I am after all in the status-lacking seats, and I try not to think of the phantom mechanical noises beneath my feet. I open my eyes when I feel the plane level off, just shortly before the ding that signals your ability to get up and use the bathroom.

Then, I pull out my book. To the people who don’t travel very often: this is the universal sign of “I don’t want to talk.” Please, don’t take this as a personal affront. It’s not you, I’m sure you’re lovely. It’s me – the book I’m reading may be very good, or I like to occupy my brain while not disturbing others, or I want some down time during my trip. It could be any or all of the above. I’m told by more seasoned business travelers that this is a truth universally acknowledged in first class. But, it’s a crapshoot in coach. My seat-mates have paperback novels, so for almost an hour I’m in the clear. Then the fidgeting begins again.

“What kind of book is that?” The unshaven man asks.

I turn the book around to glance at the cover. There’s just a little title on the cover, not two people on the brink of orgasm as most romance novels love to portray.

“Mystery novel.” Blatant lie, but to tell a strange man on a plane that you read smut is akin to poking a bear. A bear that you’re then stuck next to for what will feel like an eternity.

He nods his head. “Western,” he shows me the over of his book – a sunset on landscape populated by cacti and hazy mountains in the distance.

“Cool,” my fingers reopen my book to the page is was reading, the juicy part is unfolding. The dangerously sexy hero hooks his finger under the chin of the innocent damsel and is bringing his lips to hers when -

“Why are you going to Dallas?” He asks.

“Business trip.” Just the words spring up anxiety about the day ahead.

“All by yourself?”

I explain to him that my boss is also aboard, but several rows up in first class.

“How old are you?”

Some women are offended by this question, but I’m not one of them. At least, not yet. I tell him my age and his face brightens, “I have two daughters about your age. I’ve got pictures in here somewhere.” He pulls out an older cellphone, “but I forget how this damn thing works.”

He hands it to me. I had a phone like this a little while ago and after a bit of memory jogging, I access his pictures.

“There they are,” he points to a picture of two young women smiling back at us. Their faces are pressed close together, as they tried to fit into the phone’s small viewfinder, Their smiles are deep and reach their matching brown eyes.

“They’re beautiful,” I smile and hand the phone back to him. He leans over me to show the Southern belle.

“Charming,” she says and bares a grin that consists of perfectly rounded teeth. “I just had a baby girl.”

Regardless of a fairly recent birthing experience, her stomach shows no bulge over the pink fitted shirt she wears. I eye my own pre-children muffin top, which has begun to sprout slightly over my dress pants.

Damn gluttonous body.

I lament for a minute before grabbing a little snack that I’ve stashed in my bag. Another drawback to business trips are the unreliable meals. During other trips, I’ve worked 14 hour days in remote hotel rooms in remote locations, without a rental car, and went to bed without dinner. As a result of these prior experiences, I am now part squirrel – constantly collecting snacks in case my workload deems me to be too busy to eat.

I pull a chocolate chip cookie out of my bag. The Southern belle looks away, but not before a gleam of ravenous hunger twinkles in her eye. The chocolate chips of the first bite melt on my tongue and my body sighs with happiness. Life is too short to forbid yourself treats, small muffin top or not.

“My husband wants to try for a boy,” she says as she leans over me to chat with the Texan. I decide that he looks like a Jake, with his scruff of a beard, mustache, and blue jeans. She looks like an Elizabeth, all pretty and put together.

“What do you think is harder to raise, boys or girls?” Elizabeth asks Jake.

There is a tentative pause, then Jake answers, “girls are much harder to raise.”

I barely suppress an eye roll. How many times have I heard that from other parents?  The usual response when querying them as to why girls are more difficult to raise stems from sex. Countless mothers have leered at me, “with a son you only have to worry about one boy. But with a girl, you have to worry about all the boys.” Sigh. Bitches.

As a women, I’m not going to pretend that sex isn’t a worry for parents of teenage girls. I’m also not going to deny a sense of relief after graduating college without an accident. Regardless of all this, I asked Jake why. Call me a glutton for punishment, or also chocolate chip cookies, since I shoved one in my mouth as Jake answered.

“Well,” he said, “girls are harder to raise right. I grew up with so many women that depended on their man. But when my wife and me had two little girls, I didn’t want them to have to depend on their husbands. This way they won’t get stuck with someone like me.” He let out a little snort of laughter and winked at me.

“So, I taught my girls how to fix things around the house, how to balance a checkbook and change a tire. I made them go to college to major in something useful.” His voice trailed off and smiled to himself. “They’re both nurses.”

My smile back to him is genuine. “Well, I think you raised them right.”

He laughed. “I usually don’t tell people this, but they even make more money than their husbands.”

This deepens my smile, “even better.”

Later, when we’ve landed and the line of people to disembark chokes the plane’s aisles, I turn to him to say goodbye. He grabs my hand in his and gives me a firm handshake. His hands are not like the soft, artisan hands of the men that occupy my office, they are wide and well calloused.

His crinkled blue eyes pull my gaze from his hands, as he meets me in an honest fatherly gaze. “Good luck on your business trip.”

“Thanks,” I smile when I remember the pride in his eyes as he talked about his girls, and I remind myself to call my parents when I get off the plane. “Welcome home.”

 

Thoughts on Shark Week, With Bella

On life with Bella, the cat-dog (so named for the snark to go along with the tail-wagging)

Bella on Shark Week:

The best thing we learned from “Shark Week” was that Sharks can go into tonic immobility.

What’s tonic immobility?  Here let me demonstrate:

image

I call this trick #5 (after speak, sit, down, and roll over), which I employ in treat acquisitions (as well as when begging for belly rubs).

My person uses this same pose after eating too much chocolate, debating publishing versus self-publishing, and when being lectured about her “life choices.” :)

Review “Escorted”

Ebook Review – “Escorted,” by Claire Kent

image In “Escorted,” we meet Lori, a romance novelist in her 20s with a job she needs help with – getting rid of her virginity.  She’s been unlucky in love, so she’s decided to hire Ander to take care of that one little issue for her.

Except it’s too good and once isn’t enough (sigh – isn’t that always the case?).  The more time Lori spends with Ander, the more the lines of their “professional” relationship begin to blur.  Can Lori keep her heart safe during her intense interludes with Ander?

My oh my, is this book steamy and it features a hot, brooding hero.  Yes, it’s true and I won’t apologize for it – I love brooding, yearning heroes.  I don’t know what that says about me as a reader, but there you go. :p

Anyway, Ander has a lot to brood about – a terrible relationship with his father led him to his current profession and he’s never been in a solid, loving relationship. :(  Then, Lori comes into his life and he has trouble keeping things professional…until he decides to give up all of his other clients to focus on winning Lori over (without her knowledge, of course).

Escorted,” was  a fast, sexy read.  The writing seemed a little awkward at times, but all-in-all, it was a good – with interesting characters and a fun plot.  4 out of 5 stars, highly recommended and very steamy.  :)

Happy reading. ;)

Motivation from “Jaws”

How the story behind the making of “Jaws” can motivate you through a hard (re)write (or really anything)

It’s Shark Week and I love “Jaws,” (I re-watched “Jaws” and “Jaws – the inside story,” so I’m a happy camper), so it’s a shark related post today. :)

Gasp!  Can you hear the theme music?

~~^~~ (that’s a shark fin emerging from waves, in case you couldn’t tell)

Making the movie “Jaws” was an odyssey for the cast and crew.  While re-watching the documentary “Jaws – the inside story,” I was reminded of how much was endured to bring the epic film to life and ultimately, how it was all worth it.

The odyssey of writing a book is similar to many of the problems that were faced in bringing “Jaws” to life -

1)  The shark didn’t work:

Ugh.  Isn’t this always the case?  You have a great plot twist or evil character that you’ve envisioned.  Yet every time you try to put it down on paper, the words you’ve written (or worse, blank pages) give you a giant raspberry. :p  Boo.

How did Spielberg deal with having the star monster constantly on the fritz?  A lot of times, he doesn’t show it at all – there are shots of waves, views of swimming people from below the water, and that creepy-ass, John Williams music.  He also spliced in real-life footage of sharks and had a whole team dedicated to working his mechanical sharks.  So see – there’s always a work around and sometimes, it ends up much better than anything you ever planned in that tidy outline.

2) “Jaws” went well past its original filming schedule and way over budget:

You’re still working on that novel?

Geez, how many drafts are you going to do?

Stage whisper: “She’ll always have a half-finished novel on her iPad.”

It doesn’t matter if someone says these things to you or if you mutter them under your breath – it’s not helpful.  Alas, the writing process takes time – and we all write at different speeds.  I wish I could write faster. My pace is what I would call glacial, if the glacier constantly questioned itself and periodically went backwards.

If you feel like a project is dragging on, take a deep breath, do one of those neck stretches, and then dive back in.  Keep at it until you’re finished – at least you don’t have studio execs calling and threatening to cut your funding….so, it could be worse. ;)

3) “Jaws” had a young, untested director, who had nightmares of being fired or ruining his career as a result of the movie.

That’s you, kid (and me too).  Whether you are actually young and untested (or just untested), writers constantly doubt themselves.  I hate that doubt – it’s annoying.  But, in some ways, that doubt can help you.  It makes you go back to edit (re-edit, then re-re-edit), to work at your novel until the words sing.

 

The next time you’re suffering through a rough patch of writing, editing, or whatever – just remember that Spielberg suffered through making “Jaws.”  But when he was finally finished, its success surpassed everyone’s expectations.

So, get back to work! :)

~~^~~

Side note – what’s your favorite line in “Jaws?

Mine is a toss up between the often quoted: “We’re going to need a bigger boat.” And the amusing (and fitting for my genre), “wanna get drunk and fool around?:)

Musings on Life, with Bella

Posts on life by Bella (the dog)

image Most dogs look at life with a wagging tale and slobbering kisses.  Bella has that doggie disposition – as well as a perspective and personality all her own.  My sister nicknamed her the cat-dog, for her sometimes snarky behavior that balances out her playful sweetness.  She’s a great dog and very entertaining.

And so, I’m introducing a series of silly posts on life with Bella.

Today, Bella explains how to deal with people who think they’re better than you:

This is a problem in the dog world as well –  I just beat them at their own game (pee on top of where they’ve already marked, often stopping several times to make sure the job is done satisfactorily).  Then I ignore them, as they bark like fools when I strut past.  Peasants.  lolz  – B

Are writing conferences worth it? Part II

Back  in March, I posted a question on if Writing Conferences were worth the money…so I decided to test it out for myself and sign up for one.

Last weekend, I attended the Writer’s Digest Conference in NYC (after spending months talking myself in and out of actually attending).  Now, my motivations for going to a writer’s conference may or may not be similar to yours.  I wanted to learn about publishing options and the publishing/marketing process.  Luckily for me, there were quite a few sessions that dealt with publishing (all different kinds, with feedback from authors and agents) and the business of selling books, as well as other sessions that taught me about important things that I never knew existed – like metadata.

In the end, the conference was definitely worth it for me.  Here are some things to think about in order to determine if a conference would be right for you -

What are you hoping to get out of it?

-If you’re hoping to land an agent, editor, and publishing deal during a conference, then you’re going to want to scale back your expectations a bit.  Many conferences allow writers an opportunity to pitch their novel or ideas to agents and editors.  However, it’s highly unlikely that they’ll fall all over themselves and offer you a publishing deal right there.  You can count yourself very fortunate and successful if an agent or editor asks you to send them a query letter or the first few chapters of your book.  This is a big deal and if this happens to you, regardless of the outcome, you should be very proud.

These agent/editor sessions (essentially speed-dating, since you table hop to find your potential “partner”) are great practice even if you’re not finished with your novel.  But don’t do it unless you feel like you’re ready.

-If you’re hoping to learn about something specific (like publishing), do your research and make sure that the conference has enough session on that subject.  If it doesn’t, then wait to find one that’s right for you.

-If you’re hoping to meet other writers, again, do your research.  If you only want to meet authors that are in your genre, you may want to pick a conference that’s more focused (like Thrillerfest if you write thrillers).  But, if you’re open to meeting all kinds of authors, then go to one of the larger ones – it’s a great opportunity!  I had a lot of fun meeting other authors (especially with the help of my one free drink – yippee!).  But, before you go, think about printing up some author business cards.  Sadly, I didn’t do this and really wish I had.  But alas, there’s always next time for passing out pretty business cards (hmm, but first I have to decide on a design).

How much does it cost and how much can you afford?

-If you really want to go to a conference, but think the price is a little too steep, research to find if they have basic/cheaper packages or if you can save more money if you book in advance.  Also look to see if there are other conferences closer to you (there are a ton of conferences), that would allow you to save on travel and hotel costs.

Smutty Saturdays

Oh how I love Saturdays, especially when they’re filled with smut. :)

image

This delicious sampling of smut is from Courtney Milan’s “Suffragette Scandal.”

“You keep acting as if I will break.” She smiled up at him.  “Here’s a secret.”

He dropped his head to hers. 

“I plan to do just that,” she whispered.  “To break into pieces, and I insist on having your help getting there.”

It was too much for him.  He took hold of her hips and slid all the way in, seating himself deep inside her.  She made a noise deep in her throat, and he was lost…”

There, now isn’t your day so much better already?  Check out Courtney Milan’s “Suffragette Scandal” and all of the books in the Brothers Sinister Series – they are all excellent reads! :)

Happy Saturday and happy reading! :)

Review “Suffragette Scandal”

imageEbook Review: “The Suffragette Scandal,” By Courtney Milan

Frederica Marshall (Free) is a bold, young woman who runs her own newspaper and fights for women’s right to vote.

Edward Clark is back in England to protect a childhood friend from his brother’s plot to destroy a woman who spurned his advances – a woman, unlike any Edward has ever met.

Edward offers himself as Free’s personal scoundrel (why can’t I have my own scoundrel?) and quickly partners with her to outsmart his brother’s evil plans to ruin Free’s business and worse.  But Edward isn’t exactly who he claims to be…and if he reveals his true identity to Free, will she stay?

Ah yes, the last book in the Brothers Sinister Series (so named because each book has a left-handed hero or heroine – yay, left-handed people).  As always, Courtney Milan did an excellent job of creating a strong heroine (outspoken, bold, and smart), an interesting and brooding hero (oh, we love the brooding), and an excellent story line in a historical romance setting.  5 out of 5 stars, though I am a little sad to be finished with such a fun series.

By the way – for all of you writers out there, Courtney Milan has a really great blog/website, where she talks about many things, including self-publishing versus traditional publishing options.  Check it out.  :)