Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Time Sense and Nonsense

My hubs has no sense of time. He never has had one. When he estimates how long it will take us to go somewhere we’ve never been before, he’ll underestimate most of the time. Now sometimes this truly pisses me off, as when his tendency to screw up times makes us late. But after being married to him for a good many years, I’ve gotten to the point where I can usually just let it go with an eyeroll and an occasional grind of the teeth.

Because, you see, I’m the exact opposite. Where my hubs underestimates how long it will take us to get anywhere, I inevitably overestimate. And I’m a stickler about being on time for things, which means I’m frequently early. Which means that, since I don’t want to show up at your door before you’re ready for me, I’ll probably drive around the block a few times before I arrive at your party. And if I get struck in traffic, I’ll be increasingly frantic as the minutes tick away.

Punctuality is usually regarded as a good thing, and I believe that it is. But it’s really tough sometimes for a habitually (one might almost say obsessively) punctual type like me to chill out when it comes to lateness. And it’s even harder for punctual me to understand people who aren’t.
When I was teaching, I had students who used to show up for class five or ten minutes late on a regular basis. If they did it often enough, I’d call them on it after class. And their excuse was always something like “The traffic is really bad near my apartment.” The logical rejoinder here—“Then why don’t you leave earlier”—never seemed to occur to them. Lateness just didn’t strike them as a problem. But for those of us who are big on punctuality, lateness a deal breaker.

Some of our relatives always assume if we’re late it’s because of me because, you know, women just can’t be on time. I don’t bother to correct them because 1) they’re related to my hubs and they ought to know by now that he’s time challenged, and 2) they’re pretty much dodoes to believe that in the first place. But just to make my point clear—punctuality has nothing to do with gender.

The only good thing about this situation is that the hubs and I tend to cancel one another out. As I grow increasingly hysterical about making sure we leave on time, I can nudge my hubs into leaving a bit earlier than he’d originally intended. And by dragging his feet in his usual fashion, he can keep me from getting us there with half an hour to kill.

I presume there are couples out there who don’t have this problem—who are either both fanatically punctual or both habitually late. I envy you, but hey, at my age I can almost promise I’m not going to change.

Besides, why should I? I know I’m absolutely right. Just ask my hubs.

So what about you—punctual, late, or somewhere in between?

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Guest Bloggers A. Catherine Noon and Rachel Wilder - Social Media and Marketing Getting You Down? Five Tips for the Overstressed Writer

As we head full-speed into 2012, I wanted to take a moment to reflect on the course ahead. Ebooks are now a fact of life and the trend is growing. The consolidation in the publishing industry that we saw in the 2000s has resulted in a more narrow field of players in the traditional world, and signs are popping up that the competition in the epub world will get stiffer as well. What does this mean for us, the authors?

One thing that’s clear is that we need to understand social marketing and the social media outlets. As Generation Y gains in purchasing power as they move into the workforce – and therefore, become a large part of the buying public – this trend will get stronger. Some companies have decided to delete their Facebook marketing programs, because they only moved their website processes onto Facebook and therefore flopped. Other companies are wildly successful at it, and authors too – after all, we’re “companies” in this sense. Why do some succeed where others fail?

It’s no longer enough to simply use email and dabble in Facebook or Twitter. If we want to build our brands, I think it’s necessary – dare I say, “critical” – for us to get better at understanding how to develop our online presences. Here are 5 simple things we all can do:

One: Poke around on the net and learn about how Facebook and Twitter work for writers. There are many good articles written by other authors about how to use them; it pays to read what they have to say and not reinvent the wheel.

Two: Start small. Don’t try to build a multi-faceted Marketing Plan worthy of Harvard in a weekend. Just pick one social media outlet you haven’t used before, or want to revitalize, and concentrate on that.

Three: Develop a marketing plan. It’s been said “those who fail to plan, plan to fail.” A marketing plan doesn’t have to be grandiose, just a list of the things you want to accomplish, marketing-wise, this year. Do you want to join or found a group blog? Develop a really smashing Facebook presence? Make friends and influence readers on your Twitter feed?

Four: Break the year into pieces. Businesses do this all the time; it’s a good way to make a huge swath of time into manageable chunks. You could act like “the big boys” and make it into quarters, or come up with something more unique and tailored to yourself – whatever you do, select a finite period of time that you can put each step of your plan in motion.

Five: Reflect regularly. Pick a time, maybe weekly on Sundays or each month on the 1st and the 15th, where you look back at what you planned to do, what you got done, what you learned, and what you want to do differently moving forward. A plan is only as good as the knowledge put into it, and if you never tweak your plan as you learn more, then your plan will become obsolete – fast.

Remember, above all, to relax. There’s a lot of opportunity out there to interact with other authors, readers, publishers, editors, and agents. You’ve got time. Just take it one foot in front of the other and soon you’ll be swimming along in the fast lane, overtaking the rest of us.

Bio: A. Catherine Noon is an author and textile artist based in Chicago, Illinois. Rachel Wilder is an author and image consultant in Las Vegas, Nevada. Together, they love to write stories and create worlds for readers to explore and enjoy. To learn more about them, please visit their website.

Monday, February 27, 2012

The Scary Stuff

I've never been all that much of a thrill seeker, I'm too much of a hedonist for that. I firmly believe pain is your body's way of saying, "there are plenty of other things you could be doing right now that would be a lot more enjoyable." So, suffice it to say that I've never been a big believer in the "no pain, no gain" philosophy, to say nothing of Eleanor Roosevelt's famous suggestion, "Do one thing every day that scares you." I'd much rather take the Red Queen's advice to Alice and "believe six impossible things before breakfast." I'm sure that would be much more comfortable.

Which leads me to mention my son. As a young child he was always a little cautious. Not timid--not timid at all, in fact! But definitely sensible--not the kind of kid who would run out into the street without looking. I attributed this to his Virgo rising sign. He's "Pisces, Virgo rising" just like the Kenny Loggin song. Then he got older and significantly less cautious and began to do things I kind of wished he wouldn't, like jumping down flights of stairs on his skateboard, or jumping off a balcony while holding a video camera so he could record footage to use later, or jumping off roofs for really no reason at all.

I assume you're seeing the pattern here, yes? Okay, good. More on that later.

At one point, when he was still in his teens, I asked him about this behavior and wasn't he scared...and why wasn't he scared when any sensible person would be, and he told me something that, while it probably wasn't very original, did make me think. He said guys are less afraid of being hurt physically than they are emotionally and for girls it's the reverse. I know such generalizations are silly but, hey, he was a teenage boy at the time. I mean, c'mon, what do you expect? On the other hand, I thought it a brilliant insight to several of my male characters...but that's probably beside the point.

As I've mentioned on Twitter, a few days ago I found out (via Facebook, where else?) that he was planning on jumping out of a plane to celebrate his birthday this year. See? There's that pattern again. This time, when I asked him if he wasn't scared he said he was, actually, but he felt it was important to conquer his fears.

And I of course told him that maybe he could just acknowledge his fear and leave it at that. Yeah, he didn't buy it either. Unfortunately.

Anyway, I think there must be some weird celestial alignment happening right now (Neptune did just ingress Pisces, that could be it) because even before I learned of my son's plans, I had decided to do something for my birthday that I've been kind of afraid of. I'm going to be on a live radio show tonight (to celebrate my birthday).  I know, I know, it's not quite the same as jumping out of a plane, but Hedonist--remember? I'm excited, but a little uncomfortable just the same.

On the plus side, I'll be discussing one of my very favorite things, my book Old Sins, Long Shadows. The show is only an hour. I'm pretty sure I can talk about that subject for several days if I had to!

If you'd like to tune in (and I really hope some of you will!) the show airs at 11 p.m. EST tonight, Monday February 27th. at:  Or, if you'd like to call in and ask questions, the number is: (646) 727-2932     

Now, if you'll all excuse me, I have to go and practice reading aloud. :)

Friday, February 24, 2012


To read about Kelly Jaimieson's dog, see here.

I was never much of a dog person. I've never disliked them - and I certainly like them more than cats - but I never really wanted to own one.

We had a dog, a poodle mix named Bo, when I was in high school. Her mom was a registered poodle who got loose and freaky w/a known slut dog in the neighborhood, and they couldn't sell the puppies (mutts! the horror!) so they gave them away. We thought she was a he at first, and named her Beau, after Beau Duke. When she got a little older, and less fluffy, we realized she was a girl and renamed her Bo, after Derek. She was the light of my daddy's life, but I didn't pay much attention to her. My sister says I didn't like her, but that's completely untrue - I just didn't have time for her. She was dirty much of the time (b/c my parents were busy and my sister wouldn't bathe her) and she needed lots of attention. I never had much use for dirty things that required lots of attention.

Then I had a kid.

And my husband, who had many dogs as a child and loves them, wanted to get one, and I was like - "Are you crazy? I work full time, I have a baby, and now you want me to take on a dog? Um, no..."

Time passed, and Diva started asking for a dog, and I kept saying "When you're old enough to help take care of it..."

And then one day she was.

I was working part time at that point, and Diva and her Daddy were both insistent that Now Was The Time For a Dog, and I had no good excuses not to do it.

But we agreed it would be an outside dog - even Hubs didn't want a dog in the house, scratching up floors and furniture. And I knew I wouldn't have much to do with it, because outside dogs are dirty, and I don't pet dirty things I didn't birth myself, so it would be Diva and her Daddy's responsibility.

Then we got Harley.

We went to BARC, the City of Houston's animal shelter, which is a pretty nice place - cleaner, happier, better run than you expect a city pound to be. We looked at several puppies, especially itty bitty weeks-old ones that I thought I'd want, but Harley (he was named Tom at the time, but he was SO not a Tom) showed up, and we played with him a bit, and we said yeah, we'll take him.

And we got home, and he was cute and all, but I still thought he'd be an outside dog.

But it was summer time, and it was awfully hot outside, and he was so little:

So he stayed inside, in a big cage, till I got home and let him out. And it seemed like he'd never get potty trained, but strangely that didn't make me want to get rid of him, and eventually he learned to ring the bell to go outside.

I'd take him for walks, and when he was little, he'd get pooped way before I did, and he'd just STOP, all four little legs going splayed, not moving, and I'd have to pick him up and carry him home...

And then I convinced Hubs to install a doggie door because really, it's more convenient for everyone, and...what's that? The dirt? The mess? Oh, um, I guess I'll handle it....

So, somehow, eventually, he became an inside/outside/mostly inside dog. And then he was allowed on the furniture. And then on our bed.

And then we started thinking he needed a friend - for when he was stuck outside because, you know, he was outside so much...and Hubs insisted we go back to BARC, because he doesn't believe in breeders, he believes in adopting unwanted dogs. And I heartily agreed.

Until I found a Youtube video of a couple of corgi-lab mixes that a guy in the Woodlands was selling. But he wasn't a breeder - his dog had had babies with a friend's dog.

So I drove all the way out to the Woodlands and came home with Honda, who was awfully damn cute as a puppy:

Harley didn't know what to make of her at first, and even today, he sometimes looks at us like, "Really? You really had to bring that home?"

Because Honda's dominant, and she bugs the hell out of Harley. But he's mostly gotten used to her:

Wait, it gets worse.

So, like the woman who decides she loves motherhood more than she ever expected and suddenly wants to be a Baby Factory (thank God they had to erase my hard drive two days after I had Diva), I decided we needed a THIRD dog.

Diva and her Daddy said no.

Then we met Augie, a boxer who belongs to a good friend of ours. Our friend travels for work a lot, and was bemoaning the cost of kennels and how much Augie hates them, because she's kind of shy. We said, "Awww! Bring her over!" And he did.

And now every time he goes out of town, Augie stays with us, and she's cool with it:

Having dogs changes you, just like having kids does.  The other morning I was the first one up, and Honda got all excited like she always does -- her normal setting is "frantically happy." I stepped in something warm and wet; sure enough, she'd peed out of extreme delight at something that happens every single day. ("I'm awake! Mommy's awake! Harley's awake! Yipyipyipyip!")  I was not disturbed or grossed out or even mad. I just sighed and got some paper towels to wipe my feet. A couple years ago, if I'd stepped in dog pee? I'd have been furious.

It reminded me of one time in the grocery store with Diva when she was a toddler. She was sitting in the shopping cart, babbling happily, when I glanced down and saw that her lower face was COVERED in copious snot. There's no excuse for the mother of 2-year old to not have tissues or rags in her purse, but I didn't. So I used the hem of my t-shirt to wipe all the nasal mucous off her face before anyone saw it. And then I thought, "Wait. Did I just deliberately put snot on something I'm WEARING?" Yes. Yes I did.

A few times my sister has said, "Your house is so dirty! How can you stand it?" And I'm all, "Well, it's the price you pay for having dogs, you know? You just have to decide that's how it's gonna be." (And the house is not THAT dirty. It's just the floors. And I sweep a lot. Honest.) "And besides, it makes Hub so happy, how could I say no?"

And yeah, the dirt on the floors bugs me, and yeah, sometimes there's dirt in the beds, which I NEVER thought I could tolerate, but Hub and Diva are so obviously, deliriously happy to have the dogs around, and they make me happy, too (even Honda, who must be one of the world's most spectacularly stupid yet adorable dogs) that I can't imagine not having them in the house.

So that's how I became a dog person. And I'm glad I did.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Dream a little dream...

Dreams are so mysterious to me. Do you think dreams have some hidden, deeper meaning? I think we dream what we do based on what’s happening in our lives and dreams help us process things in our brains while we’re sleeping. But sometimes my dreams are so bizarre and make no sense. Like, the other night I dreamed I was at RT and Mari Carr and I were having a lively discussion about alligators in romance novels. I know! I can see where RT came from, because I've been planning that trip and thinking about it, and Mari Carr is going to be there, and it makes sense that we might talk about romance novels - but alligators? NO idea where that came from! And then last night - I dreamed that I was showing Angelina Jolie this great new red lipstick I'd bought. She asked me to handcuff her and Brad together, put some lipstick on her, and leave them alone...yeah, I know.

Sometimes I have amazing dreams, story ideas that are the BEST idea I’ve ever had…except I can’t remember them in the morning. (Unlike friend and blogmate PG Forte who dreams entire series of books and remembers it all!) One night I dreamed a whole movie…I was actually thinking that while I was dreaming it – thinking “this would make a great movie! I have to remember this when I wake up!” But no. It was done.

Lucid dreaming is apparently a dream where you’re aware that you’re dreaming. This happens to me all the time (like in the above movie dream). Sometimes when a really scary dream is happening, I keep telling myself “It’s okay, it's okay, it’s just a dream.” Sometimes if it’s a scary dream I’m able to “redirect it” by telling myself I’m dreaming and I should dream about something else.

When you’re having a really, really nice dream and you wake up, do you ever try to get back into it? I’ve only ever been able to do that a few times, usually it doesn’t work (which is really annoying because if it’s a really nice dream, I so want to go back there).

And then there are the sexual dreams (at the risk of sharing TMI) – where you wake up right on the edge of an orgasm. If you can’t finish, it is SO frustrating!

I have “chasing dreams” as I call them, where I feel like I’m spending the whole dream, chasing something or somebody (I often can’t remember exactly what or whom) but it’s SO frustrating because I can’t catch them. These are closely tied to fighting dreams. These always disturb my sleep and I often have to get up and read a book for a while to calm down.

Then there are the dreams where you’re falling – like you’ve just driven over a cliff and your car is falling through space…and you wake up before you crash.

Also - the dream where you’re trying to run but your feet won’t move, and the dream where you’re trying to scream but nothing will come out. I wake up in a sweat with my heart literally pounding and often I can’t get back to sleep after this.

And there are the dreams where you’re so freakin’ FURIOUS at someone you want to hit them and beat on them, and when you wake up in the morning, you’re actually still mad at them…for no reason whatsoever.

So how weird am I? Do other people have dreams like this? Come on, tell me!