Monday, December 22, 2008

Dolly's Adventures at the Beach

This is how uneventful my life is--when Dolly the granddog has better adventures than I do. Of course, I wouldn't want the adventures she had.

Last Friday, when the weather was shirtsleeve warm (today it is butt-freezing, let-Dolly-hang-out-in-the-laundry-room cold), we ventured forth for a walk on the beach in the fog. She was a very good doggy walking down the street to the light and waiting for it to change. We crossed Seawall and proceeded east to the stairs where we usually descend and walked back the other way to the jetty, which had been transformed by a huge pile of wet sand into a ramp from the street to the beach on either side of the jetty.

Huge dump trucks were driving up and down it, and down the beach to the west of the jetty--which is much narrower than the east side section because more of the beach got washed away over there. They were replenishing the beach, starting down at 61st St. Given the trucks and the narrow beach, I turned Dolly around and went back to the wider part of the beach. And, foolishly, I let her off the leash so she could run. She ran up and down the beach a while, mostly in the (cold) water, chasing birds, until she decided (apparently) that she could catch the birds that flew out to sea by running out to the end of the jetty. She ran about 3/4 of the way out, and then Jumped Off The Jetty Into The Water!

Deep water. Over her little doggy head. Where people get swept under and drowned every summer. She did not fall. She jumped. So I'm trucking fast as I can (running! Me!) to reach the jetty, even though I can't go in after her, but maybe I can reach out and grab her from the rocks or something. Meanwhile, I'm watching the little white doggy head at the top of the water. She couldn't climb back onto the rocks of the jetty--they were too steep, so she swam along the side of the rocks toward the beach, swimming, swimming--I could still see her head. And then legs! White doggy legs. She was standing up and out of the water.

So then, what did she do? Crossed the jetty where all the trucks were driving back and forth. By this time, I'm almost at the jetty, so I climb up to see over it, and I see a pair of headlights in the fog driving toward me...with a little brindle-and-white dog running as fast as she can in front of it. She hauled doggy butt back to me, and wouldn't go anywhere until I put that leash back on her. We are both agreed, no more adventures for Dolly. If she wants to run, she can go run with her boy.

We were both pretty worn out by this time, so we climbed the stairs and crossed the street and went home. Whereupon Dolly went and hid from me in the garage because the last two times we went walking at the beach and she got in the water, I was mean and awful and gave her a bath!

I gave her a bath this time too. It's not good to leave that salt in her fur. But I thought it was pretty funny, how she tried to hide from me. I think I hurt her feelings, because she wouldn't come out and play with me the rest of the day. She has now forgiven me, though, because I let her in the laundry room when it's too cold outside.

I am getting my new computer today! Yay!! And I am going grocery shopping for Christmas.

The writing is still going. I may be almost through the romantic black moment to be ready to begin to resolve it and get into the fantasy black moment and big battle and stuff. This book is the hero's story, I think, more than the heroine's....

Time--never enough of it...

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Lights, tunnels and trains

One party down, two to go. Then things may actually slow down up to Christmas. Maybe. Last night was my local RWA chapter party. Good eats, good company, good fun. I even came home with a new handkerchief and a silver-plated Christmas ornament. A pretty one. We're having Christmas caroling at our house tonight. Tomorrow night is the Lion's Club party. That requires another White Elephant gift. Since it's the fella who's a Lion and not me, I have placed him in charge of the elephant.

Today, I drafted the boy (okay, I bribed him with lunch out at Shrimp n' Stuff--I had the 10-shrimp lunch special, and got Twelve shrimps!! Bonus!) to help me cart four boxes down to UPS to get Christmas presents shipped off to various Texas locations plus Pennsylvania. So that's done. The fella wrapped presents and boxed them to ship while I went to the party. He's a good guy like that. Then he cleaned up all the wrapping paper. What a guy! I did have to vacuum and clean bathrooms, but he picked everything up. We are now ready for the party tonight. I even made copies of the words to Christmas carols, so hopefully people will sing. I know at least one other person will sing, so I think we're good.

I need to call the parental units to see what their schedule is and when they might be able to visit, but other than that--and figuring out what to get the man who buys for himself everything he wants--I think we're done till the holiday arrives. The grandboys will come on Christmas day, so That's when things will get busy again. I'm at the edge of the tunnel, if not out into the sunlight...

Which brings us to the writing tunnel. I can see the light. The end is there--and I write and write, and it doesn't seem to get any closer! Days like today do not help, when I write for a couple of hours and realize that the pages don't take me where I need to go. I can use some of the stuff I wrote, but there are too many people present in the scene. I know what's wrong and how to fix that part, but I'm not sure how to set up the scene I need to write instead. Ugh. But I don't have to bake anything or clean anything or shop for anything or mail anything (hmm--may have to mail--we'll see) the rest of the week, so maybe I can figure it out and Get It Written.

I am coming up with some ideas for the next book, which is helpful, since it's due in September. But dang, I got to get this one finished! Wish me luck.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Help! It's December!!

And I haven't done any shopping! I'm not ever sure WHO I need to shop for... I need to call a sister. Or the brother. Or somebody--and figure out what we're doing. And then figure out when I can shop.

In other news, I am Closer to the End than I thought I was! I started the black moment this morning. I still have to resolve it and fight the big battle and stuff, but We Have Reached The Black Moment. YAYYYYY!! I really might actually, maybe, sorta, (crossing fingers and knocking on wood) get this book finished on time.

Of course, as I type things into the computer in my second draft, I am discovering all sorts of driveling crap I need to cut out. Some of it I'm able to cut out as I type in. Some of it is going to take printing out and laying pages out next to each other to see what I need to keep and what has to go. And it may not be as much too long as I fear...

Thanksgiving was good. We had a house full of family and friends. The boy's girlfriend's sister and roommate got to come. (The girlfriend came too.) The other boy's girlfriend got to come, but only after the grandboys had to leave. We did get them for a few days. They got to play in the COLD water at the beach. Unfortunately, their father took them to the beach in their good clothes, not remembering in time that boys + beach = Wet Boys, no matter what they're wearing or how cold it is. (The air wasn't too cold, just the water.) We ate lots of yummy food--all the dishes that have become traditional musts in our family (sweet potatoes with honey-lime glaze, turkey and cornbread dressing, green beans and carrots with bacon and garlic, buttermilk pie and cheesecake)--and lay around a lot. It was wonderful.

And now, Christmas is upon us. The boy's last final is tomorrow, and he'll be home soon, will start classes in town next spring. So he can take the granddog to the vet. Dolly the granddog has probably just strained her leg with all the running and jumping she did while the grandboys and boys and girlfriends were here, but she's still limping more than a week later, so I'd like to get her checked out just to make sure there's nothing else to worry about.

I had to go buy her a sweater/sweatshirt, because she won't come in the laundry room to get warm. She's too afraid of getting in trouble. And her fur is too short to keep her warm. The store had Harley Davidson sweaters and camo sweatshirts, but they were all too small to fit a pit-bull mix dog. The only sweatshirt they had that was big enough, the one that I got, is bright pink. She likes her sweater too. The first time I put it on her, she had that "What are you doing to me?" attitude. The third night I went out, she sat down and put her head in it herself. She'd figured out it helped keep her warm. It doesn't freeze here--or hasn't--but it gets darn cold. When I get my computer back from the shop (or get the new one), and I can download pictures again, I will post a picture. A brindle pit bull in a bright pink sweater is tres amusing.

Now, I just have to figure out what to get for the people in the family. Help! I have a book to finish and I have not shopped!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Thankful for so much

Thanksgiving isn't quite here, but we're staying home with the boys (of all varieties--plus a couple of girlfriends) and I'll probably be spending most of the time cooking (at least before Thursday), so I figure I'll get my "Thankful" blog post in now.

So, first of all, I am supremely, supremely thankful that Hurricane Ike didn't leave us homeless like it did so many of our friends and co-workers. And that we have been able to help the little bit we have.

I'm thankful for my new book contract, that I'll have a book coming out in the new year and two more to write. (Ack!--but I'm still thankful.) I'm thankful for my readers. Y'all are the bestest.

I'm thankful for my family. I'm thankful that the spouse is in a (so far) recession-proof "industry." When people lose jobs, they tend to go back to school to learn how to do new stuff. Those who run the schools are needed. I'm thankful the kids are all in education too. I'm thankful my parents are (mostly) in the "cheerful" stage of memory loss, and that my sister is close by.

I'm thankful the island is sorta starting to get itself put back together. I'm trying to do business here, to support the folks struggling to hang in there. Mostly, I can. I think I can even get new lenses for my glasses here. I'm grateful I can still see. (Went to the opthalmalotlorthekrhksjht... okay, I got lost in there, somewhere. The eye doctor. Went today. I'm still a little sun-sensitive... but I can see!)

It really has been a good year. Maybe even a great year. Lots of ups and downs, but I think the ups are winning.

So, what are you thankful for?

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Still plugging away

I'm plugging along--at life, as well as the writing. I'm very tired today. Had trouble sleeping last night after my local RWA chapter meeting. (I love getting to see everyone and talk writing at least once a month.) I think I drank too many Cokes with caffeine too late at night. Anyway, after tossing and turning, I got up and read Jeri Smith-Ready's THE REAWAKENED.

It was one of the two books I got at Borders' "Buy One Get One Half-Price" coupon thingie (My other book was AN INFAMOUS ARMY by Georgette Heyer. I have broad tastes.) and was really NOT the book to be reading in the middle of the night when one needs to go to sleep. I read the whole thing.

But I still got 3 pages written today. I was going to be happy with two. I got up late, didn't have much time to get writing in before heading off to work, and just didn't think I'd get much done. But hey! THREE pages. And I got 5 pages Monday and 6 pages Tuesday. I've been having so much trouble getting Anything written, for a while there I was happy to have a mere half-page done. Maybe it's because I'm able to be a little more consistent with getting to the desk, or maybe...I don't know. But I am pleased with my progress.

The workshop last night had me thinking a lot about my process. The author presenting the workshop claims to be a "pantser," someone to whom plotting does not come naturally. But dang, she plots her books WAY more than I do, and--while I Cannot write as a pure "fly into the mist" type, I can't write down what scenes go in what chapters either. If she is a pure organic writer, she's probably using this plotting-by-chapter method to keep herself on track, but my books don't have that much structure that early.

They have structure, but they don't have chapters. I don't know where my chapter breaks fall until I put the book into the computer on my 2nd draft. I know my turning points, and I write from one to the next, but if I tried to decide ahead of time what scenes will go into what chapter--I never know just how long a scene is going to be before I write it. It might expand way beyond what I think it will be once I get into it--and then have to be shortened. Or maybe not. I was thinking in an earlier place that I would get some action into the story by having a riot--but something else happened instead. And my heroine had to be rescued. Hmm. The scene I'm working on now will have a riot-ish occurrence--so this would probably be a good place to show her competence, and that she can rescue the hero as well... Okay, good. Thanks for helping me with that.

In other news, there is a brand new stoplight--not a post-hurricane repaired one, but a brand, spanking new one--on my way to work. I haven't decided yet if I like it. I seldom go through it during rush hour--and yes, we do have one. So the stop sign really worked better for me when I was using it. But everyone else is probably glad of not getting run over by rush hour. ;) On the rest of the island, we're still dealing with "sometimes the stoplights work, and sometimes they don't." Oh well.

I'm going to draw names for the ARC giveaway for my newsletter subscribers after Thanksgiving. The Texas grandboys, and our boys, will be home for the holiday, so I'm not going to think about promo stuff till then. I'll try to blog next week. Who knows. Maybe I'll make it back here before then.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Whew!

The writing is going better this week. (Knock on wood. I sure don't want to jinx anything by saying so.)

Yes, I only got 2 pages written yesterday, but I finished a love scene, and those Always take me longer. And today, I got 6.5 pages written. Aftermaths are always easier.

I was limited to 2 pages because I had to take the computer in to the shop. (There is a "spare" in the boy's room.) All the places on the island that I knew about got flooded, but a Computer Geeks shop on the mainland sounded good, so I carted it in (they even do housecalls, but I wanted to take it in) and left my baby in their hands. They've already called me to discuss what the problem probably is, so...maybe I'll have it back soon. I'm contemplating getting it upgraded. We'll see how much that will cost me.

And on the way back, I got to drive across the New Side of the Causeway. The southbound lanes are finished and I drove across. It was pouring rain, the wind was blowing really hard, so I was having to concentrate on staying in my lane, rather than looking around. I have a high profile vehicle, so the wind can really catch it and blow me around--and it did. But it was nice to have lots of room, normal width lanes, emergency lanes, and all that. It's really going to be nice when it's all done.

Today, we were supposed to have a 70% chance of rain, but all the rain must have fallen yesterday. It's gorgeous outside...

And I'm driveling. So I'll stop.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

One Step Forward, Two--Sideways?

The traffic light at Ave. O has gone out again. Sometimes they work, sometimes they don't.

I'm excited because I can go pick up mail more often, now that they have trailers with P.O. boxes in them at my post office. Of course this new substitute mailbox is so tiny, we have to pick it up often... I am waiting on books (no surprise) and meds, so I hope they get here soon. Soon-ish.

And the causeway is almost done! I think the southbound lanes, which have been under construction since long before we moved to town, have already opened. It will be another few weeks while they re-stripe the northbound lanes (both north- and southbound traffic have been traveling on that side) to give us emergency lanes and shoulders, but it is almost finished. I am not the only person who will be happy. The causeway suffered no damage in the storm--except for some newly planted palm trees that got smashed down and a busted up sign or two. The roadway--even the part under construction--was just fine. Okay, it had a lot of boats and sand strewn all over it, but once they moved the boats, no problem. (They were still moving boats early this week...) (Lots of boats on the causeway.)

I'm in a good mood. I got 6 pages written today. Doesn't sound like much, but that's my "usual" number (especially considering I only wrote 1.5 yesterday)--though I'm still striving to get more, even with the interruptions. The switch from Daylight time falling at the same time as returning from New York's Eastern time has me waking up early, so I get to work earlier and can get more done.

Also, I went to get the new LKHamilton book, Swallowing Darkness, the day it came out, as well as J.D. Robb's Salvation in Death, and am happily devouring same.

Life. It requires laundry. And groceries. And people who cook food. I had better go take care of some of those things.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Warmer weather

Back home again under sunny skies and WARM weather. It got up to 80F yesterday. But I need to finish the story, right? The one about the trip to NYC.

We're up to Friday, I believe. I had good intentions about writing in the mornings while I was there. But good intentions often flounder when faced by--well, good books. And a soft bed. And other temptations. I didn't write diddly-squat. Not one stinkin' word, much less a good word. But I shall persevere. (Just not today.)

See, right before I went to New York, I did some reviews (look me up on Good Reads or Shelfari) which I share with an online loop (Romance Readers Anonymous--look it up at Yahoo! Groups) and with Sarah at the Smart Bitches site, and when I sent it to Sarah, I mentioned that I would be in her neighborhood, and maybe we could get together sometime. She e-mailed me back, and when I checked e-mails online on the fella's laptop, I saw it, called her, and we set up lunch together on Friday. So I had TWO business lunches in NYC.

I left early, because of my getting-turned-around issues, so hopefully I wouldn't get too lost and would have time to find the place and not be late. And of course, despite my little out-and-in dance at the subway doors, I got there early, so I had time to walk around the block and look at all the fancy schmanzy jewelry stores. I was almost afraid to look at some of those things too closely in the windows, they were so fancy and expensive looking. It was really fun talking to Sarah. She thinks in a lot more depth than I do--or maybe she's more conscious of it than I am. It was a fabulous lunch. (I had pizza--I don't get to often, given then fella's allergies.) We'd never met in person, but it was as if we'd been friends--for months, anyway. Lots of fun.

She suggested walking down 5th Ave. to see the stores--so I did. Until my knees and hips gave out--I still shop till I drop, but the drop point comes a lot sooner these days.

Friday night, we went to see To Be or Not To Be--a play, not a musical. It was very good also. We just had the best time going to see plays and shows. Let's see--Friday was the dinner with his board of directors. Went to a Tuscan/Northern Italian restaurant and had a fabulous dinner (veal crepes for appetizer, beef w/polenta, etc.) in great company. We went before the show, which I liked a little better, I think, than going afterward.

Saturday, we slept kind of late, then went out to find something for the grandboys. We shopped around the hotel, in Times Square, (I got a Times Square mug for me--had tea in it today) then went down to Chinatown to shop some down there, and have lunch. (General Tso's chicken, this time.) Looked at a lot of stuff, but didn't find anything we really wanted to buy. So we rode the subway back uptown, stopped here and there. New York has some really fancy stores and boutiques. It also has a K-Mart. (We found at least one.) Saw Madison Square Garden. Got myself sorta un-turned around. Saw a fur wholesaler, but what would I do with a fur in Galveston? It barely gets cold enough for a sweater... We finally picked up some gifties for the grandboys, and went back to the hotel for a nap. I took one, anyway.

Saturday night's show was Hairspray. That was the fella's pick. We each picked one musical and got tickets before we left home. Then while we were in town, we decided on the two other plays. We sat on the extreme outside end, but we saw everything just fine. It was a fun show.

But when it was done, we had to go back to the hotel and pack up. Which meant I had to decide what to do with and where to put all those books I got. I've read 2-1/2 of them by now.

Sunday was taken up with getting home again. We left the hotel early to avoid the marathon. Yes, the NY marathon ran that Sunday (that's two marathons I've had to avoid this year), and for several days before hand, there were people in spandex wandering (and sometimes running) all over town. Speaking in all sorts of languages. Even Welsh.

Anyway, we're home again. My brain is more or less functioning. The post office has set up new boxes in trailers behind the downtown postoffice which is still closed, so I don't have to drive off the island any more to get the mail. Gradually, life is getting more and more back to normal. Now I just need to get back to a good writing schedule.

Friday, October 31, 2008

NYC, Day 2

I'm not awake yet. That's okay. I'm going to try to blog anyway.

So, yesterday was my visit to the Tor offices. Since we'd gone on a sort-of dry run on the subway past the stop where I needed to get off to visit, I took the subway down, but came up the wrong exit and didn't know which way to turn from my exit. I'm usually not too directionally challenged, but I have had a hard time here keeping myself oriented. I don't know if it's the height of the buildings and being unable to really keep track of the sun, or what, but every time I come out of the hotel, I have to stop and look around and figure out which way is uptown (north) and which way is downtown (south). And then I can get where I'm going. And I always think it's the other way than what it is--or at least a lot of the time I do.

Anyway, I got turned around when I came up from the subway, and walked the wrong way for about 5 minutes, then turned around and went back. Finally wound up calling Heather. Somewhere in all this, I missed the fact that the building I was looking for was actually the Flatiron building, and wound up walking all the way around it to make sure it was the place I was trying to go. But I made it! And everyone was impressed that I took the subway to get there. :) (Even me!)

I have pictures, and I will post them. Discovered that when I changed batteries in the camera before I left town that I put in an almost dead one. But I have another to put in, so I can take more pictures. Anyway--I visited with Heather a while. We talked to the publicity people and the sales people--they'd just bought an ad for New Blood in RT, which makes me happy. I might get some book excerpt brochures to share around. Just got lots of ARCs to share around, so that makes me happy too.

We went to lunch at an Indian food place, and talked food and traveling. Heather and I have both been to St. Petersburg--the one in Russia. She was there the year after I went. Then we went back to the office, and I got to meet the art guy (he wasn't there when we went by before) and he had official cover flats. See, they're doing the title and my name all glossy, and the rest of the cover in matte, which makes the title and the name look Very Cool. It jumps out at you. AND, my name and the outline around the title is actually in a metallic gold, not yellow. And that is Very Cool too. So I got a handful of those too. Sign up for my newsletter. I'll be giving away some copies of the book soon. When I get home and pick up those boxes of books. (To sign up, send an e-mail to gail @ gaildayton.com with Subscribe in the subject line.)

And after all that cool stuff, Heather took me to the lobby, where there were books lining most of the walls, and said "See anything you like? Take whatever you want." Well, geez...that was like setting a miser loose in Aladdin's cave, with the genie gone. I tried to limit myself. After all, I only had a small totebag to carry stuff in. And I still had to pack them in carefully to squeeze them all in. And when I got back to the hotel (on the subway), I had to stop off in the lobby and unpack my bag to get to my wallet where the room key was.

But that was just the beginning of the day!

I took a nap. And read about half of one of the books (the hardback, because I'm afraid it will make my suitcase too heavy). And then went with our friends the Kellys to see The 39 Steps, which yes, is based on the old A. Hitchcock movie, but done as a comedy spoof. Lots of fun. Then out to dinner, with cheesecake. Yum.

More fun on tap today. Will post tomorrow--or whenever I get around to it.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

New York, New York

Here I am in New York. No Pictures, because I am using the fella's laptop and I don't know if I can download pictures. Besides, I haven't taken any yet. So--

This is my second time (ever) in NYC. The first time was five or six years ago, so needless to say, we don't come here often. Impressions:

Manhattan is an island, not a sand bar, like the island I live on. Lots of water and lots of other islands. Not much in the way of surf--but then I haven't been out to the "beach" islands.

There doesn't appear to be any such thing as traffic lanes. If a driver can squeeze a car into a space, he squeezes, forget where the lines are painted on the street.

Lots and lots of people, lots of languages. Galveston has as much variety, but not nearly as much quantity.

It's really hard to sleep on an airplane.

We got up way, way before dawn so we could drive across Houston to the Other airport to catch an early flight. It is actually possible to avoid all traffic slowdowns if you're crossing downtown at 5 a.m. And we had to leave the island at 4 a.m. to get to downtown Houston by 5. Yes, it is that far. Houston comes all the way out to meet us (okay, there are nearly a dozen little towns/suburbs once you reach Galveston County, but it's city all the way.) I kept trying to sleep on the plane, but it kept not working.

We checked into our hotel and rode the subway down to Chinatown for lunch, because I was in the mood for Chinese. We wandered around and goggled at the buildings and stuff in the stores and such. NYC doesn't have as much Chinese-styled architecture as San Francisco, where I was back in July/August. (This laptop keyboard is weird. Keep missing letters and spaces.)

We rode the subway back to Times Square, where our hotel is, and went looking for a drugstore or some place where we could get drinks and stuff for the room. Then I took a nap. I was really tired, and wanted to be able to stay awake. Because we went to see Spamalot. (Or is it Spamalot!?)

It was totally wonderful. Loved "The Song that Goes Like This" and "What happened to My Part?" and--well, just all of it. Clay Aiken was "Brave" Sir Robin. One of the understudies did Lancelot, and he was so good I'm scared to think what the --overstudy?--the regular guy would do with it.

Anyway, it was heaps of fun. And then we went out to dinner at a Brasilian restaurant, Brazil Brazil. That was quite good too.

Today will be a full day--not quite sure what it will be full with, but... I might be able to report back tomorrow. If I can figure out how to get on line, and stuff.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Busy, busy, busy

Been working the dayjob a little extra because of some trips I've been making, so it's made it tough to get by here and post a blog. And it's been tough to get the writing done. I am just CREEPING along. Bleah.

Went to Waco this past weekend for a writing retreat. Critiqued some stories and got a crit. Did some fun writing exercises which might turn into stories later. Others helped me get a handle on characters. It was peaceful--except when the trail riders were giving out awards just outside our cabin-shack where we stayed.

Don't have much to share, actually. I'm kinda brain dead. So I'll just let you know I'm still alive. Still plodding through the book. Been out of town, fixing to go again. And working a lot. So. That's my life.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Galveston's Library


One of the places in Galveston that was badly flooded by Hurricane Ike was Rosenberg Library. It's near downtown, where 10 to 12 feet of sea water came in from Galveston Bay, and all that water completely wiped out everything on the library's first floor. Basically, the entire children's library. This first picture is a view looking in from the door. The spiral staircase leads up to the adult section, and the children's library is, I believe, off to the left, if the camera's facing the direction I think it is. You see all the CDs in the right foreground? Mud and salt water isn't good for CDs.

They lost the entire children's collection. Not just books, but shelving and chairs and DVDs and CDs and finger puppets and everything. The wave action picked up everything that wasn't fastened down--and some things that were (I think I see part of the front counter in this second picture.) and tossed them around. They do not even have shelves to put books on, so they can't really accept donations of actual books. But if y'all have a few dollars to spare--even just $5--that would go a long way to getting Rosenberg Library to the point where they CAN get books (and other materials) back in the hands of the kids.

Right now, the children's librarians are doing mobile storytimes. It's a "You provide the place and kids, we'll bring the stories and fun," kind of thing where people can call and request a librarian with a story. Even with their facility in this kind of mess (and they are beginning to get the mess cleaned out--beginning to), they're providing services.

Parts of Galveston, like my neighborhood, escaped with very little damage. Other parts--well, they look like these pictures. (You can see the layered mud on the floor in this last picture--a lot of the books and other materials were sunk in that stuff.) There are so many needs here, so many people that need help. This is the one that speaks to me. Books have made a difference in my life. Books need to be available to make a difference in the lives of the children of Galveston.

Y'all can visit Rosenberg Library on their website, where there is a donation button, or you can send a donation to Rosenberg Library, 2310 Sealy Ave., Galveston, TX 77550. (Any donation is tax-deductible.) Anything is appreciated.

Thanks, y'all.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

NEW BLOOD - The Cover


This is it. The official cover for the upcoming book. New Blood by Gail Dayton, coming from Tor Books in March 2009.

I really like it. Note the Victorian-era type font for the title. See the spiffy steampunk-y gears and such in the background. Note the heroine's white dress. And yeah, there's blood on her skirt. But there are no vampires. Just magic.

It's totally different from pretty much everything out there, and ought to catch a few eyes. I'm hoping they're willing to give it a chance. And the blood? There's really not that much spilled in the story. Drops here and there. Well, except during the sword fight. But it's not like buckets-o-blood or total gore or anything. It's a really good book.

Nalini Singh says so. And y'all like Nalini Singh's books, right? After she read it, she send me an e-mail. "Read it. Loved it. Must have more." Yep, she said that. Thrilled me no end. So anyway, that's the cover.

I mailed my page proofs back on Tuesday. I drove across the causeway to do it Monday, without realizing it was Columbus Day--did not have a clue it was a holiday--but I was still able to go pick up the router and cable we needed to set up the back-up computer, so it wasn't a total waste of the drive. I drove back across (it's only about 3 miles of bridge, but it's another 10 miles to reach "civilization") Tuesday and picked up the mail and got directions to the Hitchcock post office, which is supposedly easier to find than the La Marque post office. I also rewarded myself by going to the closest mall and buying Robin D. Owens' new release (Heart Fate). Then I promptly got lost trying to find the Hitchcock post office. Which was dumb, because it is right there on Hwy. 6. But I turned the wrong way. If I'd turned the other way--if I'd even LOOKED the other way--I probably would have seen it. Anyway, I turned back before I got all the way into Bayou Vista (an actual town, but without its own post office), so didn't take too much time. I'll know for the next time.

Because, even though they're talking about bringing in trailers to give out the box mail at the downtown post office in the next week or two, and have "mobile post offices" to sell stamps and stuff, they still don't have the machines to weigh and dispense parcel postage. If I need to mail a manuscript or books or contest winnings (which I NEED to do, for a contest at the 2 B Read blog), I still have to drive to a "real" post office. Which also gives me an excuse to go back to the mall and browse the bookstore... :) (Not that I really need excuses...)

Still with the slogging on the book. They're about to discover the second murdered body. They stayed up all night hoping to thwart the murderer, but Nooooo-- (Bwah-ha-hah! rubbing hands snidely whiplash-ly) No, it's another dead body. This one deposited by an actual demon in a popular park.

So. In island news--we had a rainstorm Monday, and a whole bunch of the stop lights that had actually started working normally Quit, again. I think every stoplight on 53rd street had finally started working right, then the rain came and boom! None of them worked. It was back to 4-way stop sign rules. I think all but one were working properly again today. Avenue O is still being a little hinky. Before-Ike, it was the Avenue Q stoplight that went out every time it rained. Oh well. Three steps forward, one step back.

We went out and drove around the West End over the weekend--the devastation there is just heartbreaking. I got pictures of ONE of the giant trash piles on the island. I'll put them up once I get them downloaded.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Return to semi-Normalcy

So. I'm going to open with the good news.

I just got word. THE ETERNAL ROSE, the 3rd book in my One Rose trilogy, won the 2008 Prism Award for Best Fantasy. (THE BARBED ROSE (book 2) won the Prism in 2007, fyi.) Needless to say, I am totally chuffed. It was fabulous news to come in the wake of all the hurricane disruption.

The dead refrigerator is gone from our front curb. So are the branches off the "pine" in the back yard and the other branches. We didn't have much in the way of trash, compared to so many folks. There are two huge, huge vacant lots--one off Broadway near the "entrance" to the island, and one off Seawall somewhere. (I drive by the one on Broadway on the way to work. Haven't been by the one on Seawall.) Anyway, both of these lots are used as a collection spot for the trash and debris picked up by the city, before it's taken off the island by two contractors. The trash is piled 10-15 feet high and covers almost the entire lot that I've seen. The other one is in similar state. They're removing trash from the lots as fast as they can fill up the trucks and drive them off, but more keeps coming. And it doesn't seem as if they've made a dent in the trash and debris piled outside the houses I drive past every day.

On the other hand, MY life is pretty much back to normal. Dolly the granddog is home. We finally have all our services back, including internet. The computer is doing strange things (like spontaneously shutting down/restarting every 10 to 20 minutes or so), and may have to go in to the shop, but we have hot showers! And drinkable water! And cable television. All the amenities.

I only had to drive across the causeway to work in the Texas City newspaper office for three days once I went back to work this week. The newsroom moved back to the island on Thursday. Now we only have to make the trip over the causeway to pick up mail. They're delivering first class mail to houses on the island now, (which means no magazines, etc.) but the post offices, including the P.O. Boxes, won't open ... well, the downtown post office, where our box was, is "closed indefinitely." However, picking up box mail at the temporary place is a lot easier than picking up residence mail. So we'll probably keep doing that for a while, till they start delivering ALL the mail to houses.

The grocery stores are open. Target is open. The junior college and schools are back in session. I feel so utterly grateful that we came through this with so little damage and disruption. Especially when I see all around me people who are dealing with the loss of everything they own. Still, as so many of my friends have said, "It's just stuff. Stuff can be replaced."

And I still have a book to write. I have been slogging along this week. Four pages most days, though today, I only wrote one. I got my page proofs yesterday. These are the first proofs I've ever gotten that actually look like book pages. (Harlequin sends these really funky looking things...) So I wrote one page, and got to work on the proofs.

Because of the disruption on the island, the proofs got returned to Tor the first time they sent them, so my original deadline's been extended, but I think I ought to be able to get them in the mail by that date, if not back to them. And I still want to write at least a half-page every day before I start working on the proofs. They're pretty clean, so it shouldn't be too tough.

Now, I just need to get back into an exercise routine. The beach is pretty much gone, near my house, and they're trying to keep people on the island side of the seawall, anyway. The rocks are still littering the sidewalk, so it's not really fit for bicycle riding. I'll just have to head over and walk. The weather's starting to cool down a little, so the walking will be pleasant. I've been a real slug while I've been evacuated...

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Finally going home

The fella went down last Thursday--to avoid the 10-mile long backup of people trying to get to the island on Wednesday. No electricity. No gas. No drinkable water--but flushable toilets.

I went down on Saturday with my sister and niece, so they could pick up her car. It was a totally gorgeous day. The surf was almost non-existent. We got a mini-tour of the city--mostly just what was around our neighborhood. Then I got the fella to drop us off at the seawall just up from our house so we could let the niece walk down the jetty.

See all those rocks in the background? They're at the bottom of the seawall, which is where we're standing (on the top). They were covered up with sand before the storm. This is one of the few places along the seawall that still had sand, and it's only there for about half the distance between jetties. I'll see if I can get a couple more pictures onto my dad's computer, so I can share them with you. Our visitors just stayed for a little while. Maybe an hour. Then they had to take their rescued, non-damaged car, and go back home. I stayed.

The weather was really nice. It was cool out on the seawall where the breeze was blowing, but it got hot walking back to the house. Still, it was cool enough that I could take a nap after our company left and didn't get overheated at all. We waited a little late to cook supper that night. We were pushing it to get everything cooked on our grill before we lost the light. We dined by candlelight.

Sunday, we moved the refrigerator that belonged to the rent house out, because it was just totally gross. It was the only thing that had to go. Our own refrigerator grew a little bit of gunk, but this one... It dribbled gunky water when we had to tip it to get it out the front door, and made the whole house smell like dead fish. Had to wash it up with Clorox solution. That helped. A lot. We found out that even though our neighborhood only had a few houses with minimal damage, the city had told the power company that there was too much damage to turn the electricity on.

Just one street over, in houses that back up to the houses across the street from us, that is true. (See pictures.) But not in our street. So the fella (and at least one neighbor) called the power company up and told them the correct information. By 4 p.m., we had electricity. We're still boiling the water to wash dishes and drinking the bottled stuff. The gas isn't on, so we don't have hot water. Fortunately, the cold water is closer to lukewarm (though with the cooler weather, it's not as close as it is in August...) so cold showers aren't that cold.

Let's see, what else did I do on my island visit? Oh, we packed up stuff the son will need at college. They transferred the local campus students to the main university campus, and he managed to get into an apartment, so we needed to bring up more clothes, his computer cords and peripherals, and some linens. That went into my car.

Most of the damage on the island was due to the storm surge. The previous two pictures are of the neighborhood right next to ours. The water action took out a lot of brick and stone walls. Wind took out others. If just the top was knocked down, we figure it was wind. If the whole thing was down--water.

The tree lying on its side on the junior college campus is a pecan tree which didn't get knocked over by the wind. It looked fine right after the storm. But the salt water that covered the campus killed the tree, and three weeks later, it just gave up and laid itself over. Looks maybe like the roots died, because not much of them came up when the tree lay down.

I took some pictures of the Strand district downtown, but I had the camera turned sideways, and I can't find a program on Daddy's computer that will turn them right side up and save them, and when I get home later this week, I won't have internet access. I don't think. All of the buildings downtown took on water. All of them have a lot of damaged contents. But I don't think any of the buildings themselves were damaged structurally. They don't look damaged. But I'm sure you know how much that's worth from this non-expert.
This picture here is of the seawall at one of the seawall parks near 45th Street. I think this is the one with the 1900 Hurricane Memorial at the far end (off to the right) that was in so many of the "Live from Galveston" weather reports during Hurricane Ike.
Anyway, down below the park areas, a whole lot of rock and broken concrete and rubble was piled as...protection? Support? Not sure why it was piled up there. But the storm waves picked up a whole lot of it and deposited it on the seawall and street.
You can see three benches in the right foreground. Those are concrete benches. There were quite a few of them at these parks. The benches got floated around and totally rearranged during the storm. Handrails got ripped off the staircases going from the top of the seawall to the beach. Boats floated up onto the freeway. There's one stuck on the walls in the median between the north and southbound sides. Damage everywhere. And yet, lots of places didn't take much damage at all. (Like my house.)
I feel utterly blessed. I don't know why my home and our belongings were spared, but I am so totally grateful. I'm grateful for friends and even acquaintances who have worried and wondered and for all the doors that have opened to take us all in. Even (or maybe especially) the evacuation kennel looking after Dolly the granddog.
I'm going home to stay probably tomorrow. Dolly should be home by Saturday. The boy has his new apartment put together. His class schedule still has two classes at one time, but hopefully he'll get that worked out soon. (His classes meet only one time per week in marathon sessions because they're having to squeeze them in wherever. One class meets at the Methodist church on campus.) The Wal-Mart, Home Depot and Kroger grocery store on the island are all open, as are a few gas stations. We're still boiling water, but life is beginning to come back together. Thank God for all the blessings he's given.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

High and dry

I tried to post another blog the other day, but the electricity blinked out for a few seconds at the parents' house, and I never did get back to it.

So. The word is Very Good about our house. We did not get any water inside, not even in the garage, that we could tell. So my baby sister's car is fine. We can't get it out, but it's fine. See, we only have a key to the front door of this rent house. The front door is a double door that had to be barricaded against getting blown in by a 2x4 bolted down to the door frame. (The bolts are permanently installed.) So we can't get in the front door. And with the power off, we can't open the garage door. We now have a generator (imported from Kansas, because apparently you can't buy a generator in Texas for love nor money), but haven't been able to get across the causeway to do anything about it. One of the trees got a little torn up. There are some shingles missing from the ridgeline. That's about it, for our house. But the island is in such bad shape, there's no point in going down yet. (Besides the fact that they won't let us come.)

The sister on the cruise--the cruise ship docked in New Orleans. They rented cars and drove to Austin to put the kids on a plane so they could go back to work.

Our church had essentially no damage. The only one on the island in that kind of shape, I am told. Friends who rode out the storm on their boat came through okay, though the boat was damaged. Another friend, who lives on the mainland where they said just to hunker down, had two big trees fall on their house and they had to evacuate their house in the middle of the night when the winds were blowing hard. But they're okay and their pets are too.

They are going to start classes for A&M Galveston on the main A&M campus next week. I've got a temporary berth for the boy to stay, until he can find something else, or until they move back to Pelican Island. They're talking about being back on their own campus by the end of October.

I've gone up to stay with the in-laws for a while. I like to see the fella face to face at least once a week. He did go down to check things out yesterday (which is where the house report came from), and Galveston College is in great shape too. The storm broke 5 plate glass windows. Two in a hallway, one in a faculty member's office, and two in classrooms with little besides desks in them. Their buses didn't even get messed up.

It's going to cost a fortune to get everything put back together. Hopefully, not too much in terms of time.

I'm trying to get some writing done, and have actually been doing pretty good at that. Ten plus pages to the good this week.

Y'all take care.

Friday, September 12, 2008

All Weather Channel All the Time

I am sitting in my parents' house in a little town SE of Austin, watching Hurricane Ike on the Weather Channel. I like the Weather Channel, because their reporters are actually on Galveston Island. In fact, they're staying in a hotel not far from my house. So when they do their live reports from the seawall, I can see how high the waves are splashing up, and how high the water is coming over the seawall, and see just how likely it is that my house is underwater.

So far, the waves are just splashing. But the surge hasn't hit yet. If the surge is 25 feet, like they're talking, my house will probably be under water, up to the roof. We're all safely tucked away. I have all our pictures in boxes in the back of my SUV, and I brought the computer with me. But the thought of losing everything else we own gives me a pang. However--they're only things. The son went to visit his girlfriend and took the granddog, who is staying in an evacuation kennel because she can't stay in the dorms.

I'm taking the chance to help out the parents. Took Mama shopping for upholstery fabric to get her living room chairs recovered. They haven't been re-done in 30 years. Now if I can just make sure she remembers which was the perfect fabric we picked out. (I wrote it down, and marked the page in the book. Now need to show my sister and niece, so they can make sure.)

Be praying for the idiots who stayed on the island--about 40% of the population, from what the news is saying. And they're saying this hurricane could be bigger than "The Big One" that hit in 1900 (on my birthday).

My sister is out on a cruise ship which will linger off Cozumel until the port opens again--probably coming back in a day after they were originally scheduled. My other sister's car is in my garage, because the one on the cruise ship drove it down. So if our house goes, the borrowed car will go too. Oh well. So, yeah. Prayers. For people first, then for, well, stuff. I'm safe. The family is safe. What else do we need? Bless you all.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Pre-Bug-Out Post

Just a quick post here to let y'all know that--while at the moment Hurricane Ike is forecast to land a little north of Matagorda Bay, Ike is big enough that his outside edge will scrape the island pretty hard. Least little bit of turn to the north, and we'll get hit even harder, so I'm packing up the computer and all my totebags with manuscripts, and my two portable hard drives and my CDs of grandbaby pictures, and I'm heading for Austin.

The boy is already gone with the granddog to see his girlfriend in Waco. Need to plug in the head editor's phone number so I can call and let them know I'm not coming in...

Wish us luck. We're driving out tonight. Got to pack.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Hurricane Ike

So, now we're waiting to see whether Ike wants to come to Texas. He's tracking our direction, so far. If he comes ashore at Corpus Christi or south, I might not have to leave, depending on how strong a storm he is at that point. If he comes ashore in Texas anywhere north of there, the fella's probably going to make me leave town (again, depending on how big a storm it is--anything Category 3 or up, I'm gone). I'll take the new car and my computer and all my manuscripts, and go stay with the parents. We'll know by Wednesday morning.

Oh, and it's my birthday today, but we didn't do anything. I think I'm going to hold out for dinner at Gaido's after Ike passes. Probably won't get it, but I might get lucky. We'll see.

Got 3 whole pages written today. It has been a really hard grind. But at least I got Something. Maybe tomorrow will be better. And maybe I can still get stuff written, even if I have to bug out. It's really hard to write at Mom & Dad's though, because Mama wants me to talk to her, and keeps forgetting if I tell her I need to work. (sigh)

And we have an extra car here. My sister in Idaho brought her family down to go on a cruise, and they borrowed the other sister's car to drive over from Austin, and it's now parked in our back yard. Four cars. Three drivers. If Ike does come, we don't have enough people to get all the cars out of Dodge. (Sigh again.) We're just hoping the storm surge is 17 feet or less. The seawall is 17 feet high, so it can handle that much surge. More, and we're probably flooded.

Think south.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Writer's Block, or The Lazies, or...?

Actually, I'm pretty sure it's not writer's block. I don't get that very much. I do, however, suffer tremendously from The Lazies, and from The Stupids. (The Lazies are pretty much self-explanatory. The Stupids--that's where your characters are stupid, the dialogue is stupid, the narrative is Stupid, the Plot is STupid, and EVERYTHING IS JUST STUPID, STUPID, STUPID!) (Have you ever noticed how stupid-sounding the word "stupid" is? Especially when you say it three times fast?)

There is also another category of "not writing," however. It's the "I don't know exactly where the story needs to go next, and I need to not-think about it," category.

Yeah. I know. That doesn't sound real...professional. It sounds all Procrastination-y, and Making-Excuses-ish. But...

I have found that sometimes I need to back off and let the swamp--er, the subconscious--(okay, yeah, the swamp. My subconscious is a swamp, okay?) have the story for a while and chew on it. (My swamp has alligators. They chew things.) Sometimes, I need to consciously not-think about a story, let the swamp have its way with it, and then when I go back, the story is there and ready to go, and if I try to force it when it needs to go to the swamp and ferment a while, it's worse than if I ignore the story and don't think about it and don't write it. If I let it go a day or two, then I get farther when I come back than if I sat at the desk and Made myself write. Makes no sense, but there it is.

And yet... maybe I AM just being lazy, and avoiding the work. Sometimes it's hard to tell the difference. Do I need to be castigating myself for laziness, or am I actually accomplishing something, even if it might not look like it?

This is where I've been the last day or two. I got a whole 2.5 pages written yesterday. That's it. Wrote nothing at all on Monday. Today, I didn't even go sit down at the desk--except to put on my socks. Because I'm not really sure where the story needs to go next. Do I need to write a time passage-transition scene? Do I need some other scene? The book is too dang long already. I need to have a villain scene in here somewhere soon--some kind of adventure/danger-type scene. But I have no idea what it ought to be, or whether it ought to be the real villain or the red-herring villain. Or maybe the real villain manipulating the red-herring villain. Or the RH villain doing something, and the real villain gloating. Or something completely out of left field. This is one of the things that my swamp does really well--come up with ideas for this sort of thing, so I kind of think this isn't just the Lazies--though they probably do play in here a little...

I have discovered some things my hero needs to realize, and one thing my heroine needs to learn, so that's been good. It's just time to figure out some specifics, and now that the swamp has had time to chomp on things a bit, I may need to do some free-writing to figure out what exactly needs to happen next. Maybe the writing will come faster.

Since Gustav turned out to be a non-event here--no evacuation order for the island or anything--I went swimming with the guys Sunday. It was fun. Didn't even have big waves. It was the kind of ocean swimming I love best. The older son came down for a visit, and the two boys went out to try to ride the skim board on Saturday. We have scraped knees--sand will really take the hide off you--and sore ankles. There were some pretty spectacular falls. I laughed. We sent the older son home to Dallas Sunday a.m., though, just in case Gustav decided to skim along the coast. He did help clear out the garage so the new car could fit in. But as it turned out, we didn't even get any rain. (pout) We're still low on rainfall for the year.

We did get some big shells. I found my biggest clump of rose-colored barnacles yet. Big as my fist. I was out walking with Dolly the granddog--let her off the leash so she could run fast--and had fun trying to hang onto my shells and get her back on the leash. She did come back and hold still for me to do it--but she played "can't catch me" at least once, first.

My internet is out at home. I have to take the computer in somewhere to get it fixed. Grr. And I'm not even sure where to take it. Haven't been happy with the 2 places we've taken the boy's computer so far. Best Buy may be next on the list.

And I have to go to the dentist tomorrow morning. Had a dumb filling come out. Maybe I'll have time to take the computer somewhere after that. May as well "waste" the whole morning. Maybe I can get LOTS written on Friday. I can only try. Maybe by then, I'll know what I need to be writing...

Friday, August 29, 2008

Hurricane Gustav

Gussie will just not make up his mind. While we anxiously wait to hear whether he's going to smack down New Orleans again, or turn left and try to blow our little island away, Gustav is out messing around with Cuba, heading for the Gulf. Folks are shutting things down, just in case, so they don't have to come back and do it over the holiday.

I haven't been out to the Seawall yet today, but yesterday, there was no wind whatsoever. The water was like glass. We'll see what the next few days hold.

Today was a better writing day. I got 5.5 pages written.

I would have done more, but I had to stop early to head out to lunch with the newsroom folks because the Mainland Editor has taken a new (better paying) job, and today was his last day. Lunch was at the Original Mexican Cafe (Restaurant?), and I had some excellent fish tacos (fried, battered fish with crispy corn tortilla shells--I'm amazed at the variety in fish tacos). It's in an old house in the historic East End, not far from the medical school, and there's NO parking. I did finally find an easy-to-get-into spot about a block away, in the shade, even. And then I had to go to work. I have had lunch out several days this week. I guess I need to go ride the bike tonight to make up for some of that, huh?

The older son is flying down tonight to pick up our excess car. With one car per driver, when you add a car, you get an extra one. Better to let him have it than trade it in and get virtually nothing on the trade-in. We will see whether he has to evacuate with us.

Off to put more pictures in for Monday's Applause section...

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Day by day

Not such good writing day today. Got 2.5 pages. Sigh. Much of it probably cuttable. Mostly transition-type stuff, which sometimes you need, but... Tomorrow, can go visit the dead zone. Play with metal machine cog critters. Need to give them cogs.

Beach was beachy. Saw a couple of catfish just washed up lying dead on the beach. Lots of crab prints. Lots of crabs--didn't pay attention before. A guy had a couple of St. Bernards out walking--they looked like they had played all they could stand to play and were almost too tired to walk home again. The water was ultra calm. No signs whatsoever of Gustav.

Boring blog post. Sorry. Feeling boring today.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Newsroom Faradiddle

Well, I can't seem to make Blogger upload a photo from another site, so I'm just going to have to make links to the pictures.

It seems that Clay Walker, the country music singer/star, has a house somewhere on the island. And he was at Home Depot the other day, buying bug spray for mosquitos, which have become a sudden problem due to recent rains. And the photographer with the newspaper where I work part time took his picture. And it didn't make the front page.

This has been a huge topic of conversation in the newsroom this afternoon. Yes, it apparently really is Clay Walker. Although those of us who did not have a clue as to who Clay Walker is (because we don't listen to country music) had to go look him up online to be sure it was him. There is much discussion, and laughter, and "Really?" and okay, some "Who's Clay Walker?" Anyway. That's the cool weird thing going on at the dayjob today.

I wrote almost six pages this a.m. New, fresh-as-a-daisy pages. With ranting. (The characters, not me.) Now, we are about to go into exposition. Over breakfast. The story, she progresses.

We are watching Hurricane Gustav to see whither he goeth.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Life begins again

Boy, it is REALLY easy to tell when school starts when you live in a tourist mecca. I could have lunch at Whataburger today. During tourist season, no way can I get through the door, much less find a parking place. There usually aren't many people out on the beach at 8 a.m., but today--I saw even fewer--though the beach still was groomed. (They take a big bulldozer out with a rake and rake up the sand every morning.)

The seagulls have all lost their pretty black heads. And there are brown gulls amongst them. I saw a brown seagull the other day and was very confused. Laughing gulls are not brown. They are shiny white and gray and have black heads--or dirty-looking white ones. (They never do loose all their black feathers.) And then I remembered that the babies are brown. They are the same color as the beach sand. I didn't see one of them sitting in the groomed sand, until I looked really close.

I saw crab tracks this morning. I couldn't figure out what they were at first. They look sort of like a 4-inch wide net was pressed into the sand, a delicate-looking pattern. Then I saw the hole in the sand at the center of all the tracks. I suppose I could take my camera next time and hope I see the tracks again. They were really cool looking. I'm pretty sure it was blue crab, or something besides hermit crab (though they are local too), because there was no tracks of a shell dragging behind the skittery leg tracks.

Also saw a couple of seagulls carrying shrimp around. I decided they must have stolen them from the fishermen out on the jetties, because shrimp are bottom feeders, and seagulls don't dive. It was pretty funny looking though--white shrimp dangling from the gull beaks.

Spent much of the weekend shopping. Didn't intend to go out and shop, except for books. (The boy wanted the last Terry Goodkind Sword of Truth book. I haven't read any but the first one, and don't intend to, but he's been caught up in the series. I bought 4 paperbacks.) But they were having a big sale at Dillards. HUGE sale. The fella and the boy bought suits and shoes and sport coats. I bought pants. That are Long Enough!! (This is an issue for me, especially since most of the pants I already owned are too short, and the mirror in the bathroom at the newspaper tells me every time I go in there.) I had to hunt amongst the britches on sale for the ones that did not say "Short"--but I found them. (I'm really only average...) And I bought tops and shirts. I wasn't sure about one pair of pants and one top, and wanted the guys to come upstairs and give their opinion--and while I was waiting for them to finish buying sport coats (they'd already bought suits), and show up, I found two more tops to buy. So it was their fault I bought more. But I look fabulous. (My pants are long enough now. ;) )

I am reading lots. Need to be writing lots--but I did finally get all that I had written typed in. Tomorrow, it's time to start with new stuff. And I have 240 pages typed. I don't think I've reached midpoint in the story. Maybe the 1/3 point. (sigh) Which means there will be large amounts of whacking and thinning and trimming going on later. (sigh again) However, I'd rather whack than add, so...

Friday, August 22, 2008

Workshops

Going to take a bit of time, (I've been talking to the English guy in the newsroom too much, I think. Ian's rubbing off on me.) before I have to run to pick the son up at the airport (from England--hmm) and do that blog about RWA workshops I went to, while I have it. Time, I mean.

Okay. The first workshop in my little notebook (a non-spiral composition book in a smaller size I bought just for conference, and have decided I really like), is MEDICAL FACTS AND FALLACIES. This was presented by an actual doctor, who said that movies are really bad places to get information about how doctors and hospitals and emergency rooms and the like actually work. For instance, in one movie, a man was trying to look up poison someone had been given by thumbing through the Physician's Desk Reference to match pills. A doctor would actually look in one of the books called a "toxidrome" which lists poisons by their symptoms. She gave lots of juicy little details. Like, bullet wounds don't get infected like knife wounds, (the bullet's speed of travel makes it too hot for germs to stick, or something like that) so they don't dig them out, unless the location is dangerous. She recommended a book GREATEST BENEFIT TO MANKIND (according to my notes), and said that writers could fudge the facts for the benefit of the premise of the story--as long as you don't fudge too much. This was a great workshop, and if you can get it on tape, do so.

I went to HOW TO REVIVE A DYING PROJECT OR A DYING CAREER. This was more of a motivational workshop than a crafty "how-to." Yes, it was How To, but it was How to deal with fears and perfectionism and the stuff that gets in the way of getting the writing done. It was pretty good too, and in it she recommended the books by Ralph Keys, COURAGE TO WRITE and THE WRITER'S BOOK OF HOPE.

I also went to Theresa Meyers' DOWN AND DIRTY MEDIA TRAINING which had a lot of great ways to handle interviews and how to get interviews. Like, in order to get a media interview, you need a hook to connect yourself to the audience, so first you can identify a problem the audience might have, and then shoot it down. "The economy is bad and people are depressed. But Romance makes people feel good, and it's cheap." Had some really good stuff in this one too. I've been impressed by Meyers on line. Now I was impressed by her in person.

I went to the PLOTTING WHEEL workshop, but the original person who was supposed to give this workshop couldn't be there, and the sub wasn't very good.

The workshop on how to make the Regency Historical connect to today's readers was a good one. It gave me some good ideas for my own works--like creating a place on my website where my readers can experience my fantasy world. The early 1800s is far enough away that it's like a foreign universe, so that's what these speakers did.

I went to a Writing the Selling Synopsis workshop. I always need a good way to write a synopsis. I'm not sure I use any of the stuff that I've workshopped on, but maybe it's soaking in. Anyway, this workshop gave one way to organize things and did a good job of it. And since I sort of use this method, maybe it helped and will help me refine what I do.

I think I went to a couple of other workshops, but they weren't the kind where you take notes. I went to the theft of intellectual property/plagiarism workshop and got a lot out of it, and I went to a "What RWA can do for you" workshop that I liked a lot. And as I said earlier, I went to the Tor spotlight and saw my cover.

Okay, time to go. Though the boy's (and girls') plane is about 2 hours late, this will give me time to go by the bank, and mail the son-in-law's birthday present.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Rain, rain!

I still want to do a post about the workshops I went to at RWA National, but before I do that, I want to do a little blog (hopefully I can keep it short) on what's been going on in my life since I got home again. Lately it's been raining. Dolly the granddog is afraid of lightning and thunder and rain, and she's been pretty frantic. We do have the garage open so she can get into a more enclosed space...

Mostly, I've been trying to keep up with a more hectic work schedule, since we're now trying to do with two people what used to take 3 people to do (actually, that's 1.5 and 2.5, but...), plus keep up with everything else that's going on. Which is mostly trying to get back into the writing, though we did take the son to the airport so he could fly to England with the gf to visit her parents. (He's visited them before, but they didn't live in England then.) And then we went car shopping the rest of the evening. And ate dinner at a new-to-us restaurant over on the mainland--very good local Mexican food place. Given the pack of cars parked around it, I figured it would be.

And yes, we did get a new car. I will still be driving the Beast, but the fella will now be driving a new white Toyota Avalon. Car shopping is exhausting.

We also hit some of the end-of-summer, back-to-school sales on tax-free weekend. We were afraid the stores would be crowded, so we just went to island stores, and they weren't crowded at all. Apparently tax-free weekend is old hat now. Or we went to the right stores. Got some really good deals, so didn't feel the need to go anywhere else. (I may go back and buy another pair of the shoes I got, because they're so comfortable. If they still have my size.)

Other than that, I'm trying to get this story written by typing in what I have written. I'm up to 180 pages typed in--getting about 20 pages a day--and I really haven't got the main part of the story untracked. I guess I do, but I don't. It's going to come out WAY over again, and I'm going to have to cut again, but... I am picking out places to hack away. And not hacking anything out yet. It's hard to know what to take out till I get to the end.

But, by doing this, when I get to the end of what I have written so far, I'll be back in the story and be able to go on.

And my pinky finger hurts. My keyboard has gotten INCREDIBLY stiff. The keys have to be pounded with a hammer, almost--especially the right shift key--and my poor right pinky finger is really sore. Not hyperextended--almost jammed. And because it's not straight up and down when I hit the key, it's a little twisted. Anyway, it's sore. And of course, I have to type at the pt Dayjob--but at least the keyboard's not so stiff there. I'm going to have to find some kind of something to pry that stupid key up so I can clean out underneath it.

And, since I changed villains in the story, I'm having to do some little tweaks. Very little ones. The stuff I have still works, but --knowing he's the villain makes things feel creepy to me. Because I know. It's hard to find that balance between keeping the secret from the reader, while giving all the same information my characters know. And since they know squat at the moment...

Okay. Time to go home.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

The Rest of the Story

I will tell you about the rest of my trip to San Francisco...if I can remember it. I was really tired while I was there, and it's been a whole nother week since then. I have been working very hard at the paper, too.

So, I think we're up to
Friday

Friday a.m. was breakfast with the agent. We met at the hotel restaurant. (I had an omelet.) And we talked about stuff for at least an hour and a half. Told her about the new book. Reminded her about Thunder, the historical which is languishing just now, but I WILL get back to...sometime. I think I'm close to halfway on it. I gave her a little issue to check up on. And we just talked about stuff. My agent and I get along real well, even if she does look younger every time I see her. (She's not one of these "child agents." Probably around my own age, given she's dealing with a lot of the same issues, parental and otherwise.) Anyway, that was a good visit.

I think I made it to a workshop--I did find my notebook (I took a different totebag to Conference than the one I take to work every day), but I think I'm going to do one big workshop blog...whenever I find time to do another blog. I went to the luncheon, and would have enjoyed it more if the hotel had Turned Off the Freaking Dinner Music so I could have talked to more people than just the two or three on either side of me. The music wasn't loud enough to hurt, like it got at the Pazzia restaurant when the owner turned Frank Sinatra up to vibrating-bones volume, but it was too loud for much talking. And that's one reason I go to the luncheons, because I enjoy meeting people from other places and learning what they write, etc. The speaker was good. She had a super-hero Powerpoint show about how writers are superheros. (No, I cannot remember which one she was, and I don't want to go look it up. I take this as a sign that I should never get all up into wishing to be an RWA keynote speaker. 'Cause nobody would remember my name.)

I went to workshops in the afternoon. My roommates went to the Night Tour of Alcatraz. I went to the Harlequin party (I had an Asian chicken salad with lo mein noodles for supper, if anyone cares). I had arranged to meet Robin Owens to walk over together, but she had a blister to tend and had to be late, so I found some sparkly people (I had on my black skirt with the sparkly beaded design along the tulip hem, and a white and silver lace tank with a sheer white shirt-thing over it--and my black leather jacket, because it was cold out at night.) and followed them. Slowly. Because I had on my sparkly silver strappy sandals with not much heel that I can't walk fast in. The shoes came off Very early in the party.

I hung out with Robin and Kristi Gold (who was one of my first critique partners, way back when) and Leigh Riker. I danced in the vicinity of Cathy Garbera and Susan Gable and Bron Jameson and Lillian Darcy and waved at Fiona. I talked to Jodi Thomas for a bit, and Cindy Dees and Karen Whiddon/Kara Lennox and other people, I'm sure, but I can't remember who at the moment. I danced a lot. I had one of the "signature" drinks that they do every year. Don't know what it was, but it was pretty good. Had some dim sum and a little chocolate fountain (did NOT spill it on myself). I actually got out of there without wearing any of the food. I didn't stay very long, because I danced so much I was tired. But it was fun. And now we come to

Saturday

I got up at 7 a.m., as usual because, hey--California time is 2 hours earlier than Texas time, and you go with what works. I like to go to all the stuff. I made it down to breakfast, met up with somebody from the Romance Readers Anonymous Loop (rra-l@yahoogroups.com) -- a really good place to talk about romance books and get suggestions for new, good stuff. It took me the length of time to type that to remember who she was--Karen Harbaugh. I could remember it was someone whose books I liked. We had a really good chat about the loop and about writing and about her books and even about kids and such. It was nice to talk to her.

Then I went to workshops. I went to the Nora Roberts, Jane-from-Dear-Author, Sarah-from-Smart-Bitches plagiarism workshop which was good, and surprisingly sparse. I was inspired again to double-check my stuff to be sure I used my research info properly. I don't think I took notes, tho, so I'm mentioning it here.

I wanted to hang back and introduce myself to Sarah, but had to run grab something to eat, because there wasn't much time between the end of that workshop and the beginning of the Spotlight on Tor, where I wanted to see the cover for New Blood. So I ran across the street (Amy Atwell (Golden Heart finalist and friend of a friend) told me about the food court at the Metreon mall) and grabbed a burrito (it was a California-style burrito, okay? I had been told by my daughter, who spent the summer in San Francisco as her honeymoon, that the burrito is the national food of California.), and ran back to the Tor workshop. And I heard about some major awesomeness of the books they're bringing out, and I saw the draft cover for New Blood.

Heather was right. It was more of a horror cover than a romance one--it looked really cool, but the woman on the cover (more of a close up than I expected) looked a little as if she'd been wading in a blood river. There is Never that much blood in the book... I'm not sure how they'll tweak it, but she's promised they will. And when she segued to the Q&A part, all the authors there, who were signing books in the next hour, left to help set up the room.

It took a while to get all the books down there, so we wandered around an empty room for a while, being paranoid that the books were wandering lost around the hotel. Heather had been rooming with them since Wednesday, so we knew they were there. The three of us that had bound manuscripts, rather than ARC's with the actual covers on them--Sylvia Day's EVE OF DESTRUCTION had a plain pale-blue wrapper, the one coming out just before or after mine (I have it at home, but I can't remember her name or the title)-- a fairy-tale Sleeping Beauty adaptation--was in a plain lavender wrapper, and mine was--of course--in a plain red wrapper.

We all ran around getting copies of everybody else's books, and then it was time. The doors opened, and the crowds did rush in. I think some of the folks who came in looking for free books didn't realize that Tor published fantasy/paranormal romance. But the books flowed away fast. I had a lot of fun signing books. Signed one for Frances H. and one for Nalini, and one for Anita L. from Dallas, and some for other people I know but who I can't remember right now. It was just fun talking to people and giving books away.

I think I tried to go to another workshop, which was supposed to be one thing, but the presenter got sick, and the substitute didn't really know what she was supposed to be doing and wandered all over the place, and a lot of people walked out. I felt bad for her, but last thing Saturday afternoon needs to be a really gripping workshop. It was supposed to be--but... So I went to dinner with my roomies at the hotel (had chicken), and got all gussied up in my seafoam green cocktail dress and my sandals that hurt my feet for the RITA/Golden Heart awards. But I was sitting, so they didn't hurt quite so much. It was a good, smooth program, moved fast. I teared up a couple of times at the lovely thank-yous so many gave. Cheered for my friends (don't think any of them won, alas). Then I had chocolate at the after-party (and dropped it on my dress, which is now at the cleaners to get the chocolate off), hugged Rosemary and all my other friends, and crashed.

Sunday was sightseeing day, since I'd booked my flight for 4 p.m., due to the San Francisco marathon being run on Sunday, closing down a number of downtown streets. I didn't want to worry about it. But one of the streets it closed down was the one the streetcar went down on the way to Fisherman's Wharf. I could have taken a taxi, or the cable car, but I didn't think about the taxi in time, and didn't want to wait for 45 minutes to get on the cable car, because I didn't have that much time. So I decided to walk to Chinatown (which is why most of my pictures are of Chinatown). I looked fairly close. Which it was, except I forgot to factor in the hills. I stopped to rest at a lot of little parks and plazas. Union Square was only the first. I bought some cool stuff--jewelry (but not earrings, oddly enough), T-shirts, tablecloth--took some pictures, and hiked back to the hotel.

On the way, I got the phone call that my boss at the paper had quit and wouldn't be there when I got back. At all. (She has done some stuff from home online.) And it seems they're wanting the two of us left to take up all the slack. It seems to be working so far, but it's tiring.

I got to the airport in plenty of time, and got home around 1 a.m. I've been recovering ever since.

I e-mailed Old Spirits to the editor yesterday--the 1st 5 chapters and a synopsis. Now I need to get back to the writing. But not today, because I'm going along to take the boy to the airport to fly to England with the girlfriend. Her parents live there now. They'll get back just in time to start classes.

Trivia item: I saw a car with a license plate from British Columbia yesterday, of all places. I can't imagine driving that far. It's kind of an idle hobby, looking for out-of-state obvious-tourist license plates. Besides the BC car, I saw two from Missouri, one from North Carolina, one from Tennessee and one from Oklahoma. More than I've seen in one day in a long time. Except for the Canadians, all this was on one drive along Seawall Blvd. at about 8 p.m. just before sundown.

Next time, the workshops blog.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

A Coastal Texan in San Francisco



What that title has to do with anything, I don't know, except maybe that--being a coastal Texan, I do not do San Francisco's hills very well. So. (The picture is of Union Square and an art show--that is some other hotel in the background...but it IS San Francisco.)

Wednesday. I got up at O-dark-hundred and got off to the airport about 15 minutes later than I wanted to. Because of the gathering traffic, (due to my lateness, it was starting to get heavy) I was worried about getting my bag checked and through security on time, but I made it. Whew! Finished one book on the first leg of the plane. (Can't remember what it was, right off hand.) Got to LA, had time to grab some food--since it had been about 4 hours since breakfast by this time, but only 10 am. California time. When I got to the gate for the next leg of the flight, one of my two roommates was there and we got started on "Conference Voice." See--as writers, we don't spend a lot of time talking in our regular lives. And when we get to conference, we start talking before we get there, and don't stop till we get home again. And everybody gets hoarse or loses their voice entirely. (I don't lose mine--it drops in pitch, till you would swear I sing bass.)

Got to the hotel, met up with our third roommate, and went across the street to Annabelle's bar and grill for lunch with Australian writer Denise Rossetti. (She's got a book coming out in the spring from...Berkley, I think, but could be someone else...with a gorgeous cover.) I tried really hard to eat California cuisine the whole time I was there, so I had a Hawaiian pizza for lunch. Then it was pretty much time to get back to the room and get organized for the literacy signing at 5:30.

Juno Books and editor Paula Duran really came through for me and had a dozen books there for me to sign. The Tor people brought by light-up keychains and purple Tor M&M's to give out--and if they took any Ms, they took one, or maybe two. Like they were rationed. I am still eating Tor M&Ms. I took them to the newsroom, and even Rhiannon, the M&Ms addict, has stopped eating them. Not me. However, they have lasted me all week...

I tried to run around and see all my friends, and all the people who had books I wanted, but invariably, I missed somebody. I stumbled across Liz Carlyle and her new book, and picked up a book from...Hmmm--it was one that I wanted, and now I can't remember which one it was. (I have washed my brain and can't do a thing with it.) I can't remember who took this picture, either. One of the North Texas RWA folks who came by to see me, I think. I would name the people who came by to say hello, but I'm afraid I'd forget somebody, or--worse--forget half their name, even though I've known them for years. Y'all this is pitiful. I can't remember squat any more!! I did go by and gush at the people whose books I've read and loved, like Nalini Singh and Jane Graves and Carlyle and Terri Garey (who won the RITA) and a bunch of other people.

After the book signing, where I bought the copies of Eternal Rose that were left and two other books (shock! only two!), I went with a group of online friends to dinner at a little Italian restaurant called Pazzia. I had seafood risotto with mussels and calamari and things I didn't know I liked. (I don't like oysters--taste, not texture. I liked the mussels.) It was very good. And the evening and the morning were the 1st day.

Thursday. Thursday morning was the opening ceremony and the general meeting. I had a couple of granola bars and a cup of tea (I brought my own teabags--I'm not old enough to drink coffee) in the room, wandered downstairs and had another cup of tea there. I basically wandered around most of the morning. Went to the book fair and bought a really cool research book on Victorian London, as well as a couple of new releases by various people. Went into the opening ceremony for a little while. Went by the bar and saw some people I know.

(This picture is from Wednesday nite dinner. From left, are Marie, Carolyn and Cai (my newspaper habits are showing).) (I'm not sure I ever caught Carolyn's last name...)

Then at 1:00 it was time for my lunch with my editor, Heather Osborne at Tor. We walked rather aimlessly...down 4th street, I think, until we spotted a couple of interesting restaurants. We decided on the Irish pub, or the Chinese place across the street, if the pub didn't have food. But they did. I had fish and chips (you do not get Irish-style fish and chips here). We had a great time talking. Her excitement about New Blood made me all excited, and I told her about Old Spirits, which she said sounded cool. (She liked the heroine's conflict.) I really need to get that off to her... And eventually, we walked back to the hotel and parted ways. I went to a workshop. I like workshops. I will have to look at my notebook (I bought a smallish one Just For Conference) to remember which one it was, but it was pretty good. More of the motivational type. I found it pretty motivating.

Then I headed down to the bar to catch up with the Brainstorming Desirables. Some of us don't write for Desire any longer, but I like all the people (have roomed with them in the past) and really wanted to catch up with them. Got to hang out with Marilyn Pratt from Writer's Playground, and caught up with Bronwyn Jameson and what her boys are doing these days. Nalini Singh came, and Mary Lou Wilson, and Tessa Manley, and I know I'm forgetting several someones, but I definitely remember talking to these folks. It was great. We hung out for an hour or so, and they had another place to be, and it was time for an online chapter gathering, anyway, so I went upstairs to it.

Those of you who know me, or have followed the blog for a while, know that I can be dangerous around food, mostly to myself. However, at this party, I became dangerous to others. First, I somehow turned and slung all the chips and empanada off my plate. Thirty second rule--I picked them all up--then I got something else off the buffet, and when I set the tongs down, they flipped off the tray and landed in the meringue tarts on the shelf below... Then I went to sit down, whacked my knee into the table and knocked over half the sodas on the table, some of them into people's plates. I had to promise not to move again, until everyone was done and departing. They would bring me food. I would not get up.

This was a nice party. Scott Eagan of Greyhaus Lit Agency spoke. He's looking for a big contemporary romance, not suspense or paranormal. He only handles romance and women's fiction, and is very open to new authors.

By this time, it was time for the PASIC party to start. I walked over with Bron Jameson and a bunch of Aussie/NZ folks--Frances Housden, who I stood in line with at Reno and has been a great friend since, and Fiona somebody--I'm not sure anybody ever told me her last name, but she writes medical romance for Harlequin and is a lovely person, and Lillian Darcy who I got to sit next to at one Literacy Signing because all the Dawsons and Davises and Days were gone that year. There was one other American in the group, tho, so I wasn't totally outnumbered. I hung out with Frances a while, and went and sat down with Bron and Fiona a while. They were talking to Virginia Kantra of the Sea Witch selkie books--she's written a lot of others, but these books are hot right now--and we had a great talk too. I really enjoyed getting to visit with Virginia. I spoke a little bit to Allison Brennan, and that was about it. The party was at the restaurant in Nieman Marcus and was just a gorgeous location. Fabulous party/place/people.

And the evening and the morning were the second day.

The other days will have to wait for another blog. But I will post another of my San Francisco pictures.... This last one is from my one day of sightseeing...

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Edouard is a wimp

I've downloaded my few pictures from San Francisco (my camera is getting old and creaky, and it's rather large, and I didn't carry it much), and will post the best of them as soon as I get my brain together. For now, though, since I do live on the Texas coast, and since there is a tropical storm wandering around the area, I thought I'd mention that Edouard is obviously French, because he has no follow-through. He got things all churned up, but in the end, never amounted to a whole lot. As storms go.

The fella wound all the hurricane shutters down--the house is pretty much a cave--but we didn't even get any high winds. It rained for a couple of hours this morning, but by noon had pretty much dried up. It went ashore north and east of us, and headed west for downtown Houston. By the time the last bands of storm come ashore, it will be west of us, which actually makes me sad. We could use the rain. But the rain will be very good for those places where it does fall. Hopefully Austin and the parents will get lots of nice rain.

I did have a wonderful time in San Francisco at the RWA conference. My calf muscles are killing me, because I went out to sightsee in the little time I had on Sunday and wound up walking to Chinatown on the street that went up all the really steep hills. I definitely got my exercise. But I had a whole lot of fun, and when I go home tonight (hopefully to opened windows), I will get my brain functional again, and get some pictures and stuff posted. (Stuff being "what I did at RWA.")

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Off to San Francisco

It's about 90 degrees today (32.2 C), and--as usual, on a small island--about 900 percent humidity. (Okay, okay, probably only 90%, but it FEELS like 900%...) Which means it's freakin' hot outside. It has been this hot since--oh, March, or so. Okay--maybe just since May. But a long time. Hot. Really hot. And muggy.

Tomorrow, I am flying to San Francisco. When I checked the weather online, to make sure I was packing the right stuff--because you know, it just seems really freaky to break out the long sleeves and sweaters--I saw that the HIGH temperature over the next 4 or 5 days, while I am in San Francisco, is going to be 60 degrees. SIXTYfreakin'degrees!!! (This is 15.5 degrees in dog-years--er, the-rest-of-the-world temps)

I'm not sure it gets that cold here in the dead of winter. And if it does, that was a long time ago. It's been really hot for a long time. I'm used to the heat. I am going to Freeze to Death.

Or half to death, anyway. Nonetheless, I have packed long sleeves and sweaters and jackets. I have my leather jacket out to wear. I am taking socks, and my black walking shoes. (AKA, the Adidas) I am also taking silver sparkly sandals and fancy dresses for the fancy activities. I figure the leather jacket can go on top of the fancy dress for the things that require me to leave the building.

I am going to the Romance Writers of America conference and I'm going to do a little sight seeing, if I can work it. I've never been to San Francisco before, and I'm 'cited about going. I have my airport shuttle reservation. I have my boarding passes. I'm sorta packed. (Should I put in another skirt? What will put me over the top on luggage weight? How many suitcases can I have, anyway? Without paying extra, I mean.)

I don't have a laptop, so I won't be blogging from conference. I'll try to remember to do a quick drive-by blog when I get back--but no guarantees when I'll get to it. I can't wait! This is going to be fun!