Tuesday, August 31, 2010

I has an Owie...

So, I went walking with the dog last Wednesday, because I walk faster when I take her. Except sometimes I walk too fast, and I don't see all the hazards of the road. And Wednesday, I wasn't paying attention to a place where the asphalt didn't cover the whole street, and made a little 2-inch curb. My foot rolled over, sprained itself, and I hit the ground. Rough asphalt made holes in my knees, etc., etc., etc. (There was bleeding.)

So I let the dog off the leash--she got a little running in, but she was very good about coming back home with me. (We hadn't gone very far before I fell.) I walked back home--I knew the foot was just sprained, not broken, because I could walk on it. The picture--that's the foot I didn't sprain. The other foot. It swelled up too, but not as bad as my right foot.

Anyway, I was amazed by the purpleness. The bad foot hasn't turned purple, but it swelled up pretty good. And hurt a lot. I have been hobbling the last several days, but today it's better enough I climbed all the stairs to get into the library.

Yes, I know. I need to give up this falling business. It's no fun. Back to exercising with the Wii.

Not much else to write about. I need to get back to writing this week. I'm kind of in a reading slump, so I need to write.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

I've been Manga-ized!

We've had a package at the post office (we use a P.O. Box for most of our mail) waiting to be picked up for better than a week, because nobody could manage to get by there during "window hours." Finally, the fella went by to get it. It was a box from Harlequin, and I figured one of my old books had been translated into a new language. (Though seemed to me they've already hit most of them--Czech, German, Italian, Korean, Japanese (twice for one book), Greek, Spanish, Portuguese, etc. Maybe not Polish yet, or Hungarian--though I'm not sure.)

Anyway, when I opened up the box, there was one book inside. A manga edition of my 2003 book, Her Convenient Millionaire! (Yeah, I didn't crop the image very well. Oh well.)

They had the beach scene and everything! There were people I don't remember clearly--I wrote this book well before 2003, in case you didn't know how slow publishing worked. And they turned it into Manga!

I have another picture to show, but I'm afraid I'll wind up overlapping them. I haven't tried to show this many pictures with this new "widescreen" format.

The other picture is from later in the book, after the "romance part" begins. Since this is Japanese manga, the love scenes are R-rated. ("Soft-focus" with upper body nudity. Does it count, since it's just pen and ink?)

I also have a picture of a couple of the grandboys taken while they were visiting. I'm not sure who took the picture, because I did not pick my camera up Once the whole time they were here. (I know. I'm going to lose all my "good Gigi" credentials.) The boy in the picture took more pictures with my camera than I did. Pictures of his stuffed cow, and the electronic photo frame, and a fuzzy blanket. He did take a picture of his cousin. Pretty good one, except the kid had his hand in front of his face. Silly boys.

I want to do some recipes in a blog soon, but I want to take pictures of the process, which means I need to fix them again. For years and years, there was a restaurant the in-laws just loved up in Fort Worth, which served a chopped shrimp salad-- Not salad greens with a few shrimp tossed on top, but tons of shrimp and celery and other chopped-up things so thick they served it in a mound, like it had been shaped in a bowl and turned upside down. Shrimp in every bite. We loved that salad. And when the restaurant closed, spent ages trying to figure out how to make it.

Well, I think we finally figured it out. When the family was down, we had a shrimp boil. (That's one reason we have company. So we have an excuse to go buy shrimp from the fish market and eat cold boiled shrimp.) And we had leftover shrimp. And the dairy allergic boys can't eat shrimp enchiladas. (We have three gluten-free eaters, two of whom are also allergic to dairy (one only mildly so, and one extremely so), and one additional non-dairy person in the family. It's kinda nice that there are enough people to have double menus...) Anyway, with all the dairy allergies, we decided to make shrimp salad instead. So, one day soon, I will cook some more shrimps and make the salad, and post pictures with the recipe. And that's just one I want to share...

Monday, August 23, 2010

Fun in the Sun

It's August in Texas. That means it's hot. Very hot. Extremely hot. As in-- folks would pay a visit to hell because it's bound to be cooler there hot. And the daughter, s-i-l and grandson came down for a week from Pennsylvania last week.

We did some beach going. The Dallas grandboys came down so the cousins could have a little time to play together. We went to "Slitherbahn." It was no harder keeping up with the autistic kid than the other two--they all wanted to run off and do their own thing.

The second time we went to the beach, there were itchy things in the water. We thought at first it was seaweed--but there was less seaweed (sargasso) than the first time, so maybe not. Then we fished some of the itchy things out of our swimsuits. It looked a little like tiny speargrass--maybe the size of a mustardseed. Round, with spiny things sticking out, and kind of clear, but not. Then, I got to wondering if it might be alive in a different way--like maybe tiny baby jellyfish or something... About this time, the daughter pulled out another one of the itchy things and looked at it--and yelps because it has pinchers moving around. Pinchers! Like maybe crab claws. Like the itchy things were tiny, transparent, baby crabs.

I have since looked up crabs and such, and apparently blue crabs (and possibly others) have a tiny, mustard-seed-sized, transparent phase. There are many blue crabs in the Gulf of Mexico, as well as stone crabs and others. So we all had (probably) tiny little crabs up our swimsuits. Needless to say, we did not stay in the water long for our second trip. (The water wasn't as warm either... Not like bathwater trip earlier.)

We also went for a ride on the Galveston-to-Bolivar Peninsula ferry. It's free, and if you walk on, you don't have to wait in line. There's a high observation deck where you can go inside and stay cool in the a/c, or you can go outside and stand in the wind (strong enough to knock me down that day) which helps with the heat, and watch for dolphins.

And we saw them. On the Bolivar side, there must have been a big school of fish, because the birds were swarming the spot. And so were the dolphins.

Too many to count--we guessed we saw somewhere around 20-plus. They were moving too fast to count all of them--and yes, it was obvious that it was that many different dolphins. They don't move that fast. And they were all sizes, including some obvious babies. I saw them jumping out of the water--I saw a trio horsing around, with their noses up out of the water--head up type jumping, and some of the others with bigger-than-usual curving jumps, so their entire bodies came up out of the water, not just their breathing holes and fins. It was SO COOL. I have never ever seen that many dolphins at once.

Most of them surfaced in pairs or trios. I actually have never seen a dolphin swimming alone. I guess they follow the "buddy system." (You know, like Boy and Girl Scouts--you never swim alone, always have a buddy, and always know where your buddy is.) It did make us wonder whether we had more dolphins because of the oil spill, because we haven't had any oil "upstream" of the Gulf current. The picture is not one we took. I forgot my camera. In fact, I did not take A Single Picture the whole time the grandkids were here. (I know. I may lose my "good granny" status. But I was busy playing with them!) The daughter may have gotten some pictures. I hope so, but they were kind of far away, so maybe not.

I have a new computer, but since I'm on jury duty this week, I'm having trouble getting everything loaded and set up. Sigh. But I'm working on it.

I spent all morning today in a county courtroom for the jury questioning (voir dire), knowing I wouldn't get picked, because I was sitting on the last row. I'm still apparently "on call." I have to call a phone number when I get home to see if they need me tomorrow. If I make it through till Friday, I'm off duty. Wish me luck.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Thoughts on gothic vampires

I read a book yesterday. It was by an author who was not new to me. I've read Deanna Raybourne's "Silent" books and enjoyed them. This book, The Dead Travel Fast, is her newest release, and not in the same series as Raybourne's earlier books.

I have no idea of Raybourne's motives for writing this book, so I really don't want to guess. To me, it feels like it wants to be a vampire book like vampire books used to be before vampires got all sparkly and sexy. Like the original Bram Stoker Dracula.

The heroine is a small Englishwoman--she grew up in Edinburgh, but does not self-identify as Scottish--who travels to Transylvania in the mid-Victorian era to stay with a friend in anticipation of her marriage. The friend lives at the top of an isolated mountain as part of the Dragulescu family, but when the heroine gets there, she finds things are not what she expected. The friend is not marrying her count Dragulescu after all. And the heroine is quite attracted to the man.

About halfway through this book, I really had to drive myself to finish it. I just wasn't having any fun.

I read a review fairly early on, and decided it didn't really sound like the sort of book I enjoy, so I didn't hunt it up. However, I was at the local library earlier this week, looking for Angus, Thongs and Full-frontal Snogging, ran across it and decided--what the heck--it's at the library. I might as well read it.

Except I was right. It wasn't really my type of book. It was the kind of vampire book that reminded my why, for the most part, I really don't like vampire books much. And why I really don't like gothic novels much. It was all mood and atmosphere and language--and I'll be honest here--I really prefer clear, straightforward, workmanlike language with only flashes of artisticness. I am not much of a lover of lush prose. I don't hate it, but sometimes, I think it gets in the way. Or when used, you wind up with a book that's mostly atmosphere and not much substance. Which I really can't say about this--there is substance. But there's an awful lot of atmosphere and brooding and such.

There's a lot of "are there vampires, or is it only criminals trying to make you think there are?" and "Is the hero an evil vampire SOB, or a victim of his childhood?" That sort of thing. The sort of thing gothic romances are full of.

Gothic romances are famous for having a hero whom the heroine suspects of dastardly deeds. This one follows along those lines, although here it's mostly wondering whether vampires exist. I've always thought gothic heroines a little dim, because they were attracted to men they thought might be killers (or vampires?). Never have been able to get into that mindset.

There are a lot of people out there who like moody, atmospheric, gothic romance-type books. If you do--if you liked The Historian, by Elizabeth Kostova--you'll probably like this book.

I am not a fan. (Did not like the Kostova book at all--this one is Much better than that one.) I know I'm not a fan, and yet I picked this book up anyway. It was wrong of me, and about halfway through, I knew it.

So, I am writing this I suppose to remind myself that I honestly do not enjoy gothic romances, or old-style vampire novels (I really don't like any horror books at all), and I prefer prose that's more straightforward than lush. So it's okay if I don't read them.

Really, there's nothing wrong at all with Raybourne's book. It's quite well done. But it's still a gothic, old-style vampire novel full of lushly lovely prose. Not my cup of tea.

Now, notice I'm not calling it crap, or trash, or anything of the sort. Nor am I bashing the taste and/or intellect of those who read it and loved it, unlike many of those who criticize the readers of romance and/or science fiction and fantasy. I'm just saying--it didn't work for me, and this is why. Everything is subjective. We just have to recognize our own areas of subjectivity, acknowledge them, and especially, admit that we ourselves are not the arbiters of all taste and good books and allow others their own preferences.

I guess you can tell I'm getting sick of romance bashers again. Anyway--The Dead Travel Fast--gothic vampire novel. You might like it, if you like that sort of thing. (Hey, it's better than The Historian, though it has much the same feel.)

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Writer's Weekend

I said I was going to go, I went--didn't even have any cell phone access for texting, unless I walked out of the cabin and waved my phone around near the cars--and now I'm back to tell you all about it.

The picture is of a central Texas river, not where we stayed--although the Bosque River flows through Valley Mills. But there was a cattle-watering pond, known as a tank pretty much throughout Texas, just outside the back door with overhanging trees and banks that looked a lot like this. The water had a lot of duckweed in it, and the water level was about 2 feet down from when we were there in the spring, but it was just as clear as this, when you could see around the weeds. Lots and lots of dragonflies.

Which we didn't see much of. It was hot as blue blazes--around 100F (38C) when I was driving out there. The cabin had air conditioners, and this was supposed to be a working weekend. We stayed in the cool as much as possible. Took three or four walkabouts around the cabin or along the drives in when we just couldn't sit any more. And yes, we ate LOTS of fruit salad. Friday night, B went over her notes for the novella she was working on and did some tweaking, while I went through my research book which I dug out and brought with me so I could be sure what I wanted to do corresponded with what was really happening.

Saturday, we got up, had breakfast, and started writing. That's pretty much the whole weekend, actually. Every so often, I would get stuck, and we would talk out what I'd got stuck on. Mostly, it was me interrupting B, but once or twice she wanted to talk something out. Saturday night, we had a big salad at the cabin, then did some plotting for two ideas I had, then talked some more about B's story. Then we got out the Tarot cards and did a little reading on her characters and suchlike. Sunday, we got and wrote, had lunch and wrote, and then went home. We got to stay a little later, since the new people weren't coming out to the C-Bar till Monday, and we took advantage by writing.

I came home with 20 pages, which is the most I've ever done in two days. Also a bad case of butt fatigue. The book still isn't finished, but I'm a lot closer. There may be only one big scene left. I think this book is going to need an epilogue. Deal with it. I have my fingers crossed. I have also written some both days so far this week. I think I can keep that up, until all the relatives come. Which is Saturday.

We will have ALL the grandboys here. For a few days, anyway. :) Also, their parents. =8^O

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Coping mechanisms

We all have them. Sometimes they are coping mechanisms for dealing with difficult people, or for doing things we don't want to do, like housework. There are all kinds of coping mechanisms. The little spiral notebook I carry around with me is a coping mechanism for getting the stuff done that I keep forgetting to do, like remind the fella to refill my windshield wiper fluid. (Living on the coast requires gallons and gallons of the stuff--I don't know if it's the salt in the air or what, but I have to wash my windshield off nearly every morning.)

So--I blogged a couple of weeks ago about keeping on, and being a slug and how I ought to cut myself a little slack. Well, I have been. I have been slacking up, down and sideways. I am ALL about the slack.

Which is where the coping mechanism comes in. I am so good at slacking, that my friend B asked if I needed a writer's weekend to make myself finish this stinkin' book. (I am Soooo close to the end.) (Well, maybe not quite that much...) (but almost)

With the daughter coming, and jury duty lurking not far beyond that, I wasn't sure I could get away--then I realized that I had THIS weekend free. B and I have not yet discovered a cheap place between our two cities, so we are going back to Valley Mills and the dude ranch with its plywood-walled cabin to write all weekend. Time away from the world and its expectations so I can make myself write.

I am taking a folding chair. The chairs in this place are Hard. It's August, in Texas, and while I think this place has a window unit a/c, it's still bound to be hotter than blue Hades (which you know is hotter than regular Hades...) Maybe I will take a fan. We have fans.

I have bought chips and dip and fruit and cookies and Coke Zeros (vanilla and plain). Tonight I will cut up fruit (hence the picture above) and put the Coke Zeros in the fridge to get cold, and I will pack. (Do you know how hard it is to find a picture of fruit salad with no kiwis in it? My salad will have none. Nor will it have watermelon, though I wanted some, because all those other people on the island bought them. It will have cantaloupe and honeydew melons, grapes, strawberries and pineapple. Also maybe peaches.) Tomorrow, I will go to work in the a.m. so I can get out of town early (before bad Houston traffic). Then I will go home and load the ice chest and the car, and buy gas, and lunch to eat in the car, and I will drive to Valley Mills. And when I get there, I will write.

So. Now I have put it down in electrons on the Interwebs. I have to do it, because y'all will know if I don't. One way or the other, I will get the writing done. I have pulled out one of my coping mechanisms. But, boy, am I glad I'm not on an actual deadline...