Monthly Archives: September 2013

Print is in!

ImagePrint! I’m in Print!

And it was a pain in the butt! Actually, now that I have the hang of the different formatting, it won’t be as bad. And Flynn’s In, the sequel to AKA Lexi Frost, may actually end up in print first or about the same time as I bring it out as an eBook. I’m done with the formatting on it and just have to do the whole proof thing.

Print formatting is different. For one, the Table of Contents doesn’t just do itself. You have to put in page numbers. And (I suspect) people expect them to be right. Margins matter and you can’t fiddle with them.

Suddenly those ellipses that you had in an eBook that may appear on one line or two depending on the font size the reader chose, need to be noticed. They have to be all on one line.

And dashes matter (as a nod to Grammar Nazis). In print, you can tell the difference. There’s a dash, an en-dash, and an em-dash. Who cares? Some editors. Mine didn’t, but I do know the difference whether I choose to observe it or not. I don’t like em-dashes, they’re big and unwieldy. I like en-dashes, but there’s rarely a case where I’m allowed to use them. Regular dashes are just “meh” and I’ll use them where they’re needed. If you don’t care about these things, skip this whole paragraph.

I personally was very distracted by just a few words or one line at the end of a scene being on a different page. For these issues, and the ellipses issue, I had to find each instance, then do minor rewording to jigsaw the words together better. So if you put the print version of one of my books next to an eBook version, they will be slightly different.  If I didn’t tell you, no one but me would notice. Maybe my editor.

Oh, and the red stripe across the cover, that changed. It’s still there, and still red, but it’s a different shade of red. Thought I would admit it before someone pointed it out to me. As if that was going to happen.

So now my second book published (third written) is the first in print. Yay!

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Homecoming: Part Two (The Revenge of the Shoes!)

ImageSigh. Homecoming (the first) is over. The Girl survived the dance, the social activity, the . . . heels.  The drama can safely be set aside, but only for two weeks. Remember, she didn’t go to Homecoming at her own school.

Let’s get take a step back to those heels. I’ve mentioned she’s petite. She wears a size four shoe. Kids. There aren’t a lot of dress shoe options there. A helpful saleswoman once told us a kids’ size four is the same as a women’s size six. We picked out a pair of wedges, she tried them, walked in them, life is good. Until later when I caught her stuffing tissue in the toe because they were a size too big.

And why was this not mentioned at the shoe store? Teenage girl. Enough said.

With this in mind, we went shoe shopping again on Thursday. I couldn’t reasonably continue putting it off, even though I really dreaded this activity. Black shoes. That’s all I wanted. Black shoes that fit. Looking. Okay, black shoes that fit and look like they belong with a semi-formal dress not on a five-year-old.

We said a lot of things like “OMG, what were they thinking when they put that bow there?” and “Is that a flower? Why in the name of all that’s holy are there dead flowers on that shoe and why do they look like pom-poms?”

In desperation, I eyed the size sixes. They were largely stilettos and The Girl had only graduated as far as a two inch wedge with tissue in the toe to make it fit. Oh dear. There wasn’t even a simple paten leather black flat or kitten heel. Really? How basic is that? They did have some matte black pumps, but she hated them. And they weren’t dressy at all.

I handed her a shiny black spike heeled shoe. It was still two and a half inches, but hey, I was desperate. And a bad mother.

She glared at me.

“Try it.”

Still glaring, she slid one on, and threatened to fall over. Drama Princess.

“Put the other one on, you’ll balance better.”

She put the other one on, and I coaxed her into tottering down the aisle and back. It wasn’t pretty. We returned to looking at the size fours, then the three and a halves.

The Girl saw a pair of fancy stilettos  – in a size six. Strappy with rhinestones. Suddenly she was willing to give it another shot. Three inch heel. She was near tears.

“Honey, it’s just like walking, only your heel is focused on this little point. The ball of your foot is the same as in a sandal.” It’s pretty true. “Women have been doing this for a long time. You can do it if you put your mind to it. It’s kind of like walking on tip-toes, except you have somewhere to put your heel, so it’s really a lot easier.”  She can tip-toe, any three-year-old can do that!

The pep talk worked. She slid them on and gave it another go. We practiced in the store, then at home. Apparently she’s a kids’ size four or a women’s selective size six. Yeah, I toggle between two sizes too.

The Girl she was very excited because all of a sudden, she could look me in the eye! (I’m three inches taller than her.) She was taller, she had pretty ‘big girl’ shoes. Homecoming wasn’t so bad.

Except of course you have to dance in them. For hours.

She survived. Now let’s get back to that ‘this was at another school’ issue. Now she wants to dress up again and ‘drop in’ on a ‘friend’ who has to work during Homecoming at their school. The girl was quick to explain it wasn’t a date. She’s fifteen and can’t date yet. She’s just dropping by so he can say that he did Homecoming and wouldn’t that be fun?

Fun. Hubby, grab your shotgun, we’ve created a monster.

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Who needs to feel secure anyway?


I went to a trade show today with Hubby, he works in security. Not a security guard, although he did that for a brief time in college. He likes to play with locks and security systems. When I say ‘play with,’ I mean break. Actually, not break, he bypasses them, but you’d never know it. It’s a game to him. It’s all about defeating your security but not letting you know. Then letting you know and saying here’s how to stop someone better.

Strangely, people get paid to do this.

I used to tell him I wished he’d just be a bad guy and get it out of his system. He just looked at me and asked how I knew he wasn’t a hardened criminal. Because we wouldn’t have all this debt. He’s too good at all this crap. The local police used to use him regularly in their training exercises. It was frightening. Maybe more on that another time. Back to the trade show.

Usually he takes The Girl. She loves it. But she’s in school. He used to just pull her out for the day but she’s got a heavy week at school so it’s just not happening. Plus Homecoming tomorrow. And The Boy is strangely uninterested in getting a new set of lockpicks or whatever. He’s thirteen! Shouldn’t this be right up his alley? He’s pouting because I haven’t caved and bought him Grand Theft Auto Five. I’m making him practice his cello and earn it. Mean mommy! Anyway, so I got to go with Hubby. Yay?

Apparently I’ve learned more about this stuff over the past decade than I realized. In evidence was the nicest little keypad entry system I’ve ever seen. It was discreet and sleek. Small. Really small.

“So have you tested it against magnet attacks?” (You can easily bypass some of these with a simple magnet. See? I learned something.)

The rep paused only briefly before he answered. “Well this is more of a convenience product than a security device.”

Okay . . . then why have it lock at all? If I buy a keypad entry I’d expect it to (let me think) lock!

Nevermind. Move on to harass the next vendor.

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Homecoming: Part One


How many times have I asked for someone to just shoot me? And yet I’m still here. Fat lot of good you guys are.

I’ve spent three days explaining to The Girl that she’s a girl. I know this may seem self evident, but allow me to explain.

Homecoming. It’s coming up and she doesn’t see the point. I explained the game, the tradition, the dance, but to no avail. Okay . . .  dancing, girls like dancing. Not this one. Fine. Girls like getting all prettied up and making boys’ brains turn to mush. Not this one. Are you sure you’re my daughter? I got glared at for that one and told “You were there!”

I explained the ‘no dating until you’re sixteen’ rule can be put on hiatus in specific cases. I got a shrug. We have a specific case. We’re on the boundary between three high schools (so close that we chose which one she went to because all of them have a bus stop within two blocks). Two doors down, the eldest daughter of Mr. & Mrs. Patience is going to a different high school and has a friend who needs a date, and eyed The Girl appraisingly. Mrs. Patience is chaperoning that dance. The Girl is going whether she wants to or not. For the record, her opinion is not.

Mrs. Patience is living vicariously through her daughters, which she freely admits. I had a social life in high school and college; I don’t need to live through The Girl. I suspect she might have regrets later if she goes through with her ‘forgo all social activities because boys are stupid’ plan. Yes, boys can be stupid, especially the teen variety. She’s desperately looking forward to college. Unfortunately, she’s going to need practice for dating in college, which you get by dating in high school.

So a group date with a neighbor chaperoning? Hell yes she’s going. Besides, she’s got a list of boys already for when she turns sixteen so this will give her a little confidence boost. And Hubby isn’t even reaching for a shotgun or going out of his mind.

This is a win. I hope. I’ll get back to you.


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Two Great Romantic Couples, And You Can Keep Them.

ImageI’ve spent the last week or so re-formatting three books for paperback. Three? But wait! There are only two published! Yeah, I can count too. Flynn’s In is formatted and the cover is done for print, and I’m still trying to get one teensy-weensy little detail cleared up before I can release it as an ebook. Okay, it’s the cover for Chrysanthemum, stop nagging. I have the “Coming Soon” section at the end and I have a blurb for Chrysanthemum, but not a cover to preview. Even close is fine. But I rejected the first concept and haven’t got the second one back. (It takes hiring a model for one lousy picture, which takes time.) Romance! Now if I’d gone with kidlit, I could grab The Girl, hand her some crayons and tell her to draw me a picture of Cat or something for the cover. No. Had to be romance. More sex than in kidlit.

So, yeah, I write romance. Sort of. I write a different kind of romance.  Just wait, you’ll see. In my formative years, my favorite romances – the classics – were Gone with the Wind and Jane Eyre. I’ll just say it now, I wasn’t an Austin person. Pride And Prejudice And Zombies? Yeah, I was there for that, but only because of the zombies. Sorry, lynch me now.

So, Gone with the Wind came first. I didn’t like Ashley, I didn’t like Rhett, and I thought Scarlett was a bitch who needed to be slapped. As an adult, I’ll give Rhett the benefit of a second glance and we’ll see. I really don’t know why I liked the book so much considering the only character I liked was Mammy. (Did anyone like Ashley? Besides Scarlett and his idiot wife I mean?)

So much for romance, but hey, 7th grade, moving on. Jane Eyre, let’s get dreary. Yeah, I never saw what she saw in Rochester. At least when they filmed Gone with the Wind it was in color. Even when they film Jane Eyre in color it was still in black and white. The character’s life was really that drab. And I liked her that way. (I’m really mean.)

The point of this is two great works of literature, great romantic couples, and I don’t like them. What does that tell you? No idea. I’ll have to ask my shrink about that.

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Stepford HOA


Hubby and I celebrated our twentieth anniversary on December 21st (and the world didn’t end, so much for the Mayan calendar). We built a house after being married a couple years, and a year an a half ago the Department of Transportation tore it down. January was the one year anniversary of that event. We celebrated.

We celebrate bizarre things in this family. ‘Observe’ might be a better verb. Anyway, we have pictures of the house being built, and pictures of it being torn apart. The kids had a blast watching it come down.

Being forced to sell your house to the state at a loss and move turned out okay in the end. No, I’m not bitter. We ended up in another new house that the builder had been sitting on for over a year after the sale fell through. The house is gorgeous and they kept dropping the price. Granted the market was soft and everyone is worried for their jobs (me too) and broke (us too) but we couldn’t figure out why they couldn’t sell this house.

The answer? Everyone else understood one line in the contract: HOA.
I read 1984 in junior high, but it’s fiction, right? (Laughs hysterically.) No. We have two HOA contracts in our housing development. I thought that was odd. One for the development as a whole, we have a binder for that. A whole binder. We had to sign a contract on it when we signed the closing paperwork on the house. There’s a separate contract and smaller binder that covers our specific cul-de-sac and a few others that border the water features in the development. So two separate sets of rules.
Hubby and I thought it was funny. We laughed, signed, glanced at it, and moved.
We met the neighbors. They talked about The HOA in hushed tones. We laughed.We started to notice odd things. You don’t see or hear cats or dogs. They’re around, but dogs don’t bark. How do you stop a dog from barking? Apparently our HOA can do that.
Hello, Tori. Welcome to Stepford.

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The Girl is a Terrible Teenager

ImageThe Girl is a terrible teenager. “Why?” you ask? Well, let me tell you a story about a brand new sophomore in a brand new high school (just built new not just new to her).

Things never go smoothly the first week of school anyway, even if the school isn’t new. Not completely. And no one really expects it to. At least not anyone with kids. So when we got a call the second day of school informing us our nearly perfect daughter (true, it’s sickening) missed first period, it was a surprise. 

She denied it.

We told her to go to the teacher the next time she had his class (every other day) and straighten it out. The next day, we got a call saying she again missed first period. Surprised? Yes, but also mildly suspicious. Not of The Girl; as I said, she’s nearly perfect. The school was more likely to be the culprit.

Again she denied skipping first period. Again we told her to go to the teacher and straighten it out.

Third day of school, guess what? You got it, another call. The teachers both claim they marked her as there. Okay, so the school computer has a bug and everyone’s being marked absent? No. The parents of teens who do miss are not getting calls but, for reasons they can’t pinpoint, a bunch of others are getting the calls on their behalf. They’re sorry and have no idea when it will be fixed.

Hubby has the number memorized and sighs when his phone rings now at right about dinner time. So . . . 3 . . . 2 . . . 1 . . . and he’s carrying his phone waiting for it to ring – oh, there it goes.

So, why does this make my nearly perfect daughter a terrible teenager? Because she just realized she could have been skipping first period every day for the past four days, knowing full well that WE WOULD NOT BE TOLD.

I pointed out the school would still have the correct information.

Never reason with a teenager, okay? Not even nearly perfect ones. You can’t win. Reason exists as an abstract concept to them.

The Girl’s answer was it’s okay if her teachers and the school knew if she was skipping a class, as long as Hubby and I didn’t. What? Then she balled up her tiny fists (she’s petite), declared herself to be the worst teenager ever, flung her thick, waist-length waves that I would kill for over her shoulder, and stalked out of the room.

Well, she got that last part just about perfect.

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The HOA War Begins


The foxes and The HOA are competing for being the neighborhood evil. Actually, the really bad thing is, given the chance, I would love to have a pet fox. Just a little irony there. Hubby loves it. Hubby’s having his own little problem with The HOA. He used to have a war with the mailman at the old house. I have no idea how it started, but it was ongoing for nearly fifteen years.

Hubby has an internet business, so he works at home. He’s almost always home during the day and our weather here is almost always sunny. Mail to the house shouldn’t be a problem, but we couldn’t have packages sent to the house because the mailman would actually hold packages for a rainy day and then leave them on our doorstep in the rain. He wouldn’t ring the bell, he’d just leave it in the rain. Hubby was home, there was no point to this. He was just being petty.

There’s no house there now, so the war is over. However, Hubby has an HOA to play with now. Yay? Our neighbors were over a few months ago. (I’ll call them Mr. & Mrs. Patience and you really have no idea how well it suits them. They have three girls and a boy between the ages of twelve and seventeen? Cringe.) Their oldest daughter had a party the week before and they wanted to know if we were bothered by it. Bothered? Actually, we didn’t notice.

There’s a rule about no parking on the street overnight, it’s in the HOA binder. Sure, well, define ‘overnight.’ Apparently it’s past midnight. Mr. Patience received a notice from The HOA citing the regulation and a picture of the cars in front of his house with a time/date stamp on it.

So . . . someone from The HOA drives around at midnight looking for infractions and taking pictures? Really? Can I have that job and how much does it pay? Benefits?

Two things happened at that moment. I got a sudden urge to reread 1984, and Hubby developed a twitching need to bait them. Kill me. Then a couple months ago Hubby got very excited about a package he received, going on and on in Y-chromosome-ese about some online trade. With a grin, he opened it proudly and showed me a 1970s coin-fed parking meter that he wants to sink in concrete in our grass parking strip.

I’m sorry, did you not read that correctly? My husband of twenty years wants to install a coin fed parking meter in front of our house to tick off The HOA. Naturally, I questioned him. Something along the lines of “Wha-?” Usually I’m more coherent, but words failed me. He explained he examined the HOA regulations, both binders, and can’t find anything specifically against it. The city says we just have to be sure to have a notice on it that it’s non-functional, for decorative use only, or some other indicator that it’s not official in any way. That’s all? Great!

What about taste?

Hubby’s still trying to argue the parking meter is art. The Boy suggested painting it purple, and I almost went for that for the sheer lunacy of it. For now, it sits in the front hall (not a win) and waits until its fate is determined. I’ve budged a little, I’ll allow it in the backyard. I think that’s reasonable.

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