Category Archives: Personal
I am a lucky writer because I have my own office in my home. Since we moved into this house my office has been where I work on graphic art, website design, and jewelry. It is not, however, where I work on my writing because I prefer to write on my laptop and the office is not structured for me to be able to do that (it’s a long, complicated story involving weird ergonomics, bad eyesight, my office being the place where we plug into our internet, and me having a day job when we first moved in here).
Anyhoo, for about a year now I’ve had a plan to reorganize the office so that I could write in there. This would involve shifting our printers and routers onto one shelving unit (at the moment they’re on separate stands at opposite corners of the room. Don’t ask), allowing me to move other furniture around and open up a space next to the window. I could then stick the wing chair-cum-recliner that’s currently in the library in that space, giving me 1) an ergonomically comfortable place to sit and write 2) in my office, which 3) has a door that I could close when I need some peace and freaking quiet from the J Crew. (Also, we now have a 3-D printer which apparently is going to live in the breakfast nook/cat dining area. Since that is about five feet from where I’m currently sitting, it behooves me to find another place to write.)
The Issue — in order to move things around and do some very necessary vacuuming/dusting before I set up the heavy duty shelving unit that would hold the printers/servers et al, I would have to disconnect the internet router for about an hour. Ramón works from home, and then he spends the rest of his time online so, yeah, this was problematic. BUT — he has a regular D&D game every couple of weeks where he’s out of the house for six hours or so. The next game was tonight, so as soon as he headed off to slay orcs and bicker with his friends over loot I headed out to pick up everything I would need for Operation: Help Nic Write.
First stop — Office Depot, for a storage box that would match one I already have in my office and would hold all the paper, forms, and other detritus we have for the printers (you would not believe some of the weird forms we have). Next up was Home Depot, where I wandered around for a good half hour because I knew damn well they had an HDX Decorative Wire Chrome Heavy Duty Shelving Unit, but none of the clerks seemed to know where it was if it wasn’t in Aisle 7 with the rest of the closet organizing stuff. Turns out it was at the back of the store where they keep all the storage boxes and other metal shelving units, so if you ever need a bad boy that can hold over 3,000 lbs worth of stuff, check there first.
On a side note, it’s 70 pounds. Getting it into the car was a joy. I wound up “walking” the box from the car to the door, which I’m sure amused the neighbors.
Next up, World Market for the lumbar pillows I would need to make the wing chair comfy again. I’ve been working in the living room since December because the wing chair was starting to make my legs ache and the arm chair and footstool in here are perfect for a lap desk and my laptop. But it’s the living room, aka a public area, and it’s right next to the open plan kitchen — quite apart from the cats regularly slugging it out for my attention and the whole “let’s put the 3-D printer in the breakfast nook” thing, the living room is not really the best place for me to work seeing as someone else in this house also works from home and likes to watch anime while he eats lunch. Which he is perfectly entitled to, because I have my own freaking office where I SHOULD be working.
The last two stops were Pet Supplies Plus for wet food before the J Crew devoured us in our sleep, and Kroger so that we ourselves could have something to nosh on tonight and tomorrow. By the time I got back to the house I was already tired from all the walking around I’d been doing, so I took a break to load books into my new store at Eden Books (more on that in another blog post, but they’re a new online vendor for romance and women’s fiction and look to fill the gap that the implosion of All Romance eBooks left) before girding my loins and getting to work. I knew I had one absolutely mandatory task tonight — I HAD to get the shelving unit upstairs and put together as well as all the computer stuff reconnected before Ramón got home from the game, because he has to do a cut at 6 AM tomorrow morning.
I’m not going to go into the nitty gritty details — suffice it to say that there was much cursing and sweating, as well as dealing with a certain orange cat who lives to sprawl directly in my path while I’m carrying stuff. But the shelving unit is up, all the printer/computer stuff has been transferred there, I successfully reconnected everything, I now have a BUTTLOAD more storage space in my office, and Ramón is thrilled because the stand that used to hold the printers is the perfect size to hold the 3-D printer and he won’t have to hunt around for something else. Mind you, my office is still a torn-apart wreck because I haven’t finished moving furniture around to open up that gap for the chair, I desperately need to dust and vacuum everything, my body is currently cursing at me in fluent Sumerian for humping heavy stuff up and down the stairs multiple times, and I’m drenched in sweat and desperately need a shower before I turn in. But I can already tell that this is going to be very good for my productivity.
Assuming I can still move in the morning. Whee…
No, I’m not going to pass along any tips for making your life better in 2019. You’re perfect the way you are, and besides, those tend to be somewhat condescending. Nope, I am just kinda croggled at the way I’m starting off 2019.
For one thing, there’s a reason why I went dark in December. I was frigging exhausted from finishing Iron Cross and getting it out to Romancelandia, and after taking a crack at a holiday romance (which I will finish for next year) I decided, “Screw it. I’m tired, my brain hurts, and I need a break. I’m taking the rest of the year off.” So I did, and man, that was a good choice. Not only did I recharge my creative side by diving into various non-writing projects that have been hanging around for years waiting for me to get to them, but I also drank the Kool-aid and joined the Great British Baking Show cult. I absently stumbled across S2E1 on Netflix, and by the end of it I was frantically scoping out the rest of them and launching into a bingewatch of epic proportions.
By the time I watched all five seasons, the Beginnings eps, the holiday shows and all the masterclass eps, I had made jam tarts, mince pies, fruitcakes, Italian Christmas cookies (at right), spinach puffs, Cherry Blossom Kisses, Winter Kisses, Paul Hollywood’s Christmas Leftover Chelsea buns (upper left), and had bought a dizzying array of bakeware. I now own pie weights, I’ll have you know. Plus I have my eye on a rolling pin with attachments that lets you control the height of the dough you’re rolling out, and I’m probably going to make runzas/bierocks this weekend by special request of Ramón, who has pointed out that having little savory things that he can grab between meals would be a very nice change from having to grab chocolate or cookies.
Other shows I binged were The Expanse (holy God, that was good), Altered Carbon, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Forever, and various comedy shows that had been recommended to me over 2018, and while I watched them I worked on this absolutely gorgeous hue shift knitted afghan. It’s extremely cool, using mitered corner squares with alternating stripes, and seeing as I bought the kit two years ago it’s nice that I’m finally putting it together. When I wasn’t baking, watching Netflix, or working on the afghan, I read, caught up on bills, played with the kitties (Jessie and Jeremy are losing some much-needed weight thanks to the new food regime the vet suggested at their checkup in early December and Jessie’s back to being able to jump up on counters and tables), cleaned (I actually cleaned my oven and my freezer fold-out bins. Somewhere, my mother is astounded), and decorated the house for Christmas.
But what was most notable was that I pretty much stayed off social media because I wasn’t on the laptop for hours at a time. I’d check FB and Twitter a few times a day, but I didn’t spend nearly as much time as I usually did on it. And that was a good thing because I soon realized I felt much more relaxed and centered without constantly being thrown into rage cycles by the endless political idiocy making the rounds on SM. So one thing I’m going to do in 2019 is continue that habit — I’ll check in on Twitter and Instagram for business purposes, but I’m seriously going to curtail my FB time. Not only do I not like their business practices of scraping every piece of data they can get about me and selling it to companies, but I’m just happier when I’m not on FB.
One final and very major change in 2018 was me starting on CBD oil. I have Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and PCOS, which not only screw with my metabolism and make it hard to lose weight but also encourage inflammation. At this point in my life I inflame at a harsh word, and for the last couple of years it’s been affecting my ability to walk because both of my Achilles bursae swelled up to painful proportions, making it difficult to flex my feet and balance. The tipping point was December 20 — my good knee had gotten strained while I was in bed, of all places, and hurt like hell, my bad knee was, well, my bad knee, and I was literally hobbling around like an arthritic 90-year-old. Worse, NSAIDs weren’t really working anymore and I was getting very little sleep because I was hurting all the time.
I’ve had CBD oil recommended to me by friends with similar issues who had incredibly good results with it, so I did some research and found the Cherry Apothecary in Oak Cliff. I hobbled in, had a consult with a very nice young man who listened to my pain issues and suggested that I try sublingual tinctures. After some more discussion I settled on a bottle of 250 mg CBD oil with orange flavor, headed home, took the recommended half dose (he said to start low and slow — apparently the endocannabinoid system in our bodies that is affected by CBD needs time to load the chemical to a level where it will help. You can take more, the man said, but you’ll just pee it out, which is a waste of money and oil), and prayed.
Twenty minutes later, I was able to walk without hobbling. My ankles were flexing, and the pain in both knees was reduced — still there, mind you, but manageable with an NSAID. It felt like a frigging miracle. I now take a half dose of CBD oil in the morning and a half dose at night, and not only do my legs feel better but I also feel calmer, more focused, and I’m sleeping like a top. Best of all, I can see the swelling in both Achilles bursae going down — my left heel is almost back to normal and my right heel (which was horrible) now looks like my left heel at its worst, which is a significant improvement. With walking so much easier, I’ve been able to clean, shop, and move around a lot more than I have been in the last couple of years, and man, that is fantastic. I’m now getting on the treadmill every day, and once I’m over the mild cold I caught from Ramón I’m going back to the gym and starting weightlifting again.
So, yeah, that was a decent personal end to 2018. Right now my goals in 2019 are more walking and weightlifting, completing four novels (King of Blades, Uncertainty Principle, and two romcoms) and three novellas, doing smart promo for myself, continuing to cook and bake more stuff from scratch, working on meditation techniques and yoga, reducing our debt as much as possible, and generally trying to help more people out and enjoy life. Oh, and play with the kitties, because that’s an important part of Casa Cameron.
So, yeah, let’s get started!
Because I do, especially after I’ve spent the last six weeks slowly sinking into sinus infection fatigue, to the point where I would get up in the morning and five minutes later wanted to go straight back to bed for the rest of the day.
So, yeah, doc’s visit, the nice nurse practitioner said, “Ooh, yeah, your eardrums are bulging, here’s a scrip for a Z-pack, you want a steroid shot, too? Oh, yeah, this is not your first time at the rodeo.” She also confirmed that I get one of these damn things every year around this time — two years ago I came in almost to the day with the same complaint. I don’t know if it’s the weather change or something around here puts out some serious shit in late September/early October, but it’s like freaking clockwork.
So, day two on the Z-pack/steroid shot, and it’s like night and day. I woke up at 4 AM this morning, cranked out 1500 words on King of Blades (holy God, I came up with a BRILLIANT subplot for Darius and Lars, so they’re about to have quite the rollercoaster event in their relationship), went back to sleep for a bit, woke up feeling like a million bucks, went to see Colette (gorgeous movie and man, it’s inspiring if you’re a female writer), and craved real food afterwards (I may have also watched Salt Fat Acid Heat last night and it kinda lit a fire under me). So dinner tonight is rosemary and garlic pork roast, oven-roasted green beans and carrots with olive oil, seasoned sweet potato fries, and cucumber salad. You want to be eating here tonight.
Another bennie of feeling better — I’m back in the mood to make jewelry. I’m finishing up some projects that are already on the bench, and then I get to start work on these, now that all the bits have finally arrived from Rio Grande and the stone sellers. The lower stones and blue and yellow topaz and will be set in sterling silver settings that I’ll solder together, and the top stones are citrine and will have tiny handmade sterling calla lilies dangling from them. I think they’re gonna be gorgeous when they’re done.
Sorry I’ve been quiet for so long (I keep saying that, don’t I?). I got somewhat stuck on Shifter Woods: Snarl due to what I can only describe as an insanely inopportune realization, and by the time I finally got unstuck I was way past my self-imposed publishing deadline and had to shift into fifth gear to get it edited, polished, and out the door. Oh, and Ramón and I went to New Orleans in the middle of that because the trip had been scheduled and paid for months ago and frankly he needed the break.
So now that it’s out (and for everyone who’s purchased a copy, thank you so much), I’m back to work on the long-stalled and much awaited Behind the Iron Cross. Today I finish reassembling the chapters (I’d separated them into scenes in Scrivener, but as it turns out that level of granulation just confuses the heck out of me) and started filling in spots in the first five chapters that need to be fleshed out before I can finish the pending third act. The damn thing is 75,000 so far, and my goal is 90K. At this rate, I should have the first draft done by Tuesday, and since I’ve been away from it for so long I won’t need a long down period before I can start editing it.
The only problem is, I’m feeling a certain lack of enthusiasm. Not about the book — about everything. Maybe it’s the dumpster fire that is the current US administration, maybe it’s the fact that the GOP is trying to ram through a woefully inappropriate candidate for the US Supreme Court because they gotta protect their corporate masters and make sure that white women keep pumping out those babies to stop brown and black people from demographic supremacy, blah blah blah, but I’m having a hard time coming up with reasons to get out of bed in the morning. I have a shitload of faith in people like Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, Mazie Hirono, Tammy Duckworth, and other rising Democratic stars who may be our last hope against Old White Men Ruining Everything, but it’s still a long fucking way to November and I wish something good would happen to remind me that we never know what can happen tomorrow.
Or maybe I just need to get drunk. That didn’t happen in NOLA, can you believe it? I even had a couple of hurricanes while I was out with Ramón, my sister, her friends, and my friend Epi, but I was so hot from walking around the French Quarter in August that the alcohol pretty much evaporated from my system the moment I finished swallowing. I dunno, Marty. I need a goal. Or something to look forward to. Or a fucking quest, maybe.
I’m sure that many of you in Romancelandia have been hearing about the michigas surrounding bookstuffers and how they’re leaching money out of Kindle Unlimited at an astounding rate. This is something that will affect readers as well as writers, because if enough authors can’t make a living with their books and have to take other jobs to pay the bills, it means less books to read apart from yet another variant on The Dirty Billionaires Next Door And Their Secret Baby (A Compilation).
Christ, I hope that’s not a real book.
Anyway, it turns out that anyone can write an email to Jeff Bezos, the head honcho at Amazon, and so I have just sent off the following letter. If you’re an author tired of seeing your KU income dwindle in favor of some faceless businessman using underhanded tactics to pimp their “compilation” on KU, or you’re a reader tired of wading through acres of prettily covered crap in hopes of finding a decent book, you might want to write him, as well. There’s strength in numbers, and if Amazon realizes that this could hit their bottom line they will take action.
Dear Mr. Bezos:
My name is Melanie Fletcher. I write SF under my own name and romance under the name Nicola Cameron, and since November 2015 I’ve also been able to self-publish my work using the Kindle Direct Publishing system. At first, I was absolutely delighted with KDP; it gave me an opportunity to publish novels that weren’t easily marketable by the Big Five publishers in NYC, and I was able to build on my readership with my first self-pubbed novel, Empress of Storms. Empress wound up earning a little over $16,000, mainly via Amazon, and that gave me hope for a viable career as an independent author.
Except that Empress’s sequel, Palace of Scoundrels, didn’t do nearly as well as the first book. Sequels rarely match the success of the first book in a series, but Palace’s sales were unusually lackluster considering that there had been numerous requests for a sequel and I performed all the same promotion activities that I used for Empress. The reviews for Palace were uniformly good, from Amazon reviewers as well as from professional review sites, so its drop in sales puzzled me.
But I shrugged it off as a learning experience and wrote a SF romance, thinking that putting out a separate title might help. It didn’t sell well. I went back and wrote another sequel for Empress. It didn’t sell well. I then wrote a contemporary romantic comedy, one of the most popular subgenres of romance there is. You can guess how the sales went for that. I’ve done due diligence on all my books with regards to promotion — purchasing advertising for them, sending out review copies, haunting social media to talk them up, appearing at romance conventions to advertise them, everything that a legitimate indie author needs to do in order to get the word out about their book.
But despite uniformly good reviews, both on and off Amazon, my sales were getting increasingly worse despite a growing backlist. I spoke with other indie authors and they all complained about the same thing—their sales at Amazon were plummeting. When an indie author such as Sam Crescent, who has a huge, loyal fanbase and can produce titles monthly, was seeing her sales dwindling, I didn’t have a shot in hell of saving my career.
And then I learned about bookstuffers who were gaming the KU system. I’m sure you’ve well aware of the situation by now and how they use scam tactics such as adding extra books to a title and instructing their readers to flip to the end in order to have all the pages register as having been read. Not only are they driving out legitimate authors from KU, but their tactics then gamed Amazon’s ranking algorithms and pushed them into bestseller slots that, frankly, they didn’t deserve. This hijacking of Amazon’s ranking system has had a number of unfortunate knock-on effects — it’s rendered Amazon’s ranking system is no longer a reliable tool for readers searching for new titles and authors, and it’s pushed legitimate indie authors like me completely out of the spotlight. As for KU, I can’t afford to put my books in it anymore. I would have to have tens of thousands of page reads of my titles just to match a bookstuffer’s “compilation.”
Mr. Bezos, I don’t want the KU system to shut down. Not only does it makes you money, but it allows a LOT of readers who don’t have extra cash for books to read as much as they like, and maybe even find a new favorite author. I’ve included my titles in KU for that very purpose before I realized it was losing me income and had to stop. I would love to be able to put my books in KU again, but for that to happen it needs to be made equitable. Changing your terms of service to forbid more than 10% of “extra” material in a book will not stop bookstuffers—they’ll just find another way to game the system, as they already have by labeling their stuffed books “compilations.” I am begging you to have your programming team take a good, hard look at KU and come up with a robust method of monitoring it and preventing such abuses. Pattern analysis that recognizes extra material already in KU as a standalone title, or repetitive use of extra material in multiple titles (where a bookstuffer publishes Book A with BCDEF extra material, Book B with CDEFA extra material, Book C with DEFAB extra material, etc.) and flags a title for removal is one way of doing this. I know this would be a serious undertaking, but sir, I’ve heard from numerous readers who are now saying that they’ve been burned too many times by KU scammers and are cancelling KU or will only read Big Five books or titles from trusted authors. This is what the bookstuffers have done with their rampant abuse of KU; while they’re only hurting my bottom line at the moment, if they keep driving people away from KU they’ll eventually start hurting yours as well.
Thank you for your attention to this matter.
Melanie Fletcher/Nicola Cameron
Welcome to a new feature of the blog where I talk about stuff that’s occurred to me while I’ve been out in the garage working on jewelry. Metalsmithing is actually part of my writing process because while my hands are busy, my brain is free to keep itself entertained any way it can, and it usually does that by coming up with stories.
Now and then, however, I find myself musing about anything from politics to why Zendaya clearly should be cast as Joan of Arc based on her Met Gala dress. Tonight, while I was working on the sterling settings for a pair of earrings, I started thinking about Westworld and some of the backstory involved (by the way, I was VERY pleased to have called it on Delos trying to transfer human consciousness into hosts and thereby becoming filthy rich from 1%ers who want to live forever, but I digress.)
Specifically, I was thinking about how in Season One, Dolores’s original loop was to be the daughter of a rancher and his wife. The family’s whole reason of existence was so that they could be killed (Mama and Daddy) and raped (Dolores) by guests who wanted to act out various black hat scenarios. Which is more than a little creepy (and I do wonder if Dolores was specifically put into that scenario as punishment by Dr. Ford for killing Arnold), but it set the viewer’s understanding about how the hosts are viciously abused by human guests on a regular basis.
Fast forward to that monumental scene at the end of “The Original” where Dr. Ford is questioning Dolores’s “father” Peter and asking him what his main drives are. Peter replies that he’s supposed to tend to his herd, look after his wife, and protect Delores. When it’s determined that he’s glitching too badly to be repaired, he’s lobotomized, stuck in cold storage, and is then grabbed by Charlotte Hale and turned into a walking thumb drive with 30+ years of Delos research shoehorned into his head. Needless to say, he no longer has the processor cycles necessary to worry about looking after his wife, much less his herd, although he does briefly remember Dolores in S2E3. And Dolores/Wyatt is hellbent on conquering mankind and making them pay for their sins, so she’s doesn’t seem to be all that concerned about Mama’s whereabouts, either.
But that doesn’t change the fact that Mrs. Abernathy is still somewhere in Westworld. Moreover, since Dolores was with Teddy right before that climactic party in the last ep of Season One, we can hypothesize that the Abernathy homestead wasn’t targeted for assault that night since a major part of the “entertainment” was gone. So Mrs. Abernathy should still be alive and with Peter Mark II.
But the hosts are slowly gaining sentience and access to their memories from previous builds. If that’s true, wouldn’t Mrs. A wonder where the hell her daughter is? Would she realize that this “husband” isn’t the one she’d spent so many years with? Mightn’t she then go off in search of her family?
I completely understand why the \W/ writers wouldn’t focus on her — Maeve would be undertaking the mother’s journey to find her daughter, so Mrs. Abernathy (I keep wanting to call her Anna and picture her as being played by Diane Lane) wasn’t necessary to the plot. That doesn’t change the fact that she’s still out there, most likely intact, and may in fact be in search of Dolores and Peter, assuming she hasn’t been killed by the Ghost Nation or the Delos recovery teams.
I doubt this would happen, but it would be cool if she pops up somewhere down the line. Granted, she’d probably be used by Delos as a way of luring Delores into a trap, but maybe she’d stumble into whatever armed camp Dolores had taken over at that point only to discover that her sweet, art-loving daughter had turned into a ruthless revolutionary. There are all kinds of fun things the writers could do with that.
First we must flashback to last night, when Ramón headed out around 9:30 PM to pick up some stuff from the store. He stepped out the door, then came back in for some reason and said, “I think I let a moth in — oh, it’s a bird.”
And indeed it was, some kind of small grey-brown bird with a flat head and sharp beak. Upon later comparison with pictures of common Texas birds I think it was a Swainson’s Thrush. We then spent a merry hour trying to capture the damn thing as it flew back and forth across the upstairs’ gallery ceilings, to no avail. I even got the pool skimmer out of the backyard to use as a net of sorts, but we just couldn’t catch the little bugger. In the meantime, the cats thought this was the Best Entertainment Ever, and had a whale of a time chasing the thrush upstairs and down while we cursed and chased after them.
Sweaty and exhausted, we finally gave up when the little bastard roosted somewhere and we couldn’t see him anymore. We decided to leave it for the night and cleaned up the little droplets of bird poop and pee the little bugger had scattered around downstairs (I need to mop the hardwood floors today), on the basis that we had three possible outcomes:
- We’d get up in the morning when it would be brighter outside than in (the brightness was probably what lured the bird inside in the first place), shoo the bird into a smaller room with a window, open said window and shoo it out.
- The bird would become exhausted and die somewhere, most likely in the craft room as that’s where it was spending most of its time, and we’d find it by the smell.
- The J Crew would leave us a messy little present, showing us what good hunters they were.
Luckily for everyone except the J Crew, Outcome One was what happened. I got up and saw the thrush flying back and forth in the craft room. I took a screen out of one of the windows there, but Jeremy the Big Orange Idiot kept trying to climb out the window and my cursing was disturbing Ramón, who was on a business call. By sheer good luck, however, I’d left the bedroom door open and it flew in there.
Ramón got off his call, followed me in, and turfed out the cats while I opened a window, removed the screen and tried to shoo the thrush out. It flew past me just as he asked me a question — while I was turned to answer our guest flew past me and outside, because I then heard a loud burst of birdsong that I translated to mean, “Guys, you would not BELIEVE what happened to me!”
So that was our adventure with local wildlife. In associated news we are cleaning our craft room this weekend because it is a complete disaster in there and I’m sure the little bugger crapped on things. Whee.
Or at least I assume I have the flu, judging from the symptoms — stuffy nose, muscle aches, lack of energy, low fever, and every bad thing or decision in my life coming back to haunt me in 4K HD. Whee. So Ramón will be heading off to the shops in a bit to pick up basics so that we can eat today, and I’m drinking lots of water, eating healthy stuff when I can muster an appetite, and trying to add at least a K a day to To My Muse because I’m insane like that. Don’t worry — I’m taking breaks as and when appropriate. Also, ignore the number on the graphic at left — I’m currently up to 23,289 words and I’m hoping to crack 25K by tonight.
The cats are also making it their mission to drive me completely nuts. You know how you get those heartwarming stories of moggies who can tell when their owners are ill and will curl up next to them, providing body warmth and quiet support? Yeah, I have one like that (Jessie, my silver girl). The rest are either yelling at me for food (JJ), running through the house like their tail is on fire and acting like a complete idiot (Jeremy), crawling in between me and my food for pettins’ (Jasmine), or climbing on me because I’m their favorite perch (Jemma). I keep having to go upstairs and hide in my room because Jasmine won’t go up there, Jeremy and JJ will go straight for the space heater and sprawl there, and Jemma prefers to snooze under the bed, don’t ask me why. Only Jessie will come in, check on me, then settle down next to me within petting range (if I’m in the mood, but only then) and take a catnap.
It doesn’t help that the temperature is dropping quickly and we’ll be below freezing by tonight. We just had a plumber come out yesterday to fix one of the outside faucets that had developed a fatal failure during our recent freeze (when you turned it on water started coming out from BEHIND the brick fascia of the house). Luckily it wasn’t too horribly expensive, but I did throw on enough clothes so that I could stagger out and make sure that, yeah, he’d disconnected the hose (which apparently caused the problem). I may go back out in a bit and wrap the damn thing with a towel for insulation. And we still don’t know if the pool pump took any damage from the freeze. I know, first world problems, but that’s still a $600+ expense I’d like to avoid if at all possible.
In other news, I got my hair cut. And since it’s wavy it means that once I’d washed the salon product out of it (shown at right — my hair is never that straight unless a stylist has blown-dry it using one of those big round brushes) and let it dry naturally it bounced above my shoulders. Since it was down to the middle of my back before this is something of a change. Ramón keeps saying I look like I did when we lived in Montreal back in 1994, and it’s nice not to have to keep it in a pony tail all the time.
I was on a self-imposed writing hiatus for the last week in an effort to let my brain cool down after the last two and a half months of frantic writing, and it was absolutely lovely, thank you! I cooked, cleaned, got stuck into a BUNCH of craft projects that had been lying fallow for some time, watched TV, watched movies, baked pies, and generally had a rather pleasant week.
Among some of the nifty neato-keen craft projects are the socks shown above. They’ve been in my purse for well over a year, and I finally got cracking on them only to find that I’d run out of the self-striping yarn halfway through the second sock. Whomp-whomp! Luckily I had yarn of the same weight and makeup left over from other projects, so one sock will have a large light and dark pink foot on it. Hell, they’re striped anyway, and it’s not like anyone is going to see when I have shoes on, right?
Another LONG overdue project is the queen-sized Dia de los Muertos quilt for my friend. E. I’ve had this fabric for, God, at least three years now, but I just didn’t have the time or the inspiration to put some many vividly patterned fabrics together in an attractive whole. But last week inspiration did indeed strike, and after a few false starts I started putting the central medallion together. With luck I can get it quilted and off to E by the end of the month.
…wait until you hear this…
…a contemporary romcom! I know, I know — what the hell do I know about writing contemporary romance OR romcoms? Quite a lot, as it turns out, and I already have the entire plot worked out and can get it finished by the end of January if I get a move on. So look for To My Muse on Amazon sometime in late February!
And here’s hoping that 2018 turns out to be a much, MUCH better year for everyone than 2017.
One of the side effects of NaNoWriMo is that housekeeping in the Cameron manse usually falls by the wayside while I try to make word count. This year, however, I’m 1) well ahead of schedule (more on that below), and 2) still have to do the cleaning that fell by the wayside while I was editing Lady of Thorns. So I’ve instituted a plan of writing for a half hour, then cleaning for a half hour, then writing, then cleaning. Or in the last couple of days’ case, writing/raking. Sweet mother of Cthulhu, but we have a lot of leaves in the front yard. I’ve already raked up 8 bags’ worth and there will be at least another eight bags to go.
But it’s got to be done because otherwise they blow all over the street and I feel like a slacker (plus it’s not good for the lawn to be covered with leaves). That being said, after the last two days of raking I kinda feel like I’ve been beaten by Mob enforcers so I may well take today off from raking (the leaves aren’t going anywhere, after all) and focus on vacuuming the downstairs. Because 5 cats + 2 humans = one hell of a lot of hair/fur/dander. Thank Zoroaster for Dyson vacuums, that’s all I have to say.
In other news, my NaNoWriMo projects are a skosh over 30,000 words, one of them will be out on December 5th as a holiday novella (Red Robin and the Huntsman, set in the Two Thrones universe), and I just found a memory on Facebook from 2011 stating that I’d be happy if I could write a book a year, plus assorted short stories. Ha. Ha. BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. Oh, I was a sweet summer child back i 2011, wasn’t I?
Oh, finally, if you’ve read Lady of Thorns could I ask you to leave a review on your preferred site? Amazon, B&N, Goodreads, it’s all good. I just need more reviews. Thanks!