Category Archives: Personal

An update, because I know you love those

This has been one fraught week, angels. Last week, Ramón learned that his mom had broken her thigh bone (ironically, it happened in the doctor’s office which she was visiting to determine why her leg hurt). She was taken to the hospital and received multiple scans, after which it was determined that she needed surgery to install a plate on the thigh bone to hold everything in place.

And then a consultant took a closer look at the scans to figure out what was causing the pain in the first place. He discovered a tumor. More were found, and suddenly we went into full “Get Ramón back home to see his mom NOW” mode, which was complicated by work duties and a very welcome house guest who just happened to show up at a difficult time. But the house guest is now on her way, the work duties have been fulfilled, Ramón is packed and I’ll be schlepping him to the airport in a couple of hours, and he’ll be landing in the UK tomorrow. Any good thoughts/prayers/white light/whatever you have directed to a very nice lady in Chesterfield would be quite appreciated at the moment.

In other news, I posted polls on Facebook and Twitter to ask people what series they would like me to work on next. To my surprise and gratification it turned out that Olympic Cove was the clear winner, so I’ve put the Pacifica Rising and Two Thrones books on hold and am back at work on Cross Current (Book 4). I hope to have that off to Evernight by the end of May, so for everyone who’s been waiting for the continuing adventures of the gods, mermen, disciples, and other residents of Olympic Cove and their battle against the Mad Goddess Thetis, you’ve got something good on the way!

I have awesome friends

Because they listen to me when I’m moody as hell, let me vent to my little black heart’s content, and then I feel better and don’t throw tantrums on social media (because really, nobody needs to see that shit). Serious, L.D., you are a lifesaver.

In happier news, the severe thunderstorm systems that are currently sliding north of Plano are providing me with lots of pretty lightning and no real rain or hail to speak of, which is absolutely dandy with me (especially when I saw the pictures of the ping-pong ball-sized hail coming down five miles north of here). Springtime in Texas — gotta love it.

Okay, enough of that. Back to work on the shifter story.

Thoughts From a Writer’s Brain, #46

Subconscious: Heya.

Me: Hi.

SC: Sooooo … you’ve been getting kinda whiny on social media about your book sales. You know, nobody likes to be guilted into buying stuff.

Me: *sigh* Yes, I know. I won’t do that anymore. And I wasn’t trying to guilt people. I was just trying to get some word of mouth going.

SC: Really?

Me: Oh, bite me. I already feel bad about it. I’m just going to shut up and write more books. If I can.

SC: Melodramatic cliffhanger much?

Me: God, you’re a bitch.

SC: You should know. Okay, fine, why “if I can?”

Me: Because my damn laptop is over eight years old and my desktop is over nine years old. Both of them are failing, and I really need to buy new ones before they completely die on me.

SC: Tell me you’re backing up.

Me: Religiously and onto multiple devices. But backups aren’t going to be of any use if I don’t have hardware to run them on.

SC: So why didn’t you just say that your computers are crapping out and you need to buy new ones?

Me: Well, hell, Chuck Wendig just did something like that for his vet bills and people jumped all over his ass. And I’m no Chuck Wendig.

SC: Verily, that is true.

Me: Also, it didn’t occur to me.

SC: Jesus. You’re telling me that saying, “Hey, folks, my antique computers are on the verge of joining the choir eternal so please buy my books so that I can get new ones and keep writing” didn’t occur to you, but “Oh, jeez, my books aren’t selling, woe is me” did?

Me: Fuck you.

SC: Not anatomically possible but an amusing suggestion nonetheless. Why are you in such a bad mood, anyway?

Me: Because I’m cleaning. I hate cleaning. I always wind up drenched in sweat and covered in cat hair. But it has to be done.

SC: You could be writing–

Me: YES I KNOW THAT BUT WE LIVE WITH FIVE CATS AND RANDY TREES OUTSIDE AND I HAVE TO VACUUM IF I WANT TO CONTINUE BREATHING, OKAY?

SC: Yeesh. Okay. But you’re going to be taking breaks, right?

Me: Duh.

SC: Okay, then. You can work on one of your WIPs during your breaks. See? That was easy.

Me: I–you– *incoherent with rage*

SC: Do you want a new laptop and desktop?

Me: *grinds teeth and goes back to dusting*

Bogged Down in Tax Prep

It’s that time of year again when I haul out all the receipts I’ve compulsively saved and start wading through them to find the numbers necessary for the accountant (yes, we have an accountant, first because Ramón was a 1099 contractor and I wanted a pro to help us with deductions, and now because I have the multiple income streams of a creative worker and I need a pro to make sense of them to the IRS). I know this would all be much faster and easier if I regularly entered everything in spreadsheets, but I find going through the receipts to be oddly soothing.

Prepping Ramón’s numbers is pretty straightforward — he works from home so I have to go through and tot up all the utilities for the house so that the accountant can work out the deduction for the dedicated home office. Then it’s my turn. Turns out I didn’t sell that much jewelry last year (not surprising), but I did spend a hellacious fortune on business expenses, mainly travel (also unsurprising, seeing as I attended Wild Wicked Weekend, RT in Vegas, Evernight’s writer retreat in Ontario, and did a research trip to the Atlantic coast of Florida). At least now I know where all the money from Empress of Storms went. And my accountant will be happy because I have all of these legitimate expenses backed up with paper.

That being said, I’m going to seriously rein in the travel this year, mainly because both my laptop and my desktop are on the way out and I need to replace them ASAP with what I make from royalties. So no RT for me this year, and I probably won’t do RWA either which is a bit disappointing but oh, well. On the other hand, if I write my ass off and put out another Two Thrones and two more Pacifica Rising books this year, plus the standalones that are patiently waiting for me to finish them, I should be able to buy the computer equipment I need this year, and go to RT and RWA next year.

Speaking of that, once I get all the papers off to the accountant on Monday I will be spending most of next week outlining Pacifica Rising 2 and Two Thrones 3 (try saying that three times fast). I still don’t have a really solid idea about PR2 apart from the fact that the main romantic focus will remain on Evie and Ben while a rogue bodyguard from the Denali Protectorate shows up and makes Rob’s life difficult, but TT3 is going to feature a Hellan tournament to celebrate Danaë’s pregnancy (thank you, Medieval Times, for giving me the idea) during which an unexpected rival from Matthias’s past resurfaces and complicates things. Oh, and we’ll get to meet the Grand High Magister Aeris, Epilonious, who has decided to take young Luna under his wing and drive her grandfather and step-grandmother absolutely batty in the process. Fun times!

Apparently I owe the producers of Longmire an apology. Kinda.

longmireIn my previous post, I lamented the last ep in Season 3 of Longmire because it pretty much blew my sense of disbelief on a number of points. That being said, one of those points was further illuminated in Season 4, where in ep 3 we find out that Barlow had hired a soldier from Jacob Nighthorse to kill Walt’s wife for what turns out to be a logical reason — she was campaigning against the construction of Jacob’s casino, and Barlow was counting on it to bring in people for his nascent golf course and other businesses. To the producers’ credit this was brought up in one of the previous seasons. It still seems a bit of overkill to murder a woman dying of cancer, but at least I can follow Barlow’s reasoning now (although it would have been nice if this had been made a bit clearer in the S3 ep. A line from Barlow saying, “I had her killed her to protect the family business that I’m giving to you, you little pissant” would have sufficed).

stayontarget2Still doesn’t excuse the other issues, but as a friend pointed out Absaroka County gets a surprising ton of dead bodies considering that it’s in a low-population state, so if you can buy that, you can buy iffy characterization choices and Walt and Henry getting away with stealing a dead body and having it accepted as evidence.

In other news, I’m closing in on the end of Intersection, as demonstrated by the already out of date target counter at right (word count is currently up to 62,058). With luck and a good tail wind, I should be typing “The End” sometime late tomorrow.

Which will be good, because it’ll give me the length of my upcoming vacation to let the backbrain cogitate on it and work out kinks, at which point I’ll be ready to edit it into shape when I get back. Release date is scheduled to be 2/7/17, and I’ll be making it available for pre-order as well as sending out ARCs to reviewers and bloggers. If you want to leave a review or do a blog post featuring the book, let me know and I’ll make sure you get one of the ARCs along with a media packet.

Getting old is not for wimps

So I figured this was the weekend I would put up all the Christmas ornaments and trees (we have two — one in the library, and one in the kitchen because we can’t see the library tree from the living room). This required me to finish dusting everything in the library, wash both front windows, then bring in the HUGE tree box from the garage and the two tubs of decorations.

One eensy issue — about two weeks ago I somehow managed to strain the muscles in my right mid-back wrapping around to the front. No problem with standing and walking, but if I have to control any sudden front-to-back movement (like if I have to brake suddenly in the car) it spasms. It also spasms when I lift stuff or stretch forward or down. This is problematic when you are lifting large things like tree boxes and tubs full of Christmas decorations.

So there I was, moving all of this crap into the library and swearing under my breath, with that weird side muscle throbbing, and decide I’ll put up the stockings first. We have seven, one for Ramón and myself and one for each of the cats, and I had decided to use a tip I’d read online to get two stocking clips for a mantel and suspend a cafe curtain rod in it, then make little S hooks out of wire and hang the stockings from those.

Except that I hadn’t bought any of that yet. So off to Target I go, wincing at all the stops, and find stocking clips. Four for $20. Fuck THAT noise. Go over to take a look at cafe rods, get a nickel plated one, come back to the Christmas section to see if there’s anything I can jigger for mantel clips, when I find a set of two clips that have cute little chalkboards attached marked down to $8. At this point my back/side muscles are making themselves known, so I bite the bullet and get them. Come home, put everything up, and it looks great. Yay. I finish distributing the rest of the standing ornaments, then pull the ladder out of the closet to put up the garland over the door (which involves lifting and stretching). Also nice, although by now I’m in a certain amount of pain.

Then I dig out the window lights for the front windows. Unsurprisingly both 8-year-old strings are dead (protip — always plug in your lights to test them before putting them up). Back to Target I go, wincing even harder at the stops, and pick up some lights and some peppermint bark Ghirardelli squares (shut up, I earned them). On the walk back to the car the offended muscles go into one massive spasm and announce that I’m done for the night. Not being an idiot, I agree with them, go home, pop two Flexeril and proceed to sleep the sleep of the dead.

Woke up this morning with only a hint of an ache, and proceeded to put up the new window lights while Ramón shuffles around the place coughing his lungs up (there’s a reason why I’m doing all of this myself — he has a sinus infection, is on antibiotics, and feels like hammered shit so I told him to go sit down and rest). Putting up the window lights requires me to use clear push pins between the wires to hold them in the window frame, and to get on a small step ladder so that I can pin along the top of the frame and the decorative half-round glass at the top of the window. First window, the light string is five inches short of reaching the extension cord. Swearing, I pull it down and repin it around the window, taking care to stretch out all the kinks in the wire and keep it as straight as possible. I keep this in mind when I pin the lights around the second window and have no problem reaching the extension cord this time.

Both windows are now illuminated and look great. Meanwhile the tree is still in the box, and the cats are having a marvelous time climbing in and out of it. This, BTW, is a 7′ tree that is a royal pain in the ass to put together, and will require more stretching and bending just to get it upright. My strained muscles are currently saying, “You have maybe another hour out of us, then you will sit your ass down and watch Westworld, do you understand?”

So, yeah, if anyone wants to know why I’m not enthusiastic about putting holiday decorations up every year, now you know.

It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like A Clean House

two-kinds-of-people-when-christmas-beginsYeah, no, I’m not celebrating Christmas just yet, unlike my sister whose house looks like Santa came all over it from mid-November through the first week of January. That meme at right? That’s us. I’m Theoden. She’s Buddy Elf. No, I don’t understand how we’re related, either.

That being said, I am continuing my “mourning for my country” cleaning kick, which means that every vacuum in this house has had its filter cleaned, the downstairs AC system filter has been replaced, the dining room has been cleaned, dusted, and vacuumed, most of the living room has been cleaned, dusted, and vacuumed (I still have to tackle the end table next to Ramón’s seat), the kitchen has remained spotless for an entire week, and the place smells great. My core muscles are also aching like a bitch, so today I’m focusing on paperwork (paying bills, filing receipts, mailing off stuff to various folks), writing, and critting a story for my writing group tonight. By the time Friday rolls around the entire downstairs should be clean so I can put up all the Christmas ornaments on time for once.

Of course, I still have to clean upstairs, but hell, even that’s getting done bit by bit. By the end of the month this entire place may not only be decorated, but spotless as well. Whoa.

Flipping back to writing news, Ramón used that huge brain of his to break a little problem I’ve been wrestling with for the past few days (how would rich people shop thirty years from now) and in doing so significantly expanded the background of Intersection AND gave me more insight into my heroine Evie. Looking forward to tackling that scene later this afternoon, I am. I’ve also been having a lot of fun having the occasional Twitter exchange with the lovely actor who inspired me to write this thing in the first place, so I’ve got that going for me as well.

The perils of having a common name (or pseudonym)

relieved-womanSo I was tapping away at the keyboard today, as you do, when I got a ping that someone had messaged me on my FB page. I thought, “Oh, maybe it’s someone with a question or comment about one of the books, or it’s the translator who’s currently translating Two to Tango into German. I’d better check it out.”

I opened Facebook and headed to the Messages window, where I found the most astoundingly incomprehensible yet vitriolic message waiting for me:

U wndnt know smutt if hit u in face lol

Statin facks .great mate eh funny when no cunt knows when u hit bk x 

Thaught bab writer .u got hidden talent.dnt think so

Now, due to family connections I recognize this as British text speak, most likely from somewhere north of the Watford Gap. I wasn’t sure if someone had gotten pissed off about my recent post about the election or what, so I opened a dialog with the individual to find out what was wrong. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to parse what this person was saying, apart from the interspersed invitation for me to go suck a dick or fuck a guy whose name starts with J. I finally broke it off and blocked her (because life is too short to waste on people who can’t be bothered to use the Queen’s English), then got in touch with the family connection mentioned above to see if maybe this was somehow coming from that direction, including the individual’s FB profile for further clarification.

FC had no idea who the individual was, but did note that the guy I was invited to go fuck was apparently one of the individual’s friends. We decided that this was a case of alcohol meeting vituperative Facebook stalking gone awry.

So, just in case this individual stumbles across this website (because hey, you never know), hon, you made a mistake. I don’t live in England, I’m not fucking this Jamie person, and there are a lot of Nicola Camerons out there and you really shouldn’t jump on the first one you find.

How was your Saturday?

So, I may have introduced some Boy Scouts to the oeuvre of Chuck Tingle

tingletshirtIt is no secret among those who know me that I am fond of wearing graphic t-shirts, and have quite a collection of SF-themed ones, often very subversive. One of my recent favorites is the Legends of Science Fiction t shirt (shown at right), which came out earlier this year after a rather distasteful group of people tried to game the 2016 Hugo Awards (one of the major SF literary awards) by using slates to nominate their own hand-picked people. One of these nominees was the inimitable Dr. Chuck Tingle, whose fourth-wall-smashing satirical M/M erotica is admired around the globe. These melancholy mutts got Dr. Tingle’s short work “Space Raptor Butt Invasion” onto the Short Story nominee list for the Hugos, assuming that it would infuriate the “Social Justice Warrior” types that they claimed had taken over the Hugos and ruined them for their proper audience — straight white men (see here for a more cogent explanation of the whole michigas).

Unfortunately, these weepy woofies had their joke blow up in their face when Dr. Tingle found out about this and starting trolling them on line. Hard. One might even say poundingly so. Dr. Tingle didn’t win the Hugo, but his dedication to doing the right thing was hailed as sheer brilliance, and this t-shirt is in celebration of his being a true buckaroo to the SF community.

Cut to today, when I grab a clean t-shirt from the pile still waiting to be folded and put away, not really registering anything about the graphic design other than, “Yeah, this is my t-shirt, not Ramón’s.” I then headed out to go pick up the J Crew some canned cat food, with a stop at the local Walmart Neighborhood Market on the way back to get pop and other comestibles for the evening.

While on my way into the WNM, I was waylaid by a veritable cherub in a Cub Scout uniform asking if I would buy some hideously overpriced popcorn to support his troop. Being a former slinger of Girl Scout cookies, band candy, and other fundraising food items, I felt a pang of sympathy and headed over to this little pavilion to make the purchase and get my tin of caramel corn. This involved chatting with two lovely den moms, a Boy Scout and the scoutmaster while they processed my credit card, after which I headed into the store to get what else I needed. It wasn’t until the clerk asked to see my t-shirt more clearly that I realized what exactly I was wearing.

Um…oops? At least the kids didn’t seem scarred for life, although the clerk was certainly taken aback when I explained about Dr. Tingle’s oeuvre. Just another day in the life, folks…

My current status on, well, everything

pos91516So, yeah, it has been brought to my attention that I’ve been maintaining radio silence while working on Palace of Scoundrels, so sorry about that. I’ve been focusing on finishing the damn book so much that I kinda forgot, “Uh, you have a blog? And people might like to know how things are going?”

So yeah, we are now officially into the home stretch, as seen at left. I strongly doubt this will be the final word count — I have at least two major scenes to insert while doing the rewrite, and I’m guessing it’ll top out more around 73K. But that’s still a chunky little piece of high fantasy erotic romance, so for all of you who are looking for fixes to your GOT jones just hang on for another week.

(I am still absolutely boggled that I’m writing high fantasy erotic romance. But damn it, this world is just so much fun.)

kennytbgAlso, while we’re on the topic of GOT, if you’re a fellow fan of that delightfully tall drink of Scottish water Rory McCann (Sandor “The Hound” Clegane), might I suggest that you track down a British comedy TV series called The Book Group on Hulu? It’s from 2002 and stars Anne Dudek, who played House fellow applicant/Wilson’s girlfriend Amber on House, and is the story of a rather neurotic American named Clare who moves to Glasgow and starts a book group to meet people. The other members of the group include three footballers’ wives (one of whom is played by the goddess Michelle Gomez, also known as Missy/The Master on Doctor Who), a rather sweetly clueless guy named Rab who is secretly having an affair with Michelle’s footballer husband, an obnoxious hipster played by James Lance, and McCann’s character Kenny, who is a kindly lifeguard at a local leisure center. Kenny’s also in a wheelchair after what we presume is a climbing accident, and the writers do a great job of not turning him into the Magical Paraplegic or giving him Very Special Episode moments. He’s got a couple of issues, not to mention crap taste in girlfriends, but he’s still one of the better-adjusted people in the group along with Rab, and his low level flirtation with Clare goes everywhere from exasperation to genuine friendship.

Also, it’s really nice to hear McCann using his own accent–he’s got this amazing young Sean Connery thing going on. Pity he was depilating his chest at the time, but one can’t have everything, I suppose.