Friday, March 25, 2011

The Good, The Sad, and The Kind of Disgusting

First, The Good:

When FARM FRESH MURDER published last year, I had no idea what I was doing. Of course, my friends and family knew about the book, but that was about it. In fact, when my agent sent me some of the ARCs she’d received with a note that said something like: You can probably use these, I thought - I can? How?

Once the book was released, I didn’t know what to expect. Nothing, it seems, is what you expect, though, so I tried to just go with the flow and learn how to be prepared the next time around. I’m not sure I did anything much better when FRUIT OF ALL EVIL published, but I know I had a little wider audience to talk to - and that’s because of one of those unexpected things. When FFM began to be read, I began to receive emails, and Facebook messages, and Facebook posts . . . I did get one particularly hateful email, but I’d rather talk about the good ones, the kind ones, the people who “got” my writing and wanted to let me know.

In preparing for the release of FRUIT, I sent out bookmarks and emails, I had a contest, I talked, talked, talked about it all the time. I’ve become friends with some readers (I’m not sure I can express how awesome this part is), so I got in touch with them. I guest-blogged. Anyway, I’m still not sure I know what I’m doing, but maybe I’m getting a little closer to understanding at least part of the process.

I also hope I have thanked everyone for their kindness and support. It’s been so crazy, particularly the first week of the release, that I feel like I might have let a “thank-you” or two slip through the cracks. I hope I haven’t. Thank you, all. Really, truly, thank you.

The Kind of Disgusting:
I’m going under the knife on Monday. I have a ganglion cyst on my left hand/wrist. It’s a pretty common thing. Here’s a picture:

Ick, huh? Internet pictures of these cysts being removed are really quite disgusting.

It’s kind of an elective surgery. They’re benign cysts, so they don’t have to be removed. I’ve been dealing with this one for a couple years, adamantly opposed to the surgery even though it’s about as minor a surgery as you can get. However, the cyst has recently become so large that it is affecting my movement, my work. It’s coming out. I’ll be in a splint for a week, but no big deal. My fingers will be numb the first day, but I should, hopefully, be able to get back to work on Tuesday. It’s an inconvenience. I hear carpal tunnel surgery is a lot worse.

Finally, The Sad

Okay, I haven’t talked about this at all. In fact, I haven’t even shared it with most of my family because it’s just so heartbreaking. I find it difficult to even write about. But I could use some good thoughts, though, so . . .

As the universe sometimes does, bad can come with the good. March 1 - FRUIT’s release day as well as the day I received some horrible news. My little dog and writing companion is sick, really sick. The prognosis is not good. We’re attempting some treatment, but we won’t put her through anything that makes her miserable. I do believe in the power of positive thought. Please, if you could, send some positive healing thoughts her direction. Her name is Gizmo. Miracles happen all the time. I’m hoping this is one of those times. Thank you.

Okay, let's not end on such a sad note.

Recently, people have been asking me for book recommendations. I read many, many books. I'm not a speed reader but sometimes I can fit in five books a week. Other times, though, only one or two. Rarely, does a week pass when I don't read at least one, but it happens. I know some of you read much more than I do - I'm blown away by some of the reading lists I've recently seen. I thought I'd post books I've recently enjoyed as part of my Friday updates. Let me know if you've read anything similar, and have your own recommendations.

NEVER TELL A LIE by Hallie Ephron. This was a fast-paced thriller/mystery. Ms. Ephron's writing style is clean and I found it compelling. I'd just finished a pretty "heavy" (lots of big words) book when I started this one. It was good timing.

SNEAKS by B. Button. This was my "buy an ebook week" ebook. It was $2.99 on Amazon. I think has it too. This is a young adult time-travel romance. It wasn't as dark as some YAs I've recently read. There's a little dystopia going on but not much -I like dystopia, don't get me wrong, but it was a nice break from all that. Diana Gabaldon hooked me on all things Scotland. This is much different than Gabaldon, but I'm pleased I read it.

I'm in the middle of one I'm loving. I'll post about it next week if it ends as well as it has begun.

On that note, may your week have more good stuff than bad stuff.


Friday, March 18, 2011

Friday Check-In - Contest Reminder

Happy Friday, everyone!

I don't know about you, but this has been a crazy week for the three of us at my house. Not only did Daylight Savings hit last weekend, but my (Number One) son's schedule changed and he now has to be at school an hour earlier. So, basically, we had to adjust for two hours. We're still adjusting, and I'm going to do my best not to sleep in too much over the weekend so my sleep cycle can get into the right gear. We'll see how that goes.

On Tuesday, my computer got "virused." Honestly, there's a special place in he** for people who create and disseminate those things. Fortunately, I'm married to someone who knows computers (read: kind of geeky), so he got rid of it, but how frustrating!

The fabulous Kourtney Heintz, who writes one of my favorite blogs, is conducting a contest for a signed copy of FRUIT OF ALL EVIL. Here are the contest details: Kourtney's Blog.

I first "met" Kourtney when she wrote a very kind review of my first book, FARM FRESH MURDER. I got really lucky and that book hit the NY Times Extended Bestseller list at number 35. The list only goes to 35, so that number has become pretty inked into my brain. I thank Kourtney and all my readers for the amazing experience.

Right around the holidays, I sent her an ARC of FRUIT OF ALL EVIL for review. She's been so wonderful and I've realized the best part of writing is "meeting" readers. I would have to say that Kourtney and I have become friends and I really look forward to someday meeting her in person.

I'm so thrilled that spring is right around the corner. I truly can't wait for my local farmers' market to open. I'm craving fresh fruits and vegetables. For some crazy reason, I'm also thinking about lavender. Hmm, I wonder why.

You need to comment on Kourtney's blog with the answers to four questions. She sends you to this blog for the answers. You can find the answers if you search through my previous posts - or, look closely at this post. All the answers are right here.


Friday, March 11, 2011

Ship Ahoy!

My husband and I have been married for twenty years, and other than our honeymoon, we have never taken a trip without our now sixteen-year-old son. Recently, we were given the opportunity to go on a cruise to Cabo San Lucas, sans son. Honestly, it was difficult to make the decision to go, but ultimately we decided that our son would be fine - he can drive, he's got a pretty good grasp on feeding himself, if he really, really needed to do laundry, he's got that down okay too. Plus, his aunt was available to be in charge. When she said to him "Don't do anything stupid on my watch" we were pretty confident all would be well on the home front.

We had no way to predict the trouble we'd encounter on the other end, though.

It started out great; got to the airport, got checked in, flight to San Diego was on time. And then everything fell apart. Suddenly, there were issues with the plane and the flight was going to be delayed two hours. There would be no way to make it on the ship.

The airline worked to put us and another couple also cruise-bound on some other flights. It would be tight, but we might - might - make the ship. We were sent to Oakland first, only to catch a flight to San Diego from there. In Oakland, we called the cruise line and told them that we'd get into the San Diego airport about six minutes before the ship was supposed to launch. They told us to hurry, but they couldn't hold the ship for us. The good news was that the airport is a very short drive to the port.

In San Diego, the other woman and I left our husbands to wait for the luggage. Our reasoning was that if we were at the ship, maybe they'd wait a few extra minutes for the guys.

We were greeted at the security gate by very friendly but very rushed people in Julie McCoy uniforms. Keep in mind, the other woman and I were dressed for Utah: long sleeves, long pants, shoes meant more for snow than sand.

The regular way to get on the ship was closed off and they'd left one small gangway down for us. They told us to get on the ship. We said we couldn't go without our husbands. They wanted to know how far away the husbands were. We lied and said they were in a cab on the way over from the airport. I then called Charlie (my husband) and told him to hurry. He informed me that our luggage hadn't made it on the plane, but he and the other guy would hop in a cab and try to make it.

This is what happened in the next three minutes or so:
Me to ship people: They're almost here.
Ship: What do they see? How close are they?
Me into cell phone: What do you see?
Charlie: We're just getting into the cab. I see the airport.
Me to ship people: They see the ocean and a big ship.
Ship: We only have a couple more minutes.
Me: They'll be here.
Me into phone: Tell the cab driver to hurry.
This is what I hear: Step on it, buddy. There's something extra in it if you run red lights. (disclaimer: this is not responsible behavior, we do know that)
Ship people: We really have to go.
Me: Just one more minute.
Ship: No, I'm sorry, we really have to go. (they walk away at this point)
Me into phone: Sh**. They're leaving.
Charlie: We're really almost there now.
Me: Just get here. We'll figure out how to get home.
Ship people return and say: Okay, one more minute.
Me into phone: GET HERE NOW!
Charlie: We're here.
Me: Run through security.
This is what I hear: Cab driver: Hey, you gotta pay me! Charlie: I put the money on your front seat. Cab driver (after a torturous pause): Ah, good. Have fun!

The other woman and I see our husbands running through security. The ship people escort us onto the gangway as the ship is pulling away. We kind of had to leap over a little bit of water to get aboard.

We had no luggage, but we felt victorious!

The ship people gave us a couple t-shirts, some toothbrushes and shampoo. We bought flip-flops and hair conditioner in the gift store. When we got to Cabo, we took a cab to Walmart (yes, there's a Walmart in Cabo) and got some underwear. Charlie bought some shorts and I got a sundress from a street vendor.

Believe it or not, we had a great time. The time on the ship was fun, but it was the time in Cabo that was kind of amazing. Fortunately, we'd carried our cameras with us and were able to take pictures from our whale watching trip.

In the middle of a bunch of dolphins

Diving whale

I probably would have preferred having our luggage, but I'm so glad we didn't let that stop us from going. Besides, I bet I never would have bought that tie-died sundress with "Cabo" embroidered across the front if I'd had all my shorts and t-shirts. It's now hanging in my closet, and even if I never wear it again, it'll bring back some happy memories.