Thursday, August 22nd, 2013
Our office does a quarterly(ish) junk swap, where staffers can bring things they’d like to get rid of – be it books, clothes, gadgets, etc. The basic rule is bring stuff that is still usable, take stuff if you want, even if you didn’t bring stuff. At the end of the day, anything not claimed by someone else gets packed up and donated to our local Goodwill.
Slowly, I’ve been going through some of the final tote bins, books and piles o’clothes at home and bringing them in for the various swaps. It’s been a not-so-easy task, thanks to the fibromyalgia, but last night, I got motivated (I think it was the caffeine) and I loaded up a grocery roller cart* full to the brim with books, clothes and bags. Lots and lots of bags.
Some of the bags came from conferences. Some were purses or backpacks I’d bought over the years. I’d been leery of opening the tote bin o’bags, simply because I knew it would be tough for me to part with some of them. The nostalgia! The utter usefulness of some of them!
I was ruthless.
In went the awesome bag from Left Coast Crime in Monterey, CA more than a decade ago. In went the nifty blue bag from Lone Star Con. In went the black leather backpack/purse that I hadn’t actually seen in at least a dozen years.
After a couple of hours and a Tramadol, I was done. The rolling cart was full.
This morning, I rolled it down the hall, into the elevator and out through the lobby, somehow managing to get through the building’s foyer without help. Unpacked the cart into the back of Phil-the-car, then repacked it when I arrived at work.
The swap starts this afternoon at 3 p.m. – Normally, I’d be a little anxious…do I really want to donate X item? Maybe I’ll keep it for a little bit longer.
Not today, though. I’m relieved–happy that more stuff is going to find good homes and perhaps even delight someone else.
Is my changed attitude because I’m getting older/wiser? Is it just the semi-annual burst of “OMG, I need to declutter?”
I don’t know.
All I can say is that I’m taking advantage of that urge and going forward.
Years ago, I could fit everything I owned into one small truck. I don’t know that I’ll get back to that point again, nor would I want to, but hanging on to stuff just because I can is silly and makes no sense.
Maybe I am growing up…just shy of my 55th birthday.
* the cart stands about 3.5 feet tall at the handle and is nearly 2 feet wide.
Wednesday, November 23rd, 2011
We do this every year: the obligatory Thanksgiving Day gratitude post. It’s a thing, like taking out the winter clothing in October or rotating your car tires. A habit, expected of most bloggers.
Only, it’s not a burden. Not a chore. It’s something I look forward to because for this day, this post, I can consolidate and coalesce all my positive energy and toss it out to the world.
Today and every day I am thankful for:
- My awesome, amazing, wonderful family (blood & chosen): parents, sis, stepbro, BIL, sort-of-SIL, niece, uncles, aunts, cousins, sisters and cousins -of-the-heart. You know who you are. You all are my sanity and my strength.
- My friends & fans: Without you, my life would be totally different and far less shiny. I love it when you send me emails (and some of you guys have even sent paper letters!). Knowing that you are out there and enjoying what I produce makes my heart sing.
- The Intarwebs/modern technology: I’ve been playing online since the early days of dial up BBSs and making connections with people ever since. I’m humbled and awed to know folks on all but 1 continent, some of you, I’ve even met in meatspace. I’m of the opinion that if more people spend time with folks from other cultures, other countries, we’d have a whole lot less strife in the world.
- Modern medicine & doctors: A special shout out to my eye doc, the brilliant Dr. Nicole Teser of the Eye Center in Alexandria. If it weren’t for her, I’d not have discovered I have a (very treatable) autoimmune disease. I am so grateful that medicine exists and that it works.
- My awesome workplace: I’ve been there 11 years now – longer than anywhere else. It’s another kind of family; a tight-knit group of really great co-workers and a boss who supports my writing. I’m truly blessed.
- Being in my 50s: It’s funny, I always wanted to be older, to be seen as wise, mature, whatever? I don’t know, exactly. But now that I’m in my fifties, I realize that this is where I wanted to be. Old enough to be more zen about life, and young enough to enjoy it. Sure, physically I can’t do as much, but I feel more settled, more me, if that makes sense. I can still be a little funky & fun, still embrace new things, but no longer feel the pressure to prove anything. This is truly a golden time.
My list could go on and on, as there are so very many things in my life I could enumerate. Let’s just say that I’m glad I am here. I’m glad you are all here and that however brief or fleeting, that getting to make contact with you all out there warms the cockles of my heart.
Happy Turkey Day to all my US peeps!! May the food be fabulous, the company sublime.
Friday, November 18th, 2011
Uhm, yeah, so hi, all. What a rather fraught week this has been.
Little did I know that the tire blowout on the 3rd would turn into major repairs for my wee Smart! Turns out that due to a bizarre confluence of events, when the tire blew, the car jerked sideways (I must’ve hit the left curb due to the blowout?) – which caused a small part in the rear axle to bend a little, and threw the car out of alignment.
Long story short: Simply Red is still at the mechanics because the entire axle has to be replaced (can’t just replace the 1 part, because it’s a unit). Sigh. No car now for nearly a week (the 2nd time around…the 1st was when the idjits at the tire store couldn’t find a tire to replace the blown one).
Yesterday, I talked to my car insurance company and hallelujah!–it looks like they will cover at least part of the cost (est. $1700) plus I get a rental car.
It all sounds so simple and handleable when typed into neat paragraphs, but the situation kept unfolding in a series of phone calls and visits to the mechanic over a period of 2 weeks as they discovered in spurts what was really wrong…and then the price tag kept getting bigger and bigger and I got more and more frustrated and depressed. That, plus a nasty reaction to my current meds earlier in the week and I was so not a happy camper.
But the tides have turned and lo! I am once again hanging in there.
In other news:
- Matters of the Blood audio recording is DONE. It’s just now waiting for the official seal of approval by Wildside after review. Then it will be available on Audible.com for purchase.
- I’m still taking comments, feedback on my questions from last week re: Kickstarter & other projects. Would really love to get y’all’s opinion!
- Next week is Thanksgiving in the US. Normally, I’d go visit a friend or family. This year, I’m totally hanging out at home, cooking myself a turkey breast (yum!) and indulging in a little staycation. I’m sooo looking forward to it!
- I’ve begun recording Blood Bargain and hope to make a lot of progress over the weekend. My goal is to get at least one more audiobook done and up for sale by the end of the year.
- I finished reading The Hunger Games. Okay, wow. So now I know what the fuss is all about. I’m totally looking forward to the movie.
What’s been happening in your world? What new/old books have you discovered or re-discovered? What are you doing for the holidays? Enquiring minds want to know!
Thursday, November 10th, 2011
A lot of things have been going on in my world over the past week or so.
* My current project:
** As of this moment (Thursday, Nov 10, 2011) I am nearly done with the audiobook recording for Matters of the Blood.
** 22 of 23 chapters are recorded
** I need to re-record chapter 8
** 7 chapters + opening & closing credits are recorded, QA’d and converted to MP3
** 5 minute sample converted to MP3 for uploading
** I need to QA (e.g., listen to) and then convert the remaining recorded chapters (9-23)
Goal: to finish the last bits and get all the files uploaded to ACX (Audible) by the end of the weekend.
* It’s been a GORGEOUS weather week here in Alexandria. Temps in the low 60s, sunny and just lovely. My lunch buddy Janna and I went to Cheesetique yesterday for lunch. They’ve debuted a new menu that not only added some yummy selections, but also include my old favorites. I ordered their Madrid Melt sandwich, one of their grilled cheese variations: Manchego, Jamón Serrano and membrillo on pain levain accompanied by mixed green salad. UTTER perfection!
Afterward, I splurged on a bottle of wine as a gift for my buddy Sherrie, who’s throwing a little soiree on Saturday. I chose a Spanish Red, Vivir Vivir. Sounded interesting. I also had to pick up some artisanal chocolates. The Fleurir “The Great Plains Bar” was simply out of this world. Salted breadcrumb in a dark chocolate blend. The other bar I picked up but have yet to try is the Poco Dolce Five Spice Bar. I love discovering nifty new tastes and Cheesetique is a great local store/restaurant.
* On the writing front, it’s been rather slow. My main concentration right now is the audiobooks. It’s rather time intensive. For each recorded hour of audio, I put in about 2-3 hours total. So for 1 novel (approx. 11 – 13 hours)… well, do the math. My M.O. is to record for 4-5 hours in the morning (Fri/Sat), then rest my voice. Since I’m in charge of the whole production: including quality control and final electronic files, it’s not like I can just sit & read into the mic and record then turn it all over to someone else. As I said, I’ve only done the one so far, but it seems to work out for me best to do it this way. One thing I have learned: I’m a HUGE control freak concerning the sound of the narrative. I know EXACTLY how it’s supposed to sound in my head. Heck, of course I do, I wrote it. I think it would’ve been VERY difficult to have decided to go with someone else as a narrator. Again, this is totally my own quirk and YMMV.
I do have about 8 short stories in various stages of completion plus one that is teasing itself into substantiality in the back of my brain–aka, I have the idea, the character, but not a specific plot. I figure that as soon as I finish all 5 audiobook recordings, I’ll get back to the stories.
If you’ve never heard of it, you should go check it out. It’s a fabulous crowdsourcing site for creatives. From film to novels to pretty much anything that can be considered a creative/artsy endeavour, you can find it here. I’ve personally funded six campaigns, and am ecstatic that I could be a contributor to two campaigns run by fellow UF authors, C.E. Murphy and Laura Anne Gilman.
In fact, they’ve been so successful, I’m considering running a small campaign myself. What do you guys think? I’ve got a couple of thoughts:
* a follow up novella to the Blood Lines series continuing the story after Blood Sacrifice
* a middle grade novel, probably UF/adventure/mystery starring a young protagonist who happens to have 2 moms (this grew from a comment a co-worker made to me that her 8 year old son, who loves to read, can’t find books that mirror his family (2 moms). The focus will NOT be on the fact that there are 2 moms, that will just be a part of the kid’s family. I’m planning it to be a good, fun read for that 9-12 age range or so. This is still a bit amorphous, as I’m way behind on current middle grade fiction. But I really do want to do this.
* EPublishing/What’s Next in Lima Land
A lot of Intarwebz kerfluffles about direct/self e-publishing vs. whatever else. I’m of the opinion that a person must find the right path for herself, and maximize potential. That said, I do have plans to e-pub a few things, none of which are suitable for commercial/legacy/NYC publishing houses.
Ideas so far:
* a collection of blog posts/essays by moi – probably at a fairly low price point
* some short stories (perhaps some of those 8 mentioned above)
* other ideas that are still too vague to describe
* Your feedback is important
I could do none of this without you all–my fans and friends and family.
Would you guys be interested in any of the above? Kickstarter? Epubbed books? Do you think that they would be successful enough (translated to mean: I get enough payment to offset my time/effort costs plus make some income)?
If I did do a Kickstarter campaign, what would you be most interested in funding? A novella in the Blood Lines universe? Short stories about the various characters? Something else entirely?
I’d love to hear your thoughts!
Thursday, November 3rd, 2011
Sometimes, even shouting from the rooftops (or the 2011 equivalent: Facebook) doesn’t seem enough. Mainly, because I’m still pinching myself to make sure it’s real!
I found out Monday evening that I’d been nominated for a very prestigious award. Namely, Blood Sacrifice (and specifically Keira Kelly) is on the short list for the 2011 Best Urban Fantasy Protagonist award from RT Book Reviews.
For those of you unfamiliar with RT, they are a fabulous magazine who also throw a massive annual convention for book lovers. Their Reviewer’s Choice Awards are given each year in spring to leaders in several genres.
I am in fabulous company for my nomination category and am happy for us all. For the full list of nominees, check out the RT site November 14,2011.
Wednesday, October 26th, 2011
So, I’m back. It was 8 days of fun, frolic, food and fabulosity…with a side of OMG, exhaustion plus a dollop of whee!
If you’ve never been to New York City, the first word that comes to mind is “overwhelming”. People, buildings, lights, traffic, noise. It’s both awesome and inspiring. I’d been several times, but never for any extended period.
My goal for this trip was (as usual) multi-faceted:
Accomplished: all of the above.
Things I discovered about the city:
- It is not friendly to folks with mobility issues. Many of the shops, restaurants & other buildings had steps or full on stairs.
- There are cabs EVERYwhere–which is a good thing, because evidently, you can’t phone for a cab! Who knew?
- New Yorkers are as friendly as pretty much anybody anywhere. Most of the service & retail workers were downright awesome!
- OTOH, cab rides are just as wild & crazy as you think they might be. Traffic is INSANE!
- Great food is to be found everywhere.
Things I discovered about myself:
- I enjoy the heck out of NYC.
- I could so not live there.
- I LOVE Broadway shows (something I knew once upon a time, but my energy got renewed).
- I seem to prefer 3D art/artifacts than 2d (paintings). I spent more time in the Egyptian exhibit halls at the Met than anywhere else. Awesome antiquities, statuary, everyday life objects, etc.
- I need 1 day of rest during a full on 8 day vacation.
- I still really, really, really HATE crowds.
One of the most wonderful events was a surprise visit from Susan Griffith (co-author of the most excellent Vampire Empire series). Susan has been an online buddy for several years, but hasn’t ever been able to make our group gatherings. She & the rest of the gang kept the secret, so when Susan walked in on Saturday, I was gobsmacked & so very excited. She’s an awesome, lovely person and we had such fun author-bonding.
All in all, a wonderful, awesome, successful trip and as always, I am glad I went and am glad I’m home and back into my routine.
The Photo Gallery
Thursday, October 13th, 2011
Normally, the day before a vacation trip, I cheerfully hum the old “All my bags are packed, I’m ready to go” line from Leaving on a Jet Plane. I’m a Virgo. I tend to pre-pack and prepare DAYS ahead of time.
Only today, not so much.
I do have a packing list.
I do have stuff pulled out to pack.
But for some reason or another, I’ve not packed a single item. The red and black suitcase is sitting by its lonely self in the middle of the living area of my studio apartment, empty as cicada’s husk. There’s a pile of clothes on the seat of my exercise bike, a pair of shoes on the floor next to it, nestled amongst several balled up pairs of socks.
Last night, I had every intention of packing as soon as I finished eating my yummy Thai noodle salad from Trader Joe’s. Except, it totally didn’t happen. I sat in my comfy recliner, ate my noodles and before I knew it, I was snoozing. ::facepalm::
So, instead of dropping Kit off to board this evening after work, I scrambled this morning and hauled him over to the vet and hauled myself into the workplace, trying to avoid getting drenched in the downpour.
Tonight, when I get home, I will avoid sitting down for dinner until packing round #1 is done. Then, after dinner, I’ll double check the list and make sure I’ve got all the various electronic cables/power cords/etc. that I will need for an 8 day vacation in the Big Apple.
Tomorrow, the taxi comes at eleven and I’m boarding the 1:00 train to Metropark/Iselin, where my buddy Dina will pick me up for leg one of the trip.
On Sunday, Dina & I will drive into “The City” to meet up in the early a.m. with my sis & BIL for a day at New York Comic Con. That afternoon, the sister, BIL and I check into our rental apartment (one block from Times Square!) for the balance of the week.
There will be food, fun and on Wednesday, 3rd row seats to the matinee of How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying!
At some point, we’re visiting the Metropolitan Museum of Art – mostly because both my sister and I were enamoured of the wonderful E.L. Konigsburg book, From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankenweiler.
Then 2 more days of food & fun and on Saturday, we return to our respective homes.
I’m looking forward to the adventure.
Thursday, October 6th, 2011
I posted a couple of weeks ago about my scheduled bronchoscopy. Today, I got the diagnosis: I definitely have sarcoidosis.
It’s an autoimmune disease that causes inflammation within the body. I credit my fabulous eye doctor, Dr. Nicole Teser over at the Eye Center for suspecting something more systemic than just an eye inflammation and for not giving up after my former primary care doc never followed up with me post some blood tests that indicated that this might be the case.
A lot of you know that over the past several years, I’ve been experiencing a definite lack of energy, fatigue, a lot of sinus issues, problems breathing. Well, guess what, common symptoms include:
- fatigue unchanged by sleep
- lack of energy
- aches and pains
- dry eyes
- shortness of breath
- a dry hacking cough
All of which I’ve had, in one form or another, for quite some time.
The great news is that sarcoidosis is utterly treatable. Doc’s started me on low dose inhaled steroid and I go back in 4 weeks to check in to see how that’s working.
Thanks again for all of your good wishes online and off. I feel so relieved to know what’s wrong. I can’t wait to start feeling better!
Monday, October 3rd, 2011
I confess. I hate, hate, hate summer. All that sun, surf, heat–it’s enough to drive me indoors for good. Not for me the swimming, boating, outdoorsy activities that have hordes of the rest of you pining for Memorial Day weekend.
Kind of weird considering I was born on an island. Would I have been more of a beach bunny had we remained there? Maybe. Maybe not.
All I know is that my own particular chemical makeup yearns for cool weather, the crunch of fallen leaves, the evocative scent of wood smoke from a fireplace. I pine for the sharp autumn air, the gorgeous promise of sweater weather, honeycrisp apples and hot tea (though I will admit to a fondness for summer fruits).
How did an island-born, Florida & Texas raised gal get to be a lover of autumn?
I will lay a huge portion of the credit down to reading Trixie Belden as an impressionable 10-year-old. Trixie was so awesome! Thirteen and going on adventures in the wilds of White Plains, NY. They rode horses and had this thing called “Indian Summer” (a term which I promptly looked up, but confused the heck out of me). I fell in love with this world (even more so than Nancy Drew, who, at her advanced age of 18 seemed so out of reach).
I wanted to be a Bob-White and have adventures, too. I wanted to go to White Plains (so exotic!), learn to ride English style, and eventually, I wanted to live at Crabapple Farm, have brothers and a best friend like Honey Wheeler.
Eventually, I learned to ride a horse (Western, not English). I visited my late father’s ranch (in Mexico) and never have made it to White Plains…though I’ve been several places in New York state.
Instead of living Trixie’s adventures, I write my own–and set them in the Texas Hill Country, which, in retrospect, became my version of Trixie’s world–a small town, semi-isolated from the hustle & bustle of the “real” world, populated by a close-knit group of friends and family. Yup. I got the pattern, and I owe it to Trixie and her friends.
Readers, what book(s) or stories influenced you someway in real life?
Thursday, September 22nd, 2011
So tomorrow (Friday) morning at 11, I’m scheduled for a bronchoscopy. Thanks to weirdness in my lungs and the fact that they basically work like crap (results of pulmonary function test), I get to experience a camera being shoved down my throat and into my lungs plus bonus!biopsy.
No, the I most likely do not have lung cancer. The educated guesses from both my rheumatologist & lung specialist is sarcoidosis–which answers a lot of the annoying things I’ve had wrong for several years, including iritis, sinusitis, trouble breathing and a host of fun effects. /sarcasm. (Trust me to get some weird ass disease!)
I’ve never had a chronic illness and this freaks me out a bit. I’ve already had to curtail some activity because of decreased lung function. Turns out, I wasn’t breathless and wheezing from overdoing or just being fat–my lungs really, really don’t work properly because there’s a blockage. Lung doc put me on an albuterol inhaler for a couple of weeks as during the pulmonary function test, I was given albuterol (I felt like someone in a medical TV show, sitting there with the little breathing apparatus!) and after the meds, my lungs opened up. Go figure.
So tomorrow, in order to rule out cancer and other stuff and to confirm the initial suspicion, I go to the Virginia Hospital Center, get dosed with Rohypnol (or whatever drug they are currently using for the so-called “twilight anesthesia“…I just hope there are no sparkly vampires!) and a doctor will shove a camera into my lungs, look around, and take a snippet of tissue.
I am just glad I have really good health insurance.
Wednesday, September 21st, 2011
Life continues chez Lima. Busy at the workplace.
I’m excited about the fall season. Glee was most fun last night. I’m looking forward to a bunch of season premieres, including Grey’s Anatomy, The Good Wife and Amazing Race 19.
Blood Sacrifice got a lovely review from Amberkatze. Amber’s been great, promoting the books and also helping me with the Welsh in my books. She’s totally awesome.
One thing I love about the Intarwebz is the ability to connect with, correspond with and befriend folks from all over the world. Over the years, I’ve made friends from as far away as Australia & New Zealand, from all over the US, Canada and the UK, and even from exotic places like Nepal. I’ve reconnected with family, with friends from high school and college and former coworkers.
Physically (in meat space), I tend to be a hermit (on purpose). In cyberspace, I can enjoy all these lovely friendships. And yes, it’s great to meet folks in RL, too. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting quite a few of my far-away friends/fans at cons. But cons cost money & time, and the internet is free (okay, well, I pay a connection fee which is worth every penny).
Readers, where are you from/where do you live? If you could choose a place to live, where would that be (money no object).
My dream place would be Vancouver, BC. I fell in love with the city three years ago during my birthday trip. Sadly, I don’t have Canadian residency (though that could be gotten) nor the funds (Vancouver is expensive!). But, I dream on. You never know, it could happen!