Thursday, April 30, 2009

Free E-Book About Blogging

Available at Scribbit. Click here for the free download. I'm so excited. Michelle rules.

A round of tag

I found this at the Morgan Diaries. A blog of a fellow Alaskan writer. You're supposed to go answer these on your own blog, then go back to where you got it, and leave a comment letting them know you played. Whatever. I just like interviewing myself.

1. What are your current obsessions? My butt. It's huge at the moment. Owls, too. And zombies, still. I'm also pretty obssessed with P. He's cute. I like that he lives in the same house as me.

2. Which item from your wardrobe do you wear most often? This tummy-sucking-in garment duo. I never leave for the day without them. Sucks. But so does having a "I-just-had-a-baby-body." I also wear a Miraculous Medal every day.

3. What's for dinner? Pork chops. Is that ridiculous considering the swine flu drama playing out?

4. Last thing you bought? An organizer for my fabric remnants. I have a million of them.

5. What are you listening to? The shuffle of paper and the tapping of keyboards. I work in a cubicle.

6. What are you watching now or the latest movie you watched? The new BBC version of "Persuasion." Loved it.

7. Favourite holiday spots? Home at the moment. Couch vacations are amazing when you are sleep deprived.

8. Reading right now? I have a stack. Some Lynsay Sands, the new Elizabeth Boyle. I ordered a crafty/creative family book from Amanda Soule, too.

9. What will you be reading next? Elizabeth Boyle, most likely. C.E. Murphy if I can grab it at BN on my lunch break.

10. Four words to describe yourself. Random, Expressive, Chaotic, Quirky

11. Guilty pleasure? French bread. When it's warm, even the Wal-Mart version will do.

12. Who or what makes you laugh until you’re weak? P and his smart ass comments. Seriously. The man cracks me up.

13. Favourite spring thing to do? Change out the colors in the house. No more oranges/browns/red. Hello yellows and bright blues.

14. Planning to travel to next? East coast this summer, hopefully.

15. Best thing you ate or drank lately? Some incredible dark chocolate a friend brought back from Italy. Num num num.

16. When did you last get tipsy? It's been nearly a year and a half. Can't say that I've missed it...

17. Favourite ever film? Last of the Mohicans. Great flick.

18. Care to share some wisdom? The ol' adage that you can't change can only change your reaction to them. I love that one.

19. Song you can't get out of your head? The Ohio Players funk song "Fire". Love it.

Thursday Roundup: What I’ve been reading this week on the ol’ WWW

“What Your Historical Reading Choice Says About You” a great post over at Seduced by History. I’m not sure I fit into my choice, but whatever. Maybe I just like guys in kilts (never mind the fact that I’ve never really seen one that would fit the description in the books I read…the fellows I see in kilts are usually the middle-aged drunk guys runnin’ around Highland games and Renn faires.)

“Songs for a Zombie Apocolypse” over on S.G. Browne’s Web site. He’s got a new release “Breathers: A Zombie’s Lament” out this month and I’m excited. So EXCITED!
With all this swine flu talk, chances for a zombie apocalypse are high. Anyway, there’s an entire twitter feed that goes on about Zombies on Thursdays. Find it at (#zombietalk). S.G. Browne has “The Man Comes Around” by Johnny Cash and that garners him automatic placement in my “most awesomest people around on the WWW list”. He also chose “Dirty Deeds” by AC/DC.

My thoughts? For battling a Zombie Horde, “Lunatic Fringe” by Red Rider and “We’re Not Gonna Take It” by Twisted Sister are definite must haves.

“Felt Laptop Cozy Tutorial” by Away to Me. I figure I have a better chance of finishing off the damn manuscript if I have my laptop with me. The problem with having my laptop with me is the puke-green nightmare bag that I have to carry it in. It’s heavy, it’s awkward, and with my other bags needed throughout the day, I look like a homeless person by the time I get all my gear together. I want to make one. I’ll probably never have the time, but I can dream. Indeed.

“BookCrossing Donation” by The Literary Octogon. I want to get in on this program. You leave a book with a registration number and when somebody happens upon it and reads it, they log it into the Web site. ‘Cept with my luck, it would get picked up by someone and pawned off for booze money. Not that that’s a bad thing, per se, just not the intended purpose, ya dig?

Anyway, free things are awesome in times like these. Swine Flu’s gonna turn the world into zombies by next year, so you better get in all your leisure reading while you can.

“My First Sale”: an interview with Kerrelynn Sparks over at Dear Author. The bottom line? I like reading about authors who make a sale. I really do. It gives me hope that there’s enough of the pie out there for all of us. Plus, Kerrelynn writes about vampires and she writes about the long road to getting to what you want. Double bonus. She’s neat. You should visit her site.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Real, live author interview: C.E. Murphy

Did you know that I know somebody famous? I totally do.
(That run-in with George Bush during my days as a college newspaper reporter don't count, as I didn't capitalize on my opportunity to punch him in the tummy when I had it.)

C.E. Murphy was Catie when I met her four years ago at an Alaska chapter meeting of the Romance Writers of America. She was days away from both moving to Ireland and releasing her first urban fantasy novel, "Urban Shaman." Now Catie's done growns up on us and published a plethora of amazing titles, but she was nice enough to take time away from her INSANE writing schedule and answer a few questions about process (she's driven, to say the least), pressure (she certainly feels it) and a computer named Nook (you'll meet Nook in a minute.)

Here's a link to her Amazon store. (Yes, she's got her own Amazon store, too.) Here's a link to her home on the Web. Buy her books. Drop her a line when new ones come out (she likes'll see.) Tell her I sent you. :)

Hi, Catie. Can you make like we’re in freshman English and introduce yourself to the class?

*clears throat, puts on big cheesy smile* HI MEGAN. I'm C.E. Murphy, better known in real life as Catie. I'm a writer, which is a useful catch-all phrase for "obsessive compulsive who feels it necessary to not only chronicle the lives of people who live in her head, but who gets upset when she mixes details of these fictional persons up." I write novels for profit, the occasional short story for fun, and comic books as my down time project. I need a hobby.

So, the last time I saw you, you had a couple historicals under your belt and were on the cusp of releasing Urban Shaman on to the world. And you were leaving Alaska. Now look at you! How has your life changed in the last four years? How on earth do you have seven novels out since we last spoke? Do you sleep?

Actually, I have thirteen books out since we last spoke, but who's counting? :) I do sleep. I sleep a lot. I just don't do anything but write and sleep.

Honestly, it's been an extremely tiring few years. It's been worth it, but it's been very tiring. I write fast naturally--even my current slowed-down pace is faster than most people manage, apparently--which is helpful. It's also helpful that I had entire books or huge chunks of books already written when I sold, so I had backlog ready to offer to editors and publishers. But this has been a seriously break-neck pace and I'm very glad to say it's finally about to slow down.

Lady, you’re one busy writer and I admire that. What’s your workday like now that you’re writing full-time, professional-like and all? Are there ever days where you wish you had a newspaper route or weaved baskets for a living instead of living with the pressure to produce, produce, produce? If so, how do you deal with the pressure? If not, can I have whatever you’ve got?

*laughs* Yeah, but I'm no longer qualified to be anything but a writer. I don't think I could even get hired on as a newspaper boy...

I kind of put the pressure on myself. I had a goal when I started, to get a certain amount of shelf space. Well, today (today as I'm typing this, anyway) my eighth C.E. Murphy novel, THE PRETENDER'S CROWN, hit the shelves, and there is now a significant amount of space dedicated to my name when you walk into a bookstore. Since that's what I was after, well, I kind of have to live with the pressure to produce.

My workdays have actually been really ideal lately. I'm writing in the morning (except today, when I'm trying desperately to answer interviews and email and fulfill other promises I've made...), then doing word wars in the afternoon with some other writers. I'm getting about five hours of writing time a day out of that, and the book I'm working on (DEMON HUNTS, book five of the Walker Papers, due out in June 2010!) is going like gangbusters. So this is a perfect scenario, though I have an even more perfect scenario where I'm not late with any projects and can dedicate my mornings to *not* writing, and just do the wars in the afternoons to get my books written. That'd be nice!

Bonus question: How on earth do you still find time to update your blog?

I don't have to *think* about the blog! It's just stream of consciousness blurting at the world. It's like a vacation!

Let’s talk about your characters. In your series, you have Joanne Walker (from the Walker Papers), Margrit Knight (from the Negotiator Trilogy) and Belinda Primrose (from the Inheritor’s Cycle). Where did they come from? Do you feel you’ve got more of an “in” with one of them? Were any of them more difficult to write? Do you have a favorite?

Joanne arrived on an airplane. Margrit joined me in the shower. Belinda...look, I don't know where Belinda came from. She's scary.

Jo really did arrive on an airplane. We were flying into Seattle and flew over a street that had all white lights except one amber one, and my husband said, "Huh. What would you do if you looked out a plane window like this and you saw somebody running for their lives?" And that's the opening chapter of URBAN SHAMAN. Beyond that, at the time I wrote the book, Jim Butcher was writing wizard Harry Dresden and Laurell K. Hamilton was writing vampire hunter Anita Blake, and there wasn’t yet the explosion of urban fantasy we've got now. So I said to myself, okay, we've got wizards and vampire hunters, what isn't being done? Shamans! So that's where Jo came from. She's the easiest to write, because she 'sounds' the most like me (though I think she's funnier than I am, and I *know* she's got a lot more neuroses than I do.)

And I really was in the shower when Margrit came to me. I just had this sudden idea of a black woman lawyer who ran in Central Park at night, and there she was, bam, fully fledged. I had the idea of a gargoyle story at the back of my mind, and the whole thing just kind of fit together. Margrit is actually maybe the most like me, not in voice, but in personality: she's really, really driven, very focused, and once she's committed to something she wants to get it done fast and done right. That did not, however, make her easy to write...

I really *don't* know where Belinda came from, except I've been an Elizabethan era history buff since I was a kid and that's always an interesting question: what of Elizabeth I had a secret child? And what if that world had magic? So Belinda grew out of that, out of the idea of secrets and magic, I guess. You know, in a way she's actually the easiest to write, because she's *so* clear-cut. She has no moral quandries. Uncertainties are to be discarded because they're useless to her. I always know what choices Belinda's going to make, whereas Jo surprises me all the time.

You’ve got two major releases on the horizon: Pretender’s Crown (Inheritor’s Cycle’s second book) and Walking Dead (Walker Paper’s fourth). What’s life like for you around a release? Do you travel much for signings? Is it hard to balance the excitement of new releases with the demands to keep writing and keep the series alive?

Bahaha. I am not nearly cool enough to go traveling around for signings and things. I do a few, but mostly it's "go into a bookstore if I'm in town and see if they've got my books and offer to sign them if they do".

Release day is sort of surreal, particularly living in Ireland, where my books are not often stocked. I can't go rushing off to a bookstore and dance around squealing, so that part of the whole process usually happens for me when I get my box of author copies. That's often a month before the book hits the shelves, so by the actual release day I'm like, "Great! What about the next one?"

But I do love, love, love people emailing and saying, "The book has shipped!" or "I saw it in the store!" That's my vicarious squee. :)

How do you stay motivated? What is this word wars you mention in your blog?

I personally find needing a paycheck to be very motivating. I mean, I did this before I got paid and I'd still be doing it if I wasn't getting paid, but still, knowing I don't get paid until the book is in sure does get the auld butt into the auld chair.

People tell me *all the time* that I'm insanely disciplined. I guess I must be, but I tend to think I'm pretty flaky and that if I really applied some discipline then, well, *then* I could get a lot done. There's a great quote about that which I'm currently too lazy to look up the source for, but it's something very like, 'Others judge us by what we have done; we judge ourselves by what we feel we can do.'

Word wars are the r0Xx0r. Basically what they are is a bunch of writers getting together in a chat room, yelling, "GO!" and minimizing the chat room for half an hour while they work as hard and fast as they can on their personal projects. At the end of half an hour, everybody comes back, reports their wordcount, and then after a short break you do it all again. "Winning" doesn't matter; the whole point is just to get words on the page. The winner does get bragging rights, of course, but it's really just a way to share the misery and break up some of the solitude of being a writer. I *love* them. If you want to potentially join the word wars I run daily, you can always get the URL from my writing community, toonowrimo.

How did your experience with hooking Nook (your writing computer) up with Internet pan out? Nook is famous. Your lack of Internet attached to your writing computer was such a great idea when I first heard about it back in 2005, that I decided to do that with my laptop—no Internet, just writing on it. Now I don’t ever use my laptop. Ha!

Oh! You know, it's working brilliantly, because Nook is ten years old and can't handle the internet worth beans. :) I can only have one web browser window open at a time or the computer crashes, and the browser it can run is so old that it mis-loads most of the modern pages on the net, so all I do with it at all is open it up for the word wars. It's brilliant. Not a distraction at all. It's perfect!

And finally, what are you working on currently? What’s got you excited for the future when it comes to your writing?

Right now I'm working on DEMON HUNTS, book five of the Walker Papers. Next up is WAYFINDER, sequel to next year's TRUTHSEEKER, which are a pair of books about a woman who always knows if she's being told the truth. Those are fun little books to write. :)

Aaah, as for the future, what I'm really looking forward to is writing no more than two contracted books a year (I've been doing about 3.5 for the past several years) and maybe taking some time to work on pet projects like my young adult fantasy novel. I'm hoping I'll get to write more Inheritors' Cycle books, and of course there are more Walker Papers in my future. It's all good!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Thank You For Being a Friend

I'm bummed. First Estelle Getty, and now Bea Arthur.

People laugh at my love for Golden Girls, but it's real. The theme song makes me happy. Sophia's wooden-handled purses make me happy. Dorothy biting her knuckles makes me happy. Stan's toupes make me happy.
The fact that they are aging and passing away makes me sad.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Sundays are Fun Days

I always struggle to go, go, go and get as much done as I can. But some days...really, really rare days...I try to slow down the ambitions and projects and worries and take a look around. And those days, I tend to find perfection.

This is Boy Wonder. He's wearing his green gator boots and stomping around in a melted snow puddle. We went for a walk with my mom in celebration of 48 degree weather and SUNSHINE!

Lil' man. With his warmy hat ready to go around the block. Huzzah!

This is the welcome mat outside my door.
Those are Boy Wonder's piggies. All ten of them and a really, dirty sock.

I am here. It's kinda pretty as the snow melts and sun comes out.

Fake flowers and a mini birdhouse on my faux patio.

Life is good, life is good.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

April 14, 2009: AKA...the day I became my mother

A story for Ramona:

Picture it...Eagle River,'s 2009...A young peasant girl...

Ok, ok, ok. I'm not Sophia Patrillo. This is not the Golden Girls. But I have a story for you. It's about a girl named Megan. A fat kid in the street. And Boy Wonder's absolute embarrasment.

Me and BW were leaving the library last night and I got pulled over. (Don't you dare judge me.) Something about my front windows being too darkly tinted for Alaska regulations...blah blah blah. I get a warning. I'm pulled off into a neighborhood that I'm sure has a short cut back to my house somehow, if we could only find it.

BW is riding shotgun. Every thirty seconds I get a "Are you sure you know where you're going?" or "I'm hungry. Can we go home? I want to eat my snacks."

Rollin' down a side street, I'm approaching an intersection. And a fat little bastard kid about 11 or 12 on a goofy looking bicycle. (Ok. I admit it. I was jealous of his bike. See: left. I had a damned banana seat nightmare with freakin' lime green streamers when I was 12. Lame!)

Anyway, I'm rollin' up on them, being the responsible mom-ish person and going slow. Slow. Kid moves about an inch out of the road. Maybe an inch more. Clearly doesn't think he or his buddies need to vacate the road. Clearly staring me down. Daring me to go around. WTF? I'm in a pick-up truck, player. I'd totally win this game of chicken. But noooo he's determined to show his friends he made an adult go around.

I think I got to within two millimeters of said fat ass and his aptly named "fatboy" bike before he finally moved. Very slowly. And not completely out of the way. I rolled on past and when I glanced in the rearview, he was yelling something and flipping me off!

Oh. Hell. No.

Boy Wonder sees this. He goes "Oooooohhhh, that' boy is a bad boy." I nearly hit a fire hydrant in my Dukes of Hazzard-like driving to turn around and get me a piece of that action. As I speed back to the spot, fatty bum-bum panics and starts to make a break, but his friends are clowning so he stays. I throw the park in truck and hop out.

"What was that?" I ask, walking straight at him.

He shrugs, seconds from pissing his pants. Baaaaha!

"You have something to say to me?"

A slight shaking of his head. He wont' even look at me.

"You want to keep that finger, player, I suggest you be careful who you throw it at. You hear me?"


"I said, did you hear me?"

He nods. Hahahahaha. Clearly defeated. Clearly not as big and bad in his friends eyes anymore.

"That's what I thought, you little punk."

Triumph. I drive away. Then it hits me.

O. M. G.

I am my mother.

I remember some point in the 80s when my mom laid the smackdown on some nasty kid at a puppet show at Six Flags. She had the damn kid by the ear and led him to security for being mean to Speedy Gonzalez or someother costume character. I was mortified.

But BoyWonder took it in stride.

"Mom, if he would have fought you, I would have run him over with our truck."

Good man. Good man. I'm still kinda embarrased, though. At least I kept some street cred by threatening bodily harm (losing his finger) and not something too lame (calling his mother).

Hell, I'd take her finger too.

Too Stoooopid to Live (TSTL) Branches out to the Romance Genre

I've written about TSTL characters and why I love them in Zombie novels/movies/screenplays. (It usually means I have a good day or two left on the planet while the horde munches their dumbasses.)

But TSTL in Romance? Damn, I love Kelli Collins over at Redlines and Deadlines. Read the TSTL Heroine rant. It's classic.

There IS a God...and he totally GETS me.

I couldn't make this up if I tried. And I'm SO going to buy this sum'beech.

Seth Grahame-Smith wrote a Jane Ausen zombie novel. Booyah! I know, I know, it's totally last week's news, but I forgot about it for a minute.

(And have you noticed all my links to books and where to buy them DO NOT send you to Amazon anymore? They're totally feelin' the pinch of my dramatic boycott...I just know it. I totally matter!)

Also, read the NY Times article about him and his suhweeet book deal here. Abe Lincoln, Vampire Hunter? I like it!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

A good post

Brian Keene had a great post on his blog recently about perspective. I liked reading it. Maybe you will, too.

Read it here.

Beating the Crap Out of Your Heroine and Why I Love It

Well, sometimes, anyway.

Yesterday, "Sweet Revenge" came in the mail from good ol' Amazon. I'm a fan of Lynsay Sands so far, honestandtruly. She's pretty rad.

(Yes, Amazon is on my shite list right now for their recent stunt, but that was April 12. I ordered my books a week before they went all homophobic thought police on us.)

What struck me, however, was the mega, supreme ass-whoopin' her poor heroine Kyla endured "off screen" and before the book actually started--we meet her as she's already dealing with the after-effects of nearly getting sliced in two from a sword, people, a sword. Now if that doesn't put a little hitch in yer giddeyup, I'm not sure what will.

But reading through that and the scene where she stoically grinds her teeth through the administration of a hellfire healing potion, a thought struck me about quite a few romances (especially historicals) that I've come across in the past few years.

Some of our authors LOVE to torture these poor blonde, buxom, petite, willowy, gorgeous, never had a bad hairday in their 19 viriginal years, perfect creatures with some serious pain.

No, no, no, I totally get that its a plot device writers sometime use to get us to understand what this lil' hussy's really made out of (and to impress that big, burly alpha man who's standing nearby), but dayamn, what do they have against lil' Miss Perfects, anyhow?

I've seen it in quite a few of Julie Garwood's earlier historicals (my personal favorite of all time is "The Wedding," where I'm pretty sure I recollect skinny lil' Brenna getting the crap burned out of her...I think. She's gotta take a potion to the arm and doesn't even BLINK. I'd have puked on Mr. Manly Sexy, to be honest. But that's just me.)

I wonder if we writerly types secretly harbor angst against the skinny little beautiful people who grace romance covers. I'm sure I do. They kinda remind me of the perfect cheerleader types who went on the be Homecoming Queen, got the good looking guys to buy them ginormous Valentine's Day bouquets, got brand new cars the nanosecond they turned 16, fit into size 0 pants and talked LOUDLY about it at lunch (Beyotch, don't judge me and my Taco Bell. Or the fact that my mom sent me the flowers. Or that I drive a truck that contributes to more than half of the withering ozone effect with all its smoke. Just don't.)

SO knowing that nobody that looks like me is going to get swept up by some Highland lordy fellow on the next Harlequin cover, I wonder if I secretly relish reading (and writing) the absolute beating of the gorgeous, airbrushy girls. :) Maybe, just maybe.

Truth be told, I tend to identify with and write characters with a little less perfection and a little more...ahem..."me-ness" to them. I couldn't stand Barbie-clones in high school...and am pretty sure I don't want to spend a couple months hanging with any in my 30s, as my characters tend to have pretty much full back-stage access to my thoughts as I'm mulling through story lines.

Anyway. Just a thought...

Taco Bell calls.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Interesting Folks: Boy Wonder

A long, long time ago when I worked at a newspaper in town here, I was a community reporter. That meant I covered Eagle Scouts, Bowling Tournaments. Quilting get it. The only part of the job that really didn't make me want to swallow a fork was when I got to profile people (instead of previewing upcoming events or doing wrap-ups.) Focusing on people and asking them ridiculous questions was kinda the whole reason, y'know, that I got into journalism.

But most newspaper sections are more interested in events and less into non-famous people. And trust me, in Alaska, there is a shortage of the famous and an abundance of the non-famous. I didn't get to do as many profiles as I'd like to.

So I do what anyone would do and start a blog. Where I'm the emperor. I'm the president. I'm the king. (Or queen. Whatever.) I run this shiz-nit. And with that, I can interview and profile as often as I can find a willing victim.

Case in point: my captive audience--Boy Wonder. BW sat through a grueling two-minute interview with the blog recently. Here are some highlights.

Le Drole Corbeau (LDC): Hey there, Boy Wonder. How are you?

Boy Wonder (BW): Fine.

LDC: So, I'd really like to...

BW: I'm hungry. Can I have a snack?

LDC: In a minute... I've got some hard-hitting questions for you. I've been practicing all day.

BW: But I'm hungry...

LDC: In a damn minute, kid. So, here we go. How old are you?

BW: You're my mom. You should know.

LDC: You ever want a snack as in the rest of your life??

BW: I'm five. (Holds up four fingers.)

LDC: What do you want to be when you grow up?

BW: A motorcycle.

LDC: ??? Wha...?

BW: They go really speed. And they have a lot of colors. I want to be a green one. With black stripes.

LDC: I remember when you wanted to be a pirate, dude.

BW: Pirates aren't real. They're only pretend on the Disney movies.

LDC: They are, too, real.

BW: Nuh-uh.

LDC: Yeah-huh. Read about Somalia lately, player?

BW: I want a snack.

LDC: What else do you want? If you could have anything in the world.

BW: A HotWheels. And a girlfriend.

LDC: A whaaaaaaat?

BW: HotWheels. Probably a monster truck with big...

LDC: No, no, no. The other thing.

BW: Oh. (*grins*) I want a girlfriend.

LDC: Why would you want one of those?

BW: Some kids at daycare have them. I want one, too.

LDC: Why? What's so great about girlfriends?

BW: Well, they give you stuff.

LDC: Like what?

BW: Like the food at lunch that you don't want to eat.

LDC: What else do girlfriends do?

BW: Hmmm...they come over to your house...

LDC: Watch it, kid.

BW:...they play, they make you laugh, you have a snack, and then they go back where they came from.

LDC: Really?

BW: Yep. They always go home. But little brothers don't.

LDC: Nope, they sure don't.

(Here ends the interview.)

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Letting Boy Wonder spread his wings

Boy Wonder is a miracle to me. (Both boys are, but BW is 5 and I think that's a magic age. Little Man is 2 months and I think that's a labor-intensive age.)

Long story short: Some lame-o who shall remain nameless (Lame-o!) brought up his concerns that BW is "behind." My response: "He's not even in kindergarten yet. How the f%$* can he be behind before he even starts?" Lame-o had some lame response and it turns out, had been piling up BW's "homework" while BW was visiting.

Grrrrr. It's bad enough Lame-o is still in our life (stupid high road I promised to take a few years back.) But to unload ridiculous insecurities on BW and tell him he's "Behind"? No chiggity.

I called in the big dogs at the school district he'll attend and told them about Lame-o's punk-ass claim-os. They scheduled an Early Intervention screening to see if any of that fool's claims had merit.

Today I shook Boy Wonder out of a peaceful slumber filled with dreams of donuts and SpongeBob and Leggos (his three favorite things) and took him to a non-descript office in a non-descript strip mall in town. I explained that he was going to "hang out" with a really nice lady who was going to have him work on puzzles to show us all how much of a genius he is. (He liked that idea.)

So we go in. I get the paperwork. Nice lady gets Boy Wonder. (Crappy trade.) I'm in the same room as them and they begin the evaluation, and I begin what will likely be a lifetime's worth of "helicopter parenting." (Hover, hover, hover...get it?)

Boy Wonder breezes through the initial questions, points out all his body parts, makes the "OK" symbol to show his fine motor skills. Then the big questions start.

Nice lady: "What's your first name?"

BW: "Boy."

Nice lady: "Good! What's your last name?"

BW: "Wonder."

Nice lady: "Excellent! How old are you?"

BW: "Five."

Nice lady: "Great! When is your birthday?"



(My Jedi mind power is sending "December 17! December 17!" to his brain in waves. He doesn't seem to be receiving.)

BW: "MarchJune?"

Nice lady: "What was that?"

BW: "My birthday is MarchJune."

Oh, crap.

The test went on. Boy Wonder was great at somethings (basic math, counting) and not so great at others. Like rhyming.

Nice lady: "What rhymes with bake?"

BW: "Oven!"

Nice lady: "No, but close. What rhymes with wall?"

BW: "Picture Frame!"


Close, right? He got the association down, and that's more advanced than the damned rhyming, so don't look at me with those judgemental eyes, Nice Lady!

Today was a great illustration of my hover-ness. It was SO HARD not to jump in and rescue BW from any potential embarrasment or frustration. To sit there and let him answer incorrectly went against EVERY SINGLE perfectionist, competitive bone in my body.

"Oh, my poor Boy Wonder," I thought to myself. "He needs me to guide him to the right answer. Stupid Nice Lady isn't even asking the questions right!!! Stupid Nice Lady!!!"

In the end, Nice Lady told me that he far exceeds expectations for his age group and that he's more than prepared for kindergarten, regardless of having no clue when he was born or how to rhyme "cat" with "bat" or what sound the letter "B" makes. (He gave a long-shot answer of "ssssssssssss" for every single letter she showed him. Hooray!)

Put that in your pipe and choke on it, Lame-o!

My addiction has a first name. It's C-O-F-F-E-E.

Oh lord have mercy on me. Who's bright idea was it to kick all my vices at once?

I'm working on the procrastination thing. (Eventually. Haha. Get it?) I try to stay on top of my bills. I'm working on organizing my house one room at a time. And coffee. Oh coffee.

Espresso is a brown-eyed devil. A delicious, torturous brown-eyed devil topped with foamy milk goodness. (Complete with 2 splenda and a dash of cinnamon.) Damn! Damn! Damn!

Folks at work seem to think I'm nuts. What's wrong with a non-fat cap? I'll tell you what's wrong. It's my inability to control it, sister! After number four yesterday (Yes, four. And that was by 2 p.m.), my eyes were stretched from side to side and I blinked twice in three hours. I had more thoughts than I knew what to do with and my heart pounded like I went 12 rounds with George Foreman. (The boxer, not the grill. Though that sounds like fun, too.)

So here it is, day one on the caffeine detox and life's a bitch. Seriously. My head is pounding. My nose seems to pick up every coffee product in a three-mile radius and I'm crabby. And tired.

Like cigarette smokers, I associate coffee with so many of my favorite things and so many of the things I want to do. Early morning coffee with P before heading to work. A to-go cup and nifty sleevey thing of cappucino during the morning staff meeting. (I feel so grown up!)

A cup of coffee during a late-night writing jaunt (Well, if I ever bothered with a late-night writing jaunt. Just sayin'). A cup of coffee with brunch on Sunday (orange juice is no substitute, either. Don't even try it).

Am I the only one trying to give up a sweet-smelling addiction? Feels so lonely out here. :)

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Romance Novels: The Shame of Discovery

No, no, I'm very serious.

I mentioned earlier that I'd just finished a book and had to pick up another one recently. My mama sent me a care package with a novel from Lisa Kleypas tucked inside and I was thrilled. (I'm a big fan and originally got her hooked on the Wallflower series.)

But carting around a romance novel, even one with a cover as inconspicous as this:

It has its drawbacks. (Yes, that's the actual title I'm reading.)

I work in a building full of engineers and suited, professional types. Even the women I tend to work with run marathons, organize "Save the Belugas" rallies and recycle obsessively. None of them really read romance. I can tell. How? I just can.

So when my 190 pound handbag falls open on my desk (I work in a cubicle farm, sigh.) and this scripty, gold swirly cover falls out, I get hell from a couple folks. (And I work so hard to keep my reading habits under wraps...with the same level of secrecy as when I spirit a post-it note pad or two out of the office storerooms at the end of the day. SERIOUS contraband!)

"Is that a romance novel?" (Ummm...yes. I'm doing research.)

"You actually read those?" (Well, only when conducting major academic research. I swear.)

"Those have sex scenes in there, don't they?" (Well, duh.)

"So that's what you're reading when I see you in the lunch room? You're reading a nookie scene, aren't you?" (Oh bother.)

At what point did our reading choices become our most heavily guarded secrets? Right up there
plastic surgery or a failing marriage, it amuses me to see the "hands" people show when it comes to being spotted with their reading material. (True story: A girl a few cubicles down carries around a guide to Alaska bear hunting. She's a vegetarian. A botanist. A single vegetarian botanist. Catch my drift?)

And I can't say that it ends with romance novels. I was six months pregnant with lil' man and reading "Monster Nation" when a good friend of ours (an older man) cried out in disbelief: "How can you read that stuff? That's terrible for the baby!"

Ha! If he only knew... but from that moment on, I held the book with the cover (featuring a crushed baby doll skull lying the dirt of some desert wasteland) neatly against my lap, lest any more "cover judgers" berate me and my parenting skills.

Bonus question: would it have been more appropriate if I'd been reading one of those nookie scenes?

Just wonderin'.