Jun 30

Ahhhh… antibiotics

No more hot ice picks through the face. I took the first two pills of my z-pack last night, slept 9 hours, and woke up this morning with the definite sensation that I was actually Getting Better.

In house news, all of the paperwork has been signed, the check has been handed over, and the inspections have been scheduled.

Now we just need to sell this house. [whimper] It’s spotless. Totally frickin’ spotless. And not a single frickin’ person has come to look at it yet. [sob!] Though I am maintaining my sanity (ha!) in the knowledge that 5 flyers have been taken from the tube doohickey out front. (Yes, I’ve been counting them every day.)

Jun 29

I hab a cud

[sniffle] I actually thought I was almost over this darn cold. My worst day (or so I thought) was Monday, when I Just Couldn’t Breathe no matter what combination of drugs I took. But then it gradually started getting better, though the sniffling remained.

However, I was wakened at about 1:30 am this morning with the sensation that someone was attempting to drive a red-hot ice pick through my left cheekbone. As soon as I determined that there was not, in fact, anyone attempting to do such, I dragged my weary body out of bed and shambled downstairs to find drugs. I took some decongestanty stuff, and an aleve, and tried to go back to sleep.

Half an hour later the ice pick was still pounding through my face, so I got up again, and went in search of stronger drugs. I finally resorted to a stash of leftover painkillers (leftover from my C-section, which tells you just how often I resort to this level of assistance.) However, I’ve seen SO many ODs, and I’m such a weenie, that I broke the damn pill into quarters (after first checking to make sure it was not the kind of pill that you are absolutely NOT supposed to break or crush) and only took one quarter. Fortunately, that 1/4 pain pill was enough to at least let me get back to sleep. But between the level of pain, the low-grade fever, and the lovely color of my snot, I was fairly positive that I’d progressed to a sinus infection. Bah.

So first thing on the agenda this morning after getting to work was to go up front and beg for a scrip for antibiotics (and longtime readers of this blog will know just how rare it is for me to want to take antibiotics, since I’m allergic to darn near every frickin’ one of them.) That’s one of those times when it’s nice to work for a doctor.


Now that Book One is steadily making the rounds of the agent world, I’ve been pounding pretty steadily at Book 2. Actually Book 2 was originally going to be Book 3, but the more I got into it the more I realized that Book 3 would work much better as Book 2, with just a few tweaks. So, the work I did on the original Book 2 has been set aside, and Book 3 which is now Book 2 is well underway.

OKay, I just confused myself with all of that. Anyway. I’m writing the next book. I decided to use the same process that I used for Book 1 (which was never Book 2 OR Book 3), which was basically to just writewritewrite and not worry about how crappy it was. I only put descriptions in if I really know them right then, I insert a lot of tags, like [fix the stuff with the bodies] and [something with action goes here], and mostly just write until I get to the end. Then I tear it all apart and work on it, but at least then I have the story in place.

I actually have a pretty solid outline for the next two books, which is making it easier as well.

Now if I could just breathe. Ugh.

Jun 28

A reasonable offer

Progress is definitely being made on the whole change of locale for Casa Rowland. As I stated in a previous post, we rejected the ridiculous counter-offer on the first house we were looking at (it was ridiculous because they came down a fractional amount of the difference in their asking price and our offer, and then on top of that they were demanding a $5000 deposit along with all sorts of confirmations on the financing as well as wanting to close on Aug 15th–which meant that they had no clue what a “Predicated offer” meant. (We made our offer predicated on the sale of our house within 60 days.) Anyway, after we received their offer we realized that dealing with those people would end up being a nightmare, so we gave up on that house and started looking at others. Our second choice is much less expensive, and the work that needs to be done to it is pretty much strictly cosmetic. (As far as we know, that is. We’re FIRM believers in paying for thorough inspections.)

So, Tuesday we made an offer on House#2, and the sellers came back with a counter-offer (as expected), but it was lower than we’d ever expected (Yay!), with an offer to split the cost of one of the needed inspections (Yay!!), and an offer to make a concession for the countertops (they were going to replace them but stated that if we wanted they could just make a financial concession in the event we wanted to upgrade to granite or something…Yay!!!)

Needless to say, Jack and I discussed it for a whole five minutes, and this morning I called our agent back and told him that we were accepting the offer.

Now we just have to sell our present house. (Gulp.)

Jun 26

The housing market

Yeah, we knew that the market was pretty darn soft, especially down here, but it’s jus tkind of funny (in a sick way) that right after we put this house on the market there was a HUGE front page article in the local paper all about how it’s becoming insanely hard to sell a house right now. And then there was another article in today’s USA Today on the same subject.

Fortunately, we don’t need to sell this house. We’re just sick of living here and want to relocate to the other side of the parish, and into a much nicer neighborhood. And by “nicer” I don’t necessarily mean “richer”. We just want to be in a neighborhood that’s more than just a subdivision–a place where we can go running right from our front door (instead of driving someplace else on the mornings we run), and a place where Anna can actually play in the front yard without worrying that a car will go flying by and clip her.

Now, it would be very nice to sell this house, because even with the soft market, we’re still looking to make a nice profit. Of course in a way it’s all monopoly money since we plan on flipping right into another house that’s similarly priced. However, with the sale of Casa Rowland Jr., we should have enough to put a nice chunk aside.

The one big advantage of having a house on the market is that it forces us to be neat. Holy Kamoly, this house has never stayed this clean for so long! Some things are a real pain though, such as never leaving even the whisper of a dirty dish in the sink, and always making the beds, including Anna’s (and I hate making beds. I think it’s a stupid waste of time. I mean, I’m just going to mess it up again the next night, right?) and emptying the trash every frickin’ day, and mowing the lawn every other day (Ugh!).

Jack’s comment on the whole thing was: “The first thing we need to do in the new house it put it up for sale. That way it’ll stay clean!”


We put an offer in on our second choice of houses today (and it’s hard to think of it as a second choice since we’re feeling more and more like we dodged a bullet with the first one–it definitely had “Money Pit” potential.) We’re predicating the offer on the sale of this one, so everyone send nice real-estate thoughts this way!!

Jun 25

Because I obviously don’t have enough to do…

Casa Rowland is up for sale:

Casa Rowland

And Casa Rowland Jr will be up for sale soon:

Casa Rowland Jr.

(This was the house I lived in before I married Jack. I’ve been renting it out for the past five years.)

Which means that I am also working on buying Casa Rowland Service Pack 3 (so that I am not forced to live in my car.)

We actually made an offer on a house over the weekend, but the counter-offer was so ridiculous (and we had a few doubts going in anyway) that we didn’t even bother to respond to the counter-offer and pulled our offer completely. So, today we’re going to go look at a different house that we’ve been to once already. It’s not as much house, but at the same time, it’s not as much price either. And with the difference in price (and the sale of the other two houses) we’ll be able to do a lot with the place.


Oh, yeah, I’m also shopping for an agent for my novel. I’ve had a couple of strong nibbles, so I’m maintaining a cautious dignified hope. (OHPLEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEASEPLEEEEEEASE!!!!!!!!!PICKME!!!!!PICKME!!!!)

The crush at work is also slowing somewhat, at least for the moment. The new phone system is in place (mostly), the new server is installed (mostly), and I get to fly to Arizona in a couple of weeks to look at and learn some lab management software.

Yes. Arizona. July. And I’d better not hear anyone say, “But it’s a DRY heat!” Bulls&!t. 108 degrees is frickin’ hot no matter how frickin’ dry it is.

The last time I was in Arizona was in June, and I thought I was going to crack apart and blow away.

Jun 13

Screaming in rage at the gods


One was too many. There was no need to take another.

Rest easy, brothers.

Jun 6

Gender issues

I got home last night at about 7pm and saw my daughter sitting in the recliner wearing clothing that I did not recognize. Not only did I not recognize the clothing, but it was quite obviously “boy” clothing–t-shirt with a tractor on it, boy-style shorts, and even boy-style underwear.

I asked my husband, “Where did she get those clothes?”

“They were in her bag,” he said, with a vague wave in the direction of a little backpack. I looked more closely at said backpack and determined that it was an “Elmo” backpack. Anna’s backpack is of the “Nemo” variety.

“Those aren’t her clothes. That’s not her backpack. That backpack belongs to Clayton.” I knew this last fact because the name “CLAYTON” was written in black magic marker across the top of the bag.

Husband glanced over. “Oh.” Then he shrugged. “Hey, at least I brought the right kid home.”

I said something inarticulate.

“It could have been worse,” he said. “Just think: There’s probably a little boy running around in a dress somewhere.”

Jun 4

More various writing thoughts

I seem to have won the war on comment spam. Huge thanks to everyone who offered suggestions! I went ahead and upgraded my Wordpress, and then installed the Askinet plugin which has managed to catch about 99% of the spam. I do still have the screening feature in place that will only let previously approved commenters to comment, but if your comment doesn’t show up in a couple of days–at most–it might have been caught by the filter, so drop me a line and tell me to look for it.


I’ve been reading various agent’s blogs, and I am absolutely blown away that each and every one of them has stories of receiving angry and nasty responses to rejections. Okay, I know that there is a ridiculously large segment of the population that is frickin’ moronic, but one would hope that anyone capable of writing a novel (even a bad one) would realize that yelling at someone is not a way to get them to want you as a client. All I can figure is that these idjits are trying to make themselves feel better.

But it makes me wonder what they would do to customers in the stores who decided to not purchase their book. Would they hunt them down and yell at them?


If either of my two loyal readers are interested and/or involved in writing and publishing, be sure to check out the website for J.A. Konrath, author of the Lt. Jacqueline “Jack” Daniels mysteries. He has dozens of articles and blog posts about the business and craft of writing, but more importantly, IMO, are his articles about self-promotion. The harsh truth is that in this day and age of publishing, it is absolutely necessary for authors to do the majority of their own promotional work for their books. Not everyone might have the time and means to do the level of self-promotion that Konrath did for his books, however, he has a lot of really terrific ideas and advice about just how to promote your work. Also, if you like mysteries/thrillers, his books are fun, gripping reads and worth picking up.

There’s only one thing that I really disagree with him on. When speaking of agent queries, Konrath states that one should NOT include a SASE, because, he says, Why make it easier for the agent to reject you? (i.e. he concludes that if an agent is on the fence, then the existence of a SASE could possibly tip the decision over to rejection since the means to send a reject is right there.)

Okay, yeah, I’m not a published novelist yet. But this seems like a really poor argument. Yes, it’s true that in today’s world there are few if any agents who will use that SASE to ask for more materials or to ask to represent you. However, through my research into the submission requirements of various agents, I have seen, many times, agents who state that if there is no SASE included in the submission that said submission is discarded unread. So, basically, you’re weighing the “chance” that an uncertain agent would use the mere existence of a SASE as reason enough to mail a rejection against the much more real chance that an agent would not even bother to read your submission because the SASE wasn’t there. Just seems to me that the latter scenario is the more likely one, and one that I would not want to risk.

Jun 1

When batteries die…

No rain this morning, which meant I was able to run. Did 2.7 miles, however the battery on my mp3 player died at about 1.2 miles. Bah.

I actually don’t listen to music very often. Don’t get me wrong–I like music and appreciate it, but for me it’s a distraction, which means I almost never play it if I’m involved in something that requires a lot of thought. I almost never listen to talk radio while driving, and I seldom listen to music while writing. (Yes, I’m one of those people who turns the radio down/off when I’m looking for an address.) I don’t process auditory input very well–a learning disability which went undiagnosed for pretty much my entire life. (Hey, guess what! “Try harder” doesn’t work!) In fact I probably would’ve never figured it out if I had not decided to become a cop. By pure happenstance, the way that we were required to write/take/format/reformat our notes was the right way for auditory input to actually make it into the “remember me” section of my brain. I graduated at the top of my Academy class, but even then I didn’t make the connection to a learning disability until I talked to someone who has a diagnosed auditory input disorder. I remember clearly thinking, “Holy crap. That’s me!!!” I would pay attention in class, take what I thought were sufficient notes (it was the same level of note-taking that everyone else was doing,) understand the material perfectly during lecture, and then later when I went back to study, I would have no idea how to do the work. If I tried to write more quickly and take more detailed notes, I’d miss things in lecture because I just couldn’t write fast enough and listen. So, I discovered that I could do the average amount of work and get an average grade, or I could totally kill myself and bust my ass and I could get a barely slightly better than average grade. Guess which path I decided to take? It also didn’t help to have teachers/counselors/everyone telling me that I was just being lazy and wasn’t applying myself and wasn’t working up to my potential. Hear that often enough and you eventually just come to accept it. (Would you tell a dyslexic that they could read if they would just try harder?)

However, in all fairness to teachers/counselors/everyone, there wasn’t as much awareness of learning disabilities 30 years ago. There was certainly not the same sort of screening and acceptance. Back when I was in school, only dumb kids had learning disabilities. But even though I have no intention of returning to school, I’m glad I figured it out. It makes me feel like not quite so much of a failure for not “living up to my potential.” And, more importantly, I have the awareness to watch out for it in my daughter.

Okay, I had not really intended for this to end up as a post about my auditory input disorder. :) Anyway, I listen to music when I run because it is distracting, and it distracts me from how much running sucks. :P

So, after my mp3 player died, I instead tried to force my brain into thinking about writing-related stuff. I’ve been trying to learn as much as I can about the world of publishing as a business, because I know that it’s not enough to just write well. You have to treat writing like you would a career, and you have to know how the industry works. I know that it’s far better to receive a modest advance (for a first book) and have a modest print run and a decent sell-through, than it is to have a large advance that does not earn out and a high print run with a poor sell-through. A print run of 20,000 with 10,000 sales is a 50% sell-through. A print run of 100,000 with 10,000 sales is a 10% sell-through. It’s all about the numbers, which means the second scenario will pretty much tank your career and make the publishing house less than willing to invest more money in you.

I also invested $20 a month and subscribed to Publisher’s Marketplace, which gave me the ability to see all of the deals that have been made in the world of publishing. This is fantastic information, and I think that anyone who is trying or about to try to sell a book needs to invest in a subscription for a few months. Not only can you find out what kind of books are hot right now, but you can also see what kind of deal it is (one book or multi-book), who the agent is, who the editor is, and you can get a ballpark of what the advance is. (It breaks it down into Nice-1k to 49k, Very Nice-50k to 99k, Good-100k to 250k, Significant-251k to 499k, and Major-500k +)

I did a search on all sf/f deals, and noticed that the very large majority of authors get “Nice” deals. A very very small smattering of very well established sf/f authors get Major or Significant deals. Of those authors who had “Very Nice” or “Good” deals, pretty much all of them had been writing and selling for close to a decade, and had a backlist of at least five titles.

It was a healthy dose of reality. No, I haven’t sold a book yet, or even found an agent, but now when it happens I’ll go into the process with appropriate expectations and an understanding of what is expected of a writer beyond words on the page.

Okay, more later.