Friday, December 30, 2011

New Novel Cover Preview

Started on a brand new book last week, i.e. an unplanned book which rudely shoved the other books to the side and flung itself down on the chaise waiting to be catered to. Thriller/Crime/Mystery set in the French Quarter and pretty much complete now inside my head, working it's way into actuality. Here's a first rough of the cover concept:

Hopefully have the blurbage and a preview chapter up next week!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Christmas of the Living Dead and Many Happy Returns

Happy Holidays to all - I hope that everyone enjoyed a minimum of frustration and a maximum of cheer. I have the one-two punch of Christmas and my birthday the next day (on Boxing Day, which I prefer to think of as a day I can make a fort out of a giant box, pull up the drawbridge, and tell people to go away). Despite some bumps in the road, we were very merry.

Christmas Eve, the S/O took the boys to town for his family's celebration, (those who know me well enough know my reasons for not attending) leaving me with the older kids for OUR traditional Christmas Eve, which consists of moving pictures, sammiches, and libations. We spent the evening catching up on the most excellent and newly discovered Justified (somehow appropriately the episodes with the hilariously depressing Furbot and the cringingly, wonderfully awful ball peen hammer) and the most excellent Fright Night reboot and the really most excellent Tucker and Dale Vs Evil. (Yes, it's all horror and shoot-'em-ups for Christmas Eve around here, the better to make an appreciative contrast to Peace on Earth, Goodwill Towards Man)

In the morning there were happy children and an embarrassment of riches. (Kid #4 got a Kindle Fire, so he can stop jacking mine, and Kid #5 got enough LEGO to build his own full-size LEGO castle).  I myself received everything I could ask for, including enough ginger candy to build my own ginger candy castle, a Doctor Who mug where the Tardis moves through space when the tea is hot enough, a Swedish National Team hockey jersey, a Milan Hejduk hockey figure, and a Walking Dead Daryl Dixon figure (which is actually on back order because, as my son put it, "You can't expect a guy with an ear necklace to show up on time.") I'm easy to shop for.

Of course when it came time to stuff the turkey for Christmas dinner and put it in the oven, the unexpected happened. (And it wasn't my fault -- I have a degree in microbiology and I know damned well how to safely thaw a turkey.) I opened the bag to find the turkey was rotten. Oozing brown and green rotten. It had obviously been unfrozen in it's journey somewhere between Turkey Town and my fridge, commenced to decaying, and then been refrozen. Hence this Christmas will forever be referred to in shorthand as the Zombie Turkey Christmas (to differentiate it from the Christmas I was pregnant with Kid #4 and set the turkey on fire -- filling the kitchen with smoke and, since I was suffering from terrible morning sickness at that point, causing me to vomit for several hours -- which is known as That One Christmas You Set the Turkey On Fire.)

Luckily I had a roast thawing, so all was not lost, and we ended up with a lovely dinner of roast beef, crispy potatoes, butternut squash, asparagus with homemade hollandaise, sweet potatoes, and fresh rolls, with homemade pumpkin pie and a buche de noel for dessert.

That's when the electricity in the as-yet-not-finished-remodeling bathroom went out, leaving us in darkness. Now it's the Zombie Turkey and Poltergeist Christmas. We soldiered on. (Add another project to the to-do list.)

On my birthday we went to see the new Sherlock Holmes movie, took four hours off the DVR (yay!), and I got to watch the Avalanche decisively wallop Minnesota and the Saints decisively wallop Atlanta, along with Drew Brees (who seems like a genuinely swell guy, especially for a quarterback) getting one last gift to unwrap in the closing minutes of the game. And my lovely S/O provided pizza and the Cocoa Bean's Chocolate Raspberry Cake with Buttercream. (Exchange with Bakery: S/O: "I want a Chocolate Raspberry Cake without the ganache." Cocoa Bean: "So, ganache only on the inside?" S/O: "Only buttercream. No ganache." Cocoa Bean: "So, ganache only on the outside?" S/O: "No ganache, just buttercream." Cocoa Bean: "So where do you want the ganache?" S/O: "If there's ganache on that cake, my wife is going to rain down unholy hell on somebody and it's not going to be me." Cocoa Bean: "You sure you don't want ganache,then?")

So, in spite of the rotting spectre of the turkey and the curse of darkness and lack of electric toothbrushes in the bathroom, a pretty damned good holiday. I recount these events not lightly, and not to hold my happy circumstances over the heads of those not so happy. It's more to cause me to reflect, especially in times of stress and spots of transient frustration and depression, at how lucky I truly am. I live in relative comfort, meaning I have a home and transportation and food and heat, and enough left over. My children have the luxury of being able to say, "I don't really like that for dinner," before I make them eat it anyway, reminding them that other children, children in our own town, are hungry.

I share my life with someone who, in spite of our sometimes glaring religiopolitical differences, loves me, indulges me, and puts up with my sometimes not inconsequential idiosyncrasies and unexpected bouts of frozen terror. (And who is cute and still looks young enough to be asked if he needs help finding his class when he visits our daughter's college campus.) I have a few select friends (as I am not a truly gregarious person) who understand things about me that would terrify other people. I have five children who are healthy, happy, smart, and relatively well-adjusted and, more importantly, who -- when push comes to shove -- are genuinely good people. The kind of people who will take up for those less powerful than them, who will choose kindness over cruelty, and who are outraged at injustice, especially injustice that is not directed at them personally.  And if I don't accomplish anything other than that in my life, having set those children loose in the world means I will leave it a far better place than I found it.

And so, as every year, this is the time when I promise to remember that. When I promise to not be so quick to fill out a page in my carefully maintained book of grievances, when I remind myself to be more generous of spirit, when being generous of spirit is sometimes at real odds with my true nature, not the nature I trot out for show.

Remember what you are lucky to have, even when you don't feel lucky. Give just one person the benefit of the doubt, especially when they don't deserve it.  Be kind. Be generous. End each day having done one thing to make it a better day than it started out.  Be happy and well, and dog bless us, every one.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

I Love This Video

And I love the Black Keys. Although nothing can really ever top the sheer genius of Howlin' For You, this is wicked awesome. And, yes, that's exactly the way I dance around the kitchen.