Friday, September 30, 2011

Winning isn't everything but...

I like to win things.  I mean, who doesn't, right?  Here's the thing, I never win anything big.  I enter contest, sweepstakes, trivia stuff and I win, just small things.  

Okay, so last week I wrote a review for a Disney restaurant and won one of the Birnbaum guide books to Walt Disney World.  I wrote a bunch of blogs for a Disney site and won (more like earned) a Disney World cooler tote bag filled with a few goodies (thank you for bringing it home to me, Alison!).  I have won other tour books, I've won a bunch of stuff through my Susan Mallery cheerleading endeavor (t-shirt, tote bag, mug, books, mouse pad) and one time I won a 4 day/3 night resort stay at a hotel in Orlando.  What I want is to win a TRIP.  I know, greedy right?

I mean, I see sweepstakes to win trips all of the time but does anyone ever actually WIN them??  Any of you out there ever win an actual trip??  What is the secret?  How do you do it?

I need a trip...desperately.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Stop Talking!

I love my kids, I honestly and truly do.  I love spending time with them, talking with them about their days and hearing what their hopes and dreams are.

I already told you how unprepared I was to see that Michael was seemingly interested in girls.  Every time he talked about this little girl I want to put my fingers in my ears and hum loudly.  Well, it's even worse when it is your almost twenty year old wanting to tell you about the things going on in his life.  

He lives on his own, he has his own life and really, I'm not blind or stupid.  I just do not choose to want to sit and HEAR about it all. OH...MY...GOODNESS.  He was here the other night and after only five minutes I was like "Stop talking!"  He didn't.  I am glad that the boy wants to talk to me and that he wants to share what is going on in his life but clearly, I am not mature enough to hear it.

Any of it.

I may be in my 40's (and we'll leave it at that) but I am either too old or too young to have to deal with this!

Monday, September 26, 2011

I Should Have Lunch With Yoko...

So Frank's band had a gig on Saturday.  It was supposed to be an outdoor thing but we've been having a lot of rain so it was moved to an inside venue. A Tavern.  So what was supposed to be a family thing for all of us and in the end, we all decided it was not a kid-friendly place in the tavern.  

But I digress...

I have band issues.  I openly admit it.  I went with Frank to load up the equipment.  Three of the four band mates were there.  We drove to the Tavern.  Three of the four unloaded the equipment.  I had to sit in the van for 30 minutes while they unloaded to make sure we didn't get ticketed or towed.   I was not amused.  

The performance was not the best.  Three of the four band mates had bad sound.  After they were done, I approached the stage area and mentioned the sound issue, and the guy with the good sound did not, shall we say, "Appreciate" my observation.  Three of the four packed up the equipment and loaded the van back up, three of the four went back to the storage place where they (and two wives - including me) unloaded the van and put everything away.  

I had a freaking fit.  I mean, this guy has pissed me off for a long time but now that they are performing out in public, this sort of behavior is just not acceptable.  I ranted and raved to Frank and he was told me that I am not allowed to be the one to say something to this guy because I am too biased.  Like I care if this slack-ass jerk thinks I am biased!  What I am concerned about it is my husband being treated like the hired help.  They are a BAND not a solo act!  Frank is a member of the BAND not a roadie!

As I listened to myself ranting and raving, I began to feel like I was TRYING to break up the band...and that's not the case.  I am just not a fan of letting someone take advantage of people who are supposed to be their friend.  I am not a fan of someone being manipulative of people that they are supposed to work with.

Now I fear that I've put the idea in his mind that he needs to quit the band.  That was totally not my intent.  I was really hoping that he'd let me go and scream at this such luck.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Weird Dream...

Okay, so I had this really, really WEIRD dream and because I remember most of it, I had to share.  

First, I'm in my car driving down Vets Hwy. (on Long Island where I grew up) but I am letting Michael - my 11 year old - drive. As we're driving along, I see a plane flying overhead that is aglow and starting to catch on fire.  I'm screaming at Michael NOT to look at it and keep his eyes on the road.  It's flying the opposite way that we're driving so within seconds it it behind us.  Next thing I know, it is crashing on the highway ahead of us.  He screeches on the brakes and we hit the guardrail but are fine.  In front of us is a giant fireball.

Next thing I know, I am looking at a house with a family.  I think I know them but I'm not sure.  They are touring a house with their realtor and I'm there with them.  Not sure why.  So we're touring this house and it's pretty big and I mean, I can remember the two-zone heating, how many bedroom, the extremely large laundry room - it was a big house.  So we tour the house, they decide to buy and then I'm outside getting in a bus with...wait for it...the Blues Brothers!  Yes, Jake and Elwood, John Belushi and Dan Akroyd.  We're driving down the road into...a giant fireball!  I'm screaming for John to back the bus up and he's doing it but I can see the flames all around us but I'm not getting burned.  I keep saying it's going to be alright but he's saying "No, the whole front end is in flames!"

THEN...I'm walking through a neighborhood, and I know this neighborhood because I have a friend who lives there, and I'm leading  a horse around.  Actually, he's leading me because I'm walking behind him holding the reigns.  And the place looks burned (again, probably the fireball neighborhood) and there are tons of deer walking around and I'm thinking that this horse is leading me to my friend's house but then a vulture or hawk or something swoops down and spooks the horse a bit.  I was trying to swat it away with the reigns but it doesn't work...

And then I woke up...

WHAT DID ALL THAT MEAN???? (Other than the fact that I did NOT go back to sleep?)

Saturday, September 24, 2011

In praise of Create Space

Back in 2009, I competed in NaNoWriMo for the first time (National Novel Writing Month).  I finished the challenge and really, there is no "prize" for doing so; it's a personal challenge sort of thing.  However, you do get a neat little certificate to print out and then you get a coupon code to get a print copy of your book from CreateSpace.

For those of you who haven't heard of it, CreateSpace is a site that is run from Amazon and is the place to go if you want to self-publish your work.  Now if you had asked me in 2009 what I thought of them, all you would have heard is a growl followed by a scream.  I had no idea how to upload my book or how to format it to their specifications and after three months of trying (although not very hard) I gave up.

Then 2010 came around and although I DID finish my 50,000 words, I forgot to validate my work so I didn't get my certificate OR coupon code.  I was kicking myself for a long while after that.  BUT I DID compete in Amazon's Breakthrough Novel Award and although I did not advance in that, they too gave away a coupon code for a free proof copy.  So I sat myself down and forced myself to figure out the formatting process.

I almost killed myself over it, but I FINALLY got it done!  I formatted my book, designed a cover, edited everything to the best of my ability and ordered my proof copy.  If I was a drinker I would have sworn I'd been drunk when I did that because that proof copy was filled with many, many mistakes.

So I started the editing process.  I read the entire book and used highlighter sticky tabs to mark all of my errors, went back to the original file and started fresh - because my headers and footers were a mess, too.  Go figure.  I had a former student of mine design the cover and I went and resubmitted everything and when I was approved to order my proof (Now at the price of $11 with shipping) I noticed that the old cover was still there.


There is an option on the CreateSpace website where you can have a customer service agent call you immediately.  So I clicked the link, typed in my phone number and in less than ten seconds my phone rang!  I talked to an extremely nice young lady who walked me through the whole process, found my new cover and VOILA, I now have my new proof copy on my way.  I am hoping that it will be DONE and that I will not have to edit it anymore!  That process is crazy.

So once I approve this second proof friends, I give CreateSpace the okay and I will be selling on Amazon within 5 days.  How cool is that???

Friday, September 23, 2011

I am so NOT ready for this phase of life!

So Michael finished his first quarter of middle school.  As a year-round school, we are now on our first break.  I was desperately ready for it.  He is doing okay other than making us crazy with his waiting till the last minute to do any major project or assignment, but we're getting better. 

He's joined the ping-pong club and loves it.  

A couple of weeks ago he called me because he had forgotten some homework at the house and my office is almost right across the street from his school so I was able to stop there on my way to work without any problems.  When I got to the office, the secretary told me that he was in the cafeteria and I could bring the papers right to him.  Okay, fine.  

As I'm walking down the hall I'm thinking "How am I supposed to find him in a cafeteria of 100 kids?"  Well, as it turned out, he was literally the first kid at the end of the table right by the door.  Luck was on my side.  So I walk in, he has his back to me and I notice that he is looking quite "cozy" with the girl next to him and they are sort of giggling and tickling one another.

What the WHAT?????

I realize that we did not deal with this with Nick because he was homeschooled but for some reason, I never even THOUGHT of Michael being interested in girls yet!  He gets embarrassed if Frank notices a pretty girl on the TV and says something about it. 

So the next day, we're in the car and I asked Michael, very casually mind you, who the girl was.  He went in to GREAT detail of how her knew her and her unusual name.  Her name fascinated him - Neve.  He told me how people mispronounce it and how it's sort of like how people mispronounce our last name and then he rambled on for quite some time about the whole thing.  

I have to tell you, I was a little uncomfortable.

Another day, a friend of mine picked him up to take him to ping pong club, which the ever-so-lovely Neve is also a part of, and he went on to tell my friend all about her!  


Thursday, September 22, 2011

What are parents thinking???

So a friend of mine was recently telling me that her daughter was being harassed at school by some girls that she used to be friends with.  It happens; we've all been there.  Middle school is just plain awful socially.

Well, not long after that it turns out that her daughter's Facebook and e-mail accounts were hacked and some pretty hideous things were being written about her.  It didn't take long to find the culprit and so my friend and her daughter went to the girl's home, talked with the girl's mother and thought they were done.  

It happened again.  

Now, as someone who has dealt with a child having "friends" who do hideous things to them in attempts to ostracize and humiliate them, this sort of thing enrages me.  Back when it was happening to Nick, no one hacked his accounts but they certainly made sure that he knew what they all thought of him through their own Facebook postings.  This little girl, is committing, in my mind, a criminal act.  She has stolen an identity, hacked in to someone's personal accounts, compromised their stuff and should not receive a mere talking to.  

The parents are clearly doing nothing to punish this child or to stop her from having access to the internet.  I told my friend that when she went there the second time that she should have brought the authorities with her.  I think children like this are a danger to ALL of us and the parents should be careful of what she'll do to them.  And shame on them, in general, for raising a child who is capable of this sort of criminal behavior in the EIGHTH GRADE!!!  

Our kids make stupid mistakes; have bad judgment.  It goes with the territory of having teenagers.  But when your child is a bully, cyber or otherwise, YOU as the parent are just as responsible for the actions they take as the children are.

Wake up parents.  It's people like you that have our world going upside down. 

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

"Only Yours" is my new favorite book!

As a huge Susan Mallery fan, I found myself counting down the days until "Only Yours" came out. I had read the four previous books in the Fools Gold series and this book was well-worth the wait.

This time out we are looking at Montana Hendrix of the Hendrix triplets. She is finally finding her own way in this story and found a career that she loves working with therapy dogs. Unfortunately, one over zealous pup gets her in to trouble with the new doctor in town, Dr. Simon Bradley. Simon is a surgical genius but not at all very good with dealing with people. The good folks of Fools Gold hope to convince him to stay in their little town and enlist the help of Montana to do so - not knowing that she and Simon already got off to a rocky start.

This is a Beauty and the Beast kind of story. Simon was badly scarred as a child and now works as a plastic surgeon to help others heal from similar wounds. He is awkward and short tempered but deep down he is really looking for acceptance. He's a perfect candidate for Fools Gold - a town known for taking in those in need.

This story grabbed me from the get-go and I had a hard time putting it down.  There were so many emotional aspects to this story and it was so well written that you felt everyone's joy, sorrow and pain.  Dr. Simon Bradley is now may favorite "hero" in any story and he brings out the healer in all of us who just want him to know that he is loved and accepted.

This story is a great addition to the Fools Gold series and a must read if you are a Susan Mallery fan.  You can click HERE to read an excerpt from "Only Yours." 

Monday, September 19, 2011

Fool's Gold Varsity Cheerleaders

I don't think I ever got to share this video here, but this is the actual video that appeared two weeks ago on Harlequin's site when they did the live video chat with my favorite author, Susan Mallery.

I have been "working" as a Fools Gold Varsity Cheerleader for a little over two months now helping promote this trilogy of books in Susan's Fools Gold series and it has been a complete blast!  

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Writing Getaway...

So as you can tell by my more frequent sporadic writings, life has been busy.  Almost five months back in to the land of the working and I still don't seem to have enough hours in the day to do it all.  Part of the problem is that I am just struggling with depression.  Yes, yes, yes...I know it's depression and while I decided to take myself off of the anti-depressants, I am learning to deal.  Mainly because a pill does not make the bills get paid of the husband have work.  I don't want to numb myself, I just want our situation to get better.  

For those of you keeping track, if life had even been a little bit better and work more consistent for Frank, I would have been leaving Monday for my Disney trip.  But I'm not.  That trip was canceled.  Then there's the fact that a large part of my family is going on a cruise together at the end of the month.  Not going on that one either.  We're still hopeful about visiting my in-laws in December...

So I decided that I had some travel issues and resentment and wanted to do something about it.  Luckily for me, I have some friends who have a cottage on their property about 6 miles from my house.  Not a huge "away" in getaway but for me it means time alone, time to write, sleep, read...whatever it is that I want for an entire weekend.  

I arrived here last night after dinner.  It was the coldest night of the season!  There's heat and air and all that - it's not completely rustic - but I have to tell you, it's a rainy day outside right now and I feel just giddy about being here.  Last night I wrote up two lessons for the fiction workshop I'm teaching and I plan on doing more of them today, I finished a great book last night (Susan Mallery - you did it again!) and I woke up at 6:30 this morning, read for a little bit and then went back to bed for three hours!  It's awesome!

I plan on spending some time working on the blog here - and not neglecting it as I had been.  I was thrilled to find out that my little blog sent some readers over to Susan Mallery's site (to the tune of 1200 in one month!) so you guys are amazing.

So I am off to write on this rainy Saturday.  Looking for inspiration.  I have novels in progress, workshop lessons to write, blogs to write...I certainly have enough to keep me busy and then there will be Chinese food for dinner.  Sure, skipping down Main Street USA in Disney would still be my first choice, but this is pretty darn sweet, too.

Friday, September 9, 2011

"Slow Love" is a slow read!

As someone who lived through getting laid off and then struggling for two years with being unemployed, I found myself looking forward to reading "Slow Love: How I Lost my Job, Put on my Pajamas, and Found Happiness" by Dominique Browning.

Thank God I didn't pick this book up WHILE I was unemployed.  It annoyed me now, I think back then, while I was in the throws of unemployment, I quite possibly would have been livid.  

The majority of the population, when hit with unemployment, don't have the luxuries that this woman had: she was financially secure, she had a second home to sell to help with the loss of her income.  Most of us have two weeks worth of savings and then we're sunk.  She wasn't a particularly likable person.  She carried on an affair for years with a married man.  That is a big "ICK" in my book.

There were times, particularly in the beginning of the book when I thought that I was totally going to relate to her story, but as time went on, it just bugged me because even in this down time of the author's life, I don't think she had a clue what living in the "real" world mean.

You can decide for yourself if this book is for you by reading other reviews at BlogHer . Personally, I will find my happiness elsewhere. 

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

And this is just one example of why I haven't blogged in a while...

Honestly, Alan Funt and the Candid Camera team were clearly 
following me tonight. 
I left work at 5:05, as I turned on to N. Main one of the girls 
from the office called because some stuff went down today 
between her and a co-worker and she wanted to know if I 
thought she was wrong.  That conversation lasted for about 
20 minutes during which time I got home, came in the 
door and got dinner going. Got off the phone with her, talked 
to Frank a bit, set the table and found out that Michael had a 
mountain of homework.  Not good.  This led to a HUGE 
discussion about why he's not getting his homework done 
in a timely manner and to be fair, there was just a lot of it.
So we eat and I decide that I am going to leave him home 
and go to small group by myself.  I'm supposed to be there 
by 6-6:30 and it is now 6:15. Frank is not cool with that 
because no one knows if the boy will actually WORK while 
we're not here.  This makes Michael mad and he storms off
 out of the house in to the yard (in his socks - which is 
something he has gotten in trouble for TWICE this week 
because he's ruining all his socks!) and starts playing 
with the kids across the street.  Now, there is going to 
be a huge brawl between my two males so there was 
yelling and crying and Michael storms back IN to the house 
and drops his binder on the ground (the 3 inch thick one) 
and everything came flying out.  Why?  Because he "forgot" 
to punch holes in most ofhis stuff.  Now we've got to 
rearrange the binder. 

At this point TWC calls to say that I have a past due 
account that is going to affect our service.  I had let
the machine pick up so now I've got to call them back
and I am number 12 in the queue!  So I'm holding and 
holding and Frank tells me that Target had called 
(several times this week it turns out) and my thyroid 
prescription has to be picked up tonight or I will have 
to have my doctor call in another one. 


I finally get to talk to a TWC rep and all of their hooplah 
(3 calls this week) was over a past-due balance of $25.22. 
Seriously?? I get off the phone with them, send Frank off to 
band practice because they are playing at a charity event 
Friday night and I leave to go and pick up my prescription - 
it is 7:15 by now.  I get in the car, drive to Target.  We put
new front brakes on my car this morning and the car starts 
making this hideous squealing sound coming from under the 
car.  At that point I was like "Stick a fork in me, I'm done". 

So here I am. Blogging...sigh.