Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Another year... something

So, today's my birthday.

(I cannot say that without hearing The Beatles in my head.)

Can't say it's been a banner year, but, you know, it definitely had it's high points as well as it's struggles. (I guess that's one thing about a birthday at the end of the year. It makes it easy to thing about the year in review.)

So, lots of health problems in my family since my last birthday (including my own). But we're all still here! Even Lizzie, who was SO sick in November. (She's hanging in there, FYI. Good days, bad days. Kind of like my mom, who probably wouldn't appreciate the comparison.) This year I've lost half my thyroid, gained a lovely scar. Added something like 13 states to my total US states visited (but still didn't get up to Canada, despite being close enough to the border to listen to their public radio station).

But... this year has been an awesome one in the friendship department. I've lucked into (that's how I feel!) some really fabulous new friendships and discovered real gems among my existing circle. My girlfriends gave me a wonderful pre-birthday birthday on Sunday, and it was fabulous. The best present, though, was the support, laughter, and affection. That's worth more than gold.

On the whole, I count myself richer this birthday. Even the struggles have made me appreciate what I have. So, happy birthday to me!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Splendor Falls redux!

I was going to present this new cover with much flourish, before my October and November went sideways. But since it is only FOUR WEEKS until it hits the stores, I’d better present, without further ado, the new cover for the paperback of The Splendor Falls.



The book will be available in Trade Paperback on January 11, 2011. Tell your friends. And if you haven’t written a review on Goodreads or Amazon or Barnes and Noble yet, that would be so awesome. (Why? More sales equals more books in the future. I get tons of mail about a sequel to this book, and the way to put pressure on me to write one is to spread the word about this one!)

Oh, hey! While Googling my own book, I found out there’s a Facebook community for The Splendor Falls. I mean, if there’s a community for “Justin Beiber should have my babies,” I guess it’s not a huge deal that my book has one, too. (Apparently on Barnes and Noble you can also “like” the book. Who knew! I my Facebook Fu is sadly lacking.)

Monday, December 13, 2010

Holiday Schizophrenia

I cannot believe that another month is almost half-gone. Especially THIS month. Once again, I am late with holiday cards and to-be-mailed gifts, I have not even started shopping AT ALL, and when I look at my list of Things I Wanted to Accomplish This Year... I just want to cry.

No wonder December is such a tough month.

Going through old posts makes me realize I’ve become something of a Grinch. But only sometimes. I love so much about Christmas, but I’m definitely... Cranky about the whole holiday hoopla.

For perspective, I should point out that the religious holiday of Christmastide and the secular holiday are two different things in my mind. I *love* Advent at church, because it’s a season of anticipation and mental preparation. [The religious holiday doesn’t start until December 25, and lasts for 12 days (the 12 Days of Christmas). To be really traditional, you wouldn’t put your tree up until Christmas eve, and you’d leave it up until January 6th. We leave ours up until then, though we put it up on December 6th (St. Nicholas day).]

And generally, I do love the more secular side of the holidays, too. I love giving cards and presents, I adore the lights and decorations. I even love the music. I think where the stress comes in... well, it’s two-fold. One, we are HAMMERED by Christmas commercials, which start earlier every year, and everything retail related (which is EVERYTHING in the US) goes right along with it.

I don’t remember feeling this way while living at the ranch, but in suburbia I feel *besieged* by the holidays. I don’t know if it’s because of simple access (I lived 100 miles from any major shopping) or the general pace of life being SO much more laid back (the major Name Brands being Wranglers and John Deere), or if it’s actually gotten worse in the last 5 years. (I do believe that the recession has make the Christmas advertising about 200% more obnoxious and desperate.) I also know that for personal reasons (my Dad died at Christmas), my tolerance for the commercial aspects of the holidays has plummeted.

So I guess part of my Grinchiness is my cynicism shield going up in response to all that.

The second part... Well, I fully admit is something I bring upon myself. But I’m not alone in this.

One of my friends summed the holidays up as one big To Do list. I can totally relate to that, but apparently it’s even worse when you have kids, because not only do you have more presents to buy, you also have to make cookies/cupcakes/etc. for school parties, take the little ones to see Santa Claus at the Mall (shudder), please the in laws, give the in-laws the list of gift suggestions...

At least I don’t have that. My kids are easy to buy for. A new squeaky chew toy never goes unappreciated.

When did such a happy time of year become so stressful? I know that for me things changed after Dad died, because now I have this neurotic anxiety to make everything as Happy As Possible. But since my moving to the suburbs ALSO coincided with my increase in Grinchiness, I’m not sure that’s not related, too. Because I’ve noticed I’m not the only nutcase who gets anxiety about being happy during the holidays.

A LOT of this goes back to the media (which goes back to commercialism) that we--and I may be talking mostly about white middle class Americans in this respect--have to do things RIGHT. We have some unrealistic Martha Stewart level of Holiday-ness that we strive to achieve. Or what? The Happy Holidays Police will come to your house? I know I feel it in my present giving. I love giving presents, but I find myself stressing over giving the RIGHT present to certain people. (And please believe me when I say that I KNOW the ridiculousness of my stressing over this when so many kids will get NO Christmas presents at ALL. I stress over that, too.)

Now... the fact that I always leave things until way too late... that I can’t blame on anyone but myself. Though I thinks some of that is me digging in my heels in response to Christmas ads starting mid-November. I won’t celebrate until I’m damned ready. Unfortunately by the time I’m ready, I’m behind the rest of America.

And I guess that’s a large part of my curmudgeonliness this time of year-- I time of year that I generally DO love. In this country, we’re so lucky to be able to celebrate whatever holiday we want, in whatever way we want. I feel like, by my Holiday schizophrenia, I’m exercising my right not to go into debt or a stress-induced fugue state over trying to celebrate a joyful time of year!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Blog o Rama

Two blog posts in one week. OMG. Who is this writer?

I’m not the most prolific poster HERE lately, so you might want to know about the places where I’m a little more scheduled.

If you read and love YA, you should definitely check out YA Outside the Lines. Oh my gosh, so many YA authors! With so many in one place, it’s a great way to find an author you may not have heard of before, as well as catch up with some of your favorites (like me.)

If nothing else, you should go to my post from last week. (This month’s topic is “Outside the Lines” and it’s kind of fun to see how 20+ authors interpret that differently.) Along with revealing that I’ve ALWAYS been... um, particular about the way I like things, this is also the first place I’ve publicly posted the Paperback cover of The Splendor Falls.

I also post every Friday on the Genreality blog, which is a very cool writing related blog with authors of all different genres. (Urban Fantasy, Romance, Thriller, Young Adult and more.) It’s kind of cool to see how, no matter what you write, some of the same things apply.

And I’ll try and post here more regularly. I went straight from all that travel to dealing with my very sick puppy, but I’m trying to get back into a routine (ha!) for December. (What a great month to pick for that, huh? Holiday craziness!)

I saved the Lizzie update for last, because not EVERYONE is obsessed with my dog as I am: Whatever is messing up Lizzie’s nasal cavity, it’s not cancer. (Yay!) Unfortunately, they don’t know WHAT it is. Right now getting antibiotic shots to try and clear up her sinus infection. Daily! Poor wee puppy! And poor me, because I’ve been giving them to her, which isn’t difficult, except that it makes her yelp and cry. :-(

Poor Lizzie. We’ve been calling her Snuffleuffagus because of all the snot. She’s like a toddler with a terrible cold. But now that it’s getting a little better, she’s perking up considerably! If we can get this infection cleared up at least we’ll get back to some status quo.

Here are Lizzie (on the right) and Penny (left) hanging out with me in my office. (Lizzie always looks this serious in pictures. She was actually feeling decent this day. Note the lack of snot bubbles.)