Friday, September 28, 2012

The week...

It's Friday. I've done next to nothing all day. The kids are home (Professional Development day) and we walked the dog and went to the optometrist to pick up their new glasses. I might make jam. There are some shirts to iron. I probably should have done a lot more stuff, but I'm actually tired today and can't seem to find the gumption.

I did write a blog post and sent it off...one more for the blog tour looked after. :-)

It was a busy week. I finished the first draft of my book and promptly realized I have to rewrite a big chunk of the end that just isn't sitting right. I watched the season premieres of NCIS, NCIS LA, Big Bang Theory and Person of Interest.  Hands down the best one was Person of Interest. The others were good but not OMG good. So far that title is still held by Castle.

I had two separate curriculum nights which were great and I got to meet all the teachers. I worked out and I read and did laundry. All in all it was busy, and the weekend is going to be too and I think today I just rebelled and decided to NOT be productive.

But I can only do that for so long, so I'm going to maybe iron those shirts. Or something.

Meanwhile, have a fun weekend! There's a trip to Costco and an RWA meeting in my schedule!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Castle (with spoilers)

I couldn't wait to watch last night's season opener of Castle. The closer it got, the more excited I was. I couldn't BELIEVE how they ended it last season. And I knew from different bits of buzz that it wasn't going to be a "we ended it with it looking like they were going to get together, but something's going to happen to stop it" thing. It had happened. When this season started, it would definitely be THE MORNING AFTER.

And yeah, I *may* have watched that final scene from last season on YouTube a few times before last night. :-)

So here's my brief take on last night's epi from a "when they get together it usually kills the show" kind of perspective.

We all know that the tension is what sells so when characters get the payoff a lot of the time the tension is just...gone. And a show tanks. But you have to balance that with just enough intimacy to keep readers interested. And did last night ever do that! Beckett in one of Castle's shirts bringing him coffee in bed...nice. The whole "I've got the whole day, what should we do?" thing - lovely. As viewers we are RIGHT THERE. Being interrupted by his mother and hung over daughter? Priceless.

And then when Castle is at HER apartment and they get interrupted? Well, in the words of Sheldon Cooper, it looked like they were never going to have coitus.
 :-)

So then we're launched into the story again - aka who is out to kill Beckett and who killed her mother. She doesn't want to get involved. She's with Castle because she finally let go of the case. But a renewed sense of danger plunges her right back into the middle again. And she finds out who is behind the whole thing. Meanwhile they nearly get blown up (I was sad to see Tahmoh Penikett die, but dude that's what you get when you play a bad guy!) along with her assassin and Espo and Ryan sorta make up (gotta keep that bromance going).

But here's the big thing and I think maybe a lot of people missed it. And this is HUGE from a conflict POV for Beckett because it's buried in PLOT.

Beckett confronts the man who killed her mother. The man who has been behind this whole thing. Who ordered someone to kill her. This is the person she's hunted for YEARS. She has a gun on him. She's not a cop any longer. She can end it all right here.

And what does she do? She lies and says she has the file. She takes back the power by telling him that if something ever happens to her or someone she cares about, the whole truth will come out and she will ruin him.

Of course she does that. Because she's Kate and she can't kill someone in cold blood.

But there's a better reason and it's in the "someone she cares about" line. And here's the truth behind Kate's decision: she chose protecting Castle over the goal she's been working towards her whole adult life.  HE means more to her than justice.

We saw bits of this in the season finale last year when she tells Castle that Maddox got away but all she could think about was him. This time she put her money where her mouth was. She chose him.

And that, my friends, is HUGE. Action, humour, and some real emotion all in one episode. I can't say how this whole relationship is going to play out or what will happen to the show. But I'm sure going to enjoy finding out.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Changes

Like anything else in life, the only thing that is guaranteed is change. A few weeks ago I found out that there would be a change in my writing part of my life - my fantastic editor Sally Williamson has been promoted and as such, won't be my editor any longer.

Editor switches are part of the biz, and to be honest, we've been together five years and something close to fifteen books together.  It's surprising we haven't been switched already. Oddly enough, I half-jokingly said to the Executive Editor in London recently that she had better not take Sally from me or she was going to have to pry her from my fingers. Less than two months later...but in all seriousness, it's a fabulous opportunity for her and I'm very, very pleased.

But then there was a week or two of me waiting to find out who my new editor would be. Because hers is not the only staffing change in the office, I can't imagine the craziness of trying to sort it all out, but yesterday I found out that my new editor is Carly Byrne. I can now publicly confess that I was hoping it was one of two people and one of those people was Carly, so I'm very happy indeed. Carly worked with Sally on a bunch of my books and she's a cowboy lover so I'm sure we're going to have a right good time. :-)

Most of all, it's just good to KNOW. As with most things, it's that Not Knowing that fuels the anxiety and distractedness. Now it's full speed ahead, and it's no surprise that today's been the best writing day that I've had in over a week.

In fact, my hero is begging me to get back, since I kind of left him hanging!

Happy Thursday!

Monday, September 17, 2012

We interrupt this program...

I was going to blog about something today and I've clean forgotten what it was because some very nice people got some very nice news today and I'm going to tell you about THAT.

Back in February 2009 I chose a winner for my Perfect Pitch Contest (which I haven't held in a few years. I'm thinking about bringing it back). That winner was Sri Pammi and you can read what I had to say about her entry. Back then I knew she was publishable. And I knew that if she kept at it, she would eventually hit the right editor with the right project.

Today was that day. Sri has sold to Harlequin Presents! I'm so happy and pleased for her! It sometimes takes longer than we'd like to get The Call, but it is proof positive that a lot of hard work and persistence pays off! Congrats Sri!

Well, I'd no more than gotten through that bout of excitement when Twitter exploded with more news! (Seriously. Editors everywhere getting excited. It appears they like buying new authors as much as authors like selling.)

More congrats are going out to Victoria Parker, who also sold to Presents! I met Victoria in New York in 2011. I would have sworn she was already published. She seriously had that total vibe about her, and she was so nice and sweet and poised...I swear, she had everything a professional writer should have EXCEPT the contract.

Well, she's got that now and I'm thrilled! Congratulations, Victoria!

And welcome to the Harlequin Mills and Boon family, both of you. :-)

Friday, September 14, 2012

Exposed, Rejected...and Simon Cowell

I've admittedly been a bit ranty this week. My last blog post was ranty about exclusivity - and one mom I ran into summed it up perfectly when she said that September is a harder month financially than Christmas.

Then yesterday there was my facebook post where I expressed a firm opinion on the breach of etiquette around FB spam - mainly the practice of people auto adding you to groups without the benefit of an invite. Main message? Don't do it. There's a reason why there's an invite button.

Today I'm not going to be ranty. I'm just...concerned. And the moment I watched Britney Spears on the X Factor last night I knew I was going to write about it. When I got up this morning, two more stories were front and centre in my internet world which really got me thinking about the sense of entitlement some people feel to insert themselves in someone else's life - and what constitutes an invasion of privacy.

So the big news from the Royals today is that there are photos of the Duchess of Cambridge topless. At first impulse, it's tempting to say, "If you don't want to be photographed that way, leave your clothes on." I mean look at Prince Harry's Vegas thing. Seriously security dudes, why on earth weren't all the cell phones confiscated at the door?

But Will and Kate were vacationing. In a private home. By a private pool. And the photos were taken with a long lens - meaning it's not like she was anywhere near a public place taking off her bikini. She was enjoying some time poolside with her husband. Invasion of privacy? YOU BET. A journo made the comment that she can't even shop on the High Street anymore, because she'd have to worry about cameras in the change rooms. 

This morning I also logged on to news of a literary agent being assaulted at her home. Why? Because she gave someone a rejection. Apparently this person thought that entitled them to invade her privacy, find out where she lived, and cause her bodily harm. Oh. My. God. She's okay, but you tell me - what's she going to think of everytime she rejects someone's novel????

Now on to Britney. You know, I've never been a huge Brit fan. I thought WTH when she was signed for the XFactor. Turns out I think she's going to be very good at it. Also turns out this might be really good for establishing credibility. Last night I saw proof of why some celebs might actually go off the rails from time to time. The reality of how they live looks nothing like OUR reality. They have to deal with THIS:



What on earth was she going to do? She can't encourage him because he's crazy. She can't be too discouraging because....he's crazy. She can't remove herself from the situation because this is HER JOB. And yeah, I know they ramped it up with the music and stuff but seriously? I was SO CREEPED OUT. And as much as I think Simon can be a knob, last night he and LA totally manned up and took over. LA by encouraging this guy to leave the stage and Simon by intervening with the flowers. Because when this guy says "That's all you've got for me? No?" I'm squirming. And when he asks if he can take her the flowers, I'm thinking "O M G - do not let this guy within 10 feet of her."

This is the reality of HER life.

Why do people feel such a sense of entitlement? Does privacy have any meaning once you enter certain visible professions?

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

A Mini Rant

Back to school is one of the best times of the year. After about the 6 week mark of summer holidays, my kids get antsy and the words "I'm bored" start happening. They miss their friends. I miss writing time.

But I also HATE September because I feel like walking chequebook, and my bank account isn't endless.

I spent $150 on school supplies for the two kids. I spent $100 on shoes only because I got a major sale (it was BOGO). Then I spent about $150 on clothes, because kids grow, and what fit in June suddenly didn't fit anymore (did I mention youngest grew THREE INCHES last year?). We got the bare minimum.

The first week of school I got hit for:

$25 youngest's school fees
$43 eldest's school fees - and I had to buy her her own locker lock
$70 youngest's choir fees ($25, plus $45 for uniform)
$28 eldest's school pictures (yes, already!)

Both girls are in band through the school. School activities tend to be cheaper than outside activities, however on top of instruments, the "recommended" payment for upkeep of the band program is $40 for youngest and $100 for eldest.

Youngest had her first choir rehearsal last night and brought a note home about the choir "trip" this year which is estimated to cost each kid $1750. Bring your first payment to the meeting in 2 weeks.

At this point I'm starting to panic.

And I look around me and I KNOW that there are so many other families who have less than we do, and if WE'RE struggling to shell out cash for this stuff, it's got to be practically impossible for other families to do it.

And this is where my rant comes in.

I don't and have never thought that kids need to be in EVERYTHING going. However I do know that the kids who tend to get in trouble are the ones who have too much time on their hands. To make ends meet most parents have to work, so the kids come home alone after school. That's life. Families need to eat, people need to work (and I know how very lucky I am to be able to work from home). Extra curricular activities are GOOD for kids. They teach lessons. They give them somewhere to be. They help with academic learning (go google studies on the affect of music on academics).  And you know what? THE KIDS WHO NEED IT MOST ARE THE ONES WHO CAN'T AFFORD IT.

Our rec centre, bless them, has good programs that are cheap. After school drop in is free. The organized things are under $30 for eight weeks. Their policy is accessible to all.

But other stuff? It's so prohibitive. A neighbour told me on Monday that it was $3200 for her son to play hockey this year. And I only have 2 kids.

For a lot of families, having their kid participate in a simple program is the difference between groceries or not, paying the power bill or not, paying for heat or not.

That's not right. If we want to keep our kids out of trouble, keep them learning, have them find something that they are really good at, a place to belong and a healthy sense of self-esteem, we can't make it financially prohibitive. Because while I'm relatively sure we'll scrape up the money, I know there are a lot of families who simply can't and a lot of kids left out.

I guess my rant wasn't quite so mini, was it?

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Christmas - Already?

So the good news is my sister and brother in law are coming down for Thanksgiving (which is early October here in Canada). That's exciting because we always have a lot of fun. There will be much eating of food and playing of cards for sure. Their kids - grown - are coming too but staying with the oldest who lives about 30 min from here, and then everyone coming for dinner. It'll be a time. I will need to get a good sized turkey since there will be 10 of us for dinner, and four of those are big men.

Then I was talking to my mom last night - my step dad had surgery and got home so we were catching up - and we were chatting about it and I realized....

I need to get my Christmas presents for my family sorted so I can send them with my sister at Thanksgiving.

I'll see my family over the holiday, but maybe not until after Dec 25, which means I have to get prezzies up there somehow. This is the perfect opportunity. But ACK! It means on top of everything else, I'm going to be CHRISTMAS SHOPPING.

I normally try to start early so I don't get mobbed at the mall in late November/December, because I'm not a big shopper. Nor do I enjoy crowds and trying to find a parking spot. BUT this feels rather early indeed to try to figure out WHAT I'm going to get everyone. And to be wrapping. And thinking about if I'm going to tuck something homemade into the presents.

So tell me - is Christmas a bad word for you this early, or do you get a jump start on your shopping?

Thursday, September 06, 2012

Where did the week go?

How can it be that I haven't updated my blog ALL WEEK?

Well, Monday was a holiday so I think I'm probably excused that day. :-) We spent it tidying the house and mowing the grass and trying to soothe the nerves of two kids who were starting new schools on Wednesday.

We survived the new school stuff (apparently high school is AWESOME *eyeroll*) and I got started on my new book. I realized after writing most of the first chapter that my heroine was lacking something so a mini-brainstorm session was required. I also cleared my desk of a bunch of admin which feels terrific. And today - well, today I did more "clearing of the decks" and I went grocery shopping since my cupboard was very bare. And filled my truck with gas since it was empty.

So far I have one bear hug for announcing that tonight's dinner is Sweet Thai Chili Chicken and Rice Noodles. I expect another may be in the offing as soon as offspring #2 gets home in about 2 minutes.

So truly - the week got away with me. In a big way. But it DOES feel really great to be back in my regular schedule again.

What's new with you?

Saturday, September 01, 2012

Mincemeat Bars

I love mincemeat, but my family doesn't (except for our youngest). But my mom and my mom in law always send some our way, so I look for ways of using it that doesn't equal "pie".

I had the idea to make Mincemeat Bars for the kids' lunches - they like Mincemeat Cookies as they taste a lot like Hermits.  But I couldn't find a recipe I liked except ones that made them like Date Squares - with the mincemeat in the middle.

So I made up my own.

And tried one warm to make sure it was good. And it WAS! Delicious!

I used applesauce in place of butter or shortening, and added some healthy ingredients so while this is a sweet treat there's good stuff in it too. I'm wrapping them up individually and sticking them in the freezer so I can just pop them into lunch bags. This also makes a HUGE batch.

MINCEMEAT BARS

3 cups mincemeat
2 eggs
1 cup applesauce
1 cup brown sugar
1 tsp salt
3 cups Whole Wheat Flour
1 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup ground almonds
2 scoops vanilla protein powder
1 tbsp flax seed
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder

Mix together mincemeat, eggs, applesauce, and brown sugar. Add in flour, salt, soda, powder, protein powder and stir to combine. Mix in almonds, flax, and rolled oats.

Turn into a greased 11x14 pan and bake for 1 hour at 350. Or for "thinner" bars, divide between 2 13x9 pans and bake until a toothpick comes out clean.