Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Best Laid Plans PART THREE

RIGHT. So we got over the fevers, but my middle child and I have been coughing up a lung or two each ever since. I've spent most of the last week lazing around, reading, because I just don't feel good.

That means Christmas was disorganized and low-key. The turkey breast was done in the Crock Pot (and overcooked, because you can't trust slow cooker instructions, obviously) and I totally forgot to make mashed potatoes. And I got a big box from Amazon and in my illness haze couldn't figure out what was in it, so hoped it was something someone had ordered for me. But I couldn't figure out why we hadn't received the Nerf gun for middle child. Yeah. So it never got wrapped and I pulled it out after he'd opened everything else. Oh hey! The oldest also got a Nerf gun from middle child, but everyone's been recovering and not ready for massive Nerf wars (especially the sort where we invite friends over and exchange germs).

All the coughing is finally tapering off, but yesterday my oldest started his fever and is coughing a bit. And he has an aversion to taking pills, so I can't even get ibuprofen in him. Or acetaminophen. Or Dayquil/NyQuil (I'm going to have to go get the liquid instead of the soft tabs).

Oh, and I forgot to mention that my husband has a new fun trick, which is passing kidney stones. (Apparently the closest men come to the pain of childbirth. WHEE!). Just two so far. Hopefully no more, with changing his diet a little. Because we don't know which type of stone it was, we don't even know if he's supposed to keep eating whole grains: All our bread is whole wheat and he eats an enormous bowl of oatmeal every day, so that's kind of a big deal for him (and for me, who does the shopping and cooking). But one place says don't eat lots of fiber and another says do. So who knows? Not me.

This morning, I suddenly realized that I need to light fires under myself and my whole RWA chapter so I can do the newsletter in a couple of days. We have a new banner, so I want to change up the newsletter a bit, too.

And I've done exactly nothing as far as writing, editing, marketing, or anything over the last ten days. WITH A BOOK COMING UP IN NINE DAYS.

I started a post about my favorite books of 2016 and need to finish that.

Nor have I exercised.

So, because all my best laid plans are going awry, why don't I go ahead and make some for the next month?

Today's goals: 
Walk in the sunshine.
Get blood test (because my veins are so small, they didn't get enough last time I tried)
Go to grocery store.
Work on Best-Of blog post.

This week's goals:
Work on new design for RWA newsletter.
Shop for oldest's birthday.
Work on book that's allllllmost done.

January goals:
Finish that book.
Find a job.
Edit next French book, Book 6, Francoise (or Future Vicomtesse? Or the Vicomte Dilemma?) (and WOW, that first chapter is rough. I must not have spent any more time on it since I wrote it a while back).

And I humbly ask that your goal be to pre-order Henri et Marcel. It's great. Honest.

Henri de Cantière has been surly since he returned from visiting his family at Versailles, but he doesn’t want to burden Marcel Fourbier, his longtime lover, with his problems. He can’t sleep and hurts all over at exactly the time when everything else seems to be falling apart.

Marcel can barely keep up with his usual duties of running their household and creating beautiful furniture in the de Cantière factory when more burdens fall on his shoulders. His estranged Huguenot family condemns him to hell but wants his help, a stranger attacks him in a dark street, an arsonist tries to destroy the factory, and Henri’s beloved sister-in-law, who has been like a sister to Marcel, is weakening after being in labor for several days.

Most of all, Marcel wants to find a cure for Henri, the man who holds his heart.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

More best laid plans

My middle child is mostly recovered....I think. His fever was 103.1 yesterday (YIKES!), then about 99.5 at 6:30 this morning, but he couldn't even get the thermometer up to normal this afternoon. He keeps coughing like he's trying to clear his lungs and I'm hoping that will clear up without it being bronchitis. He had an email from his science teacher with the study guide for tomorrow's final, but no instruction on exactly what he can bring. His whole book? Or just that page? But YES, he'd better be fine tomorrow!

My older son stayed up until after 2 am working on a book report that "shouldn't take very long" so went to school on very little sleep and is taking a nap instead of studying. I'm mostly worried he'll get sick before tomorrow. He says his exams Friday are "watch a movie" in French class, and "I don't know, but we've taken the test already" in English. So he can be sick starting at noon tomorrow when the first half of the exams are done.

And I took my daughter Christmas shopping this afternoon, which was a madhouse. Rookie move, I know, to go to Game Stop and Target (and the post office with a priority box, but the machine was working and only one person ahead of me in line), but I slept all morning and am still trying to kick the less-awful-than-middle-child flu. It's settled in my chest and I keep doing that deep, chest cough just like middle child's.

Santa and I need to confer on stocking presents, but otherwise I am DONE. The boys have done NO SHOPPING, though, so we're probably going to be out there Saturday morning. May the Spaghetti Monster have mercy on our souls.

But you know the best Christmas present? Pre-order Henri et Marcel:

Heck, go buy the first three in the series, too. They're more historical fiction with romantic elements than straight-up romance. (I mean, the strict definition of romance is that it focuses on the romantic leads and has a positive ending, so they're romance novels in that way). They're also about PG-13. They get racy and all, but it's not a major part of the books.

So anyway, Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Holidays!

Monday, December 19, 2016

Best laid plans...

I have gifts to get in the mail today. I mean, I have gifts to get *and* wrap *and* get in the mail today.

But I'm down with a mild flu. My middle child (who's 14 and a high school freshman) has a bigger fever than I do (102.7F, that's 39.3 for those of you outside the US). So far today, he's eaten one piece of toast and some water. I need to at least go out a buy him Gatorade.

My youngest (who's 8) is done with school and spent the whole morning playing Animal Jam. She's getting a subscription for Christmas, but there's a way you can play for free in a limited way.

So anyway, I'll be online shopping and shipping things directly to my sister, I guess.

But for now, I'm going back to bed.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

A small selection of some of my fave books of 2016

I haven't been keeping up my Goodreads account this year, so it shows that I have ONLY read 97 books.

Mostly, I review books on there if I really liked them, though I also use it to take note of books I hope to read. Which means I don't have my DNF and C or lower books on there. It looks like I only read things that I give 4 or 5 stars to. I don't, though wouldn't life be grand if I could always pick up books I'm going to love? But it's a public forum and now I'm an author and not airing all my critiques. I did give a few 3 star reviews (which I don't consider that least not when I give them), but those are mostly of book group books.

I had only a couple re-reads in my 5 star list (but didn't go back and re-star all my favorite re-reads, so this is not an exhaustive list).

So my highly biased personal rec list:

First, those authors I either don't know or only know slightly or online:

A Matter of Class
Balogh, Mary
Signs of Attraction
Brown, Laura
A Bollywood Affair (Bollywood)
Dev, Sonali
Heyer, Georgette
We Are the Ants
Hutchinson, Shaun David
Listen to the Moon (Lively St. Lemeston, #3)
Lerner, Rose
*Eleanor & Park Rowell, Rainbow
Break My Fall (Falling, #2)
Scott, Jessica
Shards of Hope (Psy-Changeling, #14)
Singh, Nalini


I'd like to say I'm completely objective, but seriously? If Amazon thinks reviewers are kinder when they get the book free and they delete reviews if they decide that the reviewer knows the author in person even if the only link is that you follow the author on Facebook... well, I'm just warning you.
So those who are in my RWA chapter, or, in the case of Shay, someone I've known since my little sister had her mom as a teacher in second grade and we were friends in high school:

Romancing the Null (The Outlier Prophecies #1)
Gower, Tina
Win Some, Lose Some
Savage, Shay
Earning a Ring (More Than a Game, #4)
Mathews, Kristina
Swept Away (Swift River Romance #1)
Mathews, Kristina
Virtually Impossible (Once and Forever, #2)
Stewart, Lauren

I'll start with this second set:
Tina Gower is amazing and funny in her books and in person. The Outlier Prophecy series is a lot of fun. I think this first one is perma-free, so give it a try!

I've only read a few of Shay Savage's books and adored Win Some, Lose Some. The hero has Asperger's along with a bunch of other diagnoses. He's good and kind and sometimes he just can't cope.

Kristina Mathews writes sporty heroes. The More Than a Game series is about her first love: baseball. The Swift River books are about a whitewater rafting business. The second Swift River book *just* came out and I haven't read it yet.

And Lauren Stewart does angst and dark and very very sexy extremely well. I liked the first book in the Once and Forever series even better, but that was last year.

As for all the others:

Really, We Are the Ants is the most surprising of the list. We read it for one of my book groups and I laughed, I cried, I wondered if the author really meant that the kid was being abducted by aliens. It's YA with a gay teen protagonist who is being tested by aliens as to if he will press a button to prevent the world from ending.

Rose Lerner's Lively St. Lemeston series is amazing all around, with characters you don't often see in romance, especially Regency ones. Listen to the Moon is a marriage of convenience but between an unemployed valet and maid who marry so they can become the butler and housekeeper to the village vicar. It's very sexy and very open about the class distinctions of 19th century society, even among the household servants.

Signs of Attraction is Laura Brown's first published novel and has Deaf and Hard of Hearing main characters (and most of the supporting cast, too). It's an excellent romance and also educational about Deaf Culture.

Mary Balogh's A Matter of Class surprised me. It was a short novel and about a marriage of convenience between a disgraced daughter of aristocrats and the son of rich social climbers. And there's a twist to it. And it's awesome. I started out thinking I was settling into a typical Balogh (which I always like, but only about four stars worth of love because I'm strict) and it totally enchanted me.

Let's see: the Sonali Dev books are all good, if a bit melodramatic and, well, Bollywood-ish.

Georgette Heyer died when I was a kid, but her novels live on. Cotillion is probably my favorite of them, mostly because the hero is not her usual big, gorgeous, perfect man.

And this is my favorite Rainbow Rowell book. Romeo and Juliet meets eighties references.

Jessica Scott does amazing military romance, which she'd better do well, seeing as she's career US Army and knows these characters.

Nalini Singh's Psy-Changeling series is my go-to for re-reading and one of the few series I'll buy brand new in hardcover (with signature in this case, since I waited and bought it at the RWA conference).

So there I go. And I just noticed that my latest re-read of Lauren Willig's Mischief of the Mistletoe doesn't show. So there's another.

And, of course, my books. They're the best.

Thank goodness for online shopping!

I've gotten three packages in the last two days, so most of my Christmas shopping is done!

I'm not really sure what my husband is getting, and my sister has told me nothing at all about her kids...

In other news, I got a mystery box, which I guess is a present for me, but I don't know if what's inside is wrapped, so I don't want to open it until Xmas.

On the other hand, I'm the mom and am also in charge of making sure my kids get presents for each other and for their dad (and for me, because if I don't remind them, I don't get much of anything...), so I'm only part way there. Luckily, they have cash and I can drop the two teens off in a high-store-density area and let them go. My daughter, I have to help because she's only eight and only has a little money.

We made cookies last weekend and my friend hosted a cookie exchange last night (I was volunteering, wrapping presents at Barnes and Noble to raise money for the Friends of the Library, so I missed the party, but dropped off my cookies and picked up a variety today), so we're set for sugar for a while.

Tomorrow, I have a blood test, then I have to go to the grocery. Then I'll come home, sit down for a little while, then go pick my daughter up from her last day of school, a minimum day. My boys have another week of the semester, including exams, and get out on the 23rd. TWENTY-THIRD. Good thing we're not going anywhere, but they're going to have to get presents this weekend as a break from studying.

So anyway, we are going to have Christmas even though I just got the cars fixed...

Up soon: my favorite books of 2016!

Also up soon! My favorite book of 2017: Henri et Marcel!

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Like that meme going around:

Me at the beginning of 2016:

Me at the end of 2016:

Ah, if only I were as divine as Carole Kane.

I am a witch.

I am your wife.

And you'd better not discount me.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Writing with distractions

This weekend, I did no writing at all. 

I had a three-day long migraine with other health things, so I managed to read books without it hurting too much, but I took naps and stayed in bed or on the couch most of the time. We went to my friend's son's boy scout pasta dinner on Saturday night, me doped up on ibuprofen (so my head didn't hurt, but I was sort of zoned out). It was nice, but it's always loud and I don't know many people. My youngest was cranky and coming down with a cold, so at the second meltdown, we had to leave.

Today, I am trying to catch up and finish a scene I was in the middle of (with the beginnings of the headache) when I left to set up the Scholastic book fair at my daughter's school on Friday. Then she wanted to run the make up day with running club. Then we went by the library. Then we came home and I had to go lie down.

And now my husband is working from home and has some guy here to get help with his website. A guy with a loud voice.

So anyway, I'm taking a break. 

I mean, it was a sex scene and the mood is ruined....

It's kind of hard anyway, each December when Nanowrimo is over and I still need to finish whatever book I'm working on (because I never finish in November, even when I win - which is most years.) (*Pats self on back*), and all of a sudden, my brain has to be on Christmas presents and mailing things and decorations and OH OOPS I have not yet signed up to bring anything to my daughter's Holiday Feast at school and so on....


So anyway, now that November is over and this headache has cleared out, I'm ready to move on with work and with family and with writing.

On to December!

(One month and one day to Henri et Marcel!)