Random Sunday

We’ve finally decided on a name for the house: Squalor. As in:

Q: Where do you live?
A: In Squalor. It’s east of Cincinnati.

I’ve been investigating space heaters and they’ve change a lot since Mollie fell into one when she was two. (Yes, thank you, I still have nightmare flashbacks.) The one I’m using right now is the cutest oil-filled radiator with no glowing coils to maim children, but I’m thinking of trading up to an electric fireplace. Because I’m cold, that’s why.

I still have RV fever. I’ve found a great used one in upstate NY that Krissie and Richie would almost certainly drive down for me, I just don’t have any money. And besides, once I got one, I’d have to redecorate and paint and make curtains and I have this book that is so grossly overdue I have nightmares about it when I’m not having flashback nightmares about Mollie falling into the space heater. Plus some other stuff. But expect to hear more moaning about small RVs. I’s my new obsession. Sorry.

So I got the iPad. For the first couple of months I had it, I mostly played games on it and read the occasional book, and my conclusion was pretty much that it was a fun toy but not the game-changer that everybody kept saying it was. Then I started picking up my e-mail and Googling for spur-of-the-minute stuff and find new apps. And I discovered that it was much easier to read the iPad than it was my old falling-apart Georgette Heyer mysteries as I researched romantic mysteries, so I read all of them as e-books. Then I went on a road trip and realized that if I’d gone for the higher-end edition, I could have been google mapping the entire time and picking up my e-mail ANYWHERE and kicked myself for setting my sights so low. The only thing I don’t do on it now is word processing and the blogs. Everything else, the iPad is easier. It’s a game-changer, folks. I love my iPad (but I still wish they’d given it a less stupid name).

Krissie and Lani and I did a lot of brainstorming for Fairy Tale Lies while she was here, and one of the conclusions we came to is that it had to be about the romances more than the sisterhood. I’m not even sure I know how to write romances anymore, but I’m game to try. Reworking the collage now because we added extra characters (minions, mostly, using Steve Buscemi and Kristin Chenowith for extra evil), and broke the story into four acts (Into the Woods, Hello, Sailor, (Have Fun) Storming the Castle, and The Final Battle). And I changed my placeholders, so that’ll rev things up.

Krissie and I drove for twelve hours (two days) and talked the entire time and she gave me what I desperately needed which was the second book premise. I had the first, third, and fourth, but the second was a black hole since I’d looked at what I’d been going to do and realized that it was All Wrong. Krissie made the suggestion gently the night before we started the trip, and I said, “No, that’s not it.” Then she tried it again when we stopped for the night. “No, that’s not it.” Then she just mentioned it again when we were crossing into Ohio, and I said, “THAT’S IT!” And she muttered, “Three days.” No, she didn’t but she could have. Basically, Liz left home when she was seventeen before she graduated, and the second book takes place in June. “What the hell happens in June?” I said to Krissie. “It can’t be a wedding, that’s in the first book.” “Graduation?” she said. “No,” I said, “nobody in the book is old or young enough to graduate.” Next day: “Graduation?” “No, that won’t work.” Third day: “Graduation?” “Oh, wait, because Liz never graduated? That’s GENIUS.” Three days. It’s a miracle she still talks to me.

Also, I LOVE KRISSIE. I did a blog post about my great day in NYC where I effusively said that I loved many people and things, but I did not mention her because everybody knows she’s my sister and I adore her, but she made the pointed suggestion that perhaps she should have been mentioned so I LOVE KRISSIE. Waiting to hear from Lani now. “You always liked Krissie best.”

Light continues to astound. She’s getting older–she turned nine a couple of weeks ago–so she’s getting craftier, but mostly she’s just implacable. We’ve always known she’s a force of nature, raising Light consists mostly of saying no and sitting on her and she still gets away with murder, but then last week they did testing for the gifted program, and she tested gifted in all three areas. Now you have to understand, Light does not like to read. She lives for TV, sugar, and whatever small plastic things consume her thoughts at the moment (formerly Littlest Pet Shop, now Zoobles, or Zoobies, I get them confused, the little plastic aliens that hurt like hell when you step on them in your bare feet). She does not have an academic bone in her body. And yet, the little buzzsaw is in three gifted programs. I told Lani, “You realize we’re the only thing standing between the rest of the world and your daughter. And I don’t think the rest of the world is ready for her.” The good news is, her plans for the future are to have her own island and three million cats. And a maid to empty the litter box. So we have some time before she takes over the planet, but still, I’m warning you now. Light is coming. If she asks you for anything, say, “NO,” or you’ll end up naked in a barrel.

I’ve been putting together Closet Maid shelving units forever; I don’t even need to read the directions any more. I normally am not a fan of Closet Maid, but they have these fabric boxes that you slide into the square cubbies and they’re very bright and cheerful, and I can put the units on casters and we all know how I feel about Cheerful On Wheels. The best part: One of the fabric boxes has a lion’s face with an open mouth and I can put my trash bags in there and then just pull the next bag through the lion’s open mouth. Really, you have to get one of those for your trash bags. Nothing like feeling happy every time you bag the trash.

They have a green monkey, too, but I’m not sure about him. He looks shifty. And they used to have a blue elephant but he’s disappeared from Amazon. I blame the monkey.

I just bought these shoes:

Then I searched for them online because the place I bought them was out of my size, and found this blog where women were either sneering at them (“I could not take seriously any woman who wore those in public”) or copping to owning a pair. I’m wearing them to RWA in June. I mention that so that those of you who cannot take me seriously if I’m wearing them can brace yourself. Because even in bunny slippers, I’m still a pit bull, baby.

The Kit Cake

Lani sent me the step by step pictures of Sweetness’s Kit cake. She used Wilton fondant because that’s what I had, and paste food coloring I think. She should really be doing this post but Lucy March evidently doesn’t do food how-tos, unlike Argh which will do anything because we are completely undisciplined, so here’s Lucy’s “How To Make A Kit Cake” in pictures:
Continue reading

Wolfie IS Fredric March

We’re trying to get a complete first draft of Dogs and Goddesses done by Monday, and I think we’ll make it. But it means I’m going to be a lousy blogger until then. In the meantime, here are Wolfie and Veronica pictures.

I think Wolfie’s got some 40’s movie star thing going on . . .

doglove1.jpg

L&M

doglove2.jpg

Same nose, anyway.

The Ten . . .

It’s New Year’s Eve. Time to do the Ten Best Books List or the Ten Best Movies List or . . . except I don’t think I had the chance to read ten books this year and I know I didn’t see ten movies. It was, as usual, an insane year, so I and everybody I love and work with have resolved to be calm and steady in 2008, For writers, that a big deal. In keeping with that thought, here’s my ten worst and best of 2007. Listing the ten worst didn’t do a thing for me except depress me, but the ten best was just lovely, so I’m focusing on that in the future. If I were you, I’d do that, too.

Ten Lousy Things about 2007:
(in no particular order)
I still didn’t finish You Again.
Bernie died. A fine, fine dog and a credit to his species. And I wasn’t even here.
My knees went wonky on me.
I didn’t lose thirty pounds. I didn’t lose three pounds, either.
Joss Whedon isn’t going to do Wonder Woman.
I lost my agent.
I cleaned my office and two weeks later it was a pit again.
Everything my government did.
Uhhh . . . okay eight lousy things. After that, I got nothin’.

Ten Good Things About 2007

(Note: Do not expect these to be deep. I don’t do deep.)
(Again, no particular order.)

The Agnes and the Hitman Cover

Pushing Daisies

Collaborating with Lani and Krissie on Dogs and Goddessess

Veronica and Milton

Scrivener and Curio

Amy and Jodi (my new agents)

Music and Lyrics (movie and soundtrack)

Cherry Con

The new They Might Be Giants album, especially “The Mesopotamians.”

My beach skirt

Books. All of them.

Chocolate from England.

Actually, I have so many good things. I’m sitting here looking at the river with four happy dogs on my bed (the cat is in the bathroom because the floor is heated in there and she’s wallowing), I’m almost finished with the first full draft of a great collab book, and I’ve got three great books to work on after that. The sun is shining FOR ONCE, and I have a meeting and then I’m going to the fancy grocery store which means lunch will be really fun (the deli is Satan’s playground). And then I’m coming home to write while puppies chew my shoes, thereby alleviating that nasty I-have-too-many-shoes-for-my-closet problem. And Milton, while refusing paper training, is now bubble-wrap trained. Milton takes his own path, which is as good a plan as any for the new year.

Happy New Year! May your path for 2008 be new, may your ten worst list come up short, and may your ten best list spilleth over into the triple digits. Nothing but good times ahead.

Christmas Card Guilt

I didn’t get mine out again. They’re beautiful, too. I bought them last year after I lost the ones I didn’t sent out the year before. I’d like to tell you I don’t do it because it wastes trees or something, but the truth is, I love holiday cards. I’m just too disorganized to send the damn things out.

But I love the ones I get. (More guilt.) I don’t know if most of them have dogs on them because I love dogs or because the people I know are dog lovers. I got one from Susan Wiggs that was a beautiful beach scene with “Peace” spelled out in shells. She put a picture of her dog inside. (He’s darling.) Kathleen from Dachshund Rescue sent me a cute card of a Christmas tree filled with animals. There were no dachshunds so she drew one on. I had to look close to tell she’d added it, but it was so much fun.

I love the newsletters, too. I know it’s fashionable to make fun of those, but I love hearing what everybody did. My life is so boring–I wrote, I fed the dogs, I wrote, I fed the dogs, I wrote–so to hear about the places people went and all the things their kids did makes me happy. Susan Elizabeth Phillips has the best one: it’s all pictures with captions.

And then sometimes people send me stuff, and that’s lovely, too, although really you don’t need to. I rip the packages open with great glee, but you don’t need to. My second fave there: both my agencies give to charity instead of sending gifts to their authors. Makes me feel good all over, not just for the charities but also because I was so smart to choose such thoughtful people to work with. My fave because I’m greedy: Lani made me a blue canary night light to put in the outlet by my light switch which just plain makes me happy. And then there’s Milton and Veronica, my gifts to myself that keep on giving. And chewing.

The truth is, the holidays just sneak up on me. I’m not going to get the tree up this year, although I’m determined to do better next year. I’m not much for carols, either, although I do like watching this one. Best Christmas caroler ever was Judy Garland, extremely good for listening to while looking at a lighted Christmas tree in a dark room. (My favorite comment on this video is “I like her nose. I’ve always liked her nose.”) Holiday food is good, but it’s fattening. Plus it’s the end of the year. Time is running out to keep those resolutions I can’t remember I made. Time to look back at all the things I screwed up this year (like my Christmas cards) before looking forward to all the things I’m going to do brilliantly in 2008. Maybe that’s why looking a lighted Christmas tree in a dark room makes me kind of melancholy. Or maybe it’s Judy.

But I want to get those cards out. And a lot of my friends do other holidays besides Christmas so it’s not as if they have to go out now. Next week would be good. If I could find them . . .

Happy holidays to everybody I owe cards to. Next year, I’ll get them out in time, I swear. I think I’ll send them in January.

And especially happy holidays to all Argh readers everywhere. Whatever you’re celebrating, I hope you’re merry and bright and safe and warm and surrounded by those who love you. Especially if those who love you are dogs. Listening to Judy Garland. In the dark under a lighted Christmas tree.

Waiting for the card that never comes.

ARGH.

Annie

So with four dogs and one cat, you’d think the cat would be in trouble, but if you think that, you don’t know cats. Or Annie.

Annie was a rescue from the mean streets of Dayton, so even as a kitten, she had street cred. Then she lived for a good chunk of her younger years in German Village in Columbus which, while not exactly Beirut, had its share of rats and raccoons, neither of which ventured into our yard more than once. And then, of course, we moved to the country where she had nine acres of wildlife to quell. She’s a tough old broad, which is probably why we get along so well. Annie’s been in one book–she was the model for Elvis in Bet Me–but that was before I began Argh, so I’ve never really blogged about her. And now, due to popular demand, here’s Annie:

Annie

Annie and Lucy get along great. Annie and Wolfie have issues they worked out. If you read Faking It, you may remember Steve’s approach to cats. This was also Wolfie’s approach to Annie, and then she’d swat him good, and they’d curl up together and go to sleep. Now, they just exist together. Well, you know family, there are always problems but you stick anyway.

Annie&Wolfie

Milton is taking longer to absorb the “cat is family” idea, but they’re doing better. They can sit on the bed together now. Well, Milton sits on the laptop, but the proximity is the same.

M&A

Which is not to imply that Annie has any respect for him.

M&A2

Meanwhile, Lucy and Veronica lounge:

Lucy&V

It’s a peaceable kingdom.

M&A3

As long as Milton is asleep and everybody recognizes that Annie is not to be trifled with.

Pink Goes Home

There was a post in moderation Thursday night when I checked this blog, from someone who said, “Please contact me about Pink, there’s an urgent health issue.” I freaked of course and then I googled for the e-mail and found out it was from the woman who had bought Veronica from a breeder in North Carolina. Which meant it had to be Pink’s owner, too, and I knew health issues had forced her to give up the dogs, so I e-mailed and said, “What’s wrong with Pink?” Turns out, nothing, Pink is as healthy as a horse; both Pink and Veronica had clearly been well taken care of (unlike poor Milton who had to be nursed back to health and socialized by Kathleen at Dachshund Rescue). What was wrong? Pink had been her kids’ dog, and she’d given her away with Veronica and the kids were distraught. She wanted Pink back. After that it got complicated because I didn’t like the idea of Pink being in a revolving door, and because I’d signed a paper promising not to give the dog away to anybody but Dachshund Rescue (which shows you how much Dachshund Rescue watches out for the dogs it takes into its care) and because I thought she’d been forced to give up Pink so how could she take her back?, so there were many phone calls and much discussion but in the end, for me, it was about Pink. Veronica settled in here fine, but Pink just wanted to go home. She’d curl up with me at night, but she just was not happy. And at six, she’d been with the family a lot longer than Veronica, so I had figured it would take her longer to fit in, but then the woman called and her kids wanted the dog back and . . .

I gave Pink back. I’m still not sure it was the right thing to do, but it was the best solution I could think of.

After I handed Pink over, I came home and ate an entire pint of Dove ice cream. Then I passed out from sugar shock with the four dogs draped over me. When I woke up, Milton had eaten the ice cream carton. So we’re all fine. Veronica seems more settled now; I was afraid she’d miss Pink but she wrestles with Milton and curls up with Wolfie to sleep and she’s getting gutsier every day. In fact, all the dogs seem more settled. I think maybe Pink’s tension was getting to all of them. Annie has even returned to sacking out on the bed, although Milton still has issues. So I’m sure it was the right thing to do. Kind of.

Argh. I can’t even adopt dogs without drama.

But here’s Pink, right before I took her back to her family:

Pink Profile

Really, it was the right thing to do.