Thursday, September 30, 2010

And you thought jury duty was bad . . .

by Guest Blogger Lisa Black

My pet peeve? Court.

I am a latent print examiner and CSI for a police department in Florida, and therefore what is called an ‘expert witness.’ I spend a chunk of my time—not, relatively, a large chunk, but certainly the most inconvenient—at the county courthouse across the river.

Ct_scales “Court” is a comprehensive noun among my milieu. “I have court.” “I’ll be at court.” “What am I dressed up for? Court.” It’s a shorthand that means “I have been forced to drop what I was doing, even if it was my day off, or I was on vacation, let my work pile up on my desk or my co-workers, change clothes and stuff myself into heels or a tie, and spend my indefinite future sitting in a nine-by-nine room with no windows making desultory conversation with other victims, most of which will center around betting on how long we will be stuck there, until such time as I am summoned to an uncomfortable chair under a bright light and asked tedious and sometimes inane questions by two sets of people, one set of which needs to make me look like the biggest idiot in the northern hemisphere.”

That’s court.

Ct_definition It is the American justice system, and it’s a good one. It is the best system I can imagine and it does a pretty good job…slowly and tediously, perhaps, but on average the triers of fact usually get the facts straight. Though I may not sound appreciative of doing my part in this system, I am…in the same way a doctor probably has a hard time appreciating the glory and wonder of the human body when the ER is overstuffed and understaffed and there’s been a pile-up on I-9, two shooting victims who are screaming threats at each other, a beat-up woman who will come back next week with new broken bones, and an ex-lawyer with a concussion whose already making notes for his malpractice suit.

The scheduling itself is the biggest nightmare. I understand why subpoenas are necessary, and why people have to be threatened with jail time for ignoring them. If you’ve ever tried to plan a dinner party or a vacation you know how hard it is to coordinate the time of more than five or so people. So when a prosecutor is looking at calling fifty witnesses, those witnesses get a piece of paper that tells them to be there at such time and place, or else. And the or else is scary, at least to me, who has been inside very neat, clean, modern jails and still wants nothing to do with them. If it’s your day off, tough. (You do get paid overtime, which comes out of my city’s tax base, not the county’s, so what do they care?) If it’s your vacation, you negotiate. You try to convince the prosecutors to ‘call’ you earlier, or later. You point out that you planned this trip six months ago and informed the court liaison officer of your dates back then. You threaten to go anyway and if they want to arrest you at the airport upon re-entry, fine.

(Okay, I haven’t resorted to that last one, but believe me it’s crossed my mind more than once.) Ultimately you tell them that if they want you to testify they’re going to have to pay to fly you back for that day, and hope the cost is enough to make them consider other options. But ultimately, if they insist, there’s nothing you can do.

Or else.

Ct_handcuffs The second worst part is that second set of people asking you questions—the defense attorney(s). Even if you are not presenting a single piece of evidence or conclusion that implicates their client in any way, you are part of the State, which is trying to frame/relentlessly screw their poor young/dumb/indiscreet client. You must be shown for the charlatan you are. Last week I had an attorney object to every item I identified—samples that I had collected, labeled, sealed and stored, so there was no possibility of contamination or confusion by changing hands. These samples had never been tested and therefore did not implicate her client in any way, and still she objected. She and other attorneys lately like to spend twenty minutes telling me my job. “You would wear gloves, correct? You would set up the crime scene tape so that it encompasses the entire affected area, correct, because otherwise some evidence might not be located….” This is, of course, picking my way through a minefield, as they want me to agree to some rule that they can later show that I violated.

Ct_argument I understand this. Hammering me on the evidence that I am presenting which shows their client committed the crime—that is their job, and they should do it. The problem is, after they go on in this vein for a while, they don’t point out any ways I violated our own policy, or say that I screwed something up or did something wrong. They don’t say I am mistaken in any conclusions I have drawn. They don’t address the evidence I’m presenting that really does implicate their client. They move on to some other topic entirely, leaving me and the jury to wonder if those questions were about anything other than their billable hours.

That’s court.
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Trail of blood Lisa Black spent the five happiest years of her life in a morgue, and now works as a certified latent print analyst and CSI for a police department in Florida. Her books have been published to critical acclaim in seven languages. Her most recent book, TRAIL OF BLOOD, is now available. Visit Lisa's web site at www.lisa-black.com.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

It's just a little gold ball

Sherwood Inn Saturday Mr. Lorna took me out to lunch at the Sherwood Inn in beautiful Skaneateles, NY.  It's a picturesque little village on the shores of Skaneateles Lake.  Although it was a dull, gray day, we still had a good time, and a lovely meal.  (I had the wonderful potato-leek soup, and then the ham, swiss cheese and leek quiche.  Divine!)

While wandering around the village, we visited the local bookstore (all the books were face out.  Hmmm), were disappointed to see that the ice cream shop was gone, as was the Christmas store (unless they moved way down the block).  But the little thrift shop in the basement of a huge old home (now a real estate office) was still there, and of course I had to buy something.  In fact, I bought three things.  The first two were Syracuse China (restaurant china) soup cups.  And as I was waiting to check out, something else caught my eye.

A gold ball.

Gold_ball I don't know what made me grab it.  Maybe it was the price:  $1.25.  I'd considered buying witch balls before, but was always put off by the expensive (to this junker--$10+) prices.  So when I saw this little beauty, I just had to have it.

Later that evening, we were watching Star Trek Voyager.  A very nasty virus had contaminated the ship and Captain Janeway stripped down to her skivvies and was blasting them with a phaser rifle.  (Go, Kathryn!)

While we were watching, I'd taken the gold ball out of the bag and was rolling it around on the couch (which is a bit difficult as it's weighted--probably so it doesn't roll away).  Captain Janeway had just blasted one of the aliens when Mr. Lorna says:  "I'll bet there's an alien squirreled away in that gold ball."

Oh, dear.  My lovely new toy might be a sinister death trap!

Suddenly I had a terrible decision to make:  should I toss it in the trash and hope that when the aliens emerged they'd do it at the landfill, or should I be brave and hope to battle it out with them myself--sans phaser rifle.

Instead, I put it on my shelf and admire it's beauty whenever I walk by.

(But I'm still watching--just in case it does explode with a bunch of alien critters bent on destruction.  Can't be too careful, you know.)

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Oops, don't fall on me

Piles of paper Why is it that paper seems to breed in my office?  I've been avoiding my office easy chair for some time because the little table next to it was so piled full of papers they'd spilled over onto the chair (which also houses a bunch of other stuff making it unfit to sit in).

Over the weekend I'd had it.  I decided it was time to tackle that pile.  And I tossed more than half of it.  But now I have to figure out where to put the papers I saved.

They consist of:  recipes, magazine articles, old invoices, receipts, manuscript formatting instructions, newsletters, software instructions, newspaper clippings and other odd things.

So, once I have them all sorted into the appropriate piles (Um, that hasn't happened quite yet), what do I do with them?

File cabinet I have a nice oak four-drawer file cabinet . . . which also happens to be stuffed to bursting.  It's time to lighten that load, too.  But here comest he problem:  no time.  Hey, I've got a book to write, and a promotion to plan for the next book, meanwhile I'm still juggling the fallout from the last book. (Which is a very nice problem to have.)  I can't even stuff it in the closet (which, as you recall, I sorted through the week before, because it's now crammed full again).

I'm starting to think the best thing might be to just toss this stuff in the recycle bin and start all over again.  I mean, I haven't missed it so far, right?

But ... I won't do that either.

I need a black hole to hide the stuff in.

Do papers breed in your house, too?

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Attention E Book Readers!

BEfacebook With the proliferation of people self-publishing on Kindle, Smashwords, etc. there's a bit of a problem.  How does one find a good book?

By good, I mean one that's well written and not rife with typos.  You know, the kinds of mistakes that previously unpublished authors make. 

I'm pleased to be a member of the Backlist Ebooks group on Facebook.

What is it?  It's a group of traditionally published authors who've banded together to promote their no-longer out-of-print books.

All the member authors' books were once vetted by publishers.  They were edited, copy edited, and had an audience of print readers.  But authors only sell the RIGHTS to their work, and not forever.  Eventually, the terms of the contract are complete and the author is free to do what she wants with her work.  And we're making the books available on Kindle, Nook, Sony e-reader, and every other platform we can think of.

Right now I've got eight titles available.  I hope to have several more up in the not-too-distant future, too.

Is the future of publishing only in e books?  Gosh, I sure hope not.  There is nothing like holding a real book in your hands.  But for out-of-print works, e books are the savior of titles that haven't seen print for some time, and a revenue stream for authors who are paid far, far too little for their work.  (There are a LOT of people in the distribution stream for published books:  the editing staff, PR and marketing people, the printers, the warehousing, the distributors, the booksellers, and finally the authors themselves.  That's a LOT of people trying to make a living off one $7.99 book.)

Just in case you want to view my titles, you can find the Kindle versions via the links below:


P.S.  All my Lorna Barrett/Booktown Mystery titles are available as e books, too!

Now, where's my Kindle?  I've got to start buying e books, too.  (How about you?)

Friday, September 24, 2010

New and Improved!

New and improved As most of you are aware (because I can't seem to stop harping on it), my L.L. Bartlett Jeff Resnick series is finding new life as e books/short stories.  Well, the old web site just didn't reflect that, and while most of the same information is listed on my Lorraine Bartlett site (which not too many people have visited), I thought it best to update the original  site as well.

And guess what?  It's up and alive today.

Click here to take a look.

(The site update was done by Glass Slipper Design.)

Well, what do you think?

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Here's Why I'm Not The KINDLE Queen

I Konrath don't know if "readers" follow Joe Konrath's blog, but a lot of writers/authors do.  I check in every couple of weeks, or when the whole writing community is buzzing about his latest post, I hit my bookmark for Joe's blog, A Newbie's Guide To Publishing.

Joe writes graphic thrillers and horror.  He's making a killing (pun intended) selling ebooks on Amazon's Kindle, too.  In fact, Joe sells MORE books on Kindle than he does in print, where he started out.

Joe has done it all, toured the country, taken a bazillion speaking engagements (often for no money) to get his name out there and has been very successful.  It's obvious that the groundwork he tirelessly laid has gotten him where he is today.

TV/Movie producer/author Lee Goldberg may be running a close second to Joe, and I make Lee's blog an almost daily stop.

These guys have something in common besides writing well and being well known:  they have a HUGE backlist.  (Well, Joe has self-published a lot of stuff that has sold well because his audience loves his works and knows he'll deliver.)

AbusedCover.sm Me?  I have two novels and eight short stories up on Kindle and they ain't selling like hotcakes.  (Okay, Abused: A Daughter's Story IS selling like hotcakes, but that audience doesn't check out my other work (more's the pity).)

The problem:  I don't have a name.  Or the name I do have (Lorna Barrett) isn't the same name that's on the two novels and eight short stories.  I can only hope that when the Victoria Square Mysteries come out next year that the audience will go looking for other stuff I've done.

It's also been made pretty clear to me that I have to chop something big out of my life--my volunteer work--and actually do more writing and put it out there. Hey, this is my livelihood, and much as I enjoy that volunteer work, it doesn't pay for the washer that just died, or repairing the car that won't start, or the cleaning lady that comes every two weeks and keeps the house clean so I have more time to write to pay for the things that break ... and on and on.

Monkey typewriter
So, why can't I make as much money as Joe?  I haven't laid the groundwork.

Oh!  Look at the time.  Time to go to work and WRITE.

And if you're looking for "new-to-you" Kindle books from traditionally published authors, check out Backlist E Books on facebook.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

A little bit of pack rat in me . . .

Yesterday I posted about how I needed to clear out the closet so I could stow the bookmarks and books, etc.

Packrat Hmm.  Turns out, it's much easier said than done.  Oh I did get rid of a lot of stuff.  I consolidated a lot of stuff, but I still don't have enough room for all the books and bookmarks.  Clearly, I need to be more ruthless.  And throw it away?  I couldn't do that.  I put it all in boxes for the next garage sale (which I hope will be next summer--at my mother's house!  My garage isn't visible from the street and people think I don't have any stuff when I put out a sign.)

But I have discovered a packrat-like tendency in myself for certain things. 

Plate hanger Plate hangers.  I admit it, I collect square and brown transferware dishes.  I have several that are waiting to be hung.  (Okay, I have seven.  These things take time.)  However, I have something like 25 brand new plate hangers in two shoe boxes waiting for plates. Um. Did I mention I also have about 25 of them (used--garage sale purchase, $2) at our summer cottage, too?

101 ways to love a book Blank Note Cards:
  Okay, I have a thing for pretty notecards. And Michael's makes it realllllllly easy to stock up on them in their $1 bins.  No lie, I must have about 1000 blank cards (and envelopes) because I just keep buying them at yard sales.  Usually they're packages of 8-10 with a couple missing, but some of these have never been opened.  And I buy stationery boxes too.  Farm houses, cats, pansies, more cats, more flowers.  You name it, I got the season covered.

Certificates:  In lieu of giving its employees raises and or little bonuses, my former employer was really big on giving certificates.  Foolish person that I am, I put the ones that didn't come in frames (most of the ones from the last 10 years of my employment) in (garage sale) frames.  Time to dump them.  Well, I couldn't. So seldom was heard a NON-discouraging word in that joint, that I'm keeping the certificates for a while longer.  The frames?  Into the garage sale boxes.

Old Dolls:  Do I really need these childhood dolls that are mostly broken or just in very sad shape?  Hell yes!  Nobody takes MY dolls from me, buster, unless you want a fight on your hands.

Postcards:  I have two very nice cookie tins STUFFED with unused postcards that were brought back from my travels and from when my parents would travel around Europe.  I always figured I would use them one day.  Now the only postcards I send out are ones that advertise my books.  Give them up?  Not on your life.

Paperclips Office Supplies:
  Do I really need to have so many pens and pencils?  Staples.  Gummed hole reinforcements.  Glassine envelopes.  Lion clips.  Glue Sticks.  Highlighters.  White Out. Post-It Notes.  Envelopes (in various sizes). The answer to that is YES!!!

I also kept two chess sets, all my ribbon, some craft supplies.  Little boxes.  (Hey, they some in handy at Christmas time.)

So, yes, there is more room in the closet, but there'd be a lot more if I could part with more stuff.

How?

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

It's GOT to go!

Thanks to the cleaning lady who comes for a couple of hours every couple of weeks, my house is nice and clean, and pretty tidy, too.  Except for my office.

I know, I've ragged before on how messy my desk is (and I moved a bunch of papers, so it's not bad today), but the office itself still feels like a warehouse with all the boxes of books and bookmarks and piles of papers.

Somethings GOT to go.  Okay, I did clear out a bunch of boxes the other day and took them down to the basement to hide, er store them.  I need them.  I'm constantly sending stuff out and need (especially small) boxes.

Overflowing closet What's got to happen is a major closet dump.  I have stuff in there I can't even get to because there's so much piled in there.  (Think Fibber Magee's closet.)  If I could part with the stuff I no longer need/use, I'd reclaim my leather reading chair and wouldn't trip over boxes of bookmarks.

Most of the stuff in the closet consists of file boxes of old stories, office supplies, and stuff leftover from my days as a dealer in an antiques co-op.  That's the stuff I've had a hard time parting with.  I miss those days something terrible, but not enough to go back into business.  It was just too time consuming for too little profit.  (Kind of like being an author, but I didn't get to stay home and sit around in my sweats.)

So, they've got to go.  Things like baby socks.  (Yeah, I'd buy them and make catnip toys out of them.  They were a big hit.  I always made new ones for Chester, so he's got about 12 of them lying around the house somewhere.)  Picture frames.  Plate stands (I think I have about 20 of them).  Ribbon.  (I used them for my fancy-schmancy tags and have about 20 spools in different colors.) I have a HUGE bag of potholder loops.  (As a kid, I loved to make potholders.  For some reason, I just kept buying the things at garage sales.  But now it's time for them to go.)

Yup.  That closet needs to be emptied ... so I can fill it up again.

What useless things do YOU have in YOUR closet?

Monday, September 20, 2010

And now it's the washer ...

First it was the DVD player, then hubby's computer -- and now the washer has died.

They say bad things happen in threes, so I'm hoping that's the end of it.

RIP The washer is at least 25 years old and I've never had any trouble with it at all.  But yesterday I threw in a small load of towels and headed back to the office.  Near the end of the cycle, I headed on back to the laundry room to find a puddle on the floor.  Well, if it was going to leak, at least it waited until the tub was nearly empty, or else it would have been a disaster.  (Um...think boxes of files in the basement right under the washing machine.  They'll be moved.)

But today is a real day of chaos.  The pool is going to be closed, the cleaning lady arrives, and the computer guy is coming.  I have a huge pile of clothes to be washed and even if we buy a new one today, they probably won't deliver it until the end of the week.  Thank goodness my mother lives 7 houses down the street (because I already went there yesterday to do an emergency load).

As it happens, she's having a new laundry set up installed this week so she doesn't have to climb up and down stairs for the old set up in the basement.  We're hoping that's all set by the end of the week, too.
Washer I'm not spending a million bucks on a new washer.  Have you seen the prices???  I'm getting a plain old top loader and hope I get another 25 years out of it, too.

Of course, the dryer is about the same age.  (Not sure exactly.  We're a "blended" utility family and it came with Hubby when we got married.)

My teeth are falling apart, I've got two cranky computers.  What else can go wrong?

Friday, September 17, 2010

I haven't heard a word in months....

Mute-swan Like a mute swan, my PC has been deathly quiet for a couple of months now.  One day I heard AOL tell me "You've got mail," and the next I didn't.

You can't watch videos without the sound.  They lose a LOT.

 You can't hear when new mail comes in so it will distract you from whatever work you're trying to get accomplished.

You can't hear what Whoopi had to say on the view yesterday.

It's boring.

Well, I'm hoping that'll change on Monday.  Mr. Lorna bought a new computer yesterday, only he's afraid to touch it.  So, he's called Mr. Computer Repair Geek.  This guy knows his stuff.  He's kept my e machine alive and well for the past five years, and I love this computer so much, I want him to keep it alive a bit (okay YEARS) longer.  (As I've mentioned before, I do not love my laptop (which is on the short list for replacement), and I do not love my iMac keyboard (any woman who doesn't bite her nails to the quick has GOT to hate it.  And they don't offer different styles.  Just the one).
You've got mail
I'm SOOOOOO hoping I can get my sound back.  I miss it.

I want to hear that guy say "You've got mail" every morning.  Wouldn't you?

Thursday, September 16, 2010

PET PEEVE THURSDAY:


Susanwalbert By Guest Blogger Susan Wittig Albert

When Lorna said that she’d like to have me as a guest for a Pet Peeve Thursday, I knew exactly what I’d write about: the pet peeve that sparked the central mystery plot in my upcoming book The Tale of Oat Cake Crag, the seventh in the eight-book series,

The Cottage Tales of Beatrix Potter. The book is set in 1911 in the Lake District of England, where children’s author-illustrator Beatrix Potter owned a farm and went to escape from the noise and bustle of London.

Fabre-hydroplane But in late 1911, something started bugging Beatrix and the other villagers in the Land Between the Lakes. (True story. This really happened. I am not making it up.) The irritant was an airplane. An experimental hydroplane named the Water Bird, the first of its kind in England. The Water Bird made one heckuva racket.

 “A beastly fly-swimming spluttering aeroplane careering up & down over Windermere,” Beatrix wrote in a complaining letter to her friend Millie. “It makes a noise like 10 million bluebottles. . . . It has been buzzing up & down for hours today, and it has already caused a horse to bolt & smashed a tradesman’s cart.”

Now, you and I live in a modern world that’s filled with cell phones ringing and TVs blaring and trucks with illegal mufflers (my own pet peeve), so one airplane more or less probably doesn’t make much of a difference to us. But imagine that you had come to the country to enjoy the songs of birds and the bleating of sheep. Wouldn’t you be peeved if the rural peace and quiet was broken by what sounded to like a steam threshing machine flying buzzing over your head all day long? And what was worse, a second airplane was in the works. In fact, an airplane factory was being built on the rustic shore of idyllic Windermere, the most beautiful lake in England.


Beatrix potter Well, Beatrix Potter was peeved. More than that, she was angry. But she didn’t just complain about it. She rolled up her sleeves and got to work. She collected signatures, wrote letters to magazines and to The Times, and petitioned the Home Secretary to do something about the nuisance. And--thanks in part to her efforts--something actually did get done. By the end of 1912, the airplane factory was blown away in a storm and the Water Bird was wrecked.

 I loved this story about how one woman’s pet peeve sparked a revolt against the inappropriate intrusion of technology into a “place of rest and peace.” So I wove the tale into a fanciful mystery about the development of Britain’s first hydroplane, the Water Bird. The story also involves a teenaged dragon who sees his chance to make his mark on history and an owl who doesn’t much like that airplane, either. (You didn’t think that airplane factory actually got blown away by the wind, did you?) Oh, and it also features Winston Churchill, First Lord of the Admiralty, who happened to love airplanes.


And of course, Miss Potter, whose pet peeve started the whole thing.
 
Oat cake crag Book Drawing!

If you’d like to enter our drawing for a copy of The Tale of Oat Cake Crag, go here.

=================

Susan Wittig Albert writes the bestselling China Bayles mysteries, the Cottage Tales of Beatrix Potter mysteries, and the Robin Paige Victorian/Edwardian mysteries written with her husband, Bill Albert. Click here to heck out her website. Catch Susan's Lifescapes blog, too

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

It's true . . . you never forget your first . . . .

BIM MOTM cover My first book, Murder on the Mind, came out on audio last summer.  Boy, was I psyched.  But I heard a snippet of it on the publisher's web site that kind of turned me off.  It was one of my favorite scenes in the book and Richard came off all wrong--bombastic, which isn't like him at all!  (So says his creator.)  So when I got my "author copy" I didn't have the courage to open it.  It has sat in the bottom of my armoire for more than a year, gathering dust.

But then last month the Booktown Mysteries came out on audio.  Because they're only being released as MP3 downloads, I was afraid I wouldn't get to hear them for years, but my publisher very graciously offered to burn me a set on CD.  Yee-ha!  I have had such fun listening to the stories.  There are parts I remember with such clarity that I can recite the dialogue along with the reader, then there are parts I'd forgotten I'd written.  (I ended up taking a LOT of notes so that I can update my Booktown Bible, the file I keep on all the facts on even the most minor characters.  Hopefully that way I won't have any glaring glitches.)

I had thought Bookplate Special was my favorite of the four books, but now I'm thinking that maybe Chapter & Hearse is my favorite.  (Thought I think it'll be eclipsed next year when Sentenced to Death comes out.

I was happily listening to Bookplate Special when my royalty statement arrived for the audio version of Murder on the Mind.  Bleak doesn't begin to cover it.  I think I should have taken a lot more interest in the book and maybe I'd be making more money--and more importantly, my publisher would be making back its investment. 

I had reason to contact the editor at Books In Motion on another subject and asked her about it.  She suggested I might want to sell copies at one of my signings.  So, I bit the bullet and ordered two copies for some future signing.  As long as I was ordering, I noticed they had used copies .  I figured I'd give a copy to my mother (who's been bugging me to let her listen to my author copy).  So I ordered one for her.  It arrived the other day and I decided that since I so enjoyed the Booktown books being read, I really ought to give the first Jeff Resnick book a try.

And ... it was pretty good. (And I can still recite the dialogue for it, too.  Kinda neat!)

Ipod w headphones I'm only about a quarter of the way through the book (it's hard to concentrate on writing when you're hearing your own words being read), but I'm enjoying Jeff's story.  (And, yeah--I love being read to.  I guess I never outgrew that.)

So, here's hoping some of you will take a chance on the book, or maybe ask your local library to invest in a copy.  It can be purchased on CD or as MP3 downloads.




What I will ask you NOT to do, though, is to download a free copy from hackers who have stolen the book and are cheating me AND my publisher out of royalties.  Yes, there are nasty people out there who have no morals or care who they rip off.  They're stealing the book, and if you download it for free, you are in possession of stolen goods.

There's a reason most authors can't make a living at writing, and being ripped off is one of them.

Okay, I'm off my soapbox.  Despite that caveat, I hope you'll find a way to listen to the book.

Thanks!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Talk about a surprise!

Kindle3G Last week, Mr. Lorna surprised me with a Kindle 3G!  It was wrapped in colorful paper that I tore off with a bit of trepidation.  What could be inside that rectangular shaped box.  Ah!  Maybe it was another box of DVDs ... but it seemed kind of heavy.

I opened the box and there it was--a white power cord.  That's it.

Hmmm.

I wondered what the heck that was.  Then I realized there was something stuck to the top of the box.

I felt my jaw drop as I realized it was a Kindle.  MY Kindle!

That was the last thing I expected and I was a bit overwhelmed.  I mean, it wasn't even the cheapie model!

"Why?" I managed to say with surprise and delight.

"I thought you should be able to read your own ebooks," he said.

Whoa!  The only problem is -- I have not had time to play with it.  And should I read my own stories first?  Should I buy a bunch of old favorites so that I could always have them at hand wherever I go?  Or should I buy some new books--books by my friends?

So there is sits, empty.  So far I think hubby has had more fun with than me.  Okay, I'll admit it, I'm a little intimidated by it, too.  But I'm sure that won't last long. It's a new toy. 

Cool.

So, any suggestions on titles I should acquire?

Monday, September 13, 2010

Dazzled by my Duvet

Duvet Way back in 1995, Hubby and I took a trip to England and learned the joys of sleeping under a duvet.  My mother had been telling me for years I would like it, but being an obstinate daughter, I didn't listen.

Whoa!  I'm not too proud to say I was wrong.

I was WRONG.  She was right. I loved it.  No more heavy blankets. Just one light and fluffy down comforter to keep you toasty warm on the coldest winter night, and not overly hot on a summer's eve.

I've got two of them and alternate them on the bed.  I must say that the old one, which is pretty lightweight, is still the better of the two comforters.  But they both have the same problem:  the feathers get jammed in the baffles on one area of the bed.  The middle.

George Why is it that a couple buys a king-sized bed because they want to sleep in comfort and then allow their pets to sleep with them.  It wasn't my idea.  For the first half of our marriage we were happily pet free at night.  But then we got George the tiny terrorist, who beat up all the older bigger cats and the next thing you know, the cat he beat up the most was in bed with us, because that's the only way he was safe.

Sadly, George was my one cat failure.  No matter what we tried, he would NOT fit in.  So we found him a forever home with a wonderful lady and her resident cat, who George has not attacked in the six years they've lived together.  Go figure!

Cats on duvet But now that Chester was ensconced, we left the door open at night should he hear the call of nature.  And now we have THREE cats sleeping with us.  Here we two humans are forced to cling to the edges of the bed while three cats sprawl out wherever they please.  And since all the feathers in the duvet seem to end up in the middle, that's where they are most comfortable.

So, come winter, I tend to bring a big beach towel to bed with me, because at least 1/4 of me is not going to have any of that warm and (somewhat) fluffy
Popscicle duvet and what I do have does not have any feathers and I feel like a Popsicle.

No yogi gave me a mantra, but I have one anyway:  I love my cats.  I love my cats.  I love my cats . . .

Friday, September 10, 2010

Goody Bags For All!

Anybody live in southern New Hampshire or northern Massachusetts?  If so, I hope you'll find your way to the Wadleigh Memorial Library in lovely Milford, NH.  I'll be speaking there tomorrow and signing books, courtesy of the Toadstool Bookstore.

Several years ago, a librarian acquaintance of mine suggested I contact the library's director to get some local color for my Booktown Mystery series.  After exchanging a few emails, Michele Sampson invited me to give a talk at the Wadleigh Library.  Since I had planned to go to Maine to meet the people who published my Jeff Resnick series, I readily agreed. 

Close_up_goody_bag I had a wonderful time, and was thoroughly shocked when about 35 people showed up to buy and have me sign copies of Murder is Binding.  Whoa!

With that in mind, this time I thought I'd bring along some Goody Bags.  So, with contributions from about 25 of my friends, I spent four hours the other day making them.  Aren't they cute?  I'll be giving them away tomorrow at the library.

Afterward (or maybe before), I'll be taking lots of pictures--more local color!

Anyway, I hope you can make it!

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The Wadleigh Memorial Library
49 Nashua Street
Milford, NH  03055
11 a.m.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Planned Obsolesence?

ImacAnother Pet Peeve Thursday

The last two days have not been kind to Casa De Barrett.

Last week I told you how my laptop is giving me commercials to buy a new version of itself.  Well, this week my husband's iMac up and died.  The thing is barely three years old, and two days ago it started coughing up blood.  He took it into the Mac store this morning and -- yes, it's dead, Jim.  Oh, they could fix it.  And fix it.  And fix it.  Because they really don't know what's wrong with it. It might be this or it might be that, and each this or that costs at least $200.  Hubby figures it's better to cut our losses and toss the thing and get the next best Mac. (I have to add this is the is briefest Mac-lifespan either of us have had with a Mac product.  We are NOT pleased.)

Reggie perrin Then last night, we thought we'd sit down and watch an hour of The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin, which we just got.  (Love that show!)  Hello!  The DVD was working fine on Monday night.  We watched the last three episodes of A Fine Romance (with Judi Dench and the wonderful Michael Williams), although I will admit I was suspicious when I turned the machine off and the little digital screen actually said OFF, which it had never done before. 

When I went to turn it on last night I thought maybe the remote's batteries were dead.  So I changed them with the remote for the old VHS/DVD machine (the DVD player died in that machine, too--and honest, we aren't all that hard on our DVD players).

Jvc dvd I am very annoyed.  I hate that these things died without warning.  And I hate that I have to now replace the machine that replaced the last machine.  (Maybe I should go back to watching VHS tapes--that thing will probably go on forever.)

Which one of your machines has recently snuffed it?

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

I've got a target painted on my thumb

Cat fight About six years ago, I made the mistake of trying to break up a cat fight.  Yup, put my hands between two very angry male cats to separate them and YOW! got bitten on the thumb.  Boy did it hurt.  I rinsed it under the faucet for a good five minutes figuring that would clean it out, and hoped for the best.

Less than twelve hours later, my thumb was starting to turn black.  A co-worker STRONGLY urged me to go to the quack to get some antibiotics.  I did, and they did the trick.  Except for one tiny thing.  I had a numb thumb for about two years.

"Oh, it's just a little nerve damage.  It'll go away in a couple of months," the nurse practitioner said.  But a few months turned into more than twenty four before the very annoying numbness went away.

Fast forward six years and three months.  There's Lorna standing on a ladder, hummingbirds whizzing by her head, angry she's taking up the feeder right before their long trip south, wresting with an ancient pair of pruning shears and hacking at a bunch of small branches on a tree that is desperately trying to live. 

We had this dangerous Siberian elm cut down about six years ago because it would drop big branches with just a breath of wind.  We figured we didn't want to be squashed in the middle of the night so in came Mr. Tree Surgeon.  Well, we had all but about 15 feet of it cut down.  The whole deforestation project (two trees severely pruned, one decimated) split between between three parties was $6,000+.  It was going to cost another $1,000 if we took that last fifteen feet of tree down.  So there it stands next to our cottage to this day.  We keep saying we're going to have a chain saw artist come and so something with it, but that would probably cost as much or more than having it cut and hauled away.  So every summer it tries to live by shooting out as many branches as it can manage, which we hack away every September.

Blood blister So there I was on Sunday morning, hacking away at the tiny branches (the bigger ones came later) and I pinched my thumb in the shears.  It was a particularly thick branch, but it was too small for the saw, so I clenched the shears in both hands and -- YOW!!! -- got my thumb pinched.  It hurt!  And now there's a blood blister . . . right on the exact same spot where Chester bit me. 

Guess what?  I've got a numb thumb again.

And how did your weekend go?

===============


Buzz off smallP.S. Happy Book day to my friends Hannah Reed--with her debut novel in the Queen Bee Mysteries--BUZZ OFF, and Wendy Lynn Watson with SCOOP TO KILL, send book in the A La Mode Mysteries.
Tiny scoop to kill