Ilona’s Glorious Shopping Trip

Conventions really wipe me out.  For about 3-4 days after, I enter what can only be described as post-convention stupor of stupidity.

While at Romantic Times I get a text.

Kid 1: Hey mom!  I got a scholarship.

Me, trying desperately to avoid thinking about college costs: Mhm.

Kid 1: This much money.

Me: O_O  How much money?

Kid 1: That much.

Me, basking in the glow of future savings and calculating how much less we will have to pay over the course of four years: Yeah!

Kid 1: So does this new scholarship buy me a computer chair?  For my apartment? So I could study?

Me, still starry eyed over the savings: Sure.  How much money are you thinking of?

Kid 1: This much.

Me: Okay, that’s reasonable.

Being a writer and sitting for ten hours a day makes you a connoisseur of chairs very quickly.  I will spend money on shoes, chairs, and computer equipment, but if she wants a relatively inexpensive chair, that’s fine.

Kid 1: And possibly a dress for the ceremony where this scholarship be presented?

Me, greatly relieved that she is not planning on wearing tiny shorts and a crop top: Sure.

Kid 1: Thank you, mommy. I really appreciate it.

As an aside, when I asked Kid 1 what is the easiest subject for her in school, she said, “Mom, you know, the easiest subject for me is Economics.”  You can see why from this trip.  I am trying my best to convince her to take a Business Minor at least, because it would be a crime if she didn’t.

We get home on Saturday and I am done.  Sunday rolls around and I am still a complete zombie.  And I don’t mean like smart zombie who flirts with people and solves crimes.  I mean “door handle is an unsolvable puzzle” kind of zombie.  Kid 1 arrives.

Kid 1: I’ve researched the chairs.  I found one at Office Depot.  It is a fantastic chair.  It’s like sitting on a cloud and it has great back support.  It is on sale, 50% off, so we can get the two chairs for the price of one and still be within the budget.

Me, realizing that she had done her homework most likely prior to contacting me about the chair in the first place: Wait, two chairs?

Kid 1: We (her and her boyfriend) purchased two computer desks, one for the desktop and the other for the bedroom and my laptop.  If we can get two computer chairs, that lets us both study at the same time.

(We made them buy their own desks and bookshelves, because we are mean like that. Her dad and I made sure she had a bed and decent couch.  Both the bed and the couch were completely out of their price range, so they thought about buying used.  Given the bed bug infestation prevalent in our area, this would’ve been a terrible idea.)

Me: But he isn’t going to school.  He’s working.

Kid 1: He is planning on going to ACC in the fall.  Also having only one chair means we have to roll it back and forth between living room and bedroom and I am worried it may damage the carpet. It would be very nice, but of course, I will take whatever I can get, so if it’s one chair, then I am happy to have it.

Me, realizing that 1) her father and I put the safety deposit on the apartment, 2) I am being outmaneuvered and I actually don’t mind because it demonstrates that my child is logical, intelligent, and persuasive and since I gave birth to her, I can pretty much take all the credit for that, and 3) I was going to buy the chair anyway and 50% off is a good deal: Okay.  Let me get my purse.  Let’s go see the chair.

20150521_100641Now it must be said that a few days ago I had left my purse on the floor, something I normally never do. The next time I picked it up, it was wet and had a lovely new scent, a touch of a special Eau de Perfume, Pipi de Chat.  For those of you unfamiliar with French, that would be cat pee.  I strongly suspect Edward.  For some reason he decided that any fabric on the floor within the vicinity of his litter box is fair game.  So I bought a new placeholder purse.  Nothing special, a $25 purchase at Forever 21 while shopping with the kids.  This seemed like just the continuation of my mild string of misfortunes, culminating in that time I left my wallet on top of my car in my driveway right before RT and it was rained on.

So we take separate cars and go to the gas station to fill up.  At the gas station, Kid 1 says, “So mom, since we are going to be right there, could we go to the Office Depot first?”

Now in my head, I know we are going to the mall, and next to the mall is the Office Max store.  “Okay.”

20150521_100650We get into our separate cars and fight the traffic to the mall.  I am super tired.  I just want to crawl into bed, but her ceremony is literally tomorrow.  She is walking across the stage in a robe and then attending a reception, and I want her to wear a dress for it.  On top of everything else, I am wearing my convention shoes with a heel that are completely unsuited to the marathon of mall shopping. They were right there and looking for the other shoes was too hard. And it is hot and humid and muggy, and I am baking in my really thick winter jeans, because I was too tired to find anything else and grabbed the first thing I saw in the closet.

I get to Office Max.  I get out, clop my way across the parking lot, get a cart, start shopping and realize Kid 1 is nowhere to be seen.  That’s a bit strange since she drives faster than I do.

Meanwhile, Kid 1 calls to the house.

Kid 1: Hey, Dad, where is Mom?

Gordon: I thought she was with you.

Kid 1: We took separate cars and she isn’t answering her phone.

I had set the phone on vibrate during RT and blissfully forgot to turn the sound on.

Finally I check my phone and see the message from Kid 1.  When she said, “right there” she meant Office Depot a block from gas station on 183.

Me: Why didn’t you tell me?

Kid 1: I did!  I said we are right here, Office Depot by Taco Bell.  This is the one that has the sale.

Me: Angry emoticons.

Her: Crying emoticons.

I abandon my cart and fight the traffic back tot he right Office Depot.  It takes me forever.  I arrive.  Kid 1 had selected a reasonable chair, but they only have two of them in stock, because it is the close out and one of these is the floor model.  So, my Economics-gifted child quickly does the supply and demand assessment and realizes that walking away from the chair is too much of a risk. I found her sitting in the floor model chair with her feet on the other chair’s box and employees giving her odd looks as she had been sitting like this for the last 15 minutes.

We buy the chairs, stuff them into her car with assistance of two employees, and I proceed to drive in a zombie-like fashion to the mall.  We hit Maurice’s first, which carries summer-type clothes. I wander around and I am just covered in sweat.  I see a dress in my size.  I try it on, it fits.  I buy the $40 dress, fully realizing that I am paying $40 for the privilege of getting out of the jeans.  (The dress is very cute.)  Kid 1 doesn’t find a dress, but does find a pair of shorts on sale for $10 so I tell her I’ll get it for her. As I stand there, getting ready to pay for my dress and her shorts, I open my bag and the stench of cat urine hits me.

For some bizarre reason, in my zombie-like state, I had taken my wallet and cell phone out of my new bag and put it into the old bag I meant to throw away. I can’t tell you why or how I did that.  It just happened.

I get to the counter, completely embarrassed, open my wallet and see this.


Yep.  My wallet, having been soaked in the rain, has grown mold on it.  And I had opened both my purse and my wallet in Office Depot and did not notice any problems.

The sales lady says nothing.  Kid 1’s eyes are the size of saucers.  She says nothing either.  I want to fall through the floor. We pay and escape.

PS. We did get a cute dress and she looked great in it at the after honors party.  And I bought a new purse and wallet on Amazon this morning.  And this is why, ladies and gentleman, I am not a good example to follow in real life. 😀

Storm Drains?

Hey Houston people, you are basically living in flood zones.  What do your storm drains look like?  Here in Austin it’s basically covered openings to sewers tucked under sidewalks and big enough for a large cat to have a field day in.  In fact, I have seen idiot cats play in the storm drains. Because that won’t end badly if there is a flash flood.  Not at all.  I also had seen racoons and possums.

I have looked at this here fancy Houston map and it is no help.  So, storm drains, what do they look like?

The Escalation of Conflict

The Escalation of Conflict

As a writer, you rarely get to see the feedback “as it happens.” SiP allows us that opportunity and that is particularly visible now, when we are nearing the climax, when we are tightening the tension.  It’s almost like taking a rubber band and winding it tighter and tighter until it snaps.

Normally in the narrative, the reader is eager for the end, so they rush a little bit in this part and come away with the illusion of the narrative accelerating.  But, due to the nature of the serial, this is happening scene by scene and the tension, from what the proofreaders are saying, is getting to be intense.

We are sending Chapter 15, Part 4 to them.  It’s not the grand finale.  It’s another turn of the rubber band.  They might just reach through the internet and smack me.

Brief RT Recap and Some Unpleasant Announcements

Brief RT Recap and Some Unpleasant Announcements

We are home, yay.

The RT was very nice and laid back, compared to other years.  We really enjoyed meeting friends and readers.  The Book fair was overwhelming.  We got a really long line in the beginning, got through it, then the second line formed, got through that, then people kept coming up and being very happy that there was no line, heh.  Considering that we are between releases and really have nothing new to offer, I thought it went really well.

I got to sit next to Patricia Briggs at the Award Ceremony.  She is lovely.  Her husband, Mike, was very nice as well. Met Grace and Patrick Draven again – they are still awesome – and Elizabeth Hunter.  Met Diana Pharaoh Francis, Jessica Claire, and many others.  Sharing meal with Jill Smith was a highlight. :) Also meeting Erika Tsang, our Avon editor, at the rotating tower restaurant was awesome.

Let’s see, met Diana Gil, who is a new editor at Random Penguin (I refuse to call it anything but that.)  The panels went well.  In the middle of my panel, I manage to refer to Jennifer Estep as Chloe Neil, which I have no explanation or excuse for, as I know both of them and I don’t usually confuse them.  Gordon let everybody curse on his panel, which was hilarious.  I was sure that we’d get fired by the end, but they asked us to moderate again next year.

I looked at the Twitter feed and I got misquoted twice. Since I am not on twitter and the pro-feed is ran by Nicole, I don’t feel like correcting it.  Whatever.

Now on to the unpleasant announcements.

White Hot has to be pushed back.  Sorry, guys.  I know you are waiting for it.  We dropped the ball.

To get it into your hands in October, we would have to turn it in by June 15th and that is not a feasible scenario. We could write a crappy manuscript and shove it out there, but who wants to do that?  We would like to write the best book we can, because you deserve our best effort.

This is happening because the last year was extremely promotion heavy.  To be blunt, for the first six books of Kate Daniels series there was no tour.  We would visit a city or have a local signing.  Magic Rises was the first “tour” we had and I think it was basically two stops, Beaverton Powell’s and Mysterious Galaxy.  There may have been Seattle in there too.  I don’t remember now.  We occasionally did signings, but mostly on our own.  Like going to RT – this is an out of pocket trip for us.

So, we didn’t expect a lot of publicity when Magic Breaks came out.  We went to RT, as usual.  And then they hit us with the tour, in which we crisscrossed the country. Houston, Portland, Atlanta… it kept going and going.  Then New York Comicon.  Then Kiss Con, etc. Skype appearances.  Interviews.  Blog posts.  We traveled so much last year, our teenagers were unhappy we were out of the house so much.  Every parent of a teenager will know exactly what that means.  :)  We were in Seattle forty-eight hours before Thanksgiving hoping the plane wouldn’t be delayed.  We were not prepared for that level of promotion. We should’ve started saying no, and but the self-imposed pressure to support the first hardback and the first in the series was a bit intense, so we didn’t. Gordon held up better than I did. Combined with family pressures, grandmothers almost dying, daughters going through things, and so on, that year nuked me.

As the result of that, we had to play catch up and try to save what we could.  We got Magic Shifts in on time. Everything else collapsed like dominoes.

Missing the deadline is really, really bad.  We had only done it once before, due to serious medical issues.  It means we broke the schedule.  Everything crumbles, the editorial schedule, the publicity, the sales teams, everything.  This is so not the impression we wanted to make at the new publishing house.  And we will lose about 30% of our annual income because we are paid as we meet the deadlines. Bleh.  But that’s our problem, not anyone else’s.

So, as the result of all of this, we declined a tour and public appearances for Magic Shifts.  We are going to spend the summer at home, writing White Hot and hopefully the next book in Avon series. The hope is that the break between Hidden Legacy 2 and 3 will be very short.  I will try to get the details for you when the dust settles.  Avon is being very understanding.  They are not happy, but our poor editor, Erika, tried to make us feel better, which was very generous and tactful of her.

So that’s it.  The SiP will be finished next week, then we are taking a week to plot the hell out of Hidden Legacy, and then begins the marathon writing session of doom.  :)  Today I am going to clean all the things, so there will be a nice comfortable work environment on Monday, and hopefully everything else will settle into its place.

New Sweep in Peace and other things

New Sweep in Peace is up.

Today, after dropping Kid 2 off at the metro early in the morning, Gordon drove the car back to the house.  I stepped out and for some reason put my wallet on the car.  Then I went inside.  Then it rained.  The wallet is soaked.  I think the book of checks is ruined for sure, but at least plastic bank card and driver license is okay.  Why in the world did I do that?

On Wednesday we are going to RT.  This RT, for the first time, we don’t have a meet and greet set up.  I am trying to figure out if there is any time we could still do this and not take you away from your festivities.  Will let you know.


Happy Mother’s Day

I had to be a mother this week.  You’re always a mother – I am pretty sure that job will end when you’re dead – but I had to actively be a mother this week because emergencies kept happening.  Medical emergencies, idiot boyfriend getting in trouble emergencies, unwise friends who make stupid decision emergencies…  It was like standing in a hailstorm.  Things just kept hitting.  It finally culminated in a car accident yesterday.  The girls and I were in the car when it happened going into Austin for the millionth trip in the last few days. Nobody was seriously hurt.  A guy behind us wasn’t paying attention and rear-ended as as we slowed down to join the traffic taking an exit.  Our car is perfectly fine.  He had some cosmetic damage.  We both drove away from it.

At some point on Friday, I had gone to the pharmacy for the 20th time.  It was raining very heavily.  When it rains in Austin, it’s almost as if someone opens a faucet in the sky.  A couple of hours later, the rain is gone and clouds disperse.  I had ducked into the pharmacy, bought a thermometer to replace the one we lost, in case the daughter who was sick would develop a life threatening fever.  I got into our Ford.  The rain was pouring down, hammering on the roof of the car.  I sat there and realized I really wanted my mom.

adultier adultSometimes life throws things at you and you don’t know how to cope, so you look around for people who were gods when you were little.  You look for mom.

I pretty much lost my mom when I was sixteen.  I moved to US while she stayed behind and when I was in my late twenties, she died of breast cancer.  Moms don’t last.  I learned that too late.  My mom loved me more than anything and there are times, like this week, I selfishly wish that I still had that love in my life.

Try to make time for your mother today.  :)   Tell her that you love her.  It will mean a lot to her.

Family Thing Happened

So we had some unexpected family complications this week.  We are going to aim for the new SiP segment today.