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Showing posts from January, 2015

Where he gets this mouth...

Subject of carversation: Math classes.

JIM: I'm pretty sure he'll let us use notes for the test.
BOY: They let me.
ME: Yeah, I saw your notecard for your last math test. I didn't know you could write that neat. Or that small.
JIM: I better do the same. With the notes I can enter the formula in the calculator -
ME: I gotta say, the most amusing part of this whole experience was catching you using your computer as a giant overpriced calculator because you couldn't figure out how to use the scientific calculator.
BOY: Seriously? It's, like, the exact same calculator I use!
JIM: I figured it out eventually!
ME: Man. You both are so freaking spoiled. When I was in college, we didn't get to use notes. We didn't get to use a freaking calculator.
BOY: That's because it hadn't been invented yet.
ME: ...
BOY: *giant grin*
ME: I will jump into that backseat and smack you right through the window, Spawn.
BOY: *whistles*
ME: We had calculators. I kept it right n…

So, those big announcements....

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If you were not among the crew in tonight's author chat...




Just kidding.

You lost the chance for awesome freebies! But you still get to find out my current shenanigans.

• If you haven't heard, I'm going to be editor guest of honor at Midsouthcon in a couple of months. This is quite an honor, especially since Midsouthcon has a special place in my heart. It wasn't my first con; that was Shore Leave 13, and since Shore Leave is coming up on No. 37, I'll just let you figure out the math all on your own. (Funny, I've never been back to Shore Leave since. Must rectify that.)

But I went to Midsouthcon with a handful of friends when I was in college. The guy I was dating vanished into the gaming room (story of my life) and I tried a LARP for the first time, which was awesome, and inspired a short story that became a novel which is still unpublished but probably the darkest thing I've ever written, up to and including Yellow Roses.

I also attended a handful of writi…

TurboTax and zombies

Today's addition to The List: TurboTax. Or more specifically, the company that makes it: Intuit. Which really put its foot in it this year.

I've been doing my own taxes since college. Nobody needs to try to understand my bizarre accounting system but me. It makes sense to me, okay? I started with "Taxes for Dummies," a pile of library-copied forms and a No. 2 pencil. I moved to web-based versions as technology advanced, and I have used TurboTax Deluxe downloaded software to do my taxes for years with no problems. I understand how the system works and they carry over much of my stuff from year to year, so I just need to fill in my sales and royalties, etc. It's helpful not to have to re-calculate the square footage of my office each year.

I should have paid closer attention. Seems TurboTax has recalibrated its software versions, and you can no longer use Deluxe to file the forms for home office deduction and Schedule C (read: side business income). For that, you n…

Isabel's latest triumph

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Last night, Boy and I were watching TV in the living room when we heard a thunderous crash on the other side of the house.

Jim was at work, so he could not be responsible. Boy's eyes widened, and as I stood up to investigate, he said, "No, wait, take the baseball bat." Um, did anyone know where the baseball bat is? No? So I investigated anyway.
Boy's room was... well, it wasn't any more catastrophic than the last time I dared to look. If anyone knows how to get a teenage boy to clean his room, do let me know. Our room was substantially un-disastered, the bathroom was in its usual mild disarray....
Then I opened the closet.
The closet grid system had partially collapsed, dumping all my stuff and half my clothes on the floor. (Jim's side was totally fine. Naturally. Isabel likes him.) 
Later investigation showed that a small fishhook-shaped connector had snapped. Jim found a reasonable replacement at Home Depot, and conducted the repairs this afternoon because …

The love of a godmother

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This morning was spent in the company of current and former co-workers, as we shared stories of the late Jayne Matthews and celebrated her life with laughter. That's what she wanted, of course; she had told me years ago that she would be annoyed if no one was telling funny stories at her funeral. Jayne, we gave the best we had.

In my case, by the way, I told the story of Jayne's "divorce present" to me in 2003. I didn't need to preface it with explaining Jayne's opinions on marriage, because as soon as I mentioned it, there was a scattering of rueful laughter. Everyone who ever met Jayne knew her opinions on marriage.

We celebrated her life and her passion, and bid her farewell the best we knew.

But that wasn't the only goodbye today. My mother informs me that earlier today, my adoptive godmother died. By the way, it may be January but 2015 is fired.

This takes a little explaining. As is the tradition of the Episcopal Church, I was baptized as an infant. …

Why I'm angry

Today I finished my annual report for our Relay for Life team. Of course, it was due yesterday. I'm a reporter, which means I'm deadline-oriented... only, you know, sometimes those deadlines kinda creep up on a person.

What. I'm not team captain because I'm organized, I'm team captain because I was the one without a chair when the music stopped.

Silliness aside, we had a good year. We topped our goal by more than $600, which means in the ten years that St. Andrew's has had a Relay for Life team, we've raised more than $25,000 for the American Cancer Society. I have a fantastic team: we are small but mighty. And we pulled it off last year despite me being so terrifically distracted by weddings and babies and an above-average busy year for Ye Olde Newspaper that I think I actually forgot to do one whole fundraiser.

Still, I fired off my report, and then Boy and I spent way too much time going through old photos. It was ostensibly for Throwback Thursday, but r…

Warning! Zombie marketing!

Author and eternal smartass Sean Taylor posed an interesting question on the Book of Face, and my answer was a story too long for a Facebook comment.

Sean asked us authors about marketing. What works, what doesn't, how do you promote yourself without going broke or being obnoxious?
To summarize myself: Flyers and bookmarks just create trash and waste your money. Word of mouth via guest blog posts and forwards spreads news of your book in a viral fashion. Results are mixed on offering the first book of a series free: yes, it will generate a lot of downloads, but if they won't spend $1.99 for the first book, odds are slim they'll pony up for the rest of the series. Others have had different experiences; maybe I just sacrificed a virgin to the wrong demons. A multi-city book tour works well if someone else is paying the bills; it's not so good if you have to sell enough books to cover your roach motel before you can feed yourself.
Direct email works, but make sure people …

Time for a Kickstarter kerfuffle.... or, a day ending in Y

Today I'm piggybacking on what Chuck Wendig and Laura Lam have to say about the latest Kickstarter kerfuffle. Feel free to go read them first; I'll wait.

I almost wasn't going to write about it, because Wendig and Lam really hit all the high points. It certainly sounds like YA author Stacey Jay was unfairly targeted by trolls, as she was being scrupulously honest about what resources were needed to get her third book out. And nobody wants to admit what resources are really needed: to wit, paying the damn author. That always seems to come last.

However, I wanted to add one thing to the discussion, and keep in mind I've run exactly one Kickstarter in my life and it was a success beyond my wildest imagination even though I had absolutely no idea what I was doing, made about 87 mistakes and if I ever do one again, I will know a hell of a lot better. I will know that you should have sane reward levels, include the cost of postage in your estimation of how much the rewards w…

Happy birthday, Boy

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Every time I don't see him for a while, I forget how big he is.
He'll go away to visit his father for a week, or he'll go to Scout camp, and then he comes back. Every time, I'm surprised to see this deep-voiced, barrel-chested, tall young man I have to reach up to hug, instead of the sweet, mischievous little boy who used to crawl into my lap every night for cuddle. And yet, when I look at him, I still see shades of that little boy in his face.
I'm timing this post to hit at 3:30 p.m. CST, because that's when he was born. I went into labor about 10 a.m. Jan. 5, 1999, which I remember because that's when we put the paper to bed at the NewsTribune and we had just finished our work when the first pains hit. Labor went all the way through that day, into the night, drove me to the hospital, and I was still in labor when the sun came up the next day, because Boy never did anything the easy way. He wasn't content with just being born; no, he had to break my ta…

Launching the year at the lake

Tomorrow is The Boy's 16th (!!!) birthday. And Friday was my dad's decidedly-not-16th birthday. So we spent the last four days visiting Dad and Stepmom at the Lake Castle, enjoying a late Christmas and double birthday getaway.

When The Boy was born, my dad told me very sternly, "Now, make sure he gets a separate birthday celebration every year. None of this setting aside one Christmas present and calling it his birthday present. The birthday is a totally separate thing."

I grinned and said, "Dad, are we working out some childhood traumas or something?" He muttered something under his breath. Snerk.

It's not just that a weekend at the lake is a chance to catch up with my dad and stepmom, or that their house is big, comfortable and warm. (Ye Olde DSG Inc. gets a little drafty in winter.) It's also wonderfully quiet. Our cells barely work. It's delightful to be mostly beyond the realm of electronic communication. Conversation, with words and voices…

The Song of Dave and Lorraine

Dave Wenrich met Lorraine Costa in a high school band room in 1941.

They flirted in that 1940s teenager way, and she even sat on his lap in a crowded band bus on the way to a lake picnic. But he never got around to asking her out, and proper 1940s girls didn't ask boys on a date. Dave graduated a year before Lorraine, the war began and they went their separate ways.

They had similar lives: both remained dedicated to music, both married and had children. Dave did his time in the Navy, graduated from UC Berkeley and helped found the alumni band. Lorraine became a violinist and helped found the Merced Symphony Orchestra Association.

Time passed, as it always does. Lorraine became a mother and a grandmother, passing her love of music on to my mother, to me and eventually to my son. My grandfather died in 2001, and some time after that a bad fall pretty much ended Lorraine's lifelong dance with the violin. By then, however, my son had picked up the habit, with Gram's enthusiast…