You’ve Been Holding Out

We have a new computer in the house: an Apple IIc.

Our latest technological addition
Our latest technological addition

I’ll wait a moment while we all remember a time when there were no servers, and 64K was a ton of memory.

And now, because I know you’re wondering why we have this thing, here’s the story.

I was minding my own business, happily working away on my MacBook Pro with a bazillion K of memory, when Scout Son walks in to interrupt my workday.

“I found something weird in the garage.”

Since the “garage” is a 2,400 square foot barn, the possibilities are endless. I’m thinking snake, opossum or any one of the countless mice. “Um-hmm,” I say not looking up. Whatever it is, it can have the barn.

“There’s a box of games out there?”

Still not looking up. “What kind of games?” I’m thinking, there’s no Monopoly in the barn.

“I don’t know. But they say Electronic Arts on them.”

Still not looking up. Hey, don’t judge. I really wanted to get a scene in before it was derailed. “Oh. Those games. Those are from when I play-tested games for them and your grandmother worked there.”


And there went the scene. It’s hard to write a love scene with a screeching thirteen year old boy in the background. “I’ve told you this.”


“Yes. I have told you that the coffee cup in the kitchen with their logo and my name on it is from the beginning of Electronic Arts. I have told you your grandmother used to work there, and I used to play games for them.”

“But there are games in the garage. You’ve been holding out.”

“You’ve held that box in your hands before. I have not been holding out.”

“Can I play them?”

“You could try, if you had a machine that played them.”

It’s 2013. Only a teenage boy would take the time to find someone who had a IIc kicking around. Plugged in. Functional.

He’s upstairs now seeing which games survived twenty winters in the garage. And he’s happy. Sometimes I don’t understand my kids.


I want a wedding

I blame Nora Roberts.

I was looking for something new to read. At this point, I should share that I’m not a Nora Roberts fan. Sacrilege, I know. I like her as JD Robb, but normally her straight romance leaves me cold.

But Regan Black suggested I read the Bride Quartet series. So, when I was standing in the bookstore, desperate for something to read, I pinged her and said, “What Nora thing did you think I’d like?”

A week later, I’d read them all, and I wanted a wedding.
Since I’m 1) not dating anyone, 2) can’t afford a wedding like the ones in the books, and 3) am still not dating anyone, it took a while for me to figure out why I wanted a wedding.

I mean, I’ve been married. Third generation to elope in order to avoid a big wedding. And divorced. So, with no shot at a wedding on the horizon, I reread the series this time to try and figure out why I loved it.

And what I realized about those books, is they’re just as much about the amazing friendship of the four heroines as it is about falling in love. And what I really wanted was a massive party and to live on an estate with my three closest friends. We’d all have sections of the estate that were our own so we could all write, and then there’d be common areas for goofing off together in the evenings.

The problem with having good friends at least two hours away is that you don’t get those lunches and time to hang together that you’d like. On the upside, you do get to plan long weekends where you hang together, eat good food, drink good wine, and just generally relaxing.

So, while I sit here looking for a dress and planning the guest list for my fictional wedding with my friends, I hope you’re taking time to do something fun with friends as well.


Birthdays for Geeks

Scout Son’s birthday is just around the corner… the day after mine. Gifts are always appreciated. By both of us.

Being that the big day is coming, that gave me the perfect excuse to waste boatloads of time on If you haven’t heard of this site, but you know what a tardis, x-wing fighter or firefly is, you have to go visit.

A few years ago, I got Scout Son a t-shirt with the schematics for the Trojan Rabbit. Again, if you don’t know what I’m talking about, I’m really surprised you’re here, but since you are here, you must have a sense of humor, so go watch Monty Python’s Holy Grail. OMG.

Anyway, I got him the t-shirt, which he fell in love with and wore to school once. Seems the majority of kids in his seventh grade class had no idea what the shirt was talking about. Go figure. And, wanting to fit in, he never wore it to school again.

But now he’s been accepted into what his sister fondly refers to as “Geek School.” At Geek School (she goes there too) he will be revered for wearing the shirt. And so, with a BOGO going on for t-shirts, I headed over to thinkgeek and cruised through all 419 shirts. Twice.

I laughed out loud at many and shared them with my family. Yes, this is considered quality family time at our house, because We. Are. Geeks. Yes, I had to explain some of the shirts, and no, I would not wear most of them out in public because I am a closet geek. I go out of my way to hide it. Also, while I understand the humor in this shirt instantly, I don’t know binary, so I shouldn’t wear it.






Extra points for anyone who immediately responded “African or European?”


But this is my personal favorite.



After all that searching, I finally have the shirts narrowed down to a favorite for each of us. Might just have to go through the selection one more time… or I could go visit some of the other sections of the site.


Something I’m Supposed to be Doing…

So, I got a day job, and I had a schedule going. Get up, write a book, work out, go to work, come home, fall into a coma. Working from home you forget how tiring work actually is. At home, I could take a nap in the middle of the day and claim I was on a conference call when I blew off email for a few hours, but once you go into an office, that’s over.

Funny thing. I thought I had the schedule all worked out and things were trucking along. The kids were getting fed, the animals were pissed (but in a house full of three cats, when are the animals not pissed), all was normal. Except… you know what I forgot about scheduling?

Blogs. Reading them. Writing them. All of it. Oops. You guys and my classes fell off the list entirely. And do not even remind me of the Italian I was trying to learn. Dios mio!

And then there were those infamous words, “Do NOT download Triple Town. It will suck your days away.” Anyone want to guess what three out of four people in my house now do with expendable time? Thank you, Regan Black.

And while we’re on the subject of losing track of time and Regan Black, have you read her stuff? Have you? I’m telling you, she’s the best undiscovered paranormal writer out there right now. No, I do not make a profit if you go look her up on Amazon, and yes, you should still go do it. Like elves and stuff? Think Kresley Cole only lighter. Yeah, she does that. Want darker futuristic? No problem, she does that too. She’s why I don’t write paranormal, so if you’re looking for something to read this weekend, and are going to be stuck inside because Tropical Storm Amanda/Amelia/Something with an A is coming, go pick up her books.

They’re way better than Triple Town and those damn evil Pandas!


And on the Second Bucket of Margaritas, We Moved the Refrigerator.

OK, no we didn’t. We talked about it because Regan Black’s cats keep hiding stuff under there. But we didn’t really have a second bucket… or motivation. If the cats are dumb enough to put their toys under the fridge, they don’t really need them.

The Hip and Edgy Writer's Group
The Hip and Edgy Writer’s Group

For all of you currently scratching your heads, it’s Writer’s Weekend. That wonderful weekend when I get together with my best friends and we talk writing, and eat and drink, and get caught up on everything, and eat and drink, and cackle and spew coffee on the laptops, and eat and drink, and you get the idea.

These women don’t freak out when they find out I’ve never done a tequila shot. The give me a silent look of “what rock did you crawl out from under,” grab a lime and another shot glass and that’s that.

I’m fairly sure this is what sorority sisters do when they get together. Maybe not. We talk A. Lot. about writing. We talk about our characters as if they’re real people, we lust after Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, and a bunch of other hot men, and we all eat things we shouldn’t. For me, that’s pretty much every food on the planet, including the two donuts I had for breakfast.

Leave me alone. If you can’t have Iron Man for breakfast, donuts are a close second.

This morning I got up and Regan looked at me and said, “When are you giving up the fight and walking on the beach. You know you’ll feel better.” Which is just one of the many reasons I love these women. They get me.

Normally, I don’t fight the call of the beach. But it’s Memorial. Day. Weekend. And the beach is 30 minutes away. So going to the beach is a production. Unless it’s 8:15 am. Then it’s really easy to park in the parking meter area, walk the beach for an hour and leave before you have a sunburn and when everyone on the beach is still happy.

Isle of Palms before the crowds hit
Isle of Palms before the crowds hit

Anyway, she was right. I walked on the beach and now it’s all good. When I win the lottery, you’ll find me living on the South Carolina coast. With three other writers and a large company of imaginary friends, er, characters.

And I get to stay for another whole day. That’s one more potential walk on the beach before I have to go back to reality.


Sometimes a Leap of Faith Requires Staying in One Place

A few days ago I was volunteering at Snarky Daughter’s school. It’s a small school, so if you show up at all during your kid’s years there, you’re pretty much guaranteed to know the entire staff. So it didn’t take a degree in rocket science to figure out that the Career Counselor was having a rough week. It was Tuesday.

We started chatting and I learned he was back in school getting his Masters, and we were talking about how became a school counselor, etc, etc. Eventually it turned to my day job search, which after a year, continues to be a chorus of, “You were a finalist, but we went with the person who had twelve years experience in exactly our field.”

We moved on to the maybe it’s time for me to go back to school, get a degree in something else, rack up some student loan debt (two years before Snarky Daughter goes to college) and find a new job.

Me: I’m not against going back to school, but I need to decide what direction I want to go. If I could find my passion before I made a move…

Counselor: Sometimes you need to just take a leap of faith. Find a program you like and trust you’ll find a job on the other side.

Me: I lack faith. You know in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, when Indy has to take that step and trust that there is a way across the bottomless chasm (is there any other kind of chasm)? And he does it? Right. I’m the one turning around saying, “I’ll face the Nazis.”

But something he said clearly resonated with me, because within ten minutes I was changing my attitude. For the last six months, I’ve been putting my life on hold because I didn’t have a day job. I’m not trying to meet anyone because I’m afraid I’m going to have to move. Why would anyone want to date an unemployed writer? No, I won’t be serving another term on the PTA board because I can’t promise I’ll be here come fall. On and on it went, with me turning away from life because I might move this summer.

But on Tuesday, with the help of the counselor and then my hairdresser I decided to change it up. Instead of putting my life on hold because I might move, I’m going to start living and assume that the job will find me.

Zion National ParkI thought I was good with all of this. And then last night I had a horrifying dream that while trying to park my car the brakes didn’t work and I went flying over the edge of a small version of the Grand Canyon. In dreamland, I didn’t have my seatbelt on, and yet remained in my seat, and knew that if I could get my seatbelt back on before the car hit the ground, I’d be safe. At the last second I got it back on, and sure enough, the car and I were fine.

There are days in my life when I really wish I had a dream interpreter. Yeah, this one is pretty clear. I need to take a leap of faith. Apparently I will survive. And no, I’m not going to put in a link to Gloria Gaynor because now that I’ve mentioned her, you’re all singing along anyway. You’re welcome.

If the job finds me here, great. If I have to move, guess what. Life will go on. Wherever I go, I’ll still be writing romance novels, so I’ll be happy. And I will have experienced life in the meantime.



Rainy Days and Mondays Always Get Me Down


Because bud vases are over-rated.
Because bud vases are over-rated.

Which just goes to tell you how today is going since it is both Monday, and raining. I actually love the rain, but I was really looking forward to working in the Garden Office today. Instead, I have to sit here and enjoy the flowers that got damaged when I was potting the plants. Notice the beautiful Blue Moon Beer vase.

So, I’m sure you’re all wondering how I was doing yesterday after Saturday’s Tackle Every Yard Project Imaginable. Well. Yes. The dog got me up Sunday at 6:45 to announce that she had to go out. (I really want a dog door.) So I rolled over and whimpered. Let the dog out, and went back to bed.

Twenty minutes later, I got back up with more whimpering, decided a full yoga workout was not in the cards, what with breathing hurting and all, let the dog back in and opted for working on one part of me at a time. Went back to bed with my Kindle and started a heavy-duty thumb workout with the Next Page button. After an hour, I figured I was ready to face the day.

Had some oatmeal and Advil for breakfast and then started baking, with occasional stretching added in. Then I got serious. Brownies. Oatmeal Cookies. Jell-O. You know. Everything a kid would like to take to school for a lunch treat. And yes, all wheat-free.
While the cookies were going, I went a little crazy and decided to change the sheets on my bed. Because, you know, it’s Sunday and I lead a really exciting life. Also, it was too cold to go hang out in Garden Office. While I was at it, I thought I’d flip the mattress around because that’s cheaper than buying a new one that lacks a crater in the center.

Let’s talk about how much a mattress weighs. I’m sure that under normal circumstances they weight what 50 pounds? Maybe? Whatever. Let me tell you, after digging all the holes, etc on Saturday, I had the arm strength of a butterfly. So that mattress weighed about 300 pounds.

Will all of you please get your minds out of the gutter?!!?

Since I needed to take a breather halfway through moving it around, I noticed all the dust collecting around all the spindles on the bed. I love this bed. It’s a gorgeous Arts and Crafts style thing. There are two reasons never to buy this bed. 1) It’s a dusting pain in the ass. 2) All your friends will make bondage jokes when they see it. Every. One. Of. Them. I didn’t realize you all lived in the gutter with me, or that you thought I had that much fun in bed, but whatever.

It took over an hour to dust this bed because the only way you get the dust off the spindle bases is with a toothbrush. Also, I had to stop every eight minutes to drop dough on a cookie sheet.

Finally, a lifetime later, my room was clean. No worries. I had a window open so you know everything was covered in pollen again by dinner. Yes, I know. I have allergies, I shouldn’t have open windows. But I’ve been locked in the house all winter and it needs airing out.

So, cleaned my room, cleaned the kitchen. Scrubbed the kitchen floor with a Magic Eraser mop head and if you haven’t tried one of those yet (and you have linoleum) you’ve got to try it. It’s like a before and after photo from a Mr. Clean commercial. And no, I did not take those before/after pictures because it would ruin the mystique that is me.

Romance writers. We have awesome sex all the time, have perfect husbands, and pristine kitchen floors. You’re buying it, right?

Onward through the day, I finally hit the Garden Office. Heaven! Wrote, did some research, and watched the Ex and Scout Son kill themselves replacing the belt on the lawnmower so that Snarky Daughter and I could mow the lawn after dinner.

Made dinner, mowed the lawn, took a bath, and read a really cute, sweet romance, Goodnight Tweetheart by Teresa Medeiros. Basically, Sunday was a day of doing really easy chores and watching other people work really hard fighting a lawnmower.

It’s just part of the glamorous life I lead as a romance writer.


Underwear Rants #2

Getting dressed today, my finger shot through the lace of my bra. No real surprise there since, like all the others, this one is about three years old. Yes, I need new underwear. But 1) I hate buying underwear, and 2) I was hoping to be able to buy smaller underwear.

Since I started doing DDP Yoga back in October, I’ve lost about six pounds and over 13 inches. I’m thrilled about the inches, verklempt about the pounds, and keep hoping that I’m going to step on the scale one morning and see some serious weight loss. So I keep avoiding buying new clothes.

Exercise. You’ll lose the weight. Go wheat-free. You’ll lose the weight. Do all of the above, you’ll lose one pound a month. Yeah, I know. Have my thyroid and hormone levels checked. I’m on it.

braAnyway, back to my underwear and too much information. Between being a romance writer and buying in to all those ads in Glamour, I believe a woman’s underwear should be sexy and match. Every day. Well, not so much when I work out, but the rest of the time.

So, I was searching through the panties (why do I feel like I’m five years old when I use that word?) at one of those nationwide department stores, trying to find a pair that matches the bra in my hand. I know they exist because, hello, there’s a five foot photo of some hot model wearing them on the wall.

“Can I help you?” Because the only thing better than shopping for sexy underwear is getting help from a complete stranger.
“You could find the matching panties.”
“Not going to happen.”
I stop rifling. “What do you mean?”

Get this. They want us to buy the underwear in sets, but they don’t ship them that way. They ship the bras in one shipment, and the panties a few weeks later. AND most stores only get one or two panties of each size compared to the 20 or so bras they get, so if you’re not the first one there, you’re outta luck.


johnny deppI still can’t figure this one out. I mean, the designers designed them to go together. We want to buy them together because, secretly, deep down somewhere, we’re hoping Johnny Depp is going to show up, strip our clothes off and see us in this underwear, which will make us look as hot as the model in the ad. Our significant others want to see us in them because they don’t really believe we’d throw them over for Johnny Depp. Plus, they know the odds of Johnny Depp showing up (slightly better since he broke up with his girl friend, but I fear I have a better shot at winning the lottery), so they figure they’ll score.

And they’re probably right, because when we wear sexy underwear, we feel sexy. So everyone, even Johnny Depp, wants us to buy the panties and the bra together.

Apparently only the guys in logistics want us in grandma panties and bras that hide everything from our armpits to our waist and lack lace. I’m not sure what that says about them.

Maybe by now they’ve figured things out. And maybe when I go shopping, I’ll have lost some more of those pounds.


March Madness

My house is white again. For some March brings basketball. Don’t get me wrong. If you’d had a webcam on me beginning on Thursday, you would have found me watching the ACC Men’s Basketball Tournament. Really.

Twenty years ago, driving cross-country with my then fiancé, we hit ACC country in the middle of the night. We crossed some river and here we were. We’d been chatting about something mundane, probably about what it would be like to live in more than five square feet again. (We’d been driving for three weeks, with an over-packed travel trailer.)

But we crossed a river, maybe into Georgia? And the Ex looked at me and said, “OK, you have to choose a team.”

I didn’t pretend not to know what he was talking about. In the two years we’d been dating, I’d learned there were parts of the country who cared about college basketball. Who knew? Not me. I grew up surrounded by professional teams.

“Chapel Hill.” Not living here yet, I didn’t realize we referred to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill as UNC or Carolina. As if the other schools in the UNC system don’t even exist.

Without missing a beat, he said, “Pick again.”

I’d considered applying to Chapel Hill, so I didn’t realize what the problem was, except that the Ex went to their rival, NC State.

The Ex explained that I could choose any other school in the ACC (there are 12, soon to be 15), just not Carolina. Pretty sure I was wearing my Carolina sweatshirt at the time, just to spite him. Because I like to pick.

“State pretty much sucks, right?” (See previous comment.)

He agreed, but stressed I didn’t have to choose State. But I did. It’s that Cubs fan thing coming out. I’m used to supporting the underdog. As it turns out, State is sort of my alma mater. I attended a week-long textiles class there, so I have a certificate from them. That’s almost a diploma.

So, Go Pack!

Anyway, spent the majority of a beautiful weekend watching TV, knitting and eating a lot of stuff that had wheat in it. Saturday was gorgeous, but State was playing so I hung out with my neighbors and cursed at the appropriate times. If you saw the State/Miami game, there were lots of appropriate times.

In case you wondered, yesterday it was a balmy 77 here. 77!!!

Usually by the time ACC Tournament comes around, we’ve had some great weather and I’ve had time to pressure wash the house. This year, we had a cold snap in March, so the house was still green.

So, after State lost and Carolina won — Go Heels — (the neighbors are Carolina fans and they fed me) I realized we had another hour and a half of sunlight. Woo-hoo. 77 and sunny. I ran home (OK, no running), said a prayer that the pressure washer would start, and washed half the deck.

Yippee! By the time I was done, I could barely move. I’d started my day with DDP Yoga, then gone out to weed a garden for a couple of hours, drank the pain away while watching basketball, and then tackled the deck.

No, I could not move this morning. Which was fine since it was supposed to be about 55 today. But then I let the dog out, and I REALLY wanted the house to be white again. So I whipped up a batch of wheat-free biscuits, plopped them in the oven, told Scout Son to take them out when the timer went off, and ran to the store for bleach. No, it’s not environmentally friendly, but it’s the only thing that takes the mildew off the house, so suck it up.

Two hours into the process I stopped for lunch and to put on dry sweats. Also, I’d had to put more gas in the washer, and it apparently needed a rest before it would start up again. At that point I really wasn’t sure I’d be able to get it started again because my hands looked more like claws, locked into place.

This would have been the time to stop and, you know, watch the championship game. Did I? No. Tarheel Neighbor will read this and flip out because I’m sure if I’d been sitting on her couch, wearing any shirt I wore earlier this week, drinking and knitting in “my spot,” Carolina would have won. (Um, the game ended four hours ago and I just found out who won. Not Carolina. Oops.)

Five hours in, I was done. My house is white, the deck is clean (and needs to be painted), and the kids cleaned every downstairs window. Those who know me and love me will ask, did you get on a ladder?

Yes, I did. BUT, for once, I got one of the kids to hold it whenever I was on uneven ground or using the maximum force attachment. And good news! It’s going to be too cold for the next week and a half for me to paint the deck. Go Pack at the NCAA!!! And Carolina too!!! And I’d be ever so grateful if someone would take out the University of Miami in the first round this week.

For me, March Madness involves a pressure washer. What about you?



Battling Ladybugs and Wandering Monsters

Really exciting day here at Chez Hope. Snarky Daughter is on Spring Break because she goes to a school on a college schedule. So she’s lurking around the house, with her nose in a MacBook Air all day. Yesterday we went ice skating and I realized I was really falling down on the conversation side of things. I have no idea what to talk to her about.

Sigh. I’ll figure it out, I’m sure. It didn’t help that I’d only had about 5 hours of sleep. But ask me about the totally awesome chat I had with Magesh at Amazon at midnight. Didn’t have a problem keeping that conversation going for twenty minutes.

Anyway, today, much excitement. First there was the crash that didn’t sound quite like a crash. It was really windy here today, so when I heard a thuddish kind of sound, my first thought was we’d lost a branch. Woo-hoo. So I wandered out around the side of the house where the thud had come from in my bunny slippers (what all professional writers wear to work). OK, they aren’t really bunny slippers, but only because I can’t afford the Killer Rabbit slippers on In college, I had moose head slippers just like these (yes, you can find everything on the internet, even 20 year old slippers). They were awesome.

Right. Focus. So, wander outside, but no, the only branches over there are the ones I have successfully ignored since November. Hey, what’s the point of picking these up until I’m ready to burn them. More will collect in the meantime and I’ll have to do it all again. Also, it’s cold out and I’m a wimp.

So, back into the house. For some reason I can’t remember I wandered into my room, and found the source of the thud, which should have really sounded like a crash. Athena has been working very hard to keep the house ladybug free. In her enthusiasm, she took out my bedside lamp. Thank you, Thea.

Hi, I'm Thea. I broke Mom's ugly-ass lamp. She has another one, and it's got to go too! I am not ashamed. Have you seen that lamp?
Hi, I’m Thea. I broke Mom’s ugly-ass lamp. She has another one, and it’s got to go too! I am not ashamed. Have you seen that lamp?

At this point I should say that I really want to redecorate my life, um, house. The lamp in question is 15 years old and totally out of date. Also, the CFL that was in it (remains unbroken) is pretty full of dark and really low on light, so really, this whole light concept is an in name only thing. The lamp shade (also unbroken) is dark green. My bedroom is periwinkle blue.

The surviving lamp. You can't tell, but that would be frosted crackle glass circa 1994.
The surviving lamp. You can’t tell, but that would be frosted crackle glass circa 1994.

In considering a move across country, I’ve been wandering the house figuring out what is worth paying to have it moved 3,000 miles. Believe me, this lamp, and it’s sister, were not on the list to go. In fact, they wouldn’t be on the move list if I was moving two blocks. I keep them because I think I’ll be starting over soon and I don’t want to cart more crap than I have to, or waste money on something I’m going to give away or sell in a yard sale in three months, but I still need light. Or something like candlelight but safer. I still have one, so I’m good.

In other excitement, Scout Son, Snarky Daughter and I all played Munchkin Deluxe tonight. It’s a pretty simple game with some of the worst written directions I’ve ever read. I’m sure they make sense to the D&D set, but I didn’t have the patience for D&D either. Anyway, if you’re playing with someone who can teach you so you aren’t dependent on the directions, it’s really a lot of fun. And vicious. I like being evil. Are you surprised? No? How odd.

Scout Son unleashed a boatload of evil on Snarky Daughter, just so I could see how it's done. He's helpful that way.
Scout Son unleashed a boatload of evil on Snarky Daughter, just so I could see how it’s done. He’s helpful that way.

Anyway, given the choice between writing a cover letter for a job and spending quality time putting curses on my kids, you can guess what I chose. And I won. Well, they kind of let me win. The kids were being gentle for the first couple of rounds because I had no idea what I was doing. They will not be as kind next time. Which will make it even more fun!