Hey! Whatcha doin? Huh? Huh? Wanna go play? Huh?
So for like...every morning of the last three months, on my way to work, I think, "I need to write a blog post." And then I get busy and decide it can wait until tomorrow.
So this morning (Saturday, stupid early o'clock), I decided to actually DO it. Why, you ask? Well, because I have a sh-ton of line edits to do for my next book, so I'm willing to do almost anything else (anyone have a sock drawer they need organized? I'm on my way).
And then I looked at my last blog post, and...I detect a theme.
Read any good books lately?
I've been listening to a lot of podcasts lately (another post on that the next time I have to procrastinate), but I listened to an audiobook last week that had me weeping as I drove to work (and not just because I didn't want to go to work). And then I was sobbing as I sat on the couch folding laundry. And then back to work. I don't know if I've ready anything that got to me this much since that stupid spider died (Charlotte's Web reference, sorry, I should have given a spoiler alert).
Don't you just love a book with so many feels?
Oh--what's the book? Here you go...
My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She's Sorry is by Swedish author Fredrick Backman (so kudos to the translator, too, since it's, you know, a translation and still made me cry buckets).
It's about a different sort of little girl named Elsa who's bullied at school, lives in a building with a bunch of weird neighbors, has a mom and step-dad who are about to produce a rival for their affections, and her Granny, who is Elsa's only friend. Elsa finds refuge in Granny's fairy tales about the land of Almost Awake--at least until Granny dies, which happens pretty early in the story (so it's not a spoiler, okay?).
Cue the first round of sobs.
Granny left Elsa clues for a quest, and it's through Elsa's search for envelopes and information about her weird neighbors, and the wonderfully allegorical fairy tales Granny told, that Elsa learns it's okay to be different.
Now I'm listening to A Man Called Ove, which I see from the website is going to be a Tom Hanks movie.
So. What are you reading? What's the last book that made you cry? And do you like books that make you cry, even without mass quantities of boxed pink wine?
I have a manuscript due on Nov.1. In true TAS fashion, I'm cutting it as close to the wire as possible.
No. Let me correct that statement.
In NEW improved fashion, I'm cutting it as close to the wire as possible, but I'm determined to actually MAKE my deadline. As in, send that email with attachment BEFORE, say, Nov14.
So since this is the last weekend before deadline, I spent most of last week running around going, "I should be writing, I should be writing, why am I not writing?" (because you're working at your DAY JOB, dumb-dumb).
And then, the most amazing Mr. Stanley said, "I've got a bunch of Hilton Honors points that are going to expire. You can use them this weekend. Just pick a Hilton property."
He probably thought I'd go for the Hampton Inn by the airport.
I opted for the Cincinnatian Hotel, which is a part of the Hilton "Curio Collection." I thought that sounded fancy and literary, so that's where I went. Their website says the Curio Collection contains unique and historic hotels. I'm not sure why the Netherland Plaza Hilton isn't on that list, too, but that's another post.
I started my journey from work on Friday afternoon, and decided to take a Lyft downtown--parking would have been $50-70 for the weekend, and while I'm not entirely comfortable with all this newfangled ride service business, I requested a ride. My phone battery immediately crapped out and it took me a few panicked minutes to get it back on long enough to find out that someone named Dontee was indeed on his way in a white Charger. Not riding one, but that would have been cool, too (I said that right, didn't I? As in, "He rode in on his white charger to save the day"). Anyway, I had a nice ride with Dontee on the way downtown. It turns out that he grew up in Hamilton, Ohio, and I'm from Middletown, which is right next door, so we're practically related.
I was greeted and checked in by a lovely fellow who thought it was really cool that I was there to finish a book, because he used to work at a Borders.
I was given a room on the third floor, and I headed up.
As soon as I got off the elevator and looked to my right and saw my door, I maybe should have gone back and requested something a little less...accessible. Not only was the third floor elevator area open to the rest of the hotel below, my room was right next to that area...so it wasn't the quietest place in the world, especially not the weekend before Halloween, when there were apparently several big parties not only downtown, but in the hotel.
I went in and dropped my stuff, and all I can say is WOW.
I'm trying to upload the video I shot to send Mr. Stanley, not sure if it works or not. I should probably spring for the website upgrade so I can embed such things, but...
The room was A-Mazing. Nice and big and bright, uncluttered, with plenty of plug in spots for my laptop and phone and stuff.
But the bathroom. Oh. My. God. This bathroom was the BOMB. There was a big giant glassed in shower, about a jillion lights, a TV and stereo system, and the best bathtub in any hotel I've ever been in--though to be honest, I don't get in many hotel bathtubs. My friend Kristin told me she worked as a hotel maid, and they never did more than swab the tub out with a dirty towel from the previous residents, and that grossed me out enough that it's got to be a really cool tub if I'm going to get in.
This one was worth the risk. It was big, and deep, and not too long (so I could prop my feet up on the other end) and it had programmable jets and multi-color lights.
The only issue I had was that the jets made so much noise that I couldn't hear the TV--though I don't watch TV in my own amazing bathtub, so...whatever. And then when I turned off the jets to hear the TV, after a few seconds it did this bizarre drying cycle thing where it tried to clean out the jets or something, so it got noisy again.
Hint: If you want to watch TV in the tub, don't turn the jets on first.
Okay, so that was nice.
I put on my yoga pants and got to work.
I got a lot of writing done. I even took a bunch of food with me because A) I'm doing this Whole 30 thing and eating out is just not do-able in most cases and B) I didn't want too many excuses for leaving the room, and C) Who wants to pay hotel prices for food?
There was free breakfast, though, which I got because of Mr. Stanley's Diamond Club status, so I went down for that.
The coffee was awful. It was about twice as strong as it needed to be--and I'm a writer, we'll drink coffee that cops and truck drivers won't touch--and it tasted like it was that strong because it had been boiled down or something. I even asked for a fresh cup and it was bad.
The service was good the first day, a little iffy the second (the coffee was slightly less horrible, but the K-cups in the room were still better). The eggs and sausage tasted weird the second day, but I at most of my food and I'm still alive.
I did decide to splurge on dinner Saturday night. I even put on my bra and pants that button, and went down to the little pub. There were no regular tables...not even any small bar height tables. It was sit at the bar alone, sit at an 8-top bar-height table alone, or sit in a hipster coffee shop couch area alone.
I opted for the couch area, and picked up a menu. And sat there for fifteen minutes without being waited on.
Okay, no biggie. I'd been thinking about room service anyway. So I went back upstairs, picked up the phone, and pushed the room service button. Busy. I tried it off and on for twenty minutes, then gave up and tried the front desk. Same thing. A conspiracy? Or a malfunction?
Back down I went. Lovely Borders Bookstore Guy said he'd call engineering and suggested I go to the bar, order my food, and have it delivered as room service. So back I went to the same bar where I was ignored thirty minutes before. This time I stood by the bar until the bartender noticed me and summoned a server, who took my order.
The Cobb salad they brought was enormous and not terrible (thought the plastic wrap-covered glass of ice water tasted weird, too, so I skipped that).
The engineering guy came by and was like, "Yep. It's broke. I'll leave a note for my supervisor." In other words, "Good thing you've got a cell phone."
In the meanwhile, I did get all the way to "THE END" of Last Chance Cowboy. Okay, yeah, I still need and epilogue, but whatever. It's the end of the main part.
So overall, my retreat weekend:
Accommodations: 4.2/5 I took off a point for the noisy room and .2 for the messed up phone situation, but I add back in .4 because Big. White. Bed. Pillows. I do love me some Hilton bedding.
Food: 2.5/5 The service was slow, the coffee was shite and the eggs tasted funny.
Goal accomplishment: 5/5. I finished the book! Woot!
Accidentally in Love with the Pilot's meet cute happens when Ben delivers a unicorn cake to Emma's birthday party.
When I wrote that scene, I had no idea that unicorn cakes were a thing. Like, a thing with a hashtag with many, many Instagram posts. Go ahead and look. I'll wait. See? Crazy! And as I've said before, if there are instruction on the internet, I can probably make it.
I've been getting ready to make my own unicorn cake to celebrate release day.
First I made some buttercream fondant from a recipe I found online:
This is me with the remnants of my RWA manicure still clinging to life, measuring (yes! I measured!) salt into the fondant. That's one of my Mamaw's old measuring spoons. It's a little beat up, but I figure it's still pretty close to accurate.
Update: the fondant was a bust. It got too soft too quickly to make anything (like a horn). I'm saving it to hid Stella's antibiotics in (she's wise to my peanut butter tricks!).
Then I made a double batch of butter cream frosting, according to the directions in the Wilton cake decorating kit. I used up a bunch of food coloring, trying to get a fairly representative set of rainbow icing colors.
Then, quick thinker that I am, I put all the colors in plastic bags, since that's what you use to squeeze the frosting through the fancy little metal thingies. Except I kinda forgot that you have to have the little metal thingy fastened in the bag before you add the frosting. OMG, what a freaking mess THAT turned out to be!
We had to squeeze everything out of the original baggies and into new, tip-enhanced baggies.
Then I went to bake the cakes. Except I kinda forgot to call the oven repair guy (the digital display doesn't work...so there's no way to turn it on). I thought...heck, let's make cake batter pancakes! How hard can that be?
Well, friends, let me tell you. It's really hard. to get the cake to firm up enough to be flipped, it's got to be almost burned. I don't really care for burned cake, so I had a lot of wonky, damaged Funfetti pancakes.
Favorite Daughter pointed out that we do have neighbors, who have functional ovens, and might even let us use one, but it was a little too late at that point.
Time to stack the cake layers, gluing them together with plenty of buttercream, maybe adding a few broken bits here and there to level things off.
We moved it to a cutting board, added more layers, and some half-pieces so our unicorn would have a back end, and more buttercream (which was too firm--I suspect I need to pay more attention to the directions for fondant and butter cream for the next time)!
Then favorite daughter commenced decorating. I tried a few rosettes, but apparently she watches more "Nailed It!" than I do, so she actually knows how to do some of these things.
Here's my Favorite Daughter. Note how she kinda has unicorn colored hair.
That little lump to the left there is the unicorn's rump.
Widgets make me happy
Wanna read my first chapter?
Embracing the Suck
Okay, yes. CBS Sunday Morning is my favorite source for Motivation Monday posts. On any given Sunday, If Mr. Stanley doesn't get up and try to arm wrestle me for the remote so he can watch George (Stephanopolis), I can cry for a solid hour about how wonderful people can be.
On a recent Sunday (while poor Mr. Stanley was working and I didn't lose the remote), I saw this story about a kid in Texas named Gerald Hodges. If my Favorite Daughter wasn't already engaged to a great guy, I'd want her to marry this kid. Heck. My boys are both single. Maybe one of them will marry him.
Here's my backstory: Our boys (The Sam Stanley Experience and Mr. Awesome), went to a dinky little accelerated prep school where every student skipped at least one or two grades. Covington Latin is a tiny school (Mr. Awesome's graduating class was the biggest ever, with 52 students) and the kids are all younger and smaller than grade-matched kids in other schools.
Most people do NOT send their offspring to Latin if they expect them to get Division One athletic scholarships (although David Justice graduated from CLS). But these kids still want to play sports, so they play sports, damn it. Some years the basketball team doesn't win a single game. But they try. And they have fun. They learn team work, losing with grace, and that "personal best" is what you most need to work for.
This story is about a boy (Gerald Hodges) who couldn't even swim when he joined the swim team. He could have been pretty good at any other sport, apparently, but he wanted to swim.
"If I couldn't handle not being good at something, then how could I consider myself a successful person?" Gerald Hodges
How freaking brilliant is that? I don't know about you, but I'm way more likely to try something I feel I can probably do. I'm pretty amazed that, not only was a TEENAGER (translation: quasi-human who rarely ventures into activity that might cause other people to laugh) willing to do this, but to understand why it's important that he did.
Of course, he also got really good at swimming, and helped his relay team secure a slot at the state meet, so there's that.
I'm having fun with puzzles this week...
Omigod, this is so freaking fun. I hope it works...Click on the link below to see my new book cover (warning, you might have to spend a few seconds assembling it!)
Parkinson's disease sucks (okay, a lot of diseases suck, that's why they're called...wait for it...diseases).
My Grandmother had it. I thinks she was in her seventies when she was diagnosed. Self-centered as I was (um, am), I don't remember much about what that was like for her, only that Mamaw was drifting away from us. She ultimately decided she needed to live in a facility with full time care, until she died in 1992.
A few years later, actor Michael J. Fox announced that he was suffering from Parkinson's. He was twenty-nine when he was diagnosed, and that completely blew my mind. He was so young! He's still so young! And he's taking this shitty situation and using his resources to help find better treatments and a cure. He's probably not going to be cured, but he's trying to help other people who might be in the future.
He was on CBS This Morning talking about his life and his mission. Check it out.
A TASTE OF YOU is on sale for the next nine days (April 20, 2018-April 29, 2018). If you haven't read this, now's your chance! I love all my books, but I have to say--Nick holds an extra special place in my heart.
To another event
The Southeastern Kentucky Author Event in Corbin, Kentucky is this Saturday. Yes. I live in Northern KY, but they're letting me in for one day (and to be honest, my roots are firmly located in the area, but that's a whole genealogy post and we don't have time for that).
I'm going to be giving away swag, and will quite possibly have a raffle basket (or two!) with some OTHER GOOD STUFF. Come see me!