Friday, October 31, 2014

Embracing the Creep-Out

Happy Halloween, ghouls and goblins!

Today is the day to embrace your fears, so I've decided to share a few of mine. To keep this list manageable I'm not including spiders and clowns. For one, I've already talked about them and their creepiness factors, but also, show me someone who is not at least mildly rattled by those two things and I will show a robot from the future sent back to destroy us all.

The rest of these are less cut and dry. Let me know if you're joining me in my creep-out or if these things don't really inspire the shudders in you.


Mirrors

Ever since I was a little kid, I've found mirrors a bit unsettling. There's the standard horror movie fear - you know, glance away from the mirror and then back to find that someone is standing behind you - but I think, even bigger than that is the fear that I will still be alone in the mirror, only my reflection will now be acting of it's own free will. That I'll be looking into a mirror absentmindedly as I wash my hands and all of a sudden my reflection will start grinning back at me. At which point I would, naturally, have to burn the house down.


Windows With No Blinds or Curtains

Even if one opts out of using said blinds or curtains, I think every window should have at least one of them - and not just for the people inside. About seven years ago, I was driving through Wisconsin in the middle of the night on my way to the World Circus Museum to do research for my final undergrad research paper. For endless stretches of road, there were no street lights, but every once in awhile there would be a glow off to the side of highway. I'd glance over and it would be a straight shot into someone's living or dining or bedroom, sometimes all of the above. Big time willies. A little bit too Rear Window for my tastes.


Mascots

To say that mascots creep me out may be underselling it a bit. I don't care who the team is or what their mascot happens to be. There is nothing less likely to inspire team spirit in me than someone in a costume that fully obscures who they are coming over to dance in my personal space. When I find myself in these situation, my first instinct always seems to be to knock their comically large heads right off. This may be the reason I'm not invited to many sporting events.


Hearts Carved Into Trees

You know what I'm talking about - that age old tradition of carving ones initials next to those of one's sweetheart to demonstrate one's endless love to the world. It really gives me the willies. Forget about the environmental impact of hacking your affections into bark, this ritual begs the question: Why in the world do so many people bring knives on dates??


Other People's Dreams

This isn't an across-the-board fear. I'm sure some people's dreams are just lovely. However, I spent too many years trying to figure out why the li'l sis was mad at me in the morning only to later be told that I'd been mean to her in a dream not to be wary of people's slumbering reveries. Not to mention, well.....other reasons.


So, those are mine. What about you? Have anything you'd like to share about the things that give you the willies?

Here's some background music while you think:


Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Fundraising Extravaganza Continues!

I was absolutely going to talk about Halloweenie topics today, but, you know...best laid plans...slippery slopes...no "I" in team...or something like that. The point is, my sonnets about pumpkin spice and traumatic retelling of the year someone tried to hit me with shaving cream, but tripped and creamed himself (poor kid), are just going to have to wait.

As I'm guessing you've inferred from the title, there's more movement on the fundraising front. Thanks to CafePress, the 2nd Annual RAINN Down Hope Dinner & Auction now has t-shirts! That's right, folks. We've arrived. 

Not only are the shirts pretty cool looking, but a portion of the proceeds of each sold will be added to the money we're raising for RAINN through the auction. So, whether you can't make it, but would like to support the cause and look cool doing it - or you can make it and simply can't resist the thrall of a good t-shirt (no judgments) - this will be $15 well spent. And if you would like to spend it, go here!

Much like Kickstarter, the t-shirts are only produced and mailed if the sale goal is met by the end of the campaign. This one will last until November 20 to ensure that we have the profits in time to add them to that of the auction and that you have the t-shirt so you can celebrate with us on December 6th from whatever the distance. So, you have thirty days, if you're interested in expanding your wardrobe to benefit RAINN. 

Once you get your shirt, if you find yourself wanting to help boost awareness even further and post a picture of yourself wearing the shirt....well, first of all, you're awesome. Secondly, feel free to tag your pictures with #RAINNDownHope so we can all find each other.

Finally, tune in next time for some decidedly more Halloweenish conversation. I'll fill you all in on how I'm being haunted. 

Okay, maybe that's not true. 

But a girl can dream, can't she?

Thursday, October 16, 2014

RAINN Auction: Sub Two Months!

RSVPs are officially rolling in! I think I could keep doing this event for a million years and still be dance-break-worthy excited every time one of those shows up in my mailbox - or, a million years from now, in my brain synchronizer, or whatever we're using then.

You may have seen some of these announcements on Twitter, but I wanted to catch everyone up on the amazing donations being given to December's RAINN auction. I mentioned last month that the donor list is a veritable bucket of awesome and October's additions have only made that more true.

Hello and thank you to the October contingent!


This list doesn't even include all the superbly generous folks who are both attending the auction and donating baskets - all of whom, save those who choose to donate anonymously, will be included on the final Donors of Phenomemazingtastic celebratory list in December.

Please excuse me whilst I do my traditional auction-is-shaping-up-to-be-amazing dance. (Spoiler alert: It involves a move I learned watching Center Stage 2: Turn It Up, which, come to think of it, totally deserves it's own BM,GPT.) Also, in honor of one of our donors, today's dance will be to a song that I've found very inspiring in my hardest moments:


Look for another update next month, with some little update-ettes on Twitter from now until then. Want more information on RAINN and the great work they do? Their website is right this way....

If you're interested in donating an item or basket for auction, there's still plenty of time - just shoot me an email. You can also support the cause by making a donation to my RAINNmakers page or just by spreading the word about this event. Every signal boost makes a huge difference, so thank you!!

Have a weekend of greatness!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Dark Corners & Creepy Dolls

We have officially entered the month of All Hallow's Eve. So, naturally, I'm thinking about scary things. Okay, not really scary things. Not like that doll from Annabelle. Seriously, come on folks. Maybe, if you absolutely must buy dolls, give yourself a fighting chance and at least stop buying the ones that already look demonic. Even if it turns out that they don't want to kill you (unlikely), there's no way that any child looking at one of those things from their crib everyday isn't going to grow up a bit traumatized. I'm feeling a little traumatized just thinking about it. 

No, no, no. I said I'm not thinking about scary dolls. NOT. Just like I'm not thinking spider. Evil, creepy, crawly harbingers of doom who want to crawl all over me whilst I slumber, nesting in my hair and - No! Stop it, brain! We are thinking about non-scary scary things. NON-SCARY SCARY. I have to sleep again someday, you jerk. 

You know, like the little sis. 

When we were kids, my sister loved little more than lying in wait and then jumping out and scaring the crap out of me. She appeared from behind doors, down dark hallways, once from a kitchen cabinet that I had foolishly believed to be filled only with pots and pans. 

There were always two things I could be sure of:

1. If there was a chance for my sister to make scream, she would take it. 
2. Before that scream had even finished, she would be insisting that I promise that I was never going to try to get her back. 

And I always did make that promise, partly because I just wanted her to stop saying it so I could focus on pushing my heart down out of my throat and partly because I knew in my heart of hearts that I had already scared her enough for a lifetime - HOWEVER INADVERTENTLY - and that I had to be a kind older sister. So, that's what I was. 

Mostly. 

You see, my parents got us My Twin dolls for Christmas one year. We loved them, but over the years my sister grew to be a bit creeped out by this toy with her face. She used to put it away in the closet on a regular basis. I can neither confirm nor deny if I was the reason this had to be done more than once. Nor will I admit to placing it on her bed, with the head tilted toward the door so the little sister doll would be staring at my little sister human when she came in. No, sir. I won't admit to anything of the sort. 

Look at that - I ended up thinking of scary dolls after all. And yet I'm smiling. 

Possibly in a maniacal fashion. But who can really say?

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Popping the champagne!

A big CONGRATULATIONS to my beta-reading buddy Scarlett Cole today! Her three book deal with St. Martin's has officially been announced.

*loads cannon with confetti and pie* *fires it despite the mess* *dances maniacally under falling chunks of pie and paper*

I am, of course, so happy for Scarlett, but I'm also quite please for all of you. This means you are that much closer to getting to read THE STRONGEST STEEL. And, trust me, you want to.

After hearing all this great news, I am now in the mood for romance. In case you're feeling the same way, here are a few of my recent favorites:



Romancing the Duke (Tessa Dare)

A charming twist on Beauty & the Beast, complete with fairy tales within fairy tales and some Regency LARPing. What's not to love?

It Happened One Wedding (Julie James)

If you're a fan of banter, this one's for you. More than once did I grin goofily at a section of dialogue - one of the many reasons I try to read out of the public eye.

It's in His Kiss (Jill Shalvis)

This is the tenth installment of the Lucky Harbor books and if it wasn't for my deep devotion to the east coast, I'd be packing my bags to move cross country - fictional town or not. Not to mention, Becca and Sam are currently warring with Chloe and Sawyer for my favorite town couple.

Waiting on You (Kristan Higgins)

A very sweet second chance at first love story. The characters are likable, but not perfect - which is exactly what I'm looking for in someone I'm going to spend 400+ pages with.

Up By Five (Erin Nicholas)

The last in the Counting on Love series. Not only was it great to catch up with the other characters and to see Connor get his happy ending, but Gabby was one of my favorite heroines of the series.



Do you have suggestions for my next reads? I'd love to hear them! Leave them in the comments, then get out of here and go congratulate Scarlett!

Friday, September 26, 2014

Invitations are a go!

That's right! Invitations to the 2nd Annual RAINN Down Hope Dinner & Auction are officially in the mail. *does Running Man dance in celebration*

If you're interested in receiving an invite and think I don't have your address, shoot me an email. Actually email me even if you do think I have it, just in case! Also, my email is the best way to get in touch with me if you have an item or basket that you'd like to donate for auction.

Enormous thank yous to anyone who has/would like to help spread the word by tweeting/blogging/facebook-ing links to the blog or my RAINNmaker page.

If attending the dinner isn't an option, but you'd still like to donate to RAINN (again...big THANK YOUs), you can do so on my RAINNmaker page.

Here's some information on the crimes we're addressing and the organization being helped by your donations:





To learn more about RAINN's great work, visit their website.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Alternate Bannings

Happy Banned Books Week, folks!

I hope you're celebrating this always exciting time by reading absolutely whatever the hell floats your boat. But if you're looking for other thematic activities, check out these offered by the American Library Association.

In the meantime, while I've been shaking my head in an exasperated fashion over the very idea of banning books, I have come up with a short list of things of which I would support the prohibition:

  • Wedding receptions with more than two group/line dancing songs.
    • Electric Slide, Cupid Shuffle, Cha Cha Slide, Cotton Eyed Joe, the YMCA - the list goes on and seems to be getting longer every year. And let's be honest, even two in one night is probably more than anyone needs.

  • Calling it a "funny bone."
    • I mean, I love ironic names as much as the next person who has pain reverberating up and down her arm. But, maybe we should just stop this. 

  • Accidentally stepping in water whilst wearing only socks
    • I don't know what it is about feeling liquid soak into my socks, but it make me want to destroy all the things.

  • The phrase "You know what I'm saying?"
    • If I make a solemn vow that I will ask if I don't, can this stop being inserted into conversation?


  • Saying "I could care less" when you mean "I couldn't care less."
    • This oldie but goodie drives me bug nuts. We could all care less about a whole slew of things, so unless you're confessing that you're closer to a situation than you'd like, it doesn't seem worth mentioning. And it especially shouldn't be said in the same tone as telling someone to shove it. 

And as a bonus:
  • Squirrels
    • Do I really need to say more?


So, those are some of my bannables. What about yours?

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Fundraiser Update!

Good morning, all!

I'm sure anyone who's been checking out my Twitter feed knows that I've been having a bunch of good mornings, afternoons and evenings lately thanks - once again - to the tremendous generosity of people. Because of this never ending, clown-car-esque line of great people, the fundraiser is coming together beautifully.


*tries to do a cartwheel* *remembers expertise is sadly lacking* *settles for enthusiastic jumping*

As promised, I want to keep people updated, so here are the auction's phenomenal donors thus far:




Last year at this time, I'd just decided to try and come up with some kind of fundraiser, so to have so many donors already this year is beyond exciting. Sending me further over the moon are the prospective donors in the wings. I feel pretty confident in guaranteeing that this year's auction is going to be amazing.

Plus (!!) I'm at 56 ornament favors completed and counting, once again blowing last year's efforts out of the water. By the beginning of last October, I probably could have boasted six.



I don't want to jump the gun, but maybe - MAYBE - this could be my first event ever where I'm not up until dawn the night before working on something crafty. *nods enthusiastically* *shakes head realistically*

In the name of that lofty goal, I should get back to work. Invites go out next week! If you want to get one, shoot me an email. Same goes if you have an item or basket that you're interested in donating.

If you want more info, check out my RAINNmakers page and have a fantastic rest of your week!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Not-So-Guilty Pleasures: The Scarlett Cole Edition

Good morning, all!

The time has come for another author to spill some secrets! And I am so very, very excited to be
hosting one of my extremely talented beta readers, Ms. Scarlett Cole. Spoiler alert, this woman's writing is the bee's knees. But today isn't about her fantastic stories, but the lovely lady herself. Let's see what she revealed....


Not-So-Guilty Pleasures


Hi Everybody,

Thanks so much to Kelly for inviting me to swing by her blog. It’s nice to meet you all. Settling on five guilty pleasures was tougher than I thought. So here goes:

Live Music

My husband and I love live music. It’s our date night. They don’t have to be big and fancy. Often, the grungier, seedier, and smaller the venue, the more personal the concert feels. One year, we went to over thirty concerts. There is something about the atmosphere of a concert, feeling your chest reverb from the volume, and sharing that experience with other fans. There’s no judgment about who you are, what you do, or where you come from. You are just there for the music. It’s a great equalizer.

My Christmas Tree

I am a sucker for the holidays and the dysfunctional mayhem that comes with families crashing together in the spirit of goodwill.

My guilty pleasure is a fabulous looking tree. Over fifteen hundred lights, thirty meters of ribbon, and hundreds of hand collected baubles are hung with, shamefully, zero assistance from my children. I won’t let them help because I hate people messing with my tree. I like balance, equally spaced colors, and variety in textures. I buy them their own trees, and we decorate them at the same time but they know better than to touch mine.

Broadway Show Tunes

In an alternate universe, I am convinced I am Idina Menzel. I love singing along to soundtracks from great musicals.

My sister and I used to perform in the school Gilbert and Sullivan productions. She has a way better voice than I do and I was often relegated to singing the harmony when we were younger. To this day, I can only sing Barbara Dickson’s part in I Know Him So Well from Chess.
Unfortunately enthusiasm is not a replacement for talent.

Dark Chocolate Digestive Biscuits

At 82 calories a pop, these really are the guiltiest of guilty pleasures on my list. I have this timed to perfection. I make my tea and like to get my first dunk within two minutes of the kettle boiling. The dunk can be no less than seven seconds because the biscuit is still too hard but no more than nine seconds or else the dunked bit drops off into the tea, which is gross. I eat half the biscuit in one bite. If the words aren’t coming or I am having a rough day, I allow myself four biscuits in one sitting but then I add fifteen minutes to my workout the next day.

Pens and Notebooks

I love stationary shops. When I discover a new one, I get the closest thing to a legal high. I could spend hours in one trying to find the perfect notebook, notelets and pens. I edit my manuscripts by hand. For some reason, I feel like I pay more attention when I am holding a pen. I use a Pilot Dr. Grip Gel pen in black. Not the fanciest pen out there, but it doesn’t bleed at all and allows me to write in very tiny print. When I am plotting story lines by hand I love color. I use Sharpie fine point pens and assign different colors to the hero, heroine and external threat so I can keep track visually of pacing.



Want to know more about Scarlett Cole? Of course you do!
@ItsScarlettCole

Now, while you're checking out more of her awesome, I'll be figuring out how to swing a visit to Scarlett's house this holiday season. Three trees!! *swoon*

Friday, September 5, 2014

Places to Visit: Toledo & Madrid

Hello all! I have returned from my visit to sunny Spain. 

It was, of course, amazing, despite some almost comical travel problems - at final count it took 1 delayed flight, 1 missed connection, 20 hours, 3 planes, 2 cabs, 2 buses and 1 train to get to Toledo. 

But it was worth it. If I was ever in the mood for tilting at windmills, Castilla-La Mancha would certainly be a beautiful place to do it. 


In addition to being just simply beautiful, the city also houses the Primate Cathedral of St. Mary of Toledo - one of the three thirteenth century Gothic cathedrals in Spain. 


It's gorgeously overwhelming. 


Though, if I'm being completely honest, those cherubs that are just heads and wings? They creep me out a bit. 

From here, it was off to Madrid, which now holds the distinction of being the first place I've ever seen flamenco or a public proposal. The first was amazing - graceful, sweeping arm movements paired with long, staccato bursts of footwork at an energy level I can't even comprehend - the second was pretty damn adorable. 


Plus, just looking at the palace all lit up at night is reason enough for the trip. 


I will say with all the sight seeing, my vacation reading time wasn't extensive. But that just means that the normal pre-book anticipation is building away and should make my State-side reading all the more fun. 

Also, I found that being stuck on a plane for hours to be conducive to writing daydreams. Meaning that I have work to get started on. 

Have a great weekend!!