December 2008

Year In Review

Well, boys and girls, it’s that time again…time for our yearly review!

2008 did have some rough spots, both personally and in the world at large. On the other hand, compared to 2007, The Year That Will Live In Infamy, I pretty much strolled through 2008 with choirs of seraphim strewing rose petals and small unmarked bills at my feet. It’s all relative. I look back at 2007 and I can’t even fathom how much better my life is now.

On the downside, I had dating woes, an unexpectedly mondo tax bill, and a robbery.

On the upside, I sold two books and am in negotiations for the third, my first large-press book came out and did quite well, I got some very good art gigs, Neil Gaiman mentioned me on his blog TWICE*, I acquired the snuggly and delightful Angus, I got a spectacular tattoo and I had a helluva lot of fun.

A good chunk of this can be laid at the feet of you guys. I still don’t know how I wound up with all you nutbars out there, but I’m very glad to have you around. You’ve been supportive, both emotionally and financially, and you put up with my flailing at the keyboard and random explosions of oddity like troopers.

And speaking of oddity…

Perhaps the most significant bit of 2008…there was this weird guy that I met, who, for some unfathomable reason is madly in love with me despite my frequent failure of nouns, sanity, and good sense, and tendency to leave paintbrushes in the bathroom sink. And you know, it would have been an okay year without him, but with him, it was pretty damn wonderful. We’ve been living together for a couple of months now, we’ve been dating for most of a year, and I am still stupidly in love and inclined to grin for no particular reason. (We had a cardboard tube swordfight after wrapping presents t’other night. I mean, c’mon.)

So here’s to a fantastic year. I know it wasn’t as good for some people, and I hope your next one is better. Me, if 2009 is as good to me as 2008, I will be one happy little wombat.

Also, Kevin meets my parents for the first time tomorrow. Pray for him.


The Prodigal Returns

Yaaaay! Smokey was in the attic after all!

Four days, and we’d started to give up hope–figured he slipped out of the house somehow and was long gone. Kevin had a trap in the attic, which remained unsprung. There was no response to calling and food looked nibbled, but not attacked, so I was suspecting mice.

But nope, last night, when Kevin opened the door, there was Smokey. Whether he was having too much fun to come out, or was just too damn dumb to know how to get from where he was (under the eaves, probably) to the door, it’s impossible to say. But he’s back, and apparently none the worse for wear. He wandered around, loving on everybody, much to the consternation of both Ben and the beagle. ("This concept of Wuv confuses and infuriates us!" ) drank a great deal of water, and now appears to be back to business as usual.

Meanwhile, I need to go buy a new suitcase.

Dropping by the mall today to pick up some extra large pants, suitable for layering, for upcoming trip to parents in Upper Peninsula Michigan.  (Got stupidly good deal. Ahh, after-Christmas shopping…) 

Along the way, I passed the Hallmark store. Something caught my eye, and I nearly gave myself whiplash with the double-take.

Emperor. Palpatine. Christmas ornaments.

Wait, what?

Little throne and everything. Not what you would call festive, and let’s not even TALK about the "final confrontation" ornament next to it, where a teeny Darth Vader faces a teeny Luke. (Twelfth in a series! What was number seven–an excitingly seasonal severed hand!? Was number four a Ton-ton with Luke nestled jollily among its entrails?)

Now, I will admit, somewhere or other, I have a Boba Fett Christmas ornament, because Boba Fett makes everything cool, but even that I found a trifle peculiar. Emperor Palpatine is NOT CHRISTMASSY.

In a merciful universe, I would never have had to utter those words.

Also! If you missed Kevin’s column on Christmas shopping–and you probably did because we kinda smacked the server, so it got pulled down–it’s now put up in the feature slot at Intrepid Media, hopefully with more bandwidth!

Christmas Shopping

Cat Update

Ben is obviously feeling better–very snuggly, and he plowed into his food like a trooper today. Mind you, he was sitting on my lap, and Kevin had fluffed up the wet food on a dish and brought it in to him–might as well have a sprig of parsley on top–and I held the dish for him while he ate. Such is the spoiling of the sick Ben. (Needless to say, he doesn’t appreciate it, but merely accepts it as something we should of course have been doing for him all along.)

In other cat news, Smokey the Siamese has Gone Missing. It’s been about a day and a half. He doesn’t seem to be anywhere in the house. There’s a chance he could be in the attic, but food left up there has been untouched. He could also have gotten into the garage, so we’re trying that next.

If that fails, and he doesn’t turn up on the doorstep mowling, Kevin will get out the live traps. He’s an indoor cat, very friendly, but he did start life as a street cat, so he’s probably doing fine even if he got outside. Still, it’s weird behavior for him to vanish like that. Hopefully he’ll turn up again soon.

Ben’s getting boarded while we’re off to see my folks in Michigan, so that he can keep getting soft food and get a check-up–the designated beast sitters did not sign up for several daysof wrangling a feline demon, and I would not inflict it ‘pon them. I sort of wonder how Angus will deal with the love of his life vanishing for most of a week. Whose butt will he sleep on? The horror!

Poor Ben had to go in for a steroid shot today to clear up the kitty herpes. (Yes, I know, he’s on lysine already. Unfortunately he’s not eating enough this last week to get the stuff inside him in any great quantity.)

The steroids are supposed to work very well, but long-term steroid use is not terribly healthy for kitties, and causes all kinds of problems. Ben’s already pretty muscular. I’d rather not see him in a roid rage… (Okay, okay, it’s mostly OTHER kinds of damage in cats. Still, the image…)

If he continues having repeated flare-ups, the vet said there’s a sort of ultimate last-ditch solution…it’s his gums that suffer, and apparently if you pull all their teeth, that tends to stop the gum irritation. Needless to say, that’s pretty extreme (to say nothing of spendy!) and while it would save Kevin from some of his war wounds, I’d feel awful about it…still, if Ben’d be in less pain without teeth, then expense be damned.

I was fairly horrified at the notion, but I suppose if it’s that or kidney failure…we’ll see how he does after the steroid shot. (Many cats apparently can eat hard food just fine despite lacking teeth. They don’t chew much anyway.)

And yes, of course, that internal narrator said "Of course this would happen. I would get a cat with a condition that requires him to be completely toothless. This is the way my life goes. Next, Angus will go completely bald and develop a skin condition that requires him to be rolled in green flocking like a cheap Christmas tree. It can’t ever be NORMAL crap. It has to be the weirdest possible variation on everything."

Actually, this is unfair. I have great luck. It’s just…weirdass great luck. I was talking to an acquaintence of mine at a party the other night, and he had donated a book to a raffle and won it back, in said raffle. "That’s just the kind of luck I have," he said.

See, my luck isn’t like that. if I entered the raffle, I’d win a trip to Outer Mongolia, promptly get bitten by a goat, and wind up in the hospital with goat-bite fever. While there, I would strike up a conversation with the guy in the next bed, who would turn out to be an editor, and I’d wind up selling him a book idea that I really don’t have time to work on, about a small cute goat named Goatrude, who falls into an ancient Scythian tomb and has to spend the night amid the ghosts of impaled steppes warriors and dead horses, and goes on a quest to lay the ghosts to rest by finding the artifacts stolen and for sale in the local market and shit I kinda want to write this now so I’m going to stop talking but hopefully you see my point.

Poor Ben. Here’s hoping his next flare-up is a long way off.

ETA: Fine. Goatrude  Don’t say I never gave you nuthin’. (NO, THERE WILL NOT BE A BOOK! )

It’s been a weirdass up-and-down day. Good news, bad news…just weird. Some of it’s not mine to share–there was some nasty bad news in there from a friend–but among the bits I can:

I got my first quarter royalty statement for Nurk, which has earned out half the advance (this is doing GREAT for a book that was only out for the last month of said quarter!) Mind you, I had to call my buddy Deb and ask her what the heck all the various bits mean. For example–Fun Publishing Fact!–they hold a very large chunk of books back in what’s called "reserve against return" so that I’ve actually sold more copies than show up in the statement, but they don’t credit a big chunk of those until they’re sure that they won’t all come back from the bookstore as unsold. Generally it takes a couple of quarters before they loosen up and start creditting those royalties to the author. Go figure. Sort of annoying for the author, of course, but you can see why the publisher does it, although according to Deb, they frequently keep a stupidly large reserve compared to actual likelihood of returns. (I cannot speak to the truth of this, or whether it applies in my case–hardcover children’s books in some ways are a very different animal than historical romance paperback.)

Nurk’s sales, it should be said, are because you guys rock on toast, and I am VERY grateful. Thank you so much!

And then I sent the IRS a check for a lot of money. A LOT of money. Three zeros, I-could-live-for-that-for-a coupla-months kinda money. Possibly the time will come when this is small potatoes (and gee, wouldn’t that be nice?) but at the moment, this is a great deal of money, and furthermore, since I am a freelancer, it wasn’t removed from my paycheck before I ever saw it. No, this is money that I have met personally and was on a first name basis with. I was friends with this money. Now, I am likely overpaying this year, since I didn’t make THAT much, but I don’t want a repeat of the grisly surprise that hit me last spring. Even so, it was an eye-watering sum to have to send off into the abyss.

Then I got home to discover that the highly precocious daughter of a buddy of mine, who is the first actual child to read Dragonbreath, apparently devoured it and loved it. Since she’s also read Nurk, the fact that she enjoyed it is a great relief to me. And, even better, there was an e-mail from a parent who’s son’s teacher read Nurk aloud to his second grade class, and that made me very happy to hear.

So it’s been up and down and sideways today…

ETA: However, before I forget–Happy Solstice to all!

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