The Weirdest Book Acceptance Story Ever

This is not a dignified tale. I wish I could say I acted professional and composed after getting my acceptance letter, or that I even had a little celebration dance, or ran outside and bugged the neighbors with a few whoops and hollers, as I’d always imagined it would go down. I certainly didn’t anticipate the explosive reaction that a lifetime of waiting, hoping, praying, and repeated disappointment would elicit in me. And I don’t know if anyone ever shared the long-awaited news of their publishing acceptance with other travelers at a rest stop in the middle of nowhere.

We were driving home at the end of our vacation in the Rocky Mountains a couple weeks ago. I had crappy cell service most of the way through Wyoming, but I got a faint signal while we ate at a rest stop out in the prairies. Just enough for some emails and texts to come in while I sat in the car waiting for Lia and Emily to finish up in the restroom. The first email I saw was the one from the publisher I’d wanted for Cobalt since the beginning: Xchyler Publishing. I would have psyched myself up for the feeling of crushing disappointment I’d grown accustomed to when I was sending out The Moongate, except I saw the email header: Welcome to the X!
I sat uncomprehending for a second, then launched out of the car shrieking. Eva thought there was a bee or something in the car (we had wasp and bee problems at the resort, including one wasp that was NOT happy that I rolled over on it in bed), so Eva ran out right behind me and didn’t realize what was going on until she heard me screaming at my mom through her car window. My poor mom, she was so stressed over the problem of finding a motel for our last night on the road; she caught on but stared at me kind of shocked, until I turned and ran flapping and yelling up the trail toward the restrooms, Eva hot on my heels and screaming even louder.
People stared. I didn’t care.
Emily said she and Lia heard us coming and wondered if we were just on our way to tell them to hurry up because we needed to go, but they didn’t know why we were screaming. I burst into the restroom and found a confused Emily standing near the sinks. The exchange went kind of like this:
Me: *UNINTELLIGIBLE SCREAMING COBALT UNINTELLIGIBLE SCREAMING*
Emily: “Wait. Cobalt got accepted?!”
Me: *SCREAM GIGGLE SHRIEK BOUNCE*
Emily: “OH MY GOSH I COULD JUST KISS YOU!!”
Emily, Eva, and me: *SCREAM TACKLE HUG JUMP UP AND DOWN SCREAM*
Lia (from the stall at the end): “What is happening out there?”
And that’s the story of how I celebrated the acceptance email from my dream publisher with my kids and strangers inside a rest stop bathroom.

Our Vacation: Dying Cars and Frisky Wasps

The story is even more awesome to me considered what we went through at the beginning of the Most Stressful Vacation Ever. I won’t say Vacation From Hell, because it turned out really nice in the end, but boy did it have more than a few glitches.
We caravanned out from Boise with the intention to stay overnight in the mountains in Utah, then continue on to our family reunion at the Winding River Resort in Colorado. Just after making it into the beehive state, my step-dad’s car broke down. After attempting for hours to urge the disabled car out of the wilderness at least (big costly mistake), the girls and I went on ahead and got a room at a scary motel in downtown Ogden. My parents finally got their car towed to a mechanic and they got a room at another (and nicer) place, since ours was now fully booked.
The next day we were supposed to have arrived at the resort, but we spent the day at a public park, many of us in tears, as we tried unsuccessfully ALL DAY to find a rental car to continue the trip. My mom was resigned to staying behind with my step-dad in Ogden while the rest of us drove up to the resort, but we didn’t want to go without her. She’d planned this trip for over five months, and my brother’s girls were so looking forward to seeing their grandma. Meanwhile, my step-dad’s car needed a new engine, and as of this moment is still at the shop in Utah waiting to be repaired. Defeated, we got another hotel room that night and went to bed not knowing what we were going to do, but pretty much certain our vacation was ruined.

The next morning, my mom made a few last calls and found a rental. Once again on the road, we made it to the resort that night. We had a wonderful time with family we don’t get to see very often, and I got some pictures like these:

A wild Lia. Sneaking in for a closer picture might have been dangerous.

The adorable cabin I stayed in with three of the girls
Partyin’ around the campfire
My brother and Lia jamming

Emily and my mom 😉

A rustic writer’s setup (I didn’t get any writing done)

Our 2013 in pictures

Blogging the other day was so much fun I decided to do it again! I thought I’d make some kind of year in review thing. No weighty resolutions, nothing fancy – just a buttload of pictures of memorable things that happened in 2013. But some funny things first…

A friend sent this to me from this fun blog. I died. Because everyone loves grammarrrrtically correct pirates.

Don’t you hate it when Michael Buble messes with your presents?
And now. Lots of fun things happened this past year that I didn’t have my camera handy for, such as when we went to Lagoon and I decided to put my phone in a locker after it fell out of my pocket on a roller coaster (thank goodness it was picked up by a park employee). Most of the time, however, I obnoxiously have my phone on hand to get lots of embarrassing pictures.
Like when I had too many kids to fit on the church steps on Easter.
Or when the kids did weird things at a museum.
We found strange but friendly livestock in our neighborhood.
And snakes!
Someone finally got a job and made something of her life.
And someone got really weird outside the mall.
I turned the big 4-0…
And we had a couple other important birthdays. 🙂
The cats discovered they’re comfortable to sit on.
And I discovered a pretty (but uncomfortable) couch for $16 at Savers!
I lost weight (but not too much).
The girls freaked out over meeting this famous YouTuber in Salt Lake City (same time as the Lagoon trip), mostly known for his hilarious life stories.
We went on a midnight hike and picnic in the desert…
And brought home a cool pet!
Some of us suffered horrendous injuries.
And Emily kind of went insane or something.
We got lost in a lot of corn mazes. I mean A LOT. I didn’t know there was so much corn in Idaho, I thought it was supposed to be potatoes?
And we geeked out over some pretty awesome movies.
All in all, 2013 was a pretty good year, and I’m excited to see what 2014 will bring!
While I was looking up a good Olan Rogers video to link to, I found this new video he posted about his Eat A Slice With Me tour. Wow. He’s just an amazing guy. Apparently our part of the tour was a bit of a turning point for him, which he starts mentioning about four minutes in, and there are clips of the hours-long line we stood in. Worth every minute.
And now I’d better stop procrastinating on an assignment that’s due in the morning! Have a wonderful, happy new year, all you nice peeps. 🙂

Birthdays Are Relentless – And Some Music

So this last week I had a milestone birthday, which I am surprisingly okay with – probably because all year long I never told anyone I was 39. I kept saying, “I’m going to be 40!” so when the dreaded day finally arrived, I was just over it already. And it was awesome because my parents went all out with the decorations and I GOT CAKE which is a huge deal for someone who’s not quite but almost given up sugar.

Take a look at the purple suckers in the cup on the table. There’s a story to follow.

Okay, there were only 12 candles, but it took me FIVE TRIES to blow them all out! You don’t realize the meaning of “restrictive lung disease” until you actually really try to use those weak lungs. (I am totally making an excuse for “just getting old.”)

My awesome step-dad painted this beautiful picture of Anya, and I got a print with a custom-made frame.

So about the purple suckers. They were root beer-flavored. I got in trouble for chomping down on mine (I don’t have any patience with hard candy), because my mom said they were supposed to make a fart noise when you lick them. Lia and Emily patiently licked theirs, waiting for a fart that my mom assumed was due to the suckers’ design. When everyone started to express their disappointment that no raspberry sounds were forthcoming from their pops, my mom took out the package to try and figure out how they were supposed to work. I grabbed my phone to look up reviews, and discovered the fart wasn’t in the design – it was in the ingredients! And the reviewers all gave the suckers 3 to 5 stars. -_-

I’m more than okay ripping some good ones in the comfort of my own home, but not in front of my sister and my step-dad! And I quickly found out that if I didn’t walk around all clenched, I sounded like a bag of popcorn in the microwave.

That’s the story of my 40th birthday party.

Now for musics. I’ve been obsessed with the following songs lately:

Lia’s already laid claim to the beautiful Russian actor in the Woodkid video. Sorry, ladies.

Hooray for the League of S.T.E.A.M. and their awesome props! Also – there’s just something about a guy in guyliner. MMM.

I am really getting into chap-hop lately, which is saying something because I hate traditional hip-hop and rap. Mr. B is one of the quintessential chap-hop blokes over in England, and I’ve been overplaying this song like crazy. Which is cool, because we just put up our interview with him over at Behind the Steam!

And earlier today we talked with some more lovely fellows from England – our first non-music related interview, with some filmmakers who are working on an indie steampunk webseries project. (Geek alert, one of the actresses was a former Doctor Who companion!) But they’re in need of funding for the project, which can be found here. We found them all so charming and friendly that we promised to get the word out to help them make their project come true. Our interview with them is set to release on Monday.

Now here’s a couple of funny pictures because I need to get them off my hard drive! :B

This time last year:

Monday Sickie – Yeah. I’m getting over another flu. I’m always sick on my birthday! And I’m appalled that a whole freaking year ago I thought I was within weeks of being done with Cobalt. That’s it, I really need to get strict with a fiction schedule.

When Nerds Go Out On Errands

I love playlists! Well, I could say it’s themed blog playlists I love, because I don’t really make book playlists and there are no organized playlists in my phone, all the music is just crammed in there.

I was thinking the other day as I was driving to the grocery store and I started to slide out of control on the icy road, while one of the following songs was playing on the iPod, that it was freaking epic. Much more than a shopping trip was occurring; the particular soundtrack playing at the time had caused us to cross over into Nerd Adventure territory. (No worries, I didn’t crash, and yes I really was thinking while sliding that it was super epic, and the kids got a lesson on anti-lock brakes while we were at it.)

Anyway, I have a small list of the type of tunes in our music library that can turn the simplest of food runs into Epic Nerd Quests. I really do sit up straighter and drive differently whenever a track from Pirates of the Caribbean comes on. Suddenly my messy mom van becomes a stately pirate ship, navigating the unplowed roads of Boise with ponderous grace. Until I crash into a parking lot snow mountain. But then I just Fus Ro Dah all that dirty snow away!

Any of the following tracks make our routine errands much more fun:

On the subject of playlists and music, over at Behind the Steam we just released our Top 10 Steampunk Songs for the new year! Go check it out. Most of it is epic enough for nerd adventures!
One of the bands featured in the top 10 list is The Cog is Dead, currently my most-obsessed-over steampunk group. They’re releasing their second album soon, and this is one of their catchy new songs:

Do you have any playlists that put you in an adventurous or happy mood? What about playlists for your books or general writing?

This time last year:

The Sims Saga – The kids and I will never forget these “family” stories as long as we live.

Fatty Catty, An Adorable Baby, and An Adorably Weird Husband – One of my old “funny pictures” posts!

P.S. Right now I’m seriously procrastinating on 13 law blogs and 10 landing pages…

The Difficult Post

I did say I’d write about this after it was over with. And when we were in our hotel room starving at 11:00 pm and due to a comedy of errors we still hadn’t had dinner, and were stranded on the 6th floor while my parents were stuck on the casino level and none of us could use the elevator because there was a fire department issue on the 3rd floor, I was all laughter and hilarity and yelling that I couldn’t wait to blog about this while my mom was on the phone with me snapping at the hotel employees in general that no, she wasn’t going to go gamble while they waited until the elevators were operational again, she was here to see her family! – well, that was the night before. I had, as the great Professor Elemental says, my “fighting trousers” on, and I was ready to take evil down.

All my life I’ve been a super wimpy, non-confrontational doormat (which is probably why particular members of that family thought I wasn’t a threat to them), so facing them in the courtroom was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. My voice shook with anger as I read my statement, but I didn’t look them in the eye, or I knew I wouldn’t be able to go on. I didn’t cry until my 14-year-old, who had severe anxiety about the whole affair, took the stand and broke down. She pulled herself together and read her statement, and so did my 12-year-old. Proud, angry mama bear was proud and angry.

The defense was pretty weak. It seemed to me that his defense attorney, whom my district attorney had told me was the best of the best, had kind of given up. He knew he was beat from the beginning. The evil one himself was allowed to say a statement in his defense, and it was all scripted, trite excuses and halfhearted apologies. No remorse whatsoever. Accusations of “unfounded animosity” against him. Pleas for mercy, since he was a “good man with much to offer the community and his church, but he’d just made a mistake.” Really, the only thing he was sorry about was getting caught. He said a couple of things that probably had his lawyer mentally facepalming, that he probably thought were valid excuses for what he did, but undoubtedly showed the judge his true character.

And so we won. The judge gave him the lengthiest sentence he could for the plea deal he’d made, and he’s going to be spending a long time in maximum security. Justice for my girls, hopefully some peace for us – but instead of feeling victorious like I’d thought I would, I feel kind of beaten myself. Nobody wants to say they sent someone to prison. I mean yeah, as their mother, as soon as I found out what was going on I wanted to castrate him and strap him naked to a hill of fire ants – but who wants their life to have gone so far down this path in the first place? To be the one who brought kids into the world thinking it was a good family and they were doing the right thing, only to have everything fall apart, to know her kids have been scarred for life, and to have to pull strength out of nowhere to fight a battle in court?

Maybe it’s because I know it’s not even halfway over yet. I still have to protect my kids from the other one, and I won’t be able to breathe a sigh of relief until all the legal stuff is behind us.

Okay, enough whining. My DA and court advocate assure me I did “everything right and then some.” The DA is a firecracker, and the advocate told me she’d never seen him as angry over a case as he was with ours. Both of them did so much to reassure us – more than they’ll ever know – and they’ll have my gratitude forever. In fact,  I’d love to send each of them the most expensive gift basket, with lots of chocolate goodies – but a heartfelt thank-you card will have to do for now.

I love how my blogging friend Shell Flower puts a related song at the end of her blog posts, so I’ll add this one (which is probably my favorite Abney Park song right now):

This time last year:

Forwarding That Plot – I miss those writers’ group meetings where we’d get more gossiping done than critiquing.

On Back Shavers, Victorian Mosh Pits, and Lia – Another classic Lia rewrite!

Dressing Your Characters! (Steampunk Edition) – A steampunk fictional character fashion show. Enough said.

Baby Steps

Oh, guess what! I finished editing that crazy montage video I was telling y’all about. It’s at the end of my post, along with another funny video, but read all this first because it is a writing blog after all and I like my peeps to read what I write. I’ll know if you don’t, and then I’ll break into your house and steal all your cookies.

So anyway, I don’t know if it’s PTSD, anxiety, or what, but ever since our big move, it doesn’t take much to completely shut me down. Just the simple acts of checking my email or replying to Facebook PMs exhaust me after maybe three or four messages. Same with phone calls and making appointments. I have to go grocery shopping every three or four days to get smaller amounts at at time, instead of once a week, or I’ll get overwhelmed by too many items in my cart. And forget about my writing and my blog. I’ve always been a bit of a flaky airhead, but the former me looks like a responsible adult in comparison. 😉

Well, after several months of learning to cope, and adjusting to a new life and routine, I’m finding myself able to handle a little more at a time each day. Well…kind of. I haven’t checked my email in almost two weeks – the thought of it makes my chest tight, for no good reason. But catching up on my email and setting up some important doctor appointments is on my list for next week. Baby steps.
This time last year, we were in a rough place, but I had no idea how challenging things were about to get. This challenge is far from over, but being in a safe, peaceful place makes all the difference. And thanks to my job, I’m writing about 2000 words almost every day, and even getting in a little fiction writing now and then. Each day I feel like I’m able to accomplish a little more. I’m excited to be blogging and writing again, and I’m even feeling up to catching up on my friends’ blogs. It’s been a long time.

Laughter really is the best medicine, and it’s something that has never left our lives. It seems like my family gives me no shortage of material to work with! The following is a video I took a couple days ago of Emily’s poor kitty Crybaby. He’s not used to a collar, but had to wear one because he was being treated for a rash and needed a cone (he’s doing fine now). Poor guy, the collar kinda broke his brain.

And now, finally, this video here that can just be summed up by saying a combination of any of the following scenes happen in my house on a daily basis. I should probably be immune to such weirdness by now, but the kids still make me cry tears of laughter all the time. Their madness keeps me sane. 🙂

This time last year in my blog:

What Happens When I Leave My Laptop Open – just Lia being the Queen Troll that she is.

It’s Epic Pain Time – The hubby is no longer in the picture, but this post is one of my favorites because funny, and no matter where I move, my accident-prone feet will always come with me. Earlier today, I found a two-inch-long sewing needle in my houseplant (don’t ask what it was doing there, but I once found a dried octopus in my houseplant, so I wasn’t surprised). Miraculously, I found the needle before my feet did.

Oh holy cow, it’s 2:30 in the morning. I gotta run. To my bed! And I’m planning a writing post for reals next time!

Buy A Moose For Your Mantel

It’s been two months since our move, and today I’m celebrating cable TV and internet at home! I’m also celebrating a new job as a freelance writer for an internet marketing company. I write content and custom articles for their clients. Finally, after writing for over 20 years, I’m able to support my family doing what I love! I work primarily from home, setting my own hours, but for right now I’m still at Denny’s one night a week. Waitressing for over five years has taken a bad toll on my shoulders and wrists, so I needed to severely cut my hours. Getting this writing job has been a miracle, because the pain I had from working three and four nights a week was almost unbearable.

I haven’t posted anything funny in a long time, but Lia helped me with that last night, when I stepped away for a few minutes from an article I was writing on mantelpieces. Because any content I write belongs to the company, I can’t post parts of the actual article – but I will post Lia’s additions. Note: Take her advice at your own risk. And if you do, send pictures! (Just don’t post them on Facebook.)

If your mantel has a chicken on it, you should probably remove it. If your mantel doesn’t have a moose on it, get one. Always wear clothes when decorating your mantel, as you never know where someone has hidden a camera. Don’t post pictures of your mantel on Facebook. That’s annoying.
Fine, I’ll post a picture on my blog instead!

My mantelpiece is a little narrow for a moose, but at least I don’t have a chicken on it. I think I’m good.

I have two more articles on mantels to write, so my fun blogging break is over. I wonder if I should include any tips on where to put those chickens that won’t look good on your mantelpiece?

Change to my blog: The spammers in my comments have been really amusing lately (I got an invitation to a site on getting rid of man-boobs, and I just love the attempts on coherent English), but I think I’m done with spammer fun now. So I’m changing the settings on who can comment on my posts. Let me know if you’re having trouble commenting!

A couple posts from this time last year:

Deadlines Are Great! So Are Parties! – No Halloween party this year, because my mom owns our townhouse and won’t allow it. (Kristin breathes a secret sigh of relief.)

Derpy Mistakes and Horrible Sisters – Funny how I can barely remember things that seemed like huge emergencies a year ago. But seeing those pictures again made me laugh! Emily still does that troll face, and she’s perfected it even more.