Wednesday, November 18, 2015

So...good news and bad news on the Sophie front

The good news: Vet confirmed that I didn't crush Sophie's little paw with my mighty bulk. And she's now up to date on all her shots.

The bad news: She has dental issues. One of her canines (top left) was lost somewhere between her last visit and this one. It's just gone. In addition, she also appears to have a cavity or some such issue with one of her back teeth. The last couple of years during her checkups the vet has noted she has some tartar build up, but they don't like to do dental work on cats unless absolutely necessary because they have to be put under and it's kind of dangerous for them. Today I was told that the time has come for Sophie's teeth issues to be dealt with. So two weeks from today, she's going back to the vet for a day of dental work. I'm sure she'll be fine, plus I'd rather deal with this now rather than later, when it could be even worse.

Bonus points for the estimate: Depending on how many teeth have to be extracted (one or two) the damage is going to be anywhere from $1,000 to $1,300. On the other hand, she's never been sick a day in her life, so other than checkups I haven't had to spend a lot of money on her, not to mention she's worth every penny.

Also, as much as Sophie hates being there, I really love our vet. This was waiting for us in the exam room today:

So sweet, VCA Marina Animal Hospital

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Sophie crisis averted

This morning Sophie got underfoot in the kitchen, I didn't see her, and the result was that I stepped on one of her paws, eliciting a painful, heart-wrenching shriek. I kept an eye on her and for a while she seemed okay, then I watched her walk across the living room and one front foot seemed bent in a really weird, unnatural way. There was no visible injury, but she was walking on it oddly.

She didn't seem to be in any pain or distress, but that one foot looked really off. I figured we were in for a trip to the vet, so I took a shower and got dressed. But by then she seemed to be walking normally. I was still on the fence until she jumped up on and off the counter in the bathroom without any problem. It was a relief, because my guilt factor was rocketing off the charts when I thought I'd hurt her. As the day went on, she was active and obviously fine.

She's also due for a couple of shots, so I went ahead and booked an appointment for her tomorrow. They'll check her foot too, but I think she's okay. It's a huge relief, because for a while there I thought I'd really done some damage.

She's a very important member of the family.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

NOW it's official! Fall really is here!

This is just hilarious. If this place was in my neighborhood they'd totally get my business:

H/T to dloesch on Instagram.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Fireplace weather!!! (FINALLY)

We finally got some weather appropriate for this time of year, along with some much needed rain. Southern California really sweltered this year. Maybe there is something to the global warming crap. Or maybe Southern California just really sweltered this year.

In honor of the wind, rain and cooler temperatures we got today, I busted out my slippers for the first time in months. See ya, flip flops.

I also cranked up the fireplace for the first time in months. And this made Sophie a very, very happy kitty. Partly because she loves the fireplace like a fat kid loves cake, and partly because she's blissfully unaware that she's going back to the vet soon to get a couple of shots that she's due for. Shhhhh, don't tell her!

Sophie welcomes winter with open...paws.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

NaNoWriMo - it's what's for November

National Novel Writing Month is upon us again! And I'm going to attempt it again! And probably fail miserably, just like every other time I've done it!

Here's a pretty accurate assessment of NaNo, not to mention a really accurate look at how creatively writers procrastinate: How Not to Win NaNoWriMo.

I also found this online the other day. Again, a very accurate take on NaNo. Tip of the hat to hermiejr157 over at Deviant Art.

Click to see it in all its gigantic glory!

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Monday, October 26, 2015

Squealing fangirl mode: ACTIVATED!!!

So, I've spent the past few days binge watching Manhattan, which has been cluttering up my DVR for a while now. Not sure why I never got around to watching it, because it looked interesting enough to schedule it to be recorded. Once I finally started watching it I was hooked. The show's second season started a couple weeks ago, but I didn't want to jump ahead. As of last night I'm officially caught up through the first two episodes of the new season. Great show, give it a shot if you haven't seen it, although you'll definitely need to begin at the beginning for it to make sense.

So I got on the official website (which is stunning) and started following the show on social media. I also found the show's creator, Sam Shaw, on Twitter and followed him as well. Last night I also tweeted about the show, how it's awesome and boo-hooed over how I have to wait for new episodes now just like everyone else. And today I woke up to this:

That would be my tweet favorited by the show's creator. I actually squealed when I saw this.

I do feel kind of bad that by waiting forever to watch his show, I cost him Nielsen numbers. Not anymore, I'll be watching in real time with bells on.

I've got several shows loading up the DVR that I need to get to. You're next, Rosewood and Public Morals. Hope you're as good as Manhattan.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Bouchercon 2015 - Days 3/4 (Sat/Sun)

Bouchercon rolled on through the weekend. Saturday and Sunday panels:

The Dark Side of Romance is Suspense and Murder
Cathy Wiley (moderator extraordinaire), Amanda DeWees, Robin Weaver, Jamie Mason, Sheila York
  • On why the genre works so well with romance: Limitless possibility for reaction due to chemistry and romance. Love is high stakes, high drama and high emotion. Life and death situations only work if you have something to lose. When you fall in love, it makes you vulnerable.
  • On naming their characters: Wiley - all her killers are named after ex-boyfriends. York - killed off her boss once because she thought he had the perfect last name. She got his permission first, and he brags about it. Weaver uses - enters characteristics of her character to generate names. 
  • On the importance (or not) of humor despite the darkness of the genre: DeWees - important. York - her characters have a wry sense of humor about themselves.
  • During the Q&A, the authors were asked what question they would like to be asked in interviews and DeWees quipped, "How does it feel to be a New York Times best seller?". Weaver was up next: "Ditto."
York's novels are set in 1940's Hollywood. Being a sucker for all things historic Hollywood/Los Angeles, I had to buy her book and get it autographed. She was sitting next to Wiley, who commented, "Great inscription." Apparently coming up with just the right inscription is a big deal. 

Psychopaths, Serial Killers, Sociopaths and Human Monsters Within Literature
Debbi Mack (moderator), Reed Farrell Coleman, Michael Robotham, Steve Hamilton, Jennifer Hillier
  • Coleman: Given the right motivation and circumstances anyone could do terrible things. Robotham noted Nazi Germany as an extreme example.
  • Subjects even they won't touch: Hillier - kids and animals. Robotham - "Heaven help you if you harm a pet." Coleman - Nothing, but things that make him uncomfortable often happen "offscreen". 
  • Sociopaths as sidekicks: Coleman referred to them as "socio-ex-machina". When your protagonist has to make the tough decision to do a bad thing, the socio-sidekick does it for them. Kind of a cheat unless it's really well done. The Easy Rawlins and Spenser series were cited as having these characters.
  • Hillier described growing up a big Stephen King fan. She quipped that she went from reading Sweet Valley High to Pet Sematary.
  • Favorite bad characters: Hillier - Dexter Morgan. Hamilton - Donald Westlake aka Parker. Coleman - Mouse (Easy Rawlins series), Robotham - Jack Torrance from The Shining, who he described as "an astonishing creation".

Crime, Mystery and Thriller Novels: The Game Changers
James Scott Bell (moderator), David Bell, M. Ruth Myers, Michael Robotham (filling in for Sean Chercover, who was ill), Stefanie Pintoff

The authors talked about what they do for originality, so that they're not telling the same old story.
  • David Bell: Combined suspense with a love story.
  • Robotham: It took him years to figure out how to make it work in a story, but he based his current novel, Life or Death, on a true story about a guy who escaped from prison the night before he was due to be released. He was never seen or heard from again.
  • Myers: Her main character is a female PI in pre-World War II Dayton, Ohio. She feels this era (between The Depression and WWII) produced the first era of career women, and wanted a character who wasn't Rosie the Riveter or USO entertainment.
  • James Bell: Married a legal thriller with zombie fiction. The titles in his Zombie at Law trilogy are awesome: I Ate the Sheriff, Pay Me in Flesh and The Year of Eating Dangerously.
  • Pintoff: Be creative, but stay within the framework of the genre.

Trends in the Traditional Mystery
Christine Husom (moderator), Ellen Crosby, Tracy Kiely, Mollie Cox Bryan, Kendel Lynn
  • On the appeal of traditional mysteries: Bryan - Sense of justice and solving a puzzle. Kiely - Safety due to lack of bloody gore and knowledge that things will end up okay. Lynn - The tradition of it. Comforting and entertaining, but not emotionally draining.
  • Kiely's current series is an updated version of The Thin Man with the roles reversed (wife Nic is the former cop, husband Nigel the wealthy heir). 
  • How they write: Lynn - is an extreme plotter, practically writes the whole book that way. Kiely - starts with the murder. Bryan - "When you think you've written yourself into a corner, blow some shit up." Metaphorically speaking, of course.

Choose Your Voice: First, Third or Omnipotent
Debra H. Goldstein (moderator), M.L. Rowland, Bill Crider, Patricia Coleman (aka P.R. Morris), Julieanne Holmes (aka J.A. Henrikus)
  • Crider thinks classic P.I. novels should be written in the first person.
  • There are certain constraints to first person, particularly that the protagonist can't know more than the reader knows. You can't hide things from readers.
  • Holmes wrote her Harvard thesis on Agatha Christie's use of point of view. She cited The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, And Then There Were None and Murder on the Orient Express as examples of how Christie used POV to inform and fool her readers.
  • Coleman writes historical novels and uses two dominant POV's, one male and one female. Her reasoning is that in that time period, men moved through society differently than women, even women of status. 

Bring on New Orleans! (Bouchercon 2015)

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Goodbye to the future

After today, the entirety of the Back to the Future trilogy will take place in the past. Happy BTTF Day!!!

What are you looking at, butthead?

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Bouchercon 2015 - Day 2 (Friday)

Lone Wolves and Loose Cannons
Bruce DaSilva (moderator), Jerry Ackerman, Mick Herron, Andrew Grant, Ben McPherson

The lone wolf/loose cannon character represents:
  • A savior who comes in from the outside to sort out the mess. Like Lee Child's Jack Reacher, he shows up, saves the day, then departs.
  • Capable of doing things other people wish they could, or at least wish they could do without suffering any consequences.
  • Obliged to help those weaker than themselves, or at least in need of their assistance.
  • Some archetypes: The vigilante (Dirty Harry) who operates outside the rules. The day job/secret life, often in disguise (The Scarlet Pimpernel).

Dark Romance and Dark Smiles
James R. Tuck (moderator), Liesa Malik, Julia McDermott, Cara Brookins
  • Malik: Described cozy mysteries as, "Nothing better than a little murder among friends."
  • Tuck: Writes a lot of emotionally damaged/stunted characters. When love is introduced, it has the potential to help or hurt. Also, being damaged makes one vulnerable, a target.
  • The story in love (even if it's not the main storyline) is how it can swing from asset to liability.
  • The question came up about the necessity of a love interest for a strong, independent female protagonist. Historically, women needed men to survive. These days, that isn't the viewpoint. Malik said she hoped her female protagonist grows up to be Jessica Fletcher. Brookins pointed out that you need to know your audience - millennials have a different reason for romance (not for survival).

Managing Red Herrings in the Mystery Narrative
G.M. Malliet (moderator), Carlene O'Neil, Diane Vallere, Bryn Bonner, Linda Lovely
  • "Red herring": A planted clue meant to mislead the reader.
  • Vallere had a character blurt out a confession early on in one of her books, so you know that character is innocent. Someone throwing themselves under the bus to protect a loved one they think has committed a crime.
  • Malliet: Agatha Christie was a master of the red herring (among other things) and would plant a clue in early chapters, knowing the reader would have forgotten it by the end of the book.
  • Who they admire for red herrings: Bonner: Jeffrey Deaver (master of the twist at the end), O'Neil: Carolyn Hart (The Locked Room), Lovely: The BBC series Death in Paradise and Foyle's War, Vallere: The BBC series Prime Suspect.

Forensics & Technology and the Changing Face of Criminal Investigation
Neal Griffin (moderator), Kathy Reichs, Anne Hillerman, Ryan Quinn, Dr. Alex Lettau

  • Hillerman is the daughter of author Tony Hillerman and has continued his Native American series. She has fun with the flip side of dependence on technology because her stories take place in remote areas where cell phones don't work.
  • Some advances in technology: Establishment of databases, the ability to track people via their cellphones, 3-D printers being used to create skulls for students to use for study.
  • Advice for using technology in stories: Don't get bogged down in science as a narrative - you're not writing a textbook. Keep in mind that medicine is not an exact science. 
  • The next big things: Datamining is growing exponentially, and it's not just the government. Google, Facebook and companies dedicated to gathering information. Also on the horizon: We are moving into an area where DNA can be used to not only ID people, but to reveal their physical characteristics. We're not quite there yet and it will need to be tested in court.

Beyond The Wire, Bosch and True Detective: TV Crime Evolves
Lee Goldberg (moderator), Megan Abbott, Alison Gaylin, Christa Faust, Tim O'Mara

Bouchercon, like many conferences, doesn't give descriptions of their panels, just titles. This usually isn't an issue, but I was expecting this session to be a discussion about specific shows, but it had to do more with content the panelists would like to see.

  • Faust's colorful background includes working in the sex trade and she has brought that experience into her books. She seemed kind of obsessed with the desire to see more alternative sexuality and fewer attractive people on TV.
  • The appeal of shows like Law & Order is in how they wrap up crime in every episode - it gives them a built-in comfort factor for viewers. O'Mara has been a schoolteacher in New York City for twenty-nine years and has a brother who is a cop - he didn't like the idea of softening the reality of the situation to make it more appealing to audiences.
  • One of the novels Abbott is most famous for is Dare Me, set in the world of high school cheerleaders. O'Mara commented that Abbott writes kids so accurately it may change the way teens are portrayed. 
  • Gaylin pointed out that serialized shows keep viewers coming back to see what happens next. O'Mara referred to it as "the novelization of television" and also feels it contributes to binge-viewing.
  • Goldberg on launching new shows: Netflix did a study showing the most viewers will give a show three episodes to hook them. If you can't do it by then, you've lost them.
  • Several of the panelists had crazy stories about dealing with execs and producers, but as usual Goldberg had the best. One of his novels, The Walk, is about a TV producer trying to get from downtown L.A. to his home in the San Fernando Valley after a mega-quake has struck. In discussions he was asked if it was really necessary to make the protagonist a TV producer and Goldberg allowed that the guy could be anyone. He was then asked if the protagonist could be six midwestern cheerleaders. I don't think The Walk will be gracing our screens anytime soon.