Sunday, May 29, 2016

Spring Fling in the bag!

Another Romance Writers of America Chicago-North Spring Fling writing conference has come and gone. Three days has never passed so quickly. As usual. The Spring Fling team keeps us busy for a long weekend with fascinating speakers, best-selling authors, informative panels, manuscript critiques, appointments with agents and editors, and the wrap-up gala on Saturday night. Wow! Even just writing it all out has left me exhausted.

As usual, I attended the Chicago-area conference with my cousin Annmarie Ortega. We have attended this biennial conference together for years, but since I moved to Georgia three years ago, I have to fly in for the event. No problem. It gives me an excuse to visit with Illinois family and friends. This year, Annmarie and I also had the chance to celebrate the publication of our first co-written novel. Saucy Girl is a contemporary romantic suspense tale that was published by Highland Press. We're very excited to finally see it in print.

One of the highlights of the weekend was Friday's Hot Nights Critiques. Since this was a romance writers conference, many of the attendees write some pretty steamy scenes in their manuscripts. The problem is that sometimes their critique groups back home don't feel comfortable reading those sections out loud in the library or the Barnes & Noble that hosts the writing group. Spring Fling to the rescue with sponsor

Anyone who wanted to read a sexy section of her book was able to meet with other like-minded individuals to read and critique without judgement or embarrassment or censorship. It was a wonderful event. Somehow I ended up moderating the steamiest critique room even though I don't typically read or write such hot stuff. On the upside, it was fun and I learned a lot. Perhaps more than I wanted to learn, but there you go.

If you missed this year's conference, remember that they'll be doing it again in Spring 2018. Although you might want to avoid saying that out loud to the team that organized this one. They're probably still resting up and soaking tired feet in Epsom salts. For now, I'd just like to say thanks to everyone who was involved in this extraordinary weekend!

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Y'all still trying to catch them pigs?

            Ever since I moved to Georgia from Chicago three years ago, I've occasionally found myself in the middle of what my husband and I call a "Georgia experience." These are incidents that would never occur up north, like when you go to a restaurant and you have to order three different things before the server finally tells you that they actually have that item in the kitchen. Or when you go to a flea market and find it filled with morbidly obese men wearing overalls without shirts who are selling ducks and piglets in cages. Or out of curiosity you go into something called a 99 cent grocery store and discover that the groceries are so cheap because they all expired at least two years ago. How is that even legal? The store has a permanent location with a sign. Up north, the store with a shelf full of expired Children's Tylenol would have been shut down before the paint on their misspelled sign was dry. On the other hand, I guess there's something relaxed about this approach to life. But, still, expired drugs?
            My favorite recent "Georgia experience" happened last week. My friend Melissa moved down here from Michigan two years ago, and like me, she's fascinated by the cultural differences. She used to live in the city up north, but when she and her mom came down here, they bought a place that came with a few acres. They love it out there and even got a few goats to keep them company. Then one morning last week, they woke up to discover two pigs running around the yard freaking out the goats. They weren't big pigs; nowhere near full grown. They were cute and hungry. Melissa's mom fed them.
Pebbles the Goat versus Trespasser the Pig. Thanks to Melissa for the photo.

            They started a neighborhood search for where the pigs might have come from, but no luck. They called the county sheriff, but he said his office couldn't do anything about pigs. He did warn them to get rid of the pigs, though, because they can reach 800 pounds (seriously?), and by then they're completely unmanageable. They called animal control, but they won't come out to deal with any animals. You have to catch them and bring them to the office. Again, seriously? Up north, catching stray animals is the purpose of animal control. But apparently, the Georgia approach is to let the beasts run free until they either run away or get hit by a car.
            Finally, Melissa's mom found a "pig lady" who agreed to come over and collect the pigs for a friend of hers. Melissa called me, too, in hopes of having an extra set of hands to help catch the pigs. Why she thought I'd be any use is anyone's guess. Maybe she had already asked her competent friends, and they all said no. Seeing as I'm completely clueless, I jumped into my pig-catching boots and drove on over.
            You know the expression "slippery as a greased pig"? Turns out, they don't have to be greased to be slippery. Technically, I don't know if they were slippery or not because they wouldn't let any of us lay a finger on them. They were especially good at dashing under thorn bushes (where did all these thorn bushes come from?) just as we were closing in.
            The pig lady told us, "Grab 'em by the back legs so they don't bite you."
            I said, "I can't. I'm from Chicago."
            She looked at me like I had three heads.
            When it became evident that we weren't getting our hands on the pigs, the pig lady announced we needed a tranquilizer gun. That would slow them down, and she could get them in her truck. Sadly, no one had a tranq gun. That's when the pig lady called animal control and asked to borrow theirs. I heard the animal control lady on the other end of the phone say, "Y'all still trying to catch them pigs?" Like it was the most normal thing in the world.
            The animal control lady wouldn't lend us the county tranq gun, and as we know, they certainly wouldn't come out to deal with an animal problem. So the pig lady told Melissa and me to go to a nearby cow farm and ask to borrow gun. Strangely, the way she said it made it sound like a reasonable plan.
            Melissa and I followed the pig lady's directions and ended up at three different farms in what we thought was the right general vicinity. One farm had a dog that became Cujo when Melissa went in search of the farmer. Another had a cat who came out to greet us, but there was no farmer in sight. And then there was this cow who practically had a thought bubble over her head that read, "You two Yankees are idiots." It was when the cows knew we were being stupid that Melissa and I gave up and went home. No one had been willing to help with our pig problem.
            So the pigs are still there. They disappeared for a couple days, and we had hope that maybe they had gone home. But then they showed up again, dirty and hungry and wilder than before. I wonder if the pigs realize they're living a "Georgia experience"?

 EPILOGUE: The pigs found a new home today! A local man (we'll call him the goat guy) and his wife have something of a menagerie on their 10 acres, and they wanted the pigs as pets. He brought a butterfly net and a dog crate to collect them. Not surprisingly, when the goat guy showed up, the first thing he did was ask Melissa if she had a tranquilizer gun. (Now she knows what she's asking Santa for this Christmas.) Sadly I couldn't be there today, but Melissa tells a tale of grown adults running around for three hours trying to trap two little pigs. By the time everyone was filthy and exhausted, the pigs were in their crate and on their way to a new home. Melissa and her mom were left with the challenge of coaxing their goats off the pile of hay bales where they took refuge from the scary little pigs. Probably they're not coming down until they see Melissa pulling her new tranquilizer gun out of the car. It's the hot fashion accessory for well-dressed women in Georgia.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

The guy from Hello gets his say

            You know how sometimes there's a song that just sets your teeth on edge every time you hear it? That's how I feel about Adele's Hello. Why is it so popular? Has anyone listened to the lyrics? It sounds like the ravings of a narcissistic ex-girlfriend who won't get a life and go away. This song seems to be telling crazy ex-girlfriends everywhere that's it's okay to keep badgering the poor sap who thought he was rid of them years ago.
            Turns out, Adele said during an interview that the song isn't about a breakup. She claims it's about herself or about her son or about people she's known in her life or something. Still, most people aren't going to do research into the deep meaning behind a pop song's lyrics. Which means that ex-girlfriends worldwide will hear this song and think it's giving them permission to stalk a guy who clearly has no interest in their brand of crazy.
            So I thought I'd offer some insight into what the guy from this song is thinking as his obsessive ex is howling into the phone at him. This long-suffering man deserves to have his side of the story told.

Hello, it's me
            Why did I answer? I need caller ID.
I was wondering if after all these years you'd like to meet
To go over everything
            After YEARS apart, why would I want to re-hash a bunch of pointless drama?
They say that time's supposed to heal ya
But I ain't done much healing
            After YEARS, you're still dwelling on this? Maybe you need a better shrink.
Hello, can you hear me
I'm in California dreaming about who we used to be
            You spend your time daydreaming in California? I drive a snowplow in Jersey.
When we were younger and free
I've forgotten how it felt before the world fell at our feet
            You mean how the world fell at YOUR feet? Snowplow, remember?
There's such a difference between us
And a million miles
            Why don't you remind me how awesome you are and how lame I am?
Hello from the other side
I must have called a thousand times
            Do you have a Do Not Call Registry? Because I'd love to get on it.
To tell you I'm sorry for everything that I've done
But when I call you never seem to be home
            You couldn't take the hint? Ever thought I might be screening my calls?
Hello from the outside
At least I can say that I've tried
            It's wonderful that bothering me can make you feel better about yourself.
To tell you I'm sorry for breaking your heart
But it don't matter it clearly doesn't tear you apart anymore
            No, I broke up with you, not the other way around. And now I remember why.
Hello, how are you?
It's so typical of me to talk about myself I'm sorry
            Finally, you got something right.
I hope that you're well
Did you ever make it out of that town where nothing ever happened
            I love this town. They elected me mayor. It got way better after you left.
It's no secret that the both of us
Are running out of time
            Speak for yourself. I'm not the one obsessed with a ticking biological clock.
So hello from the other side
I must have called a thousand times
            And my new wife is pretty sick of it.
To tell you I'm sorry for everything that I've done
But when I call you never seem to be home
            Do I need to change my number? And my name?
Hello from the outside
At least I can say that I've tried
            Do you realize that you're completely self-absorbed?
To tell you I'm sorry for breaking your heart
But it don't matter it clearly doesn't tear you apart anymore
            No, I'm not torn apart. Moving on feels good. You should try it.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Cat shaming

Yes, it's been a long time since I've posted here. That's partly because I've been getting into Twitter instead. Short, random neural firings are just my speed. I'm @KOsbornSullivan. Come visit! I've also been busy finishing my YA fantasy manuscript FERAL! It's done! It's 98,000 words! It's awesome! Like Bigfoot? (And who doesn't?) Then this is the book for you! I'm starting the agent search...

Also, I don't want to leave anyone hanging with the ongoing saga of my pool installation. It's done and it looks great, but we're having some trouble with the builder. Essentially, we say they suck, and they disagree. Until we get this all worked out, I'm postponing photos of the final reveal. 

Finally. when not arguing with pool companies, Tweeting, or writing, I've taken up the elite sport of cat shaming. It's brilliant! It's probably easier to show you what it is rather than trying to explain.
That's Jem in the photo. He's been shamed multiple times for a variety of reasons, but sadly, he doesn't seem ashamed at all. Maybe I need a bigger white board to write up his transgressions?

Happy winter! Stay warm out there.