USA Today Best of 2012

Friday, December 31, 2010

What I've learned this year

Rather than another Too Done List like I did last year, today I'll post about what I've learned in 2010. So here it is, in no significant order:
  • Failing to stop the Runkeeper GPS app on my iPhone when I'm done walking really drains the battery. (so, hey... I'm starting off small!)
  • Teens can sleep upwards of 25 hours per day.
  • The extent to which teen boys can--to quote one of my alltime faves, the Coneheads--"consume mass quantities", is simply staggering.
  • Nicole Richie is Lionel Richie's daughter. (and see, I never would've learned that if not for my TMZ addiction)
  • It's easier to earn much more from an ebook novella than from a full-length book in both digital and print formats.
  • Some 9-year-old boys will walk right up to a teacher and say, "Damn!" (cue visual of me falling over, LOL)
  • Sometimes the thing you've dreaded most of all comes along, and forces you to do something much better. :) (waxing philosophical and life-coachey)
  • Carly Phillips & Julia Quinn are funny, friendly women--besides being wonderful authors. (Yay RomCon 2010!)
  • The best laid plans (ie the most time spent silkscreening and sewing) can still sometimes go to straight to hell. (more gleaned from RomCon, but hey... the upside is, I'm still in possession of a shitton of Autumn Piper sunglass sacks, LOL)
  • All bread will mold eventually. Unless it's for a science fair project where a 7th grader is trying to time how long it takes bread to mold after being exposed to germs.
  • Telling people I know about being an author isn't as scary as I'd expected. :)
  • The staffs at Rifle Middle School and Highland Elementary School are wonderful, helpful groups of people. (Thanks for the support, ya'll.)
  • Teachers rock! (yes, I did know this before, but it should be said more, and louder)
  • Having 3/4 of your hair turn gray (silver) isn't the end of the world. Nor is it the end of the graying process...
  • Something as commonplace as a blownout tire really can have tragic results. To that end, kids are much more adept at finding ways to grieve and cope than we give them credit for. Kids rock, too.
  • The most effective fix for SAD (seasonal affective disorder, and no I'm not giving it capitals because I've figured out how to fight it and it's losing) is quality time with a tanning bed. And now I understand why all the coffee kiosks in Alaska also had tanning salons when we visited. Doh!
  • No matter how vast the Crouton Collection in my pantry (a small aside: crouton collections don't carry much street value, even on eBay, nor do they increase in value over time)it won't affect the amount of salad I'll consume.
  • Everything tastes better with ranch.
So there we have it. Rather an eclectic summation of 2010, but by no means an encyclopedia. And I do like to think I still learn something everyday... that's what TMZ is for!

Have a safe, fun night with little physical evidence to remind you of it tomorrow.

Autumn Piper
Got romance?

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Unitasking- gift or disability?

I've sometimes envied certain people (for convenience, we'll just call them "men") for their ability to focus on a single job, and tune out all else. Conversely, I've watched men miss all the key bits of a conversation going on around them while doing something which I didn't think should require 100% attention.

So I wonder: Is unitasking (opposite of multi-tasking, defined by my 9-year-old daughter to my brother and his fiancee as "when a lady can do more than one thing at once, like driving down the road and hitting her kids in the backseat without having to pull over") a useful skill, or a detriment? While out walking one day this week, I had to shake my head at a neighbor guy, who was out cleaning his truck when I began my walk, and was still out cleaning his truck when I returned an hour later. Meanwhile, his wife was inside and had probably started dinner, washed a couple loads of clothes, loaded the dishwasher, sorted some mail... you get the picture. So then I came home and started my own dinner. Got the charcoal started, checked the hot tub, realized it had been leaking and needed either drained or refilled, searched out the pump and cord so I could drain it, all the while minding the grill (this worked out marvelously since they were both outside jobs). By the time I was ready to put the steaks on, I'd finished with the tub. So I went inside and began my twice-baked potatoes. All was going well until I got involved with clearing off the counter and cleaning the stove top, and kept forgetting to check the flames... at which point I realized this is why dudes are good at grilling--they go stand there and do nothing but watch the dang food cook! If they need a plate or the seasoning salt or a beer, they yell for somebody to bring it out. And yes, that gets annoying to the person inside preparing all the side dishes, cleaning the kitchen, helping the kids with homework... but some jobs kinda need devoted attention that way.

It's good to get several things done at once. But I can see how this skill has evolved in our men--consider Caveman Kreg, out hunting bison. He needs to focus on the hunt, not be worrying about the pile of skins at home that need washed, or whether the medicine woman should have a look at the baby and check out her cough. He can't be thinking about firewood now--he might be killed! So... do you think the dudes developed that one-mindedness out of necessity, or did they gradually become the hunter-folk because of that focus?

Either way, sometimes we'll all still feel like whacking our men upside the heads with clubs when they're watching TV and don't notice us asking them a question. I have to confess, though, I'd love to be able to tune out everybody and forget about all my worries, and just write. Even just an hour a day in "the Unizone".

Autumn Piper
Got romance?

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

A title for an unfinished book? Unheard of!

This is... a first in my writing career. I'm working on a novella, and somehow yesterday the title came to me. Just to be clear here, I have never, ever, had a title for one of my books before I finished writing it.

So? Here goes: A Cowboy Can Dream

It's the story of Nate and Clay (Nate was Kiersten's BFF in Autumn's Lone Star Trouble). A bit on the torrid side... but nothing Piper fans can't handle. And there've been quite a few requests for Nate's story, by women who read Lone Star. Of course Autumn couldn't write that story, because some of her readers might get freaked out by the m/m romance. So there we are.

Now I've just gotta write the darn thing... which is another first, because I've planned out this story on paper ahead of time. I know, totally not my "pantser" method. First time for everything, right?

Happy hump day.

Piper Denna
Romance is sexy!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Cute cookbooks with laughs--wonderful gifts

If you haven't seen these cookbooks yet, you should check them out. They make really fun gifts for girlfriends... they are the Any Bitch cookbooks.

Someone very cool gave me Any Bitch Can Fake It, for Christmas, and can't wait to try out the recipes. Believe me, when it comes to cooking, I am all about faking the hard work!

(The books are available on Amazon, but sell for much less directly from the Any Bitch site, although I'm not sure what they charge for shipping.)


Piper Denna
Romance is sexy!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Learning from the kidlets

Subbing in a 4th grade class this month, I've been very impressed with the writing lessons. "We" wrote big fiction pieces, focusing on the following skills:

  • The kids started out by planning their stories using a "story mountain", where they put all the plot points along a sloped mountain-shaped grid, so they could see their conflict, climax and resolution... which was awesome. Then they put each of those events on its own page and wrote it, skipping lines for revision. Each "event" was its own scene.
  • Show, don't tell
  • Writing from one character's perspective or point of view (this one was not a personal narrative, so it couldn't be 1st person)
  • Each scene must start with action or dialogue, not narrative to capture a reader's interest
  • Colorful, detailed plot with a problem, climax, and satisfying ending
  • Characters show growth
  • And of course, writing conventions such as grammar, spelling and punctuation.
And, wow. Aren't these the same things many authors must focus on? I got to spend lots of time conferencing with the kiddos, helping to show them where they could expand, add details, make a more vivid "mind movie". Very good practice! It's awesome teaching the kids where they can add small things like body language, to give the reader a picture of somebody's mood--for example, "Mom put her hands on her hips and narrowed her eyes"...instead of "Mom looked mad". And the beauty is, the kids totally "get" this concept. I honestly don't remember ever having this type of fiction coaching in school. Most of our writing really focused on essays and term papers.

Makes me very optimistic about what neat fiction might crop up in about 15 years or so...

And in the meantime, it's made me feel really good about seeing the big picture and doing a nice job editing for my authors. Nor do I feel bad about enforcing these skills on my authors. Because, after all, if we can expect 9- and 10-year-olds to do it, we can sure expect adults to, right?

Autumn Piper
Got romance?

Friday, December 24, 2010

Have a merry one!

I think this video says it all..


Autumn Piper
Got romance?

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Something more to be thankful for!

I think there should be a national Hug a Book Reviewer Day.

A very nice reviewer contacted me personally to find out where she could purchase A Fireman for Christmas so she could review it. Naturally, I sent her a review copy.


Reviews really do keep me going some days.

Piper Denna
Romance is sexy!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Headlines

My favorite feature on the Tonight Show is Headlines.

My favorites this week are "The 5 Ps" and the Chinese ad correction...


Piper Denna
Romance is sexy!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Tube Tuesday

A little "at the library" comedy...


Piper Denna
Romance is sexy!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Start the week with a new word...

From Urban Dictionary today:

Shatner commas: Oddly placed commas that don't seem to serve any actual purpose in punctuation, but make it look like you should take odd pauses, as William Shatner does when delivering lines.

This is what Shatner commas look like:

When, we get to, the restaurant, we should, order some, tasty, beverages.


Piper Denna

Romance is sexy!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Christmas comics

To those hoodlums in the class where I've been subbing:












I love them dearly, but words cannot express how much I'm looking forward to this holiday break. :)


Autumn Piper
Got romance?

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Christmas comics


Deck the halls with boughs of hackers...



Piper Denna
Romance is sexy!





Wednesday, December 15, 2010

More Christmas comics


This snowman must be a grandpa:


Piper Denna
Romance is sexy!


Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Christmas comics


This week is a killer. So.... happy chuckles.

Kids fighting? Make this your quietest-ever trip home from tree shopping:

Piper Denna
Romance is sexy!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Playing favorites

Today's post is on a topic we'll all be sick of in about 2 weeks--Christmas songs.

I recently had the privilege of seeing the choir perform at the elementary school where I'm subbing, and left impressed (if a bit teary-eyed). Christmas songs sung by kids are the best, in my opinion. And I cannot hear them sing "Silent Night" without the waterworks coming on. But why? I'm not sure--gives me goosebumps just thinking about it. Lord knows I heard enough renditions of it when I was a kid myself. I always got stuck sitting in a corner of the music room with a book while the other kids practiced their holiday music (a religious thing). For whatever reason, I tear up whenever I hear little voices in that song. And the cutest Christmas song by kids? Easily "We Wish You a Merry Christmas". I probably developed that partiality when my son's kindergarten class sang it. Oops, more tears!

Ahem. Now, my all-time favorite, guaranteed-to-make-me-dance, or at least torso-dance-if-I'm driving, is "Feliz Navidad". So upbeat and fun. My head is bobbing now as I hum it.

What's your favorite Christmas song?

Autumn Piper
Got romance?

Friday, December 10, 2010

Holiday cheer


Just for grins...

Piper Denna
Romance is sexy!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

New hobby?

Last night we watched a 7th- and 8th-grade drama production (my daughter was in it) for the first time. And...wow. It was cool seeing those kids act--some of them were fantastic. I found it quite entertaining (albeit not always in the ways the script writers intended).

I think I'll be a future attendee, whether my kiddo is involved or not. Might start keeping an eye out for community theater productions, too.

Happy Thursday--we're arms' reach away from the weekend.

Autumn Piper
Got romance?

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Saved

After 2 weeks of wondering (worrying), last night I was able--thanks to an ingenious friend who knows ever so much more about computers than I--to retrieve data from my Dead Dell.

And the beauty of it is, now that Dell's harddrive is installed in the drive enclosure, I can plug it into my USB port anytime I want something from it. First thing I copied off it was a selection of books I'd started writing now and then but hadn't done much with, including the one that was going quite well at the time of Dell's untimely death.

Now. If I can somehow bust into the Windows Mail program on it, my week will be complete. Convincing iTunes that computer is now defunct and I have a new one to "authorize" would be a nice bonus, too....although that's a project for the holiday break, I believe.

Autumn Piper
Got romance?

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Jingles and catch phrases

Here's a one-liner that has stuck with me through the ages: "Maybe you should try something else." (somehow I remember "maybe you should try something new", but I dug up an old commercial and that's not how it was worded. It's the last one in clip of 80's ads)

Autumn Piper
Got romance?

Monday, December 6, 2010

Of boogersuckers, bloodsugar, and sleeping like a baby

My new niece arrived yesterday afternoon, and even though I had a bajillion things to do around here, my daughter and I took the hour-long drive to go meet her (it was my daughter's birthday and she begged, which was a good excuse).

And, wow. What a little cutie! Holding a newborn is such a special experience, and this little girl is a real sleeper. Through all the jostling and switching arms of those holding her, through having her nose cleared with the big bluegreen bulb (meconium), and even through a blood test via a prick on her heel(because she wouldn't wake to eat), she slept. And slept.

I'm pretty sure even if I was comatose I couldn't rest like that.

It was definitely worth the trip. My daughter is still excited to have gotten such a gift for her birthday, and I'm sure my sis-in-law is happy she was able to deliver without complications (she was 5 days late, just like my kiddo, who also had the same November 30 due date...weird, huh?). Mommy was exhausted, glad it's over, and quite adamant about how much labor hurt. I'm thinking in a week's time she'll forget most of that hurt. But she'll probably be in that newborn haze of love and sleep deprivation, because that little sweetie probably won't be sleeping quite as well by then!

Happy Monday.

Autumn Piper
Got romance?

Friday, December 3, 2010

A bit of reposting

Got this link in my Writers Digest email--it's written by an agent, regarding what they'd like to see/not see in queries, but it's also spoto-on for what editors want to see.

7 Things Agents Want to See in a Query.

Have a fab weekend!

Piper Denna
Romance is sexy!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

That just doesn't get old.

Yesterday, I got to hold my first print copy of Fallen Star Trouble. (yes, that link goes to the Kindle edition, because Amazon doesn't have the cover art up for the print edition, and yes, I ordered the print edition through Amazon)

It's such a big deal for an author. Makes something real when you can hold it in your hands (and no, I'm not going to do the baby-simile, even though I could compare the digital edition to an ultrasound and the print edition to the "real thing", because after editing I can honestly say the baby-simile for books has grown teethgrindingi-old. Nobody in the world would have to beat their baby into submission the way we work over a manuscript). But, wow. This one is no less exciting than when I first held Lone Star Trouble almost a year ago (albeit, it is a bit more frightening since I have zero books in the pipes right now under contract...eek!).

Have a great day!

Autumn Piper
Got romance?

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Jingles and catch phrases

"Claim your spot; _____ gets it clean!"

And here's a refresher video.

Autumn Piper
Got romance?