February 24, 2014

Monday Silliness: My Collections

It's Monday of the week in which I plan to finish the first draft of the third (and final) book of the Undead America series. The series is in a hectic moment; there are dozens of little cogs spinning and spinning, and I need a whole lot of focus in order to make sure they all play nicely with one another in the giant machine of the ending. 

Alas, Zoe's got a cold. Just a little one, nothing to worry about. She was up a couple times overnight with the sniffles/stuffies, and this morning, she convinced me that a day of rest might be just what she needed in order to get well faster. I gave in and sent her back to bed. She was up less than an hour later, raring to go, leading me to wonder if I was not, in fact, Buellered....

That said, she's been fabulous today. Right now she's making rings with her Rainbow loom, sitting beside a Lincoln Log house and a few new Lego gadgets. 


I cannot focus on all my little cogs with her at home. I just can't. I'll get too into it and forget she's here, or else she'll interrupt with some wild and crazy question, and I'll be grumpy with her. I'd rather not be grumpy or forgetful with her today.

Thus, I've been cleaning. Dusting. Vacuuming. All kinds of things I don't love doing. But while I did that, I realized: I've never told you about my two collections!!! Oy! What have I been thinking?


I'm not much of a collector. I mean, I do love when Charles calls me over to look at the Lego sub-Reddit, but that's not my scene. I'm a minor collector, sure, but he shows me people with COLLECTIONS. Whole rooms devoted to Legos, all neatly organized by shape or size or color. Shelves, drawers, neatly labeled, all filled to overflowing with bricks and plates and other miscellany. 

He shows me these rooms with more than a hit of envy. If given unlimited time, space, and money, Charles would for sure have a room like that. Probably so would Zoe, although hers would certainly be messy most of the time. She takes after her dad. Charles has always been a collector. Comic books (all neatly boarded and bagged). Baseball cards in perfectly arranged boxes and binders. Vinyl albums. Books. All alphabetized by genre.

I'm not kidding. 

Me? Not so much. I'm not a collector like that. Not even close. I mean, I like things, but I'm too easily distracted to spend much time on organizational methods. I have tons of books, all helter-skelter in our book room (You can tell Charles's books form mine based on condition alone. I'm a brutal reader.), and I love them all. But I wouldn't say I collect them. You know what I mean?

But I do have two collections!! And of them, I'm quite proud. I love them in fact. They're divergent, but interesting to me, and so here they are.

These are my Anne Frank books. I read her diary for the first time when I was about 12; I've re-read it at least annually every year since. Whenever a new book comes out that documents some new part of her life, I buy it. I go to used bookstores seeking old versions of the original diary. I think I have other books, not pictured here. 

This is perhaps a morbid collection - why study the writings of and about a dead girl? But I think she's important. To generations, she's been the face of the Holocaust. The image of what happens when one person gets too much power, and uses that power to commit genocide. I firmly believe that if we don't learn from the past we're doomed to repeat it, so I plan to learn, and to continue learning, for the rest of my life.

And...well, ok. It's time I come clean. I also collect action figures. Mostly Walking Dead related (those little vinyl guys are hilarious and I love them!), but you can also spy some generic zombies and a Han Solo and a Tenth Doctor (mmm....David Tennant). This is much more silly and fun than Anne Frank books, and I love when Charles or Zoe shows up with some new addition to my little collection. I keep them on my desk (where I sometimes work, despite Charles's conviction that I don't), and sometimes Zoe sets them up in little battle scenes. 

So see? I'm a bit of a collector after all. Though I don't think I'll be showing up on any sub-Reddit anytime soon.

Happy Monday!

February 12, 2014

Undead America: No Angels special deal!

Good morning everyone!! Today's an exciting day for me!! For today's the day that the first special sale begins for No Angels, Book 2 in the Undead America trilogy!! Yippeeeeee!!

Yes, that's right, it's on sale!! For approximately $1.99 at most online outlets (some places may have it a little more or less, but that's based on each vendor)!

So if you've been waiting to check out Undead America, or waiting to get the sequel, No Angels, now's your chance to nab the whole series for a little less than $8, or the sequel for $1.99-ish!! The sale will run through the rest of February, but don't forget - February's a short month, so grab it now before the deal ends!!

Please! If you have a moment, help me spread the word! I'd love to get this book in the hands of as many readers as possible!

Here are all the links!

Smashwords (Promotional code needed: JS88P, expires 2/28/2014)

So thanks! For helping me share this news and finding new readers and all the other awesome things y'all do over and over because you're the best!!!


February 3, 2014

On the passing of a legend, all too soon

I stood at the kitchen counter yesterday, getting ready to make some Super Bowl snacks. At the table, Charles and Zoe sat working on a Lego project. I flipped open my laptop, seeking a recipe I'd bookmarked, and on the way to finding it I saw the news.

My hands flew to my cheeks, Home Alone-style. "Oh no," I said.

I didn't mean to. I meant to keep it in. I meant to stay quiet.

Charles and Zoe looked up from their bricks, startled. "What?" they said, in unison.

I sighed. There was no backing out. "Philip Seymour Hoffman," I said. "He's gone."

The news was shockingly sad to Charles and me. So much talent, gone in an instant. When the news got uglier (cause of death: the needle in his arm), we grew even more grim. 

So much talent, gone in an instant.

It's such a weird thing when someone you admire from afar dies. You're sad, but then you wonder: am I even allowed to be sad? I didn't know this person. I only saw him on the TV. What right have I to claim any part of his mourning?

Later, I found out that an old friend of mine, an actor, actually did know Philip Seymour Hoffman. He posted a poignant message of love and loss on Facebook, and it almost brought me to tears. It humanized the legend, brought him closer to home. 

And I am sad, because an actor I've admired for years is gone.


We don't always take enough care of each other, in this wild and crazy world of ours. We don't always remember to tell our families we love them. We don't always bring food to a friend who's having a rough day.

We don't always recognize the signs that say something bigger is going on. Something bigger indeed.

I hope that, for all the sadness his family is facing right now, they don't beat themselves up with guilt. 

For we can all, always, do better at taking care of each other, and of taking care of ourselves.


If I could sing this song to everyone I loved, every day, maybe that would get closer to telling them how I feel. And the thing is, there are a lot of people that I love.


Philip Seymour Hoffman was a talent. A living legend. A brilliant actor. A humanitarian. I now know from my friend's note that he was kind and giving and caring.  He's gone all too soon. That much is clear.


Zoe and I went for a walk yesterday afternoon, about an hour after first hearing the news. She had questions about death and dying and drugs. Then we talked about the one place she'd encountered Philip Seymour Hoffman. 

"He's in that episode of Arthur," I said. "The one you like, where Fern becomes an actor. He's the director who helps her. That was Philip Seymour Hoffman."

She thought for a moment. "So I can't watch that show anymore? Now that he's dead? They'll stop showing it?"

"No," I said. "It's on NetFlix. You can watch it anytime you want."

"Oh. So it's like he's not really gone, then. At least not for me."

She's right, you know. A legend like him will never die, not completely. 

And we are all the luckier for it.