Wednesday, July 31, 2013

When Karma Bites

I don't really believe in karma. I'd like to, but I don't. Yet sometimes...

Today was quite lively in my neighborhood. Remember the crazy lady who lives across the street? Remember the nasty neighbor who did this to my Bradford pear tree?

Well, this afternoon I walked out into my front yard to move my sprinkler, only to discover the crazy lady standing in the driveway next door and fighting with my nasty neighbor. This lady is seriously crazy--and scary. She lit into the guy to the point that he retreated into his car and locked the doors, while the crazy lady yelled obscenities at him and banged her fists on his roof. Now, normally the crazy lady is not one of my favorite people, but I had to restrain myself from shouting, "You go, girl!"

Of course, then someone down the street called the cops, and because I was a witness...

And I'm supposed to be writing a book through all this? Can I just say, I actually live in what is considered a "nice" neighborhood?

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Careful, Or You'll End Up in My Novel

Sooner or later, we all have one: the proverbial neighbor from hell. 

The rest of my neighbors are pleasant, even if some are a bit peculiar. One lady seems to be bipolar and has substance abuse and anger control issues, but I have never called the cops on her (someone obviously does, though, because they’re always coming to cart her off). Another of my neighbors used to be Aaron Broussard, the Jefferson Parish president who had fifteen minutes of fame during Katrina. He was always nice, but I say “was” because he’s now in a federal pen. One next-door neighbor is a very affable, extremely buff black FBI agent with an impressive collection of automatic weapons, whose presence is rather comforting during hurricanes. But then there’s the jerk on the other side…

Once, after Katrina, he called the cops on me when I stopped his workmen from moving his fence posts another foot inside my property line (they were already six inches on my property, but he managed to pull that off before I bought the house). Another time he sprayed Round Up on the gardens of the houses that border his back yard. And just this past weekend, when I wasn’t home, he sent men with chainsaws to lop the tops off four of my small trees and seriously butcher my Bradford pear tree (he doesn’t like things that grow because the wind carries leaves and petals into his pool). Yes, I could call the cops on him because we’re not talking branches hanging over the property line but limbs that were on my own property and the tops of the trunks of trees growing in my front yard. But the trees are already ruined, and while I used to be a rather scrappy person, I’ve mellowed enough these days to realize that fighting with people only introduces disharmony and aggravation into my own life.

Besides, I have a way to get back at him that is open to few: I intend to put him in one of my books—maybe even more than one—and it will not be a flattering portrayal.

I have in the past put an ex-husband in one of my books, and killed him. One of my daughter’s old boyfriends has been an endless source of inspiration for a number of characters with borderline traits. An annoying woman from our local RWA chapter is making an appearance in the book I’m writing now. There’s a reason Steve gave me this sweatshirt for Christmas one year:

Of course, I also put people I like in my books, or at least bits of them. Both Hendon in the Sebastian series and the Colonel in the Tobie and Jax books have aspects of Steve in them. My two daughters inspired the little girls in one of my historical romances (and yes, they recognized themselves when they grew old enough to read it). It’s something all authors do, consciously or subconsciously. Sue Grafton once told me that she turned her daydreams of killing her ex-husband into A is for Alibi .

In you-know-who's case, I’ll change enough that he won’t be able to sue me on the off chance he should read my book(s). But I will have endless fun with him. And quietly laughing at him is much more pleasant—and productive—than getting angry, and much safer than trying to get revenge. However, the next time he lets his pool get nasty, I am definitely calling code enforcement.

UPDATE: I must confess that my attempt at maintaining a Zen-like calm did not work. By Friday, when I realized I was still too upset by the incident to write, I did call the police. They warned him that I could charge him with  "simple criminal destruction," although I have decided not to press charges at this time. He's still going in my next book, though!

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Copyedits and Cover Flats, Oh My!

Two milestones last week brought the publication of Why Kings Confess a little bit closer: the mailman delivered two cover flats (evidently they are so pleased with the cover they decided to produce them early this time, to make use of them). And then the copyedited version of the manuscript popped up in my email inbox.

For reasons known only to the Powers that Be, they made the cover darker than the version I saw. But while I liked it better lighter, I'm still very happy with it. The print is a nice metallic silver (in the photo, it shows up best in my name, but the title is the same).

The copyedits took most of last week to read through, since I always go over the manuscript very carefully. This is essentially my last chance to change anything (they get really, really cranky if you try to change things at the page proof stage). And since I'm coming at the story with fairly fresh eyes after not having read it for six months, I sometimes see things I didn't notice before.

I must say, I do miss the good old days when copyeditors made their changes on the printed manuscript, and I could sit down with the manuscript pages in hand and read. Now it's all done electronically with Track Changes adding color-coded bubbles in the margins, and I need to either read it on my computer or print it off in an itty-bitty font in order to get those bubbles in there.

Life was also complicated last week by the death of our refrigerator. Barely seven years old, it's been problematic ever since we bought it while rebuilding after Katrina (there's a reason appliances purchased after Katrina are known around here as "Katrina Klunkers"). So we decided not to fix it again. This new one is huge (they no longer make them the size of our old one) and includes a giant, shallow drawer across the bottom of the fridge part for pizzas! Seriously. Every French door style refrigerator we looked at had one. Do people eat that many giant pizzas that they need a special drawer for them? At least this one doesn't have a dispenser for coke and beer cans built in the door, the way so many of them did.

I'm now looking at my other Katrina Klunkers--specifically the dishwasher and washing machine--and thinking I ought to look into replacing them BEFORE they die. The infuriating thing is, these were not cheap appliances. If you want to see me go red in the face, just whisper, "LG..."

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Can I Just Say, I Really Hate This Time of Year?

Ah, it's that time again. Time to stockpile water, get the generator serviced, make sure the shutters close, count cat carries and little noses, make sure the car is always full of gas, and lay in fresh batteries and a supply of canned food we'll never eat unless forced by circumstances I try not to think about.

Despite some of the computer projections, Tropical Storm Chantal is not really expected to hit us. But it does serve as a wake up call, if one were needed. Chantal is the third named storm of this season. Normally, the third named storm doesn't form until the middle of August, rather than the 8th of July. Previous years when this happened included 2005 (think Katrina) and 2008 (Gustav). This does not bode well for those of us who live along the coast and have anxiety issues.

Some incidents in our lives we never really recover from, and for me, Katrina falls into that category. I simply don't want to go through that ever again.