In Which I Finally Learn To Get Pics Off The Camera

So…I’m kind of a technophobe. I know, I know. It goes against every geekery bone in my body. Tech is wonderful, I’ll admit, but I find most electronic gadgetry (except power tools, which are like my candy) intimidating and I really don’t like change.

Lemme ‘splain. (Cut here for pic!spam) Continue reading

It’s A Trap!

Or a conspiracy.

I’ll go with conspiracy.

My friend Skyla Dawn Cameron is having a birthday this month. She’s doing something a little different for it – she’s giving other people presents. Well, people and animals and so on, because she’s a hippy. No, really. She is. Like with vegan cheese and everything. But I digress.

Here. Go see. There are shiny things. Also…



Okay? There. I said it.

Want to see me sing Air Supply? It will cost you. $5000.00 in fact. No, I’m not lying. Go read Skyla’s blog post and see how this can happen. And just to taunt you a second time, for $10,000.00 I will sing both “All Out of Love” by Air Supply AND “Can You Feel The Love Tonight?” from The Lion King.

Now, you have the whole month to make this happen. So, go. Tell your friends. People on Twitter are already conspiring how to make this happen to get me to sing, and the post saying I’d do it just hit the blogosphere like an hour ago. There’s talk of collection jars on office desks and all sorts of things…it’s wild!

Via Skyla’s Twitter:

I say, BRING IT, BITCHES! I HAVE NO FEAR! NONE! You raise $5000.00 for Skyla’s charities, I will sing the shit out of a soapy 80s ballad.

If it’s good enough for Dean Winchester, it’s good enough for me!

Still Not Clean…Still Not Clean…

Title of this post comes from this:

Yesterday I went to a shopping mall.

I’ll pause a moment to let that sink in.

*seconds tick by*

Ready to go on? Okay.

Look, I’m just as shocked as you, okay? But it was for a worthy cause. Lemme ‘splain.

For those who may not know, I have a Gothdaughter. (As in, I’m her Gothmother. “Godmother” is so…STOP LAUGHING.) Gothdaughter is awesome. (Of course she is…I’m her Gothmother!) She has been wanting to go to Build A Bear for a long time, and He Who Enables My Crazy and I have been wanting to take her as our treat for various milestones she’s passed throughout the year. The nearest one to us is about two hours away, so it’s been a trick getting all our schedules to align. This week we all managed to have time to go, so it was planned, and yesterday was the day.

I knew the Build A Bear Workshop was in a mall. I was prepared for that.

I was not prepared for the horror that awaited me.

The place was huge. I…words fail me. It was a sea of the mundane. An ocean of normality. A CREVASSE OF THE COMMON.

This place was so prosaic. So regular. So typical. HOW DO PEOPLE DO THIS? I passed store after store of high-priced bullshit that all looked the same to me. Places I wouldn’t set foot in if you PAID ME, let alone gave me money to actually buy something in them.

Rarely am I ever faced with just how outside mainstream I really am. This place brought it home with a vengeance. The longer I was in the place, the more aware I became that this isn’t somewhere I should be. Ever.

As we walked through the mall to the Build A Bear, I pointed out Hot Topic to my Gothdaughter.

Me: “You see that place?”
GD: “Uh huh.”
Me: “Never go in there. Ever. It’s owned by Disney and is Goth for poseurs, like Twilight. Okay?”
GD: *big eyes and firm nod* “Okay. I won’t.”
Me: “Good. If I ever catch you being a poseur, we’re going to have words.”
GD: “You won’t!”

That’s my girl.

We got to the Build A Bear and the mundane normalcy of the place outside was forgotten as Gothdaughter’s eyes got bigger and bigger as she realized she was going to be able to BUILD HER OWN BEAR. I don’t think she realized until we actually got there that she was going to be able to MAKE HER OWN BEAR, but once she did, she was off. It took awhile, but I didn’t mind a bit. Things like this can’t be rushed, you know, and she was having so, so much fun! She chose her toy, recorded a voice for it, had it stuffed (complete with fabric heart to go inside it), gave it a “bath” (with air and brushes!), then picked out clothes and shoes and all kinds of accessories for her new best friend.

The Gothdaughter and her new bear. And accompanying loot. Photo by Gothdaughter's Dad. Used with permission.

The Gothdaughter and her new bear. Er…dog. And accompanying loot. Photo by Gothdaughter’s Dad. Used with permission.

Close up of Gothdaughter, new best friend, and accessories. Because you have to have accessories!

Close up of Gothdaughter, new best friend, and accessories. Because you have to have accessories!

She gave it a name and got a “birth certificate” for it, and repeated the Bear Promise. Then it was packed in its carrying box/home and we were finished.

We had planned to have lunch there before the long drive home, so we headed through the mall to the food court. Again, as we passed store after store (this place was HUGE and we only went through half of it in the shortest routes possible) of the same thing over and over, all designed for the average consumer (which, in case you haven’t realized by now, would NOT be me), I grew anxious and uncomfortable. Not from the people or anything. I’m not agoraphobic, claustrophobic, or any other “phobic” – I wasn’t afraid of anything. I just absolutely despise the mundane. The bright lights designed to make things look shiny when they’re actually just cheap plastic crap. The lie of it all. I don’t like being lied to, and this place was nothing but a temple of lies and sweatshops and evil assholes like Abercrombie & Fitch. And people BELIEVE the lies! I just….

Then something happened.

I had pretty much gotten used to random shills out hawking their wares in kiosks and storefronts, and almost said “No, thank you,” and kept on walking past the voice that asked me, “Would you like to sample…?” until I heard “…our tea today?”

I stopped dead and looked at the woman. My eyes went to the sign above the door of her dimly lit shop. Keep in mind that the smell of this place was of overpriced candles, floor wax, and the omnipresent Cinnabon. All shopping malls smell the same. It’s a faux-shiny plastic-y smell full of recirculated air and stress-induced sweat. It’s cloying to me. I despise it. With all that, of course the smell of her shop was overshadowed.

The sign above her said…


My eyes widened. I stared at the sign. There was a store…in the mall…for me? I glanced at my husband. He grinned, knowing how uncomfortable I was in this house of mundane horrors. I looked at the woman and said, “Not right now, but I’ll be back in a bit.” She smiled and nodded. I turned to my companions and said, “Before we leave, I’m coming back here.”

Then we went to the food court. We navigated our way through and all got different things. It was the first time in a very long time I’ve had fast food, and surprisingly, I enjoyed it. When we finished, we found bathrooms and were all ready to leave…but not before we hit the tea shop on the way out.

I returned to Teavana. I had only ever heard of this place. It had been mentioned to me by various people who know of my complete and utter love for tea, and I think I knew there was a Teavana in this particular mall, but had forgotten it. Now, however, I know where it is, and the nice sales girl there said I can order from them via phone any time I want and they will ship free for orders over $50.00, which is good, because not even Teavana can entice me back there. Yes, I hate malls that much. If there were a yarn store next to it, we might be able to negotiate. Of course, I will return for Build A Bear if Gothdaughter desires another for whatever occasion. For her, I will endure the torment. Because she is mine. (Sort of.)

But I digress.

Now, most who read my blog know I’ve been saving every spare penny I have this year For Scotland (Gothdaughter’s Bear did not count as it was already in the budget, and surprisingly we didn’t go over it, even with all the accessories!). Tea is not a sacrifice I was willing to make in the budgeting For Scotland, but I’m still very conscious that every penny I spend here on things is a penny I don’t have for spending on Scottish things, so I restrained myself mightily and did not buy the entire inventory. I did, however, come home with two beautiful new tea infuser mugs that I am in complete love with. Alas, they did not have them in black.

They don't come in black. Le sigh.

They don’t come in black. Le sigh.

After my sampling and petting of gorgeous things, most of the trauma of the mall had left me. I was ready to make a break for the car. We did and left for home, Gothdaughter hugging her new best friend and grinning madly.

It was worth enduring hours of pink and sparkly retail hell for the look on her face. Well, that, and learning Teavana has a Tea of the Month Club.

I know what I’m asking Lord Vader for at Sithmas this year!

General Updatey Thingy

I know it’s been awhile since I blogged, and even longer since I’ve vlogged, and for that I’m truly sorry. I’m exceedingly busy with a lot of offline stuff, as well as deadlines and so on. (I hear you over there! “Well, Dina, you have time to knit!” SHUT UP! I need my sanity time! I also play World of Warcraft…what of it? Better I do those things than other things that would earn me jail time!)

Anyway, here’s an updatey post. I was going to do Five Things Make A Post, but I don’t think I have five things, so we’ll just carry on, shall we? Continue reading

Dina Leaves The Lair. In Broad Daylight. On Purpose.

I know, I know. I’m shocked too. Don’t faint. I know it’s a rare occasion. I usually hide between the spring and autumn equinoxes, not only from the daylight, but from tourists and kids out of school for the summer. I emerge sometime after Labor Day and celebrate the return to normalcy.

But! I don’t pick the times or dates for certain things, and if there’s something I want to go to scheduled in the middle of summer, well…I have to leave the lair. One of those things is a writing seminar scheduled for this weekend (June 3-5) that I’ll be attending. It’s James Scott Bell’s Selling Your Novel and Screenplay Intensive Seminar in Sherman Oaks, CA.

While this doesn’t technically count as “an appearance” as I’m there for the seminar and not to sign books*, I plan to have a drink or two at the hotel bar in the evenings if you want to come say hi! I’ll warn you all now – I have dinner plans both Friday and Saturday evening, so I’m not sure when I’ll be at the bar. Watch my Twitter for when I’ll be there. I’m a night person, and so it will probably be late. Like toward closing time. Unless I stay out late at dinner partying or something. Hey, I’m a writer. Things could happen.

I’m not taking my laptop, so I won’t be checking email or Facebook or anything. Please hold all catastrophes and end of the world events until Monday, June 6. I don’t have one of those fancy phones or an i-Thingy that lets me do all that stuff, either. I have a cell that sends text messages to Twitter, but I can’t read Twitter on it. So there you have it. I will be…*gasp*…out of touch!

So there you have it. I’ll be gone this weekend. Plan accordingly and have the mess cleaned up by the time I get home. I’m outtie. I solemnly swear I am up to no good. There will be witnesses. Hopefully there will not be news coverage or jail time.

(*Though I won’t be offended if you bring books you want me to sign when I’m not “in class.”)

Con Artist -or- Surly Writer’s Con

It’s amazing what random things inspire a writer. This morning it was a hashtag on Twitter about yet another convention I’ve never heard about, and it made me scowl. I mean… Continue reading

I’m Blogging This

It’s interesting (and dangerous, really) to not only be friends with (or married to) a writer, but to go out anywhere with them.

Writers are reclusive by nature, so when we leave our hidey-holes…yeah.

So I was out tonight (don’t faint) with a friend (I have them!) and we went to one of my favorite local restaurants. I do so love this place.

Tonight…well…a lot of things happened tonight that just….

Yeah. Continue reading

Blanket Post

I know, I’ve been absent from the blog for awhile. I’ve been absent from most online things for awhile, so don’t feel as though I’ve just been neglecting the blog. Oh, no. I’m an equal-opportunity neglector, however this is not the point of this post.

This post is about blankies.

More to the point, I was on Twitter tonight broadcasting the fact that I have in my possession, wrapped around me at this very moment, a thing of awesome.

It is a blankie.

Not just any blankie.

This is the Blankie of Ultimate Softness (+25 to snuggles and waylay for those playing at home).

As I said on Twitter, it makes me want to run up to random strangers yelling, “FEEL! FEEL THE SOFT! OMG!”

This led to a discussion about blankies and being too old for blankies and to make a long story short, the hashtag #TeamBlankie was born, coined by writer Lindsay. Another contributor to this latest Evil Idea is writer Marissa, owner of a Blanket of Coolness.

So this got me to thinking about writers and blankies. #TeamBlankie people all seemed to be writerly people who love their blankies…. Writers on blankies….

Well? What would you do with that information? Writers don’t have calendars and layouts and stuff like heavy metal bands with hot chicks on cars. So you know what I decided?

I decided writers need a PHOTOSHOOT.

This is the official call for those photos. The topic?

THE WRITE BLANKIE. (Yes, yes, I know, but this is creativity late at night after a long day on short notice. Shut up and take the photo already.)

Here’s what this is about/for/what to do:

1) You must be a writer. You don’t have to be published, but if you’re not yet, you do have to have aspirations of that nature/be of the writerly sort. Yes, poetry counts, as does non-fiction. Writing is writing.

2) Take a photo of yourself on/wrapped in/with your favorite blankie (or blankies). You can be as creative as you want here. Toss some of your books (or your favorite books) on your blankie with you. YOU MUST BE IN THE PHOTO, not just your blankie(s). Don’t give me any excuses about how you’re not in shape or you hate how you look or whatever. Take the bloody photo, wuss. Wrap yourself up in your blankie if you don’t want anyone seeing anything more than your face. Wear sunglasses. I don’t care. You just need to be in the photo.

3) KEEP IT CLEAN. I don’t care if you want to pose on your back deck in your bikini or in your altogether with one of your books over your junk, but PLEASE do make sure your naughty bits are covered. These pics are going to go up on this blog/my FB/online, etc. so keep that in mind when you take it. I’m not going to post amateur porn here, people. This is supposed to be fun.

4) Send your photo to dina {at} dinajames {dot} com with the subject line “#TeamBlankie Photo.” Send your pic in the body of the mail – NOT AS AN ATTACHMENT. I get a lot of spam and I don’t want your photo to be caught in the filter or deleted. Also, I don’t open attachments, so if you want your photo up on the blog with your blankie, send me a photo the proper way! Also, by sending me your photo, you’re giving me permission to post it on my blog, so be aware of that before you send it! If you’re okay with me using your photo for a possible calendar or something creative later, tell me that too.

5) Tell me when you send the photo how you want to be credited on the blog. If you have a link you want me to include, I will do so. I’ll write something like “This is _____. S/he writes ____, and can be found at _____.” Then I’ll include some clever/witty/evil comment about your awesome.

If I get enough photos, I may think about putting together a calendar for people to either buy or maybe just for fun. Who knows where this could go! I need photos first!

Come on, writer peeps! Let’s have some fun with our blankies!

EDIT: There’s no deadline for these pics, really. Whenever you get a minute would be cool. We’ll just keep this thing going however long we want to! I think two weeks ought to do for word to filter around and fun pics to start rolling in, so whenever!

Stuff, Things and So Much Fun

I love being evil! Hee!

Tuesday the 25th I went up to Powell’s at Cedar Hills to attend the joint signing of Lilith Saintcrow, Ilona Andrews, and Devon Monk.

I got there nearly an hour early. It’s a two hour drive into Portland for me, and I was going to be arriving during the tail end of traffic. Plus the weather driving in from the Oregon Coast on a two-lane highway known for some of the most horrific and deadly accidents in the state wasn’t all that great, but I was determined to go.

And wow, was I glad I showed up when I did. Nearly an hour early and already the first three rows of seats were filled, and the rest were filling. Soon it was hot and stuffy with all the people there, but I didn’t care. There were three authors of my genre about to speak and sign!

I met up with my wonderful friend and fellow writer Skye Forbes and her tall spouse, over whom I shall not perv on my blog (except to say that he has really nice eyes…that’s not very pervy, is it? Let’s just say Skye is a lucky lady.). We sat and talked and saw some people we knew (Meljean Brook was there to support her fellow writers! She’s awesome, everyone, just so you know.) and talked more, then it was time for the writers to do some talking.

There was a Q&A (remember, this was just an appearance and signing, so no one read excerpts or gave any spoilers for upcoming works, don’t worry!) and then a giveaway/raffle of some swag, then the signing itself.

You’re wondering what my being evil has to do with all this, aren’t you? Well…I’ll tell you.

In addition to books for each author to sign, I brought evil gift bags.

I ransacked each author’s blog/site for stuff about them I didn’t already know.

(I also cornered Lili on her Twitter to ask her about her particular preferences for a gift I had planned for her under the guise of acquiring knowledge of how different coffee blends taste. Everything I said was true, Lili! I don’t know these things! I drink tea! Yes, I owned a coffee shop once, but just because I know how to make different coffee drinks and brew different blends doesn’t mean I know what they taste like! And I can’t ask my mother the coffee hound, because though she is a mega-coffee freak and weird about her coffee, if it resembles a coffee-like substance (i.e. Folgers, Maxwell House, Yuban), she’ll drink it. A remnant left over from her Army days. (Yes, my mother wore combat boots, and I’m very proud of that fact, thank you!) Even though she knows what “good coffee” tastes like and will grind her own beans in her expensive bean-grinding timer-capable coffee pot I bought her, she’ll still make a cup of instant. Why? Why?

Besides, now I know for research purposes and got to be evil at the same time. Two birds, one stone and all that. Anyway, I digress.)

Back to the eviltry. So I used my powers for evil here.

Ilona Andrews is actually two people – Ilona and her husband Andrew (who goes by Gordon just to make things easy). Ilona likes knitting and Gordon likes action figures and comics. Also, they have dogs that I want to hug, and I’m a complete animal person, so in their gift bag I put knitting things for Ilona, a treat from Harry & David for Gordon (I know jack about comic and action figures, and I’m sorry, I went the Man Route and gave him food. Yes, I know. Shut up. It was GOOD FOOD!), and treats for the pups. Yes, I spoil other people’s pets in addition to my own.

Lili Saintcrow is an awesome woman and brilliant writer. I can’t say enough cool things about her. She ROCKS. She also loves coffee and has recently had hair issues in addition to starting rock climbing. Well, what would you do with that information? I put hair things, a bandanna and some good locally-roasted coffee in her gift bag.

Also, on Twitter, there’s a little in-joke between me, Lili, and a couple other writers about evil cupcakes. I am in charge of evil cupcakes.

Well, again? What would you do with that?

I, being evil and in charge of cupcakes, brought Lili a dozen evil cupcakes. No, I did not make them myself. But that does not make them any less evil.

I surprised the ever-loving Hell out of Lili with those, and THAT, my friends, is what makes me evil. The look on her face was priceless when she realized I was “THAT DINA!”, and my place as Evil Gothic Goddess was assured. I love you, Lili. You’re the best.

On to Devon.

I don’t know a great deal about Devon (pronounced “De-VON”, not “Devin”). Her books are in my TBR (to be read) pile, and all I know about her is she’s a local awesome writer and I have a short story in The Mammoth Book of Vampire Romance 2 with her.

This did not stop me from making her an Evil Gift Bag. Devon also likes to knit, so I put some knitting things in her bag as well.

Let’s get one thing straight. I know next to nothing about knitting, but I was assured by both Devon and Ilona that the things I’d chosen for their Evil Gift Bags were actual, usable, knitty-crafty things.

So there you have it. I got to be evil, I had books signed by all four wonderful writers, had a great time with conversation and meeting people, and was – for the most part – social. No beings were harmed in the event of Dina being out of and away from her Lair.

I know. I’m impressed as well. But there were evil cupcakes that needed delivering.

Then I drove home, two hours in the car, on that two-lane dangerous highway in the dark, through the rain and fog. I got home about midnight.

It was SO WORTH IT. So much evil fun, it’s taken me three days to recover and post this.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Here are some pics. Sorry for the messy posting – I’m still getting used to this blog thing. I’ll put them on FB too, just because I’m evil that way.

A Panel of Awesome

A Panel of Awesome

Lili Has An Itch?

Lili Has An Itch?

Happy Authors

Happy Authors