Monday, October 08, 2012

Magical Mondays: Gratitude

OK, I'm going to cop out a little here since I don't have much time today. Just suffice it to say that a little gratitude goes a long way to making our lives (and those of others) much happier. :)

Monday, October 01, 2012

Magical Mondays: The Power of Positive Visualization, Part 2

Well, I decided to not go into too much more detail about the last post and risk boring you. So, to cut a long story short: I did reach (and surpass) all those monetary goals that I kept in mind, one after the other.

First $9/hr, then $15/hr, then $64K/yr, and the one after $64k/yr -- $120K/yr -- is now within a few months of my reach should I continue to pursue it.  In fact, I've already crossed that one off my list and moved the next goal into first place, even though technically, I'm not there yet.  It's just that I KNOW I could if I wanted. All I have to do is switch from employee to consultant, which I might do next year.

Keeping goals firmly in mind -- and believing you'll reach them -- really works, folks.

Even for healing, as we can see from the placebo effect.

Definition of Placebo effect


Placebo effect: Also called the placebo response. A remarkable phenomenon in which a placebo -- a fake treatment, an inactive substance like sugar, distilled water, or saline solution -- can sometimes improve a patient's condition simply because the person has the expectation that it will be helpful. Expectation to plays a potent role in the placebo effect. The more a person believes they are going to benefit from a treatment, the more likely it is that they will experience a benefit. (highlight and italics mine)

In 2006, I was at work and had sudden, bad chest pain. I went to the ER and they took some images. The first one, on 6/22, showed evidence of a compression fracture. I saw a specialist who looked at the images and agreed. He wanted me to wear a back brace, which I didn't really want to do. When I went to be fitted for the brace, the office I had to go to was closed and it would be a couple of weeks before I go again. 

Over the next two weeks, every single day and several times a day, I strongly visualized my back healing and repeated over and over, "my back is completely healed."  I believed it would work, and was already feeling better by the time I went back for the second set of images on 7/9.

 Below are the results from my own medical record taken 17 days apart.

Of course, people could always come up with alternative explanations for what happened; however, I believed that my back was healthy, and it was. Yet, that's mild compared to what others have been through, and their sheer determination to overcome difficulties.  Morris Goodman comes to mind, and I know there are many others out there as well.

Do you have any stories you'd like to share about the power of positive thinking in your life?

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Magical Mondays: The Power of Positive Visualization

In my last blog, I stated that I wanted to share some experiences with you that I felt spoke to the truth of Napoleon Hill’s (and others) assertion that positive visualization and belief in ones' abilities can make a great impact in our lives. But before I get any further into it, I’d like to state that I have NOTHING against working in a factory, nor against accepting aid when needed (you'll see why I say that in just a minute). I’m merely relating some things that were told to me some years ago.

The Conspiring Universe, Part 1

When I filed for divorce from my daughter's father in 1996, I had only a high school education, had been a homemaker for the past 10 years, had no technical skills, and had almost no real work experience to speak of. 

My ex-husband--and even my own lawyer!--advised me not to divorce; they both claimed I would never be able to have more than what I had then, due to my lack of education, being out of the workforce for ten years, and because I’d end up a single mother. The lawyer said I would never remarry (according to him, divorced women in their 30’s never remarry) and that I would either have to work in a factory for the rest of my life or have to go on welfare.

My ex at least had a little more faith in me. He said that if I learned to type, I might get a job making $7.00 an hour working as a secretary (minimum wage at that time was around $5 an hour).  I looked at both of them and thought, "You don't know me."

I made up my mind in that moment to start working at $9.00 hour somehow (in my inexperience, I thought that was a lot of money). And even though I had no idea how I would get there, over the next several weeks I kept picturing myself holding a paycheck with those wages. Once the divorce was final, I applied to a temp agency, and the first job I got was in credit and collections for $9.00 hour.

When that job ended a few months later, I knew $9/hr wasn’t going to be enough to raise a child, and wondered what my next step should be. By “chance” (more about that another time) I found some free classes that offered to help under-employed workers and displaced homemakers. I applied for and was accepted into the classes, and one of the things I had to do for them was listen to tapes on positive visualization.

I was supposed to lie down and meditate every day on what success would look like for me. According to the tapes, I was supposed to "set the dream and grow into it" by writing down a couple of goals that were well beyond my current reach, and work toward them. The first goal was to be a "starter" goal, and the second, an even bigger goal. The idea was that once you reached the first goal, the second goal moved into the first position, and another, larger goal was to be set for the second.

I wrote down my first two things: one, to work as an admin assistant for $15.00 an hour; and two, to somehow, some way, earn $64,000 a year. Mind you, at that time, I still thought $15/hour was a complete impossibility given my lack of education and skills – I still couldn’t even type! 

And the second goal, 64K a year? Ridiculous! I thought I would have to get at least a Master’s degree for that, and I hadn’t the money nor the time to pursue such a goal. However, I did take some of what little money I had and enrolled in a typing class, as well as a basic computer course.

That was the start of what I would remember some years later, when I read the quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson: “Once you make a decision, the universe conspires to make it happen.”

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Magical Mondays on a Saturday: Napoleon Hill and Encouragement

The past few days I have been listening to recordings from a Napoleon Hill workshop that I found here:

What a blast! I love hearing his voice, and those in the audience when they called out the answers. Most importantly, it reaffirmed many beliefs by which I already live my life, formed by personal experience.

In short, that the power of positive belief, a willingness to go above and beyond what is asked of you, and the keeping of a constant, clear image of what you want (and always working toward it) will take you where you want to go. 

Many people throughout history have written and spoken of these things, so the message is not new.  In short, it boils down to faith backed by action. Imagination, determination, and work. Haven't all things created in this world been brought about by those things?

As I listened to the workshop, I was reminded of so many life experiences that I've had which illustrate the truth of his words, and have been sharing some of those with my daughter to encourage her. And over the next few days and weeks, I want to publicly share some of those experiences in the hope that they will encourage others as well. It has certainly been encouraging to me to reflect on them as I start moving in a new direction with my writing and life. 

I'll post the first one on Monday (9/24/12), and hope you'll join in and be encouraged, too. :)

Saturday, August 04, 2012

Getting Organized and Free Book

Around this time last year, I was having major health issues and thought I would have to pack up everything and move back to Arizona with my brother. Well, I did pack up most of my stuff, but then ending up going back to work here, changing jobs, going through intensive training for the new job, and have spent the last 6 months incredibly busy with said new job.

So... what that meant was, I still haven't unpacked!  Sheesh.  I've taken a few days off work to finally get my home in order, and made huge strides yesterday in getting my art & writing areas set up so that I can actually write and create art in peace. What a difference that made in how I feel!  I can't wait to finish it all so I can relax and get back into a routine of doing things I love.

Do you have a favorite area that you create in?  Does how it's set up make a difference to your productivity?

Meanwhile, if you haven't read Mark Diehl's "Vida Nocturna" (I interviewed him a few blog posts back) now is your chance to get it for free on Kindle, or have a chance to get a free print version from Goodreads.  I believe this will be available for the next 4 days or so.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Making the Cut

In my last blog, both blog and comments mentioned the importance of characters. Characters you love, characters you love to hate, and basically, characters you just plain can't get enough of.  Snape from the Harry Potter series immediately comes to mind for me (as do most of the HP characters), and so do Aziraphale and Crowley from "Good Omens", Granny from Terry Pratchett's "Discworld" series, and Elizabeth Bennett - do I need to say where she's from? :)

Since I've been trying to pare down WIPs and ideas to ones that I can be truly excited about, I decided to take a long hard look at the over 100 characters currently residing in my Muse's employ (that is to say, those who are taking up cubicle space on my computer, not those who have simply put in their applications and are waiting for me to get back to them.)

I'm sad to say that I had to fire all but about 10 of them. Which means a good 90% got pink slips. Wow.  Oh, they cried, they begged, they lied about sick grannies they needed to take care of, but times are tough and the slackers had to go.  Granted, some of them weren't that bad (I'll still give them references and "Like" their Facebook pages) but they just didn't add enough benefit to justify the cost of keeping them around.

Yep, I'm a cold-hearted slavedriver. This writing stuff ain't for sissies. Now I just hope the ones who are left will pull their weight (glares as they hunker over their desks).

So, who are some of your favorite characters, and why?

And what advice would you give to an out of work character so he can find work again? :)

Monday, July 09, 2012

I think they might be missing the point...

I read an article recently that Hollywood is scouring the indie books to find more like "50 Shades of Grey" so they can buy the film rights. That reminded me of how so many of the children's and YA books that came out after Harry Potter were all about the witches and wizards, and then later, all about vampires after Twilight came out.

Now, I have nothing against erotica, witches, or vampires.  I happen to like them all. 

HOWEVER, trying to make lightning strike twice using a copycat approach just doesn't work, in my humble opinion, and here's why:

The reason I loved the Harry Potter series wasn't because it was about a boy wizard at a magical boarding school. I loved Harry Potter because of the characters, and the way the books made me feel.  I loved the fun and the mystery. The magic and supernatural elements, and the fantastic world building were all wonderful, granted - but they were still only a part of it. The real appeal for me was in the characters I fell in love with - characters I wanted to spend time with, and get to know. 

Recently, before I had even read the article about Hollywood copies, I had started looking at my own WIPs and deciding what was worth keeping and what wasn't. Thought about the books I like to read, and why.  Thought about the type of book that would make me super excited to get to the keyboard every day and keep at it until I typed "the end."  I realized that I wanted characters I would love as much the characters in my favorite books, settings that were so real I could feel right at home, and a nice dash of mystery and fun.

And guess what?  They don't have to be boy wizards or sparkly vampires or kinky guys tying people to their beds for that to happen.  :)

How about you? What keeps you excited to get to the keyboard/pad of paper?

Saturday, June 30, 2012

The Amazing Subconscious Mind

Ok, so this morning I did some exercises recommended by Holly Lisle to get information out of the right side of the brain. I wanted to come up with something new - an angle I hadn't used before, but that I was familiar with, and that might work for me. Then, I took a nap.

I had a strange dream that I was reading a magazine which announced that J.R. Ward and Tess Gerritsen were the same person (they are not, in reality).  I woke up wondering what THAT was all about.  I've never even read one of Tess Gerritsen's books (though I hear they're good). I have read several of J.R. Ward's books, and she writes about vampires, angels, and demons - I wasn't sure what Gerritsen wrote.  After a few moments, I thought I remembered reading that Gerritsen wrote medical thrillers. I looked it up on the web to be sure, and yes, she did. Then I downloaded one of her short stories to my Kindle to see if I could figure out a connection, but I still couldn't see a one--other than both write rather darkly--so I wasn't sure why I would dream they were the same person. 

Until it hit me. The link was medicine, and in particular, hospitals. Gerritsen writes medical thrillers - J.R. Ward used to work in hospital administration. And where I have I worked for the past 10 years... in hospitals.

So, don't be surprised if you see a hospital pop up in my work in the near future... :)

Have you ever had your subconscious mind make a connection for you that was unexpected, and were you able to use it in a story or to solve a problem?

Monday, June 25, 2012

Some Flot and Some Jet...

Or, flotsam and jetsam... whatever...

So, I thought it was around 5:15am and got up to get ready for work. Decided to do a quick email check - discovered it was only 4:20.  Must have accidentally set my clock up an hour when I set the alarm last night. Darn it.

Anyhoodles, I decided I might as well write something while I was up. You see, I've been working 7 days a week, 12 - 22 hours a day for a LONG time now and finally had to give it up.  So, about 9 days ago, I officially took a break from doing cover art so that I could reclaim some night and weekend time, and spend more time with my daughter who was briefly hospitalized two weeks ago.  (She's just fine now, by the way - but it really made me examine my priorities.)

Having a tiny break in my schedule also gave me some time to start thinking about writing again, which I haven't done in at least 6 months. Since my purpose in not doing cover art now is to keep from killing myself with a crazy schedule and neglecting my family, it would be foolish to push myself into a writing frenzy. However, after doing the math, I realized I could probably finish about 50K words in three months even if I only wrote 15 minutes a day.  That's a decent size for an e-book, and stealing 15 minutes out of my day wouldn't hurt anything, would it?  So, that's my new goal.

Just 15 minutes a day. Let's see what happens.

Any new goals in your life?  Or read any great books lately?

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Special Guest Mark Diehl

I have a special guest blogger today: Mark D. Diehl.  Please make him welcome. :)
Hello, Mark, and welcome! I understand your first novel, “Vida Nocturna,” was recently released. Tell us a little about the story, such as why did you want to tell this particular story? What was it that appealed most to you, and what was your inspiration?

It’s my answer to what the publishing industry has become. “Twilight” was a huge hit because it combined two huge sellers – vampires and romance. Then all the other publishers saw the numbers and suddenly everyone was putting out series – not just books, but series – about vampires in love. Some agents are now dictating what stories authors should write to gain representation. When corporations control the arts to that degree, with the market chasing whatever sold best before, we get the death spiral of creativity we’ve been seeing in publishing lately. In “Vida Nocturna,” the shy, innocent girl fantasizes her spooky new boyfriend is a vampire. By the time she realizes that he’s slender and pale, doesn’t eat, and stays up all night with lots of energy because he’s actually a cocaine addict, she has been “bitten” by the drug and become addicted, herself.

We worked together on the cover for this novel, and I'll admit that, at first, I found your vision a bit unusual for this type of story. Tell us the reason why you chose those images and colors, rather than other, more traditional, "horror" stock?

It’s not a traditional horror story but to me it’s still a vampire tale. She loses her soul and tries to fill up the space where it used to be. Was the “bite” really her reliance upon drugs and alcohol, or might it have been earlier, from her bullying, neglectful, personality-disordered parents? There’s nothing supernatural about the vampires in this story but they are still as soulless and desperate to fill themselves with what they need as any monsters in classic horror. I love how the cover turned out. You and I went back and forth on the colors a lot because I wanted it to indicate that there was something different about this book and link it partially to horror and partially to the ‘80s drug stories like “Bright Lights, Big City.” I think you captured the book’s feel perfectly: It is true horror, not supernatural horror, set amidst the decadent '80s club subculture.

I've been a fan of your Deadjournal blog for a while now.  Your life experiences have made for fascinating reading. For example, you've been homeless in Japan, taught English in Korea, from where you and your wife had to escape to save your lives, you've been an attorney in the US, and more. What made you decide to get into writing at this point in your life?

I grew up in Iowa City, Iowa, which is a mecca for writers from all over the world. Everywhere I went there were always people scribbling in notebooks or giving feedback to each other, and every crappy, dead-end job I worked in high school always had an aspiring writer or two. I ran around with the delinquents and hoods, hustling my way through life, and the only thing I was sure of was that I would never fall into the futureless trap of trying to be a writer.

Instead I ended up living overseas for a while, then found myself back in Iowa City, and broke. I applied to graduate school, not for writing, of course, but for real, grown-up sorts of things, telling myself I'd go to whatever department accepted me. I ended up getting into the University of Iowa's law school, dental school, and MBA program, and thought maybe it'd be cool to do all three. The dental school said no way, so I was gone. In orientation for the MBA program we had to work together in groups and learn to cooperate. I lasted two hours and escaped after having to build towers out of notecards. That left law school, and I spent the next three years with a bunch of cutthroat pricks, thinking law would be like it was in the movies where the lawyer with the most original and creative argument always won. Actually, creativity in law is limited to arguing how your case is most like one that won before, and though when I practiced in Chicago I won the majority of my trials the job felt incredibly suffocating. Eventually I dug a tunnel under my desk with a spoon and escaped to the University of Chicago's graduate program for creative writing.

Apart from the Deadjournal blog, where else can people find out more about you, your writing, upcoming books, appearances, etc.?

I'm afraid Deadjournal is, well, dead. I'm now blogging on my own website.  Lately I've been narrating about how my wife and I were chased out of South Korea by her powerful family and the cops and stranded in Hong Kong. I post just a little part of the story every week and ask people to share it on social media so more readers visit my site, and I’m happy to say it has been quite popular. I invite anyone interested to friend me on Facebook, but please do tell me you saw me here so I know you're not a spambot.

What can we expect next from Mark Diehl? Any books in the works?

I have a few complete drafts that need a good scrubbing before they're ready for public view. They're quite different from this book in that they're all sci-fi, based on my idea that the medical profession is eliminating creative and independent thinkers from our gene pool, causing humanity to evolve into a corporate species. It’s an exciting concept to work on and I hope your readers (and mine) will be watching for them!

Great stuff, Mark! Thanks for stopping by, and good luck with your writing! (Note: I’ve known Mark and his wife for a few years now. I highly recommend reading their story, which you can find on Facebook.)

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

7-7-7 Meme from Sidney Williams

Ok, I've been tagged.  Sidney Williams listed me in this meme over at his blog:

1.) Go to page 77 of your current MS.
2.) Go to line 7.
3.) Copy down the next 7 lines/sentences, and post them as they're written. No cheating.
4. Tag 7 other victims, authors.

Well, since I don't have 77 pages in my current WIP (only around 30 or so) I went with page 7.

Her sarcasm was lost on Jeff. His eyes widened. “You had a trust fund?”

“God, you’re an idiot. It’s a good thing I like you or I’d been dumping this soup over your head right now. I still can’t promise I won’t.”

Jeff shook his head. “I’m sorry, Al, but I can’t believe that you, of all people, had never heard of Midnight Ink.”

She shot him another sour look, hating how she’d been made to feel more foolish than she already did. It wasn’t like she was plugged into the whole world of body art. Her tattoo and piercings were done by other delinquents like herself, in abandoned buildings and unsterile conditions, but Jeff didn’t need to know that.

“Well, obviously I didn’t, so just tell me what you know.”

That's mine.  I won't tag anybody, but if you'd like to share yours here, I'd love to see them.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Nature + Vacuum = No Love

(Huh. That equation is also true with me in the place of nature. My carpets can testify.)

The saying that "nature abhors a vacuum" is apparently true. Remember my grand plan last month to get rid of those two hours wasted online every evening?

I did get rid of them - and immediately, my day job exploded with work. I've been working 10 - 12 hour days, 6 - 7 days a week, ever since I "freed" those "extra" two hours.  That'll teach me.

What have you been up to?

Thursday, February 02, 2012

Keeping Track

What would you do with an extra two to four hours per day?

Lately, I've been keeping track of how I spend my time. After a careful watch for the past couple of weeks, I noticed that when I come home from work, I tend to spend about two hours on the Internet reading emails, blogs, Facebook, Twitter, etc.  Occasionally participating, but mostly just reading. 


Then, depending on what's going on that day, there could be another two hours either taking care of chores, spending time with my daughter, and/or watching Netflix. 

That's definitely two hours per day that could be repurposed, with a good chance of some days having four!

So, my friends, I'm taking those two to four hours back. For at least the next thirty days, I'll check my email during my lunch break at work in case there is some important business matter that needs addressing, but otherwise, I'll be refraining from the Internet.  I'll miss catching up with everyone, but if you need me, you can email my yahoo account: katesterlingwriting.

The goal is to spend those extra 2 - 4 hours organizing, writing, and exercising. In other words, working on those boob wishes: first draft of Midnight Ink complete, lose 10 pounds, and get my bedroom organized.

God willing and the creek don't rise, I'll be back in about a month to let you know how it went.  Or, if I slip off the wagon, maybe I'll update my Twitter or Facebook status with a mini check-in. :)

Of course, I'd still love hearing what's new with you, so don't hesitate to email. I'll have an hour during lunch for that. :)

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Analysis Paralysis

There I was, merrily typing away this weekend - 2K+ each on Friday and Saturday - and got up this morning to try to put in at least two more today.

I'd had a long dry spell that I always blamed on the day job and lack of time/energy, etc.  But the truth was that I just didn't know where the stories were going. I was afraid I couldn't create a believable, exciting enough plot. I got tangled up in doubts and couldn't seem to extricate myself to move forward. The harder I tried to force it, the worse it got.

Until this past Thursday evening.

While thinking of something else entirely, a line I'd read somewhere flashed in my mind. "Plot is simply what the characters have to go through to reach their goal."


I'd been fretting over action, intrigue, etc., but it all hinged on goals. What did my characters want? What were they trying to achieve?  Simple, right?

I suddenly felt very relaxed and simultaneously energized. I let that epiphany settle in for the next several hours until I was totally at ease with the idea. Lo and behold, Friday evening, after already having worked twelve hours, I sat down and easily added another 2K+ words to a manuscript. Didn't even break a sweat. Got up Saturday and did the same thing. In fact, I could have written more, but I deliberately held back so I wouldn't wear myself out.

I got up this morning, determined to do it all again... until I read this blog on believable characters. 

It's a great blog, it really is. But things like that tend to bring me to a screeching, doubt filled halt.  Suddenly, I was hung up again on not being good enough. Were my character flat? Cliches? Unoriginal? 

Oy vey! How could I possibly write a novel? I'm not nearly good enough!

Now I'm trying to recover from the doubts again. It took me the past two YEARS to come to grips with plot. Now I have to deal with character, too?!

You know what?  I'm just going to try to not worry about it right now.  Just keep writing until the darn thing is finished and then go back to see if the characters need more work. At that point, I can use Rick's great blog as a thermometer to see they're ill. And I'll be grateful for it then.

Right now, I just need to stop worrying about it and get on with the process. Like Nora Roberts says (I think she said it) "You can fix a bad page, but you can't fix a blank page." 

Though, actually, I think you fix the blank page by filling it up with stuff - even if it's bad. :)

Friday, January 20, 2012

Winter is Coming...

So said the Starks.  (For those of you who don't get the reference, it's from "Game of Thrones")

Anyway, it's currently 12 degrees and snowing here.  I thought it wasn't supposed to snow when it got that cold?  What gives?

I think it also speaks to the winter of my life - I swear that last night I came up with a good topic for posting today, but for the life of me, now I can't remember what it was! Getting old...

What's new in your neck of the woods?  The weather treating you ok?

I'm thinking of doing another "boob wish month" - anyone want to join me?

Monday, January 16, 2012

The Man in the Red Jacket

This post may ramble a bit, because I haven't thought any of it through, but am just going on the feeling that I want to mention these things.

From the window my desk faces (as well as from my balcony) I can see the apartment building next door.  For the past five years, an older gentleman in a worn, red jacket stood in one of the doorways there and smoked.  We would watch each other, he and I, but never say a word.  A small smile or nod of acknowledgment from time to time, but neither of us knew anything about the other - other than he smoked in the early morning and evening, and wore a red jacket.  I wrote in the early morning and evening, and sometimes took fresh air on my balcony.  Over the years, I somehow came to feel very fond of this old guy, as did my daughter, Emily.  She would see him in the afternoon, riding his bicycle around the parking lot and found him charming as well.

The day after Christmas, he was working on the roof when he suddenly fell off and died from the impact.  My daughter and I didn't know right away it was him - only that someone had fallen and died.  We both said the same thing at the same time: "I hope it wasn't the old man in the red jacket."  Sadly, it was.  And even though it would have been tragic no matter who had fallen, our first thoughts went to him.  There were other people living over there, but he somehow touched our hearts without ever having spoken a word.

We later found out this poor man had no family, and the other people in his building didn't know what to do about the body. He was originally from Mexico, and his remains were left to the state of Illinois.  Emily and I were heartbroken when we heard this news, and I have been saddened ever since.  Just yesterday, I thought I saw him in his doorway and in a flash of a second was so happy to see him before I remembered he was gone.  I started crying and couldn't stop.  It was just too sad that this poor man lived and died alone, far from home and whatever family he started with.  No one to say goodbye to him, no one to mourn him.  As I cried, my cats gently walked up to me, eyes worried, then climbed on my lap and started licking my hands. I realized they were upset because I was, and so I began to soothe them as they soothed me. 

In that moment, I realized that even though I never knew him, the man in the red jacket did not go unmourned or unmissed.  He is still remembered fondly.
May he rest in peace.

Monday, January 02, 2012

And now for the rest of the year....

I've heard that how you spend either New Year's Eve or New Year's Day is how you'll spend the rest of the new year.  Not that I believe it or anything (grin), but so far, it has always proved true for me.  So, this past weekend I made sure to be productive. :)

Of course, NYE wasn't as productive as NYD, but I'm telling myself it was still time well spent - mainly relaxing, getting caught up on blog friends' posts, spending time with my daughter, and planning ahead for the following week.  Yesterday involved a lot of cleaning, organizing, reading, plotting, budget forecasting, cooking, and making healthy food choices.  If the rest of the year goes the same, I could live with that. :)

Sidney Williams had a nice blog about the challenge of keeping the old tooshey in the chair and the hands on the keyboard, and I took away some good tips from his link to the Pomodoro Technique.  I'm putting them into practice today.

Also, if you haven't read Edie Ramer's Cattitude yet, it's available free until tomorrow.

Charles Gramlich also has a new, humorous book out:  Days of Beer: A Memoir of a Beer Drinkin' Man.

And I'm happy to report that Avery DeBow is planning to get back into the writing and publishing scene this year.  I look forward to seeing what she comes up with.

These are just a few things off the top of my head - I'm sure there's much more news.  How are you hoping to spend this year?