Welcome to Good Karma Tuesday

First, CONTEST WINNERS. Yes, plural! The commenters were split between those who wrote/read tortured heroes and those who did not. So, I am pleased to announce not one but two random winners today!

TORTURED WINNER: B.E. Sanderson
NON-TORTURED WINNER: Kimber An

Congratulations! Please email me (erica [at] ericaridley.com) with your address and choice of free book. Keep the good karma rolling! =)

Next, to answer some burning questions.

Post: Impending Wedding
Beverley asks:
Why do you call your intended MONKEYBOY??

Answer: Because he luuuurves monkeys, ever since he was a wee boy on his first visit to Busch Gardens and a cheeky little spider monkey reached out through the bars and slapped him on the face. To this day, even the mere image of a monkey will cause him to burst into uncontrollable laughter. He especially enjoyed Lancelot Link: Secret Chimp, as you might imagine.

Bill Clark asks:
Why does one’s writing always look so much better when someone else quotes it in italics?

Answer: I don’t think it’s the italics so much as having something we write impact someone so much that they do quote it. How great of a feeling is that? (For the curious, I quoted a section of this post from Bill’s blog)

Post: Contests
Rashenbo asks:
I’ve got to admit.. it’s fun and exciting to win… well, anything – isn’t it?

Answer: I 100% agree! (Hence the wild winning going on this morning. I couldn’t seem to pick just one!)

Post: Dinner Party
Vicki asks:
So what is double secret probation??

Answer: Actually, I don’t know! I thought Kel would respond with something having to do with her vampire neighbors. (Ha! Bet you thought I was just being funny when I said she might’ve been bitten by the vampire neighbors–not so!)

Post: Poetry Monday
Susan Helene Gottfried asks:
I want to know the backstory to this!

Answer: That particular burst of teenage angst came from being in lurve with a boy who proclaimed his devotion, became my center of gravity for a heady year and a half, and then proceeded to casually mention he was picking up and leaving town (state, actually), which spawned a horrible clingy-denial moment, followed by me leaving state, albeit in the opposite direction. Angst, I tell you. Angst. *g

If you have any other questions (burning or otherwise) please leave ’em in the comments… Also, if you noticed I added pix of the books I’ve read so far in 2007 and have comments on any of the titles or authors, please comment about that, too–I love to dish about books! =)

Your turn: Give a gift or do something nice lately? (If not, why not?! Maybe we should have Good Karma Tuesdays. *g) Win anything lately? Hear any good news? What are you reading right now? Have you read anything on my list or by those authors? Spill!

Contest Winners!

Today is a great day–I get to announce not one, but TWO winners!

Come on down, ISABEL!! You have won a copy of The Baby Wait, hot off the presses! Please email Cynthia Reese your address so she can mail you a copy of her new story!

Congratulations also go to COURTNEY MILAN! Your participation in the initial call-for-questions just won you any of the following books. Please email me your choice and your address! (erica [at] ericaridley.com)

Dead Aim
Iris Johansson
0553584383
Free Book: Comment to Win!
Lovers
Judith Krantz
0553561359
Free Book: Comment to Win!
How I Write
Janet Evanovich
0312354282
Free Book: Comment to Win!
Kiss Me, Annabel
Eloisa James
0060732105
Free Book: Comment to Win!

P.S. Sorry for the crazy delay in posting! I was out of town for 4 days, scrambling to make progress planning my upcoming out-of-state wedding. (!!!)

Guest Blog: Google Stalking

As promised, today’s blog post comes to you from my friend and CP, Kelly R.
Kel, you have the floor!

So it’s near the end of the day a couple of weeks ago, I’m in my office at work, the phone rings and I answer it as always:

Me: Hello, _______ ___ (insert name-I use my maiden name for work).

Caller: Is this the ______ (insert name) who went to the University of ___?

Me: ***thinking WTF??? Who is this calling me? What could they possibly want?*** But I don’t say that I say, “Yyyeeessss.”

Caller: This is ____ (insert name of ex-boyfriend who I haven’t spoken to since leaving college 15 years ago)!!!!!!!!

It takes me a minute to register the name. Not because it isn’t immediately recognizable to me (I went out with the guy for quite awhile), but it is SO ENTIRELY out of context. I mean I’m at work and I haven’t seen or talked to this guy in an age.

So the conversation starts out very awkwardly, and in fact I spend the first 15 minutes trying to figure out from him how the heck he found me.

The answer, you guessed it from the title of this blog: GOOGLE! He googled me. Frankly, *I’ve* googled me and didn’t think I could find me. Which is why I spent a lot of time trying to figure out how he found me googling. Seriously, he did go to a little effort. Which is a little unnerving. The fact that he called me at all kind of freaked me out.

Sure, I’ve thought about what happened to him over the years, as I’ve wondered about countless others who were friends or boyfriends or whatever. You know, in 30 second “I wonder…” blips in your mind here and there. I’ve even googled some people myself. But NEVER have I thought about or actually picked up the phone and called someone who I googled.

This all comes about 3 weeks after an old neighbor/childhood friend of mine tried to contact me through Classmates (although I’m really not registered there – or at least I thought I wasn’t-long story).

So this led to a few discussions among my friends: Why did this guy do this? I’ve got a few theories. Frankly, even though we talked for awhile and basically caught up on what people we knew were now doing, I never broached this subject directly. I wasn’t sure I wanted to know. I’m happily married, so to a large extent it didn’t really matter to me. I was over him by the time I left college, so… But why do you think someone does this? Am I just at that age where everyone becomes really curious about what happened to everyone else? I’m about a year away from my 20 year high school reunion (ACK!! It does not seem like that long!!) Frankly, I think I’d be more apt to contact a friend than an ex and there was a consensus among my friends that e-mail would be more appropriate than phone. My best friend from college and I agreed, also, that although we’re curious to find out what has become of people we knew, we feel more strongly that we don’t want to put our personal information out there for everyone else. Is it just us or does everyone out there feel this need for privacy?

I actually spoke to one co-worker who did google someone and then called them, but it was a very unique situation. Lots of unresolved issues in that scenario because they had been engaged, he was in the military and kind of disappeared off the radar, so she thought she was dumped, only for him to reappear later thinking they were still engaged (how he could think that with no contact???) but she was married and pregnant by then. So when she later got a divorce she did google him and called him. But I think that is a weird situation that makes some sense, not the random google stalking I experienced.

Amongst my writing friends, we’ve discussed whether google stalking lends itself better to a romantic comedy where the google stalker is the hero, or a romantic suspense where he’s the crazy stalker guy who is after our beloved heroine and looking to knock off our hero.

What do all of you think? I’m dying to know, too, whether anyone else has experienced the google stalking. So come on, give a shout out.

Thanks to Erica, for letting me use her forum here to satisfy my own curiosity.

Kelly

Your turn: Are you or someone you know a MySpace/Google stalker? Have you had good or bad experiences with locating people you know–or information about people you know–on the Internet? Has anyone found you–or information about you–online, and acted on that discovery? Do you think this could be a good hook/premise/plot point for a romance hero/heroine/villain? Please share your thoughts and experiences in the comments!

Colleen Gleason: The Rest Falls Away

Confession time. I meant to read this book last year. The concept–Buffy in Regency England–intrigued me last July when I met Colleen Gleason at the RWA National in a Venator tee shirt.

Why didn’t I read it way back then? Time and space. No, not in some weird sci-fi sense. I left the RWA National Conference with too many books. Too many books! (Monkey Boy‘s head would explode if he heard me use that phrase, since he thought I had too many books prior to said conference.) As it turns out, I did myself a disservice. I should’ve bought it way back when!
Erica Ridley
After heading home last July with ~100 new, free, mostly signed books, my TBR (to-be-read) shelves bowed under the strain. Except for the occasional local chapter signing, I didn’t purchase any new books during the ensuing months because I didn’t have the time to read them nor the space to put them. (Since I have also attended 4 regional conferences during the past year, I wouldn’t be surprised to learn my TBR count exceeds 200. Daunting, even for a confessed bibliophile like myself!)

However. I happen to be between stories right now, as I’m in the planning phase for DATD. When I saw Colleen’s contest on her blog, I just had to enter. And, wonder of wonders, I won! Colleen sent me a tee shirt (pictured right) and a copy of her book. (You can win, too, because it’s not over yet. Go check it out!)

I opened the book yesterday around 5:30pm, meaning to sneak in a chapter or so between my “real” work (ie, client stuff I should be doing) but then the next thing I knew, it was a quarter til 10 in the evening and I’d just hit The End. And I wanted more.

So I fired off an email to Colleen, babbled fan-girl style1 (and begged for confirmation of a certain story element I hoped would also be present in the sequel) and added a new author to my keeper shelves.

Rises The Night comes out in June (Aargh! I will be in a 3rd world country for the entire month, with absolutely zero access to new releases until I return toward the beginning of July!) but The Rest Falls Away is out now. If you haven’t already read it, go buy it and join me in the comment trail to dish about the story and whether you fell hardest in love for M or S or P. (For me? S, baby. *purr*)

1I waxed incoherent on how I thought M was like early Angel and S was like Spike, and how h-a-w-t I find the whole bad boy who loves being bad angle… Hey! Lightbulb! There’s actually a BBWLBB in DATD, him being a demon and all… I think I just found my weakness!

Your turn: Have you read TRFA? If not, have you at least entered the contest on Colleen’s blog? Read any other good books lately? If so, please spill author/title info! And confess… what do YOUR to-be-read shelves/piles look like?

Costa Rica: Days 7 & 8


My last two days in Costa Rica were mostly filled with traveling.

On Thursday afternoon, we drove to San Jose (about a 3.5 hour drive) because our flight left the following morning at 7:30 am.

Beforehand, I visited some of the local area schools.

I’m attaching a lunchroom photo at the local elementary school, and a photo inside one of the pre-school classrooms.


I also got to fill up on mango cake before the long drive. Mmmmm. (No comments from the peanut gallery about fitting into a wedding dress this fall!)

That night, we ate at a Persian-Mexican restaurant, which was a first for me.

I’ve had plenty of TexMex in my life, but never Persia-Mex. Tasty, though!

Your turn: How was your weekend? What’s the most “different” restaurant experience you’ve had in recent memory?

Costa Rica: Days 5&6


Sorry, didn’t have Internet yesterday. Did manage to read more of various CP excerpts which were already downloaded onto my laptop (yay!) and that was fun.

I brought one of my older stories with me thinking I was going to have time to do some revision.

Wrong again.


Every moment has been packed with something, mostly computer stuff and translation stuff.

BUT, I did manage to go hiking yesterday and horseback riding day before yesterday!

On my hike through the forest, I ran into some cows. Technically, they ran into me.

And sniffed my hair. And licked me.

Your turn. I’d love to know your experiences with squeezing in writing time while not at home and/or your adventures with bumping into animals in the wild.

Costa Rica: Day 4


Today was mostly full of work, so I’ll talk some more about yesterday. While still in the house, I squeezed in some time to read some of my CP’s partial that she plans to enter into contests.

On our way to the festival, we stopped by the side of the road to get drinks for the kids and the roadside stand was next to a pineapple field.

Besides pineapples (which I had no idea grew from bush-like plants) I also saw several butterflies.

Okay, here’s the funniest part, which I can’t believe I forgot to tell you about last time. While we were kicking it old school on the dance floor above the bull ring, we saw a twenty-something man wearing a LED screen belt buckle.

Yeah, you heard me. LED screen. Turquoise lights spelled out whole sentences, marquee-ing across the rectangular screen three or four letters at a time.

By the time we’d pieced together the first word or two, we realized two things. 1) We were staring at his crotch. 2) He had no doubt planned that effect. Aargh!!

Your turn. What’s the weirdest or most bizarre fashion statement (or fashion victim) you’ve come across?

Costa Rica: Day 3


I am snatching a few moments online to check in with all of you. I don’t have yesterday’s photos downloaded yet but I will give you some from the day before while I fill you in on yesterday’s activities.

We went to a fiesta in a city just this side of the Nicaraguan border. (We could see Nicaragua across the water.)

It drizzled throughout, but that didn’t stop the party. There were lots of people riding show horses, making them do tricks and dance. At another part, a little girl (maybe age 7) sat on a show horse with a cordless mic and sang… All I can say is WOW. Best set of pipes I ever heard. (Not sure if Blogger can post video or not, but I took a maybe 5 second clip with my digital camera, and I’ll upload it if possible.)

A few blocks away, a magician performed on a stage. His first tricks were with sheets of newspaper (and even less impressive than it sounds) but he progressed to rope tricks (which were cool) and disappearing/reappearing egg tricks. His finale was to shove the newspaper in a metal pot, set fire to it, slap the lid on top, and then lift the lid to reveal—a rabbit! (clarification: a small, shaking, scared sh*tless, bunny rabbit)

Next we visited a two-story bullring. The ground floor was the big dirt circle where the bulls ran, and the top floor was a discoteca. We danced a little and then slunk back to the wall when the music changed from general (hispanic) dance music to salsa. I have little-to-no salsa skills (I can follow someone’s lead, and that’s about it) but the locals were amazing. After we overcame our salsa-envy, we peeked over the side rails at the bulls penned below. (We didn’t end up staying for a bull fight.)
Your turn: How was your weekend? Did it rain for you, too? What was the funniest (or weirdest) thing that happened?

Costa Rica: Day 2

Today I hiked from Mata de Canas (the town where the house is) to Nuevo Arenal (the larger, neighboring town). Being Saturday, the bank was not open (yes, there’s only one) but I tried to use the ATM outside the bank. After the machine said “transaction canceled” for the second time, I wondered if maybe their network couldn’t connect to my U.S. Internet bank. So I tried the “check balance” option. It connected fine, but gave me a balance of zero. Zero!

Naturally, I was a bit concerned. Had some nefarious shyster stolen my identity and drained my bank account? I went directly to the grocery store and purchased a milk box (like a Hi-C juice box, but with caramel flavored milk). When the cashier rang up my purchase (U.S. equivalent of 40 cents) I handed over my debit card. (I know she was wondering what kind of freak charges a 40 cent purchase, and that answer is me when I’m testing whether or not I’ve been ruined.) Thankfully, the charge went through just fine, so I’m forced to assume the ATM was out of whack, not my bank account. Whew!

On my way back to the house (where some actual progress was made on the to-do list of reasons we came down) a man on horseback stopped me. He said, (in Spanish) “Would you like me to take your photo?” Realizing I was clutching my camera in a classic tourist pose, I said, “Sure, why not?” He then leapt down from his horse and said, “Go on. Get up!” To which I said something brilliant, like, “Uhhh… get on your horse?” And he said, “Yes, yes, I will photo you riding my horse.”

So I shrugged, said OK, and hopped onto his horse. He took the camera from me, and after some minor technical difficulties (he first looked into the lens side instead of the LCD screen side) he managed to take my photo. He then helped me down from the horse, handed me back my camera, and rode off.

Your turn. I want to know your experiences with ATM cards freaking out (surely I can’t be alone in this!) or random conversations with strangers.

Costa Rica: Day 1


I left for Costa Rica on Friday morning. The layover was in Miami and naturally, this being Florida, a thunderstorm ensued, leaving us stranded on the runway for an hour or so. Customs in San Jose was also a long wait, but believe me–Costa Rica is worth it! I have never been to a prettier place in my life.

So, the first thing we did was get in the car to drive to the house. Not a short trip, since we were at the San Jose airport instead of Liberia, which is the closer (but in this case, more expensive) airport.

On our drive up, we met with the infamous Costa Rican pot holes, as well as an entire herd of piscote. When we arrived at the house, we sat outside with a bottle of Imperial (the national beer) and watched the sunset. (Ah, bliss)

I do have more photos, but at these upload speeds…. Please forgive me!

Your turn. I want to know your travel horror stories! Give me your best (worst) airport experience, sauna-sized pot holes, whatever.