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Chihuahua of the Baskervilles is the first in my new mystery series, which features the staff of Tripping, a low-budget travel magazine that covers destinations of paranormal interest.
In Chihuahua of the Baskervilles, Tripping hears about a ghostly Chihuahua seen by Charlotte Baskerville. Charlotte is the rich founder of Petey’s Closet, a clothing catalog for small dogs. Editor Angus MacGregor, photographer Suki Oota, and writer Michael Abernathy travel to Manitou Springs, where the ghost howls advice and spells out threats in tiny paw prints. Is the glowing apparition really Petey’s ghost, or is someone in Charlotte’s household trying to teach a dead dog new tricks – like murder? It’s up to Tripping Magazine to save Charlotte Baskerville, preferably without losing their story.
(Read Chapter 1. Read reviews.)
Each book is set in an actual, tourist-oriented town, and I try to feature fun events that you can attend. For example, the first book takes place in Manitou Springs, Colorado, during the Emma Crawford Memorial Coffin Race.
Portrait of Doreene Gray is the second book, set in Port Townsend, Washington, during the Wooden Boat Festival. Look for it in July of 2012. You can read a description and the first two chapters here.
As someone who has worked in advertising, I can picture the meeting where Sharper Image’s art director is tasked with photographing a medicine safe.
Marketing: “We’re selling to people who don’t want their teens raiding the painkiller stash.”
Art director: “No prob. I can do you a sketchy boy skulking out of the john with a prescription bottle.”
Marketing: “Are you crazy? We can’t come right out and accuse their children of stealing!”
Art director: “Um…”
Marketing: “Put a teen in, but make it family friendly. I want smiles.”
Which is how you wind up with this.
The Power Nap Head Pillow
According to the description, this is “ideal for achieving a deep, restful sleep…in a crowded airport.” I’m quite sure people would give you a wide berth, other than the guy making off with all your luggage. I thought the holes in the sides might funnel restful alcholic drinks into your ears, or allow you to plant small trees for a personal supply of oxygen, but it turns out they have a different purpose.
At least no one can draw penises on your face while you’re in this position.
The Celebrity Robotic Avatar
Got an extra $345,000 lying around? Me neither. Favorite line in the description: “LEDs in his mouth light as he talks, giving his speech a more natural quality.” Presumably my non-lighted yap makes me appear stilted. I’m actually very approachable.
The Turkish Shower Wrap
For a mere $49.95, you can discreetly fondle yourself in a public steam room. Pair it with the Power Nap Head Pillow for an unforgettable ensemble.
One of the few times I buy paper books is when I do a signing at a bookstore. I figure it’s the least I can do. That’s how I wound up with the hardback version of At Home, by Bill Bryson. It’s a great whacking lump of a book, so good that I bought my parents the Kindle version on our shared account.
Yesterday I was reading while eating, which is when I do 90% of my reading, and this monster book wouldn’t stay open on the table unless I held it with one hand. So tedious. So although the paper version was RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME, I went upstairs, got my Kindle, downloaded the ebook version, and read that.
To tell the truth, I don’t even like to go into bookstores anymore. Looking at all that paper that has to be stored on your shelf, knowing that many of those books will be returned to the publisher and pulped… Honestly, it makes me all twitchy. What would I take with me on a desert island? My phone and some sort of magic cell connection. I don’t want to travel by horseback (ooh, the smell and feel of horses!), I don’t want to churn my own butter, and I don’t want a paper book.
Our temperatures have been in the single Fahrenheit digits for a couple of days now, so to get Josie O (my Chihuahua) her quota of mental stimulation, I’ve been taking her to stores. Yesterday we went to Marshalls. I put her carry box in the front of the cart, and she stood with her front paws on the edge, like the figurehead of a ship if the figurehead of a ship were covered in fur and made licky faces at people. (Note to self: horror movie idea: seafaring werewolves.)
Afterwards, I stopped by Ideal market and bought Popsicles, because no weather is too cold for Popsicles unless you’re in a tent.
In other news, I’m reading Maddy Hunter‘s Passport to Peril mysteries, which are hilarious. In Pasta Imperfect, two bestselling romance writers bicker about how “ten inches of flaming virility” really behaves.
“People have actually done surveys and the consensus is, it doesn’t throb!”
I cleared my throat and raised a tentative finger in the air. “If you ladies don’t mind my asking, if it doesn’t throb, what does it do?”
“Maybe it quivers,” Nana said thoughtfully. “You know, kind of like a handheld blender.”
So I’m going to put Maddy Hunter on my list of fantastically funny mystery writers, up there with Laura Levine, that goddess of laughter.
Lastly, I seem to be over my embarrassing writers block and working well on Critter from the Black Lagoon again, although there was a moment when it was possibly going to be Beaver from the Black Lagoon, because in addition to killer hogs, prehistoric central Florida was also home to beavers the size of black bears.
Luckily, a cooler head prevailed (my head, just cooler), and I’m sticking with pigs.
I’m still shooting for a July release date, which is the soonest I can bring it out according to my contract with St. Martin’s.
P.S. If you don’t understand the title of this post, it’s a reference to the movie Groundhog Day.
I’m a big fan of electronic options. I choose ATMs over tellers and vote by mail to avoid all that nasty community at the polls. But really irritating tech is out there, and one of the strongest bastions was also the first – telephones. Herewith, two tales that both happened yesterday, one to me, one to my mom.
Notification from my smartphone:
In order to enable WIFI calling, you must provide your address for 911 calls. Please visit my.tmobile.com.
So I went to the site, where it asked me to log in. The user ID was my phone number, so I knew I had that right, but after trying all my usual passwords (and Angel Joe’s), I hit the Forgot your password? option. Bing! A new, temporary password appeared in my phone messages, and I carefully typed it in: UU4ZJ4.
Website: Password must be at least eight characters long.
At possibly the same time, my mom was trying to cancel her paid subscription to a newsletter that automatically renewed. The website insisted that she get on the phone. The automated phone system was clearly designed to be obstructive. First it hung up on her when she paused too long to pick one of the options, then it had difficulty recognizing her subscriber number, no matter how slowly and clearly she read it.
Automated system: Are you Jose Martinez?
Mom: No. (reads number again)
Automated system: Are you Erin Whitehall?
Finally it took the number, only to shunt her into a menu cul de sac where none of the numbered options were useful.
Mom, boiling over with frustration: Fuck you!
Automated system: That is not an option.
How about you? Any recent run-ins with terrible tech?
I wrote this song earlier this year. This is hosted on SoundClick.com.
Click here to listen. The lyrics are below.
Grown Up Love Song
He woke up at three o’clock from a dream about snakes and water,
Where ice had fallen out of the sky and covered the face of his daughter.
She woke up at one o’clock and poured another glass of wine.
Looked at her bills and her bank account, and told herself everything would be fine.
They meet in the usual way – photos and words on a glowing screen,
Secrets told to a stranger online, but after you tell them you want to be seen.
And they both had been alone.
Felt broken to the bone.
But they made a date by phone,
And they met.
Hope and need are powerful things, driving us to take chances.
They moved in together that spring, after months of questioning glances.
And they sold one of their beds,
Discovered they both liked red,
Put his weight bench in the shed,
Just for a while.
She wakes up at six o’clock, feeling his hand brush her hip.
He rolls onto his side in the dark and smiles as she smiles against his lips.
How many times have you thought of Disney’s Haunted Mansion and thought, “I would totally live there.” (Three, thanks for asking.) Well, now you sort of can, because some inspired wingnut built a replica, and it’s for sale!
I was only interested in seeing if props from the mansion ever went up for sale. (“Antique” mirror frame, slight vomit marks, requires 220 outlet.) What I found was so much better, and at $873,000 for 10,000 square feet in a gated community near Atlanta, GA, it’s a screaming deal. (Oh, like you could have resisted that pun.)
What do you get? A lot, but of course the most important thing is the one electronically haunted bathroom, because otherwise, WHAT IS THE POINT?
- Over 10,000 Square Feet (Closer to 11,000)
- 7 Bedrooms and 6 Bathrooms
- Two story Library with Gas Burning Fireplace & Separate Wet Bar
- Corian Counter Tops in Kitchen with Butler Pantry and Great room
- Professional Kitchen Equipment stays with a Vulcan Commercial Stove
- Wood Floors & Walk In Closets Throughout
- 1,100 Square Foot Cypress Wood Roof Deck
- Lower Trex Deck with top of the line 8 Person Hot Tub
- Magnificent Private Backyard with Wooded Conservation Land View
- Matching Custom Wood Children’s/Pet Play House
- 2nd Floor Front Terrace overlooking Neighborhood Park on Cul-de-Sac
- 3 Car Garage with 1200 amp Electrical Service & Distributed panel Electrical system
- Ready for Elevator in Central Stair Shaft
- Concrete Hardie Plank Siding and 2nd Floor Heat Pump
- Blown-in Insulation and Metal Roof
- 6″ Interior Walls around Lower Level and All Bathrooms to Reduce Sound
- Community Security, Pool and Recreation Center
It’s really a lovely house. Click on this photo for the eBay listing, and scroll down for bunches of luscious photos.
It was Nikki of Obsessive Chihuahua Disorder who pointed out the Swarovski-studded toidy.
Now, this strikes me as inherently unhygienic, but the article mentions that the same maker came up with a chrome toilet, and I love that idea.
I think I’d have to make “vroom noises” while sitting on it.
Now, if your commode budget doesn’t stretch to the tens of thousands, may I suggest this small chrome toilet with a clock in the seat, which is also a business card holder.
I’m trying to think of an appropriate use for this sucker… Reminder card for your gastroenterologist appointment? Sales rep for a hangover cure? Bulemia support group? Help me out here.