Week by numbers (Black Friday/Cyber Monday version).

Just thought I’d share a few of my spending habits with you…  I’m pretty sure it’s in my blood, but I love a discount.  Give me a coupon and I’m there.  So, this time of year is always exciting for me.  Given I recently discovered Ebates (a cash back website, here’s the link in case you feel like saving some dosh), I’m just watching my numbers rise with every purchase.

Also, because I am a total dork (and was trying not to overspend), I made a list and really tried to stick to it.

So, what did I pick up?

  • A new pack of business cards from Moo (30% off).  Really, a sort of bland buy, but my ‘nice’ cards (I have two versions) rarely go on sale, so I scooped some up.  Here’s my referral link, if you’re interested.  My cards are always getting compliments, so I see no reason to change.
  • Banana Republic.  I was ready for a dress, but in the end, opted for a shirt (entire site was 50% off).  Given I am in the middle of a purge of ‘I hate everything in my closet,’ it was time to pick up a few decent garments.
  • Sephora.  I keep wanting to ‘quit’ the site, but then I can’t.  After a rather drunken conversation about skincare regimens with three very knowledgable women on the subject, I pulled the trigger on some Drunk Elephant (I pretty much only buy at this time of year).
  • Amazon.  Hubs wanted a 23 & Me kit, and they were on sale.  Done.  (And hey, if you’re on Amazon, you can add or review any of my books, just saying).
  • Express.  I saw a shirt I liked, and then a dress.  40% off (I ordered early and missed the 50% off, no big). Both have somehow already arrived, and I am very happy with both.
  • Box of Style.  I’m such a sucker for a good box of stuff.  Ebates coupon + another coupon brought the price to something reasonable.  It’s probably a good thing that PopSugar is now blocked (for whatever reason) in the UAE.  I’m hoping the box is shipped soon!
  • Flywheel.  Classes aren’t cheap, so I’m booking as many as possible.  30% off.
  • Wisestamp.  I have a fun e-mail signature (necessary, I believe, especially when I pitch out a lot and want to rep myself in a professional manner).  The site has some other items on their platform, and I’m curious to see if adding them will have any impact on my traffic.  The savings were significant, but I’m also going to pull the plug if no magic happens in 30 days.

So close, but not quite:

  • The Limited.  Had a dress I liked, but didn’t love.  7/10 will probably regret not purchasing.
  • Birchbox.  Another site that was close, but not quite (a few of their limited edition boxes as well as regular beauty items).
  • Tom’s.  My old ones are, well, old.  Given they were 30% off, I’m pretty sure this one is going to haunt me.


What did you nab in the sales?  Anything fun?

Our life with Nubbins.

If you’ve ever met me, chances are very high that you know about Nubbins.

Nubbins was Hubs and I’s cat, a unique Japanese bobtail, adopted by Eric in 1998, when she was believed to have been 2 or 3 years old.  Up until this past weekend, I had never known a day without her and Eric together.  When we first started dating in 2001, she was already a major part of his life, and lived with him in not only Athens, GA, but also Nashville, TN.  After graduating UGA, she was placed in a kitty carryall with all our stuff and we drove across country to Los Angeles.  The trip was a bit of a tax on her little system, as she had some urinary crystals – something we quickly sorted by getting the right food for her.

She took things in stride when, a few weeks later, we brought home a (then) tiny ginger kitten, who I named Brendan Small.  Even though he grew to outweigh her by pounds, she was always the alpha cat.  Still, their friendship was like a tether.  They never seemed to want to be much further than a meter or so apart (no matter where we lived in the world).  I never felt bad leaving them, because they always had each other.

When Eric signed his contract for us to move to Dubai in 2007, everyone’s first question was about the cats.  Of course they were coming with us.  After a short respite with my parents, Brendan and Nubbins were shipped from Atlanta to Amsterdam, Amsterdam to Dubai.  I remember weeping with relief when we met them in Cargo Village.  These two resilient numpties came out of their carriers ready to go.

Life was good.

We moved, then changed jobs, then made plans to move to Qatar in 2011.  In preparation for the relocation, I decided to have both of the cats teeth cleaned.  This turned out to be one of the most idiot decisions of my life.  When Nubbins went under, she had a very bad reaction to anesthesia (which she was not tested for), and came out quite sick.  I coaxed her with any food she would eat, I made her drink water from tiny water caps.  With just a few weeks before we were all meant to fly, we took her back to the vet, where we endured one of the scariest nights of our lives.  Fortunately, the news was relatively normal for a cat of her age — Chronic Renal Failure.  Her kidney function was roughly 40%.  They treated her, and she gained some of her lost weight back.  We had no choice but to move her, but like always, she was happy to be wherever Eric was.

Life was good (again).

Our Brendan, who was nearly seven years younger than Nubbins fell ill in 2013.  He passed quickly, and it is one of my biggest regrets in life that I couldn’t be with him.  I’m still not sure if Nubbins knows what happened, or how I could ever explain to her.

We moved back to the Emirates at the start of 2014.  This time to Abu Dhabi, which I think was truly Nubbins’ best life.  She practically lived out on our small porch, even when temperatures blazed over 100F, soaking up the sun like an old retiree.  We were all healthy and happy.  We had house sitters that adored her.  Moving from Abu Dhabi to Dubai, Nubbins cried (as she always did) the entire car ride.

In our new villa, she was her usual self.

She found a shrub she loved.

We got her a basket by my desk.

We fell into our usual routines.

For every trip we made, we had to make our peace that she might not be waiting for our return.

I was beginning to wonder if Nubbins might be immortal, when she started slowing down during June of this year, which we believe was during her twenty-third year, nearly seven years after being diagnosed with CRF.  I knew a difficult decision was coming, one that I didn’t want to make.  We were on borrowed time, and each day was a blessing.

Perhaps against our better judgement, we went home for the first time in two years, leaving her with friends.  As far as I know, she never spent a single night in a kennel.  Updates were vague, but when I heard she was turning down treats at the very end of our trip, I knew we had to be close to the end.

We were back at our villa at 1AM on Saturday.  It was clear that she had lost weight, that our darling little fighter had slowed down too much.  She was without the spirit we always knew her to have.  Had she held on just for us?  I think so.  She was a powerful thing and knew that, as promised, we would always come back for her.

We made the appointment.  We relived our favorite memories, looking through pictures and recounting all our special times together.

We held her until the end, which is one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do.

Its more than knowing someone from 2001, it’s the unconditional love she provided.  It’s a thousand personality quirks.  Sitting and writing by myself most days, I could simply look at her sleeping peacefully and not feel alone.

They broke the mold when they made Nubbins.  We were lucky enough to share a life with one of the best animals in the world, and I will never take that fact for granted.

I will honor her with a children’s book I’ve long had in mind.  Hubs will get a tattoo.  We will tell future pets about her.  Her ashes will always have a special place in our home.

Wherever you are in the world, go give your best friend a cuddle.  I promise they deserve it.


A Wildly Specific Year by Numbers, 2017 Edition.

I pitched below to a clever online website, but was met with rejection.  Then I never managed to pitch it anywhere else.  Anyway, enjoy!

  • 37.9, years of age
  • 14, years married to first husband
  • 3 million+, words checked (according to Grammarly app)
  • 3, films attended in a theater (Gold Class)
  • 3, shots of Jägermeister consumed during husband’s 40th birthday party
  • 2, visits with my sister
  • 7(ish), nights involving karaoke
  • 1, foreign driver’s licensed renewed (with misspelling of surname still in place)
  • 1, concert attended (U2)
  • 1, novel published (The Queen of England: Coronation)
  • Still being tallied, number of episodes of television watched (assumption is 10% increase from 2016)
  • Numerous, new inside jokes started (“Milos take?”)
  • 31, number of friends who attended our Thanksgiving party
  • 100+, uses of new personal catchphrase ‘100% legit’
  • 1, time (nearly) stranded in a foreign country when original airline was barred from entering current country of residence before return flight
  • 1, Great Barrier Reef witnessed
  • 2, dogs almost adopted (an ongoing struggle as a weekly volunteer with a K9 rescue organization)
  • 75, spin classes attended
  • 2, pounds lost overall in the year (*an estimate not based on actual measurement)
  • 1, course ingested containing goat brain at fine dining establishment (goat brain was not disclosed until after consumption)
  • 63, percent optimism for 2018

Hope your 2017 was just as interesting — all the best in 2018!

2018 Resolutions.

As 2017 comes to a close, it’s time to look ahead to 2018.  I’m cautiously optimistic, and mainly hoping I never have to spend a day on U.S. soil with #45 in office…

In no particular order (and in conjunction with my foodie goals), here’s what I hope are a list of achievable goals in the new year.

  • Get a new author photo.  It’s no longer 2015.  I think it’s time to move on.
  • Publish The Queen of England: Grand Tour and at a minimum, send The Queen of England: Ascension to the editor.  Ideally, get a final draft of book #3 at some point this year.
  • List The Queen of England: Coronation as a free book (and dive into all the hoopla that comes with it).  Ideally, this would be with a BookBub ad, a level of book marketing I haven’t yet achieved.
  • Buy less.  I recently read a great article by Ann Prachett, and after a glut of fun, but ultimately unnecessary items from overseas, I think it’s okay to start 2018 with a stricter approach.  I realize this might be a struggle when we’re home this year, but outside of my once every two year trip to Target, taking an extra moment to really decided if I need that thing should be my standard protocol.
  • Complete a rough draft of The Heist or A.U.  I still haven’t decided what book I want to write next year.  The Heist project is more marketable of the two, and I’m hoping I’m creative enough to pull it off, but A.U. has been on my brain a bit longer.
  • Start doing actual research when it comes to marketing my books.  Unfortunately, my attempts thus far haven’t been enough.  Even after nine books published, I still have this naive hope that if I can connect with the right audience, then I’ll be able to have a successful book.  This resolution will most likely involve Amazon and Facebook ads, list on NetGalley, along with paying closer attention to the author groups I am a part of.
  • A little more self care.  I can sometimes beat myself up when…well, fill in the blank.  Getting down on myself isn’t a fun trend, so I think it’s okay to accept that sometimes to not feel so guilty for: not writing, not marketing, not editing, not pitching, not making a lot of money.  I think it’s also in my best interest to drink less.  As much as I love a glass of wine, it doesn’t love me back all that much.  Focusing on the little things might be more in my best interest.
  • A lot more fitness.  Twice a week is good, but three times a week for organized exercise is even better.  Prioritizing my health over food reviews, etc. isn’t always the easy choice, but one I definitely need to start making.  I feel that MyFitnessPal is about to make an appearance in my life again.
  • *Bonus* Look at the Fates project again, and y’know, maybe do something with it.

What are your goals in the coming year?  How did you do in 2017?