And the (very, very belated) winner (one day I promise to do these things on time) of the Where She Went ARC (but maybe it just makes you savor the anticipation even more) by Gayle Forman (or probably you find it utterly annoying. I’ll shut up now) is…..


Yay!  Please email me at houndrat at yahoo dot com to claim your ARC, WOOT!  I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

Now for a quick announcement!  Do you see that Goodreads button on the right?  Do you?  That actually LEADS TO MY BOOK!  Yes, I realize it’s still titled Book One, but still—IT’S MY BOOK! SQUEEEEEEEEEEE!

I can’t tell you how thrilling it is to see my name next to that poor, empty rectangle featuring that poor non-title.  Even the tiniest thing makes my book deal feel a little more real, you know?  Some day, I might actually be 100% convinced that’s it’s going to happen.

Anyway, I planned to follow up that announcement by blogging about Important Things. Except, the only Important Things I can think about at the moment are asiago bagels and where I can find a sparkle cowboy hat for Kirsten Hubbard’s book release this weekend.  (if you know, please tell me…I’m flailing here. FLAILING.)  But it’s kind of hard to carry an entire blog post with those topics.  Okay, that’s a lie. I could totally carry an entire blog post about those topics…it just wouldn’t be one you’d want to read.

So instead, I decided to embrace the easy path and give away another ARC instead. YAY!

This one is Chime by Franny Billingsley, which earned a starred review from Booklist. If you enjoy dark fantasy, this is your kind of book!  Here’s the blurb:

Before Briony’s stepmother died, she made sure Briony blamed herself for all the family’s hardships. Now Briony has worn her guilt for so long it’s become a second skin. She often escapes to the swamp, where she tells stories to the Old Ones, the spirits who haunt the marshes. But only witches can see the Old Ones, and in her village, witches are sentenced to death. Briony lives in fear her secret will be found out, even as she believes she deserves the worst kind of punishment.

Then Eldric comes along with his golden lion eyes and mane of tawny hair. He’s as natural as the sun, and treats her as if she’s extraordinary. And everything starts to change. As many secrets as Briony has been holding, there are secrets even she doesn’t know.

And here’s the cover, which I totally love:

To win, follow me on Twitter, and leave a comment telling me which power you would want the most if you were a witch.  Personally, I’m kind of a fan of the classic turning someone into a newt.  Or maybe a banana slug.  Seriously, how entertaining would that be? Well, as long as you could change them back.

I Need This Sign.

Contest ends this Friday at noon, PST and I will TRY MY BEST to notify the winner that same day.  Feel free to poke me in the comments if I forget!  GOOD LUCK!


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Read this book.

Okay, so I’m one week late with the next ARC Giveaway. In Debra-time, that’s impressively close to the target date, so we’ll roll with it.

I’m typing this up at the total last minute while my 3-yr-old pretends I’m a jungle gym, so please excuse me for brevity. Or mistakes. Or when you see OUCH! pop up in random spots.

Where She Went is Gayle Forman’s eagerly awaited follow-up to If I Stay, and I have to say, I think I loved it even more than the first one.  This book is from Adam’s perspective, and Adam is broken. And there’s nothing I like better than a broken male character.

Wow, that makes me sound like a crazy, warped man-hater. When really I’m just warped.

Anyway, it’s written in the author’s powerful prose, and like her first one, alternates between real time and flashbacks, with just a touch of magical realism.  Plus, it’s full of angry break-up songs, which made me think of Alanis Morisette’s Jagged Little Pill album, and that’s always a good thing.

Angst angst angst

Okay, now I just need a contest.  How about…in the comments, tell me you at least went and READ Maureen Johnson’s The Last Little Shelterbox fundraising post about helping disaster victims in New Zealand.  I won’t ask if you donated or not but if you do, well, know that you are awesome and entitled to be addressed as Mr. or Ms. Awesomesauce for the remainder of the week.

Contest will close Tuesday at noon, PST.

And because it amuses me, here are a few keyword searches that led people to my blog recently:

“BREAST RASH PHOTOS”—Because nothing says Quality Writer’s Blog like a few solid posts on breast rash.  Hmmmm.

“BRI SUE FIRST NAKED”—Obviously someone with ADD who got distracted from legal matters by more pressing needs

“BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER FUR COAT”—Anytime I get a Buffy search, I’m stoked. Even if I’m now picturing a black fur coat with a massive picture of Buffy wielding a giant stake painted on it. In blood. Remeber that warped part?

“MY ASS BEAUTY”—For those in search of total body sparkle.

“PENIS”—Nice. Simple. I like it.

“ SAHM PICTURE OF A NASTY HOUSE”—Finally, a legit reason to come to my blog!

Anyway, GO!  COMMENT!  WIN!  And…try not to search “my ass beauty.”  Please.

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Obviously my husband has found out about my minor little prank of listing his favorite golf driver on ebay.? And he’s actually taking it very well.? Which makes me suspicious that he has already purchased another club of Brobdingnagian proportions and price elsewhere.? Or is planning to.? So if any of you are listing golf clubs on ebay please don’t accept any bids from sdriza.?

And see that?? I didn’t totally neglect my word challenge.? Okay, maybe I have neglected it just a wee bit.? But do you have any idea how hard it is to use a word about well-shaped buttocks in polite mixed company?? Or to even pronounce one half of a monster like Brobdingnagian?? More on that later, though.? I have other loose ends to tie up here.

And we have a winner for my first ever Great Purge give-away! Instead of using the random number generator to pick the winner, I have the genius idea of telling my son to choose a number between one and ten.?

How smart am I?? Not only am I blogging and giving away random crap invaluable gift items? from around my home, I’m also teaching my son about numbers.? ? So he? ponders for a moment.? Then? goes? with? sixty-three five hundred twenty-eight.? ? Hmmm.? ? So I have him pick? again.? And? he? chooses forty-two.? Well, at least this? is a number? I? am? familiar with, but given the small number of entries, it doesn’t get me any closer to finding a winner.? Finally, in desperation I say, “Great job, Connor!”, close my eyes and punch a number on my phone.

And so semidesperatehousewifehas the good people at VTech to thank for her new Billabong dress!? May her legs remain young and de-varicosed for many moons to come.

And now on to the new item up for grabs.

I had this junk foisted upon me won these things at a Tastefully Simple-Cookie Lee party I attended about two years ago and as you can see they haven’t been worn yet.? It’s not that I don’t think they’re perfectly lovely.? But somehow crosses always remind me of my Madonna phase in high school and I’m just so not willing to revisit my fashion sense from back then.? Lest I start donning white boots and? jean mini skirts to go along with it.? And perhaps even a scrunchie or two.? ?

So here are some photos:

Sorry the second one is so blurry.? I was just trying to give you an idea of the greeness of green that? are the crystals.

So if you’re interested, leave me a comment telling me about your favorite cheesy outfit from any time period.? Mine?? Probably this hideous white ultra-mini with a black band around the waist, ultra-short black biker shorts underneath, and a black lycra midriff baring top.? Because it just wasn’t trampy enough without baring a little extra stomach.? Hopefully the 17-year-olds of this generation are making much smarter fashion selections.

The contest will be going until Friday night, at which time I will pick a winner and post a new item up for grabs!

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The Great Purge and Give-away

Posted by houndrat on Monday Jul 28, 2008 Under contest, family life, mommies, random stuff

The? great purge has finally arrived.? And it’s about time.

No, not that kind of purge–I enjoy my yummies entirely too much to sully their memory with the? flavor of? vomit.? Besides, we don’t clean our toilets enough for me to? chance? sticking my face inside ours on a daily basis.

No, I’m talking about a stuff purge.? As in, cleansing our home of the five zillion useless pieces of crap that clutter every square inch, and then mopping the all the flours thoroughly, with the new mop system we’d bought from unclutterer.

Hubby and I have been vainly attempting to get organized for years.? And finally, it’s? dawned on us why even? the smallest drawer has thwarted our? most? Herculean efforts to? conquer it:

It’s all about the stuff.? Granted,? both hubby and myself? are utterly devoid of any organizational talents.? ? Not to mention, ? the thousands? of brain cells? we’ve sacrificed at? the altar of parenting haven’t helped our cause.? But,? really, people.? Surely? even the most organizationally-void? soul doesn’t clean their garage for an entire day, only to end up having it look like this:?

(And yes, the same totalled car? from over a year? ago is still in residence.? Talk to my husband, because I honestly don’t have an answer for you.? At least, not a coherent one.)

So, finally, after a stunning number of failures, we think we’ve excavated the? root of our issue.? See, it’s not just an organizational thing, it’s a stuff ? thing.? And we’ve got too much.? Stuff, that is.?

I know—for a couple with three and a half graduate degrees between us, it took long enough.? I mean, when your counters look like this, and your garage like this, you’d think anyone with an IQ over ten would have come to this conclusion years ago.? Let’s face it—even? the love child of Pamela Anderson and Dan Quayle? would have comprehended that there are simply not enough organizational devices? in the entire Northern hemisphere to encompass the vast amounts of junk taking refuge in our home.?

So, in a massively ginormous effort to both de-stressify and greenify our lives (hey, this is my blog, and thusly, I am granted the power of making up words as I see fit), we’ve decided to purge.? The plan?? Simple.? We sell some on craigslist, list some on freecycle, and give any leftovers? to charity.

Oh yeah, and I figured I could give some stuff away on my blog.? And here is the perfect place to start:

Yes, that is my closet.? Disgraceful, I know.? But just think—you can assist me in at long last determining the color? of the? carpet inside.? Assuming I actually have carpet in there.? And here’s how it works:

I’m going to be photographing various items I need gone and posting them here over the next month.? If you want that item, leave a comment.? At the end of a set period of time, which I’ll state in my post, I’ll randomly pick a winner and send them the item.? Oh, and feel free to leave a comment even if you don’t want the item–seriously, you won’t hurt my feelings.? Well, maybe just a little.? But I’ll get over it.? I mean, I am giving the item away after all, so logic dictates that I can’t be too attached.?

Then again, there are times when logic? is just? as elusive to me as the? plentitude of Pamela Anderson’s bosoms.

Anyway, I figure it’s a win-win-win situation here–I’m cleaning my house, you’re getting prizes, and we’re all recycling and saving the landfills.? And all joking aside—hubby and I are really serious about scaling down the material goods.

So, here’s the first item.? I honestly don’t think I ever bought this dress–is it possible my clothes are procreating in there?? ? Frankly,? it’s? just a wee bit too short for somebody getting ready to attend her 20- year high school reunion next month (yikes)!? The brand is Billabong, and it’s a size Medium, and never been worn (unless I wore it with the tag once, which, knowing me, is a distinct possibility.? Details are so not my thing).

And if you are one of those people who must see it on first, then here you go:

Love? it?? Need it?? Or absolutely detest it, but just want to get to know your mailman better?? Then leave me a comment.? You have until midnight Thursday.

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Pay It Forward Contest Winner!

Posted by houndrat on Wednesday Jul 9, 2008 Under contest, random stuff

Okay, so I realize I’m a little tardy on posting the winner of my Pay it Forward contest, but cut me some slack here—I’ve been super busy hunting up random junk in my house to send her.? Oh, what a lucky lady she is…..

And the winner is….Playful Professional!

As fate would have it, she happens to be the only one who mentioned homemade cookies in her comments.? Sigh.? I can’t make any promises, but I’ll give it my best shot.? Of course, there’s a good chance that I’ll ingest? all the cookies before any make it into the box.? But it’s the thought that counts.

So, I think I’ve got the “random” part of the prize covered, since I’ve? unearthed a plethora of treasures (and I use that term very loosely) while cleaning out the hall closet.? And “bizarre” and “useless” have been addressed as well.? I actually thought about sending Peanut to? fill those criteria at first, but then starting worrying about silly things.? You know, stuff like liability insurance. And decapitated postal workers.? I’m still working on the “cool”, and if it’s all the same to my winner, I think I’ll skip the “disgusting” altogether.? Although I’m pretty sure I could find something in my garage that fits the bill.? Like maybe a stray rat or two.

At any rate, I’m going to get to work throwing this prize package together, so I can get it out in the mail before Christmas.? I’ll take some photos too, and once it arrives I can post them.

Poor Playful Professional—I bet by this point she’s wishing she’d won somebody else’s contest.? With prizes guaranteed to be 100% rodent (and lunatic Rottweiler)-free.

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Chili’s goes super-size

Posted by houndrat on Wednesday Jul 2, 2008 Under contest, random stuff, Uncategorized

So, yesterday somebody mentioned they’d like to win home-made cookies.? (And yes, the Pay It Forward contest is still on, so keep leaving those comments!? You have until the 4th of July to enter.? Check out my post on Pay It Forward and Swistle for more details).

I seriously considered adding some fresh yummies into the prize package.? Except when I bake, I taste.? And not one or two cookies—we’re talking major tastage here.? As in, half the batch? is vacationing in? Tummy Town long before the baking sheet? has time to? cool.

Which usually wouldn’t faze me.? But, here’s the deal—folks, I just hoovered? a Super Big Gulp-sized? Chili’s shake last night, without even realizing it.? And I’m thinking this can’t be normal.?

Here’s the scoop–I was? surfing a bunch of blogs, and my hubby brought me? my nightly? yummy? (yes, he really is the best husband in the whole world, slobbery be damned).? He just sets it down next to me, and without really paying much attention, I start drinking.? ? And drinking.? And drinking.? The next thing I know, I’m looking over to siphon the very last bit out with my straw,? and instead, I scream? “OH-MY-GOD-I-JUST-CONSUMED-THE-ENTIRE-CONTENTS-OF-AN-EPICLY-GINORMOUS-CHILIS-SHAKE-AND-NOW-IM-GOING-TO-HURL!”

Okay, so maybe that’s not exactly what I screamed, but it? made for a better story than “ARRRGGGGGGG!”, or whatever inanity? actually? emerged from my shake-drowned vocal chords.? But I did yell, because the sight before me was so horrible.? So terrifying.? What I was looking at was,? without? a? doubt, the? most enormous cup I have ever seen, outside of 7-11 or somebody sticking a straw in a gallon-sized jug of Natural Light (yes, I’ve seen it done, and no, it wasn’t pretty).? And more to the point, the cup was completely empty.

I kid you not.? I mean, if there’s one thing I know, its shakes.? And this, my friends, ? was no ordinary shake.? ? Not even close.? This was the motherload.? A virtual Behemoth in a Chili’s cup.? ? A freakin’ giant of chocolatey goodness.? That overgrown sucker seriously? must’ve weighed at? least five pounds, if not fifty.? All of which, thanks to my never-ending sweet tooth and preoccupation with the computer,? is now going to be permanently? embedded on my thighs.

I’d like to know–which Chili’s marketing genius came up with this stroke of brilliance?? Because if there’s one thing Americans surely need, it’s a 32 oz chocolate shake.? ? And if? I get? the guy’s? name, maybe I can send him? my lipo bill.

Exhibit A:? Yes, there really is a 32 oz Mega-Sized Chili’s shake (or there is when your 4 yr old asks the teenage girl working there for her phone number because he’d like to talk to her more – what up with that?)

Large Chili Chocolate Shake

Exhibit B:? Chili’s shake as compared to a normal sized cup (from the Target dollar bins, of course–my son likes to paint them)

Shake to Normal Cup Comparison

Exhibit C:? Oh, look—I saved a few chocolate sprinkles and a few drops of shake. I wonder if my tongue is long enough to? nab those? calories, too?

Empty Shake Cup

You know, in spite of the steroid shake, everything might have been okay—if I hadn’t just horked down those five cookies after lunch.? I knew removing them from my friend’s? premises would result in acts of utter depravity and gluttony.? And yet I couldn’t resist.

Exhibit D:? Yes, I really ate five of these.? And yes, I am that pathetic.

Yummy Cookie

So, I’m thinking—maybe the thing to do is start a yummy log here.? The idea being that since the concept of will power is as foreign to me as? the origins of a? Target dollar-bin goody, maybe I can shame myself into cutting back on the sugar.

So, there it is—the sad and frightening truth of my daily yummy-intake, coming soon to a blog near you.? Although I have a sinking feeling that, when? it comes to sugar, I am utterly shame-proof.

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So, I was just surfing the blogosphere (okay, call it procrastinating, if you must), and came across Swistle’s site.? Apparently, she’s running a “Pay It Foward” contest.? No, you don’t have to run out and buy? anyone a? new Mercedes, and hopefully, no small children are going to die in our version.? Alas, there’s no Kevin Spacey involvement, either.? Although he should feel free to comment on my blog as well.?

Basically, what this contest entails is you commenting on a list of participating blog sites, including mine, found on the Swistle site.? Comment as often as you like up through July 4th.? At that time, a random winner will be picked from each site to win a PRIZE!?

And I’ll even do you one better—I promise, PROMISE, not to get your prize from the Target dollar bins.? Or is that actually disappointing?? I cannot, however, promise that? the prize? will be something entirely un-bizarre, because you never know which neurons will be firing in my brain at any given moment.? For some reason, though, I think the neurons associated with random, peculiar? behavior fire a lot more.? At least in my head.

So, there you have it!? Keep commenting, and maybe you, too,? can win something cool.? Or something totally useless.? Or disgusting.? But, hey, ? you’ll never know, unless you comment!

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