So our refrigerator door has a dent. Here’s how it got there.

This post contains a little profanity. I know it seems silly to warn about it here when my books contain a little profanity, but I just didn’t want to offend anyone when I’m speaking as myself. I’m including profanity here so you get the full scope of the situation.

Last year, my husband and I had a mouse problem. It took weeks to solve, and scared the crap our of our babysitter, but we got rid of them using sticky traps, snap traps, and lots of alcohol. (The drinking kind.)

(Side note: mice are strongly attracted to sugar cookies. Our babysitter at the time wore “Warm Vanilla Sugar” body spray from Bath & Body Works. The mice were ALWAYS out when she was around.)

Since last year, we haven’t seen a trace of the mice. We thought we’d gotten rid of them forever.

Well, Monday night, I went to make a salad. I love avocados, so I typically buy a bag of them at the store every weekend. You can’t keep avocados in the refrigerator (they go wonky), so they were sitting on the counter. When I picked up an avocado, it had a few tiny chunks missing. So did the rest of them. And the bag was torn.

I said to my husband, “I think we have a mouse again.”

We had a few glue traps left from last year, the small, mouse-sized kind, which are about the size of a deck of cards. I put four of them on the counter, with an avocado in the middle of them.

That night, my husband, who wasn’t feeling well, took a dose of Nyquil and went to bed. I wrote a chapter and went to bed.

Around 10:30pm, I heard, “Scratch-scratch-scratch” from the kitchen. I whisper shouted, “MIKE!”

My poor, Nyquiled husband sat up all groggy. “What? What is it?”

I said, ” Listen.”

Scratch scratch scratch.

There was clearly something on our counter.

We both got up and headed out to the kitchen. I was behind Mike. He said, “Holy. Shit.”

Then I saw what he saw. I saw a big brown furry back. ON. MY. KITCHEN. COUNTER. Emphasis on big.

It wasn’t a mouse. It was a RAT.

ON MY KITCHEN COUNTER.

Now, I don’t know about you guys, but I’m kind of a freak about my kitchen. (The rest of the house, not so much.) I regularly bleach my counters and my sink. I’m anal about food spoilage and unsanitary cooking conditions. I regularly throw out food that’s close to its date or even looks SLIGHTLY weird.

It’s a miracle I didn’t start screaming.

Honestly, it’s a miracle I didn’t start spraying IT with bleach. (That’s what I do to stinkbugs.)

So back to the rat on the counter. Not only is it on my counter, but those little glue traps aren’t trapping it, they’re just pissing it off. It’s also tangled up under the cord for my phone. Mike is trying to get some trash bags so he can get it into one, yelling, “GET ME A BOX. I NEED A BOX.”

Where the F am I going to get a box at 10:30 at night? There was a cooler in the corner of our dining room, one of those red plastic Playmate ones, so I open it and give it to him, thinking he can get the rat into it and slam the lid. So with one hand holding the cooler, and the other holding a plastic trash bag, my husband tries to get the thing into the cooler.

Remember the Nyquil? Not exactly conducive to sharp thinking skills or rapid movement.

The rat doesn’t end up in the cooler OR in the trash bag.

Instead, it bites my husband on the hand. ON. THE. HAND.

So now my husband is yelling, and I’m panicking, saying, “Ohmygod, did it bite you? Are you okay? Did it bite you?”

And he’s saying, “Yes. It bit me. It bit me.”

And there’s blood. All over the place.

AND THE RAT IS STILL ON THE EFFING COUNTER.

So Mike starts yelling that he needs a box. I run upstairs to find one. Upstairs is our finished attic. There are no boxes up there. I know this because we just cleaned it out a few weeks ago. I have no idea why I ran that way, instead of down to the basement, where we have about fifty plastic boxes holding toys. I could have dumped one of those in about half a second.

While I’m upstairs, I start hearing all these crashing sounds. I think my husband is attacking it with a frying pan (which was sitting right on the stove, which also probably would have been a good idea), but no. He’s trying to keep it from getting off the counter.

And then it falls off the counter, and it bolts under the dishwasher.

Now my husband, who is generally a temperate man, yells, “FUCK!” and throws the cooler as hard as he could. He threw it so hard that it flew over the cooking island and hit the refrigerator.

He threw it so hard that a few days later, I noticed the dent and said, “What do you think the refrigerator door ran into?” And Mike said, deadpan, “A cooler.”

So now it’s like 10:40pm. My husband is bleeding from his hand. There’s a rat under our dishwasher. My five-year-old is crying, wanting to know what’s going on. I’m trying to call my mom, a night nurse, to ask her what to do. I then call the ER, and ask them what to do. (Side trivia: rats typically don’t carry rabies, a lot of bleeding is actually a good thing, because it helps flush bacteria from the wound, and while my husband didn’t have to go to the ER right then, a tetanus shot would be a good idea.)

Once we eliminated the immediate worry — the rat bite — we still had to figure out what to do about the rat under the dishwasher.

There was no way I was going back to sleep. My reasoning: if a rat could climb onto a counter, it could climb into a crib or a bed. (All of our bedrooms are on the ground floor.)

So at 11:20pm, I got in my car and drove to the grocery store, and purchased every glue trap and snap trap that they had. I laid them out all over the kitchen to prevent that thing from escaping from the kitchen. Then we went to bed.

2am: we hear it again: scratch-scratch-scratch.

This time, it’s one of the glue traps by the refrigerator. It’s not the big rat.

It’s a baby rat.

O.

M.

G.

My husband got rid of it. The next day, I was on the phone to Orkin so fast it would make your head spin. I didn’t care how much it cost, we wanted someone to come out to the house and fix the problem. A guy came that night. (Side note: I cannot say enough good things about Orkin’s service. This gentleman was at our house for three hours, and did a tremendous amount of work sealing holes and patching areas that could provide access.)

This morning, one of the snap traps from the back basement caught the big rat.

I’m not naive. I know there may be more. But I feel like we’re closer to solving the problem.

This is the most horrifying event since we’ve moved into this house. Merry Christmas, right?

What’s the most horrifying thing you’ve ever found in your house?

(By the way, the contest is still going on! Have you entered? Scroll down to the next post.)

Countdown to the fire house…

I’ve got a whole list of questions to ask the fire chief tomorrow, but I’m sure I’m missing something that will be crucially important.

Really, I just had to get some questions down on paper so I’m not sitting there like an idiot with a pen, stammering, “Um, so yeah, are fires hot?”

But seriously, I’m worried I’m forgetting something. Imagine you were me.

What questions would you ask?

And, hey, peanut gallery, I’m married, so I’m not asking if anyone’s single, ‘kay?

~

Fires are hot

Back to our irregularly scheduled blogging.

First off, thank you all SO MUCH for your support, your congratulations, and your kind words. I’ve cried about sixteen times over the last five days. I’m so touched. Really. You guys are amazing.

A lot of people have asked me how the book auction went down. It’s a great story, but I’m going to wait a few weeks to tell it. When I tell it, you’ll understand why.

See? I can totally build suspense.

I have deadlines now, so I’m going to be working on my sequel for the next few months. ELEMENTAL focuses on the brother who can control water, and next up is the brother who can control fire. (That’s my buddy Gabriel. We’re tight.) For a few months I’ve been shyly toying with the idea of asking a local firefighter what it’s like to fight fires (because that strongly plays into the sequel), but I couldn’t exactly imagine walking up to the firehouse and stating my reasons for asking.

“So, yeah, I’m writing this book about these brothers who control the elements, right? Yeah, and there’s the one who controls fire. Could you tell me all about house fires? And, well, if you suspect someone of arson, like, how would you go after them?”

Yeah, that wouldn’t sound suspicious AT ALL.

(It’s kind of like when I was researching how to blow up a bag of fertilizer for the first book.)

If you’re an FBI agent and you’re reading this, it’s all for novel research. Pinky swear.

But anyway, now that I’ve got a book deal, I figured it was time to act like a professional. I looked up the name of the local fire chief, and I sent him an email.

He responded really quickly that he’d be happy to talk to me. We exchanged a few more details and worked out a time. (Inside, I kept going, “SQUEEEEEEEEEE! I get to talk to a fireman! I get to make my book sound real!”)

On the outside, it was more like, “Thank you so much for offering your time.”

But then — BUT THEN — he sent me this last email that said, “… and if we get a run while you are there you can hop on the engine with me.”

I was at my nieces’ dance competition when I got that email, and it was all I could do not to scream in the middle of the auditorium. (Seriously, no one would have noticed. No one screams like a mom at a dance competition.)

Now, look, I’m not going to wish for anyone’s house to burn down. That would be horrible.

But maybe a little brush fire? Maybe an abandoned building fire?

I don’t know how I’m going to contain myself for the next eight days. I might get to ride on a fire truck! A real fire truck! With real firefighters!

OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG

I’m okay. Really. I once read about Simone Elkeles getting to do a ride-along with detectives in Chicago. (Her books deal with gangs — and the guys are HOT and AMAZING. You must go read them.) When I read about that, I thought it was the coolest thing in the whole entire world.

Not anymore. If I could ride on a fire truck, that would be the coolest thing. Ever.

Oh. Sorry, honey. Top five then.

Can you imagine how much book fodder I’ll get out of this? Can you imagine

I know I sound like a freak. What thirty-three year old woman (with a corporate desk job and a family, no less) wants to ride around on a fire truck?

This one does.

~

Mea Culpa, Mea Culpa, Mea…oh, hell, it’s been a long time since High School Latin

I’ve been doing a lot of beta reads over the last six weeks (a LOT), and I’m terrified that I’ve forgotten someone. If you’re sitting out there wondering why the hell I haven’t gotten back to you, PLEASE email me and remind me. I’ve gone through my emails trying to see if I can find someone I haven’t responded to, but I’m coming up with nothing.

Still, I can’t shake this feeling.

So if you’re out there wondering what my problem is, it’s that I’m a flake.

No, not really. Well, kind of. Sorta.

But I feel terrible if I’ve left someone hanging.

If that someone is you, please email me.

Edited to add: I FOUND IT! I hope this poor girl can forgive me.

~

Time for some book reviews…

I’m the first person to admit I don’t like to write book reviews. It feels a little too much like writing a book report, and I hated doing those for school, so I’m sure as heck not going to do one for fun.

But I love hearing what other people thought of books, and I routinely buy books based on other people’s opinions, so I thought I’d share a few of mine.

Standard disclaimers apply: I bought these books with my own money, no one made me write this, I find calling these actual “reviews” hilarious, if it burns, see a doctor.

The Things a Brother Knows by Dana Reinhardt
This is one of the best books I’ve read in a long time. I downloaded it to my Kindle at 7pm last night, and I finished before 8am this morning. I couldn’t put it down. My husband says I have a brother fetish, but that’s not true. I will say I’m intrigued by the brotherly dynamic, mostly because I’ve never been around brothers at all. I had one brother, my husband only has sisters, and really, the only brothers I’ve ever seen interrelate are my stepson and my son. They’re 13 and 3, so I have a ways to go before I can get any novel fodder from their relationship.

But I’m also intrigued by people who serve in the military, people who have the guts to put aside everything that’s important to them personally to serve their community as a whole. I admire that a great deal, and this book explores what it costs them. The book opens when Boaz, a marine, returns from spending 3 years at war, and his family isn’t sure how to relate to him — and he’s not sure how to relate to them either. It’s told entirely from the point of view of his younger brother, Levi, who, at 17, is struggling to find out what it means to be a man, and misses the brother he once looked up to. The book is gripping on many levels, and I highly recommend it. There’s a tiny bit of language in the book, but I think it’s appropriate for anyone over 12.

Right Behind You by Gail Giles
This book intrigued me right from the premise. A young boy struggling with his mother’s breast cancer diagnosis is helping his dad in the garage, when his snotty neighbor stops by to heckle him. He snaps, throws gasoline on the other kid, and flicks a lighter. The snotty neighbor dies, and the main character goes to a juvenile detention center.

That’s just the first chapter. The book goes on to explore his detention and eventual release, and his attempt to assimilate into society after such a horrific act at such a young age. The voice was right on in this one. Right on. I wanted to find this kid and give him a hug.

The subject matter seems heavy, but you’ll feel for this kid from the first page, I promise you. Probably better for 14 and up.

Matched by Allie Condie
Yes, I’ll admit it. I bought this book because of all the hype. (I mean, seriously, wasn’t that the whole point?)

It wasn’t bad. I know there are a lot of people out there saying, “What’s all the hype about?” and that’s not fair. The book is a good, solid read, and it kept me thinking long after I put it down. I wasn’t entirely convinced by the romance, but I was intrigued by the society, and I was especially impressed by seeing different “stations” of life, from official to menial laborer, from daughter to grandparent to brother to friend. The last 30% of this book was the best, but if you’re picking it up to find the next Twilight, this ain’t it.

It will definitely make you think. I can tell you that.


Hearts at Stake by Alyxandra Harvey
I loved this book.

I’m going to be up front and say I was so over vampires it wasn’t even funny. I never wanted to read another vampire book, I never wanted to see another fang, I was just done done DONE with the frigging angst and bloodlust already.

But I loved this book.

I’m living proof that Twitter sells books, because I bought this book after a random stranger was raving about it on Twitter. And the praise was deserved. The heroines (yes, there are two) are clever and funny, and I loved them both. The romance and action received equal attention, and the story definitely moved. The story slowed down the teensiest bit when we learned a bit of the family history, but it was kind of like slowing down for a sharp curve on the highway — as soon as you straighten out the wheel, you can pound the accelerator.

The vampire mythology at work here is clever (they’re born but go through the “bloodchange” in their teens), there’s a whole cadre of brothers (hello, Brigid’s obsession), and the dialogue is so smart it made me laugh out loud in several places.

I can’t say enough good things about this book. It’s on bargain at Amazon right now. (I love that I can link right from a post like this now.)

Living Dead Girl by Elizabeth Scott

Holy crap. And I mean that in a good way.

The writing is incredible. Another one I finished in less than 12 hours.

I can’t imagine the emotional trauma the author must have felt to write this. It’s not for the faint of heart: it’s written from the point of view of a 15 year old girl who was kidnapped at age 10 by a pedophile, and she’s been held prisoner by him ever since. I don’t know that I’d recommend this book for anyone under 16, but now I’m thinking back to the girl I was at 14, and I would have torn through this book. Use your judgment.

This book will haunt you. It will sit with you. You will put it down and you won’t be able to stop thinking about it. You will look at other people and wonder. You will look at other children and wonder.

You will look at your children and you will guard them like a hawk.

How about you guys? Any good recommendations for me?