Thursday, November 30, 2006

Cool ideas for your bathroom

Before you start a bathroom renovation, make sure you check out the latest from HGTV's I Want That! Baths.

From HGTV e-newsletter

I see that if you really want to be on the cutting edge, you have to get a diamond-encrusted basin...  Link: I Want That! Baths : Home & Garden Television



Wednesday, November 29, 2006

More loft apartments upcoming

The Buffalo Artists Lofts on Main Street in Buffalo, NY is one of the 2007 HGTV Restore America projects.  Formerly a commercial building, it'll be converted into an open floor plan consisting of 36 residential units.  (I presume there are walls between the units.)  For more info on Restore America:  Restore America 2005-2006 : Home & Garden Television

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Fluorescent lights (link)

I know it is recommended that incandescent lights be turned off whenever they are not needed. But what about fluorescent lights?

From: The HouseMaster eNewsletter


Monday, November 27, 2006

Friday, November 24, 2006

Architecture of the Imagination

 "It was as bad as the worst of the reports.  It was worse!  Secure behind the Glant's defenses, the sight of a few thousand hostile cruisers wouldn't have caused him a qualm--
But this!
There were a few small war vessels among them--none over six hundred feet long.  But, so far as one could tell from their seared, beam-blasted exteriors, most of them had been freighters of every possible size, type, and description.  There was a sprinkling of dainty, badly slashed yachts and other personal space craft.  No wonder they'd been mistaken for the murdered cold hulks of the centuries...!
But..., mixed up with that stream was stuff that simply didn't belong in space--it should have been gliding ...over the surface of some planetary sea!
Some... had wings!  [And there was] ... a house.  ... Near the end of the van, a torpedo-shaped blackened thing...  [And then]
A slender, three-hundred-foot space yacht flashed headlong into a cluster of the Glant's grapnels and freezers and stopped dead. ...
The Great Squid of space had caught itself a shining minnow.  ..."
From The Truth About Cushgar in Agent of Vega by James H. Schmitz  

Tropics update

Atlantic Tropical Weather Outlook



(Thanks, Lloyd)

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Architecture of the Imagination

"There was no sign that the Perilous Gard was 'old' or even a 'castle,'  ...  The walls were paneled in polished oak, finer even than the Princess Elizabeth's own bedchamber at Hatfield, and one wall was hung with a great tapestry showing ladies dressed in green, ...   The plaster ceiling was exquisitely molded in an intricate strap-work design.  The lattice windows flashed and sparkled with coats of arms painted on the glass.  There were blue velvet cushions on both window seats; the long mirror that hung on the wall beside the bed was framed in gold... 
Kate rose..., and pushing back the lattice of the nearest window, leaned out to see if she could get any idea of the shape of the house. 
...She was looking down into a paved courtyard surrounded on three sides by high gray battlemented walls and towers.  ..."
From The Perilous Gard by Elizabeth Marie Pope

Builder Confidence Improves (link)

Washington/November 16, 2006/—Suggesting stabilizing conditions in the nation's single-family housing market, home builder confidence in November edged up for the second consecutive month, according to the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI), released today. The HMI gained two points from the previous month to stand at 33.  

More at link: News : Economic Indicators : Builder Confidence Improves Again in November :

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving from me and some of my favorite characters:

Lori and Chiing in Pretty Pink Planet (WomanScapes); Juul and Skyseeker in Seedlings (Magistria: The Realm of the Sorcerer); Tinsel, Shane, and Blindy in Cold New Planet (Tales from the Big Black); Mara and Sakura the Barbarian in The Princess Quest (Kings of the Night II); Rex in Old Rex (The Ghost in the Gazebo); and Tawny and Sanford in Taking Tawny Home (Story Station).

Monday, November 20, 2006

Make changes before building

Make your changes on paper. Change orders after construction has started costs you more money. (Actually, we learned this from Dream House and other home shows.) We did make some changes in a bathroom, but that was because someone changed her mind. And we caught the kitchen window in time--on paper.

Make decisions about upgrades early. I'm sorry we didn't spring for the new doorbell and have the builder's electricians install it. We'll do the sound box some day. Retro fixes are expensive, but sometimes you have to wait. Think about it. Something to pay more for is noise insulation. It's really important between a bathroom and bedroom. Sometimes what you want is cheaper than what the builder was planning to install. We went for the faux marble windowsills instead of wood in my mother's house. I never want to paint or repair rotting wood again.

A big and necessary expense nowadays is wiring for computers, phones, cable, a speaker in every room, an alarm system, possibly even a smart house. What about a central vaccuum cleaner? Do you need one? This, along with style and an elegant facade; an impressive entryway; Corian, granite, or marble counters; high end appliances; a fireplace; a swimming pool; an exercise/game/home theatre room; a bathroom for every bedroom; an outdoor jacuzzi; high and fancy ceilings; skylights; etc. is where you think hard about priorities. Some people build a smaller home so that they can spend more on quality. Your decision, but be sure you have enough storage.

From: Building a Cool House for Hot Times without Scorching the Pocketbook (#6 on this Barnes & Noble list): Barnes & Books - Architecture, Domestic->Amateurs' manuals

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Tips for building your house

There's a helpful article in the 2007 Annual Buyer's Directory of Log Homes Illustrated: Build Better: Ten Tips to Smooth the Construction of Your Log Home.  The tips include record keeping (get everything in writing and keep a journal), opting out of lighting and landscaping packages, staying organized, resisting small upgrades (they add up), and visiting the building site as often as possible (every evening if you can).  Good advice, though I have to say that we skipped a number of small upgrades and ended up spending more money because we retrofitted some things later.  We'd have saved money by buying then and having it installed by the builder rather than paying for some things (lights, doorbell, etc.) twice and having the replacements installed later.  And visiting the house and catching mistakes (theirs and yours) in time is smart.  We made a couple bad paint color choices and had to make changes, and we caught them laying the wrong tile in two rooms.  They had reversed the colors; fortunately the closet didn't matter.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Mold in bathroom discussion (link)

We used "mold resistant" paint in our master bath but now mold is starting to accumulate on the ceiling and walls around our shower.....  (From newsletter)

Cleaning Mold on Blueboard - Topic Powered by eve community

Wednesday, November 8, 2006


Here's a link for current and upcoming anthologies my stories are in: Untitled Document 

Cold New Planet will be in Tales from the Big Black and Crystal Quest will be in Magistria: Shards of the Goddess.  Crystal Quest is the sequel to Seedlings, which is in Magistria: Realm of the Sorcerer.  Princess Quest is in Kings of the Night II.

Pretty Pink Planet is in WomanScapes: WomanScapes: Books: EJ McFall, Editor  ; it's the story described "as endangered life forms trying to coexist with hordes of invading tourists"  That's not quite right, but it's fairly close. 

Tuesday, November 7, 2006

A recent interview:

Joy V. Smith has been writing since she was a kid; her stories have been published in print magazines, webzines, and anthologies, including The Ghost in the Gazebo, Scoundrels and Rascals, Kings of the Night II, Magistria: Realm of the Sorcerer, and WomanScapes, a charity anthology; her SF has also been published in two audiobooks, including Sugar Time (time travel tales). Her recent non-fiction includes her book, Building a Cool House for Hot Times without Scorching the Pocketbook, an interview with Lyn McConchie, and articles on writing.
Upcoming are stories in Magistria: Shards of the Goddess and Tales from the Big Black; her novelette, Hidebound, will be an ebook (pretty soon, she hopes).

1.How much time and energy do you spend researching for your book?

JVS: Often I do my research after I've started a story and discover what I need to know. For my short story, Carnies (genetic engineering of carnivorous plants), I used my sister's carnivorous plant books. For my house book, I kept an ongoing diary as the house was built, and I collected a folder full of notes and stacks of house books and magazines. I was so happy to get them out of my closet when I was finished!

2.What makes your book stand out from the rest?

JVS: Building a Cool House for Hot Times without Scorching the Pocketbook includes diary excerpts, which give the reader an idea of what to expect; anecdotes from a number of people, including the construction crew; house plan and photos; and things I learned, including mistakes to avoid, and advice that covers a lot of territory. The book was Reviewer's Choice on the Midwest Book Review (February 2005) and is on this Barnes & Noble top ten category list: Barnes & Books - Architecture, Domestic->Amateurs' manuals Barnes & Books - Architecture, Domestic->Amateurs' manuals

3. What do you like most about being a writer?

JVS: Sleeping late. Really. I'm not a morning person, plus I save a lot of money by not having to commute to work, and my dog, Xena, can sleep under my desk. And, of course, I love sharing the stories and characters I create. When someone says, I love Chiing (an alien in Pretty Pink Planet in WomanScapes), I am happy.

4. What was the road to getting published like for you?

JVS: I was first published (an article) in college, and I wrote a little over the years and was published now and then, but when I was finally able to focus on writing, then I had to wonder--Will I ever make a good living at this?! I'm still wondering, but I am getting published. Sometimes I also wonder how I wrote all that I have.

5. What are you working on now?

JVS: I have at least two sequels I should be working on; I am focusing on Velvet of Swords, a short story which was published a long time ago. I want to make that into a novel.

6. How difficult are deadlines?

They make me work; I appreciate them.

7. Where have you promoted your work i.e. bookstores, websites, etc. where can we purchase your work?

JVS: I've done book signings at festivals, given talks to local writing groups, and donated my house book to home shows as a door prize. I have a website and a blog, and I send my publication updates to writing zines and bloggers I know, and I send out a lot of press releases; I have a file with live e-mail addresses of local newspapers. When I see an opportunity, I grab it.

You can purchase my house book on amazon, the Barnes & Noble website, and a plethora of websites who've picked it up, possibly because of the title.

8. Who has influenced your writing the most?

JVS: Andre Norton and James H. Schmitz, two of my favorite science fiction writers. They wrote exciting stories with heroines and heroes that I cared about.

9. Where is your favorite writing place and why are you inspired there?

JVS: I've "written" while making lunch, and I once wrote a poem for a story at an estate auction, but when I'm stuck I usually lie on the futon on the back porch and think.

10. What would you like to say to aspiring writers?

JVS: Persevering is important; and I'd also suggest reading books you enjoy--like the ones you want to write--and read a few writing books. They can inspire and teach you things, such as what works for one writer may not work for you. Don't look for a formula! Come up with a new twist.


Sunday, November 5, 2006

Study shows Americans conserve more, spend less (link)


Rising Costs Force Change in Habits for Americans

Study shows that energy costs are causing consumers to conserve more, spend less.

Or not...

"What's encouraging about this year's results is that 77 percent of those surveyed understand that the best solution for our energy problems is a combination of increasing efficiency and reducing consumption," ... "However, when it comes to buying energy-conserving products and services, there's still a disconnect between what consumers say and what they do."

Link: News : Trends : Rising Costs Force Change in Habits for Americans :


Thursday, November 2, 2006

Home buying book review

Suzanne Whang's Guide to Happy Home Buying (House Hunters) (Paperback)

This is a useful book--essential if you've never bought a house before. It covers the basics, including dealing with real estate agents, and there are a lot of stories about other people's experiences, which I always find interesting and helpful. I enjoyed Ms. Whang's adventures in home browsing and buying also. And there's a real estate glossary, illustrations and descriptions of home styles, with a couple chapters on home maintenance and decorating at the end, plus an index and an appendix with forms, letters, and applications.

amazon link: Suzanne Whang's Guide to Happy Home Buying (House Hunters): Books: Suzanne Whang,Bruce W. Cook

Wednesday, November 1, 2006

Christmas decorations

The December issue of Country Living has some fun articles on decorating for Christmas, including a Christmas tree with cookie moons and stars, mini Christmas trees, gingerbread houses, stamped cookie ornaments, and other clever and colorful ideas, though the white Christmas stockings against a white background was pretty.  I especially liked the ideas in the article about decorating with pinecones, such as giving a gift of pinecones painted gold and silver in an egg carton (perfect for storing them) and using a big pinecone in a small urn to look like a topiary.