Saturday, December 31, 2005

Early Birds

I get up early each morning -- usually between 4 -4:30 a.m. I don't set an alarm clock, I don't drag my rear down the stairs for my coffee.

I am an early bird.

Two times this week I've mentioned this small fact to some aquaintances and received gasps of horror followed by, "Why?!?"

I explain. It's my time alone from everyone else. The world is quiet (including, most importantly, my daughter and my husband). I can sit and think without interruptions. It gets my day off to a peaceful beginning.

They didn't understand, and I'm pretty certain that they hung up the phone with me sure in the knowledge that I'm a complete loon.

My question is this: why is it so much weirder that I get up early, than the folks who stay up until 2 a.m.? When someone mentions that they don't go to bed until after midnight, and then sleep until 9 a.m., do you gasp in horror?

Think of all the quaint sayings out there, complimenting us early birds:

"Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise."

"The early bird gets the worm."

"It is well to be up before daybreak, for such habits contribute to health, wealth, and wisdom." -

I wrote my NaNo book -- 50,000+ words in 27 days -- before noon each day (with a few notable exceptions).

Mornings are good. Greet your day with a smile, not a groan.

Friday, December 30, 2005

Series Writing

A friend in a writing group has written a romance with an intriguing twist -- and no, I'm not saying what it is until it's pubbed (and I'm sure it will be at some point, she's getting requests for fulls from both editors and agents because it's really quite good). BUT... she mentioned that she's considering making the twist into a series based on the same twist. I think it's a fantastic idea.

And it got me to thinking about writing series.

I like to read series. It's a little like going home again when they're done well. You get to know the family of characters and it's wonderful to revisit them on a regular basis. I've read all of Nora's "In Death" books, and though some are certainly better than others, I've grown quite attached to her characters (especially Peabody) so will keep reading until I don't like them anymore.

I have some secondary characters in all of my WIPs that I have come to love and would like to see how their lives turn out. I'm toying with an idea of linking at least two if not all of my books together. Conveniently, the one that takes place in Colorado has characters from Boston, which is where Liv is from in my current WIP. In any case, I know my brain is turning the idea over and may surprise me with a valid idea at some point.

How about you? Do you like reading series? If so, which ones are your favorites? If not, why?

Have you considered writing a series? Why?

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Submissions and Vomit

They do have something to do with one another.

I got to thinking this morning about how utterly ill I get whenever I send something out ... to anyone. Darcy is reading Liv Leigh for me, bless her busy little heart, and she is someone I trust to be both honest and caring with my baby.

Still, when I sent the first 75 pages, I ran for the bathroom, certain I was going to toss my cookies.

This is someone I trust. Someone who isn't going to give me a rejection letter or snide remarks. Someone who will give her honest opinion on what I've written (though, if it's garbage, I imagine she'll say that, too). So why do I get so worked up about this?

And how will I ever handle sending out queries?

I think I'll write a new diet book: "Lose 10 Pounds in One Week - the Unpublished Authors Diet of Querying" that will come with the warning -- "Participation in Novel Queries is harmful to your appetite and digestive tract".

Oddly, sending out the short stories doesn't affect me this way. Am I not as invested in the work? Maybe I'm not as in love with my characters. Whatever the reason, my stomach doesn't do gymnastics when I send them out (though I do have to admit that receiving the rejection letters from Womans World makes me a nervous wreck -- I've gotten personal rejections with editorial comments from them a few times so it's become an adventure to open them).

I don't have any answers. I don't really even have a point to all this rambling. It's just that I've almost finished the next bit I'm sending off to Darcy, and my stomach is already beginning to protest.


'tis the Season for Goals

I've been thinking about goals -- who hasn't? Even if you're determined to not set goals for yourself, the idea is still out there, everywhere you look.

I've spent much time trying to set ambitious yet achievable goals in both my professional (writer) life and personal (mom/wife) life. It's a tough balance, and I'm still not certain I've found it.

Still... here's what I've got (I have, in the interest of privacy - I'm still a little shell shocked from yesterday - omitted a few):

2006 Writing Goals

1. Submit one short story every other month to Womans World Magazine.
2. Submit one short story every month to other short story publishers.
3. Finish and query one or more novels (All WIPS are within the realm of possibility).
4. Enter RWA contests - one every other a month
5. Get a laptop or Alphasmart so I can get myself out of the mushroom pit occasionally.
6. Hone the craft. Take a class every 2-3 months, either WVU or elsewhere.
7. Write at least 250 new words every day (thanks, C - swiped this from you!)

2006 Personal Goals

1. Do weekly meal planning - fixing dinner is my biggest stressor.
2. Make a specific budget and stick to it!
3. Find more fun ways to homeschool DD & select curriculum for next school year.
4. Exercise at least three times a week.
5. Keep the house better - it's the small things that add up.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Comments.... grrr....

So, I open up my email this morning and have comments on this blog in the double digits. DOUBLE DIGITS. Since last night. Whazzzup with that?

Turns out that someone thought I was looking mighty fine in the picture I posted -- of me hugging the dog. Honestly, people, you could barely see me in the blasted picture.

However, it prompted a litany of lewd comments which have since been trash-canned forever.

It has also prompted me to delete the photo and to resolve to never, ever post one again.

At least until I have to have one for the back of a book.

I may also stop posting pix of my daughter - and, in fact, may delete the ones that are there. One stupid, idiotic slimeball has ruined all my fun.

Why are people such clueless creeps?

Dude... "iloveu"... don't bother coming back to look here. You're truly pathetic.

Get a life.

Total Lack of Concentration

Is it just me, or is it really hard to get back into writing after the holidays?? I can't concentrate on anything. I opened up my WIP to edit some more for D (betcha can't wait, hmmm??? LOL….) and got to a spot that needs a lot of work because of a plot change, thought "Ugh, can't face that." and promptly closed the document.

Opened up a short story I'm working on to send to WW (yup, trying them again) looked at it, thought "Ugh, can't face that." and closed out.

Stared at a blank page for a while.

Can't see to get my brain off of either playing games or itching to continue reading Last Girl Dancing by Holly Lisle - quite a good book, folks, if you haven't read it.

I have new writing goals set for the year, and monthly and weekly goals to help attain those annual goals. I wanted to get serious starting today, but just can't.

Good think January is still a few days away!

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

It's the Truth...

Because I couldn't find the quiz for: "What Totally Exhausted, Utterly Burned Out, Hating Christmas SAHM Are You?" I give you instead:

Who Were You In High School

Brainy Kid

In high school, you were acing AP classes or hanging out in the computer lab.

You may have been a bit of a geek back then, but now you're a total success!

Monday, December 26, 2005

'Twas the Day After Christmas

.... and all through the house is far too much candy and nary a mouse.

All of my "kids" had a great time and enjoyed their gifts - the dog got a new hedgehog squeak toy to play with and the cat received a catnip toy from Santa that she is absolutely freaky about. Here they are, guarding:

And this kid had fun, too:

However, nothing much went as planned.

On Christmas Eve (day), my husband and my sister-in-law got stranded when the snowmobile broke down. In the middle of nowhere. On a day when few people are on the trails.

Yup... they almost ended up snoozing in the great (cold) outdoors. I'm trying not to envision the kind of Christmas we and the the rest of the family would have had, wondering where they were. There's no cell phone service there and, I'm told, over 600 miles of trails where they were stuck, so finding them would have been like the old needle and the haystack thing.

BUT, one couple did come by and let hubby and SIL squish onto their sleds (they were riding "one-ups" which are not built for two, but apparently they managed).

Christmas was a little tough for hubby, though, since he had to leave the sled disabled on the side of the trail and spend all day wondering if it was okay.

Today is the Resuce Mission. Three men, two trucks, one trailer... and hopefully one still intact sled that just needs an electrical tweak. Fingers crossed.

Bad sled.

Christmas Day, we spent W-A-A-A-A-A-Y too much time opening gifts in the morning and the turkey took an hour longer to cook than I had planned (why?? I've never understimated by this much... ever). Luckily for the hungry hordes, I was also cooking a bit of nitrate laden pig butt - so all was well. Even I had some, and I haven't eaten pig in a year.

We thought we were going to be late to the in-laws, but -- as it turns out -- we were the first to arrive, followed immediately by everyone else. It was tons of people in a very small and too warm house, but a good time was had by all.

We ate too much food and too much sugar, and we were all exhausted by the time we got home, but all-in-all, raw turkey and broken sled aside, we had a good Christmas.

DD can't wait until next year.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

'Twas the Night Before Christmas

Okay... It's actually the morning before, but I imagine I'll be a little busy tonight.

Our house is fairly quiet. My daughter (who is quite the fashion plate - Not!):

I used to have a picture here.... but have since deleted it due to the lewd suggestions that were posted in the comments on this blog.

was busy yesterday making cookies for Santa:

I, on the other hand, was forced to pose for a picture with the dog. I used to have a picture here.... but have since deleted it due to the lewd suggestions that were posted in the comments on this blog.

We may be having company for dinner tomorrow, my niece who isn't welcome at her own house (long story...) so that will be nice.

I'm sure I'll post again soon, but for now, I'm signing off.

Merry Christmas!!

Friday, December 23, 2005

Great Quote!

From the Daily Motivator:

Jump in

The things you do not attempt, you will surely not achieve. Though you may have great excuses and justifications for not taking action, those excuses will bring no value to your life or to the world around you.

You know from experience that life can be a joy when you're moving steadily toward a positive purpose. Hiding behind excuses simply does not bring that joy or sense of fulfillment.

Undertaking an ambitious project is rarely easy. It can often be uncomfortable and challenging. And there is no guarantee of success. Yet the alternative is far worse. Never attempting anything is indeed a guarantee -- a guarantee of failure.

Be bold. Get in the game. Jump in and make a difference. Set your goals high, and then commit to reaching them through your actions. It won't be easy. It will be great.

Random Friday, Part Deux

Don't have a lot of coherant thoughts today, so thought I'd just gab (my husband would say it's one of my greatest talents).

Read this in Reader's Digest this morning and it made me laugh, so I figured I should share.

Seems like many combatants aren't so picky about the weapons they use.

"Man Jailed After Striking Boy With Dog" - From The Tacoma (Washington) News Tribune

"Sheriff's Deputy Fatally Shoots Man With Knife" - from The Olympian South Sound

"Snarling Animal Chased, Attacked Resident With Wife" - from The Journal News

I finally, finally, wrote an opening that I like for Liv Leigh. Edited the first quarter, cut out four pages and sent it off to D. *gulp* Wonder if she'll like the opening?

My dog is eating again, so this made my day. She'd been off her food for a while, and that's awful scary. She's back to her old piggy self, so maybe it was just doggie flu.

Only two days until Christmas, and my DD is bouncing off the walls. We'll be baking cookies either today or tomorrow for Santa. Christmas really is for kids, don't you think?

And, hey! We're having a heat wave here... it's 37 degrees!! Woo Hoo! Break out the bikini.

That's it for now. My DD just got home from her sleepover at her Aunt's house, and I need to go be a mom again.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

UGH. English.

A lady in one of my writing groups used the word "unthaw" in her story the other day. The context in which it was used meant to "unfreeze" or "thaw", and I thought "unthaw" couldn't possibly mean the same thing as "thaw" could it?

It could.



v : become or cause to become soft or liquid


v. intr.
1. To change from a frozen solid to a liquid by gradual warming.


I started to think back to when my daughter watched Between the Lions. There was a regular segment about the "evil 'un' people" and the heroic "'re' people". The evil un people would swoop in and mess things up:

The evil "un" people came to Katie's birthday party and untied her balloons, unfrosted her cake and uninvited her friends.

Everything was sad and lonely until the heroic "re" people arrived!

The 're-people' retied her balloons, refrosted her cake and reinvited her friends. And they all lived happily ever after.

So I thought... what if the evil "un" people arrived to the North Pole and wanted to destroy Christmas?

The evil "un" people flew up to the North Pole and unthawed the snow. It all melted and Santa's reindeer were useless, Santa's gingerbread house was in danger of spoiling and the Christmas spirit was gone. Then the heroic "re" people arrive!! (dum-dum-dum!) And they rethawed the snow. And nothing happened. They all sat around in the unfrozen north and scratched their heads wondering what had happened to their super-re-power.

I homeschool my daughter, and it's things like this that make teaching English oh-so much fun.

I know there are other words out there like this. Anyone want to share?


I thought of another one.


To let loose; release. To make loose; undo.


To unfasten; untie. To set free from or as if from restraints.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Clearly I Should Pay Someone to Title my WIP's

LuLu Titlescorer

Isn't She Liv Leigh - This book title has a 26.3% chance of being a bestseller title

Camilla's Critters - This book title has a 45.6% chance of being a bestseller title

Playing House - This book title has a 55.4% chance of being a bestseller title

But then I tried these and now I don't feel so bad:

Harry Potter and the Sorcerers Stone - This book title has a 14.6% chance of being a bestseller title

The Davinci Code - This book title has a 35.9% chance of being a bestseller title

The Historian - This book title has a 10.2% chance of being a bestseller title

But Nativities are a "no-no"

Due to the mature content and extreme sarcasm of my personal comments at the end of the blog entry, viewer discretion is advised.

This is just sick. Really.

From the article: Bad Santa Loses His Head"

...the set-up showed a skinny Santa Claus clutching a blood-soaked knife in his left hand and the severed head — blood pouring from the eyes — in his right."

Or this one:

Blindfolded Santa Hanging From Noose At Home Upsets Neighborhood

But don't you dare put your nativity up, or I'm calling the ACLU. That thing could corrupt our kids...

Happy Monday

Last night, my little Sugar Plum Fairy had her first ballet recital. She did awesome!

She told me that, after they finished and headed in to the wings, her teeth chattered like crazy from delayed nerves. It was her first time on stage. Very cute.

Then, even better, I slept like a rock for the first time in a week -- it was great! I woke up this morning, and had a pretty positive outlook on life for a change.

And then I got out of bed.

First off, the fire in the wood stove was out. Usually, either my husband goes to bed pretty late, so it's still burning when I get up at 4 a.m. or I wake up in the middle of the night (1 a.m. or so) and throw a couple logs on. Neither thing happened last night, and I am the worlds worst firestarter.

After about 45 minutes, I finally managed to get a couple half rotten logs to smolder -- which got me to thinking: how the heck do wildfires start from a burning cigarette? I mean, I pile in newspaper, little bits of dried kindling and one small log, adjust the draft just right and put a flame to the whole thing and it won't burn. But flick a butt out the window and set 20,000 acres on fire. I don't understand.

Anyway, after having lost almost an hour of my writing time on that little chore, I trotted my happy self downstairs to the basement, stepped off the bottom step and....

SPLASH! Three inches of water.



Go wake up the husband, call my SIL (the only relatively normal in-law I have, and thankfully another early riser, considering that it was 4:45 a.m.) and ask to borrow her wet vac. Spend an hour sucking about 14 gallons of water off the floor.

Now it's 6 a.m., DD is awake, husband is grouchy, dog is off her food, I haven't written a word, my entire tower of canning jars and supplies is ruined ...

The good news is, it's all (to borrow from Shania Twain) up, Up, UP from here!

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Woo Hoo!

I figured it out!


Figured what out, you ask?

How to make my blasted WIP work. It took a complete 180 in behavior for the heroine's current squeeze, and I think that sometimes such a drastic change is hard to figure out. We get it in our heads just what kind of character someone is, and won't let him change, even when it's the best thing for our story.

Having him be a nice guy instead of a cheating slime ball will strengthen the conflict dramatically, and really up the stakes when Liv has to choose her man at the end from two valid contenders.

I like it. I really like it! (Add Sally Field emphasis here -- do you think she'll ever live that down? Not until those of us who remember it are dead and gone, I suppose!)

Now, I need to go get to work.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Misc. Friday Thoughts

Why do I bother to kill myself scrapbooking when no one seems interested in looking at them? It takes me, on average, about an hour to complete ONE two page spread and each book is thirty pages, encompassing about 10 months. Is it worth the time, money and elbow grease?

Why can't I seem to write a full length novel that I like? Or, if I like it (mostly), why doesn't anyone else?

Why do my in-laws get vitriolic about receiving gifts at Christmas? Last year, my FIL for all intents, threw the sweatshirt (that, ironically, declared that he was "The World's Greatest Grandpa") back in my then 5 y.o. daughters face. Isn't there supposed to be joy in giving? And to give, doesn't there need to be a recipient?

Why am I living in the Northeast when I hate cold weather? Just check out the weather pixie! It's freezing here! I miss good old California. I seldom see my husband anyhow, I could move out west and visit every couple months.

Why don't dogs have longer life spans?

What does it take to have a story accepted by Womans World?

Why, when I decide to use the word of the day for inspiration do I get words like redivivus?

Why do all the writing friends I have near here suddenly stop communicating with me when I suggest meeting up? Do I smell? I'm a pretty okay person. Really.

Why is my driveway full of slush? Either rain or snow. Not both. Do you know how heavy slush is to scoop???? Not to mention what it's doing to my bird feeders.

And, lastly, why aren't my random thoughts as entertaining as Jenny Crusie's?

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Rollercoaster Ride

I love my current WIP, or at least I did until a little while ago. Now I hate it.

My heroine is a prissy little snob who changes into quite a nice person by the end of book and I love her. Or at least I did until about 10 minutes ago. Now I think she's a spineless ninny who lets her father walk all over her.

I love the prose I write. It's marvelous, stunning, amazing. It will win awards. People will wait in lines at midnight to purchase my latest novel.

Actually, my writing stinks. Can't write a word worth reading. Why do I bother?

Seriously, I go through these exact feelings and thoughts pretty much every day.



If I could not write, I would, I'm telling you. This is not a career (or even a hobby, for that matter) for the faint of heart.

I'm at the "I hate my writing, my WIP is ridiculous and I'm an idiot" stage at this moment. But give me ten minutes and that'll all change.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Dear Santa

Dear Santa, I don't want much for Christmas this year.

1. A place to call my own. A small cottage. A shed. Somewhere I can go to get away from it all. To work without comments on my messy desk. Somewhere warm and sunny.

2. Patience. I am in short supply.

3. A pet for my daughter.

4. 20 fewer pounds.

5. More sun, less snow.

6. A polished, completed and saleable manuscript -- and an editor or agent to go along with that, please.

7. A visit from my best friend. I miss her.

8. Publishing contracts for all my writing friends - I need to read their books from cover to cover instead of 2000 words at a time.

9. The knowledge and ablitiy to be a perfect mother.

10. And, if you have the time, peace on earth. I don't mind supporting our soldiers, but how wonderful it would be to not have to.

Monday, December 12, 2005

A Blog For All Writers

Writer Beware

A Little Good News and a Rant

About a million years ago, Anne Murray had a song out called "A Little Good News" that I loved... all about reporting the good stuff that happens in the world (and it does happen, people).

Today, I discovered a website that tackles this challenge: Happy Real News. Compelling Stories. Always Positive.

It's about time.

In other news (this is a rant... so if you don't want to hear it, stop reading now):

My last soldier serving in the Middle East that I supported via Adopt-A-Platoon is going home! Yay! I applied for another one, and this guy is serving in Iraq outside of Baghdad.

When I asked for a wish list from him of stuff he wanted or needed, his reply was "nothing for me", but he visits the hospital every weekend, and asked for small care packages for the injured men and women there.

What do they need? Oh... nothing important. Underwear and socks (laundry facilities are hit or miss, so sometimes they run out). Toothbrushes. Deodorant. Eye drops. Lotion. Lip balm.

His biggest request was for those facemasks you wear when you're sanding something -- he says the sandstorms there are atrocious (though he didn't use that word... I'm taking a few artistic liberties here).

All I can think is this: We can send billions of dollars overseas for "relief" to other countries, but we (as a country) can't send a sufficient supply of underwear to our troops. I wonder what this says about us?

The other thing he said to send are letters of support. Letters. I've appealed to my friends and neighbors to write "any soldier" letters to include with the packages I'm sending, and the response has been dismal. It's not like I was asking for money...

I read in the newspaper that the average family spends upwards of $7,000 on Christmas shopping. WHAT?!? Priorities, people. Good grief. People are starving. Do you really need that flat screen plasma TV or the 2-carat diamond earrings?

Makes me sad.

Okay, I'm done.

Incidentally, I did do some writing this weekend. More revisions on Liv Leigh. Still struggling with where and how to start the blasted novel, but I'm really pretty happy with the middle. I need to add one more scene on the end, and then I'll shoot it off to a writing friend who has graciously offered to give it a look and tell me if it's okay or really rotten.

Thanks, D.

I owe you big time.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Goals... and How They Change

I was watching "The Wiggles" this morning during the big hit "Fruit Salad", and thought about the fact that they all -- particularly Greg -- have very good voices. This got me to wondering if they, any of them, ever dreamed they'd become famous for doing a kiddie show.

Teenaged Greg: "Anthony, forget rock and roll. Let's spend our time grinning, dancing with pom-poms and singing children's ditties."

Teenaged Anthony: "Great idea, Greg! I have two friends who have always dreamed of doing just that!"

Of course, then my brain segued into something pertaining to... well, ME. What are my dreams and how might they be altered slightly and still have me feeling as though I attained them.

I'm sure The Wiggles wanted to be successful singers. And they are!

I want to be a successful novelist. And I will be! But... I wonder what form that will take. I want to write romance and I want my books to be published by a print publisher (not e-books).

I can't wait to see how it all works out.

How about you? Ever have a dream that didn't quite work out the way you expected, but you were happy with the result anyhow?

Great Quote

Imagination is more important than knowledge - Albert Einstein

Speaking of Formula Writing...

Just a little rant for today:

How about titles? Seriously, I can't keep a straight face when I read some of these, but I hear that they sell the best of all the romances. Who are the people reading these?

Check these out:

Bedding His Virgin Mistress

The Millionaire Boss's Mistress

These are just a couple that I came across. I just don't get it (shakes head).

There was an article on Romancing the Blog last month that talked about this issue (sort of). She talks about the covers of her bestselling books and what they included. The winners?

Babies, brides and cowboys.

Go figure.

Friday, December 09, 2005

So How's Your Day?

Here's mine:

Poor birdies (can you even see the feeders in this photo?):

I suppose it's sort of pretty if you're not the one who has to shovel it or drive in it:

Good thing I got the pictures when I did, I can hear hubby bombing around the yard in his snowmobile. We never get to keep pretty, pristine snow in this place.

Regardless, this never fails to make me smile, even on a gross, cold, wet, snowy day -- my daughter's best friend, Patch:

In other (writer-ly) news:

I was sitting and reading a category book today, about (now this is shocking) a COWBOY. Yeah. Really.

And it got me to thinking about formulaic writing. Should we? Does it make it easier to get your foot in the door? I've puzzled about this before, but I went to the library and checked out the first 50 or so books in this line that I saw without pre-screening for anything, and the first three I grabbed had the word "cowboy" in the title.

I'm married to a cowboy, I'm not sure I want to write about one. Where's the fantasy in that?

But how cool it would be to get your foot in the door, write a few big-selling formula books (hey, it's my dream) and then, like Nora, write whatever you want. Of course, I don't assume I'll be the next Nora -- but, after all, I don't imagine that Nora thought she'd be Nora. You know?

In the meantime, I suppose I'll just keep working on my strange, quirky books and see what happens.

But... it does make you think, doesn't it?

I'm babbling. My brain must have frost bite.

I really, really miss California on days like this.... waves to C in Marina

Research: Important and Entertaining

This morning I was working on my latest opening for Liv Leigh, and I have Liv stumbling into her office after a sleepless night. She's holding a very large cup of coffee. Now, I can't just say "a very large cup of coffee". First of all, the use of "very" is a no-no. Find a stronger word! Don't modify the one you have! Kill your babies!

Since the last time I ordered a cuppa prepared anywhere fancy (Dunkin' Donuts ain't fancy, but I'll have a small regular, please) has been years, and accuracy in your writing is a wonderful way to draw someone in to your story, I decided to see what the heck the big un's are called at Starbucks.

Google led me to this page where the author despairs of the ridiculous and inaccurate names for coffee sizes at Starbucks. Very entertaining! From this site, I discovered that Starbucks actually has something called Latte Lingo. Can you believe this??

I guess I'll have Liv drinking a Grande Mocha Latte, unless someone out there who knows better than I do can suggest something even stronger. Maybe I should go to Starbucks and order something as additional research. Can I deduct that from my taxes?

I can't believe there's a latte lingo. I am so behind the times.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Grace Notes for a Busy Day

I was cleaning my office yesterday (did you hear the gasp from my husband?) and stumbled across a book I used to love: Grace Notes - Insights, Reflections, Inspirations and Quests for Every Day of the Year by Alexandra Stoddard.

Just now, I flipped it open to today's date and here's the quote for the day:

To live well is to work well, to show a good activity.
-- Thomas Aquinas

I think I managed. Here's the thing... It originally was supposed to be a nice day tomorrow. And then the weathermen changed the forecast dramatically (side note: I want that job. Where else can you work, get it wrong most of the time and still get a paycheck?). Now, they are predicting somewhere in the neighborhood of a foot (yes a foot!) of snow tomorrow. So, suddenly, I had to cram two busy day's of errands into one.

I woke up at 4 a.m. (as usual) and worked on the round robin group story for one of my crit groups. It was a lot of fun! Next, I worked on yet another beginning for my Liv Leigh novel. I really like this one, though I've like the others, too. We'll see if this one makes the cut.

Wake up hubby at 6:30 a.m., make his "yuppie coffee" (GFIC) and send him out the door by 7ish. Feed the dog, the daughter and me. We have to leave by 8 a.m. to put out some Avon catalogs (yes... ding, dong... Avon calling) and then head off to DD's gymnastics class.

Leave gym class at 10ish and head to the furniture store and finally commit to buying the set the DH and I have been thinking about for quite some time. Go to Wendy's for a quite bite to eat around 11 a.m. and then the grocery store.

Head home and put away groceries, let the dog out and feed her, add wood to the wood stove so it doesn't go out and the house isn't an ice box upon my return, load up recyclables into the back of the truck along with my broken vacuum and a lamp and drive away.

Go to Mail Box Express to have them wrap and pack a very fragile picture for shipping. There was a l-o-o-o-n-n-n-g-g line, so this was the longest errand yet. Go to library, return half a million children's books and pick up another half million for DD. Go drop off more Avon brochures on this side of town along with a couple orders.

Finally get to dump and sort and deposit paper, plastic and cans.

Off to the gas station because I'm not filling up any time soon after a major storm -- partly because it's a pain, and partly because the prices usually go up. Next is a quick trip to Target for a gift card and some scrapbooking supplies for grandma.

Then, phew!, home.

But wait, it's not over yet! Bring two big loads of wood into the garage, refill bird feeders so poor HUGE population of birdies won't starve to death in the next couple of days. Take down DD's swings so the plastic won't get wrecked. Do a little pooper scooping before it's buried and bring in recycle containers from truck.


But wait! House is a mess, dinner needs cooking and...

So, anyway, Mr. Aquinas, I think I've shown a good activity.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Ready? And Ramblings...

When is too soon to start querying agents? Should you throw your novel out into a few contests first? Should you have the entire thing edited, re-edited and polished, or will just the first few chapters do (since you don't typically get a request for a full right away)? Should you query agents or editors (if they allow un-agented novels)? Both?

I'm working on polishing up my NaNo novel. I like it. I really do -- it's a little off the wall in parts, and the characters are quirky, but I think it's a pretty cool little story (especially now that I've managed to make Liv's motivation clear and believable - thanks to Pam and Charity!). I've gone through about half of it and done a bit of work, but all things considered, I really like it. Ye gads, I sound like Sally Field.

My biggest problem is this: with one set of critique partners, I can only post 2000 words a week. With a 60,000 word novel, it would take 30 weeks to get it all out there. And even with my other group, I'd feel bad posting more than a couple times a week ... so at 2500 words a post that would be twelve weeks. I'm not willing to wait that long to start sending this thing out.

Guess I'm going to have to have faith in myself. Okay, maybe I'll test the contest waters a bit first.

In other news...

I started watching General Hospital this week for the first time in over 20 years. Why? Because Rick Springfield has returned as Dr. Noah Drake, of course! Strangely, I recognize over half the characters -- Alan, Monica, Bobbie and Luke are there. And the characters I don't recognize mostly have recognizable last names: Quartermaine, Scorpio, etc. This is a little weird.

BUT I still have no frigging idea what the blue blazes is going on. Robin Scorpio found Noah, now a drunk instead of a brilliant neurosurgeon, and brought him back to GH to save Jason Q from some brain trauma. Is Robin in love with Jason or is she related? Carly (who the heck is Carly??) is taking over ELQ (what's ELQ?), Jax (who is Jax?) is upset with Carly (whoever she is) because she apparently jumped in front of a car and killed his unborn child (I'm presuming something also happened to the mother of said child) -- but it's excusable because she was certifiable at the time. And some wunderkind doc (I missed his name, sorry) is having a little nookie in a hospital room even as we speak.

Hey... maybe I know more than I thought.

You know, after 20 years, you'd think things would have changed more than they have in Port Charles. Still, if anyone wants to fill me in, I'd appreciate it.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Okay, Maybe I'm a Little Impatient...

But "choleric"? The Dictionary defines Choleric as easily angered; bad-tempered... Okay, Mom, I can hear you from here. Maybe this is pretty dang close... *sigh* I don't wanna be known as "bad-tempered". I would prefer the part about my keen intellect.

You Have a Choleric Temperament

You are a person of great enthusiasm - easily excited by many things. Unsatisfied by the ordinary, you are reaching for an epic, extraordinary life. You want the best. The best life. The best love. The best reputation.

You posses a sharp and keen intellect. Your mind is your primary weapon. Strong willed, nothing can keep you down. Your energy can break down any wall. You're an instantly passionate person - and this passion gives you an intoxicating power over others.

At your worst, you are a narcissist. Full of yourself and even proud of your faults. Stubborn and opinionated, you know what you think is right. End of discussion. A bit of a misanthrope, you often see others as weak, ignorant, and inferior.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Watch Out For Momma Bear!

Was at the store today -- the natural foods, all organic, happy, mellow people store. I bought a red onion. Oh, and some chocolate soy pudding, which pretty much covers all the necessities of life don't you think? Actually, I went for supplements that were on sale BOGO, but they didn't have what we needed.


My mother (and, DD's Grandma) went to a different place to inquire when the next shipment of supplements would be in. My 6 y.o. DD and I stood in line behind another *ahem* older woman and evidently, DD didn't notice that Gram had moved away, so she snuggled up to the lady in front of us, who looked enough like Gram from the back (same color hair, some color jacket) that DD didn't notice her error.

Until, that is, this wonderful grandmotherly woman turned, glared down her long skinny Wicked Witch of the West nose and -- in her best snobbish tone -- said to DD, "Excu-u-u-u-u-u-u-u-se me?" and then just stared until I moved my shocked and horrified daughter back a few inches.

DD was mortified (you'd have to know her to really understand) and I was *ahem again* p***ed off at the woman's attitude. I wanted to cuff her. Really. No one hurts my kid's feelings. Grrrrrr...

But, sanity reigned, and instead of backhanding the heartless wench, I changed lines.

Still, it was a close thing.

I may have to kill her off in my next book. Painfully.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

I Have To Face Facts

My dog is getting old.

Here's my dog (hanging out with the cat) -- She's the best, sweetest, kindest, gentlest dog in the whole world. And I'm not joking. Really. Ask anyone.

Today, she played outside in the snow... it looked something like this (although these are pix from last week):

She typically joins me in the basement when I'm on the computer and this morning was no exception. She plopped down on the couch (the same one she's sharing with the cat, above) and snoozed. I went back upstairs and started a game of Disney Trivial Pursuit with DD. About an hour later, I heard Bailey bark. One sharp bark. That is always her way of getting my attention for something, and is quite unusual. So I got up and trotted downstairs and found her half off the couch -- front legs on the floor, hind legs still on the couch.

She couldn't move.

She has arthritis in her hips, and apparently her playtime outside really hurt her. I lifted her down from the couch and she almost fell. Then she refused to take even one step upstairs because she couldn't balance properly on bad hind legs.

I carried her. She's 90 pounds. This was no mean feat.

Upstairs, she curled up on the floor. She probably would have just stayed down in the basement except she doesn't like to be alone.


She's nine years old, and that's something like 63 in dog years. I guess I should be grateful for every moment I have left with her, because she is truly a special pooch. There will never be another like her, and it's so hard to watch her grow old.

Where Was Her Editor?

I started a book yesteday (finished it last night... and OMG, it had the cheesiest ending ever -- but that's a topic for another blog).

As I was reading along, obviously not drawn in to the story enough to shut of the editor in my head, I came across this:

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Well, he suppposed he couldn't blame her. "Well, I'd still like to thank you, anyway."

"Let's get you cleaned up," she said by way of acceptance.

Well, the appology didn't work.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Anyone else annoyed by that? C'mon, it stands out to you, too, right? It's not just me??

I was told once that beginning sentences with certain words is the mark of an amateur. Words like "well" and "so". Additionally, repeated words are a big no-no and will lose you points in any RWA contest.

So tell me this: how did this multi-published author slip this one by her editor?

In other news...

Would you buy a book with a contemporary setting and a heroine who is determined enough to please her father that she'd choose to marry a man who blatantly cheats on her? Or does this come across as unbelievable in today's society? *sigh*

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Editing Pains

I posted my first ~2000 words of Liv Leigh to my crit group this week. Overall, the feedback was positive. Good voice, fun character, blah, blah, blah.


The biggie: My protag's actions don't really make sense. They don't get her motivation.

Now, in my head, I can see her motivation and her background and what drives her to do what she's doing. But how do I get at least some of that into the first five pages?? Because, her actions are a little odd and she's doing something that most of us wouldn't do. And I have to make her believable right away or no one will read on.

Least of all an agent or editor.

So I've spent the last couple of days agonizing over this. And I think I've finally got it figured out. It requires reversing the order of the scene to make it chronological (thanks Sherry!) and adding a phone conversation (thanks Pam!).

And, sheesh, this was just the first few pages. I can't imagine what'll happen with the next 200+! Writing the first draft was way easier. Wish I could pass it off to someone else now and just get busy on the next story that's bouncing around in my head.

In other news, I think I've decided what line I want to target this to. So, I went to the library and checked out a couple dozen books to read. I also threw in a few from other lines, just to see. THEN, I'll probably start buying books from that line in order to stay current on what's being purchased.

And, hey! I noticed that a Harlequin Blaze novel was made into a movie and will be shown on the Oxygen Network tonight at 8 p.m. It's called: Romancing the Bride. Gotta check it out.

Friday, December 02, 2005

And I Always Have My Nose In a Book...


Warm, kind and caring, you always bring out the best in others, but tend to keep to yourself and a few close friends who you love dearly.

You love books and dream of fairytale adventures. You know that beauty lies within and don't depend on looks alone. You think it's good to be individual and different to others, but you don't go out of your way to be rebellious - you just naturally stand out.

You're a strong person, but also ladylike and intelligent. You look forward to change. You'd definitely break the Beast's spell.

Certain as the sun, rising in the East, tale as old as time, song as old as rhyme, Beauty and the Beast...'

Which Disney Princess Are You?
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Thursday, December 01, 2005

Now What?

So NaNoWriMo is over.

Now what?

I was so focused this last month. I got up early in the morning with a purpose, a clear vision of what I needed to accomplish each day. I sat down at the computer and wrote. And then it was over...

Now, I get up in the morning and feel a little lost. What do I do? I miss the adrenaline rush of writing 3,000 words in one morning. I miss the clear goal that I focused on each day.

Now what?

Any other NaNo participants feeling the same way, or am I just really weird?

In any case, I do have to move forward. I've chosen to edit my first draft of Liv Leigh (my NaNo novel) because it still feels fresh to me and I can remember clearly the things that it lacked. I remember writing and thinking "Oh man, I just used that word there and there and there ... but that's okay, I'll edit it later." or "I really need to establish her motivation better, and that character I just introduced isn't very clear ... but that's okay, I'll fix it later." I made notes to myself in bright colors throughout the manuscript of things that needed fixing but I didn't want to take the time to work through them.

When I'm finished editing, the ms for Liv should be closer to 60,000 words than 50,000. So, I'm starting a new word count for my editing of the novel. I imagine this will go a bit slower or I'll end up making my critique group's heads spin.

As an aside, and completely off topic:

Yesterday I went to Dunkin' Donuts to buy some coffee for a friend, and the guy who rang me up had incredibly long fingernails. Is it just me, or does this really weird you out? They were clean and neat and perfectly filed and rounded -- just longer than mine - which isn't saying much, to be honest. I don't keep my nails very long. Still, it gave me the willey's...

Monday, November 28, 2005

My Story Is Up

My short story is available for your reading pleasure at Wax Romantic. You need to be a subscriber to view it, but I hope you'll take the time to read it and let me know what you think.

I have about a dozen more ideas for novels and short stories running around in my brain and one character in particular that is begging to have his story told. I wonder if the more you write, the more you think of things to write about? At first, getting an idea is hard. You have to work at the characters, work at the conflict, don't have a clue how the story will proceed.

Then the next is a bit easier -- not the actual writing, but the planning. And in the midst of writing that one, another idea comes knocking at your door. And another.

Is imagination like a muscle? The more you use it, the stronger it is?

Sunday, November 27, 2005

I Did It!!!

50,158 words. In twenty-seven days. I can't believe I did it!!

Doing the dance of joy, even as we speak. My heart is pounding, my fingers are tingling.

Life is good.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

So Close I Can Taste It

I'm at 47,010 words on my NaNo novel. Only 3,000 more words to go and I want it done now. Most everyone in the group of folks I'm NaNo-ing with already have their "winner" certificate.

These last 3,000 words are the hardest yet. I thought I knew how I wanted this story to end, but Liv is messing with my plans. I thought she was going to get back together with her cheating fiance, but she just laughed in the man's face when he asked her for another chance.

Now what am I going to do? ARGH!

3,000 more words. A pittance.

I. Can. Do. This.


Thursday, November 24, 2005

Happy Thanksgiving!

My Thanksgiving wish for you is to discover what you are truly thankful for. Have a wonderful day.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

That's Dith-picable...

... but oh, so true:

Donald Result
Donald Duck

Which DISNEY character are you most like?
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All or Nothing?

I love to blog hop. It's probably the one thing, aside from my family, that keeps me from writing.

Lately, I've seen a preponderance of writers who are celebrating their sales. That's awesome for them, and I don't want to take away from their success in any way with what I'm about to say...

I want it all.

When (yes, when, dang it) I finally get a novel published, I want the brass ring, the whole tamale, every inch of the whole nine yards. I want to be published by a well known company. And I want my book in print.

I'm not trying to knock epublishing. I know lots of people who are certain this is the wave of the future... and they may be right. But it's not what I want for me. It feels like, well... settling.

It's hard (okay, next to impossible) to break into the big leagues. I recognize this. But I also know that, until I do, I won't feel like I'm really published.

So, it may take me a decade (and I hope my husband understands this part!), but I don't want to settle. I may feel differently if I accumulate piles of rejections, but I'll cross that bridge when I get to it. In the meantime, I'm reaching for that brass ring.

First off, though, I suppose I'd better get writing.

I'm at 41,173 words on my NaNo book! 82% and climbing. I'm shooting for 45,000 today, and I might make it because Liv's life is going into the toilet, and there's nothing more fun than writing about other people's problems.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

One of Those Days

You ever have a day when you can't do or say anything right? When you manage to offend everyone from your spouse and mother to the guy who checks out your groceries?

I'm having one of those days.

So, I've decided to just shut up and not talk to anyone else. And, figuring that it's probably bleeding over into my writing, I'm not going to do that anymore today either.

At least I made it to 39,000. Still, most likely, every word is offensive to someone.

I want a do over.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Ahh... Discoveries

I'm about 3/4 of the way through my NaNo novel and this morning, while writing, I had an epiphany about it.

It's not marketable.

I really believe this. But you know what (and this kinda surprised me) -- I don't particularly care. I'm not sure why it doesn't bother me, but it doesn't. I'm just excited to finish the thing.

Maybe I'll go back and tinker with it, maybe not. All in all, it's been a great learning experience for me. I've learned about adding detail (because I was looking to add word count and ended up with rich descriptions for my effort) and about taking my time with a scene. The entire 36,000 words takes place in less than a week, and the rest of the novel will take place over two days, a first for me. Playing House takes place over several months and Camilla's Critters takes place over about a months time. I'm not writing epic novels here, folks, so take this all with a grain of salt.

I'm quite satisfied with the story and I absolutely LOVE my heroine. Oddly, I've had to struggle to crawl into the hero's head, another first.

I've also decided that I adore the pressure of getting a high amount of words written in a short amount of time, and plan on doing this again at some point before next years NaNo. And I fully intend to participate in the NaNo for next year. It's been a fantastic challenge! I highly recommend it.

Now, I need to get back to writing.

I Think I'm Part Chicken....

I worry about the future constantly.

I stumbled across this article on The Discovery Channel website about chickens. They have discovered that chickens can anticipate the future and worry about it. This breaks my heart a little -- when you think about all those chickies crammed in the warehouse worrying about whether they're "next".

First scientists discover that we're genetically closer to mice DNA than monkey's (giving the phrase "Are you a man or a mouse" a whole new meaning). Now studies indicate that "neuron organization in chicken brains is highly structured and suggests that, like humans, chickens evolved an impressive level of intelligence to help improve their survival."

I've been thinking deep thoughts about the ramifications of this, but am opting not to share them as I'm simply not up to politicizing things on this blog.

But, it should make you think deep thoughts, too.

Ethereal. Lyrical. Perceptive.... all ME!


To which race of Middle Earth do you belong?
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Sunday, November 20, 2005

Christmas Wrapping 1, Writing 0

So (don't hate me when I say this, please), I spent the day yesterday wrapping my Christmas presents. Yes -- my shopping is done. Has been for months. Sorry. Well, I'm not really, but I have a valid excuse for my nerosis: My family is spread out all over the country, from coast to coast and in between, so I like to get the packages all mailed early to save on shipping.

My daughter loves to wrap presents and "helped" A LOT, so by the time the day was over I was utterly frazzled and out of steam. I was actually in bed, asleep, by eight o'clock. And, of course, up at 4 a.m. Just one morning I'd like to sleep in.

Anyway...between wrapping and going to the library (hey... I didn't have anything to read, and I can't function that way), I had no time left for writing. After I get this entry done, I'm going to work a bit on playing catch up.

And those are the days of my life.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Quiz Day

Thanks to Charity, I found out that I'm a nerd. At first, I was a bit offended, but then I read the description and realized that... I AM a nerd, and proud of it!

Pure Nerd
65 % Nerd, 17% Geek, 26% Dork

For The Record:

A Nerd is someone who is passionate about learning/being smart/academia.
A Geek is someone who is passionate about some particular area or subject, often an obscure or difficult one.
A Dork is someone who has difficulty with common social expectations/interactions.
You scored better than half in Nerd, earning you the title of: Pure Nerd.

The times, they are a-changing. It used to be that being exceptionally smart led to being unpopular, which would ultimately lead to picking up all of the traits and tendences associated with the "dork." No-longer. Being smart isn't as socially crippling as it once was, and even more so as you get older: eventually being a Pure Nerd will likely be replaced with the following label: Purely Successful.



But, I have to say that I am NOT a Tech Support Nightmare... just because I can't program my own friggin' computer doesn't mean I don't know how to use it. Geez...

My computer geek score is greater than 20% of all people in the world! How do you compare? Click here to find out!


I finally broke 30,000 -- those last two or three thousand words were tortuous, but I DID IT!!!

Really, that's all I have to say. And, unfortunately, I still need another thousand words to reach my goal for today.

Still... I'm feeling ebullient!

Thursday, November 17, 2005

On Track!

If you take 50,000 words and divide it by 30 days, it comes out to just under 1667 words per day. That would mean that today, the 17th, I should have at least 28,334 total words written to be on track with my NaNoWriMo novel.

I hit 29,007!! Yay!

So, if you were going to get back at a cheating fiance, what would you do? Send any and all suggestions now, since Liv is over her surprise and is now into revenge mode. Get your own thrill vicariously... nothing too violent or illegal, please. I really don't want to have my heroine taken away in handcuffs (unless it's by

On a side note, I got my hair cut on Tuesday. I *had* long hair, but chopped off about six inches of it AND now have bangs, where I didn't before. Consider that, on top of the cut, I have very curly hair that has a tendency to shrink up, and I think that the difference is quite noticeable.

My husband never said a word.

Today, I colored it. Well, sort of. I have dark hair that had a LOT of gray in it, so -- since I'm only 38 and not ready to look 65 -- I grabbed a box of what is essentially my hair color: Medium reddish brown. Yay! No more gray.

Betcha hubby doesn't say a word.

Are your significant others this obtuse? Anyone, anyone?

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Do I Have Them Fooled!

You Are a Normal Girl

You are 50% Good and 50% Bad
Sure you've pulled some bad girl stunts in your past.
But these days, you're (mostly) a good girl.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

One NaNo Rule to Keep

Chris Baty, the originator of NaNoWriMo says that, during the month of November, when you're reaching for the 50,000 word goal, you shouldn't ask for feedback. He says it messes with your ability to turn off your internal editor.

I discovered something this week. He's right.

Though I haven't been posting my NaNo novel for feedback in my writing groups I have been posting AND I shared quite a bit with a family member who also writes. Two folks made fairly innocuous comments about it that threw me into a tailspin.

One asked "What, in a couple of sentences, is Liv's philosophy toward life?" and the other commented (after I had read a little scene that I'd written), "I suppose there must be some point to that, right?"

Both questions stopped me dead in my tracks. Neither was meant to do that, but I immediately thought: My character lacks credibility and clearly, I'm not getting my point across. This whole novel is garbage.

I've since recovered (sort of), but I lost three days of good writing over something that simple. Are we writers really so sensitive? In any case, I have learned one thing. The best idea is to blast through my first draft with NO input of any kind. When it's finished, then I'll share, or I run the risk of not finishing at all. I think that's what's happened with Camilla. Too many cooks (or critique partners) spoil the broth.

The good news is that I'm almost at my goal. I have just over 25,000 words done. I want to be at 27,000 by the end of the day. We'll see how it goes. The end of the month is looming!

Monday, November 14, 2005

One Word: YUCK

One of my characters is pursuing a Guiness World Record (I'm not saying which one, you'll have to read it when it's published), but in the course of my research, I came across some really disgusting records, and felt the need for you to be as grossed out as I am.

Furthest Marshmallow Nose-Blow
The farthest a marshmallow has been blown out of one nostril and caught in the mouth of a catcher is 4.96 m (16 ft 3.5 in), by launcher Scott Jeckel of Delavan, Illinois, USA, and catcher Ray Perisin of Peoria, Illinois, USA, on the set of Guinness World Records: Primetime in Los Angeles, California, USA on August 13, 1999.

Oh, ick. I don't know what's worse, the thought of how much it must hurt to blow a marshmallow out of your nose, or the thought of being the person on the other end who is, essentially, catching a giant booger.

Now here's some talent:

Farthest Spaghetti Nasal Ejection
Kevin Cole of Carlsbad, New Mexico, USA, holds the record for the longest spaghetti strand blown out of a nostril in a single blow. On December 16, 1998, Kevin successfully achieved a record distance of 19 cm (7.5 in) on the set of Guinness World Records: Primetime in Los Angeles, California, USA. Kevin first started practicing his nasal ejection with Ramon noodles and then progressed onto spaghetti. He has the ability to blow one end of the spaghetti out of one nostril, and the other end out of the other nostril for a "nasal floss" effect.

Gee... nasal floss... the next big marketing trend.

This next record caught my eye, mainly because I had no idea what a winkle was, and after all the nasal ejections, you can imagine where my brain was:

Fastest Winkle Picker
Dean Gould, of Felixstowe, Suffolk, England, picked 50 shells (with a straight pin) in 1 minute, 22.34 seconds at Great Eastern Square, Felixstowe, on October 10, 1997. Each winkle was extracted completely from its shell.

And, lest you think that I'm hung up on "nasal ejections", let me offer this up for your reading pleasure, everyone's ideal date:

Loudest Burp
People say Paul Hunn’s burps are as loud as a pneumatic drill, or an aircraft taking off. Paul, from London, UK, knows one thing’s for sure, his burps can certainly be heard over the music in a nightclub.

On April 5, 2000, to prove he’s the biggest belcher on earth, he competed live on British TV and blew away the opposition with a record-breaking burp measuring 118.1 decibels.

Have a nice day.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

What I'm Reading

Don't have a ton of time for blogging today since I need almost 4,000 words by tomorrow to reach the halfway point in my goal BUT thought I'd share what I'm currently reading so you can see how odd I really am. I never read only one book at a time, so be prepared:

I needed to research why my character, Camilla, would be a vegetarian and have since become fascinated with the frightening culture of death behind our slaughterhouses. I'm not against meat consumption, but I am against outright cruelty. Enough said.

I picked this up because I love Kay Hooper. I realized after I started it, though, that it's part of a series. So... off I trotted to the local library to get all of her "Bishop" series. Great stuff so far -- psychic crime solving and a touch of romance. What more could a girl ask for?

I grabbed this because I've heard so much about it. I'm only a few chapters in and am truly mesmerized by the idea he puts forth. I'd love to write a book about it, but I'm sure a million other people have the same idea, so I won't.

Jude Deveraux is an author who helped introduce me to romance, so when I saw that she had a new book, I had to read it. I'm struggling through it, I have to admit, so am wondering if I've outgrown her. Is that possible?

Okay, enough NaNo-crastination. I need to write!

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Regarding Rejection

I got my Writer's Digest magazine a couple of days ago, and flipped it open to read (an odd occurance for me -- I'm typically too busy to get to any magazines in a timely fashion). An ad for self-publishing caught my eye immediately, and in the copy it said:

... I sent query letters to five agents and promptly received five rejections. That was depressing.

She goes on to say that she opted for self-publishing, and gives a number of reasons why she felt it was appropriate for her.

Now, I'm not writing to slam self-publishing. I'm certain that for some people it's exactly the way for them. I just couldn't get over the fact that, after five whole rejections, she gave up the ghost.

Gee. That many?

C'mon... all of you writer type folks out there -- how many of you have accumulated twice that many? Ten times that many? Did you quit?


Rejection is what writing is about. Um, that didn't come out right, but you get my point. If you can't take rejection and keep your head up, you're in the wrong line of work.

In the Amway business they have a saying (or at least they did ten years ago): It takes 100 no's to go Direct. I think you can twist that around for writing as well and say that it takes 100 rejections (or more) to get published.

I'm taking Stephen King's advice from one of the best books on writing of all time, oddly called "On Writing" where he said about his rejections:

When I got the rejection slip from AHMM, I pounded a nail into the wall, wrote "Happy Stamps" on the rejection slip and poked it on the nail... By the time I was fourteen... the nail in my wall would no longer support the weight of the rejection slips impaled upon it. I replaced the nail with a spike and went on writing.

So laugh in the face of rejection, spit in its eye, stick your rejections up on the wall with pride.

And keep writing.

Parking and Testosterone

I don't understand it. A small thing, to be sure, but seemingly crossing all lines: economic, race, education.

It's this: Men back into parking spaces.


Is it preprogrammed into their DNA? Do little boys back their Hot Wheels into the parking spots in the little garage?

I seldom see women backing into a spot at the mall, though I'm sure it happens occasionally. But I'm more inclined to think that, when we see a woman get into a car that appears to have been backed into a spot, she actually got there early enough to pull through - forward - from the other side.

There's no deep, hidden meaning to this post. It's just something that's bugged me for years, and I want an answer. I wonder if the government would give me a couple million dollars to research this question.

Anyone have an answer?

In Writing News:

I'm at just over 21,000 words for my NaNoWriMo novel and need to be at 25,000 words by the end of Monday to stay on track. Things aren't going quite as planned, but I'm really beginning to like my heroine, which surprises me some since she started out as a psychotic boyfriend stalker.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Happy Veteran's Day

Honoring all who served

Formerly called Armistice Day - the anniversary of the Armistice which was signed in the Forest of Compiegne by the Allies and the Germans in 1918, ending World War I, after four years of conflict.

At 5 A.M. on Monday, November 11, 1918 the Germans signed the Armistice, an order was issued for all firing to cease; so the hostilities of the First World War ended. This day began with the laying down of arms, blowing of whistles, impromptu parades, closing of places of business. All over the globe there were many demonstrations; no doubt the world has never before witnessed such rejoicing.

In November of 1919, President Woodrow Wilson issued his Armistice Day proclamation. The last paragraph set the tone for future observances:

To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country's service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nation.

In 1927 Congress issued a resolution requesting President Calvin Coolidge to issue a proclamation calling upon officials to display the Flag of the United States on all government buildings on November 11, and inviting the people to observe the day in schools and churches...But it was not until 1938 that Congress passed a bill that each November 11 "shall be dedicated to the cause of world peace and ...hereafter celebrated and known as Armistice Day."

That same year President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed a bill making the day a legal holiday in the District of Columbia. For sixteen years the United States formally observed Armistice Day, with impressive ceremonies at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, where the Chief Executive or his representative placed a wreath. In many other communities, the American Legion was in charge of the observance, which included parades and religious services. At 11 A.M. all traffic stopped, in tribute to the dead, then volleys were fired and taps sounded.

After World War II, there were many new veterans who had little or no association with World War I. The word, "armistice," means simply a truce; therefore as years passed, the significance of the name of this holiday changed. Leaders of Veterans' groups decided to try to correct this and make November 11 the time to honor all who had fought in various American wars, not just in World War I.

In Emporia, Kansas, on November 11, 1953, instead of an Armistice Day program, there was a Veterans' Day observance. Ed Rees, of Emporia, was so impressed that he introduced a bill into the House to change the name to Veterans' Day. After this passed, Mr. Rees wrote to all state governors and asked for their approval and cooperation in observing the changed holiday.

The name was changed to Veterans' Day by Act of Congress on May 24, 1954. In October of that year, President Eisenhower called on all citizens to observe the day by remembering the sacrifices of all those who fought so gallantly, and through rededication to the task of promoting an enduring peace. The President referred to the change of name to Veterans' Day in honor of the servicemen of all America's wars.

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Thursday, November 10, 2005

Will I or Won't I?

Make it to 20,000 words today, that is. I'm on NaNo Day 10 and have a personal goal of at least 2000 words per day (I'd really prefer 2400 per day, but the math is too complicated).

I'm at 19,043 words at this moment and I'm stuck. Maybe you can help...

Liv is on her way to a charity auction. Her fiance, Geoff, has agreed to attend with her and her father, even though he's ended the engagement in order to be with "the floozy", Daisy. He's also agreed to leave Daisy at home this night -- because Liv:

1. Hasn't told her father that the engagement is over yet; and
2. Is hoping to change Geoff's mind.

My conundrum: Should Daisy crash the gates of the private club and make a scene? Or should all go normally, except that Liv -- having been recently exposed to how the other side lives, via Mike, spend the evening making conversation that's just not quite right and annoy the crap out of the society set? Since Geoff is interested in one of the "other side", I'm wondering if this might make him feel attracted to Liv again... at the time when Liv is beginning to feel something for Mike...

The strangest thing about this novel thus far is that I can't seem to write in my hero's POV. Normally, I'm more comfortable in it (I have to struggle to write in Camilla's POV in my other novel, I much prefer Jed's), but out of the 19,043 words only 1495 of them are Mike's.


Wednesday, November 09, 2005

My Favorite NaNo Dare Yet!

The dare was:

Input your character's name into Googlism and then use everything that comes up in your novel.

I put in Liv's name and it said that Google didn't know enough about her yet.

But I hit the jackpot with Mike:

  • mike peck is head of the food safety microbiology group

  • mike peck is a founder

  • mike peck is now back at his original employer

  • mike peck is a professional engineer and has worked with mark hughes for over four years after graduating from tuns in nova scotia with a mechanical degree

  • mike peck is a camera engineer

  • mike peck is not entered in the current competition

  • mike peck is a dear friend who has helped me through a lot of stuff in the past few years

  • mike peck is head of the food safety microbiology group and a scientific programme leader in the food safety science division at the institute of food

  • mike peck is serenading dusty

  • mike peck is no longer undefeated

I think I can use about half. NOT the bit about the microbiology group or the one about being a professional engineer... but the others spark my competitive side and I want to find a way to use them.

I'm off to work on finding out why Mike isn't entered in the current competition, perhaps he's mad about no longer being undefeated? It sure is great that he's a dear friend, but I have to say that I'm not thrilled that he's serenading Dusty. Dunno how Liv is going to feel about that...

Cutting Open a Vein

Red Smith said, "There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and open a vein."

Yesterday I took his words to heart and donated blood. I feel somehow morally obligated to give a pint every eight weeks because I am the proud owner of O+ blood. The only problem is that while my mind and spirit are willing, my body is far more stubborn about giving up the red stuff.

Yesterday, the blood center was actually a torture chamber.

First, the nurse that pricked my finger didn't just prick it. She popped the little needle thingy and then wiggled it -- I suppose she didn't want to have to work for the three drops of blood she needed to test my iron levels. I now have a gash the size of the grand canyon in my left middle finger and it hurts like a son of a gun.

Then, the chick who jabbed me, missed. She called over the RN who dug around for a bit to see if she could find the vein (the one that I told the first lady she shouldn't use because it tended to roll) until my grimacing must have gotten to her and she surrendered. Then she asked me if I wanted to have her try the other arm or come back a different day.

No way was I going through another finger prick. I'd much rather face someone digging around in my arm with one of those big, hollow needles.

I flipped around and offered my right arm as sacrifice. This time it was quick and easy and the blood poured out. I filled the bag in record time and when she pulled out the needle, I offered a bit more to the world at large with a nice spurt of the red stuff. At least it just flowed down my arm instead of on my clothes.

Note to self: Next time wear a red shirt to the blood center.

In any case, it's done. I do have a big pit on my finger and bruises on both arms, but I think I'll survive it. I just wish that writing was as easy as opening a vein.

After staring at the computer all morning (and it was an earlier morning today since hubby got up at 3:30 a.m. to go hunting -- I'm still wondering about the wisdom of sending a man out into the woods with a loaded gun on only four hours sleep...) I only added about 500 words to my story. That was enough to catch up with my goal from yesterday. It did nothing to reach todays goal.

Red Smith was wrong.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

It Came From Beyond the Stars....

Actually, it came from inside my brain: Writer's Block!

I'm STUCK (stuck, stuck, stuck)!

I need to make 17,000 today and I have absolutely nothing to say.

Bangs head on desk



I went to the "dares" page in the NaNoWriMo forums -- the people that think up some of these things are just sick, but that's another story.

Anyway, I like the idea of this one to boost me out of my block:

Use the "random page" on, and somehow include whatever comes up, be it quantum ohysics or a farmer rebellion in China in 1054.

Okay... here goes (hits the button) --

Texas Southern University is a historically black university in Houston, Texas, USA. The university was established on March 3, 1947 by the Texas Legislature and it was initially named Texas State University for Negroes. Prior becoming a state university, Texas Southern University was owned by the Houston Independent School District and had been known as Houston College for Negroes.


That's going to take some thought, considering that my MC went to Wellsley College.


I did it! My MC may have gone to Wellsley College, but her nemesis didn't! She attended (drum roll please) Texas Southern University -- and this fact was talked about briefly in a recent conversation between Liv and Geoff.

Yay! I wrote 1,000 words!


It's 4:15 in the afternoon and I've managed to *almost* hit my daily goal. I'm at 16,544. I want to thank Charity and her "Wingman of Destruction". I also want to thank all the crazy folks at NaNo for their dares forum. I used three of them today, in a way that absolutely works in my novel, and that got my juices flowing.

Thank you, thank you, thank you...

Monday, November 07, 2005

Phew... Made It.

I got up this morning and hit the keyboard... made it up to just over 14,000 words. Phew! Of course, today's goal is to hit 15,000 but I'm practically there! I was thinking last night that a real first draft for me would be along the lines of 70,000 words NOT 50,000 and I calculated how many words per day I'd need to meet that goal by the end of November (as if 50,000 wasn't hard enough). It's roughly 2300 words daily. I'm averaging just about that right now. Hmmm.... wonder if I can make it.

In other news, my story title and name are up on Wax Romantic. If you haven't already, you should sign up for your free subscription and get a copy of this month's issue so you can read my fantabulous short story... I'm pretty proud of it.

More later. I need another cup of coffee.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

My Secret

A friend and fellow NaNo'er is struggling with meeting her word count goals and asked what the secret was from those of us who are doing okay thus far. This was my response to her:

My secret? Plot the next set of writing (I'm not separating chapters yet, just vomiting it all out in one big mess) at night while I'm dozy. It's the time I'm most creative, but least productive. Then I get up in the morning, set a specific word count and write until I reach it -- even if it's crap: backstory, description, flashbacks, thoughts... all that taboo stuff we're not supposed to put in our books. It may not stay, but it's getting me to know my characters and their motivations. And it's writing. NaNo doesn't care if you write crap. In fact, they encourage it.

It's a bit intimidating to compare word counts, though. About a third of the folks in my WVU NaNoWriMo group have reached almost 20,000 words. In less than a week.

That's a super human effort. I've heard around the NaNo halls that many people have already hit 50,000. Sheesh... when do they sleep? I have to console myself with the thought that those who are already NaNo "winners" must have written absolute garbage, because no one can write quality stuff that quickly.


Okay, enough NaNo-crastination. I'm gonna hit 13,000 today or die trying.


Did you hear my death rattle? I didn't quite make it. I'm at 12,576 and I'm out of steam. So close... but, tah-marah is anothah day.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

One of the Mysteries of the Universe

Why is it that my cat can sleep at the foot of my bed for hours, stay settled during the time I crawl into bed and read, but the moment I shut off the light and snuggle down to sleep she decides it's the perfect time for a bath?

Breeann is not a quiet bather. She snuffles and snorts and licks and squirms. I shoved her with my foot several times, earning a pounce or two and hoped that I'd distracted her from her task.

No such luck.

And, dear readers, this happens every blasted night. I don't suppose it would be so bad if I didn't get up at the crack of dawn, but I need every minute of sleep. And it doesn't matter what time I go to bed.

Maybe she likes the privacy that the darkness gives her?

Cats. (...I say in disgust and head off to the kitchen for another cup of coffee...)

Friday, November 04, 2005

In NaNo News

I'm almost at 10,000 words. I wanted to continue today, but I ran out of steam. I'm pushing for 13,000 by the end of Sunday, but I'm not so sure I can make it. We'll have to see how it goes. I'm having fun, most of the time, so I might just hit that goal.

Keep an eye on the counter -- even when I don't update my blog, I'll update that thing daily.

Okay, off to bed so I can get up at 4:30 again and write MORE!


My mother shared with me that Mindy McReady was on Oprah yesterday. I was interested because I listen to country music and I really liked Mindy McReady back when she actually had a record contract (and was smart enough to be engaged to Dean Cain...but that's another story).

Anyhoo... I saw this article and was utterly horrified. In it, she says:

"Mindy McCready says she still loves the man charged with nearly beating her to death earlier this year..."

Another quote from the article says this:

"During the interview, McCready described the attack and recalled being choked and "gurgling on blood." She broke into tears several times. "That feeling of not being able to breathe is something I'll never forget," she said."

I'll just bet that's a forever kind of memory.

But then I read this:

"But McCready said she still loves McKnight and has been with him since the attack."

And this:

"She blamed the violence on drug use, and said she didn't think he would hit her again."

Uh, honey... he didn't "hit" you. He beat you, choked you to the point you gurgled on blood and nearly killed you. This is not a slap in the face. I have two words for you: Get. Out.


I don't understand. I don't.

I visited my Aunt Julia before I got married and she told me this little story (keeping in mind that her sister was involved in an abusive marriage): Before she married my Uncle Rudy, she told him that if he ever hit her, he'd better kill her, because if he didn't, he'd spend the rest of his assuredly short life sleeping with one eye open, waiting for her to exact her revenge.

I feel exactly the same way.

Mindy, honey, get help and then get out. Please.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

I Need a Profiler

I just sat down and watched my favorite show of this season: Criminal Minds.

Aside from the fact that I love Mandy Patinkin (though am having a hard time forgetting him as Inigo Montoya from the Princess Bride) and am beginning to fall madly in love with geeky Matthew Gray Gubler who plays Dr. Spencer Reid on the show, I'm absolutely fascinated by watching the gang dig into people's psyche's. If you haven't watched it, I recommend it.

I also love Super Nanny...but am horrified that people let their children behave the way they do. I was especially shocked by the British couple from a few weeks back whose 9-year-old daughter hit them, bit them, screamed and yelled profanities and pretty much wore the pants in the family. Holy cow. All I could think was - They need to duct tape that girls mouth. Okay, don't call social services, really... I've never duct taped my daughter's mouth shut (though the fantasy does live on those days when she is never, ever quiet -- besides, isn't duct tape the answer to every problem?). <------ Did I do that punctuation correctly? I've never been able to figure out where to put your periods when there are parentheses involved. Anyone? Anyone?

Sheesh, I got way off track ... back to the 9-year-old terror. Jo came and crawled inside that girls mind and figured her all out.

Super Nanny is a psychological thriller of a different sort. Come to think of it, Psychology was the only class I really enjoyed during my brief foray at college.

Does make me wonder why I write romantic comedy.

I need a profiler.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Good News for Me!

I got an email this morning... strangely, I missed it the first time I opened my inbox today which surprises me in retrospect because the title was hardly ambiguous:

Wax Romantic Short Story Acceptance

In the body of the email it said:

Wax Romantic has accepted your submission NOW THAT WE'VE FOUND YOU for publication in our November 2005 issue. Please forward your author bio ASAP...

I'm tickled pink! My goal this year was to get some short stuff published, to build up my writing resume and bolster my confidence. I started of the year with a bang, sending out tons of stuff (all rejected, but then I was aiming high: Womans World Magazine) and then slacked off for about six months. I realized in September that I'd better get a move on if I wanted something actually pubbed in 2005 and started writing more shorts and sending them out.

It's so nice to meet a goal.

I still have six or seven stories out there waiting for either acceptance or rejection, so this could get even better. I'll keep you posted.

Now, back to Liv and NaNo.

Off and Running...

NaNoWriMo started yesterday. I've discovered that I really hate the countdown clock on the front door of their website. It dramatically adds to the pressure when you watch each second tick away, not to mention the writing time I've wasted doing just that.

Day one went okay. I got over 2,000 words written. Today hasn't been so great thus far. My husband decided that he needed to get up at the same time I did (4:30 a.m.) and my daughter arose quite early as well (just after 5:00 a.m.). This time change has skewed everyone's sleeping schedules, and it's messing with my writing time.

This morning I'm up to a word count total of 3,221 - but haven't reached my daily goal yet. I need to hit it hard this first week so that I have a bit of padding if (when?) I hit a wall later on. I'd like to get at least a third of the total writing done this week, which is about how much I have outlined, but we'll see how it goes. The characters are already taking some tangents that I hadn't prepared for - which is a typical occurance for me, but it certainly messes with my plans.

The ferret has just made his dramatic appearance, however, and I'm also working at incorporating some of the NaNo challenges that are appearing in the "dares" section of the forum.

Some of the ones that I've copied to my "scene ideas" document are these (dunno if I'll be using them, we'll have to see how it goes):

Use the word of the day function from your chosen website. -- I actually did this one today. It's a great way to move yourself forward and to generate new ideas.

Have a character insist on always taking shortcuts when driving, even if the "shortcut" involves going far out of the way. -- I love this idea, but haven't a clue how to use it. This is a "we'll see".

Use the quote "Give me all your ducks!" with a character using the "gun" symbol - thumb up, forefinger pointed. -- How can you not want to use this?

Anyhoo, I'd better get back to writing. Oops, the DD has just arrived in the basement office. Guess I'll be making breakfast instead.


Monday, October 31, 2005

Count Down to Blast Off!

I'm ready.

No, I'm not.

Regardless of which of the above statments is true, NaNoWriMo begins in a matter of hours.

I formatted my page -- I have eye strain problems from staring at the computer, and a wise friend (thanks Pam!) suggested I write with white font on a black background. It helps.

I typed my book title on the first black page (I can do that much, right?) and saved the document under it's working title:

Isn't She Liv Leigh?

Kinda catchy, huh?

I researched strange Guiness World Records this morning and found some that will work (don't ask... you can read about it when it's published), plotted some more, contemplated the fact that this is the first heroine I've ever written about that was more girl than tomboy, and wondered if that was somehow significant. To what, I have no idea.

Tomorrow morning, bright and early (NO, I am not staying up until midnight to begin writing -- with this blasted time change, I'm in bed by eight) I get to write.


I'm telling you what... I may force this kind of build up to every future WIP. I'm so excited to start writing on this book I may end up peeing my pants (or jammies, as the case may be) tomorrow morning.

I can't wait. Keep an eye on the word tracker at the bottom of the right hand column and watch it grow... man, oh man, I better hit 50,000 or I'm going to find a hole and crawl inside come December 1st.

Wish me luck.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

It's a Love / Hate Thing

Charity, despite her vitriolic response to NaNoWriMo participation, is still a friend whose blog I read regularly. Her last entry is all about "The Name Game", a fun activity that I had to steal.

Actually, I did this fairly recently with "Marianne Needs", but swiped Charity's new verbs to see what would come up in Google:

Marianne hates the sea and wants to go dance in the town.

Right on both counts. Though I love the sound of the ocean, I get horribly sea sick. I happen to love to dance, and would adore an invitation to the ball.

Marianne hates rejection.

But Marianne is a writer, and so must become accustomed to it.

Marianne hates the destructive effects of violence, and gets upset about events like plane crashes and terrorism.

Well. Duh.

Marianne hates the smell of creosote smoke almost as much as the goblins'.

And I can't seem to get rid of those blasted goblins, no matter what I try.

On the flip side, nothing seemed to work:

Marianne loves to Look at the life-size and half-life-size watercolor illustrations of all kinds of shells.

Uh, nooooo....

Marianne loves and marries Brandon.

Just don't tell my husband (extra points if you know what book this comes from).

Marianne loves the rock(music, not the wrestling dude) and to skateboard.

Actually, Marianne loves country and dancing.

Marianne loves to play the piano and her brother is looking into purchasing a new one for the home.

Gee, and Google blew the surprise.

Anyone else up for the fun? C'mon, I only have two more days until NaNo and then I won't be able to waste time on this kind of stuff.