Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Rubber Novel

You've heard of "Rubber Chicken" as a meal, right?

You haven't? Oh, well, it's a way of s-t-r-e-t-c-h-i-n-g a chicken to make at least three meals.

Day one: Roasted chicken.
Day two: Chicken soup, from boiling the chicken carcass for broth.
Day three: Chicken casserole, made from all the little bits of chicken left from the carcass.

With this idea in mind, I'm trying to figure out how to stretch a 50,000 word novel into a 70,000 word novel -- make a Rubber Novel, if you will. I deleted a major subplot of Camilla (I think I already said this yesterday), and it's created a serious word deficit that I need to fill. I think I can, (I think I can, I think I can), but I can't seem to brainstorm any scenes from scratch.

I'm relying on writing prompts. Man, I love prompts. In both of my crit groups, we have weekly prompts and they are fabulous for getting the creative juices flowing. Last weeks (that I did yesterday...) was a great start for poor Camilla. It gave me the idea for an entire scene AND an idea for something that's going to be a recurring theme throughout the novel. YAY! Words. Feel the stretch.

You know, I'm on my third WIP (seventh, if you count the books I wrote as a young adult long, long ago in a galaxy far, far away) and you'd think this would get easier.

Those of you out there that whip through your WIP's in a few months... tell me that it gets easier with each consecutive novel... please?

Incidentally, still thinking Paul Nicholls is a cutie... what do you think? Oh, and Mary -- doesn't he look a little like a younger Gerry?

Monday, February 27, 2006

Believable Dialogue and other babbling

I've been thinking about writing and believable dialogue. If you take time and listen to how people talk around you, most of it isn't believable!

Take my 6 y.o. daughter, who took a short nap last week when she wasn't feeling well. She got up and asked if she could read for a bit because, "I feel refreshed."

If I had a kid say that in my novel, I'd be laughed out of the editor's office.

I have a tendency to write in fragments, especially for emphasis, and I get called on it regularly in my writing groups. Gee... you mean people don't talk in fragments? Can't understand them?

What's the balance between believable and canned? We're supposed to create unique and memorable characters, right? But when they act or talk differently than is expected, it's questioned.

In other news...

I woke up with a sore throat this morning. That better not mean I'm catching a cold. Grrr... we haven't -- any of us -- been sick this year until recently. My DD had a slight cold last week. I was hoping for a healthy winter.

My nineteen-year-old niece is so cute. She has a boyfriend, and his picture is everywhere! It's wallpaper on her computer and her cell phone. It's on her keychain... Oh my, I vaguely remember those days. They text message back and forth constantly. She sat next to me on the couch watching TV last night (we corrupted her... she's never seen an "R" rated movie, and we watched Armageddon... of course, it was on TNT, so I guess it was more like PG-13, but still). Anyway, on the couch, her cell phone in hand, she'd flip it open about every ten minutes and type away and then close it, open, type, close. How did we ever survive without constant communication with our boyfriends back then?

If this keeps up, I may have to try my hand at a YA novel.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Sunday Ramblings

I finished most of my outline for Camilla's Critters today, and realized that I don't have as much written as I'd thought. In my brain, it was almost complete -- though, if I'd just looked at the word count right here on the blog, I'd have realized that was a fantasy. I'm only about half done. And that's okay, cuz I have some new ideas for the story, a good thing since I whacked an entire subplot when I took Liv out and made a story just for her.

It feels good to be back with Camilla and her wacky family. I'd forgotten how much I enjoy her (and them). And, I think that her story is probably the most marketable of my WIPs (except maybe the secret baby cowboy story I'm plotting ... cuz everyone likes a cowboy story when it involved a baby, right?) and I'd like to get it done.

I'm fighting to keep up in my study groups and the class I'm semi-facilitating, and it's cutting into my writing time. So is gabbing with my niece, who is a night owl and is determined to keep me up well past my bedtime. I'd forgotten a lot about being nineteen -- the angst of boyfriends and parents and wondering about your future. She's got a pretty good head on her shoulders. I think she's going to do okay.

It snowed here yesterday about 6 inches. Nice, fluffy snow -- good for scooping, but bad for snowmen, much to my daughter's dismay. It's windy as heck now, though, so shoveling the driveway was oodles of fun. And, of course, I had to go shovel under the birdfeeders so that my groundfeeding birds wouldn't starve. This morning I watched as three mourning doves vied for a spot on the one feeder they can land upon. It was a good way to start the day... with a chuckle. But I did feel bad for the birdies, so it's all clear for them now.

And lastly, why do I find this guy so cute? He's Paul Nicholls, actor and model -- star of a movie I just watched... mmmm...

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Families and Fodder

So, yesterday afternoon, I received a phone call from my niece (in-law). She was sitting at the airport and had just gotten news that she wouldn't be allowed to stay at her parents home over winter break.

She's at the airport, on her way home, and suddenly has no place to stay because her "loving" parents disagree with her decision to attend an expensive, out-of-state college to pursue a degree in an occupation they don't think she should.

Because it doesn't pay enough money.

So what if she was inspired to become a therapist because of watching the therapy her special needs sister received, and thought that it was wonderful.

In any case, I told her she was welcome to stay with us -- and probably started a war with my husband's brother (who has frequently told everyone to stay out of this whole thing). But, there's right and there's wrong, and turning your nineteen-year-old daughter out into the street because she's not doing as she's told is wrong. At least when what she's doing isn't immoral or illegal.

She arrived at 12:41 a.m. -- UGH. She's here for the week.

My posting, and my writing, will most likely be sporadic for the next ten days or so. But I'm here. And, hey, it's all fodder for the next story, right?

Speaking of fodder for stories, I was waiting to see if my downstairs toilet would flush this morning -- it's tempermental and clogs about every ten flushes or so -- and thought that it would be interesting to include the potty in a story. Is that gross? Am I weird? It's just that I have a tendency to look at everything that's a little off center as neat to write about.

What about you?

Thursday, February 23, 2006

I Wish...

You are: Arwen, from the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

What Movie Heroine Are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

Cuz then I'd end up with Aragorn... Mmmm...mmmm...

Off (writing) Topic Rant

I happened to catch a little bit of Good Morning America today, and I'm still steamed about it. Diane interviewed a woman named Linda Hirschman who says that "privileged, educated women who choose to stay at home to raise their children are hurting themselves and others."

Here's a link to the story, if you're interested: How to Raise Kids: Stay Home or Go to Work?

Her arguments are:

1. How can women leave the workplace when the divorce rate is 41 percent? And don't women know that after divorce, the man's standard of living goes up 10 percent while the woman's can collapse?

2. It's difficult to re-enter the workplace after staying at home, and that when a mother comes back, she may make less money.

3. Working is also a matter of feeling fulfilled. She doesn't buy into the arguments of many homemakers who say taking care of the family is the most fulfilling thing they could imagine.

4. Women who leave the workplace are ensuring that the hard-won gains made by women will be undone. She asks why should business schools give advanced degrees to those who don't use them?

When I left the work place, four months pregnant with my daughter, I was managing the sales department of a large HMO. I made more money than my husband. My husband, however, got education and training to enable him to be a big enough wage earner so I could stay home with our child.

I love staying at home. I wouldn't trade it for the world. My daughter is a healthy, happy and well-adjusted girl who is continually complimented on her demeanor and maturity. She is six years old and schooling easily at a second grade level.

I have an at home Avon business where I set my own hours (I never work nights or weekends) and my daughter is able to help me and to accompany me when I drop off orders. I also write with the hope of being published one day (soon?).

This woman calls me unfulfilled and also suggests that I "take one for the team" and work in an office so that other women will have the chance to the do the same at some point. She also suggests that I should assume there is a very good chance my marriage will end in divorce, and with that in mind I may need to work to support myself again.

Excuse me while I take just a moment to cool down. (paces the room)

Staying home may not be for everyone. That's true. And I'm certainly not trying to judge those moms who choose to work outside the home. But I'd ask other women not to judge me, either.

Don't tell me I'm going to get divorced. I didn't get married to get divorced, and neither did my husband. Period. We've made it ten years, we can make it longer.

Don't tell me I'm not fulfilled. I LOVE being a mom. Raising my daughter is the most challenging and important thing I've ever done. That I ever will do. Nothing is more important than that. I realize I could put her into school and go back to work... but I really believe that homeschooling is the right thing for her. She doesn't need fancy clothes, a bigger house, cool vacations or an x-Box more than she needs her mom and an appropriate education.

And don't ever, EVER tell me I couldn't take care of myself if something should happen to my husband. I took care of myself comfortably for thirty years, and I could do it again. Period. I'm not stupid and I'm more than capable.

There are plenty of single and/or woman who are childless who can "take it for the team" and hold down high powered jobs. When I chose to become a mom, I chose to put my child first. That means sacrifice. But it doesn't mean being unhappy.

Man, I am still steamed...

Thanks for letting me rant. Tomorrow, I'll be all better. Promise.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Submission Flu

I'm just finishing printing off the last few pages of my latest contest submission and I can feel the submission flu coming on... Nausea, fever, chills.

I hate it.

I keep thinking that eventually I'll get over it, but it happens with any and every submission, regardless of what, where or how important. Ugh.

I'm sure I must have missed a typo or done some other hideous error that I didn't catch, but it's too late now.

Excuse me, but I need to go vomit.


Amended to add #1:

I found one! I used "rustic" in two consecutive paragraphs to describe the same thing! Ack!

Amended to add #2:

Just for fun, I entered another online contest with the first 1,000 words of the same WIP. I was already sick to my stomach, so figured it couldn't get any worse!

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Discouragement and Sustenance

There's been a lot of talk lately in blogland and in real life about keeping motivated when you just can't so much as look at your WIP anymore. You're sick of the characters, you hate the storyline... how do you stay motivated?

I'm in that boat. If I have to even glance at Liv Leigh right now, I think I may toss my cookies. Understand, I don't hate my characters (this ala Charity who made me think about that)... in fact, they feel like my friends. BUT, like friends, they don't always do what I say (fools!). And they frustrate me. And sometimes I don't understand their motivation or reasoning or anything else.

It makes me want to scream and run around the room breaking knick-knacks. Though I don't really have knick-knacks around my house so that would be impossible... but you get the idea.

One member of my writing group is having the same problem, and one is between books and is tired of twiddling her thumbs and another has about five WIPs to choose from (this sounds a little like me). What's a girl to do?

Some advice that came across the 'net:

Kill time looking for character pictures, researching character names, picking out the perfect sound track for the book -- Ahh... yes. Writing, without actually writing. A good suggestion because you're still working on deepening your book.

...keep several projects going... at least one other long WIP because there are times I just get plain sick of the people I'm working with (my characters, not my fellow writers ). Plus, I have short stories I'm working on... -- this tends to be my course of action. Wise? Should we work on more than one WIP at a time? Do they suffer for it or are they better? Are short stories worth their time or is it just procrastination? I've heard both sides of those arguments from several different writers.

My own contribution to the cause contained this nugget (gem? or fools gold?): I do like having more than one WIP because I can flit between them a little. I try to stay focused on one, but when it gets really, really bad, and I've tried to work through the problems, then I need to work on something else. Sometimes I just fire off a couple of short stories and send them somewhere, sometimes I write on my blog. I seldom feel like not writing, but I frequently feel like not writing in a particular book.

I think as long as you're moving forward somewhere, you're moving in the right direction.

What about you? What do you do to stay motivated to write even when you don't feel like it?

Monday, February 20, 2006


Amazingly, Comcast actually managed to do something (for a change) that they promised and got me back up in two days.

I can't believe how much I take my internet for granted. Little things, like looking for a recipe. All Recipes is my biggest resource for anything I cook. Sometimes I'll just go there with a vague idea and some ingredients and see what comes up.

Couldn't do that.

I have a corn plant that is looking pretty skanky and I want to start it over. But how do these things propagate? Do you whack off a chunk and put it in some water? Stick it in root tone and put it straight in the dirt? Do you need a bit of the root? Couldn't look that up either.

The worst, though was not being able to get my emails or blog-hop my favorite blogs. I felt like I'd lost an arm. Or an eye. Or both.

I'm so glad to be back. Now I have to go play catch up and check out all the blogs I've missed.

And find out how to propagate a corn plant.


In case you were wondering...

Cane cuttings provide an easy method of propagating certain plants like dumbcane, Chinese evergreen and corn plant. Leafless stem sections, usually two to three inches long, are cut from older stems and inserted into the medium either vertically or horizontally. Each section must contain at least one node. The sections will eventually root and produce a shoot. The process is somewhat slow and may require several weeks or months. That portion of the original stock plant remaining in the pot after removal of the stem and cane cuttings will sprout and produce a new stem, thereby renewing the original plant.

Saturday, February 18, 2006


Just a quick note to let y'all know that I'm having internet problems and don't know how long I'll be unable to post. I'm at the library today, but at home my delightful provider (Comcast, grrr!) kicked me offline when they fixed a billing problem (after FOUR months and about 10 hours on the phone). Now they can't seem to figure out how to get me back online. Five minutes to knock me off, unknown number of days to fix a problem they caused.

I do not recommend them as a provider for anything. Ever. I will be switching everything next week.

In the meantime, my time online will be sporadic. I'm alive, just with internet. I'm already going through withdrawal.

See you whenever Comcast gets their act together. Don't hold your breath.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Don't Try This At Home

Two days ago, I set myself on fire.

I wasn't certain if it was newsworthy, so I didn't blog about it... but today, I have nothing much to say so decided it was a good enough story.

We have a woodstove that we use to heat our house for most of the winter. I love it. Though it's very labor intensive (especially in the years that we cut and split -- by hand -- our own wood), but it keeps the house in the 70's a luxury we couldn't afford if all we used was oil.

So, the other morning the flames were huge (we won't go into the fact that I'd forgotten and left the top open -- short term memory is the first thing to go.) What was I writing about? Oh yeah. Fire.

When I threw a log in, it also sparked as it is wont to do. Normally, this is not a problem. That day, it was. Evidentally, my sweater was treated with something flammable, because my entire arm burst into flame POOF!!

Thankfully, I am calm in emergencies, and I patted it out quickly, no harm, no foul. I started up the stairs to finish getting ready when I burst into flames again -- this time it was the same arm and entire front of my sweater POOF!!!

Still moderately calm (my mother says she's shocked I didn't scream, but hey -- I didn't want to scare my daughter), I ran for the bathroom, patting my body like crazy and jumped, fully clothed, into the shower. When the water wasn't putting it all the way out, I dragged the sweater over my head, threw it on the shower floor and stomped on it.

Mission accomplished.

Dripping wet, dressed in jeans and a bra, and finally shaking like a leaf, I went to my mom's place over our garage and let her know that I wouldn't be ready on time.

She understood.

And now I'm trying to figure out a way to use this in a story. "The Day I Set Myself On Fire".

Wish me luck.

The editors will probably tell me that the story is impossible, like the one I wrote loosely based on how my hubby and I met.

Yeah. Could never happen.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

My Window

Got this over at Charity's blog. It's a Johari Window.

Most of you I only know online. Some I know in "real" life. It would be interesting to know how I am perceived by others...so if you have a minute, I'd love to have you fill out my window.

Marianne's Johari Window.

I'm a little nervous...I feel like I'm baring my soul somehow.


I blame Paperback Writer for showing me yet another way to kill time.

Random Generators. So much fun.

Actually, I could use these to plot a paranormal romance novel. Check it out:

Romance Character Generator gives me my heroine.

A gypsy foundling, Marguerite Bonnaissance has dazzling ultramarine orbs and rippling platinum hair, and cannot disguise her distinctive hairstyle. All are awed when she reveals telekinesis. Little does she know she is really Claquesous's long-lost unexpectedly youthful aunt.

Where does the story take place? Use the Place Name Generator! My setting is:


What's Atlantium like? Use the City Generator.

This is a moderate-sized, not very populous city built predominantly of granite and defended by a highly trained city guard. It is well known for its imposing aqueduct. Most of its revenue comes from warfare.

Now I need my hero. Should I use the French Male Name Generator, the Japanese Male Name Generator or the Trendy Name Generator? I think I'll go with trendy names.

My hero?


And using the Character Description Generator , I can find out what he's like.

This slight, shy man has silky bleach-blonde hair, aquamarine eyes and a hooked nose. He wears a forest green business suit and a necktie.

Okay. I'm ready. I'm off to go write about stunningly beautiful Marguerite and the unlikely hero, Etan. But I think that Claquesous is going to get in the way of true love.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Camilla Collage

Thanks Charity!! I think I've got it. I'm still working on Liv's, but I already had a bunch of pix for Camilla, and I've put them together. Whaddya think?

We have independent Camilla with her two beaus, Maynard the rat, Roly the labrador, Dopey the Mastiff puppy, the barn, an old Italian family and so much more. I may add some other photos, but this is definitely Camilla's Critters in a nutshell.

So much fun.

Happy Valentines Day

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What do you think of the cookies my daughter made to celebrate the day? They taste even better than they look!

I've been contemplating Valentines Day since, as a romance writer, it should be my favorite day of the year.

It's not.

Let me give you some background. As a single woman for nearly 30 years, I dreaded Valentines Day and spent more of them with friends than with significant others. I probably had more fun doing that, but still, society looks at you as if something is wrong with you.

Flash forward to now.

I don't have a romantic husband, he just didn't get that gene. For my birthday, when we were first dating -- had been going out for just under two months -- he gave me an interesting gift: seatcovers for my truck. Aww.... how sweet. And he proposed by shoving the ring at me and saying "here". Think that would fly in a novel?

I was a little surprised at the time, but over the years, a pattern has emerged: cookware, a VCR, a digital camera, a vacuum cleaner. And I realized that he's taking care of me.

He comes home every night. He works at a job he hates so that I can stay home with our daughter. He mows the lawn and changes the oil in the vehicles. He makes sure I'm safe and comfortable. And, really, that's pretty romantic. Even better, he doesn't need a special day to obligate him to do those things.

So, what are we doing for Valentines Day? Absolutely nothing special. But I'll cook him dinner, and clean the house and he'll go to work and bring home a paycheck and that's the best gift we can give each other.

Every day.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Liv's Mystical Reading

I was over at Paperback Writer's webpage today, and she has (as always) some cool sites to visit. I went to this one for a "mystical reading" and did one for Liv. Her question was "who should I marry, Geoff or Mike?" and I used the Celtic Cross.

Here are my results:

The card not shown but at the center of the cross, represents the atmosphere surrounding the central issue. The High Priest: Faith in tradition and the old school. A justified and ancient source of power. Being supportive, sympathetic and loyal. Receiving instructions, learning, guidance or inspiration. The ability to hear a higher or inner voice. May also indicate a religious ritual, such as a marriage or an initiation.

Well... is all about marriage, so that works.

The card visible at the center of the cross represents the obstacle that stands in your way - it may even be something that sounds good but is not actually to your benefit. The Devil: Being seduced by the material world and physical pleasures. Lust for and obsession with money and power. Living in fear, domination and bondage. Being caged by an overabundance of luxury. Discretion should be used in personal and business matters.

"Being seduced by the material world..." is exactly right. Geoff represents all the "shoulds" for Liv -- the man she "should" marry because he's wealthy, successful, runs in the same circles. "Being cages by ... luxury" works, too. Geoff won't let Liv be who she really is inside, requiring her to look and act a certain way.

The card at the top of the cross represents your goal, or the best you can achieve without a dramatic change of priorities. The Hermit: Withdrawal from events and relationship to introspect and gather strength. Seeking the inner voice or calling upon vision from within. A need of understanding and advice, or a wise man who will offer knowing guidance. Personal experience and thoughtful temperance.

Oddly, Liv meets a cab driver who she immediately trusts and views as a father figure. She goes to him for advice on more than one occasion, so the "...a wise man who will offer knowing guidance" works here, too.

The card at the bottom of the cross represents the foundation on which the situation is based. Page of Swords: The essence of air behaving as earth, such as a steady wind: The approach of an unexpected challenge, to be met with clear thought and just action. A person filled with an eager appetite for all matters of mind and logic. The gathering of information through unfaltering vigilance, careful examination, and subtle spycraft. The use of reason or eloquent speech to penetrate the veil of confusion and cut to the heart of the matter.

This one really weirded me out... "a challenge", "gathering of information", "subtle spycraft"... this is what the entire story is based upon.

The card at the left of the cross represents a passing influence or something to be released. Queen of Cups: The essence of water, such as a deep and placid lake: Spirituality, maturity, and grace. A natural counselor and healer, One whose relaxed presence seems to embody deep love and spirituality. A tranquil poet who reflects the nature of the observer. The embrace of all things dreamlike and receptive, such as perfect and unconditional love.

This one, not so much. BUT Liv does have to embrace unconditional love in order to make a wise decision. Not just from Mike, but from her father and new friends as well.

The card at the right of the cross represents an approaching influence or something to be embraced. Knight of Pentacles: The essence of earth behaving as fire, such as molten magma: One slow to action, but decisive and unrelenting once set in motion. A force of nature whose methods are as predictable and dependable as they are unstoppable. The voice of duty, honor, and responsibility. The will to the change the world, not through bold action, but through the thorough and unwavering application of proven means.

Again, not so much. Except that Liv does change HER world, slowly and subtly.

The card at the base of the staff represents your role or attitude. The Lovers, when reversed: Inner strife, frustration, suspicion, and disagreements in a relationship. Irresponsibility and indecision. Avoiding true intimacy in favor of lust. Unfaithfulness.

That about sums up her social life right now.

The card second from the bottom of the staff represents your environment and the people you are interacting with. Strength, when reversed: Weakness in the face of obstacles and adversity. Tremendous power released at the wrong moment. Inability to defend oneself. Confusion, and lack of preparedness. Illness, hardship, distress and the failing of physical force. Dominant behavior, abusiveness and a possible loss of reputation.

Yup... I'll buy all of this except the abusiveness. Definitely the loss of reputation.

The card second from the top of the staff represents your hopes, fears, or an unexpected element that will come into play. Knight of Swords, when reversed: The dark essence of air behaving as fire, such as a tornado: A merciless and skillful warrior, unfettered by emotion or conscience. A nihilist who can refuse not even the most insurmountable of challenges. A person who inspires fear and hate through their domineering nature and the power of their presence. Speaking without tact or tolerance, in a sarcastic manner. May portend the swift initiation or conclusion of conflict, through the calamitous invocation of force.

Well... maybe. Everything certainly comes to a head with a surprise meeting of everyone involved. Hmmm...

The card at the top of the staff represents the ultimate outcome should you continue on this course. King of Pentacles: The essence of earth behaving as air, such as a diamond: A true businessman, with a gift for identifying opportunities and taking advantage of them. A person well informed about the world, skilled in all things physical, and eager to encourage others. A pillar of practicality and dependability, embracing tried and tested methods, and possessing an innate understanding of the material reality. A philanthropist and devotee of both luxury and hard work, whose word is as good as gold.

Awww... well, that's sure nice. A perfect conclusion.

But it still didn't tell me who Liv should marry.

How I Wasted my Writing Time This Morning

Thanks to Charity (yup, it's all her fault!), I learned how to play in Power Point. And lookie what I've made (I'm going to add to it, but these are all the pix I have so far)... well, crud. I'm trying to get the collage here, but I can't get it imported. Charity... help!

Anyway, here's what's on it - "It" being a collage for Liv Leigh:


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And also a picture of a wrench, a pizza, a beer bottle, a diamond ring and the cover of Guiness Book of World Records.

Still looking for some other stuff.

This was fun and a total time waster! Woo hoo!

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Pet Peeves


I mean, why do they even get paid? I can do a better job with weather prediction based on my achy bones and the cat. Sheesh. The Storm of the Century (or maybe it was just the season -- I lose track, and everything gets really dramatic here when more than an inch of snow is expected) is supposed to be hitting today. In fact, it was already supposed to be here. I promised my daughter SNOW when she woke up.

Is there snow? Uh, n-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o…

I just checked the radar loop at Intellicast and it shows snow. Here. Someone's messing with the radar guy, cuz there's no snow here.

Chicken-Livered Gossipmongers

If you're gonna gossip, do it right. I hate people that have a problem with you and stand nearby and talk REALLY loud about some imagined slight, never mentioning your name but making sure you know who it is they're talking about.

The ballet practice after the Christmas show was just such an occasion. Apparently my friend and I stepped on some toes while waiting in line. The perception was that we cut in line… and I'm not really certain why this lady was so bugged by it since she got in before us. We didn't cut, we just had more than an hour to wait, and leaned on the wall nearby, joining the line behind the person who was last in line when we arrived. We even made a point of talking to the folks around us, who seemed to understand… but waited until later to talk about us, near us.

Thankfully, I wasn't at that practice. My friend took my daughter along with hers, and told me afterward. She's far nicer than me. I would have said something -- directly to them, which is something they didn't have the respect to do. Ugh.

That's okay, we're the "poor white trash" of the ballet group anyhow. Neither of us work (outside the home), our kids aren't dressed in the latest fashions, nor are we. And, I'm pretty sure we were the only families there who didn't take a trip to Aruba or the Bahamas or, at the very least, Florida this winter.

Modern Recipes

Why do all recipes in current cookbooks require you to open a box or a can of something? And why do the bread recipes call for "a packet of yeast"? I don't buy my yeast in packets… I bake way too much and I buy it in bulk. And I can never remember how much *&^% yeast is in a package and have to go look it up. At the very least, couldn't it say "A packet OR 2 1/4 teaspoons"??

I have two cookbooks I use for the most part. One is the Betty Crocker cookbook my mom had when she was about nineteen -- it's so cute! Bisquick had just made its appearance on the market, and they have a section in the back dedicated to how to make many of recipes in the book with it. It also tells you about how to take care of yourself and your husband (including taking a short rest everyday and putting on fresh lipstick before your husband returns from his hard day at work).

What I love best about this cookbook is that EVERYTHING is from scratch. Nary a box or can to be found. And it gives specific information on how to do stuff, or substitutions for things (like if you don't have buttermilk).

The other cookbook is all about whole wheat and natural baking along with nutrition and stocking your pantry. LOVE it.


This is the longest blog entry I've written in weeks. It's taken me about half an hour. This means, of course, that I've lost thirty minutes of real writing time.

Shame on me.

How about you? Any pet peeves you'd like to share?

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Why is Humor Funny?

As you may know, I've been on a search for my funny bone the past few days. I think it's playing the "...hotter, hotter, hotter, boiling hot! Ooooh... ice cold" game with me.

I decided yesterday to read the queen of romantic comedy again. So out came "Getting Rid of Bradley" by Jennifer Crusie. I am trying not to get sucked into the plot (even though I've read this book half a dozen times, it's still hard) and trying to pay attention to what makes the book funny.

Hair color and "dead dog" aside, it's all about what's going on inside the brains of the characters. I mean, some strange and funny stuff happens, but mostly it's about the character's (stupid - that's meant for me, so don't take it personally, please).

She's the master of creating original and quirky characters (I bow to you, Jenny). It's not slapstick or physical humor, though that figures in a little, but it's subtle.

It's the "While You Were Sleeping" kind of humor, where you get totally wrapped up in the people and who they are, and -- although the events serve to move the storyline forward, it's really about how the characters respond to the events, not the events themselves.

Does that make any sense?

Incidentally, reading Jenny Crusie for homework has to be one of the most enjoyable assignments I've ever had. And now I must return to it.

Friday, February 10, 2006

A Question For Writers

A general poll for all you other writers out there...

If you hate your WIP, and all you do is sit at the computer and stare without adding one single word to the thing is it better to:

a. Keep staring and hope that something will come to you eventually. It's better to stay focused.

b. Work on a new WIP so that, at least you're writing something.

c. Play Spider Solitaire

What think you? I am curious about the answer, so please feel free to share your experiences with me.

BTW, I'm still looking for my funny bone. If you see, would you send it my way?

Unbreak My Heart

A few months ago, I went to Pet Quarters to pick up dog and cat food and discovered two truly amazing cats. Pet Quarters works with the animal rescue groups, fostering cats at their store and, hopefully, getting them adopted out. Mostly, the animals are allowed free roam of the store and all the attention they can get.

The cats that stole my heart were Bubba and Daphne -- brother and sister kitties with special needs. They were born with a birth defect in their front legs, which are shorter than they should be and bent up at the ankle. They can walk with difficulty, and spend much time sitting on their haunches like meercats. They are sweet and affectionate and my daughter and I looked forward to seeing them on every visit.

Yesterday, we went and they were gone. I asked the employee if they'd finally found a home. Nope. They went back to the shelter so that other kitties could come to the store... other, more easily adopted kitties.

My heart broke a little. I want these cats more than anything, but my husband really hates cats. We have one now, but he married into her, and I have very little chance of talking him into taking these sweet babies. I am going to try, but hold out little hope.

When we left the store, my daughter - crying - said, "Mommy, you don't understand. I had a little spot in my heart just for them." Even now, it makes me choke up.

So, anyone out there have a place in your hearts for these sweet babies?

Bubba and Daphne

They'll steal a little spot in your hearts, too.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

That's Funny!

I have my eyeball on a contest, the deadline of which is coming up in three weeks. I thought "Liv is pretty close to polished, at least the beginning. I can do this."

The final judges are awesome: An agent AND an editor for each category, and for mine the judges are people I'd planned on contacting anyway. So, if (when -- I must be confident!) I final, things couldn't be better.

I posted my first 2000 words for feedback to my crit group. It was wonderful... it was a stronger opening, it made more sense, cleared up some issues.... ahh... I'm flying.

And then, one comment (right on target, incidentally): "You need more humor. This bit doesn't have any, and you need to let the reader know what they're in for."

ARGH! She's right.

I can't throw all the other goofy stuff that happens at the poor, unsuspecting reader without a little bit of a warning.

So all evening I walked around muttering, "More humor. Must have humor." And wondering how finding evidence that your fiance is cheating could be funny. And I realized that I have to make it funny. That's my job.

How do comedians do it? How can they be funny on demand? Doesn't it take all the fun out of funny? Suddenly I can't think one single funny thing, not even a little lighthearted. Very weird, since I usually have a hard time being 100% serious (and it's rubbed off on my daughter who runs around making up jokes -- remind me to tell you the one about rush hour sometime).

I woke up this morning, clearly having been cycling the same thought around in my brain, "More humor. Must have humor."

Still blank. So, I'm going to write a few miscellaneous scenes that have little or nothing to do with those first 2000 words and try to get my funny bone back. After all, I'm 12,000 words short, so maybe I'll write something worth keeping!

More humor.

Must have humor.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006


I've never been a fan of outlining before I write because I never, ever stick to it and frequently stray so far from it that I might as well be writing a different story. I think that, as you write, you get to know your characters better and sometimes what you originally planned for them doesn't jive with their motivation anymore.

That said, I decided to sit down and outline Liv Leigh -- the advantage being that I already have my crappy first draft done. I finished the outline yesterday. It was an eye opening experience.

First off, I found places that I'd edited something out, but left a reference to it in later on. For instance, I have the ferret find something for Liv that she originally threw across the room in my first first chapter. But I took that out. Now, I either need to put the scene back in somewhere or delete the part with the ferret. The two scenes were a couple hundred pages apart and I didn't notice the problem on my read through, but outlining brought it out.

Also, I realized that the whole story happens in only a few days for all intents (I know, this should have occured to me long ago) and I've never been a big fan of "forever" love happening in a few days unless it's between people who have a history. So, this isn't going to work for me. And I'm not entirely certain how to fix it, so will have to give it some thought.

Outlining really got the story down to the bones and will certainly help with the synopsis that I want to do next. Ugh. I wish we could feed our pages into the "Amazing Synopsis Machine" and have a one page, three page and five page synopsis's (synopsi? LOL...) pop out. And if you act now, they'll include the "Incredible Query Letter Writer" as a bonus gift.

No such luck.

I'm off ... well, I've always been a little off, but I'm going.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

If Only I Had Her Hair

According to the Movies.com Which Movie Star Are You Like? quiz, you're:

Jennifer Aniston

America's Sweetheart? Try America's Victim! The title may help you spark that big-screen career you've long been hungering for, but we're guessing you're probably nobody's victim. You've always been the most likely among your Friends to have a big-screen career — no victimization necessary!

Take this quiz at Movies.com

The Dream...

Since I apparently can't rely on my pets anymore to wake me up, I set my alarm last night. For 4:30 a.m. Of course, last night I didn't get to bed at a decent hour due to the necessity of helping to set up our new furniture -- well, not exactly the furniture, but the stuff inside.

We got a new entertainment center.

What is it about men that they must have eighteen different components to their "home theater" (I use that term loosely, because everything we own that's electronic up there is at least three years old - most of it's more than a decade old. The DirectTV guy snickered at our TV set.)? If it was only up to me, we'd have: A TV, TiVo, and A VCR/DVD combo. Uh... that's it.

Nope, we have all of the above, plus a stereo system with five components and four speakers. Four. Why?

In any case, it took about two hours to sort out all the cords and get stuff together so that it worked.

Back to the point of my story...

This morning, my alarm went off (softly, because I'm a very light sleeper, but don't want to wake hubby up). I stayed there, eyes closed, grumbling to myself that I didn't wanna get up... wah.

And then "The River" came on the radio.

You know a dream is like a river
Ever changin' as it flows
And a dreamer's just a vessel
That must follow where it goes
Trying to learn from what's behind you
And never knowing what's in store
Makes each day a constant battle
Just to stay between the shores

I love this song, it never ceases to inspire me. Yesterday, I was determined to finish my outline and get going on my edit of Liv, but was continually interrupted. Got. Nothing. Done. It was very discouraging.

And I will sail my vessel
'Til the river runs dry
Like a bird upon the wind
These waters are my sky
I'll never reach my destination
If I never try
So I will sail my vessel
'Til the river runs dry

I was feeling pretty low the other day about writing. Wondered if there was even a point to it. After all, I managed to stop writing for five or six years. And they say that writers can't not write. Well, I "not" wrote for awhile.

But I keep coming back.

Too many times we stand aside
And let the waters slip away
'Til what we put off 'til tomorrow
It has now become today
So don't you sit upon the shoreline
And say you're satisfied
Choose to chance the rapids
And dare to dance that tide

So I guess it's time to hop into my boat and hope it's seaworthy.

I'm going to go dance the tide.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Be Careful What You Wish For

Yesterday, I complained that I never got to sleep in. Guess what? Today, the cat didn't wake me up until 5:30 (well, 5:28 to be exact). And even then, the dog didn't so much as twitch an ear. ACK!

It's a disaster. The fire was out. I have almost no writing time. DH is due to be awakened right now. And I'm thinking I'm going to feel a little out step all day.

Rested, but out of step.

In any case, I'm working on getting the outline of Liv Leigh down, and figuring out the stuff I don't like or that doesn't work. Some of them are minor -- like figuring a way to make it less of a threat to go into a strange man's apartment than to not go. Got that one figured out, and am thinking it's going to be a lot of fun to write.

But the others aren't so simple, and they're near the end and part of the whole "wrap up the loose ends" thing, so they're also very important. I think getting the outline down on paper will help to straighten things out, though. I'm the kinda gal who usually knows the beginning, the end and I have 20 - 30 scene ideas plus the character profiles done when I start writing. But I don't use an outline. And sometimes I pay, but sometimes I end up with much richer things happening as the characters and I get to know each other better.

With Liv, though, the first draft is done, so an outline won't hurt the creative process. In this case, I think it'll help.

Oh Yeah. I must say this -- I'm not a Seahawks fan, but they were robbed. Refs called way too many penalties and some of them were bogus, and usually against Seattle. Game should have been 17-14 Seattle.

But then, I'm a 49er's fan, so what do I know?

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Sleep.... sweet sleep....

I'm an early bird. Getting up in the very early morning is the perfect thing for me -- most of the time. Every now and then, I'd like to sleep in, ya know, until...oh... 5:30 or so.

It's not to be. I have my pets programmed now for a 4 a.m. wake up that I can ignore at my own peril. At 4 a.m., the cat jumps down from the bed. If that doesn't wake me (though it usually does, as I'm a very light sleeper), she heads into the master bath, pops her paws under the cupboard door and pulls it out about an inch, then lets go. *thump* And again. *thump* Until I jump out of bed and chase her out of the room, by which time I'm wide awake and might as well get up anyway.

If it's not her, it's the dog. Around 4 a.m., she'll get up and stretch with a lovely groan (she's getting old, like me, so I completely understand) and then shake -- normally not a loud event, except she has a collar on with a rabies tag and a dog license... ding-a-ling-a-ling.

And if that doesn't get me up, she comes to my side of the bed and stares at me. Just. Stares.

I guess I should be grateful that she doesn't lick me to wake me up, though that might be next on the agenda. I seldom make it past the staring stage.


Gotta love 'em.

But at least they get my butt out of bed and on the computer to write, write, write! I'll have to mention them in my dedication.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

It's Saturday...

That means I'll have very little time to get down to the mushroom patch and write. Hubby was home yesterday fixing his poor snowmobile (there was great tragedy there from last weekend involving pistons and the carbuerator...please don't ask me any more than that). Normally, he'd take the thing out on the weekend but it's been RAINING here. Raining. Here. We're practically in Canada! They've had to postpone the ice fishing derby on Lake Winnepesaukee this year because the ice isn't frozen enough. Unheard of.

But, secretly, I'm thrilled. I really hate the cold. Doc says it's partly because I have ridiculously low blood pressure (no triple digits for me, I'm something like 90 over 60) and I get cold easier. You're telling me.

Anyway, the significance of this is that the weather stinks (it's raining again today) and my husband has no project to keep him busy and out of my hair. When he doesn't have something to do, he drives me nuts by doing things such as rearranging the furniture. Or cleaning my office (grrr...) or other busy work.

I can't believe that I wish it had snowed yesterday instead of rained. That's very unlike me. And to top it off, I'm not going to be able to keep track of what day it was, because yesterday felt like Saturday and now I'm all messed up!

-- In writing news --

I mailed out a short story to a print magazine yesterday. Won't hear back for at least three months. I hate waiting.

I'm judging a contest again. I'm tickled pink because these entries are much better than the last ones I had. Frustrated, though, because a couple of them have me hooked, and I want the rest of the story! Guess that's good for them, huh?

I'm working on another short story for an online magazine, and brainstorming ideas for Womans World (will I ever get in there?).

So, I'm keeping busy.

What about you?

Friday, February 03, 2006

How Did They Know?

My Humorscope:

You will stack furniture in the bathtub, today. That's just the sort of thing you would do, your friends will say.

How did they know that? Do they have a nanny-cam in the bathroom? Now I'm going to have to take the armoire out of the tub.

That reminds me of a great line from "Undercover Blues" when the cop turns to the hero (who the cop thinks is FBI) and says "My contact says that you weren't 'Bureau' material." And the hero says, "Actually, I'm more of an end table." And then the hero turns to the heroine and says, "I've always pictured you as an armoire with really nice drawers."

Okay. Maybe you had to be there.

Still, I am going to use that Humorscope in a story. Seriously. Or... maby not seriously -- because I don't think you can use that in a serious story.

I'm babbling. That's my cue to exit stage left.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

My Daily Humorscope

Oh My... I loved this!

From Humorscope:

Everyone you work with will start spending a lot of time balancing things on their nose. This could be bad. You may have a renegade seal trainer lurking in your midst!

Just glad I'm not a Cancer.

You will be followed by an evil-looking man in an old green Ford pickup truck. Surprisingly, it will turn out that following people is just his hobby, and you have nothing to worry about.

And now... I'm off to write the prompt story that lead me to this predictions. There's a wealth of ideas to work with on this site. Not to mention the ability to find out your super secret superhero identity.

Check it out.

Favorite Movies

In contemplating my VHS collection, and wondering which of them I'd like to replace on DVD I started thinking about my faves. The movies I can watch over and over and not get sick of them.

Strangely, there aren't very many romances among them. Wonder what that says about me? Other than I'm a little odd, which will probably be confirmed when you read about my favorite movies -- few of them were blockbuster hits. These are in no particular order, just posted as they came to me.

Undercover Blues - probably my all time favorite. Oh so funny, in a warped way. Great lines and innuendos. Cheesy. Thinking about it makes me want to watch it again.

Better off Dead - I saw this in the theater and remember that it was me, my friend and two other people. I was so embarassed every time I laughed out loud. And I did. A lot.

Ever After - One of the best romances ever. And (*sigh*) Dougray Scott is the best handsome prince.

The Power of One - Saw this one in the theater, too, and came out a changed person. Amazing stuff.

Galaxy Quest - Funniest. Movie. Ever.

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While You Were Sleeping - I know Sandra Bullock doesn't want to be shoehorned into romantic comedies, but she does them so well. And this movie cemented my love affair with Bill Pulman. One of the best all time romances with the "aaahhhh" factor.

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Back to the Future - The first one was the best! I watched it again the other night, and loved it all over. What a great movie.

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Star Wars -- The original. The first. The best. Changed the entire world of movie making. Great acting, great plot. A#1 in my book.

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American Dreamer - What writer wouldn't like to become one of her characters, at least for a little while? Great fun.

Blogger is giving me fits about posting pictures, so I'll stop for now - but I could go on (Raiders of the Lost Ark anyone?). And on.

What about you? What are your must have DVD's?

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

That's Just Plain Wrong!

Saw this headline: Puppies Used as Drug Smugglers and had to look at the article. Some excerpts:

Colombian drug dealers turned puppies into couriers by surgically implanting them with packets of heroin, federal authorities said Wednesday.

A veterinarian had stitched a total of 3 kilograms of heroin into the bellies of six pups. Three later died from infections after the drugs were removed.

And you know that the drug dealers here didn't kindly anesthetize the poor babies and carefully remove the drugs... right? I'm telling you right now that the lowest level of Hell is reserved for people who abuse children and animals.

Where do you get your ideas? Jeez, read the paper. The truth really is stranger than fiction.

After that, I needed something happy. So I went to The Random Acts of Kindness Foundation and read The Kind Times Happy News. Restores my faith in humankind. A little.

The Plank in My Eye

Do you ever notice that you can see stuff in others work, and completely miss it in yours? I commented today on a person's writing, and mentioned the old "show don't tell" adage. And then I realized that I'm guilty of exactly the same thing.

Why can't we see our own stuff as clearly? It's just not fair.

I'm editing the last bit of Liv for D and I read stuff and smile or chuckle (ha, ha, isn't cute) and much of what I really like is what gets negative feedback from folks. Why? What am I missing?

I suppose that is why we have editors. And critique groups. And I can't tell you how thankful I am for them.

In fact, let's pretend we're at the Academy Awards.

I just want to thank:

The P&P group
Alison and all the rest of Timeless Tales
And, of course, my mom

You guys shove me back onto the path, sometimes painfully, but I'm really thankful to have you all.