Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Pillar Place Bonus Episode, "Still a Pill"

Phil, the Pill -- the swallowtail caterpillar who was a problem from the very beginning has shown us once again how much of pill he really is.

Phil was the third of the pillars to pupate, therefore logically he should have been the third pillar to hatch -- and by my calendar, the earliest date he should have hatched was this coming Friday.

Guess who was hanging out in the box just a few minutes ago?

Yup. You guessed it. Phil. The Pill. I took pictures and will post them tomorrow. And, yes, Phil is a male butterfly. Perhaps that explains things?


To Take or Not To Take Advice

The true secret of giving advice is, after you have honestly given it, to be perfectly indifferent whether it is taken or not, and never persist in trying to set people right. ~Hannah Whitall Smith

Judy is going to smack me upside the head for talking about this, but I can't stand it. I have to.

A few days ago, someone somewhere (how's THAT for obscure?) posted a question regarding passive voice and adverbs, having been told by her crit group not to use them. In her message, she mentioned that she "didn't care what Stephen King thought", that adverbs were perfectly good parts of speech and she liked to use them. And so, by the way, are words like "was". So what was the problem?

Various people responded, but none really addressed her question. The discussion hared off into what to do with crits -- fix your stuff right away or keep moving forward with your writing, and the whole adverb/passive voice thing got pushed to one side.

So I, despite misgivings and having been kicked in the teeth before, chose to respond to her initial question by using examples of why stronger verbs are better than weak verbs + adverbs ("he whispered" instead of "he spoke softly" for instance). I also tried to show why active voice is better than passive. I linked to several articles about the same, and encouraged her to listen to her crit partners (some of whom are published authors), and to decide whether she was writing only for herself or for the chance to be published. I mentioned that any editor would tell her to tighten her prose if she liberally used adverbs and passive voice in her writing.

I got two responses -- one from her saying (with liberal amounts of sarcasm), "Well, then, I guess I'll never be published then." and one from someone else, quite long, explaining just why the use of passive voice is a better choice than active in some cases.

I should have expected the same. After all, why should she listen to me when she wouldn't listen to Stephen King? And I made a vow to never, ever stick my nose in where it wasn't specifically invited by name. No more comments to general questions.

Still, it's amazing that anyone who is seriously seeking publication (which this person is) would discount the recommendations of others. I'm not talking about me -- but the links I gave her were written by some very well known folks. And, well, there was the King comment.

I simply don't understand.


It occurred to me, this morning, that I can't post pictures of our trip because you can clearly see the faces of my family. Some time ago, I posted a picture of my DD at her ballet recital, and received some slimy, anonymous comments that gave me the willies. I decided that I would never post identifiable pix of my family on this blog. I'm sorry... but one bad apple and all that...

I could post a picture of DH's boat (he wanted a new one -- because the boat has changed somehow since last years pictures?) or the scenery... but those are dull.

I can post a picture of Otto, though! How's that for a segue into Pillar Place? This was taken on Saturday (and because of how close I needed to get, it's a tad blurry -- which is why I couldn't take them when he was smaller):

Since then, he's probably tripled in size. Tomorrow will be Otto's tenth birthday (ten WHOLE days since he hatched), and he'll be transferred into the butterfly box because they make pupas sometime between ten and fourteen days and his container isn't big enough for when he becomes a butterfly, so he can't pupate in there.

We checked on the outside pillars, and found we'd lost some. DD was distraught and asked if we could bring them in. There were three, and I only had two containers, so one was left outside until Otto moves into the box. If she's still around on Wednesday, we'll grab her. Her name is Nellie. Please, God, let her live...

The other two are named Anne and Andy. I know "Anne" shouldn't have an "e" (they're named for the Raggedy's in case you hadn't picked that up), but I don't like how Ann(e) looks without an e.

Our next swallowtail should hatch on or about Thursday. Then two more a day later. And then a two day break, and the last one.

Raising pillars has been exhausting. I don't know if I'll do it again any time soon. Of course, it's probably like giving birth. Next year, I'll have forgotten what a pain it is!


I don't think they're asking the right questions...

You're a Gorilla!

Highly social and group-oriented, you like hanging out with the same people constantly. You have either black or gray hair and spend a good deal of time grooming it or getting others to groom it for you. Sleep is a big part of your daily routine and you like to either make very loud noise or no noise at all. You have more skills with language than most, however. One of your absolute favorite drinks is hot cocoa.

Take the Animal Quiz
at the Blue Pyramid.

I am SO not highly social, though I do typically have only one or two good friends that I hang with. NOT groups. Yes, I have dark hair, no I do not spend time grooming it -- what good would it do? My hair is hopeless. I'm good with the language skills and hot cocoa, though. :-)


DH was off yesterday and goes back to work today. My whole week is going to be messed up because today feels like Monday. Urgh.

Happy Whatever Day!

Monday, July 30, 2007

Back! Didja Miss Me?

No man needs a vacation so much as the person who has just had one. ~Elbert Hubbard

Back from my short vacation. I did discover something about myself: I don't relax well. I did a lot of pacing. And I cleaned the camp. It was nice to have time to read -- something I haven't had in awhile. I nearly finished The Unfortunate Miss Fortunes, though I realized in hindsight that I probably should have brought up Harry Potter. I'm still only about five pages into that book! Oops.

I have pictures, but haven't downloaded them yet, so will have to post them tomorrow. The good news is, all the pillars survived. The bad news is my doggie missed me :-(

She's eleven years-old and has never been kenneled or away from either my DH or me. It was only one night, and my mom (who lives with us in an apt. over the garage and has known Bailey since she was a baby) watched her for us. And still, Bailey decided she didn't want to eat.

The cat, OTOH? Could care less. Celebrated our return by biting the DD when DD gave her a hug (Breeann is NOT a huggy kitty, and DD knows this but insists on squeezing her anyway).

DD had a wonderful time and may have sprouted gills and fins -- she spent nearly every waking hour in the water. DH was as relaxed as I've seen him in a really long time (though he's trying to figure out how we can afford our own place - HA! You should see the prices....)

I was the only one who came back less relaxed. Apparently vacations stress me out. LOL.


Pillar Place: Monarch is fairly quiet. We had the initial rash of deaths -- oh, did I mention that Manuela II and Harry died? -- and now all is well. Otto is huge, and I was a bit worried to find him on the side of the container when I came home yesterday, and with little of his food eaten. I *think* he may just be shedding his skin and going through a growth spurt. I'll find out today when I go check on him.

All the others are eating, sleeping and pooping like the good butterbabies they are. Judy is far outgrowing Bob, though. And they hatched at the same time.


Got two more rejections on my novel -- one from an agent and one from a press. Oh well. Time to send some more out!

Found out TWRP has changed their word count guidelines, so "Isn't She Liv Leigh" is no longer considered a full length novel -- that is now 65,000. However, they're going to start printing their "rosebud" length stuff (40,000 - 65,000) through Lulu (so no B&N or Borders for Liv), so I'd still get it in print... if it's accepted. Not great, but will have to do. It also means I either need to increase the word counts on my others (and had I known this was coming down the pike, I would have increased the count on Liv somehow), or find somewhere else to submit them. So, time to go back to the drawing board and decide what to do.


My friend, Gay, is having a great contest! You can win an autographed copy of The Lottery by Patricia Wood. And all you have to do is what I just did: mention the title and the author in your blog post and then let Gay know. Easy-peasy, right?

Of course, if you guys don't want to, that's cool... because then I'LL win -- and it sounds like a really good book! ((evil laughter here)).


You're Ulysses!

by James Joyce

Most people are convinced that you don't make any sense, but compared
to what else you could say, what you're saying now makes tons of sense. What people do
understand about you is your vulgarity, which has convinced people that you are at once
brilliant and repugnant. Meanwhile you are content to wander around aimlessly, taking in
the sights and sounds of the city. What you see is vast, almost limitless, and brings you
additional fame. When no one is looking, you dream of being a Greek folk hero.

Take the Book Quiz
at the Blue Pyramid.

Hmmm.... I don't know about this one. What do you think? First off, I may one of the least vulgar people you'll meet. I do have to admit to a bit of rambling, however... but, a Greek Hero? Puh-leez. Okay, I have to go back, pay closer attention to the questions and try again. I know, I know... and I don't usually do that, but this answer is not correct.

You're One Hundred Years of Solitude!

by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Lonely and struggling, you've been around for a very long time.
Conflict has filled most of your life and torn apart nearly everyone you know. Yet there
is something majestic and even epic about your presence in the world. You love life all
the more for having seen its decimation. After all, it takes a village.

Take the Book Quiz
at the Blue Pyramid.

Okay... nearly all different questions this time, and I STILL don't agree with it.

I surrender.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Vacation, All I Ever Wanted...

A vacation is having nothing to do and all day to do it in. ~Robert Orben

First off, I need to let you know that there will be NO blog post from me tomorrow (Sunday). I know, it's shocking... but I'm actually going to be away most of the weekend and *gasp* without Internet access. I don't know if I'll be able to handle it. I'll be back here on Monday.


The other day, a friend (*waves to Michele*) asked me what was harder to write: short stories or full length novels. My answer? Both... or neither. But she really got me to thinking about it, since I do like to write both (and hate to write both) for different reasons.

I love writing novels. They give you time to build a world, to really get to know your characters inside and out... to give them time to really do things, to live, to change, to fall in love.

But they take a long time to write. And sometimes you hit a wall. And there are days you just can't face looking at those characters even one more time. There are times you're just sick of everything about it. Familiarity breeds contempt.

That's when I write short stuff. When I need a break. When I am desperate to write "the end" on something. And when I just want to have a little fun. But...

But it can be significantly harder to write a short story. You have less time to build your characters. Less time to set the stage. Less time to get your reader deeply involved, for them to care about what happens to your protagonist. You don't have time for in depth descriptions. This is the time you choose one or two things about your characters and let the rest fall by the wayside. I'm fairly certain, though I'd have to go back and double check, that I give little or no physical descriptions of any of my heroines in my short stories. For those of you who have read them -- did you notice? Did you care? Did you have your own picture of them in your mind?

I have to admit... I really enjoy them both. And I don't feel guilty for taking time off of my novel to write a short story. I think it can actually make the novel fresher in the long run.

Anyone else have any input into this?


"Miles From You" got four roses at Sensual Reads! It says, in part:

Miles From You is a very believable and touching story. Marianne Arkins has created an extraordinary story for all ages to read. Millie has the sweetest personally and Paul is the perfect gentleman. I wish everyone was still like this today.

We had two more casualties at Pillar Place: Monarch yesterday. Harry and Apollo died from unknown causes. Apollo's death was the strangest -- he was still in his resting position: head tucked under, body nice and straight. Just... dead. Very odd.

I'm happy to report, however, that the rest of the pillars are thriving. And, I've found FIVE butterbabies outside. I still feel guilty about leaving them there, but I did wipe all the milkweed aphids off their leaves and chase off a huge wolf spider (who had caught and killed a Japanese beetle... good spidey) onto another plant. EDITED TO ADD: I was incorrect in labeling the spider ... though we do have many wolf spiders here in the area, they are ground dwelling (and, Michele, they're good mama's... don't be afraid). The spider I chased off was a Garden Orb spider -- similar in look, but they spin webs and typically live on plants.

Still... I worry. Though it appears being taken inside is no guarantee of a long and healthy life, either.

I promise, I'll get pictures of Otto soon.


I am not happy with this outcome... but I won't cheat and retake the test. Who are you?

Find out your Harry Potter personality at LiquidGeneration!


See you on Monday!

Friday, July 27, 2007

Friday Feast, Pillar News and a Release Date

Death is a debt we all must pay. ~Euripides

Friday Feast One Hundred and Fifty Three

Describe a toy you remember from your childhood.

Would you believe I don't really have a memory of a toy that made any great impression? I don't think I played with toys that much -- I preferred playing with my pets, or my friends. I did have a Barbie doll... and I remember wanting a Ken doll to go with it. You know what I got instead? G.I. Joe! LOL... do you suppose that's why I enjoy military romances so much?

On a scale of 1 to 10 (with 10 being highest) how observant are you?

Maybe 5 or 6. It really depends on what else I'm doing...

When I was in high school, my drama teacher sat the class down the moment it started and told us to write everything we saw on our way into the room. He prompted us: did we see trees? How many and what kind? Were there stairs? Doors to other rooms? Flowers? And so on.

Then, he took us for a walk to see what was really there. It was amazing how different it looked when I was really paying attention to things -- I'd been going to that school for two years at that point, and had never seen some of the things he pointed out.

Where would you rather be at this very moment?

Very nearly anywhere west of the Mississippi, but preferably in one of the Pacific states (well, maybe not Alaska -- but I'm good with the others). Have I mentioned that I really don't like the Northeast?

Main Course
When was the last time you learned something new

Yesterday? And I imagine I'll learn something new today, too. I love learning. Lately, I've been building a new website, and I'm having to learn how to do lots of things. I still can't figure out the code for those collapsible bits of font -- Yanno, like SBTN does here. Frustrating.

I've also learned that milkweed lasts for about 2 - 3 days once you pick it. And that monarch caterpillars are nearly microscopic when they hatch.

Learning is a lot of fun. And, yes, I was one of those strange kids who actually liked school.

Fill in the blank: I have ____________ but I haven’t ____________.

I have legs, but I haven't started jogging.

I have curly hair, but I haven't figured out how to style it.

I have a dog, but I haven't figured out how to make her live forever.

Okay, I'll stop.


Pillar Place: Swallowtail update -- we had a "Moe" sighting. He was having a sip of nectar on the daylillies next door. And yes, of course I'm certain it was him.

Pillar Place: Monarch had its first death. Thankfully DD was gone for the day and I could do a switch of the name tags. The poor butterbaby who died was Manuela -- named for my DD (her middle name). Another pillar needed a bigger home, so I moved her into Manuela's house and gave her the same name. Manuela II nee Betty is a happy, newly named pillar in a nice roomy house. Manuela is off in that big milkweed patch in the sky.

And DD is none the wiser. Phew.

Otto, OTOH, is about big enough I think my camera might actually take his photo. I'll see if I can have him say "cheese".


I got the official release date for my story, "Pregnancy Cravings" -- It will be available for purchase and download on August 15th! Yay!

No word on "Magic" yet. I haven't even seen the galleys... then it'll be a little while for new stuff. But new stuff, there will be!


You Are Eggs

Traditional and totally grown up, you truly believe that breakfast is the most important meal of the day.
You don't skimp on nutrition or quality. You're likely to take the time to make yourself a decent meal each morning.
You're a great cook, even if you aren't a showy one. You can make a feast out of simple ingredients.
The food you eat may be basic, but you prefer to think of it as classic.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Tips, Titles and Pillars

"Being a writer is like having homework every night for the rest of your life." - Lawrence Kasdan

Thanks to Judy for this tag:

It’s very simple. When this is passed on to you, copy the whole thing, skim the list and put a * star beside those that you like. (Check out especially the * starred ones.)

Add the next number (1. 2. 3. 4. 5., etc.) and write your own blogging tip for other bloggers. Try to make your tip general.

After that, tag 10 other people. Link love some friends!

Just think- if 10 people start this, the 10 people pass it onto another 10 people, you have 100 links already!

1. Look, read, and learn. **
- http://www.neonscent.com/

2. Be, EXCELLENT to each other. ****
- http://www.bushmackel.com/

3. Don’t let money change ya! *
- http://www.therandomforest.info/

4. Always reply to your comments. ********
- http://chattiekat.com/

5. Link liberally — it keeps you and your friends afloat in the Sea of Technorati. ****
- http://chipsquips.com/

6. Don’t give up - persistence is fertile. **
- http://www.velcro-city.co.uk/

7. Give link credit where credit is due. ******
- http://www.sfsignal.com/

8. Pictures say a thousand words and can usually add to any post. ***
- http://scifichick.com/

9. Visit all the bloggers that leave comments for you - it's nice to know who is reading! ****
- http://stephaniesbooks.blogspot.com/

10. Make a blogger template unique: change the background colour, or add a background picture to your header. *
- http://chris-book-a-rama.blogspot.com/

11. Write positively even if the situation is seemingly negative -- spread joy and not gloom. You can do it! *
- http://www.aliceteh.com/

12. When you find something that interests you, write about it. Sharing yourself with others is one of the best things about blogging. *
- http://jhthomas.blogspot.com/

13. Blog Daily (or at least, very regularly). People will give up looking if you're not around a lot!
- http://www.reading-writing.blogspot.com
I try to do most of these things -- but have to admit, I'm not always good at responding to my commenter's. I'm lucky to get here once a day with my schedule. It's not that I don't love the folks who come by and chat -- I DO, and often wonder if I'm dull or offensive on those days when I have few comments. I'm just really busy.

Okay... tagging people. Hmmm...Dunno if I'll have ten, but here's who pops into my early morning brain:


And six more people who feel like do it... kay? I'm still waking up.


So, I have another contract (for my novella-- YAY!) pending a new title. I hate thinking up titles. I thought I did really great with this one, but the editor wants the focus on the H/H, not the H's daughter. Well, sheesh, you'd think this was a romance or something.

It was previously called, "A Family For Melody" -- Melody being the daughter. I can't think of a blessed thing. And it's frustrating, cuz I can't get the contract printed and signed until I have a good title. Grr... (think, think, think).


Pillar Place: Monarch is fairly quiet. I have all the pillars transferred into their own happy homes, so no one will eat anyone. Otto is now nearly an inch long! And his antenna are visible, so he's really looking like a monarch butterbaby. We did somehow lose one -- it was either Athena or Apollo (no, couldn't tell them apart). I don't know if it fell off the leaf and drowned or whether its sibling made a snack of it, but we were a pillar short.

No worries. DD went out to the garden and found the nine leaves I'd marked that had eggs on them, and found one that had JUST hatched. So we're back up to thirteen again. I do feel bad about leaving those other pillars outside, but SHEESH. Anyone want to raise a monarch? I have extra pillars :-)


You Are Bert

Extremely serious and a little eccentric, people find you lovable - even if you don't love them!

You are usually feeling: Logical - you rarely let your emotions rule you

You are famous for: Being smart, a total neat freak, and maybe just a little evil

How you life your life: With passion, even if your odd passions (like bottle caps and pigeons) are baffling to others

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Edits and Too Many Pillars

It is perfectly okay to write garbage--as long as you edit brilliantly. - C.J. Cherryh

This post will be short today. Yesterday, I sliced the tip of my index finger with a box cutter and it hurts like crazy to type this morning. :-(

Didn't get much actual writing done yesterday. I did submit the two Manuscript Information Sheets for the new new contracts. I hate those things: cover ideas and blurbs and excerpts. Ugh. But, they're done. Mostly. I got edits on my excerpt back from the editor of "A Christmas Curse". First time that's happened! LOL... I worked on edits for "Don't Fence Me In" as well, but some of them are tough. I'm usually pretty good about not fighting over the little things while editing, but there are some not so little ones that come up now and then, and you have to decide how to handle them.


Pillar Place: Monarch has gotten very busy. Yesterday, ALL of the eggs hatched. Dear heavens. I have a bakers dozen little, nearly microscopic creatures to keep track of.

Many of the milkweed leaves are beginning to wither and die, so the babies need to be transferred onto new leaves. It's not as though I can lift them up, so I Googled my circumstances and found what I needed. Cut around the dead leaf until you have a little island with the baby on it, and place it carefully on the new leaf.

The only problem? Those kamikaze leaps I've spoken about previously. We did remarkably well with one exception -- a little butterbaby DD named Manuela. She decided to wander around her little container. When we checked her last night, she was no where on the leaf, top or bottom (the pillars like to hide under the leaves when they sleep -- I imagine it's safer for them). So, I look at the lid I'm waving around in my hand? Yup -- a tiny little speck with a black head is clinging to it. Brat.

I put the leaf next to her and tickled her little bum with the tip of my pinky. She freaked out, but at least she rolled the right direction and onto the leaf. Whether she stayed is something I'll discover once it's a little lighter out.

We need three more names. Thus far we have: Otto, Harry, Curly, Cutie, Betty, Manuela, Apollo and Athena (two eggs on the same leaf), Cathy, Bob, and Judy.

Note: I just checked on Manuela, and she's on her leaf and eating happily. Thank heavens. Another disaster diverted.


You Are a Light Pink Rose

You represent sweetness and grace.

Your vibe: Kind and gentle

Falling in love with you: is like falling in love with a best friend

Um... no. Not so much. You? Did they get it right with you?

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

My Friend Wrote This Book: One Night In Boston

Allie is one fantastic writer, and you won't be disappointed!

One Night In Boston

Can anything really change in 24 hours? Can everything?

Maggie Doyle is about to lose her home, her business, and her last grip on sanity unless she comes up with fifteen thousand dollars to pay off the bank. Her only option? Forget the pain of one life-altering night, find the stepbrother she hasn’t spoken to in years and ask him for help.

Everything in Jack Major’s life is going according to plan. He’s rich, powerful, and about to marry Boston’s most successful attorney. There’s just one problem: he can’t seem to forget his first love, the one who left him in college after a whirlwind trip to Vegas with a secret she couldn’t trust him to keep.

When Maggie and Jack meet up at a high-profile charity ball, past collides with present and the sparks fly. But is it too late for a first love to ignite again? And if Maggie reveals the reason she left Jack all those years ago, will he be able to forgive her?

A single night in Boston takes Maggie and Jack from the glittering lights of the ballroom to the windswept city streets and back through the years to relive old memories. Will morning light bring new hope for their future together? Or are some secrets too deep to ever truly overcome?

Read An Excerpt Online.

I'm so excited!!

Building Up From Bare Bones

"Writing from the heart requires vision, and vision is beyond skill. Vision writers write what they want to write. This means they write about things that have moved them deeply. Such writing is not something that you can learn. For vision is a gift. But if you open your heart wide, the gift will be great." --- Cyn-Young Ahn

I've been working on building a website over the past few days. I have an ambiguous idea of what it should look like and what it needs to accomplish. I want it to look clean and be user friendly. It took me two days of a lot of hard work to finally figure out a look I liked. Now, of course, I have to put in all the data, and there is A LOT of data.

I got to thinking about how building it was a lot like writing. I always write romance, so have a basic idea of the skeleton of all my books: H/H meet, there's conflict, they overcome, fall in love and live HEA.

That's pretty bare-bones.

So I consider either an idea or a character. For "Now That We've Found You", written from a writing prompt in one of my groups, I had certain parameters to meet: I had a list of astronomical words that had to be included in the story. Interestingly enough, most of them ended up edited out in the final version, because I cut off the whole original first scene that included most of them. But the words? They gave me a dinosaur (one of the words!) crazed character and a setting -- The Smithsonian -- and added on to the skeleton.

For one of my recently contracted stories, "A Christmas Curse", I knew I wanted to write a Christmas story, and so I sat down and wrote every single thing I could think of that's associated with Christmas, no matter how silly. And silly is what came out of it. I loved writing this story, because I got to dream up ways to torture my heroine -- both in her present and in her past.

I am not a plotter, exactly, though I usually know how my stories will end by the time I've written ten or twenty pages. At that point, I'll write the final scene and give myself somewhere to go. IMHO, if you know the ending, that's half the battle.


But things can change. I knew, KNEW beyond a shadow of a doubt who my villain was in the mystery I'm almost finished with. He was a slimeball and I wanted him to get what was coming to him -- and he did in the ending I wrote. But I got about 35,000 words into the story and thought, "Yanno, everyone is going to know he's the slimeball doing all this bad stuff, and that's just not cool. I need another villain. Someone who flies under the radar." And, POOF!, a new character was born more than two-thirds of the way through the book. I've managed to layer this person in, hopefully without making it too obvious. More flesh on the skeleton.

I love creating things -- from websites, to stories, to meals in my kitchen (no, I never follow a recipe as written... where's the fun in that?). My DD asked me the other day how I became a writer, and I told her I figured I was born one. It's the only thing I've returned to over and over, despite walking away now and then.

Speaking of my DD... she came up to me last night crying. When I asked what was wrong, she said she didn't want to grow up, that she wanted to be cute. I told her she was cute, and she shook her head and said she was too old to be cute. I countered with, "I'm cute and I'm forty!" and she said, crying even harder, "You're not cute, you're PRETTY."

I'm still not sure if I was complimented or insulted...


Pillar Place is very quiet. All swallowtails are cooking and should be done in ten days or so. Otto is still my only Monarch -- but he looks like a Monarch pillar now -- before he was just sort of see through with a black head. Now he has the little black lines and green body he should have. He's still only about 3/4" long, but he's managing to eat through the leaf now instead of just munching the top layer.

I'm going to have to separate him from the others, though, as apparently the larger pillars find the new babies a great snack.


You are Totally Realistic

"Romance" means you're about to roll your eyes
Seriously, you can do without the sap or drama
Save it for someone who has nothing really going on in their relationship

For you, love is real - and easily integrated into your life
You don't need candles, flowers, or chocolates to know he's the one
Just some stimulating conversation... and maybe a great smile.

Oddly enough, they're really quite right! I'm very much a realist IRL. I wonder if that's why I prefer romance and escapism for my entertainment...

Monday, July 23, 2007

Monarch Monday

Summer is the time when one sheds one's tensions with one's clothes, and the right kind of day is jeweled balm for the battered spirit. A few of those days and you can become drunk with the belief that all's right with the world. ~Ada Louise Huxtable

Yesterday I did no writing at all. It was a lovely day, so I mixed LASR business (a lot of it actually... big things are happening...it exciting!) with walks, weeding and fresh air.

Now it's Monday, and life is back on schedule, the way it's supposed to be. Our across the street neighbors are leaving for their place in Arizona (now... would YOU go to Arizona in July??) for the week and have offered us the use of their pool. DD is thrilled (she is a water baby), and I hope the weather cooperates.

Big happenings this week for my friend, Allie! Her first book, One Night In Boston, releases with Samhain. I know Allie is planning some great, fun stuff to celebrate, so go visit her and see what's up! Oh, and grab a copy of her book -- I've read most of it and it's a winner (I still haven't read the end, so I'll be hurrying to Samhain to get a copy of my own the moment its available).


Pillar Place: Swallowtail -- it's quiet in the neighborhood. Jill, our last pillar, is preparing to pupate. She did a bit of wandering and is currently hanging from the side of the box in preparation for her purge. By this time tomorrow, she'll be a pupa. And then there will be nothing happening until the beginning of August.

Pillar Place: Monarch -- Little Otto has tripled in size already. This doesn't mean much, since he was microscopic to begin with. When I looked in on him last night, he was about half an inch (if he stretched) long.

I discovered that Monarch pillars have a startle reflex -- if the leaf shakes, they assume it's a bird and leap off the leaf. Sometimes they spin a little bungee cord, but not always. I suppose they figure they'll be able to climb back up with the danger has passed. Yesterday, we had a problem with the leaves beginning to wilt and fall onto the eggs, so I went in with little bamboo stakes to hold them up. That didn't seem to bother Otto, thankfully, who went right on eating.


When DD checked on him later, she must have breathed too hard or stomped on her way in and jiggled the box because he leaped! She panicked. "MOM! We have an EMERGENCY! Otto's hanging from a THREAD!"

This is bad news because there are small cracks between the blocks of florist foam and the bottom of the container is full of water -- the cracks are small enough that a mid-sized pillar will be fine, but not these tiny creatures. They could easily get lost and drown.

Thankfully, by the time I got upstairs, Otto was back on his leaf.

I don't know if my heart can stand the excitement.


Mocha Frappuccino

Hyper and driven, you'll take your caffeine any way you can get it. Frappuccinos are good, but you'd probably chew coffee beans in a crunch!

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Loving Summer

Summer afternoon - summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language. ~Henry James

I love the summer.

DD picked two burpless cucumbers yesterday, cleaned one off and ate it like a banana. Tons of pea pods went to Grandma, who loves them as a snack. We're getting lots of squash, too, for a change. The tomato plants are loaded with green tomatoes, and once those babies start to ripen, my life will be perfect.

The flowers are blooming. Butterflies abound.

No... I'm not going to talk about Japanese beetles, or &^%$ deer flies. That just ruins the whole picture.


I wrote a little more on "Kitchen Matches", another light-hearted little romance. I'm enjoying it quite a lot, and hope other readers will, too. It all started out from a writing prompt at Paperback Writer's blog a LONG time ago. Let me see if I can find it... Hang on a sec (insert hold music here)...It took me a minute, but here it is!

So, thanks PBW.

I also only found two mistakes in the gallery for Pregnancy Cravings, so finished that up and sent it back. I can't wait to have a release date for you!


No new news from Pillar Place: Swallowtail -- Jill is still eating up a storm, the pupas are still just hanging there -- though I suppose I could tell you that Phil shed his skin -- and, just to be different, his pupa is green instead of brown. The interesting thing about that is, the swallowtail matches is pupa to what it attaches to. So, a stick? Brown. A leaf? Green. Of course, the cardboard is brown, but the netting is white, so I guess green was as close to white as Phil could get.

Now for the new series -- Pillar Place: Monarch

DD and I went hunting for Monarch eggs yesterday, and found more than we needed -- we brought in a bakers dozen (it would have been twelve, but one leaf had TWO eggs!). To be honest, if they all hatch at the same time, the container I bought won't be big enough. That could make life interesting.

We picked up one of the eggs on a walk yesterday, so he's probably from a different momma than the rest of ours. And... he hatched last night as I was going to bed. I'd show you a picture, but my camera just won't get that close to something so tiny. I'll swipe a photo from Bird Chick, so you can see what they first look like:

And, for a peek inside how my brain works, I named him Otto. Here's why: He's the first, but calling him "One" or even something like "Uno" just sounded weird. If you're the first, you're the premiere, right? And, well... doesn't Preminger sound like premiere? And, you all have heard of Otto Preminger, right? So. It should be obvious.


Your Beauty Element is Air

You're quirky, fresh, and fashionable in a surprising way.
You have a beauty that's all your own, and it changes as quickly as the wind!

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Schmoozing, Pillars, and Eggs... oh my!

I have friends in overalls whose friendship I would not swap for the favor of the kings of the world. ~Thomas A. Edison

Anno thinks I have the Power of Schmooze, and has awarded me the coveted "Schmooze Award".

Isn't it lovely?

Here's everything there is to know about this award:

Schmoozing is the natural ability “to converse casually, especially in order to gain an advantage or make a social connection.” Good schmoozers effortlessly weave their way in and out of the blogosphere, leaving friendly trails and smiles, happily making new friends along the way. They don’t limit their visits to only the rich and successful, but spend some time to say hello to new blogs as well. They are the ones who engage others in meaningful conversations, refusing to let it end at a mere hello - all the while fostering a sense of closeness and friendship.

To say I'm flattered would be an understatement. And the truth is, I really love all my blogging buddies! How did I ever get through the day without you? (And, Anno, how are the maple babies?).

And now, in the spirit of schmoozing and blogging awards everywhere I must pass along this wonderful award. Here are my choices (narrowed down because so many have already been chosen):

Judy - who may be the schmoozingest blogger I know! She's deeply involved in the blogging community, participates in dozens of blog giveaways, and does them herself and is just generally A Really Nice Person.

Tori - Whose daily posts, very cool smilies and book & TV recommendations entertain me every day! Thanks to Tori, I watch some of the coolest shows, including "Eureka" (Note to Tori: I finally watched them both... but my TiVo cut off the last three minutes of last weeks -- it stopped just as Fargo came to... did I miss anything important??).

Groovy - Who never misses a chance to amuse me. Groovy can find humor in everything she sees and always makes me smile. Plus she has the cutest kids and hates Japanese beetles as much as I do.

You guys are the bestest... :-)


In Pillar news: Eenie and Lily are both full pupas. Phil the pill is in position and should change some time today. I missed Lily's transformation by minutes, dang it. When I checked on her before bed, her skin was dangling from the tip of her pupa and she was glistening. I've never seen them go through this phase... and since it can take twenty-four hours or more, I can't just sit and watch.

We had a Moe sighting as well -- a black swallowtail hanging out in our yard, sipping nectar from the coneflower and milkweed. This made DD feel much better.

I did try to starve my last caterpillar to death. In the morning, I knew Jill was low on food -- but she had four decent sized parsley leaves, so I figured she'd have enough for a few hours and I'd stop by SIL's house on the way home.

When I got home, all that was left in the cup were stumps... and no Jill! Yikes! We found her on the side of the box, probably having walked all over trying to find more food. I swear, she looked depressed, probably having resigned herself to starving to death.

I, quick-like-a-bunny, fixed up her cup with new (albeit wilted -- I usually let them sit in water for a couple of hours to perk up, but NO TIME) parsley and tried to pry her off the wall with a leftover stump. She was not a happy pillar. I got her front (non-suction cup) legs onto the stump (she flashed her horns at me, and I didn't want to get her too worked up) and then goosed her little behind until she finally climbed aboard.

Once she saw what waited for her, though, she was happy enough. Poor Jill


Because I've seen a Monarch butterfly near the milkweed a lot lately, I went to check for eggs. Keep in mind, typically a momma-fly will only lay one egg on the back of a milkweed leaf, and these eggs are about the size of the head of a pin. And white.

Still, thanks to Bird Chick, I know what to look for... and I found them! We have at least nine monarch butterfly eggs on the milkweed. Unfortunately, we also have milkweed aphids... which means we also have ants. And the ants will kill the itty-bitty little butter-babies as soon as they hatch. My only option for healthy, happy butter-babies? You guessed it: Bring them inside.

I found this post on the Wildscaping blog all about raising butter-babies inside from egg. In fact, if you want to see how small the eggs are, click through and scroll down a bit to the first picture -- you'll see an egg beside a pin head (one of those pins with the colored ball at the end that I used to stick into my Barbies head as earrings... am I the only one who did that?).

So, today, I need to go get some floral foam and maybe a tall, clear, plastic container... Milkweed is really big. I don't know how well it will fit in my box. I will NOT be bringing any more swallowtails inside because they overwinter as pupas and, any future swallowtails would need to be kept in my basement all winter. Yes, I've done this before. No, I don't want to do it again.


In writing news, it seems it's either feast or famine for me. I was despairing lately that all of my TWRP stories were either published or in final production... yes, I had a bunch of submissions out, but nothing was contracted. I still have a bunch out, BUT I received two contracts in my email inbox yesterday! One for my 1953 story, "Don't Fence Me In" and one for my Contemporary Christmas story, "A Christmas Curse". Yay me!

Now, with my luck, I'll also contract on the others (one is a full length novel, the other a novella), and be in editing hell... NOT that I'm complaining (just in case those editors are here reading -- contract away, please!), but I did submit them one or two a month in order to avoid that. Ah... the best laid plans and all that.


You are Barefoot!

You're a total free spirit, go with the flow girl
You can't be restricted by shoes for very long
And unsurprisingly, the same goes for men
Your match is out there - and he's as carefree as you are

Um. No.

Actually, I'll go with the barefoot thing, and I am SO not a shoe snob (I love Payless Shoe Source, what can I say?)... but free spirit? Ha! Go with the flow? Ha. Ha.

Ha. Ha. Ha. Ha. Ha.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Pillar Place, Pupas Perhaps?

...letting go
There's nothing in the way now,
Oh letting go, there's room enough to fly
And even though, she's spent her whole life waiting,
It's never easy letting go.

-- From "Letting Go" by Suzy Boggus

I managed to write a bit yesterday. I got a few hundred words done on my latest short "Kitchen Matches". It still has a way to go, and I'm already at 5,000 words. This surprises me. I didn't think I had so much to say about Cori and Micah. Guess I was wrong -- one of the joys of writing, IMHO, is when your characters take over and surprise you.

I also worked through part of my galley for "Pregnancy Cravings", fixing things like her mouth dropped to her mouth dropped open. The scariest thing about that is, I've been through this galley once, and didn't catch that. Sheesh.

I also want to work on editing Playing House some more. That book is near and dear to my heart. I'd love to get it submitted somewhere soon. We'll see.


Pillar Place was a little crazy yesterday. The good news? Moe flew. It was the sweetest thing.

We took him out of the car in the morning when the sun came out and put him on my coneflower out front. He still didn't move. Another storm was due for the afternoon, and I told my daughter we weren't bringing him in again. It was do or die time for Moe.

DD was desperate. She went outside without me, and encouraged Moe. Then she lifted him up and told him he could do it. A few minutes later she came inside. Crying. Moe had flown away. Then we had to sit down and have the talk as to why it's a good thing we released Moe and how it's hard to let go of something you love, but you have to when it's best for them. And I told her there would be a time she would fly away, too, and it would be hard for me, but I had to let her do it.

And I cried.

Drama at Pillar Place. I'm telling you.

So, Eenie--ever the obedient caterpillar-- made his happy little pupa on a stick yesterday. He still hasn't shed his skin, which is a little concerning as it's been more than 24 hours since he hung himself there, but it's not like I can strip it off so he's on his own with this one.

Lily, blast her, decided HER pupa would be made on the lid, right up against the box. So, yes, this makes taking the lid of and on just a little bit dicey. Brat.

Not to be left out, and despite the fact he was much smaller than Eenie and Lily, Phil the pill went on pre-pupa walkabout yesterday. He returned to his dill twice and ate, then took off again. In the evening, he hung out on the side of the box, purged and headed for the roof. Thankfully, Phil decided NOT to be as much of a pill as Lily, and thoughtfully made his pupa in the middle of the lid.

Poor Jill. She is all alone. She's also almost out of food -- she's eating a TON more than she did before her growth spurt. I'll need to get over to my SIL's place and get some parsley this morning, since Jill doesn't like mine (it's a different strain... they are SO picky).

Unless something big happens, though, things around Pillar Place will be pretty quiet for a while. It takes 10 - 14 days for a pupa to become a butterfly. Whatever will I write about in the meantime?

Jen and Judy have both suggested I write something official about my darling pillars. Judy mentioned a children's book. Problem is, I am first and foremost a romance writer. So my story would probably end up like this one that Jenny Crusie wrote on her blog last year.


What Your Peanut Butter And Jelly Sandwich Means

Your eating style is gluttonous. If you like something, you're going back for seconds... no matter how full you are!

You don't really have a sweet tooth. If you go for dessert, you tend to go for something light.

Your taste in food tends to be pretty flexible. You may crave sushi one night, and your favorite childhood recipe the next.

You are probably a fairly normal, upper middle class person. You don't rock the boat too often.

You are a tough person who isn't afraid to live life fully. There isn't a lot that scares you.

You are laid back and extremely easygoing. You never make a fuss, and you try to enjoy every moment.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Time and Pillars Wait For No Man

If you want work well done, select a busy man - the other kind has no time. ~Elbert Hubbard

It's been a frustrating few days. DD isn't having school, so I don't get my hour or two in the afternoon to write. I overslept AGAIN this morning -- which makes me mad because I purposely curled up on the couch after I let the dog out at 3 a.m. so the coffee pot would wake me at 4 a.m. -- but I slept through it! Yikes! Up at 5 a.m. again. So I lost an hour this morning.

I haven't written a new word all week -- or edited an old one, and I'm beginning to get the shakes. Today's not looking good for that either. ARGH.


Pillar Place was its usual self yesterday. Moe refused to cooperate when we finally tried to release him around 12:30 -- I'd seen a monarch (our first up here!) fluttering around our milkweed (laying eggs?? I hope so!) and figured if that butterfly could fly in the overcast, so could Moe.

Clearly, he didn't listen. He would. Not. Fly.

We left him on flowers around my well pump and checked back every hour or so -- for four hours:

Nothing. So we moved him to different flowers and he took a little, very low-flying, test flight back to the well pump. YAY! He needed to be strong enough to fly into the trees because a thunderstorm was coming. So DD lifted him high in the air for encouragement and I flapped at him (yeah, get a good picture of THAT in your head) and this is what he did:

Yup. Nothing. By this time, it was getting late, the storm was less than an hour out, and I knew I couldn't let him stay outside. So this is where Moe spent the night:

I figured it would give him space to fly if he chose, and we could simply open the doors to let him out. Keep your fingers crossed he flies today.

In other Pillar Place news, Eenie and Lily did what appeared to be pre-pupa traveling. Eenie did the purge thing (it's as if they get rid of any excrement left inside in one big dump, prior to pupating), so I knew he was ready. Lily didn't, and still hasn't, but I expect she will today -- she's certainly large enough.

Not to be left out of the fun, Phil traveled around the box with them until I couldn't keep any of them straight anymore. I just shrugged and went to bed.

This morning? I have one pillar on a stick in pupa mode -- he hasn't shed his final skin yet, but should tonight. I assume that's Eenie. Lily is on a stick near her food plant, but still hasn't purged and isn't in the right position to pupate. Phil is back on his dill.

I give Phil a lot of credit -- he is one single-minded dude. This morning, I changed his food plant and when I pulled him out, he was eating. Usually, if the pillar is disturbed when eating, they freeze -- surely a defense against predation. Not Phil. Nope, despite all the moving around I did (I even dropped him once, oops!) he never stopped chow time.

Jill has more than doubled in size, and is really starting to go through food. I need to change her out today, but will wait until DD is up to help. Jill isn't as resilient as Phil.

Tune in tomorrow for more drama.


I got my galley for "Pregnancy Cravings" today! yay! I just need to find the time to look it over for typos and other boo-boos and then I should have a release date to share with you.


Your Gemstone is Amber

Creative, happy, and logical.
You shine in any intellectual endeavor

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Pillar Place Bonus Episode, "Hatched"

We have a butterfly: Moe -- Formerly of Eenie, Meany (presumed deceased), and Miney (presumed deceased) -- hatched this morning.

We have had beautiful weather all week. Tomorrow and through the weekend are expected to be equally beautiful. Today? Rain.

Now, ask me if I can release a butterfly in the rain.

That's right. I swear, these critters sit and plot all the ways they can make this whole project the biggest inconvenience possible.

So, Moe currently resides in the pillar box -- minus all pillars except Eenie who is acting as though he might start his pre-pupa wandering -- with a bit of towel soaked in orange juice and some cut flowers.

He is not a happy butterfly.

It is his own fault.

I have explained this to him. His response? A few wing flutters and then walking away.

Well, HUMPH! to you, too.

DD likes this part, though:

Unfortunately, now that his wings are completely pumped up, we can't hold him anymore until release, unless I want him living inside the house.

BTW, Moe is (as we supposed), a male. Note the bright yellow spots on his wings. The female has almost unnoticeable yellow spots. It'll be interesting to see if the rest of our guesses are correct.

It's expected to clear up later today. I'll try to get pictures of the release.

'Pillar Place and a Funny

“I don't know much about creative writing programs. But they're not telling the truth if they don't teach, one, that writing is hard work, and, two, that you have to give up a great deal of life, your personal life, to be a writer.” -Doris Lessing

This blog post is a bit late today, because my body finally shut down and I slept in... until about 5 a.m.!


Phil the Pill is back on his dill, and eating the day away.
Who knows why he moved?
I know that he stays.
I wonder what he'll do today?

See why I don't write poetry?

In other news, Jill, the smallest 'pillar, sat around and did nothing (not even eat) all day. If Eenie hadn't done the same thing, I'd've been worried sick. But, sure enough, it was a growing spurt -- she shed her skin (and then promptly ate it... sorry, TMI?) and is now about twice the size she was yesterday. It's amazing.

Eenie and Lily are huge and should be pupating any day. Man, I hope so. I had to change out all the food plants yesterday and that's always an ordeal for me AND for the pillars.

I took a look at the blog from last year to see when we had our monarch babies. It was the second week of August, so after these kids are gone, I'll probably be starting with monarchs.

Pillar Place. Tune in tomorrow.



1. Fine: This is the word women use to end an argument when they are right and you need to shut up.

2. Five Minutes: If she is getting dressed, this means a 1/2 hour. Five minutes is only five minutes if you have just been given five more minutes to watch the game before helping around the house.

3. Nothing: This is the calm before the storm. This means something, and you should be on your toes. Arguments that begin with nothing usually end in fine.

4. Go Ahead: This is a dare, not permission. Don't Do It!

5. Loud Sigh: This is actually a word, but is a non-verbal statement often misunderstood by men. A loud sigh means she thinks you are an idiot and wonders why she is wasting her time standing here and arguing with you about nothing. (Refer back to #3 for the meaning of

6. That's Okay: This is one of the most dangerous statements a women can make to a man. That's okay means she wants to think long and hard before deciding how and when you will pay for your mistake.

7. Thanks: A woman is thanking you, do not question, or Faint. Just say, "you're welcome."

8. Don't worry about it, I got it: Another dangerous statement, meaning this is something that a woman has told a man to do several times, but is now doing it herself. This will later result in a man asking "What's wrong?" For the woman's response refer to #3.


Just like last time, I'm feeling a bit odd -- but Allie did such a fabulous job with the review, how could I resist? There's a review up on LASR for my story, "Tickle Fights and Barbecues". I'm not certain, but the review may be better written than the story, LOL.

Thanks, Allie.


You Belong in 1989

Wild, over the top, and just a little bit cheesy. You're colorful at night - and successful during the day.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

'Pillars and Bad Editing

It is necessary to write, if the days are not to slip emptily by. How else, indeed, to clap the net over the butterfly of the moment? For the moment passes, it is forgotten; the mood is gone; life itself is gone. That is where the writer scores over his fellows: he catches the changes of his mind on the hop. ~Vita Sackville-West

Bet you laid awake, wondering what was happening in the world of swallowtail caterpillars, didn't you? And, BTW Gay, I'm not alone in my rearing of them. Check out Bird Chick, especially this post, and this one and this one.


Looks like Phil, the pill, is even more of a pill than I thought. He is the second smallest 'pillar we have -- Eenie and Lily are far larger -- so when Phil began traveling last night, I didn't think he was getting ready to pupate. He has a history of traveling for no good reason. So I separated him and put him inside a Tupperware container.

My bad.

This morning, he's settled up against the side and in the position to pupate. This is NOT GOOD. First, when they wiggle to get their skin off, if they're on something too slick, they'll fall. The last time this happened, the butterfly was born missing part of its wings.

Second, I don't want to have him in the blasted container for two weeks. Dang it.

Phil, the pill, was aptly named.

Edited to add -- Pictures!

LOOK: It's Phil the Pill (pre-pupa)

The happy little caterpillar home -- there would have been more holes with netting (like the roof that you don't see, cuz it's not on), but Moe made his pupa the same day I was putting this together and precluded me from cutting the sides.

If you look closely at the dill, you can see I took this photo when Eenie and Phil still shared the same clump -- see how much smaller Phil is than Eenie? What the HECK is Phil doing, becoming a pupa??? He is so messed up.

What DD does in her spare time:


Judy and I currently have the uncomfortable job of refusing some reviews for LASR this week. One of our reviewers let us know that the story she had to review was full of typos.

Our biggest policy for LASR is this: no snark. As an author, I know how hard it is for someone to say nasty things about my work. OTOH, our second biggest policy is this: honesty first. So, we won't tell you something is good if it's bad. We just don't review it.

We rec'd several reviews from the same small publisher. They are all poorly edited, and regardless of story line, we simply cannot recommend them. And I get to go back and tell the authors. That stinks. But it has to be done.


Yes, I'm an old lady.... Look what happened the year I was born:

In 1967 (the year you were born)

Lyndon B. Johnson is president of the US

President Johnson and Soviet premiere Aleksei Kosygin agree not to let any crisis push them into wore

Thurgood Marshall is sworn in as the first black Supreme Court justice

The first home microwave is released by Amana

Dave Matthews, Kurt Cobain, Liz Phair, Vin Diesel, Julia Roberts, and Anna Nicole Smith are born

St. Louis Cardinals win the World Series

Green Bay Packers in Super Bowl I

Boston Bruins win the Stanley Cup

Disney's The Jungle Book and The Graduate are the top grossing films

One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez is published

Paul McCartney announces that all four members of the Beatles have "dropped acid"

For the first time, Jimi Hendrix sets his guitar on fire during a concert in London

Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band is released

The first issue of Rolling Stone magazine is published

The FCC orders that cigarette ads on television, radio and in print must include a warning about the health risks of smoking

Monday, July 16, 2007

Eight Rules

The vision must be followed by the venture. It is not enough to stare up the steps - we must step up the stairs. ~Vance Havner

My mother, some friends and I all subscribe to magazines. I pile them on my nightstand and flip through them at night when I'm in the mood. Last night, I took a look at a recent Womans Day. Mostly the same-old/same-old, but I did come across an article about Making Changes: How To Do What You've Always Wanted.

It was about women who made big career changes and became self-employed, but near the end of the article, I came across their 8 Rules For Change. Those interested me enough, I thought I'd share them (and how they relate to being a writer).

1. Follow Your Bliss.

It's all about loving what you do and being passionate about it. I think this goes double for writing, if you're writing for publication. Writing can be hard work. Worse, after all that hard work, you have to submit it -- and the odds are very good you'll be rejected. You MUST love doing it, or you'll never do it.

2. Dream Big.

I think writing for publication IS a big dream. But folks, don't compromise. At first, I wondered if I was compromising by published with The Wild Rose Press. Of course, they were "only" publishing my short stuff, so maybe I fudged a little and could still go for the brass ring: A Big Print Publisher. Then I worked with them. I think they're great. Their editors are tough and challenging, their process professional.

With the creation of LASR, I've had the opportunity to see the work of several presses, both big and microscopically small. Many put out top quality work. Some don't -- some are so bad, I have to wonder if they're actually even edited at all. Thanks to this, I know now beyond the slightest shadow of a doubt -- TWRP isn't a compromise. They are a good, professional and sure to be a big player in ePress as they grow.

3. List Your Barriers and Concerns.

Putting them down makes them clear and helps to think of ways to overcome. No time to write? Bull-puckey. Make time. Work out a schedule.

Make yourself a comprehensive list of every single thing that stands in your way and then figure out a solution. You can do it!

4. Act Your Way Into Your Next Life.

Don't hem and haw when people ask what you do: "I'm a writer." Sit your rear in that chair and write. Assemble lists of literary agents for when you finish your first novel. Find books to educate yourself. If you don't treat yourself like a writer, why will anyone else?

5. Give Yourself The OK To Be A Little Selfish.

This can be the tough part. Taking an hour or two every day for your writing can be tough -- the kids want you for something, the house isn't as clean as it should be, your spouse needs you to (insert chore here), your boss asks you for some overtime... Learn to say "no". If you don't take the time, you'll never achieve your dream.

6. Try Not To Think About How Hard It Is.

I don't have the hard facts in front of me, but I do know that the odds of being accepted for publication are astronomical. That's okay. Work hard. Keep throwing your stuff at the wall. Eventually it'll stick.

7. Align Yourself With The Right People.

GET A GOOD CRITIQUE GROUP. Aside from just sitting your butt in the chair and writing, I believe this is the single most important thing you can do for your career. Note: the important part of that phrase is GOOD. A bad group will only make things worse. You want your group to be tough, honest and smart. Pats on the back, while nice, warm fuzzies, won't make your writing stronger.

8. Ask Yourself: "If Not Now, When?".

And that, my friends, is the magic question.


My SIL called yesterday: she found more caterpillars. Did I want them? I'm a sucker. I said yes.

They're all black swallowtails, BUT they were on all different food supplies and they'll only eat what they're laid on. Oh Good. Make it even harder. One on rue, one on dill, one on parsley.

En route back home, the dill 'pillar started to travel, and when my mother (who had the joyful task of holding the little buggers...er... bugs) tried to stop him from climbing into the water and drowning, he flashed his yellow horns at her.

I got home, set them up on their own plants, except the dill 'pillar who I put with Eenie, my current bug who also eats dill.

DD and I have named them: Phil the pill (the one who kept trying to drown himself), Jill (on the parsley, also the smallest) and Lil (or Lily) on the rue (the biggest).

All went well, they settled in nicely and we had dinner time at the 'pillar place with all four eating like mad... good... and then--

Eenie attacked Phil. It got ugly. Eenie is twice as big as Phil, and despite the fact that Phil is, in fact, a pill, he didn't deserve that. So, I'm yelling at them to break it up (because caterpillars are fluent in English) and trying to keep them apart. Eenie keeps flashing his horns at me (Phil didn't -- do you suppose he knew I was trying to help?). Finally, I grabbed a stem and shoved it between them and pushed Eenie back. He climbed on, so I moved him. The two dill 'pillars are now in separate corners. No green blood was shed, but it was a close thing.

Poor Phil. It must've really stressed him out, because he started traveling again, and ended up on the rue with Jill, who is as big as Eenie. Phil clearly is not the sharpest knife in the drawer. I moved him back to his dill, and trimmed all the food plants so they weren't touching (the pillars won't climb down from their plants until they're ready to pupate).

This morning, it appears all is well. All four 'pillars are on their own plants, and sleeping happily... oh, except for Jill who has awakened and is chowing down on a bit of parsley.

It's always exciting here at the Arkins house.


Your Personality Cluster is Introverted Intuition

You are:

Multilayered and complex
Inspired and driven to achieve your goals
A visionary with a complete life plan
Intuitive enough to understand difficult problems, ideas, and people


And, just because the picture is SO cute!

You Are a German Shepherd Puppy

Intelligent, quick witted, and a bit aggressive.
You've got the jaw power to take a bite out of anyone you choose.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Sunday, Sunday

“No one can have peace longer than his neighbor pleases” - Dutch Proverb

First off, and at the risk of jinxing things, I'd like to report that Eenie (our sole surviving caterpillar -- Moe is a pupa) is doing very, very well. He's behaving just as a caterpillar should (it's kind of like a new baby): eat, poop, sleep. He's big enough now, I predict he should be a pupa in the next couple of days. Yay! Then it's butterfly time. DD loves that she can hold them while they pump their wings. What a great experience for her. And for me. I've decided one of the biggest bennies to homeschooling is being able to relearn and reexperience all the cool stuff from childhood. Of course, pesky old math is still there, too. But that's okay. I get to hold butterflies.

Our ATVing neighbors are building an ATV track in their backyard. They took down a boatload of trees, imported three dump trucks full of dirt and rented a backhoe. I can't tell you how excited this makes me.

Friday night, they worked the backhoe until ten p.m. Of course, since my other neighbors were blowing off professional sized fireworks until 9:40, I was already awake. Yesterday, ATV neighbors alternately rode their dirt bikes/ATV's and used the excavator ALL DAY LONG.

And some different neighbors blew off fireworks last night.

And, just as I was feeling grateful for my harley-riding, drug dealers next door, thinking how quiet they are, some acid rock just started blasting from that house. It's 5:00 a.m. on a Sunday morning here. Ah... it just turned off. An alarm, perhaps? Well, it worked. I'd be willing to be it woke the entire neighborhood.

Anyone have a guest house I can borrow for awhile? Do you allow pets?


I did have the day alone yesterday, as DD and DH spent the day out on the lake (the scourge of motion sickness keeps me off the boat). I drafted several reviews on LASR (check out today's review -- this book sounded so good, I ordered it), and wrote about 1,000 words on my latest short story, working title of "Kitchen Matches".

I also watched one episode of "The Closer". I love, Love, LOVE that show. Anyone want a crash course in how to develop interesting and diverse characters and a great mystery? Watch it. I think this season may be even better than last. This is, by far, the best show I watch.

And yes, Tori and Brandy, I'll watch "Eureka", I promise... but Tori said it was "heartbreaking", so I'm trying to gear up for that. Plus, I usually let a few episodes collect so, if I get really hooked, I can keep watching for a while.


You Should Spend Your Summer on a Road Trip

For you, the summer is all about possibilities. And you're not going to be tied down.
This is the time for you to embark on an epic road trip, with no ultimate destination in mind.
You know you'll have a ton of crazy adventures... at least until you run out of cash!

I'm totally into that idea. Aside from the fact that I prefer to drive than anything else, it would get me away from my neighbors!

Have a great day.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

So Close To Right, It's Scary...(pt. 2)

From Tori:

Your Power Element is Metal

Your power colors: white, gold, and silver

Your energy: contracting

Your season: fall

You are persistent (and maybe even a little bit stubborn).
If you see something you want, you go for it.
You have a lot of strength, and it's difficult to get you down.
Very logical, you tend to analyze everything going on in your life.

That whole "maybe" a little bit stubborn thing? Ain't no "maybe" about it...LOL. Except for the part about not getting down easily, this puppy is right on.

A little too woo-woo for me.

TV or Books?

"The most technologically efficient machine that man has ever invented is the book." - Northrop Frye

It's going to be a beautiful day here in the northeast for a change. Warm, but not humid and no wind. DH and DD will be out on the boat, and I will be blessedly alone.

I plan on writing, but I don't know what yet. I also plan on catching up a bit on my TV viewing, since DH and I don't like the same stuff, and he gets the TV when he gets home at night (and since I'm in bed around 8:30 anyway!). I have four episodes of The Closer to watch, I STILL haven't watched the last three episodes of Heroes (I know), Eureka's season premier, and something else which escapes me right now.

As you can see, TV isn't really a priority to me. TiVoing things is, but not watching them, LOL...

Last night was hockey night for DH, so I get control of the television. You know what I did? I watched one episode of How It's Made (I love that show) and then I curled up and read "High Noon". The allure of the TV held nothing for me when I had a good book waiting.

What about you? TV or reading? Or neither? What shows do you love? What good books have you read lately?


From Anno, who got it from Fourier Analyst:

You Are 32% Texas

You're as welcome in Texas as a skunk at a lawn party.

Like I didn't know that already... Sorry, Texans, I visited once. In August. Ain't going back.

You Should Rule Mars

Mars is a planet that shines brightly and loops wildly around the solar system.

You are perfect to rule Mars, because you are both energetic and independent.
Like Mars, you seems attractive and bright to others - but you're difficult to pin down.

You are a great thinker, but you only think in the present and ignore the future.
Full of enthusiasm and inspiration, you are into your own thing... and rather insensitive to others.

Well, okay to most of that I suppose... what about you? Hey, Tori, are you going to rule with me?

Have a great day!

Friday, July 13, 2007

Fifteen Things

It's time, once again, for the Friday Fifteen!

Fifteen Things I Thought I Might Blog About Until I Remembered It Was Friday (and time for the Friday Fifteen)

1. That we lost two of our three caterpillars. Meeney and Miney have gone to that great dill plant in the sky... Eenie is still doing well, and Moe is a happy pupa in the side of the box. The deaths of Meeney and Miney, however, were so traumatic for both me and DD that we won't be pulling in any more swallowtails on dill. I've never had this kind of bad luck with the ones on my rue.

2. That I started reading Nora Roberts' new book: High Noon. It's very exciting and I can only read it in small bites right now. That may change, but for now, my heart can't stand it.

3. That Nora really knows how to subtly show attraction and she can build sexual tension unlike anyone else. There are many, many authors who could learn from her (namely nearly every Intimate Moments author I tried to read over the past few weeks -- sheesh).

4. That I submitted my 1953 story (now entitled "Don't Fence Me In") to The Wild Rose Press's Vintage Rose line, and got a request for full almost immediately. This made me feel better, since I have two other queries out with the Champagne Rose line that have been there for a few weeks without a nibble. My fault, really, because I know that's the busiest line.

5. That I've decided to NOT submit to Champagne Rose anymore if possible (that is, unless it's something I've already written). It's the contemporary line that allows more sexual situations than Sweetheart Rose, and probably 75% of the submissions go there. Even though I adore both editors I've worked with there, I'm too impatient.

6. That my dog, Bailey, got her stitches out yesterday and her lab test came back with nice wide, clean margins. Even though tests also showed that it was the "really bad" cancer that can quickly become inoperable, I caught it soon enough (the doc still thinks that's a miracle, considering where the lump was and how hairy the dog is -- I figure God knew I wasn't ready to lose Bailey yet).

7. That my friend, Ceri, bought my story "Now That We've Found You". I'm always nervous when a friend buys my stuff. Their opinions matter more than a stranger's.

8. That my garden is growing like crazy! I'm going to be buried in cucumbers and squash soon. If you're in the neighborhood, feel free to stop by and help yourself.

9. That I feel at loose ends now that I've finished and submitted my latest story. I always wonder if I have another one in me, or if the well is dry. Thus far, the story ideas keep bubbling up...still, I always wonder.

10. DH watched American Hot Rod last night, and it was about a tribute car for Elvis, sponsored by Reeses peanut butter cups (did you know, they make their own peanut butter right there in the factory?). Aside from how disgusting their special candy sounds (a peanut butter cup with a layer of banana cream, because Elvis' favorite food was a peanut butter and banana sandwich), it was interesting to watch. And, it gave me an idea for my next Vintage Rose. Bubble, bubble...

11. The fact that having fifteen things on the list is just too many. I start to run out of steam right around now. Every week I wonder if I have fifteen anythings in me.

12. That I want to dead head my cosmos out by the mailbox, but am having too much fun watching the goldfinches land on them and eat.

13. That I am saving seeds from all my annuals to take with me when we move out west. I fully believe in thinking positive. However, I have WAY too many columbine seeds. Anyone want some?

14. That having someone who loves you more than anyone else in the world is a wonderful feeling. DD tells me this everyday (usually when she's clinging to me like a leech -- she very touch-feely. I don't know where she gets this, as neither DH nor I are that way).

15. That I have a winner of my "Buy A Friend A Book Week" contest -- Ginny was the luck name I pulled from the hat (well, actually, I ran the names through Random.org, but that doesn't sound as good).
Phew. Done. Happy Friday everyone!!