Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Reply From Mr. or Ms. C.J. Redwine

Dear Mr. or Ms. C.J. Redwine, (Hm. Yes, I can see how a pink page, an obsession with stilettos, and the constant reference to myself as a mother might cause confusion as to my gender.)

I'm a reader of your blog. (Are you now?) You seem like a smart businessperson. (Really? My hubby begs to differ. Oh. Wait. You didn't know about my hubby.) I too am a businessperson. (I'm guessing your talents lie somewhere below mine. Waaaay below.) We could have a mutual profitable relationship with your blog and my web site. (Reeeaaalllyyy?)

If your (It's "you're," actually, but on the grand scale of errors you've made here, it isn't really important.) interested in having a fun site like Idiots R Us (slight paraphrasing on my part, but definitely more accurate) attached to your blog (like a tumor, perhaps?), go ahead and link. Publicity makes the world go around! (And here I thought it was love. Or at least money.)


Idiots R Us (Actual name and site redacted because I refuse to send one single hit their way from this blog. Besides, you don't actually believe in those make $50,000 a week from the comfort of your couch schemes, right?)

Yeah. Let me get right on that.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Ink Heart

Saw this today and can't wait to see it in the theater!

It's 10:21 a.m.--Do you know where YOUR glue stick is?

1. I took a few days off from blogging for two reasons.

2. One, I wanted to be offline as much as possible to enjoy time with my family over Christmas.

3. Two, Christmas day was the ONLY day last week that one of us wasn't throwing up.

4. Lovely, I know.

5. Looks like we're all healthy now and I once again have the energy required to wade through the copious amount of laundry screaming for my attention.

6. Christmas day was fun. The kids woke us up by turning on the Scientist's radio full blast (Better than some of the other wake up calls I've had all week...puking, remember? Blech.) and we all raced downstairs to see what Santa brought.

7. After stockings and a pancake breakfast, the kids opened the HUGE present from their grandparents...the one they'd been salivating over for a month.

8. Rock Band. Much screaming. A few hysterical wails along the lines of "This is the best day of my life!" I decided the grandparents should be alerted to the joy they'd given my children.

9. It was 6 a.m. their time.

10. We called.

11. =D

12. If we get the joy of being awakened early Christmas morning by our children, why should we keep that to ourselves?

13. That would be selfish.

14. Starshine was walking into church Sunday morning and flashed the inside of his jacket at me, much the way you see scam artists on the streets give you a quick peek at fake gold chains or aluminum-plated Rolex counterfeits.

15. Instead of jewelery, however, Starshine had a glue stick wedged in the clear plastic inner pocket of his jacket. (I didn't even know his jacket had a clear plastic inner pocket.)

16. "Why do you have a glue stick in your pocket?" I asked.

17. He leaned toward me and assumed his most serious expression. "I'm prepared for any gluing emergencies today."

18. "Are there usually gluing emergencies at church?" I asked.

19. He widened his eyes. "Mom. You never know when you're going to need glue. It's best to be prepared."

20. So it is.

21. Reader Question: Do you make New Year's Resolutions?

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas!

To Do List:

1. Discourage the cat from eating tinsel.

2. Sweep the floor and light candles instead of using all the lights. That way it looks mopped as well.

3. Discourage the cat from jumping into the middle of the presents.

4. Hide ripped wrapping paper with tape and a strategically placed gift bag.

5. Thaw turkey.

6. Discourage cat from getting on kitchen counters to investigate thawing turkey.

7. Make candy cane cookies for Santa.

8. Agree to children's demands to make gingerbread poop for Santa as well.

9. Wonder aloud why all the stockings aren't full of coal.

10. Read the Christmas story.

11. Discourage the cat from "playing" with the ceramic nativity set.

12. Super glue the hapless shepherd's head back in place.

13. Renew adamant objection to cat's preference for ingesting tinsel.

14. Remind cat that tinsel is always much nicer on the way in than on the way out.

15. Realize cat either A) doesn't understand what you're saying or B) doesn't care and that you have sunk to the level of having one-sided passionate debates with a four-legged animal and break out the eggnog.

16. Let kids open an early present.

17. Listen to Starshine's earnest explanation of why his new Bakugon toys aren't fit for three year olds.

18. Agree solemnly that even though a Bakugon is the size of a plum, a three year old could swallow it.

19. Remember Daredevil's early childhood and decide Starshine's explanation holds merit.

20. Discourage the cat from chewing through the Christmas light cord.

21. Turn on Sirius Radio Christmas music channel.

22. Ignore children's protests when "boring" songs by Nat King Cole and Karen Carpenter are played.

23. Track Santa's progress on NASA's Santa tracker web site.

24. Set out cookies and eggnog for Santa and forcibly shove all three boys into bed with promises that if they're still awake when Santa gets here, he'll skip them.

25. Sternly discourage the cat AND the dog from eating Santa's cookies.

26. Eat Santa's cookies.

27. Go to bed with the knowledge that even though we've told the kids not to wake us up before 7 am, we'll hear them outside our door by 6:30.

Merry Christmas to you and your family and may your day be filled with warmth and love!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Quote of the Day

From Starshine (who else?):

"Hold it! No one touches my spleen!"

For the record, I have absolutely no explanation for this.

No Chores For Starshine

1. I missed posting yesterday because I spent the entire day in bed with the flu.

2. I feel somewhat better today but won't be doing anything more strenuous that walking up the stairs.

3. I met two very famous people last week at work and had no idea who they were.

4. One is Billy Adams, a contemporary of Elvis (who worked w/Elvis, actually) and a Hall of Famer.

5. The other is George Jones. George and his wife come in several times a week, but since I don't listen to country music, I didn't know who he was.

6. I noticed women interrupting his lunch to talk to him and ask for autographs and when they left, I approached him and apologized to him for those women (who were hysterically crying over meeting him, btw) bothering him. He was gracious and said he's used to it and doesn't mind giving out his autograph.

7. So I said, "Oh, that's good. What do you do?"

8. My hubby thought it was quite amusing that I asked George Jones what he does for a living.

9. I need recommendations for an inexpensive but effective water treatment system b/c the water coming out of my fridge dispenser tastes terrible.

10. The kids get to open one gift tomorrow in anticipation of Christmas. Already, the negotiating for the chance to open one of their "big" gifts has begun.

11. Tomorrow, we make candy cane cookies for Santa and follow his progress on NASA's Santa Tracker.

12. I still need to go get my supplies for Christmas dinner from the grocery store.

13. I planned to do that days ago but have either been here taking care of sick kids or was sick myself.

14. I got an email from a girl enthusiastically offering me the opportunity to link her website to mine so I could offer her FREE publicity! (Yes, that's exactly how she phrased it, including the all caps.)

15. Never mind the gall of asking someone else to promote your website while offering nothing in return...what got me was this: Her website is all about gambling.

16. I'm still scratching my head trying to figure out how anyone running a gambling website would think it a good fit for a site that links up to authors, agents, and sites within the publishing industry.

17. Her mass-market, poorly researched email went straight to my Trash file, no reply sent.

18. I introduced Starshine to the age-old concept of making a coupon book for his Dad this Christmas. He loved the idea.

19. Until I began listing suggestions like: wash the car, clean up the family room, sweep the garage...

20. I was then politely informed that Starshine would think of his OWN coupon ideas, thank you very much, and NONE of them would qualify as chores.

21. Reader Question: What is your favorite holiday dessert?

Friday, December 19, 2008

Let 'Er Rip

Once again, we have some new (and some fairly temporary, I'm sure) blog readers to welcome. How did they find us? Let us count the ways.

1. Estrogen Attacks: It certainly does. I hope you found my essay on the subject enlightening. If anything can be learned from my personal experience in the matter, it is this--a wise person steers clear of C.J. when estrogen is on the move. The unwise are rarely heard from again.

2. How to Make Someone Laugh Hard: Well, I'm flattered that such a google led you to this blog. I only hope you browsed the more entertaining entries (such as this, that, or the other) and skimmed the rest as being hilariously funny 24-7 is too much for any woman to bear. When all else fails, however, a little of this usually does the trick.

3. Are Wheel of Fortune Contestants Required to Buy Vowels?: It's like you've never watched the show. Never. Not. Once. Which causes me to be curious as to why you're researching a show you clearly never watch. However, I'll be nice and put you out of your misery. No. Contestants are never required to buy vowels. Sometimes they need to because the jumble of consonants on the board just won't resolve themselves into anything approximating recognizable words, but contestants have the right to muddle through the entire game sans A,E,I,O, or U. Be forewarned, however, that this knowledge will do you no good when faced with the ridiculous paper test required to get oneself onto the WoF show...

And today's favorite:

4. 200 Square Foot Whoopee Cushion: While I do agree that anyone interested in a whoopee cushion of that magnitude will enjoy this blog, I have only this to say--May you never, ever, in any way, become a person of influence in the lives of my boys.

And The Poop Saga Continues

By now, all blog readers are excruciatingly familiar with our family's odd tradition of making gingerbread poop cookies after putting up our decorations. One blog reader (who doubles as CP extraordinaire) Keli Gwyn was out and about when she spied what she felt would be the perfect gift for my boys.

The box arrived yesterday and the boys were instantly hovering around me as I announced that it was addressed to them from my friend Keli in California. What could it be? Race cars? Bags of "gold nugget" candy? Journals so my aspiring inventor, comic strip writer, and author could work on their own projects?


Not even close.

Instead, I pulled out the Poo-lar Bear (The Sub Zero Poopin' Hero!), the Super-Dooper Reindeer Pooper, and the Grumpy Party Pooper, each with the tag line "With piles of yummy jelly beans" and a handful of brown jelly beans.

The kids were thrilled.

We pulled off the heads of the poo-lar bear, reindeer, and sheep and dumped the jelly beans in. My children, being well acquainted with Bertie Bott's Every Flavor Beans were naturally suspicious as to the flavor of the jelly beans in question. However, as these are the same children who gobbled up vomit, booger, and earthworm jelly beans this summer, they were not about to be deterred from their prize by the daunting prospect of candy that tasted like fecal matter.

Happily, the beans were chocolate or cola flavored instead.

We filled the animals, popped the heads back into place, and the fun began. To access the candy, each child simply pressed down on the back of their animal and retrieved their jelly bean. The reindeer and the sheep both hoisted their tails in the air and shot a bean out their backside. The poo-lar bear, heaven help us, squatted and squeezed out his offering onto the table.

Thank you, Keli, for a gift perfectly suited to the demented brains of my three boys. =)

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The Magic Cockroach!

Today is my 14th wedding anniversary (Happy Anniversary, hubby!). I am blessed to be happy and content with my marriage and to have a man who totally supports my dreams (I suspect he's simply happy at the prospect that the voices in my head might someday finance a new set of golf clubs for him...).

I was going to do a nice little post on how we met (the Magic Cockroach!) but I was up most of the night with the Scientist who has a raging case of the stomach flu so my brain cells took one look at the size of the story I was going to post and promptly staged a coup.

Suffice it to say, we met our freshman year at Pepperdine, had three classes together, and began spending time together when my roommate and I were sitting in the cafeteria on a Sunday, enjoying brunch, and a cockroach leaped from beneath her plate, scuttled across her tray, and scrambled across the table toward me.

(I will now take a moment to assure any potential Pepperdine alum that this is the one and only time I ever saw a cockroach on campus and I think he was simply acting as an agent of Fate, rather than as a disgusting, breeds-like-a-maniac symptom of infestation.)

There are many things I can tolerate without a flicker of an eyelash. Cockroaches aren't one of them. We leaped from the table, glanced around the cafeteria for a new place to sit, and I saw hubby and said, "Hey. I know that guy." So we joined him and his roommates at their table, ended up watching a movie with them afterward, and from that day on, he and I were inseparable.

We didn't figure out we were in love for many months. In fact, when we finally discussed our true feelings and agreed marriage was it for us, I looked at him and said, "So, do you think we should go on a date?" =D

And that's the abbreviated story of how the Magic Cockroach brought us together and we became engaged before going on a single date.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Hard cover or Paperback?

Most authors see having their debut novel published in hard cover as the ultimate prize and worry that paperback originals may be overlooked, causing their budding career to fizzle right out of the gate.

Moonrat has a different take on it. I found the essay helpful in clarifying my own publishing goals.

Monday, December 15, 2008

R. Chronicles Begins

Today I worked on research, character profiles, series timeline, and world-building for book one in the RC series. Here are some of the fascinating items I spent my time googling:

1. Chain whips

2. Custom built choppers (After thoroughly perusing Harley Davidson's site and realizing that none of the basic offerings were right for my character.)

3. Mythological creatures

4. Chicago's neighborhoods, transit system, and high profile landmarks.

5. Druid staffs

6. The magical properties of various types of wood as accepted by Celtic Druids

7. Pancakes (Okay, these I already knew but still, it's always best to be totally familiar with your character's preferences. Plus, they were good.)

All in all, an interesting and fairly productive day. I'll be working more tonight to finish my goal for the day.

It's A Bean, I Tell You!

1. Chicago was really cool. I'd live there if I was hip and single.

2. I'm going back (probably just a day trip) to do more research later.

3. We hit Broadway to see Jersey Boys (an excellent production), went to the top of Sear's Tower (where the kill-joy in charge refused to allow me to go outside of the enclosed sky deck so I could do more accurate research), saw a giant silver pinto bean the tourist guide referred to as a "cloud" (Um, noooo, it's a bean), walked around Wrigley's Field, clocked umpteen miles on the subway/train system, and did some shopping on Randolph.

4. There's an energy to the city that encompasses you like a palpable force. I'm very pleased my newest character told me her hometown is Chicago. This will be an exciting series to write.

5. What is it with people who don't know how to travel in close quarters with others without putting their worst personal habits on display?

6. On the flight from Nashville to Chicago, the man seated next to me trimmed his fingernails with his teeth for the entire trip. The entire trip.

7. He seemed unconcerned with the obvious fact that chewing one's own nails for an hour and twenty minutes straight is just gross.

8. On one subway ride, a woman sat next to me, opened a bag of Cheetos, and proceeded to crunch and smack her way through them with occasional pauses to clean the cheese dust from beneath her fingernails with her tongue.

9. Eww.

10. I found the Chicago train system fascinating because after each stop, a grave announcer's voice would float out of the intercom with a firm reminder of what was not permissible aboard the train.

11. Each stop produced a new rule until the announcer ran through the loop and started over again.

12. No leaning against the doors.

13. No leaving personal belongings on the seat beside you.

14. No eating. (Hear that, Cheetos Woman? NO EATING!)

15. No soliciting.

16. No gambling. (And there I was, all set to start up a game of Texas Hold 'Em.)

17. Conspicuously absent were warnings against drugs and alcohol. Apparently, as long as you aren't leaning against the doors, selling Girl Scout cookies, or taking bets as to how many bites Cheetos Woman has left, you're free to do anything else you like.

18. I got up at 5 am this morning to write. Since I work most days (Monday is the exception) and have family stuff etc. filling up the rest of my hours, I had to carve out some new time to do what's important to me.

19. So...5 am it is.

20. Reader Question: If you could take a weekend trip to anywhere in the world, where would you go?

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Get Me Started #4

*From lisadidio's first sentence.*

I had no idea how far from the center of my world this path would take me, I only knew I had two choices: walk or die. The tip of the sword pressed against my neck, biting into the soft skin below my right ear, gave me little choice in the matter. I could either follow the terse directions of the sword-wielder, who was covered head to toe in black--and didn't that just smack of unoriginality?--or I could get an instant lobotomy.

Obedience isn't really my thing, but I discovered I liked the idea of keeping my brain safely inside my skull enough to make a token effort.

"Hurry up," the sword-wielder snapped out in guttural tones that sounded vaguely familiar.

I slowed down. "It's dark. I can't see where I'm going."

The sword tip pressed hard enough to slice skin, and a small trickle of warm blood wound a sinuous path toward my collar bone.

I lapsed into silence and picked up my pace. A little.

I was trained for this sort of thing, of course. Every D'Janu princess was. I knew to alter my habits, making it hard for my father's enemies to pinpoint any exact routine. I kept a retinue of bodyguards, burly men whose single mission in life was to kill anyone who threatened me. Should they fail, I knew how to react instantly--running if I could, attacking if I couldn't. I'd learned at an early age how to neutralize any foe long enough to get a solid head start.

Except I'd never seen this one coming. One moment, I'd been returning from an impulsive trip to the marketplace, pleased to have snatched up a few end of the day bargains. The next, my bodyguards had vanished. Literally vanished. And I'd felt the cold kiss of steel against my neck.

"If it's ransom you want, you'd better leave my head on my shoulders. My father will never pay for the return of my dead body." The tremor in my voice had more to do with the fact that I now recognized our destination than with fear of death by sword.

There are worse things to fear than death on the end of a blade and I was walking into one of them. An icy fist clenched in my stomach and the spit in my mouth dried into sawdust as the gray clouds scudding across the surface of the moon slid away to flood the landscape with silvery light.

"No ransom, Princess." The man spoke roughly and I caught the hint of mockery surrounding my title. "Now move. Clock's ticking."

The path before us twisted sharply into a tangle of black-barked trees covered in long strands of wet clinging moss. Bare branches stabbed the sky and damp tendrils of crimson-edged fog crawled along the ground.

"That's Briony's Woods. We can't go in there!"

The man laughed and despite the cruelty now wrapped around his amusement, I recognized the sound and stopped in my tracks.

"Kai! You stupid oaf. You scared me to death. When Father hears of this, he'll--"

"Father will never hear of it." My brother made no attempt to disguise his voice this time.

Fury burned through me, turning my fear to ash. "Oh, yes he will. You aren't negotiating your way out of this one."

"You have nothing to barter with, my dear sister. Now move." The sword bit deeper into my neck and I cried out.

"The joke's over, Kai. Finished. You got me, okay? Now stop it. We have to go back. We're already too close."

"Are we?" He asked, unpleasant cruelty still lacing the amusement in his voice.

I began to tremble as rage drained away in the wake of foreboding. "It's Briony's Woods. No human ever comes out alive!"

"Not a problem for me, Princess."

He was serious. I didn't bother trying to wrap my head around the cost of his foolishness. I needed all of my focus on keeping myself from going with him. Lunging forward, I dropped to the ground and rolled to my left, confident that Kai always took an extra second to react and I would have the head start I needed. Before I could flip onto my feet, he was on top of me, the sword pressed mercilessly against my throat.

I'd never seen him move so fast.

"Kai. Please." I was panting, breathless spurts of panic constricting my lungs.

Holding the sword steady with his right hand, Kai lifted his left to his face and stripped his black mask over his head.

I gazed into the ravaged face and blood red eyes of the thing that used to be my brother and screams ripped through my throat, coating my mouth with the raw bitterness of terror as he leaped to his feet, grasped my foot, and dragged me into the heart of Briony's Woods.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Windy City, Here I Come!

1. Hubby and I leave early this afternoon for a quick trip to Chicago on someone else's dime.

2. Our assignment: see Jersey Boys tonight at the theater so hubby can talk about it on air.

3. Our true goal: cram as much Chicago into our systems as possible before boarding a plane tomorrow night at 7.

4. Paul and Kelly, showing the kind of fortitude usually reserved for those serving in the Marine Corp, have bravely volunteered to stay with our kids.

5. Yes, Juan Pedro is in hiding.

6. Regular blog readers know that our family has a tradition around Christmas time of making gingerbread poop cookies.

7. This is what happens when you have boys.

8. This year, I whipped out the gingerbread, handed out dough to the kids, made my own cookies, popped the entire thing in the oven and then promptly forgot about them.

9. Thirty minutes (give or take a few) later, Starshine wandered up to me and asked if the poop was ready yet.

10. I ran to the oven, opened the door, and hauled out pans of scorched gingerbread bricks.

11. Starshine ran to the stairs and said something I doubt anyone else in the history of the world has ever said.

12. "Hey guys! Mom burned the poop!"

13. Even the dog had a tough time gnawing his way through one of those cookies.

14. I don't think we're taking a laptop with us to Chicago, so I'll be back online Sunday to give you all the gory details.

15. Hopefully no over-zealous airport security person tries to abscond with any of my lip gloss again.

16. That nearly caused on international incident.

17. Reader Question: What's an unusual (or meaningful) holiday tradition you share with your family?

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


Last night I had one of my Really Fun episodes of insomnia. By the time hubby's alarm rang at 3:30 a.m., I still hadn't slept a wink. I informed him of the problem as he was getting up. Something in my tone (I get ATTITUDE after I've been awake most of the night) had him reaching for solutions.

Yes, this is the same man who suggested I drive with my left foot. But, I digress.

First he commiserated. That was nice. But unless his commiseration was going to be followed by a magical "go to sleep" knock on the head, it didn't do me very much good. Next, he suggested just taking 1/2 of a Tylenol pm. I vetoed this idea because we all know I can't tolerate pain pills and I needed to be awake at 6:30 to get the kids ready for school. Three hours is not enough time for my body to burn off even 1/2 a Tylenol PM.

So, scraping the bottom of the barrel when it comes to plausible methods to fight insomnia, he suggested I take a swallowful of rum. You'll all recall my incredible intolerance for alchohol. One mouthful of margarita makes me sleepy for an hour. I decided his idea had merit.

He brought me a small cup with one fairly large swallow of rum inside it. Now, I should pause the story at this point to tell you that while we have rum and Everclear in the house, both are used for cooking. The Everclear, you may recall, facilitates the spray on food coloring used to decorate hubby's cakes, and the rum is used for his incredible Bananas Foster (yes, he lights it on fire to the delight of our children who love to add bananas to the list of things they might someday light on fire when their mother isn't looking).

We don't actually drink the rum. Ever. This was a maiden voyage in the whole rum-tasting experience. While I hoped my inner pirate would come roaring out, I felt it much more likely my jaw would clench, my throat refuse to swallow, and then I would end up expelling rum through my nostrils. My hubby sniffed the cup and told me just to toss it back, avoiding my taste buds at all costs.

Another idea that had merit.

I tossed the rum back, swallowed as soon as it hit my throat, and promptly gagged. It was like swigging some dollar store cologne or maybe chugging straight from a bottle of Lysol. I can't believe anyone drinks this by choice. It burned all the way down my esophagus and I imagined the offended tissues forming committees, electing representatives, and drafting strongly worded memos along the lines of "Do this again and we shall kill you 'til you die from it."

My hubby, of course, thought the whole thing was hilarious. This is because he wasn't the one swallowing rum without benefit of sugar, bananas, and butter. That can be rememdied, however. He's a very hard sleeper.

He left for work and I settled back against the pillows, fully expecting to feel the post-alcohol wave of sleepiness hit me at any second.

It never did.

The one time in my life where my intolerance to alcohol was a welcome occurance and it failed to materialize. I finally fell asleep twenty minutes before I had to get up and get the kids off to school.

Turns out when Elizabeth told Captain Jack rum was a vile drink, she was telling the truth.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Query Holiday

Firebrand Literary Agency is taking a Query Holiday and wants to read your first chapter instead! Check out the details here. (Must be submitted between Dec 15th and Jan 15th)

In Which C.J. Learns She Does Not Qualify For The Job Of Going Postal

As many of you know, I hurt my right foot a week and a half ago. Sprained the tendon in the arch. Not only did this make walking and standing difficult, it made driving nearly impossible. Turns out the tendon in your arch is the one you use when you press on the accelerator.

When I mentioned to my hubby that driving was extremely painful, he suggested I drive with my left foot. Like the mailman does.

I had my doubts.

My sense of coordination is awkward at best. It took me long enough to learn how to ease onto the gas or brake with my right foot without sending anyone into the dashboard. I had little faith mastering the task with my left foot would be any easier.

The morning after my hubby's brilliant suggestion, I got into the 9-4, applied my right foot to the gas, and--as pain turned my entire foot into one searing cramp--decided maybe he was on to something after all. Twisting my body to the side so my right leg pointed toward the passenger seat and my left foot had all the room in the world to access both the gas and the brake, I eased my foot onto the gas and shot down the driveway like I was auditioning for NASCAR.

This was not a good development. Worse, however, far worse was the fact that by twisting my body to accommodate my insane hubby's suggestion that I could drive with my left foot, I'd rendered myself unable to use the rear view mirror to its full capacity. Plus, I was turned in such a way as to make regular, normal, non-hazardous steering virtually impossible.

I lifted my foot from the gas, aimed for the brake, glanced in the rear view mirror and saw...my mailbox.

In the category of Things I Don't Want To Hit With The 9-4, the mailbox ranks right above trashcans and right below the UPS truck. I wrenched the steering wheel in my own little off-center way, following insane hubby's wretched little suggestion, and careened across the lawn. Backwards.

I forgot all about easing onto the brake. There are trees on my lawn. Trees are ranked right above the UPS truck and just below cows. I did not want to hit a tree. I slammed on the brake and slid to a halt, parallel to the mailbox, perpendicular to the driveway, with one tire hanging over the curb in a clear effort to find the road again and end this nonsense.

Honestly, I don't know why none of my neighbors have to yet to install a motion-activated camera aimed at my house. They'd be rich by now. Or at least own a few insanely popular viral videos.

Deciding I was much safer driving in pain than trying to follow my hubby's ill-advised suggestion, I readjusted, put the 9-4 in gear, and drove across the lawn and onto the road with my right foot firmly in charge of my destiny.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Chafing the Kiester

1. Yesterday, I learned a valuable lesson. Two, actually.

2. The first lesson: Always examine the passenger seat of my hubby's Explorer closely before sitting down.

3. Doing so will avoid the interesting predicament of having a man you don't know come up to you at church and tell you "You have a sticker on your kiester."

4. Kiester.

5. Oy.

6. I took my now sticker-less kiester into the three year olds Sunday school class we teach and learned valuable lesson numero dos: Always examine the floor in a 3 yr. old's classroom before sitting down to lead song time.

7. This cannot be over-emphasized.

8. I settled my kiester in a puddle of water. (Yes, I checked the dubious substance once I realized my error just to be sure it wasn't another, more offensive, organic substance.)

9. Of course, I didn't know I'd sat in a puddle of water until said water soaked through my heavy denim pants and rendered me damp all the way to my skin.

10. Can you say "chafe"?

11. Good times.

12. Here's a devilish little link for my fellow writers: write or die.

13. While I've yet to hear any reports of actual deaths, this program allows you to set a timer and then you must WRITE for the entire length of time you've set for yourself. If you pause too long between words, it begins to delete your words. There are different settings (from relaxed to kamikaze) and different levels of consequences (from forgiveness to pure evil) so you can customize your experience.

14. Some of us write well under pressure so this would work. Others would be reaching for Tums, Prozac, or the nearest blunt instrument.

15. I happen to be one of those (to my own surprise) who writes well under pressure.

16. Tonight my hubby and I have BOTH company Christmas parties. We'll start off in downtown Nashville and make our way south to mine after his dinner is over.

17. Hopefully, both companies will show the good sense to keep the long-winded Yay Us! speeches to a bare minimum.

18. Today I will subdue the laundry. Or burn it. One of the two.

19. Yesterday, the boys and I finished shopping for hubby's gifts. One of these years, I'll be making enough money from publishing to buy him season tickets to the Titans. Until then, he gets whatever goodies I can scrounge up from Target.

20. Reader Question: (idea shamelessly stolen from a fellow Pixie) Tell me a book (or two, three, whatever) that WOWed you in the last six months.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Friday, December 5, 2008

Want to do something valuable?

Zerox is doing something cool this Christmas season. Click on this link to send a free card (drawn by elementary school kids around the nation) and the thank you message of your choice to a soldier overseas. You don't get to personally choose which soldier it goes to, but you do get the joy and satisfaction of knowing you brightened the day of someone who doesn't get nearly as much appreciation as he or she deserves.

Valuable Info

Interested in getting a top-notch literary agent to critique your synopsis and first few chapters? Go here and bid. Five critiques available!

Beware the Pigeon Mafia

1. What?? It's already Friday?

2. *shakes head*

3. With so much time spent off my feet this week (due to a pulled tendon in my arch...ouch!), I don't feel like I've accomplished nearly enough.

4. I did, however, read a few books, and that's always a good use of time.

5. Want to do something to support the publishing industry and your favorite authors this month? (Plus be nice to your wallet?)

6. Give books as your gift of choice to coworkers, in-laws, children, your favorite stiletto-wearing blogger...books!

7. Not only are they inexpensive (I totally dig the less than $7 paperbacks!), every sale bolsters the industry, lessens the impact of returns (bookstores sending back unsold books), and sends a message of confidence to the publishers who then turn around and renew contracts and offer new deals to debut authors.

8. So go buy a book. Don't make me loose my Pigeon Mafia on you.

9. Didn't know I had a Pigeon Mafia, did you?

10. That's because no one ever lives to spread tales.

11. Last night, I hosted a Guy's Night for my hubby's birthday: football, a nacho bar, poker, chocolate cake, chocolate chip cookies, Guitar Hero...you know, guy stuff.

12. Paul came.

13. He brought his new Beretta (which I totally loved and think I should own).

14. Alas, despite his gun and his tough-guy attitude, he went home without Juan Pedro.

15. This is because JP hid in the one place Paul wouldn't dare breach.

16. My boys' bathtub.

17. Yes, just past the infamous Toilet of Mass Destruction, camouflaged by a cheerful blue and yellow ducky shower curtain, Juan Pedro, the Metallic Merchant of Death, lurked.

18. He's still mine.

19. Pictures go up next week.

20. Reader Question: If one of your dreams could come true this Christmas, which would you ask for? (Let's just take "world peace" off the table and make it more personal.)

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Good Reading

I've heard Lilith Saintcrow mentioned in paranormal/urban fantasy circles for a while, and always with something close to awe. Since I'm working my way through a batch of new-to-me writers in this genre, I picked up her latest--Night Shift, the first in the Jill Kismet series--and gave it a whirl.

Short story: Wow.

Long story: Ms. Saintcrow is an accomplished writer, blending vivid, sensory descriptions with non-stop action and heart-tugging emotional conflicts. Her world-building is nearly flawless and there's enough meat in the story to keep even a gobble-a-book-a-day reader like me busy for a while. I was completely entranced and am adding Ms.Saintcrow to my list of must-read authors.

The few details that didn't quite work for me were basically more of a style preference, with the exception that I never learned the name of the city Jill protects. That bothered me because, description or no, I wanted a clear idea of where I was.

What I truly loved was Ms. Saintcrow's portrayal of Jill as working on the side of God while she fought awful aberrations spewed onto earth by the denizens of hell. It's rare to find an urban fantasy where faith in God is portrayed as good, and Jill's struggle to believe and rely on God while questioning if the actions she had to take would keep her from heaven added depth and emotion to a character I already loved.

I also enjoyed how Ms. Saintcrow's world swallowed me whole within the first chapter and never hit a false note. I can't wait to get my hands on book two!

Verdict: A must read for all urban fantasy/paranormal fans

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Monday, December 1, 2008

How Can It Possibly Be December?

1. A literary agent whom I follow on Twitter informed us over the weekend that she received a query--sans title or genre--as a TEXT this weekend.

2. Seriously.

3. Chalk that one up under the title THINGS TO DO TO MAKE SURE YOU NEVER GET AN AGENT.

4. On the plus side, writers like that make it a lot easier to stand out in the slush pile.

5. Daredevil has decided one of his favorite sports is tightrope walking.

6. This does not surprise me. It worries me, but it doesn't surprise me.

7. When he informed his brothers, they quickly chimed in with suggestions that he grow up and work in a circus.

8. He replied: "I'd love to work in a circus if it wasn't for all that dorky music and loud popcorn crunching from the audience."

9. Saved by my son's OCDness about food noises.

10. I worked Thanksgiving morning and the restaurant was packed.

11. I was there for four hours and came in contact with MANY people.

12. Only one had the courtesy to thank me (and the other staff she came in contact with) for giving up my holiday so she could have hers. That helped take the sting out of missing my own family time.

13. I was lucky and only worked four hours. Many employees worked 8 or more and had zero time with their family.

14. Something to think about next time you go out to eat on a holiday of any kind. Extra tips are appreciated and so are words of appreciation. =)

15. I found the results of the latest poll quite interesting. (If you haven't yet voted, please do!)

16. Juan Pedro is the clear winner at this point and yes, the dastardly deed is done.

17. He'll be helping me put up Christmas decorations in a few hours. If, that is, I can pull him away from the eggnog.

18. Paul and Kelly returned home last night around 2am. Judging by the lack of death threats in my text messages, I'm assuming he's yet to notice.

19. The first runner up in the poll is Writing Process posts.

20. I'm all for it. I need your help, though. What topics would you like to see covered? What questions do you want answered?

21. Reader Question: Give me some topics/ideas you'd like to see on this blog. I make no promises, but if you spark my interest or I think I have something worthwhile to say on the subject, I'll do it.

Go Nuts!

And now for the long-anticipated (Oh. Was that just me?) review of the free sample of almonds sent to me by the fine folks at Oh!Nuts candy company.

I mentioned that I find Jordan Almonds addictive, though I wasn't sure I actually like them. That's because, in my experience, the candy shell is hard enough to crack a filling and the almond inside is a wimpy version of the full-bodied almond flavor I know and love. So, when someone at Oh! Nuts contacted me with the offer to review their product, I was a little nervous. What if I hated it and had to say so on my blog?

They sent me three bags of product (as pictured above). Cinnamon Almonds (almonds covered in a cinnamon-flavored glaze), Ivory Cappuccino Almonds, and Roasted Jordan Almonds. Naturally, I invited my family to help with the reviewing process. Here are our favorites:

Hubby: Cinnamon Almonds. Period. He doesn't do candy-coated nuts unless chocolate is involved.

Me: Roasted Jordan Almonds

Scientist: Cinnamon Almonds, with the Ivory Cappuccino coming in a close second

Daredevil: Ivory Cappuccino Almonds, then Roasted Jordan Almonds

Starshine: Ivory Cappuccino Almonds, then Roasted Jordan Almonds

Here's the breakdown of each (in my humble but accurate opinion):

Cinnamon Almonds: These were pleasant, snackable almonds. I wanted a little more punch to the cinnamon glaze (it was more sweet than spicy), but most people won't care.

Ivory Cappuccino Almonds: My kids loved these. Loved. These. I struggled to discern any hint of cappuccino flavor, and they were too sweet for my taste, but again, most people won't care.

Roasted Jordan Almonds: This product made me a fan of Oh! Nuts candy for life. The sugar shell was thin enough to allow the flavor of the almond to take center stage and the crunch was just a bit of texture, not enough to ruin your dental work in one bite. The real treat, though, was the distinctive flavor of roasted almond inside. No wimpy, soggy nuts for this candy! I had to discipline myself not to sit and munch through the entire bag in one sitting.

The Oh! Nuts site has a wide array of candy options and shipping is quick. The only drawback I found was that the product packaging doesn't list ingredients or nutrition information. Since I have a child whose stomach issues require vigilant label-reading, I wanted this information. It's my understanding that the company is currently putting together nutrition info and it will soon be included on their packaging.

And yes, if you're wondering, the Roasted Jordan Almonds would be a nice stocking stuffer for me...

Okay, folks. That's one product sampled and reviewed. Whose next? Manolo Blahnik? General Motors? Jelly Belly? Bring it on, people. Bring it on.

Sunday, November 30, 2008


Today, I read this article discussing a new initiative the Swiss recently voted into law which authorizes government dispensed heroin to heroin addicts. Never mind the jaw-dropping idea of taxpayers and health insurance money funding heroin addictions--the part I found fascinating was the fact that the voters, who overwhelmingly approved the initiative, also voted down an initiative to make marijuana legal.

*scratches head*

Soooo, marijuana use is taboo, but heroin you're okay with? And yes, I get that the idea behind the program is to somehow minimize the addict's craving with regulated doses without producing a big high so they can learn to function in society despite their addiction, but seriously...am I the only one who thinks the obvious pitfall here is that addicts want the high and will take the regulated doses and then go find more on their own? It's like joining weight watchers, eating sugar-free cookies at the meeting, and then hauling your jiggly behind through the nearest drive-through as soon as you leave the building--it happens.

One voter, when asked to explain his position, said that the heroin law would vastly improve the life of addicts, but he couldn't vote to legalize marijuana because he didn't approve of facilitating drug use.

*takes a looong moment to consider this piece of logic from all angles*

There's enough irony in that statement to keep a sardonic girl like me happy for months, but I doubt that voter can see it.

Friday, November 28, 2008

35 Good Reasons

Today my hubby turned 35. To honor his birthday (especially since we barely saw each other today!), I've decided to make a list of 35 reasons why he's absolutely wonderful.

1. He repainted the entire downstairs (4 different coats for the dining room before I was happy with the color scheme) without (much) complaint.

2. When I said I'd start working days to help our bank account, his first response was "But what about your writing?"

3. Speaking of writing, he believes in me completely.

4. He's loyal.

5. He makes me laugh.

6. He understands and shares my near obsession with Batman: The Dark Knight.

7. He's incredibly talented. (Hello?? Cake anyone?)

8. He likes to really discuss movies and books.

9. He does most of the driving so I don't have to. (Or so he doesn't have to ask me to slow down...)

10. He gives of his time and resources to anyone who needs him without thinking twice.

11. He'll do laundry when asked.

12. He plays with his kids.

13. He never takes me out for pizza on our dates.

14. He always puts effort into the gifts he chooses for me.

15. He brags about me.

16. He works hard at whatever he does.

17. He remembers people's names and faces (a skill I certainly don't possess).

18. He loves sports but doesn't expect me to love the stuff I just don't get. (Like golf. Or curling. Or other "sports" that involve no risk and no physical contact.)

19. His favorite activity is spending time with me.

20. He supports my interests and hobbies even if he doesn't share them.

21. He has integrity.

22. He is punctual. (Unless I'm part of the equation...even then, he's punctual. He's just waiting for me.)

23. He's not interested in stuff that takes him away from his family.

24. He wants to know what I think about stuff.

25. My opinion is important to him.

26. When he wants to be romantic, he pulls out all the stops.

27. He doesn't leave the seat up.

28. He risked his life to hang Christmas lights along our roof...for me.

29. He is respectful.

30. He unloads the dishwasher because he knows I hate to do it.

31. He's smart.

32. He gets the finer points of my sarcastic sense of humor.

33. He appreciates what I do around the house.

34. He's a man of faith.

35. He's my best friend.

=) Happy Birthday, Clint!!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008


I've noticed that a few of you have voted on my most recent poll to see more of Juan Pedro on this blog. I agree that our metallic friend has been notably absent the last few months. The blame for this can be laid directly at Paul's feet.

Paul moved thirty minutes north of me. He took Juan Pedro with him. I've asked, even begged, for JP pics to no avail.

Tonight, Paul and Kelly leave town for the entire weekend. *cackles and rubs hands together in glee*

I have a house key.

Here's the plan: I'm going to sneak into their condo, abscond with Juan Pedro, and take him on some wild adventures before Paul goes on a rampage to reclaim his property.

Of course I'll keep a detailed pictorial record of the entire thing.

Stay tuned...

Random, Ridiculous, & Sentimental

My List of What I'm Thankful For This Year:

1. My hard-working, supportive, talented husband.

2. My creative, loving, interesting, death-defying boys.

3. A kitchen with plenty of counter space.

4. My Pixie Chicks.

5. My CPs: Katy, Keli, Kris, Courtney (WHAT? No 'K'?)

6. Mashed potatoes made from scratch.

7. Food fights.

8. Really good books.

9. Agents who are both professional and generous with their time.

10. Amazing movies.

11. Peach pie.

12. My country.

13. My iPod.

14. Incredible friends (Paul, Kelly, Derreck, Tricia, Luke, Sandy...and others too numerous to list here)

15. Music I love

16. My imagination

17. The ability to write well

18. Oatmeal cookies

19. Everyone who has contributed toward our adoption fund

20. Flavored coffee drinks

21. My sense of humor

22. My cat

23. Christmas

24. The fact that my family has clean water and plenty of food

25. My church

*Yes, I noticed the inordinate number of food-related items on this list. I also noticed the lack of goats.*

Monday, November 24, 2008

Get Me Started! - #3

*From Kerry Allen's first sentence.*

As I lay dying in a stew of my own blood and guts, she had only this to say: "The profanity is uncalled for."

I rolled my eyes and slammed the book shut, barely resisting the urge to fling it across the room. Whether it was the implausibility of the plot, or the fact that I could barely sit still, this novel wasn't going to cut it. Not today.

I needed thirty minutes--an hour tops--where I could climb beneath someone else's skin and breathe without pain. Without uncertainty. Without the cloying smell of antiseptic unsuccessfully trying to mask the stench of approaching death.

The orange vinyl chair, stiff and creased with use, squeaked beneath me as I leaned forward to place the book beside the water pitcher and the vase of yellow daffodils, their sunny faces pretending cheerfulness that suddenly seemed obscene.

Careful not to look at the woman huddled on the bed, anchored to this world with cords and tubes, I snatched the vase and stalked to the adjacent bathroom where I dumped them in the trash and stared in the mirror.

My eyes, red-rimmed from tears that had dried hours ago, were bruised with fatigue and still looked like hers. My mouth, too wide to be considered beautiful, was hers too. The rest of what she'd left me was buried within, wrapped around the woman I'd become until most days I couldn't tell where she ended and I began.

But she was ending. I knew it. Felt it in my bones that ached like I'd been the one hit by the car instead of her. She was slipping away, every moment easing her tenuous grasp on this life until time hung heavy between us as I waited to catch the last sigh.

There would be no words. The doctor was clear. Precise. I hated him for it. Or I would, when I had the energy to feel anything beyond the yawning pit of despair sinking it's teeth into me with every tortured breath she took. My throat was raw, ravaged by the frantic stream of words I'd aimed at the doctor, at God, at my mother--begging all of them to somehow return life to the way it was supposed to be. To somehow fix this.

I left the bathroom, drawn to the bed though I couldn't stand to be there. Helpless. Useless. Holding her hand--still unbruised, though the rest of her was ravaged--while I clamped my lips shut to keep from screaming.

Her hand was already cool, though the machine monitoring her heart assured me with slow, erratic spikes of neon green that she was still with me. With nowhere left to go, and nothing left I could say, I sank back down into the stiff orange vinyl chair, laid my head against the back of her hand, and counted her heartbeats until there was nothing left for me but silence.

Useful Site

I'm adding Query Tracker to the list of Writer's Resource links on the sidebar. It's a site (approved by P&E and other reputable sites in the publishing world) where you can look up agents/agencies, see how they like their submissions and if they're accepting queries, read comments and feedback from other authors who've queried them, and keep track of when you send queries and the responses you get.

It's nice to have all that info in one place.

A Fishnet In A Pear Tree

1. This weekend I noticed several homes in my neighborhood have their outside Christmas lights up already.

2. I am surrounded by over-achievers.

3. I can assure you, our lights won't be up for a while.

4. Our school district threw in the towel this year and gave the kids the entire week of Thanksgiving off.

5. They're thrilled.

6. I'm trying to type this blog while Starshine watches a Backyardigans movie.

7. There are more mind-numbing options, of course, but at the moment, it's hard to think of any.

8. Last night, I fixed SF's synopsis and queried four more agents.

9. Today, after doing laundry and excavating the Scientist's bedroom, I'll write a bare-bones synopsis for Twisting Fate and send my Golden Heart entry out.

10. I took Starshine on a grocery-shopping trip Saturday--the boys think that's a treat because they get one on one time with me.

11. We stopped at McDonald's for lunch (his choice, not mine!) and they had huge Christmas ornaments hanging from the ceiling.

12. One of those was a bright purple ball wrapped in ... fishnet.

13. Nothing says happy holidays like a classy fishnet stocking.

14. On the blog this week: my review of the Jordan Almond samples sent to me, at least one Get Me Started entry, thoughts on what to do to advance your writing career during the month of December, my hubby's birthday post, and other assorted random entertainment.

15. Reader Question: My friend Paul loves music featuring bagpipes. He's looking for artists or albums to add to his collection. Do you have any recommendations for him?

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Shiny New Laptop Fairies DO Exist. Right?

Current mood: Tired, longing for bed.
Currently playing on my iPod: "Stranger Than Fiction" by Five Finger Death Punch

1. I have my laptop back now and though it still doesn't always want to acknowledge when it's plugged in, it's much better than it was and I have hope it will hold out until the Shiny New Laptop Fairy visits.

2. Yes, there's a Shiny New Laptop Fairy.

3. No, you may not burst my bubble.

4. I was told recently that I have nice, tight eyelids.

5. ...

6. In the realm of Potential Compliments, I admit this is one that never crossed my mind.

7. I suppose I should be grateful after three kids that something on me still qualifies for the "nice, tight" description.

8. My To Do list for the next three days is a scary beast with jagged little teeth.

9. Any blog readers live near Pelican Bay prison in California? Del Norte County, near Crescent City...I need weather, foliage, and basic scent and atmosphere descriptions for Twisting Fate.

10. I really don't like the character I'm introducing in chapter one. He scares me.

11. Of course, if he scares me, he's going to keep YOU up at night.

12. *cracks knuckles and gives evil little laugh*

13. Seriously, though, some minds are more difficult to inhabit than others.

14. I'm going to be interviewing the incredibly smart and talented Danielle Marie soon. She's an actress (who's also been a director, a teacher, and a writer...what an invaluable resource for a writer!) who is familiar with several techniques useful for getting inside her character's head.

15. Since I write by getting inside each character's head and listening, I resonated with many of her techniques.

16. Writing is, after all, like acting out every single part in the play.

17. I'm going to continue the Get Me Started entries again next week.

18. Thank you, Jake, for the ridiculously difficult first line you handed me. I'm going to make John McCain a donkey. See if I don't.

19. Btw, you'll notice in #9 I didn't solicit first-hand descriptions from anyone with insider's experience with Pelican Bay prison...this may be an oversight on my part since I will be writing about the inside...

20. If you're a prison guard, feel free to respond. If your Internet access is limited to one hour a week and you know exactly what Monday's lunchtime surprise tastes like, don't feel obligated to answer my query. I don't need to be that accurate. It's always good for a girl to flex her imaginative muscle, know what I mean?

21. Reader Question: What qualities in a villain scare you, stick with you, and haunt you days or weeks after you've finished the book?

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Top Ten

I found an article tonight listing the top 100 comedic movies of all time. Actually, I think it was more like the top 130. I don't know when it was last updated but it must have been before this summer since Get Smart! didn't make the list.

Here are the top ten (in someone's opinion):

1. Duck Soup
2. Some Like It Hot
3. Monty Python & the Holy Grail
4. Airplane!
5. Dr. Strangelove
6. Blazing Saddles
7. What's Up, Doc?
8. National Lampoon's Animal House
9. A Night At The Opera
10. The Odd Couple

I'll freely admit I'm not the most up-to-date on my movies so it's possible I haven't got a clue what I'm talking about, but this list surprised me. I guess because I love intelligent humor mixed with slapstick so stuff like National Lampoon and Airplane! gets a few chuckles but starts annoying me pretty fast. Loved Some Like It Hot and The Odd Couple and Monty Python is, of course, a shining example of British genius (and I do love British humor).

Any thoughts? Movies you'd nominate for the top ten? Here's mine (using the criteria of movies that made me laugh so hard I cried):

1. Get Smart! (I loved every second.)
2. My Fair Lady (Why can't a woman be more like a man? Gets me every time.)
3. The Whole Nine Yards (I literally fell off the couch laughing when Matthew Perry's character ran into the sliding glass door.)
4. It's A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (This is a perfect comedic feast.)
5. Shanghai Knights (Owen Wilson waking up to the goats was my undoing.)
6. Arsenic & Old Lace (Just a glimpse of what I'll be like when I'm in my dotage.)
7. Tommy Boy (The deer in the car. Priceless.)
8. My Fellow Americans (Good to the very last word.)
9. Maverick (Mel Gilbson at his finest.)
10. How To Lose A Guy In Ten Days (I know, I know. It's a chick flick, so it's weird to see it on my list, but I laughed throughout the entire thing and even watched it twice.)

Must. Stop. Twitch.

I swear there aren't enough hours in the day to make finishing my To Do list even a remote possibility. I'm hoping my laptop will be fixed and in my hot little hands again tomorrow night so my Internet-free mornings will be a thing of the past.

Today my right eye developed a twitch. Most annoying. I chalk this development up to the following things:

1. Being without my laptop since Friday night thus causing me to be unable to access my submission packet for Shadowing Fate, fix my SF synopsis, dive into my previously brainstormed ideas for Twisting Fate, do critiques on material saved on my laptop, blog daily, or answer email consistently as the hours I have slotted and available for online time are in the morning when my hubby has his own laptop with him at work.

2. The woman who walked up to me at work and informed me that she'd had "the diarrhea" and I would need to go clean the bathroom.

3. Every single person who thinks joking with their waitress about not wanting the check is somehow unique or funny.

4. My boys who unfailingly remember to save their video games to a memory card but can't recall the basic rules of the house. Like don't stuff dirty socks behind your bed. And always take your shoes off before going to sleep for the night. And do not, under ANY circumstances, flush objects that did not originate from your body.

5. My upcoming Friday in which I will be on my feet at work from 8:45 in the morning until about 10 at night.

6. The man I tried to seat at a table today who kept a running commentary on the daily special (chicken pot pie) because he didn't like chicken or pie and thought I would somehow be fascinated by his ridiculously loud discourse on the faults of each. I wasn't. FYI...I don't give a flip what you can or can't eat, what you do or don't like to eat, or what you had the previous day that precludes you from ordering a similar item within a 24 hour period. I really don't. Just order and eat. That's it. Order. And. Eat.

7. My friend who now has a pet goat IN HIS HOUSE, for Pete's sake, and insists on showing me pictures. Today, he was less than enamored of his little piece of sunshine because the goat, assured of her welcome in her new environment, has reverted to her true nature and is now eating everything in site and slamming her head into the household's occupants at the most inopportune moments. You will not be surprised to learn that I warned him this would happen.

Things that are working hard to cure my eye twitch:

1. My boys who, despite their proven streak of testosterone-induced insanity, are loving, creative, and always happy to see me.

2. My hubby who is always my biggest fan.

3. My cat who has proven herself to be infinitely better than a goat.

4. The fact that my hubby and I are taking a quick overnight trip to Chicago next month on someone else's dime (love the perks of his job!).

5. Good writing I've read recently from two of my Pixies: Keli Gwyn and Kerry Allen.

What I need to accomplish after I get my laptop back:

1. Clean up SF's synopsis and send out more submission packets.

2. Finish critiques for Erin and Katy.

3. Loosely plot TF and start writing.

4. Finish my Get Me Started blog entries.

It's late. I'm going to find the motivation to get out of this over-sized comfy chair and haul myself up to bed. What's on your To Do list this weekend?

Monday, November 17, 2008

Belligerent Technology vs. Horrendous Mom

1. My Monday post is waaaay late but I have an excellent excuse.

2. In the continuing saga of Technology Hates C.J., my laptop refuses to turn on.

3. It isn't a virus this time. The hole where I plug the cord in refuses to acknowledge the presence of the cord, no matter how many times I threaten its mother.

4. Hence, the battery refused to charge and now it's dead.

5. I'd blog from my office computer but it recently went on an Internet strike and even though everything says it's online, it really isn't.

6. So, I'm stuck waiting for a chance to borrow my hubby's laptop after he's finished with it.

7. Good times.

8. In other news, Starshine asked me today (apropos of nothing but sheer Starshiney-ness) "Mom, why do some girls go around acting like they're sooo fabulous? They just walk, walk, walk, walk, walk, walk, and walk some more and think they're fabulous."

9. Me: "Well, if they aren't fabulous, what are they?"

10. Starshine: "Annoying."

11. Last night, Starshine decided to style my hair by forcibly inserting a hair clip at angles my scalp would pay good money to never repeat.

12. When he was finished, he announced "Now, let's see how it looks!", walked around to the front of me, took one look and gasped (yes, literally) "You look horrendous!"

13. Good thing he's cute.

14. Last night, I came up with a freakin' brilliant way to teach other writers how to use deep POV.

15. I'd forgotten the idea by morning.

16. THIS is why I usually keep a notepad by my bed. Alas, since I'm not currently working on a manuscript, I didn't think I'd need one.

17. Maybe it'll come to me again tonight.

18. I watched Untraceable today with Paul (I know, I know...finally, right?).

19. It was entertaining, despite the predictable ending and the various incidents of heroine stupidity (An FBI agent knows a serial killer who has already murdered her partner is on the loose but she doesn't bother to lock her car door when she leaves it in a darkened hotel parking lot? Really??) wedged into the plot to get the desired outcome.

20. Which reminds me--don't ever do that in your book. A reader can sense when she's being manipulated for the sake of the plot and, if your reader is anything like me, that's enough to ban you from her must read list for life.

21. Reader Question: What makes an author a "must read" for you?

Friday, November 14, 2008

Writer's Block?

Suffering from writer's block? (Or just want to be amused?) Go here.

*Thanks to Keli Gwyn for the link.*

You Might Be My Next Corpse

1. When I informed my children that I'd finished Shadowing Fate, Daredevil jumped up and down and said "WoooHooo! We're rich!"

2. Ah, to be that young and naive again.

3. Last night, I hosted a candle party. I'd booked the party through a consultant I'd never met face to face.

4. The party was fun, the consultant was great, and then as we were sitting around my table chatting while my friends ate pie and browsed catalogs, I glanced at the the label on my own catalog--the one listing the consultant's full name--and realized why her name looked so familiar.

5. I'd borrowed it (without remembering where I'd seen it) for one of the victims in Shadowing Fate.

6. I started laughing and told her, "I'm so sorry! There's a corpse with your last name in my latest novel."

7. She thought it was pretty cool.

8. So much for thinking I'd pulled that particular name out of thin air.

9. The moral of this tale, of course, is that if I know you, I might kill you at some point.

10. Figuratively speaking, of course.

11. I think I'll be mentally prepared to dive into Twisting Fate on Monday.

12. Of course, first I need to research hypochondriacs, anti-social disorder, gene-splicing, and how to break out of maximum security prison.

13. Piece of cake.

14. Ugh, cake.

15. My hubby's birthday is coming up the day after Thanksgiving.

16. I don't even think he wants a cake, but it's a tradition my boys won't allow us to skip.

17. He gets two round cakes stacked on top of each other with store bought icing and sprinkles. (The boys are in charge of the sprinkles. This explains why last year you could barely taste the cake past the stale-sugar crunch of Christmas themed--hey, I don't censor their sprinkle choices!--sprinkles.)

18. The word you're looking for is "yum."

19. At least he'll like his present.

20. Three weeks after that is our 14th wedding anniversary, a week after that is Christmas, two weeks later is my birthday, five days after that it's Starshine's birthday, and a mere three weeks later we have the Scientist's birthday.

21. Yes, this shows a distinct lack of planning on our part.

22. Hang on to your wallets, folks, it's going to be a bumpy ride.

22. Reader Question: What do you think I should get my hubby for his birthday?

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Snort Goat Eyeballs Idiot

Yes, it's that time again. What interesting, odd, or downright disturbing google searches brought new readers to this blog?

1. what are some three letter words for the word death: Die. That's pretty much all I've got for you.

2. final fantasy 7 kris kennedy: lol I'm going to have to ask my friend and CP if she plays final fantasy in between writing novels and raising her son. Perhaps she's holding out on me?

3. caffeine bad steroids: If you've taken bad steroids, the last thing you need chasing them through your system is caffeine. Unless, of course, you've always had a yen for losing complete control of your vocal chords, your temper, and your flimsy grasp on common sense.

4. out of gas idiot: I'm a bit unclear as to the purpose of this particular google search. The phrase seems pretty self-explanatory. It is nice, though, that every time someone googles ANY phrase with the word idiot, they invariably end up here.

5. procrastination dying last words: Some advice for you--if you're at the point where you need to deliver your dying last words, procrastination is not your friend.

6. what to do with shredded cabbage: Does it have to be legal?

7. mucinex snort: Ooookaaay...

8. tylenol extra strength snort: I'm going to go out on a limb and say that you're the genius snorting mucinex as well. You may want to re-think your drug-taking strategy. It helps to remember that drugs of the legal variety rarely go up the nose.

9. goat's eyeballs: Get thee to another blog, forthwith.

10. "if you have any poo, fling it now!": A worthy sentiment, one I often endorse.

11. you have heard of me: Yes, yes you have. I'm sure your life is more edifying as a direct result. (Except you with the goat eyeballs. You can go.)

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

You Can Take My Dad's Money! I Promise!

1. In case you missed the post below this one (the one with ALL CAPS FOR A TITLE), Shadowing Fate is finished and in the hands of the agents who requested it.

2. I did heavy revisions, mostly because a really cool (and very twisted) plot idea came to me--one that would carry through the entire series--and I had to go back and work it in.

3. The end product is hands down the best work I've ever done. I'm so excited to share it with others!

4. I wrote like a crazy woman this weekend with literally about 10 hours of sleep over the course of three days.

5. *wanders off to collapse*

6. This weekend, I'm teaching a Query Writing workshop at my local RWA chapter meeting, so I'm going to start pulling together material for that.

7. In March of 2009, I'll be teaching an online week long course in query writing, so will pull from much of the same material.

8. I think hands-on learning is best, so my workshops are geared toward making sure everyone leaves with a working query letter they can immediately send out.

9. I got my shipment of candy to review on this blog and will be selling my so ... er ... blogging about it soon.

10. My house looks like I spent all weekend writing.

11. My kids have rediscovered their love of Lincoln logs after finding a box of the things hidden ... I mean, kept in their sister's closet.

12. I've rediscovered why I hid the box in the first place.

13. It hurts to step on chunks of wood at night in your bare feet.

14. Daredevil recently campaigned for president at his school. Every kid in his class had to put together some sort of campaign, complete with promises.

15. Daredevil did a video, shot at home, where he wandered around our house promising all the things he would give anyone who voted for him (he has yet to embrace the concept that a true leader doesn't have to bribe others to vote for him).

16. Among the items promised to his voters: chocolate drinking fountains at school, all the money in his dad's wallet (Ah. A true politician! Bribe your voters without using your own money!), every game system we own, and the cat.

17. We'll see how successful he is.

18. I'd love to type more, I really would, but my eyes are crossing (even though I slept last night) and I think a nap is in my near future.

19. Reader Question: Do you ever attend book signings? Why or why not? What would make you go?

Monday, November 10, 2008


It's official, folks. Monday, November 10th, 2008, Shadowing Fate is finished.

Whew. Off to put my kids to bed and collapse.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

It's Perfectly Simple

Current Mood: Anticipating the weekend

Playing on the iPod: "Indestructible" by Disturbed

1. Tonight, I gave Starshine explicit instructions after dinner: "Go upstairs, brush your teeth for TWO MINUTES, then get in bed and do your reading."

2. Starshine managed the first, then got sidetracked with the idea of messing around with Daredevil in my bathroom (Daredevil's explicit instructions included taking a shower.)

3. This required me to go upstairs and intervene to get everyone back on track. I shooed Daredevil into the shower, then turned to Starshine and said, "Go brush your teeth."

4. He replied, "Okay, but first I have to destroy Massachusetts."

5. Of course.

6. However, Starshine learned a valuable lesson: Dental Hygiene and Appropriate Bedtimes trump plans for World Domination (everyone knows you have to conquer Massachusetts to get anywhere) every time.

7. I was awarded an "I Love Your Blog" nomination from one of my readers (Chiron).

8. I'm honored!

9. The instructions include copying the icon, pasting it on my blog, then nominating other blogs I love and going to their blog to leave a comment so they know about their prize.

10. I've been too busy to pull it all together, but I will. I don't know if I'll choose 7 or more blogs like others have done, simply because I rarely have time to consistently read so many, but I'll certainly bestow the honor on my particular favorites (Brace yourself, Florida Girl, you're on the list.)

11. I'm pulling a looooong night of writing tonight to make up for the shambles of a schedule that was my pathetic attempt at revision this week.

12. I promised a particular agent I would get this ms. to her this week, and I have three others patiently waiting so I'll prop up my flagging energy with caffeine (though not toooo much...I want my writing to actually make sense) and stay up as long as I can manage, then finish it off in the morning if necessary.

13. Tonight, Daredevil needed math homework help.

14. It's a bit humbling to realize that much of 3rd grade math is beyond me (at least if you need to know the PROPER way to show your work...), and facing 5th grade math (for the Scientist) is an excellent way to inspire a mass extermination of brain cells I'm pretty sure I need.

15. My hubby handles all the math questions around here. I'm the go to girl for speech writing, paragraphs, vocabulary, and spelling.

16. Also, my hubby handles arts and crafts, but that's another post entirely.

17. Anyway, my hubby was helping Daredevil with his math homework, getting him to show his work (using the teacher-prescribed method), when he hit a stumbling block.

18. He spent another minute on it, then turned to me and said (in what MAY be his famous last words): "I need a simple math mind for this. Come here."

19. Turns out, he was making the solution too complicated. I don't have that problem.

20. He's lucky he has so many redeeming qualities.

21. Reader Question: What was your favorite subject in school? Does it still influence your life in any way?

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Hoist The Bobble Heads!

I've decided the undergarment industry could do with some "Change We Can Believe In" campaigns of their own. For starters, I'd like at least one company to realize that gravity is a harsh mistress who attacks more than just the breasts.

Furthermore, my breasts are not the only things than need lifting and separating. There's the matter of my derriere. Also, I believe I'm passing the point where the lifting and separating of my breasts is any kind of solution at all.

Separation is no longer a problem. It's corralling them both into a semblance of their original position and then holding them there that causes difficulty. And I don't need a garment that promises lift. I need one that is prepared to hoist.

I need NASA to take on the undergarment world. I figure if NASA can master g-force and rocket thrust, break through our atmosphere and defy gravity, they ought to be able to design a bra that makes me look like my breasts aren't going south for the winter. Perhaps they could use some sort of pliable metal so that I'm not only hoisted into position, I'm not in danger of catching a stiff breeze and poking out the eye of someone behind me as my breasts fly willy-nilly over my shoulders.

It's like having two organically-grown bobble head dolls permanently attached to my body.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Voting, Public Service Announcements, & Cake

1. I think it's cool that my local bookstore is giving away free drinks from their coffee shop to anyone who votes today.

2. Unfortunately, by the time I work all day, then stand in line to vote, then run home to make dinner...I won't have the time or energy to run out for coffee. :)

3. Worked on more revisions last night. Most of it is little stuff now. Just a few plot points to clean up.

4. I've opened a new doc and am copying and pasting each chapter, reading through it, making any corrections, then moving on.

5. I didn't use this method for polishing up DTR, but then again, I barely revised DTR, more's the pity.

6. I'll be entering SF in the Golden Heart this year, though I don't know if I can attend the conference ... might conflict with our trip to China.

7. I've asked my hubby to make a castle cake for me for my birthday.

8. He seems less than thrilled with that prospect.

9. Perhaps if I offer to pay?

10. I need to take a trip to Chicago sometime in the next year as research for the series following Fate.

11. I know, tough life, right?

12. I'm getting emailed offers from various people asking if I'd like to feature this, that, or the other on my blog.

13. Sometimes I say yes, sometimes I say no, but here's a little piece of instruction for anyone hoping to be interviewed/have their product featured/experience their 6.3 seconds of fame (It's only 15 seconds if you make it on something like Letterman):

14. When I ask you for specific details/dates etc., GIVE THEM TO ME.

15. When I ask you questions to potentially be put up on the blog, ANSWER THEM AS IF YOU ARE A DECENT, INTELLIGENT HUMAN BEING.

16. If I follow up on my initial email with yet ANOTHER email asking for clarification and/or details you failed to give me the first time around and you STILL don't comply, feel free to read this blog 'til I turn 89, accept my crown as the Geriatric Sequined Wonder, and cut myself off from the ethernet--you still won't see mention of your name here.

17. Also, it's okay to say you've stumbled across my blog through my link on [name appropriate writer's site]. It's not okay to pretend to be a reader of the blog when you aren't.

18. If you're a regular reader, you should know the definition of the following words: Starshine, 9-4, and Zooweemama. Also, you should know the name of my current manuscript.

19. This has been a public service announcement.

20. Reader Question: What kind of cake should my hubby make for my birthday? All ideas are welcome.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Get Me Started! - #2

*From Jen's first sentence.*

Some days, life hands you roses. Other days it manhandles you, bludgeons you over the head, then dumps you face first in the crapper.

This day was shaping up to be the latter. Not that many of my days recently have been anything to write home about--as if Dad would let Mom open my letters--but still, on a Days I'd Love To Erase scale of one to ten, this one was heading for twenty.


It all started at seven a.m. with the goat. Not that my useless boss, so far into a bottle of Jack Daniels he could've given a brewery a run for its money on smell alone, didn't contribute. And I'm not discounting the obnoxious blonde with her I Took Out A Loan The Size of Kentucky breasts. Her little rat-dog holds a fair amount of responsibility too.

Still, at the heart of my problems lurked a barnyard animal with horizontal eyes, teeth the size of nickels--all the better to rip your Coach handbag apart, my dear!--and zero respect for anyone's personal space. It was the goat's fault. I was sure of it.

Trying to convince the irritated police officer facing me across the smooth steel surface of the table in Interview Room A was another matter. He was the no-nonsense, wear a badge for life type who'd heard every excuse in the book and wasn't buying any of them.

"A goat?" If he'd been trying to scrub his tone clean of any trace of mockery, he'd failed.

"Yes. A big one." My fingers drummed against the table until I ordered them to stop. When they started again, I shoved my hands in my lap and put on what I hoped was my best I Am Not A Crazy Person face.

"And where is this goat now?" He asked, shuffling the many witness statements piled in front of him, as if the goat's location would magically appear.

I was pretty sure most of those statements said things like "set an historic monument on fire," "screamed nonsense at the top of her lungs," or--and for this I had no regrets--"stuffed an I Heart NY bandanna into an irritating blonde's mouth, thus silencing her for thirty blessed seconds."

"I don't know."

"Do you usually walk around Manhattan with a goat, Ms. Ledbetter?"

"Of course not."

"Could you identify the goat in a line-up?" He asked, his tone thick with amused sarcasm. "Maybe work with our sketch artist to put a composite together?"

"Very funny."

"No, it isn't funny, Ms. Ledbetter. You've destroyed a chunk of property, much of it historic, offended the sensibilities of the mayor's wife--"

"That shrieking harpy was the mayor's wife?"

"Singed most of the hair off her dog," he went on as if I'd never interrupted, "and robbed her of a diamond ring worth well over a million dollars. There's nothing funny about that."

"The dog part was sort of funny," I said, before the realization kicked in that sarcasm was unlikely to earn me a Get Out Of Jail Free card.

"I don't want to hear another ridiculous story about goats knocking over Jack Daniels and chewing through purses. I want to know where Mrs. Harper's diamond ring is. Turn that over to us, and we can cut you a deal." His dark eyes were stern.

"That's easy. The goat--"

"No more about the goat!"

"Swallowed the ring," I finished and watched his face turn an unbecoming shade of red.

"Are you telling me you fed Mrs. Harper's million dollar diamond to a goat?" His voice rose on every syllable until he was shouting in my face.

"No. I'm telling you Mrs. Harper dropped the ring while scrambling around trying to control her miniature terror--"


"Terror. And the goat was already eating everything in sight. He swallowed the ring, the fire started," here I decided to remain rather vague as to the cause, "and by the time you all decided to arrest me for theft and vandalism, he was gone."

"Ms. Ledbetter--"

"I'm telling the truth. Find the goat and you'll find the ring."

He sighed, scrubbed his hands over his face, and stood. "Stay here."

"I didn't realize I had a choice," I said.

He scooped up the witness statements and walked toward the door. "I can't believe I'm about to put out an APB on a goat."

YA Scavenger Hunt - Red Team

Welcome to YA Scavenger Hunt! This bi-annual event was first organized by author  Colleen Houck  as a way to give readers a c...