Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Contest Update

First, a big THANK YOU to all of you who've already stopped by my contest page at amazon and giving me a rating and a review.

For those of you who haven't had the chance, here's the link and some shameless begging from me...

Review-wise, I'm solidly in the running for the next cut but the number of reviews I have put me in the middle of the pack. I have 28 reviews. I need 40 to really be competitive. That's just 12 more.

Please, please, please...if you haven't reviewed, would you take a minute to do so? You need an active amazon account to review. Feel free to send the link on to anyone who would review as well! I appreciate it!

LOL

Stranger Than Fiction

In the continuing saga of weird and improbable injuries, I'd like to introduce you to my latest downfall - my cat, Taz.





Oh sure, she looks harmless enough. But, like many felines, inside she is a scheming ball of potentially homicidal impulses wrapped up in a decidedly psychotic sense of humor.

All of that, however, has no bearing on what happened because what happened was one of those freak accidents that couldn't be replicated if you held a gun to my head.

You might remember me telling you how two years ago I gave myself a severe concussion by vacuuming under the dining room table and midjudging my exit. The E.R. personnel didn't believe my story. I had phone calls from concerned parties wanting to know if I was safe in my home.

Of course I'm not safe. I'm still doing housework.

Anyway, a few months later, I gave myself another head injury by knocking loose a can of shaving cream from the shower caddy and failing to move out of the way before it collided with my forehead.

I didn't even bother going to the doc on that one. For one, I wasn't hurt that bad. For another, I really didn't want the local police to open a file on my hubby and his poor addled wife who, apparently tiring of the old "I-fell-down-the-stairs" story, was resorting to blaming innocent household objects - like vacuum cleaners and shaving cream bottles - for her injuries.

If you don't count the day last month when I walked into a tree, the category of Strange-And-Slightly-Unbelievable-Injuries-For-$200-Alex has been relatively empty for a while.

Taz fixed that two nights ago.

She sleeps on me. And by sleeps on me, I don't mean she sleeps beside me or at my feet...I mean I lay on my side and she drapes herself across my body like a 12 pound throw rug. She stays there until around 4 or 5 am when she suddenly comes to life.

I call it the Witching Hour. Or the Hour of the Pest. Or the "I-swear-if-you-knock-one-more-item-off-my-dresser-I-will-lock-you-in-the-linen-closet" hour.

Take your pick.

She's a devious, conniving little thing and she watches me the whole time she's knocking things around or rustling paper. The second I give in and show any sign of wakefulness - rolling over, opening my eyes, flinging a pillow - she quits whatever she's doing and jumps on me again. Only this time, she demands attention for ten minutes or so before finally letting me sleep again.

Those of you currently rolling your eyes and thinking that I should just take a firmer hand with her and stop this vicious cycle clearly have never owned a cat.

Two nights ago, I was asleep, facing the middle of the bed when the Witching Hour began. Only this time, there was a flaw in Taz's plan. Taz, being a cat and completely uncaring about anything in my realm that doesn't directly affect her, didn't take into account the fact that I'd taken Tylenol Cold before going to bed.

Tylenol Cold knocks me flat and keeps me groggy for hours.

I didn't hear anything she did. I saw the evidence of it in the morning - a pen knocked off the dresser, the lamp cord partially pulled out of the socket, some paper strewn about in an obvious fit of pique - but I heard nothing.

I did, however, for reasons that remain unclear due to the foggy nature of my brain at the time of the incident, decide to roll toward the side of the bed.

Taz took this as a signal to join me and get some attention.

I usually know I've sent this signal and compensate for the impending arrival of 12 pounds of cat.

I may have mentioned the Tylenol Cold...

I failed to compensate because I truly didn't realize Witching Hour was upon us.

I rolled toward the side of the bed just as she launched herself from the dresser toward....the exact same space.

Having failed miserably at Chemistry, I was never given the opportunity to try my hand at Physics but even so, I understand that two objects cannot occupy the same space at the same time.

Also, there's a law about momentum. And about opposing forces. And about everything being fun and games until one loses one's eye.

I rolled. Taz leaped. And in a scene fit to make Murphy proud, her sharp, bony nose collided full force with my left eyeball.

Not my eye socket.

Not my cheek bone.

Not my forehead.

My eyeball.

We hit so hard, it knocked her to the floor.

For those of you feeling the least bit curious at this point as to what it would feel like to absorb the full force of a 12 pound feline's forward momentum with your eyeball, let me assure you that it hurts.

Hurts as in capital H-U-R-T-S hurts. I felt like I'd been punched. My eye watered and burned and even though Taz recovered with enviable quickness and began her quest for my attention, she was disappointed.

Two days later, it still hurts to put my contacts in. Hurts to rub. Hurts, on rare occasions now, to blink.

I was worried I'd get up in the morning to a black eye and be forced to come up with an "I-walked-into-a-door" story just to get the suspicious medical officials off our case.

Sometimes, truth really is stranger than fiction.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Check It Out

I found this site from some friends on LJ. Basically, it's Netflix for books. I chose a plan that is $9.99 a month (believe me, that is LESS than I usually spend on books each month!) and they send 2 books out to me from my list. As soon as I use the prepaid mailer to send them back, they send more.

I read fast. I think I'll get 6 to 8 books a month out of this and their selection is tremendous. You can even reserve books that haven't come out yet.

Check it out and if you join, feel free to put my email address - platinumcj@yahoo.com as your referral. I have no idea if I get a perk for referring people but hey, worth a shot.

Confessions of an Insomniac

10:15 : Take two Tylenol PMs and expect to be zonked in less than 20 minutes.

10:30: Finish taking out contacts, brushing teeth, and washing face and climb into bed.

10:34: Stare at clock and wonder when Tylenol PM is going to kick in.

10:35: Wonder if the Mucinex I took conflicts with the Tylenol PM.

10:37: Realize my leg is bouncing on the mattress in a rapid, jittery rhythm that strongly suggests I am not going to go to sleep any time soon.

10:40: Begin an hour long train of random, lightning-fast thoughts that look something like this:

1. I really, really, really need to go to sleep.

2. All that time spent sweating for an A in algebra classes was totally wasted as I have never once used any of it in real life.

3. Shouldn't I be lightheaded by now?

4. *sniff* Mucinex seems to work.

5. I need to do a lot of things tomorrow...vacuum, clean the bathrooms, do some laundry, clean the kitchen, sweep the hardwood....

6. Best not to think about that now.

7. Although, if I don't fall asleep soon, I can just get up and get a head start on my cleaning...

8. Is it wise for me to run a vacuum cleaner when I've taken two Tylenol PMs?

9. Maybe they were placebos.

10. If everyone faithfully practiced good dental hygiene, the world would be a much friendlier place.

11. Is it too much to ask for people to at least drive the speed limit?

12. Can't stand being stuck behind a slow driver.

13. Does Mucinex only work on the mucus that is present at the time of pill ingestion or does it handle additional mucus later on?

14. Hey, I can sit up without the room spinning.

15. Stupid Tylenol PM.

16. This is so NOT the time to discover I've somehow gained a tolerance for drugs.

17. It's the Mucinex. It must be an upper.

18. I bet if chickens were as aggressive as geese, none of us would know what eggs taste like.

19. It's close to midnight now.

20. Wouldn't it be cool if you could make something magical happen at midnight if you were paying attention to the possibility?

21. Sort of pathetic that I'd use my magic to pull a Mary Poppins on my messy house.

22. I don't care for curry.

23. Bet curry works better than Mucinex and doesn't keep you up at night.

24. Bet it hurts to snort it, though.

25. I wouldn't like to live in a desert.

26. John Edwards looks like a Fisher Price little person all grown up.

27. Must be the plastic hair.

28. We seriously need a new mattress.

29. This is like Sealy-sponsored acupuncture.

30. Puce. Who wears a color called puce? You practically have to spit the word out to pronounce it correctly.

And so on and so forth until finally the Tylenol PM beat out the fidgety Mucinex and sent me off to sleep.

Friday, January 25, 2008

What A Winner

I saw this ad on facebook this morning:

Want to write a book? Learn everything you need to know about writing and eriting a book in 7 easy steps!


No, that isn't a typo. At least, it isn't my typo.

I suggest adding an 8th step: proof reading.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

LOL

Peanut, peanut butter...

1. Friends who surprise me with their generosity.

2. Johnny Depp.

3. My husband, who is taking me to the movies today so we can spend some time together and who has informed me that I will not be cleaning the house this weekend - I'll be sleeping while he does the cleaning.

4. That all my kids are healthy enough to be in school today so I CAN go to the movies with my hubby.

5. wandereringray

6. Being a semi-finalist in the amazon contest.

7. Large tips from single diners.

8. That even though my van won't start (a very recent development), we have a friend who knows cars and wants to fix it for free.

9. Peanut butter on burgers...don't knock it til you try it.

10. Juan Pedro for restoring my sense of humor every time I walk downstairs.

11. That God led us to buy a house with more bedrooms than we need so we have room for others who need a temporary home.

12. Pancakes.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

JUAN PEDRO, the sidewalk infomercial

Apparently, Juan Pedro is quite the entrepeneur...





We found him wearing a festive Santa hat and holding up the following sign.





The connection between Santa and working for pesos is still undetermined.

Monday's List (on a Tuesday)

1. Seeing Paul snort milk was the highlight of my weekend.

2. Seeing Mad Money with Kailani and Dusty was fun too.

3. Hubby is sick.

4. Starshine is sick.

5. The Scientist is sick.

6. How long can Daredevil and I hold out?

7. I'm getting much better at the Smarty Pants game.

8. 24 reviews up on amazon for my novel.

9. 23 of them are 5 star.

10. I think the leading entry has 40 at the moment so I need to catch up. =)

11. I don't care about the outcome of this year's SuperBowl.

12. I'm almost completely caught up on laundry (quick! snap a picture so we can all remember this moment!)

13. The latests news from our adoption agency puts our referral (her picture and info and permission to travel) at July now instead of May.

14. I expect we'll have another delay or two before we go.

15. Starshine was so thrilled to receive a set of Captain Underpants books for his birthday.

16. I think they might be kindred spirits.

17. I work the next four nights in a row.

18. Let's hope the uncouth, irritating, and downright stingy stay home this week.

19. Paul has a suit of armor standing in my living room.

20. We recently discovered the suit of armor has "Mexico" stamped in rather large letters on one of his gauntlets.

21. Over much vociferous protesting from Paul, we named the knight Juan Pedro.

22. While Paul was out on Sunday, we dressed Juan Pedro in various hats and sent pictures to Paul.

23. Juan Pedro wore a Cat in the Hat hat and swore he did not like green eggs and ham.

24. He wore my halloween witch's hat and a pink hoodie and said "Juan? or Juanita? Juan Pedro feels conflicted."

25. And my personal favorite: He wore a cowboy hat and told Paul "Juan Pedro thinks your tractor's sexy."

26. Paul has promised certain, imminent, and even immediate death to us all.

27. We're still breathing.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Update on Amazon

Just found out today that simply rating the entry doesn't count. Only ratings with a short review count towards the prize. And you can comment on other reviews too...anything to generate a buzz. =)

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Vote For DYING TO REMEMBER!

Yay! I made it as a semi-finalist in Amazon.com's Breakthrough Novel Award contest. Now I need your votes!! (and the votes of every single person you've ever met) Please go to my contest page, download and read my entry, and provide a rating and some feedback. You need to register with Amazon if you haven't done so already.

Please, please, please spread this link to your blog, your email list, everyone who knows how to work the internet and likes to read. ;) The top 10 semi-finalists will be named in early March and the grand prize is a $25,000 publishing contract with Penguin.

Thank you for your vote!

Gravity, That Harsh Mistress

Thank you Tiffany for the hilarious email!

Mildred, 93, was despondent over the recent death of her husband Earl, so she decided to just kill herself and join him in death.

Thinking it would be best to get it over with quickly, she took out Earl's old
Army pistol and made the decision to shoot herself in the heart since it was
so badly broken in the first place.

Not wanting to miss the vital organ and become a vegetable and a burden to someone, she called her doctor's office to learn her heart's exact location.

"Since you're a woman," the doctor said, "your heart is just below your left breast.
Why do you ask?"

She hung up without answering.

Later that night, Mildred was admitted to the hospital with a gunshot wound to her knee.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Monday's List

1. Starshine's birthday was yesterday - he was so proud of being 7!!

2. He also subscribes wholeheartedly to the concept of "it's my birthday, therefore I get to do whatever I want."

3. Thus we found ourselves at Chuck E. Cheese.

4. Earlier in the day (right after church), Dusty, Kelly, Kailani, and I went to see P.S. I Love You.

5. The movie was fine. Interesting enough as far as chick flicks go.

6. The REAL story is the gargantuan woman who chose to sit next to Dusty and - I kid you not - crunch ice the entire movie. Everyone in the row could hear her.

7. And she wore heavy floral perfume in an attempt to mask the fact that personal hygiene was not her friend.

8. I swear, if you have the social etiquette of a bovine, you belong at home.

9. Paul moves in tomorrow.

10. I'm almost ready. A little more cleaning and we can move the couch out of his bedroom and all will be well.

11. I think the laundry multiplies at night, when I'm not looking.

12. Like rabbits.

13. Or roaches.

14. Hubby is making rice crispie treats to take to Starshine's class today.

15. The Cowboys lost yesterday because they played like amateurs.

16. This made my hubby very unhappy.

17. He was born in Texas. He can't help himself.

18. MY team didn't even make the playoffs but I'm not worried. Another year or two and the 49ers will rule the NFL once more.

19. And that's all I have to say about that.

It's All Fun And Games Until...

NOTE TO SELF:

When scrubbing dishes, it is best to avoid at all costs flinging tiny hardened pieces of mozarella cheese into one's eye.



end memo

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Things I've Found Funny Recently




1. The Easter bunnies for sale at Cracker Barrel. Some of them are ugly. Some of them look like militant generals in a Pastel Army. And some of them look like it's highly probable they worship the devil when no one's looking.

2. The way Starshine plays Guitar Hero. He jumps forward every time he hits a note. I'll have to film it sometime and post a video.

3. Being asked what I do in my spare time. (Umm...let's see...spare time...yes, yes, I think I remember what that means...hold on...1993...ah, yes, it's all coming back to me now.)

4. Watching Hilary Clinton work up a tear on national television over the election. She doesn't show emotion over her husband's affair with a college-age intern but losing a primary in Ohio...that's worth crying over. Sheesh.

5. The game "Imaginiff".

6. My attempt at "real" bowling, sans bumpers. Oh wait...I wasn't the one who found that funny...

7. The book PLUM LUCKY. Not as hilarious as some of the others in the series, but entertaining enough.

8. The idea for a high speed chase (in an upcoming book series with Lilly and J.J. and the fainting goat Earl) where Lilly is riding a souped-up tractor.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

And the IDIOT OF THE WEEK is...




First runner up:

The man at work the other night who asked for sweet tea with no ice because he claimed (and he was dead serious) that he is allergic to ice.


Winner!:

The person driving the dark blue Honda, circa early 1990's, on the 65 North today around the Peytonsville exit who decided to change lanes to get around a semi, even though it meant literally cutting off an ambulance with full lights and sirens.

Congratulations! For making a choice based on perceived personal gain, regardless of the fact that you may have cost someone their life (but hey! You saved three seconds!), you win the coveted IDIOT OF THE WEEK award.

LOL

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

A Giant Horse's Patoot, You Say?

1. My hubby and friends made sure I had a warm and wonderful birthday. =)

2. I now have a Smarty Pants game for Wii which, given the title, you'd think would be a natural fit for me.

3. Unfortunately, that does not appear to be the case.

4. Yet.

5. And yes, I did indeed make a giant horse's patoot of myself at the real bowling alley.

6. Worse than usual.

7. The worst ever.

8. 7 frames in and my score was....*drum roll please*...1

9. Yes, that's "1" as in "Uno", as in "Only child", as in "Wow, too bad you aren't playing golf"...

10. Started bowling with my left hand instead (the one that isn't fraught with carpal tunnel).

11. Did better. Actually broke 50 in the last few frames using my left hand.

12. My competitive nature disliked the entire experience.

13. My sense of humor decided that I should view it as "Holy cow, I'm so talented, I can bowl two strikes with my left hand!"

14. Whatever.

15. Why do people say, "I don't mean to complain, but..." and then proceed to complain?

16. You do mean to say it so instead of a false apology, own your whining and go from there.

17. Man I have a lot of work to do before Paul moves in next week.

18. Starshine's birthday is Sunday.

19. Hard to believe my baby is turning 7.

20. Off to clean the kitchen.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Birthday Post

Today is my 34th birthday and so I decided to make a list, of sorts. I'm going to try for 34 things I've learned so far in life. If I run out...I'll improvise. *grins*

1. Nothing is as important as passionately pursuing a relationship with Christ.

2. Nothing is quite as intimidating as a belligerent farm animal.

3. Ice cream made from fresh cow's milk has no equal.

4. Shag carpet is a fad best left to rot in the musty halls of 70's history.

5. A true friend is worth more than all the wealth in the world.

6. Children are both the biggest blessing and the biggest challenge you will ever face.

7. Good table manners are essential but so is the ability to out-burp your boys when the occasion calls for it.

8. Boys are more impressed by a mom who can turn a swig of rootbeer into a 4.6 earthquake than a mom who always supplies milk and cookies.

9. It is always wise, when one has young boys underfoot, to check the oven (don't forget the broiler!!) for toys before turning it on.

10. People are always more important than any "to do" list.

11. Everyone should have a cause they are passionate about.

12. Those who truly make a difference take that passion and turn it into action.

13. Tip well.

14. One should do one's best to avoid instances of obvious idiocy.

15. When one realizes one has acted like a senseless goose, one should be the first to laugh at oneself.

16. Maintaining a sense of humor is the key to enjoying life.

17. There is no substitute for integrity.

18. There is no substitute for cow's milk. At least not one that is truly edible.

19. Voracious reading is like having your own unlimited mental playground.

20. Music should be an essential part of every child's life.

21. Truth matters.

22. Being honest about yourself, even the things you don't want to face, is the only way to live in intimacy with others.

23. Goats are hideously fascinating creatures.

24. Most chick flicks are highly overrated.

25. Vote every time. Don't complain about anything if you don't.

26. Treat those who keep us safe - our armed forces, our local police force - with respect and thankfulness that someone is willing to stand between you and the predators out there.

27. Speak up when it matters.

28. Having a home open to others is more important than keeping a home spotless.

29. Besides, once you have children, the definition of a "clean" house becomes much more flexible.

30. Find something you love to do and pursue it.

31. Be trustworthy.

32. Real joy comes not in avoiding the pain dealt out in life, but in finding hope within the pain.

33. Soap operas are a waste of time and brain cells.

34. Offer forgiveness freely and be grateful when others do the same for you.

And one to grow on:

Love fiercely, truly, and forever.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Monday's List

1. Hubby threw a birthday party for me last night.

2. It was incredibly fun...surrounded by my closest friends and trouncing them in wii bowling...what could be bad about that? :)

3. Plus I got to see Paul smack Drew in the arm (*accidentally*...) during wii tennis.

4. Pictures of the cake my hubby made for me are on their way (beautiful shoebox with a red stiletto on the top!)

5. And by "red stiletto" I mean an actual shoe made out of chocolate.

6. Kids went back to school today.

7. I already miss spending time with them but at the same time I'm extemely grateful for an uninterrupted morning. =)

8. Paul discovered another band that I now love - Nightwish. For those who enjoy Lacuna Coil or Within Temptation, try Nightwish's latest album "Dark Passion Play" - there's also an incredible instrumental version of that album. (*ping* Katy, you'd love this!)

9. Have a lot of organizing to do before Paul can move in next Wednesday.

10. Going out tonight with Paul and Kelly and Amy and Eric - Macaroni Grill and bowling.

11. Real bowling, sadly, not wii bowling so I can just kiss my 190 scores goodbye and pray for mercy and for the ability to at least score over 80 and not humiliate myself by either A) tossing the ball at the people behind me or B) doing a belly flop onto the bowling lane because the stupid ball refuses to detach itself from my hand.

12. Carpal tunnel in the wrists does not a successful bowler make.

13. One of our more challenging kids in our 3 year old Sunday school class decided yesterday to bring a small firetruck with him when he went "potty" in the small bathroom attached to our classroom.

14. He finished his business, yanked up his pants, leaned down, scooped up the firetruck, threw it into the toilet, and flushed.

15. Why?? Because he's three. And he's a boy.

16. Luckily, it went down. I really didn't want to have to explain that one to anyone in maintenance.

17. Especially since the head of building maintenance is one of our closest friends and he might have just told us to go after it ourselves. =)

18. I got presents last night for my birthday!!

19. I have a lot of laundry to do today. And YES, Kailani, by "a lot", I do mean "copious amounts". See how much better that sounds??

20. People are teasing me lately about my extensive and prolific vocabulary because apparently it is cause for extreme amusement that I know how to thoroughly express my thoughts and feelings using words that would actually give you more than three points on a scrabble board. =)

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Because Paul Doesn't Think "Wonky" Is A Word...

Wonky:

–adjective, -ki·er, -ki·est.

1. British Slang.

a. shaky, groggy, or unsteady.
b. unreliable; not trustworthy.

2. Slang. stupid; boring; unattractive.

lifted straight from dictionary.com =)

LOL

Thursday, January 3, 2008

A Writing Experiment - Answer #4

It was like "Alice in Wonderland" and "Wizard of Oz" rolled into one and as she looked around her she wondered if Alice or Dorothy seriously considered themselves insane.

Of course the truly insane were always the last to know, weren't they?

Since that line of thinking was hardly comfortable at the moment, and because Morgan O' Hallahan came from a long line of Irish women whose flights of fancy were confined to buying a colorful handbag for winter instead of a serviceable black, she shook away thoughts of insanity and focused on finding a rational explanation for her current predicament.

There was always a rational explanation. GPS systems could break. Road signs could be confusing. That neatly explained how she'd ended up in the tiny mountain town of Lorreilan, so many miles away from her intended destination that it boggled the mind.

Automobiles went wonky on their own, too. Even the newer models. That explained why her engine suddenly coughed and rattled away into silence the moment she passed the sign welcoming her to Lorreilan.

Lorreilan looked like a movie set from - and here Morgan made an unwelcome cirle in her thinking - Alice in Wonderland or the Wizard of Oz. Every building seemed dipped in technicolor, the streets were glittering metallic swirls that followed circuitous routes more fanciful than practical, and even the foliage seemed like a Crayola box had vomited its contents with no particular rhyme or reason on everything in sight.

All that could be explained as well, of course. A reclusive society of artists, perhaps. Maybe having an absurdly colorful town was their stake in Ireland's booming tourist industry. Or perhaps Lorreilan was currently being used as a set for a film.

There was a perfectly rational explanation for all of that. But try as she might, Morgan could not find a single reasonable, logical explanation for the three-headed horse heading her way - one head yanking strands of violently purple grass from the roadside, one head wreathed in a flowered bonnet with silver grapes bobbing in time to each step, and one sporting a very dignified bowler hat and contentedly puffing an extraordinarily handsome pipe.

A Writing Experiment - Answer #3

"Why did you think I would never find out?" he asked, his voice deceptively calm.

I wasn't fooled.

"Well, it all happened so fast." I hedged and glanced around me for inspiration. The small, gloriously beige lobby of J.J.'s Private Investigations refused to provide any help at all.

"You mean one second you were content to chase your dream of lighting up the big screen and the next you suddenly found yourself pretending to be an experienced ex-FBI agent willing to run my agency while I recuperated?" He asked and truth be told, I was slightly worried about the way his hands gripped his crutches. Either he was having trouble maintaining his balance, a valid option considering the size of his cast, or he was entertaining the idea of bludgeoning me.

I smiled brightly to show that I was far too pretty to be a candidate for bludgeoning.

"That's it exactly." I patted his shoulder but snatched my hand back as he snarled. Honestly, the man was cranky. Okay, so maybe I wasn't technically an ex-FBI agent but this was Kingsborough, Tennessee, a one-horse town if ever there was one. How hard could impersonating a private eye be?

"Please tell me you have actual law enforcement experience." He said.

"Define experience."

"Lilly -"

"Well, I mean, I was an extra on Law and Order that one time and I was Agent 3 and I was really, really convincing." A loud bump from behind J.J.'s office door punctuated my remark.

"What was that?" He looked suspiciously at the closed door.

"Probably that owl that lives in your rafters." I said.

"What owl?"

"Um, oh, you never noticed the owl before?" I asked with as much innocence as I could muster.

"No, I can't say that I did." He whipped his dark eyes toward me again and I squirmed just a little.

"Lilly, do you know anything at all about being a private investigator?" He held up a hand as I began to speak. "And playing one on tv doesn't count."

"I'll have you know I researched that role thoroughly." I said, on firmer ground now that my artistic integrity was in question.

"How much research does it take to put on a blue suit and stand in the background of a fake FBI office?"

"How much research does it take to figure out if the girl you're hiring to run your office has any law enforcement experience?" I shot back which, given the proximity of handy murder weapons and J.J.'s current frame of mind, wasn't my wisest choice but the man was hitting below the belt now.

A loud crash came from the office and I winced. J.J. swung his crutches forward and rattled the doorknob. Locked, of course. I wasn't a complete idiot.

"Open the door, Lilly."

"J.J., maybe you should just sit down and rest. You don't look well." A blatant lie on my part since J.J. was currently number one on Kingsborough's list of Tall, Handsome, Has A Job bachelors.

"Open. The. Door."

"Well, yes, I will but first I should just tell you that I've successfully solved two cases since I took over." I made a big show of searching my handbag for the office keys and frantically tried to think of a reasonable explanation a man like J.J., recently relocated from New York City, would accept for what waited behind his door.

Nothing workable came to mind but I'm an actress. I live to improvise.

"Two cases, huh?" J.J. eyed me and I felt a little like a deer facing a very hungry lion. I made a note to remember the emotion for my next Methods class.

"Yes. Well. Yes."

He raised one dark brow and I hurried to explain, speaking loudly to cover the obvious sounds of papers being chewed to bits behind the door.

"I mean one is definitely solved and the other one is as good as. Really. And Mr. Mitchells, the one with the definitely solved case, was very grateful but as you know, we had a drought this summer."

"A drought."

"Yes." I produced the keys with a flourish. "So the farmers are struggling with their crops and money is tight everywhere."

"Tight."

"So Mr. Mitchell couldn't pay his bill in the traditional way."

A soft snort echoed from beyond the closed door as I fitted the key into the lock.

"You'd better not be telling me -"

"Just stay calm." I said and pushed the door open.

A black and white spotted goat stood beside the upended trash can, the rope used to secure him to the office ficus tree chewed to bits, along with several papers and what looked like the remains of one book. A mangled spiral notebook dangled from the goat's lips and he stared at us with mild interest.

"J.J., meet Earl." I said and edged into the room, trying to block most of the carnage with my body.

"HE PAID US WITH A GOAT?" J.J. yelled.

A Writing Experiment - Answer #2

It was now or never...so she took a deep breath and opened it.

Empty.

The chest was empty. All that spying, sneaking, and stealing to finally hold the chest of the Last Druid in her grasp and the stupid thing was empty?

"What's inside?"

Rory glared at Molly, her tag-along little sister whose insatiable curiousity was only rivaled by her incessant talking.

"Be quiet, Molly."

"But what's inside? Rory, what's inside?" Molly's tone was edging from whine to temper and Molly in a temper tantrum would bring their nanny on the run and ruin everything.

"I don't know yet, Molly. It looks empty." Rory said and shook the chest gently to prove her point.

The sharp music of shattering glass echoed faintly from inside the chest and Rory set it down and peered inside.

"I heard something. Rory I heard something!" Molly bounced on her toes and peered over Rory's shoulder.

"So did I but it's still empty. See?" Rory slid her hand across the bottom of the chest and jerked it back as glass sliced into her skin.

The cut carved a jagged line across her index finger and blood bubbled to the surface.

"You got cut! Rory, you got cut!"

"Yeah, I noticed." Rory said and stared at the bottom of the chest. She couldn't see glass. She couldn't see anything.

"Do you want a bandaid?" Molly asked.

Her hand felt heavy, suddenly, and she rested her arm against the edge of the chest, dangling her hand across the empty space inside.

"Rory, do you want a bandaid?"

"I can't - what?" Something inside the chest pulled at her, heavier than gravity, numbing her fingers.

"Rory?"

She heard Molly's voice as if her little sister was locked outside, yelling to her from beyond her bedroom window - faint and muffled, easily ignored. Blood from the cut slid slowly toward the edge of her finger and she had to grasp her wrist with her other hand to resist the pull from inside the chest.

"Nanny Kay! Nanny Kay!" Molly's voice faded to the edge of her mind and was silenced behind the sudden murmur of voices calling to her from the chest.

A single drop of blood gathered at the tip of her finger, beaded into a gleaming ruby ball and then hurtled toward the pewter floor of the chest.

Rory never saw it hit. The voices surged in volume, their murmurs becoming words in a language she couldn't understand as the floor of the chest opened into a silvery gray tunnel, like the shine of grandmother's favorite candelabra, and the stronger-than-gravity pull lifted her from her bedroom floor and sucked her headlong into a long stream of soft, chilling light.

A Writing Experiment - Answer #1

In a December post, I asked anyone to comment with a first sentence and I would turn it into something...a paragraph, a page, whatever struck me at the time.

I'll be posting my answers over the next day or two. If you missed a chance to offer up a first sentence, comment with one in this post and I'll use it too. =)


He stepped on a crumpled leaf and the eye opened, looking directly at him. He had a brief moment of surprised relief at the brilliant gem of green gazing at him - an Archimedon so far from the plains? - but then streaks of rust and black shot from the pupil and billowed across the surface, swirling into a compelling whirlpool of shadows and hate.

A Hessyan. Perfect.

He gripped the pommel of his grandfather's sword and it slid free with a kiss of blade to scabbard.

Not that Hessyans were afraid of swords but it was either bluff it out with a show of force or run for his life and Hessyans were notoriously impossible to outrun.

Besides, Lysander Valkryies, third-born son of a de-throned king and ninth grandchild to a disgraced Wizard, never ran.

The rusty red and black swirling in the dragon's eye suddenly shifted and he saw an image of a slain body - his body - bleeding against the brilliant carpet of golden autumn leaves strewn across the forest floor.

Mind games. A Hessyan favorite.

Ignoring the high probability that the Hessyan was merely fortelling his immediate future, Lysander took another step forward. The eye was directly in front of him, a mere six feet away, but he couldn't yet make out the body. Most dragons were adept at camouflaging themselves within their chosen environments but a practiced eye could spot small discrepencies in the tree line that gave away the size and heft of the beast.

Unfortunately, turning away from the Hessyan to examine the forest would be tantamount to inviting death. He took another step forward and felt the ground beneath him sink slightly, sliding the toe of his boot against something with a sharp, metallic click.

He risked a quick glance at his feet and saw the pile of autumn gold leaves coalesce into diamond-hard scales.

He was standing on a Hessyan.

He had a mere second to consider the sheer stupidity of such a blunder before the dragon lunged, whipping its neck toward him, jagged teeth tearing at his throat.

He ducked, slashing out with his sword as he fell forward onto the dragon's back and then cursed his luck as the beast shot straight through the canopy of trees. Branches slapped at him as he clung to the golden scales, willing himself not to look down as the dragon burst into the twilight sky, a rippling scream of Hessyan rage echoing in its wake.

Would nothing about this infernal quest go right?

Ringing In 2008 (Two Days Late)

A New Year's List of Semi-Resolutions

(Semi-resolutions subject to rapid and frequent change due to any of the following unforeseen circumstances: winning the lottery, being shanghaied into serving as First Mate on a pirate ship, being elected President of the United States by a landslide grass-roots campaign, or snorting chicken one too many times and thus rendering myself mentally incapacitated.)


1. Sign a publishing contract for the SHADOWING FATE series.

2. Win a writing contest (by talent, preferably, though bribery and extortion aren't out of the running).

3. Be more adventurous in the kitchen (and by adventurous, please note that I do not mean I wish to barbeque any more toys in the oven, necessitating a visit by the fire department and thus reinforcing my current title of Most Likely To Cause A Neighborhood Stir).

4. Learn how to punch like a man.

5. Bring my daughter home. (As I have no control over this, this is really more a wish than a resolution).

6. Use less mustard.

7. Nevermind, I like mustard.

8. Push myself creatively to really explore what I can do.

9. Be thankful for all the many ways in which God has blessed me.

10. I can't really think of a #10. I mean I can, of course. I'm always full of ideas and ambitions but I think 9 is really more than I can handle so 10 would totally push my luck and leave me with just a resolution to find new and creative uses for my favorite condiment. =)

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