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Showing posts from April, 2007

Podiatis Salivitus Disease

Otherwise known as "Open Mouth, Insert Foot".

Two nights ago, I was talking with a kid at work. He's sixteen, nice kid, works hard...I decided to pick his brain a little on the terms teens are using these days to describe themselves.

I don't write YA but hey, you never know. Information always seems to come in handy.

So he's explaining the term EMO, the current definition of punk (I pointed out that this was exactly what it meant to be punk when I was in high school...he was in deep denial over that one, let me tell you.), and then he uses the term "hard core" and pauses to see if I have any CLUE what that might mean.

Ummm, let me see...I grew up in the age of the big hair bands when AC/DC and Motley Crue were slamming it out at concerts and everyone morphed into one big mosh pit. I saw the invention of grunge leak its way out of Seattle and settle onto our radios. I graduated the year Kurt Cobain took his life. Kids wore all black or ripped and tattered…

A Disaster in Gold Lame (la-may): Part Two

As you learned in Disaster: Part One, I now owned a gold lame thong (along with other undies in various styles, colors, and stages of use...most were new, in my Mom's defense). What you don't know is that my Mom sent not one, but TWO. Double trouble.

I packed them away in my underwear drawer and forgot all about it. (Those of you who know me well are shocked, I realize, that I didn't immediately jump on the opportunity to wear gold lame. I assure you, I have no quarrel with the fabric. It's dramatic. I love drama. It's the thought of wearing dental floss as an undergarment that throws. me. I don't wear anything that has to be surgically removed should I be unfortunate enough to bend over.)

One morning, as I woke later than usual for my teaching job. It was still dark outside as I snatched a pair of underwear and an outfit and hastily ran out the door. Yes, you guessed it, I grabbed the gold lame thong.

I was somewhat uncomfortable with my underwear choic…

A Public Apology

I have had a crazy week. I'm not sure how it happened but it was crazier than normal and that is saying something!

Anyway, I have several writing samples that I promised to critique just sitting in my inbox, neglected and forlorn.

To the writers: I'm sorry.

I know how it feels to send your work out to someone and then anxiously wait for their comments and feedback. I hate waiting. I like instant gratification! I've made you wait and I'm sorry. However, in the interest of giving you the best feedback possible, I want to give your work the time and attention it deserves. I will be sending out at least one critique today and more to follow.

Just a little more patience...It's coming, I promise.

A Tale of Gold Lame (pronounced la - may): Part One

All families have their little quirks. My father is the Master Packer and can get an amazing amount of stuff into any size suitcase or box using his Master Packer skills. My mother does not throw away any item of clothing, no matter what it is. Old pants? Donate them or give them to your daughter. Old sheets? Rag basket or give them to your daughter. Old underwear? Dust rags or give them to your daughter.

One day my parents' quirks came together and caused A Disaster in Gold Lame.

The Disaster ocurred before I had children. I was teaching high school English at the time. My mother wanted to send a box of Christmas presents to me. So far, so good.

Mistake #1: My mother asked my father to pack the box. He was disatisfied with the amount of space left in the box and asked her if she had anything else she could send to fill up that space.

Mistake #2: My mother had a supply of spare underwear (many with the tags still on since she is patently unable to bypass a good clearance rac…

Lost in Translation

So yesterday, the bus my kids ride was an hour late coming home from school. When I asked my middle son to explain what happened, he said,

"Some kid hacked up a furball and we had to hose down the bus."

Clearly he is spending too much time with my cat.

Things I Wish I Didn't Know

Courtesy of a marathon cleaning session in my boys' room.


1. My children find it perfectly acceptable to store dirty dishes under their beds.

2. It HURTS to sit on a Ninja Turtle. (Darn that Michaelangelo and his num-chucks)

3. It also HURTS to step on a Lego. (Why do they make toys capable of impaling the human foot? Shouldn't that be illegal?)

4. The toybox doubles as a hamper and the more dirty socks you hide inside, the better.

5. Fig Newtons, left to their own devices for months, make excellent weapons.

6. Gusher Fruit Snacks, left to their own devices for months, also make excellent weapons.

7. Yogurt, left to its own devices for months, does not.

8. We have 13 shoes between my two youngest but only three pair.

9. It is NOT FUNNY to pile Legos on top of the ceiling fan and wait for Mom to unknowingly turn it on.

10. Snot, systematically wiped on a wall, is nearly impossible to remove.

And people wonder why the thought of spring cleaning makes me twitch.

The Heroic Choice

A situation that happened recently at my job is bugging me. One girl, a single mom of an adorable little girl, said horrible things to another girl, a single young girl who placed her little girl into another home through adoption at birth.

The single mom said it was a selfish, hateful act and wondered how could any mother give away their baby.

What an awful thing to say. Especially when it isn't even true.

My family is in the final stages of adopting a baby girl. She is mine in the same way my biological boys are mine. When a pregnant girl choose to give her child life and to place them in a home where they will be well-loved and cared for, she has made a courageous choice on behalf of her child.

Isn't that what mothers do?

It doesn't make her less of a mother. In fact, such an agonizing choice can only be made for the child. How unselfish is that? Most children who are placed in adopting homes are not "given away". They are given life in a way the mother, at the…

Death To Moths!

Last week, I helped host a bridal shower for a friend. One of the games involved listing the letters of the bride and groom's names and then writing a word for that letter that described some aspect of marriage.

We had the usual suspects: rings, matrimony, friendship, til death do you part etc.

The best, though, was one entry for the letter 'B': Bug Killer

I come from strong Swedish stock on my mother's side. We do not faint. We do not scream. We kill our own bugs.

Case in point: My grandmother. She is two short generations away from the Old Country and she has always been remarkably self-sufficient. Once, when I was young, I remember her spotting a fat black spider on her living room wall. She "tsked" (yes, she does actually tsk), walked right up to it, and SMASHED IT WITH HER BARE HAND.

My mother was the second person ever in our family to marry a non-Swede so since my blood is a bit diluted, I use a paper towel. The point is, however, I can kill bugs. I'…

Once Byten, Twice Shy

As you all know, my hook posted on fff's LiveJournal community yesterday. Many people commented. I wanted to reply to those comments but to do so as anything other than "annonymous", I needed a LiveJournal account.

Easy fix, right?

Here's what happened:

ME: Okay, so, click on this to set up a LiveJournal account. Should be pretty simple.

COMPUTER:*snicker, snicker*

ME: Choose a user name. Well, that's easy. c_j_redwine

COMPUTER: Please choose a password.

ME: Okay. *types password used in a few other places; one that is easily remembered*

COMPUTER: Password would be more secure by using an additional number or symbol.

ME: No, I'm fine. *enters password choice again*

COMPUTER: Password would be more secure by using an additional -

ME: But I don't want an additional number or symbol. I might not remember it. I have a lot on my mind, you know.

COMPUTER: Password would be more secure -

ME: Fine! Fine. *types random symbol at the end of password*. Happy now?

COMP…

Contest Update #2

WAAAA-HOOOOO!!!!

I made it into the semi-finals. I am thrilled! 16 of us (out of 250), get to submit our first five pages and one of us will win a personal consultation on our first three chapters with Rachel Vater: one of the best agents out there.

Here is the judge's response to my hook:

NOTES:
The presentation & voice both snag my interest. The first paragraph is effective as an “eye-catching strategy.” The following paragraphs give overview & utilize pauses for tension to escalate. I like what it could indicate about the writing.


In re: plot, the story seems to have a strong MC (main character) who isn’t one of the “usual suspects” in paranormal/UF novels, a romantic thread/triangle, and good potential for action. I’d like to read more of this one. If I saw this out in the ether, I'd email my agent & tell her to check it out.


How to Write a Query in 40 Simple Steps

A query is the one-page letter you send to agents and publishers pitching your novel.

1. Pour yourself a small glass of gin & tonic.
2. Sip slowly, savoring the taste, as you carefully list your novel's main characters and conflicts.
3. Struggle to label your work with the appropriate genre.
4. Pour more gin and tonic to boost brain power.
5. Craft a first sentence that both grabs the reader's attention and conveys the essence of your novel.
6. Re-read first sentence.
7. Acknowledge that first sentence is absolute crap and delete the entire thing.
8. Pour more gin and tonic, minus the tonic.
9. Skip first sentence and dive into character descriptions.
10. Re-read character descriptions.
11. Acknowledge that character descriptions cannot be three paragraphs each and delete all but a few sentences.
12. Drain gin bottle.
13. Toss in a few sentences describing the conflict.
14. Re-read sentences describing conflict.
15. Acknowledge that the conflict sounds rather weak.
16. Toss in a conflict …

Update on Contest

A few posts down, I talked about a contest hosted by the pubbed authors at www.fangsfurandfey.com for unpubbed authors hooks. The good news is that I'm in!! Hook #45 out of 250. Only 16 of those will be asked to submit pages next week.

The hooks are divided up evenly between 16 judges and each judge picks one from his/her group. I'll let you know if I advance. Either way, I get some solid critique and advice from published authors and that is always a good thing!

(But you know me, I'm in it to WIN)

Burning Down the House?

My children have selective memory syndrome. I've heard it's a common affliction. Yesterday, a firetruck went by on the main road, sirens wailing, and of course glued every boy in the house to the nearest window.

As the siren faded into the distance, one of my little cherubs piped up, "Hey Mom! Remember when the fireman had to come to our house because you set the kitchen on fire?"

This is not what happened.

I am surrounded by people who are closet pyros.

My husband, for example, once set his college dorm on firetwice in one semester. Once by lighting paper airplanes on fire and throwing them out the window - never dreaming the window beneath his would be open and the draft would suck that burning missile inside where it would land on a biology book and some drapes and cause much screaming and cursing as it devoured both. Once by writing something on the carpet in shaving cream and then lighting a match. (Of course, it goes without saying that if you are an administrator …

How To Handle A Phone Solicitor

I don't like phone solicitors. Who does? They call at the most inconvenient times, don't listen to a thing you say, and try to take your money.

A solicitor's number has been popping up on our caller i.d. no less than 5 times a day for the past 3 days. I've ignored it every time. Today, I got sick of running down the stairs, sure that the school was calling with the news that my middle child had finally succeeded in his lifelong quest to fly off a roof.

Today, I answered.

Here is the basic gist of the phone call.

CJ: Hello?

IDIOT: Hello, Mrs. Redwine?

CJ: Who's calling please?

IDIOT: How are you today, Mrs. Redwine?

CJ: Who's calling?

IDIOT: How are you today?

CJ: Listen, this is my phone, I ask the questions. Either you answer me or I hang up.

IDIOT: Oh, well, umm, yes, you see, this is (unpronouncable name) calling on behalf of Bell South Communications.

CJ: What do you want?

IDIOT: Well, I was just looking through your phone records -

CJ: What for? I didn't authori…

Update on FOOL

It's been a while since FOOL shoved chocolate cake in my face and got coated with psuedo-baby vomit for his trouble.

Things have been quiet.

He thinks it's because all is well. I know it's because I am really, really good at paitently lying in wait for the perfect moment.

FOOL has not been idle, however. Three nights ago, he colllided with someone in the kitchen and got a pocket full of sweet tea. (I swear, I had nothing to do with it. I was on the other side of the restaurant at the time.)

Unfortunately for FOOL, his pocket full of tea was also his pocket full of cash. Over $100 in cash, completely soaked.

What would you do with $100 of soaking wet cash? Blot it with a towel or two? Lay it out to dry?

Not FOOL.

FOOL put his money in the microwave.

One minute later, his money was a flaming pile of cash turning rapidly to ash. (And don't even get me started on the smell!)

I've heard of having money to burn, but FOOL is the first person I've met who took that stateme…

Got Comments?

Okay, so another guy I work with (who wants a cool nickname like FOOL. Let's go with...UNO - stands for Unwise Not-thinking-clearly Oughtta-know-better)complained that he wanted to share stories/comments/whatever on this blog that weren't germaine to any of my posts.

Huh.

I'll resist the urge to tell you to GET YOUR OWN BLOG if you have so much to share, and instead (because, as everyone knows, I am the very soul of restraint), I'm putting up this post.

Comment freely.

Say anything you like.

Just don't expect all of it to get published. **pats self on back for forseeing the need to enable comment moderation**

Hook Contest Entry

There is a contest going on a www.fangsfurandfey.com . Basically, unpublished authors can send in a "hook" for their current novel. The first 180 received will get reviewed by judges (published authors), the twelve best will be picked to send pages in for review as well and the best will get a personal consultation with one of the top literary agents in this field.

Of course, I entered. Hopefully I made it into the first 180. I'll keep you posted.

Here's what I sent. A hook is basically like the back flap of a book - what you read to see if it interests you enough to buy it. Please let me know what you think!! If it grabs you enough that you'd buy it off the shelf, what worked best? What stood out? If you'd pass, why? What was missing?

I need the feedback. This is what I'll be using to query agents on this series and I want it as perfect as possible!!

Recipe for Disaster, New York City style:

Take one seriously toned single girl. Add a pinch of “pleas…

I Got Your Hormone Level Right Here!

So today I had my sixth month oncology check-up involving a pap smear and various episodes of probing and swabbing best left to the imagination. Most women go through a smaller version of this (one that doesn't involve the dr. sticking his hands so far up inside he triggers your gag reflex) once a year. In the last three years, I've had this gem of an experience 12 times.

12

There is nothing that can give you back your dignity during this examination but I have a few suggestions that might improve my overall outlook (yanno, from "touch me one more time and they won't be able to identify you with dental records" to a more moderate "I'd like to hurt you but in the interest of getting out of here faster, I'll refrain.")

1. Stock magazines in the examination room that I would actually enjoy reading. Today my choices were Bassmaster and some local magazine whose featured article bore the fascinating title "Menswear Lightens Up". Yeah, like…

Do You Smell That?

Yesterday, as my kids hunted for bright plastic eggs, I remembered a fiasco from Easters past.

My mom always hard-boiled a dozen eggs each for my sister and me to decorate. On Easter, we spent hours hiding and finding these eggs in our living room. We hid eggs inside my mom's collection of china teacups, balanced them in the folds of the heavy drapes, placed them inside my dad's record player, and rolled them under the couch. We were egg hiding pros.

One year, we finished our Easter afternoon with twenty-three eggs. This was a problem because a) we started with twenty-four and b) we were using REAL eggs.

We searched all over that room. My mom helped. My dad was called in for emergency back-up. We tipped our green upholstered rocking chair over. No egg. We shook out the heavy green drapes. No egg. We looked in every glass and china whatnot my mom owned. No egg. Finally, we gave up.

Not the best plan.

A few weeks later, we came home from school to THE SMELL.

Very few thi…

ABC's, Southern Style

Thanks to Malystryx for the idea.

A is for alligator in your swimming pool, your sewer, or your stew

Bis for "bless her heart", big hair, and beer

C is for country music, cow pies, and chicken livers fried

D is for dixie land

E is for Extreme Sports: 30 year old rednecks with a keg, dynamite, and an available sewer. Good times!

F is for furriner - anyone north of Tennesse or west of the Mason-Dixon line

G is for grits, gravy, and gun racks on every truck

H is for humidity the likes of which the rest of the country has never seen

I is for interpreter: what you need to understand people in the deep South

J is for Jack Daniels (Mr. Daniels if you're a furriner)

K is for Krispy Kreme

L is for livestock traffic reports (problems with poultry on Hwy 40...) and lawnmowers with v-8 engines.

M is for mosquitos the size of golf balls and Mullets (the always fashionable hair style of choice for the style-conscious redneck)

N is for NASCAR

O is for okra (okri if you're really backwoods)

P is f…

Raised in a Barn?

Last night I waited on a party of 5 - a mom, her three kids, and the man she was dating. The man went to great lengths to sound extremely generous: "Order whatever you want", "Let him have another root beer", "It's all on me tonight, get anything you like" etc.

What a class act, right?

Wrong.

He stiffed me. An hour and twenty minutes of running back and forth for them and he didn't leave me a dime.

Here's the deal. You can pay lip service to being generous and decent. You can say anything you want to the people you try to impress. But how you treat the person you think you'll never see again is the true measure of your integrity.

This man was a jackass in a nice suit. Perhaps he should dine in a barn with the other farm animals and stop pretending.

He thinks I won't remember him? I could spot him at the mall.

Here's a quick tipping guide for the clueless out there:

1. Tipping 10 percent is a sure indicator that you are either a) old e…