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Showing posts from June, 2007

Off To The Land Of The Armadillo

We leave for Texas in a few short hours (and I don't even want to think about what I have to accomplish in those hours!). I may have access to a computer there and if so, I'll check in, post your comments, maybe put up a new post or two. We'll see how it goes.

Please check the post below this and send me a comment if you are interested in the contest. I'll start the contest after I get back.

Have a great week!

Want To Join Alexa?

I'm thinking about running a contest here. The prize is naming a minor character in Alexa's first book after you. I'm thinking the contest will be submitting a name for Alexa's favorite neighborhood deli. I'll narrow the entries to my favorite three and then everyone can vote on it. The winner gets their name in the novel and a signed copy when the book releases.

Of course, this will only work if all you lurkers join in and comment. I'm always surprised at how many people tell me they check this blog every day. Please let me know if you are interested in this contest (and in seeing your name in print!) and if there's enough interest, we'll go for it!

Because Malystryx and Kelly are on vacation and I know they'd both enter, I'm counting them as two votes for "yes" even though they can't comment.

Commenting on blogger is easy. Hit the comment button at the bottom of this post, type your comment and if you don't have a google…

The Voices Are OUTSIDE My Head

As many of you know, I work at Cracker Barrel. Tonight, after my shift, I spent some time shopping in the store (thankfully remembering I needed to buy a wedding gift for this weekend). After making my purchases, I decided to use the restroom before leaving.

I'll spare you the sordid details and just say that I was alone in the bathroom when I heard THE VOICE.

THE VOICE: I can see you.

ME: WHAT????! *looks frantically around the stall for source of voice - finds nothing*

THE VOICE: Look up. I can see you.

ME: *looks up and sees nothing but ceiling tiles* This had better be someone's idea of a sick practical joke.

THE VOICE: Come on, now, look at me. I can look at you.

ME: Well you'd better not be looking at me, buster, because as soon as I figure out where you are, I'm going to break you in half. *exits stall - with attitude*

THE VOICE: Stand up and you'll see me.

ME: I am standing. *pauses to wonder if VOICE is real or is one of many that reside in my head*

THE VOICE: I&…

Need Something To Read?

I hear all this buzz lately about "summer reads". I don't know what the big deal is because I read constantly year round but hey, anytime people carve out more time for reading, I'm all for it.

Here are a few books I've read recently that are well worth running down to your local bookstore and snatching up a copy:

WICKED LOVELY by Melissa Marr. This debut novel is a gorgeous modern-day fairytale complete with beautiful, horrible, deadly, and noble faeries seen only by a teenage girl, Aislinn, gifted/cursed with the Sight at birth. In the faery world, the Winter Queen (a deliciously bloodthirsty villain the likes of which haven't been portrayed since Lewis's White Witch) is in a centuries-old feud with her son, the Summer King (a great big YUM with a heaping side of "don't trust him as far as you can throw him"). The Winter Queen wants to keep ALL the power and freeze Earth completely, killing the Summer faery and every human. The Summer Ki…

Yes, But I Have A Great Personality!

I was over at Jeaniene Frost's lj tonight and she had an entry listing 8 quirks of hers. Apparently the rules are, you list your 8 then tag 8 other people to read yours and then post their own.

She didn't tag anyone and neither will I. It just sounded like fun. Now, to narrow my quirks down to 8...

1. I have to brush my teeth multiple times per day. Have to. Cannot stand anything less than a fresh mouth. How far does this compulsion go? After I gave birth to my first child (26 hours of labor, no epidural, homorraghing for over an hour before I had him, and 2 hours of "rebuilding" as they stitched me up...all with NO FOOD for nearly 30 hours), I insisted that, even though it was midnight and I'd just endured hell, I had to go into the bathroom and brush my teeth. It took two nurses to get me there and then I passed out cold. They revived me (smelling salts will snap you back to consciousness and straight into next week) and I refused to leave until I finis…

And The Oscar Goes To

In our college days, my hubby, my friends, and I all loved to eat at a little 50's Diner-themed restaurant called Johnny Rockets. Johnny Rockets has dancing waiters, killer chocolate malts, ketchup served in a smiley-face formation, and tiny jukeboxes on every table where a nickel buys you the chance to hear Wipeout or Blue Suede Shoes.

Pretty entertaining, right? Apparently, not entertaining enough for my hubby and two of his friends. On one memorable visit, they decided to shake things up a bit. They wrote down a bunch of mental/physical conditions, tossed them in a hat, and whichever one they drew, they had to be that evening. (Yes, yes, not very political correct, I know.)

My hubby had a debilitating stutter.

Gavin had Touretts Syndrome.

Damon had a severe case of paranoia.

The ordering process sounded something like this:

WAITRESS: Hi there, welcome to Johnny Rockets!

HUBBY: Thhhhhhhhhaa - thhhhhhhhhhhaaa

DAMON: What do you mean welcome? Who's been waiting for us?

GAVIN: Not w…

Alexa Tate Update

Well, so far Alexa has disabled a criminal by breaking his legs, surivived a blind date with a defense attorney, narrowly escaped a caning by her irascible, spandex-clad 91 year old tenant, hurtled herself through a window, discovered she has TWO stalkers instead of one, caught the attention of a (very handsome and possibly off limits) policeman, been caught hiding in the men's room, eaten a delicious deli sandwich, and ruined her best DKNY skirt in the aftermath of a bomb explosion.

And I'm just warming up.

=D

Moon-gazing

The South is an interesting place to live for many reasons. We have poulty reports with our morning traffic, souped-up lawnmower races, and bbq, and a significant portion of our population lack any semblance of self-consciousness about their body.

This lack of self-consciousness is demonstrated in many ways: men wearing overalls and nothing else, women wearing overalls and nothing else, and an insistence on shopping in the junior's department by women too old and too large to get away with it. By far the most conspicuous location for viewing this lack of self-consciousness is the swimming pool.

Case in point: Yesterday afternoon my hubby and I took the kids to our neighborhood pool. We settled down onto pool chairs to watch our boys play and to grab a few precious moments of uninterrupted conversation.

Shortly after we arrived, a family of four came in - mother, father, two kids. The parents were overweight but honestly, one of my favorite things about the South is that everyone i…

Fashion Faux-Paux

I've seen plenty of ads for clothing and shoes in faux leather, faux suede and faux fur. It makes sense. Leather, suede, and fur are expensive and at some point, supply cannot meet demand. But until yesterday, I had no idea the need for "faux" materials had spread. I saw a catalog entry for a skirt of "faux fleece".

Huh?

I had no idea there was even a market for faux fleece. Who buys this stuff? Are there people out there who say to themselves, "Well, I want the LOOK of fleece but without the arduous cost so I'll just buy faux fleece with none the wiser!"?

What's next? Faux terry cloth? Faux polyester? Is there some sort of fabric shortage?

Fake fleece skirts. Wonders never cease.

What's In A Name?

So, my hubby is trying to come up with a cool name for his new cake decorating biz. I'm helping, of course. I decided to trot out all our ideas here and let you vote on your fav's or add new ones of your own.

The current favorite: Let Them Eat Cake

Strong Contenders: Frost This!, Cake Or Death (based on the infamous monologue by the British comedian Eddie Izzard), and Real Men Bake Cake

Rejected Ideas: Crazee Cakes (shout out to Malystryx), The Cakinator, The Cake Master (not to be confused with the master-caker), Cake-a-licious (hi there, Kelly) and others too embarassing to name.


I thought up each of the strong contenders and the initial idea (a riff on Marie Antoinette) for the current favorite. Personally, I LOVE Frost This! and Cake or Death but hubby worries that the first might be a tad strong and the last is too obscure. I say when you make super cool cakes that everyone wants, the name automatically becomes hip.

What say you?

Let Them Eat Cake, Part Two

As requested, here are pics of the two cakes my hubby made for the wedding this weekend. Clearly, one is the traditional wedding cake and the other is the groom's cake.

Didn't he do an amazing job?

First Impressions

I helped with a friend's wedding this weekend. I was the DJ for the reception. My hubby made the cakes. The whole ceremony went very well but I was reminded of when I first met the groom, Mark.

My friend, Elizabeth, brought Mark to our house to meet us and some of our other friends who were invited for the afternoon. Shortly after they arrived, I looked out the window and saw the most incredible sight. A total old lady's early eighties Caddy, sleek and tricked out in the back, ripped up and rusting in the front.

As this car is not parked in front of my house but further down the street, it doesn't occur to me that anyone I know owns it. After all, I know all my friends' cars. This assumption, coupled with my inherent inability to keep any humorous observation to myself, contributed to a disastrous first impression with Mark.

I looked out my window, started laughing, and said, "Hey, look at the geriatric ghetto-mobile!"

And Mark said, "Hi, I'm …

Score: CJ - 2, Phone Solicitors - 0

In the continuing saga of me vs. phone solicitors, I just recieved a call from someone trying to sell me a travel discount package (for four low payments of $22.95 a year!!!!) because, of course, a mother of three has plenty of time and money to jet-set all over the world.

Me: Hello?

IDIOT: Mrs. Redwine?

Me: Oh, not again -

IDIOT: Mrs. Redwine, I'm calling because a recent purchase on your Visa qualified you for a free gift.

Me: There aren't any recent purchases on my Visa.

IDIOT: Yes, and it qualified you -

Me: Are you arguing with me about my own Visa card?

IDIOT: Your recent purchase qualified you to recieve a package of gifts totalling over $500 in value.

Me: Why don't you tell the truth? Your company bought my information and now you want me to agree to something that I'll never use and will cost me thousands before all is said and done.

IDIOT: It's not like that. I just send out (lists all gifts in a barely understandable accent) and you can call that day and cance…

Let Them Eat Cake!

My hubby is trying to kill me.

It's an ingenious plan, really. Under the guise of baking and decorating our friend's wedding cake (due this Friday!), he is surrounding me with mountains and mountains of cake discards.

This is completely unfair.

I cannot walk through my kitchen without encountering piles of delicious, moist pudding cake on every counter. My freezer is full of bags of cake to be defrosted and made into chocolate-dipped cake balls at the earliest possible, err, I mean at Christmas - yes, that's it - Christmas. (Of course I might have to do a few quality checks before then. Wouldn't want to serve inferior cake balls.)

You see, to make the perfectly flat surface of the four-tiered wedding cake our friend ordered, my hubby has to make multiple layers for each level and then slice 1 inch off the top of every layer. 46 cake mixes makes an awful lot of sliced off cake.

He has no use for this sliced off cake. The Swedish half of me cringes at the thought of throwi…

It's All In The Verb

Recently someone said to me, "So, I hear you can write." It sparked a brief conversation that inevitably included this person telling me that he could write as well and was just waiting for the time when inspiration would strike and he would have time carved out of his life for his masterpiece.

Maybe he will.

I can't say.

But it made me think about greatness and achieving my own potential and I've decided that the verb "can" isn't accurate.

I can do a lot of things. I can cook. I can swim. I can tie my shoes. Good for me. That doesn't mean much, really. It's just one more thing in a list of things I can do.

I am a writer. I am a writer because every spare second I have, voices and plots and scenes appear inside my head and I become lost inside them and can't wait to put it all on paper. I am a writer because I read voraciously to learn technique, pacing, and voice. I am a writer because I get up at 5 in the freaking morning to labor over sce…

Is This Thing On?

In an earlier post entitled "Beware the Rake", I mentioned my long-time friend, Kitty. Kitty, you'll recall, lived in the country, the very outskirts of what was essentially a farming community at the time. (Now it's a trendy spot for Bay area commuters to find affordable housing. Never saw that one coming.)

I said (and some of you secretly scoffed, I know) that people on Kitty's street kept all manner of livestock in their front yards, especially cows. (Cows, unlike the diabolical Dolly, are basically placid creatures who barely notice anything but the three inches of grass in front of them. You won't catch a cow trying to eat your clothes off.) I was telling the truth.

Kitty's next door neighbor kept cows in his front yard, surrounded by a low grade electric fence about 4 1/2 feet high. Kitty assured me that the fence was never on. Why anyone needed an electric fence to keep in cows who didn't want to leave in the first place always mystified me. E…

The Power of Beginnings

I was thinking today about the impact of that first sentence. Call me Ishmael. It was a dark and stormy night. Once upon a time...

The first sentence has such an impact on how I as a reader settle into a novel. I love short, dramatic, attention-grabbing sentences that instantly set the tone and snag my interest. I also love intricate, beautifully flowing sentences that slowly submerge me into the world of the novel.

I hate picking up a book and reading a boring old info dump as the first paragraph. You have mere seconds to make me laugh, make me think, or give me a chill. Otherwise, there are hundreds of other books in the stores.

I decided to grab my stack of "still to be read" books and check out the first sentence.


"Okay, so I'm an idiot." - KILLER INSTINCT by Joseph Finder. If you haven't read anything by this author yet, you're missing out. Usually, I would steer clear of corporate espionage type novels but he is really, really good. And so is th…

Heart Failure: Imminent

As some of you know, my first novel is at Hachette Publishing Group (I just reread the email and it turns out Hachette is now called Grand Central Publishing, formerly Warner Books. Hard to keep up.) on final committee review (or something like that). I just received an email from the editor who initially requested the novel. She said the last person is reading it now and she should have an answer for me soon.

I have a few reactions to this:

1. I consistently fear heart failure every time I see her name in my inbox. My brain races with thoughts like, "Is this it? Will they buy it or say no? Can I survive either answer without a healthy dose of Moose Tracks ice cream?"

2. I want to sell this story. It's a great story. It's suspensful, romantic, and sometimes funny.

3. I'm scared because I don't have an agent and I don't want to screw up the contract and sell my literary soul to anyone for the next decade or so. Do I sign the contract, call an agent who …

Interesting Ways to Get A Concussion

All of the following methods have been tested personally by yours truly.

1. Vacuum underneath the dining room table, misjudge your exit, and slam the edge against your head as hard as possible.

Pro: you will miss up to three weeks of work while your brains unscramble themselves.

Con: the E.R. nurses won't believe your story and your mush-for-brains doctor will refuse a perfectly reasonable request to write a prescription for maid service.

2. Refuse to acknowledge the possibility of ice on a set of concrete stairs in the middle of WINTER camp, lose your footing, and smack each step with the back of your head as you slide toward the bottom.

Pro: there are some awfully cute medical techs on staff at high school winter camp.

Con: your ungraceful landing, coupled with your ungodly screech of panic as your feet flew skyward will significantly decrease any chance those cute medical techs will see you as date material.

3. Fall backwards off a bunk bed ladder and hit your head (along with your…

Bleach, Scrub, Rinse, Repeat

Tonight I went to the movies with my mother and Malystryx. It was a smaller theater and we were surrounded on both sides by strangers and their even stranger offspring.

Lucky me, I sat in the middle thus ensuring that I did not share foot space or an arm rest with a total stranger.

Malystryx was not so lucky.

He was sitting next to a family of four who chose to place their youngest next to him.

Good times.

First, it was the ice cheweing, a particular pet peeve of Malystryx's. (And who can blame him? The sound approaches the level of fingernails-on-a-chalk-board annoying, especially when it interrupts the fabulous Captain Jack Sparrow.)

Then, it was the straw-chewing.

Straw-chewing by itself is not so great a crime. The occasional wet gnawing sound can be distracting, sure, but overall, it's no big deal.

It's the spit-flinging as the straw leaves the mouth that causes the problem.

The child sitting next to Malystryx had a particularly wide radius of spit-fling. First it hit Malyst…

Mushroom Cloud Anyone?

Math and science have never been my thing. There are several examples of this throughout my school experience (note the time I drove my Algebra teacher to yank at his own hair when I demanded to know exactly what "x" and "y" stood for and refused to be mollified by the vague "two points in space" answer. Where in space? Who chose to call them "x" and "y" instead of "r" and "k"? Why do I care about two anonymous points in space anyway?).

The most notable example of my incompatibility with math and science is my brief stint in Chemistry as a junior.

Chemistry requires a fundamental understanding of the scientific elements and an appropriate respect for the methods used to combine those elements. Both of these were problematic for me. I anticipated long hours struggling to memorize the table of elements. I was sure I would toil over the mathematical equations used in the lab experiments and probably get it all wrong.

Think You Know Everything?

A dime has 118 ridges around the edge.

A cat has 32 muscles in each ear.

A crocodile cannot stick out its tongue.

A dragonfly has a life span of 24 hours.

A "jiffy" is an actual unit of time for 1/100th of a second.

A shark is the only fish that can blink with both eyes.

A snail can sleep for three years.

Al Capone's business card said he was a used furniture dealer.

All 50 states are listed across the top of the Lincoln Memorial on
the back of the $5 bill.

Almonds are a member of the peach family.

An ostrich's eye is bigger than its brain.

Babies are born without kneecaps. They don't appear until the child
reaches 2 to 6 years of age.

Butterflies taste with their feet.

Cats have over one hundred vocal sounds. Dogs only have about 10.

"Dreamt" is the only English word that ends in the letters "mt".

February 1865 is the only month in recorded history not to have a
full moon.

In the last 4,000 years, no new animals have been domesticated.

If the population of China…

For Malystryx

Friends depart, and memory takes them
To her caverns, pure and deep.

-Thomas Haynes Bayly


My good friend Malystryx (aka Dragon Master, aka Cinna-man) lost a close friend and confidant last night. Leo, a gorgeous long-haired tabby cat who was both frighteningly smart and incredibly loyal, died in a sad accident.

I know what it's like to lose an animal who is an intricate part of the fabric of your life. You look for them in all the old familiar places and fresh grief hits when they aren't there.

I wish I could do something tangible to make Malystryx's pain heal for him but only God and time are in charge of that. So instead, I offer him this post as a way to commemorate Leo (that beautiful, loving, devious, cheese-burger stealing cat).

Love you!

For What It's Worth

10 Things You Might Not Know About Me



1. I was once zapped by an electric fence.

2. I've nearly drowned twice.

3. I'm deathly afraid of semi-trucks.

4. I love roller coasters - the riskier, the better.

5. I love classics - books, films, music, you name it.

6. I cannot take most country music seriously. I really, really can't.

7. I do not eat apples.

8. I've survived two major earthquakes.

9. I once herded a bull out of an orchard and into a corral on my own and lived to tell about it.

10. I don't like chocolate.

Beware the Rake

When I was growing up, I had a close friend we'll call Kitty for purposes of protecting the, umm, oh yes, innocent, that's the word I'm looking for. Innocent.

Kitty and I were friends from sixth grade on, our bond withstanding the upheavals of junior high, the interruptions of various boyfriends, and the time she slapped my face in front of everyone for daring to eat lunch with someone else. (Who says 6th grade isn't a cutthroat world?)

I loved Kitty.

I was afraid of her parents. Kitty was afraid of her parents. Everyone was afraid of her parents. They were old (in their sixties while other parents were in their forties), cranky, and apt to throw things at you if you stepped out of line.

At least that was the rumor.

One night when I was in high school, another friend (we'll call him Homer - not the poet, the Simpson) and I decided to visit Kitty after dark. This took considerable courage on our part (or showed an astonishing lack of common sense - take your pick). …

What Comes Next?

A book is like a man—clever and dull, brave and cowardly, beautiful and ugly. For every flowering thought there will be a page like a wet and mangy mongrel, and for every looping flight a tap on the wing and a reminder that wax cannot hold the feathers firm too near the sun. - John Steinbeck


This is a comforting thought on the days when my characters are stuck in awkward moments, paused on the cusp of brilliant dialogue that refuses to emerge, chained to the middle of a chapter while their creator desperately asks herself "What comes next?"