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.

Harry Potter Trailer & More!

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