Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Closed Down for Editing...

I have to focus ENTIRELY on editing this novel, if I'm to get it to my agent the first week in September. So this blog will be closed down until I'm finished. Hopefully it won't be long! Until then, Enjoy The Scenery! (Not mine, your OWN) I'll be back as soon as I can...

Tuesday, August 23, 2005


Quote of the day: "You can learn many things from children. How much patience you have, for instance." ~Franklin P. Jones

It's officially that time, folks! Thing One has a pre-season Soccer tournament this Saturday, and Thing Three has his first game. VERY exciting.
Thing Two opted not to play soccer this season. I told him if he really didn't want to, I wouldn't force him. He's our cerebral one, anyway. But we need to find another sport for him to get into--hopefully he'll express some interest. He's never been very "athletically inclined" (I guess that's my side of the family) and I feel like a bad mom--I should have made him do soccer, so at least he'd be doing something. It's hard when you want your kid to like sports, and they resist.

I LOVED sports when I was younger. I love them now, too, but I was never any good at them because I never got signed up for them--hence no practice. My parents both worked and my mom didn't have time to drive me around. I guess that's why I am adamant that my kids at least get to try the sports they express an interest in. And if they hate them, fine, at least they had some exposure. And if they love them, great. Thing Three will be our little athlete. Thing One is a hybrid--she enjoys sports but she also enjoys school. It's funny how my boys are polar opposites, and my one girl is smack dab in the middle. Interesting.

Hubby was out of town last night, and I did something incredibly stupid. I stayed up until 2:30 a.m. and watched the entire 2-CD set of Pride and Prejudice, the Colin Firth version. *sigh*
I think it is truly one of the most romantic stories ever written, and I love watching it on film. *sigh again*
Now I'm incredibly tired and have a headache, but I need to do some cleaning. My wood floors are starting to look neglected, and I need to start helping Thing Three brush up on his alphabet and numbers before Preschool starts!

My writer friend B.K. --her kids have already started school. I'm highly jealous. Mine don't start until Sept. 1st. The days can't come soon enough! FALL IS COMING!!!

Monday, August 22, 2005

The Bees Knees

Quote of the Day: "Light travels faster than sound. That's why some people appear bright until you hear them speak."

We finally had a cold front come in, it seems. Thank heaven. I love those cool Autumn mornings, when the school year begins and the kiddos get to wait for the bus, and it's crisp outside. Then the leaves turn, and its beautiful for about 2 weeks, and then we usually get a strong wind and the next morning all the trees are bare and their leaves have all blown into the next state, but I digress...I LOVE Fall!

First, can I tell you how excited I am to see this movie: GO HERE for a preview of "Pride and Prejudice"--too bad I have to wait until mid November--yummy yummy yummy. I love Jane Austen films, and this one promises to be a good one.

Okay, on to my story: Sunday morning, Thing One and I decided to go for a 2-mile walk before Church. So, we set out, and enjoyed the breeze and the pretty scenery, and halfway home, she told me that a yellow jacket (or a bee, we couldn't tell) was in my hair.
So, I shook out my hair, and she (being seven years old) started screaming and telling me that it was now IN my hair, at which point I unclipped my hair and started whipping my hair around in some absurd parody of a Breck Girl Commercial, to try and scare the yellow jacket/bee/whatever away. But she screamed that he had now lodged himself on my neck, and I had no choice... but to start doing my "Bug Dance." This is a dance I do in the hope that the bug will be thrown off. It's not intentional, it was dubbed my "bug dance" by a high school friend, (and she told me it was so entertaining to watch that she was going to charge admission, but that's another story).

Let me just preface by saying that I do NOT like bugs. You could seriously "do me in" mentally if you held a cockroach up to my face, or a spider--and the fear of being stung by bees is right up there with dark moldy basements and my fear of Clowns (which I will NOT discuss here).
I have had two embarrassing occasions where I have had to do my "bug dance" in public, and yesterday made three.

I started doing my "Bug Dance", which is a hybrid mix of Belly Dancing/Russian Folk Dance/Irish Jigging, (lets just say I look like a possessed Spastic when I do it) and Thing One (who was in hysterics at this point) managed to tell me that I now had TWO bees dive-bombing me simultaneously, and that was my cue to stop dancing in place and start RUNNING while doing the Bug Dance.

Of course, at this point a truck drove by and the driver had the audacity to ask me if I was OK, and I told him (while swatting furiously at the air around me and still doing my Breck Girl Imitation) that I had a bunch of bees on me and the git actually suggested that I hold still.
Hold still for what? To let them do their businesss on me? Sting me? WHAT? They weren't leaving me alone! At this point a third bee started targeting Thing One, and she ran screaming down the street and I decided to run after her. Maybe we could outrun the bees.

They seemed to give up after half a block, and Thing One and I were both sweaty and flustered. What had made the bees Blitzkrieg attack us like that? We continued on our walk, and I kid you not, I had at least four more bees take an interest in me on the way home.

We figured out that running only made them follow us faster, but the Bug Dance worked every time. And now that I've totally made a fool out of myself by even admitting to the bug dance, I think I'll just file it all away and leave with the burning question:

What made us so interesting to the bees yesterday? Apparently, they like sweat, and we had definitely worked a nice sheen up, walking in the sun. So that explained why they were dive-bombing the back of my neck. But I'm still a bit mortified, because all my neighbors probably think I've got Schizoid tendencies, and they probably think it's genetic because my daughter and I were both behaving the same way.

...Or they could just think we both have shiny, beautiful, bouncy Breck hair...

Friday, August 19, 2005

10 Things I Love and Hate

Movie Quote of the Day: “Hokey religions and ancient weapons are no match for a good blaster at your side, kid.”—Han Solo, Star Wars

First off, Congratulations to Michelle Miles for finishing her KIC Romance Serial, Scars of Yesterday. You can view the press release here.

Now, as part of a challenge thrown out by Michelle the other day, I am going to list 10 things that I love. So here goes:

(Now, I’m not going to name OBVIOUS things, like my children, Hubby, dog, house, etc. I am also going to not name the romantic things that I like, because, well, that’s personal, and this is the Internet. I am going to name things people wouldn’t generally know about me—so don’t be appalled that my children and Hubby aren’t on this list.)

1) I love it when the sun is shining brightly, but it’s raining at the same time.
2) I love it when I get sucked into the story I’m writing, and I’m in my own world, and nothing else exists for that space of time.
3) I love warm, fresh baked bread (with margarine—GOSH I love that)
4) I love sleeping. I have come to appreciate sleep, because of the lack therof, since I’ve had kids. Sleep RULES. And did I say I have a VERY comfy bed? Ahhhh.
5) I love History. Give me antiques, books on long-ago civilizations, anything that has to do with archaeology, anthropology, Things of the Past, etc. I would never want to live in the Past (too crude for this Technology Girl) but I love to read about and study it. Right now I’m obsessed with Ancient Egypt, and the Tudor/Stuart Periods.
6) Jane Austen Books, Movies, etc. Anything about Jane Austen. She’s my Girl.
7) Really really really REALLY good music. Of course it depends on my mood at the time what that particular music is, but I would die without music.
8) Shopping. At the risk of being a cliché—I love shopping. Craft Stores, Department stores, Target, EBAY, and I especially LOVE BOOKSTORES. I could spend hours in them. Half-Price Books, Barnes & Noble, Borders. I even love going to the Grocery store. (That’s considered “shopping” too, isn’t it?) It’s good therapy.
9) Hugs. I LOVE hugs. From my kids, my husband, people I know well. There’s something about the power of touch that really cures the cold pricklies in people. No one can have too many hugs.
10) Learning new things. I think it’s important to try new things, and learn new things. Being “set in your ways” is boring. You should be open to experiencing the good things in life, like learning to knit a sweater, or climb a 500-foot cliff, or make a really yummy Thai meal. Well-rounded people learn new things, as often as they can.

And for fun, here are a few things I HATE:

1) People who use other people
2) Slow put-put drivers in BIG cars so you can’t get around them.
3) Cleaning toilets.
4) Ignorance
5) Apathy
6) Kids with boogers in their noses. (I am a control freak about this—I have removed boogers from my daughter’s nose with tweezers before. Is that bad?)
7) Rudeness
8) My mother’s carrot and potato and hamburger casserole that she made me choke down when I was a kid. BARF. Those slimy potatoes haunt my dreams.
9) People who talk during the movie. (I actually have feelings of violence towards them)
10) Rejections from Editors who say they really like the story, and hope they’re not making a mistake in rejecting it. (So DON’T!)

And that's it! Of course there's more, but I got in the highlights. What a fun idea. Thanks Mik!

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Tastes like Chicken...

Quote of the Day: "In America there are two classes of travel - first class, and with children."~Robert Benchley

It’s funny, how one seemingly “normal” thing for an adult, can be disgusting, terrifying, etc. for a child.

Case in point: Hubby and I brought home some Sushi the other night, and we were happily eating our Calamari Salads (the kiddos were eating Sloppy Joes because, frankly, they think Sushi is something you find on the bottom of the shower mat when you pull it up) and Thing Three wandered over and asked me what I was eating. I told him it was “salad” and did he want a bite?
He looked skeptically at my salad of lightly battered Squid and greens and cherry tomatoes, and nodded his head. So I put one in his mouth, and he chewed it, and said it tasted good. So, naturally Things One and Two meandered over, asking if THEY could have a taste. I obliged them, and they all said it tasted good. Then Thing One asked what the little round things were, and I told her. I guess I didn’t expect the reaction I got:


Thing Two: (Spitting noises, alternating with screams of horror) AUWGH!!!

Thing Three: --Well, he didn’t say anything because he had already run to the bathroom and was busy making retching noises and spitting half-chewed squid pieces into the toilet.

Somewhat surprised by their reactions, Hubby sternly told the kids to come back and have another taste of his salad, (because he won't have "wimpy" children, no sir) provoking a literal stampede of screaming and crying all the way up the stairs.
So, he ran up the stairs after them with a forkful of the stuff, for sheer torture purposes. (Okay, I am a cruel parent, I was laughing my head off, and so was he) But I will say it was slightly reminiscent of my childhood, when my dad used to gleefully chase us around the house with a squished spider on a tissue--I don't think I've quite ever recovered.) Needless to say I was very surprised at their reaction!
What resulted: Thing One screaming like she was being murdered, Thing Two locking his door and barricading it with assorted items like luggage, his dresser, etc. and Thing Three (our brave, fearless one) stood defiantly at the top of the steps and said “No Daddy, I don’t want any more!”

We found this highly amusing. Before they knew what Calamari Salad was, it seemed fine. Thing One even confessed afterwards that it “tasted like chicken” and what she found repugnant about it was the fact that it was SQUID. That did it for her. Just knowing what it was.

So, I have learned that next time I want the kids to try something new, I won’t be telling them what it is until AFTER they’ve cleaned their plates.

*Snort* Kids.

Oh, and here is a pic of the most Gutless Turd known to Man:

You're lookin' at him. Cavies are apparently afraid of everything. At least mine is. (The whole Stringing-bells-on-the-back-door-to-alert-us-he-has-to-poop-thing DID NOT go over well yesterday. He was terrified of the bells. Wouldn’t go near ‘em. Nope. No way. I could have coated them in bacon and turkey and hung them out of a side of beef. Wouldn't have done a damn bit of good. He still wouldn't have gone near them. He ran over to his bed to escape, where I shot this pic.) But I still wuv him.

Pics of My Jogging Route...

First off--here is a pic of the pathetic tree in front of my house. We planted this tree two summers ago. My whole neighborhood is like this. I have dubbed them "toothpick" trees. It's a fairly new neighborhood...(no laughing allowed!)

And here are the trees one neighborhood over: *sigh*

And here are the pics of my AWESOME jogging park that I mentioned before. This is a view of the footbridge, and you can see the trail...

The trail again...going into the trees...

Here's the lake. (It has been going down--we haven't had rain for a bit):

Another shot:

And back out to the street:

And that's it! It was overcast this morning and it looks like rain today--so the lake might fill up more. But I love that this spot is only 1/2 mile from my house! I would have posted these sooner but do you know how #&**!! HARD IT IS TO JOG WITH A CAMERA???

(I'm allergic to Fanny Packs so I guess it's my own fault--I break out in hives at the "thought" of wearing one...) ;-)

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Have I said... much I LOVE Half-Price Books? Took a trip this morning with the kiddos--latest spoils:

The Age of Chivalry: Art and Society in Late Medieval England, by Nigel Saul

Henry VIII: The King and His Court, by Alison Weir (one of my favorite historians)

The Princes in the Tower, by Alison Weir

Atlas of Past Times, by John Haywood (huge with lots of color pictures)

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets Art/Coloring/Sticker Book (three of 'em for the three kids)

and that's it! I think I have enough research material now so that I can honestly go to my "own" library when I have a certain question, instead of getting in the car and driving to a library. (Speaking of driving, Hubby and I are thinking of getting rid of the Expedition for a less gas-guzzling vehicle, haven't figured it out yet, but when gas jumped last weekend from $2.55 to $2.89 for REGULAR UNLEADED we figured we needed to start thinking about it.)

I think I need to stay away from Half-Price for a while. It's becoming addictive. Especially for this book freak.

It appears Unkymoods is down again. (I'd provide a link but they're, well...down.) I'm wondering what is up with that website. I really think they have a clever idea there--too bad they can't stay in one place!

I am having doggy problems. Hagan, my Cavalier, will go to the back door when he has to "do his business" outside, but he is SILENT. He won't whine, or bark, or do anything. He just patiently waits there, like Marcel Marceau, and if no one comes to let him out, he'll shuffle off to some remote part of the house (the little $&*!! prefers the FORMAL DINING ROOM) and do his business there.
I was literally ready to give him away, but now I realize that I need to find a way to train him to either A) whine or B) ring a bell. I went to Michaels and found a bunch of little silver bells in the Wedding section, I think I'll put them on a string and make him jangle them when he has to go outside.
I'm just not quite sure how I'm going to do that. Hmmm...

Okay, Annoying Thing of the Day: People Who Glare At My Children.
They're children, for Cripe's Sake! Yes, they tend to get a little "whiny" at the grocery store, but I have yet to see a child who doesn't. Grocery Stores are little depots of Sensory Overload. Kids are compelled to whine in them.
So stop glaring at my kids, just because they are asking me for Cocoa Puffs. Glare at yourself in the mirror. Then you'll see your ugly self and STOP glaring at people...

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

The Storm Before the Calm...

Quote of the Day: "Don't take life too serious. You'll never escape it alive anyway."--Elbert Hubbard

Hmmm. Food for thought. I think I've used this quote before, but it's a good one.

Well, officially two weeks until School starts up again. Summer Sports are over so now my kids are TRULY bored out of their minds. So I've kept us busy school shopping. We do a little each day to break up the monotony. But now I'm afraid the clothes are bought, the supplies are purchased and if I buy them any more shoes I'll be guilty of spoiling them. So, I need to find ways to entertain them. I guess we'll be going to the BIG park a lot.
I will have my oldest two in ALL-day school (first and second grade) and Thing Three will be in preschool Mon, Wed and Friday. WEIRD. I will have the cleanest house on the planet. I will have time to write. I don't know what I'll do with myself! Hubby had an "excellent" suggestion the other day: "Let's have MORE kids!"

(I don't know if what I hit him with made a mark, but I think it really hurt).
Actually, I have been struggling with the "to have more/to not have more" thing for about two years now. There are two ways of looking at it: A) Kids are a blessing and I should have lots of them because I can, or B) I set myself back 18 years with each new child. (That sounds pretty bad now that I've typed it.)
I love babies. Babies are hard work, but there's nothing like them. I think my hangup is the fact that I had three children so close together (I had THREE in diapers at one point) and it kind of "ruined the joy" if you know what I mean. Of course having my middle child suffer from hyperactivity didn't help.
I have great kids. I have to say it. Sure, they're rambunctious, but they're good kids. And now that my youngest is turning 5 this year, the question whether or not to have more has been on the front burner, I have to admit. So I have some serious things to think about. Do I do the "selfish" thing and focus on my writing career now (which is decidedly hindered by young children) or do I have more kids, and enjoy them now, and have my writing career later in my life? (Hint: I've never been good at balancing both so it really needs to be one or the other.)

Hard questions. Questions that need answers. And I just don't have them right now.

Monday, August 15, 2005

There's Nothing About Mary...

Quote of the Day: "I'm a count, not a saint."-- Edmond Dantes, Count of Monte Cristo

My search for information on Mary Newman (Francis Drake's first wife) has pretty much proven fruitless--except for David Coles (& Co). over at Saltash Heritage (Cornwall, England) they are putting together as much information on her as they can collect for me--thanks David and everyone!
Mary Newman was born in Saltash, Cornwall and so I wrote their historical society (and archivist) to see if they had anything other than dates of birth, marriage and death, which is about all I can find on her, here.
Mary Newman Drake has proven to be a bigger challenge than I thought. There's tons of info on Elizabeth Sydenham, Francis Drake's second wife, because she was a "rich society" wife.
Mary Newman came from humble beginnings, and apparently died shortly after Francis "got famous."
She is the whole plot line for my next novel, so I need to find out everything I can.

Hubby read the first part of my mystery novel (first draft) and after reading the first chapter he told me that one of my major plot lines was not plausible, even for teens. It really punctured my balloon for a while. But I am glad he was honest--I took a look at it and realized that he was absolutely right. So I have some rewriting and juggling to do, but it should only take a few days. Then I need to get some feedback on it, and revise again, and it will be off to the agent by the first week of September, hopefully.

*The Rude Lady Jogger*
I got up this morning at 5:15 to "wog," and to my dismay, it was DARK outside! But I threw on the workout clothes and went anyway. I was about halfway through my routine when I saw Rude Lady Jogger. I see her nearly every day I go. Actually, there are quite a few people I see on my route, this really, really tall guy (who is at least 6'8) and this guy who jogs with his dog, and this really overweight lady (good for her!) and an old couple.

Here is the difference between them and Rude Lady:

Really Tall Guy, Dog-Jogger Guy, Overweight Lady and Old Couple always smile and say hello, when I greet them. Rude Lady Jogger doesn't. In fact, she deliberately looks away when I pass her, which is kind of ridiculous. I always smile and greet everyone, even if I've just greeted them 15 minutes before (like I said, my route goes on a circle). But not Rude Lady Jogger. She has issues.
So, today, I didn't smile and say hi. I deliberately looked the other way and didn't even acknowledge her when we passed each other for the second time. I can take a hint.
I feel bad, but she's RUDE! She thinks she's "all that" with her hi-tech gear and Ipod and heart monitor, etc. (I think I might go out and buy an Ipod, they're less cumbersome) but even if I do I'll still going to say hi to everyone I jog by.
Maybe she has low self-esteem. Maybe she's SUPER concentrating on her workout. Maybe she's socially backwards. Who knows. All I know is she's rude.

I jogged around my little lake this morning. I will post pics tomorrow--I forgot to bring my camera today!

Saturday, August 13, 2005

A Delicious Discovery...

I am a novice at jogging. I guess you could technically call what I do "Wogging," because I'm not quite jogging, but I'm not quite walking either. Its a mix of both.

ANYWAY, I have been going out in the early mornings to go "wogging", and there is a community a half mile from my house that is a perfect circle, and the circle is one mile around exactly. So, I usually walk to the circle, wog two times around it, and go home, which is three miles total.

This morning, it was slightly overcast and looked like rain, but I went anyway. When I was halfway through the circle (by a lovely duck pond) I noticed that in the middle of the circle there were a lot of mature trees, and what looked like a park, and a graveled jogging trail, that disappeared into it.

I figured "what the heck, why not?" and detoured onto the jogging trail. To my delight, it took me over a picturesque footbridge, and led me to a "hidden lake" concealed by the deciduous trees, (plus we're talking Weeping Willows, my favorite) and the trail took me all the way around the lake (absolutely gorgeous, lush vines and trees reflecting in the still water, beautiful scenery, etc.) and then the trail spit me right back out on the road.

What a treat! It felt like I was jogging in my own little park, (or my own little grounds in the English Countryside) and the lake was like glass, still and perfect. It was serene and lovely--and I am looking forward to jogging it again. I just can't believe I've lived here nearly three years and haven't discovered it before this!

...Yikes, time to shower and have lunch and get ready to run all over the place with the fam, but I just had to share. How fun!

Friday, August 12, 2005

An Excess of Drama

Quote of the Day: "If things appear to be going well, you have overlooked something."--Human Law

My husband's family has a lot of drama in their lives. My sister, well, let's just say I affectionately call her the "Drama Queen." My good friend has drama. My middle son has drama. My dog has drama.
You know those people? They always seem to attract calamity at every turn? They aren't having a "normal" day unless they are undergoing some sort of, well...drama in their lives?

Okay. I won't get into it here, because I don't want to cause DRAMA. *grin*

This is the second day of rain--Thing Two's "rain day make-up game" got rained out (drama) and he was not too pleased. My husband filled up his gas tank after work (drama) and I would recommend everyone do the same asap, because apparently by the weekend the prices are supposed to get a steep hike again. (more drama)

I guess what I'm trying to say, is it's so easy to focus on the negative aspects of our lives. For instance, any person on any given day might think things like: "I'm not happy. My Mom is driving me nuts. I hate rejection. I hate my ankles. I hate that I have to work. I hate broccoli. I hate mean people, I hate Fenway Park, I hate doing bills," etc.. It's very easy to do.

Everyone seems so miserable lately. Let me give you a clue: miserable people are no fun to be around.

So what kind of people are fun to be around? People who accept that life holds drama, and "surf the chaos." People who keep their cheer despite all the adversity around them, and prefer not to sink into the craggy depths of soul-sucking despair.
Strong People. Positive People. Non-Jerry Springer Fodder People.

Granted, this is hypothetical--a generalization. Some days I belong to the Negative/Soul-sucking camp (usually when I have a rejection or I've eaten naughty food) or the "Happy-and-over-it-so-watch-out-Camp, which trust me, is a better place to dwell.

Hubby was reading "The 8th Habit" by Covey and he read me a chapter out loud, that basically said that no matter what our circumstances, or our upbringing, WE have the power over our choices. Sure, the easy route would be to blame parents, children, spouses, etc. on why we are the way we are, but there is a tenth of a second between choice making in which we can choose to go a different route, despite all evidence to the contrary. We are on our own. No one makes decisions for us. WE make our own choices. We have all the control.

I guess I'd better remember that next time I stare down a slice of New York Cheesecake...but I digress...

I have a feeling I'm not going to get much done this weekend. Hubby wants to go about five million places (State fair for the kids, shopping for school, the park, Tennis practice, etc) so I guess I'll have to wait until next week to finish up the edits. BLAST. I am so close! But hey, spending time with the fam is fun, so I'll deal.

I hope everyone has a safe, happy and DRAMA FREE weekend!

Thursday, August 11, 2005


Movie Quote of the Day: "You can't be a proper writer without a touch of madness, can you?"--Madeleine, Quills

Thank HEAVEN they nailed those "Bonnie & Clyde" fugitives in Ohio. Gits. Some people just have it coming to them. I mean, how stupid (and evil) can you be?

*Ahem* I have been slightly depressed, because that little flower on my word count meter hasn't budged in about a week. I'm doing a full-edit on my mystery series novel, so the writing part has stagnated. But I've managed to add about 3000 words to my novel as I've edited it. I had my heroine go to Marfa, Texas in 1955 (she has a time machine) to catch a glimpse of James Dean and Elizabeth Taylor on location shooting Giant.

I was obsessed with James Dean as a teenager. I had posters of him all over my wall, and I thought he was EXTREMELY hot and mysterious, and old-world glam, but that was the extent of it. To me, he was just a really cute dead guy.
It wasn't until I read about him recently that I really got to know him a little better. He really was an enigma. He was reserved, a loner, weird, awkward, yet warm and engaging when he opened up. He was extremely insecure--he missed the premiere of his own movie debut, East of Eden, because he couldn't handle the crowds. In short, he was the complete antithesis of his on-screen persona in Rebel Without a Cause. Jim Stark was the epitome of cool. And millions of teenagers responded to him, copying him and dressing like him, trying to be him.

And yes, for want of a better cliche- James Dean was taken before his time. Such a tragedy.

It looks like rain today. Lovely. Today is the last day of T-ball. What is ironic was that T-ball got rained out so many times, today is just a "makeup" for the rained out nights. And it looks like it's going to be rained out. Something about that just isn't right. Poor Thing Two. He was really looking forward to it. Oh well. Life is full of disappointments.

Speaking of which, I took a chance and submitted a short story to an anthology. The deadline was July 14th, and I haven't heard a peep from them, so I'm assuming that's a no. Dang it. I was really hoping that the story I wrote for Thing One would get in there. It's about a Princess who has a war with a neighboring Prince every year until one year, when they're all grown up, they don't remember why they fought in the first place, so they get married and live happily ever after. Thing One LOVES this story. I think I'll just have it bound for her, because she wants to draw pictures for it.

I figured, hey, if I never get published, I'll be the "funnest" grandma someday, (and yes, I know that isn't a word) because I'll have lots of stories that I can read to my grandkids, and they'll be entertained. Kids like my stories. It's the adults (mainly the ones who sit in publishing houses)who have a hard time believing that kids would like them. Therefore, I'll never succeed in this business. But I'm having fun doing it anyway.
There's an extreme satisfaction, knowing that you've completed a novel or a story or a poem. No one can take that satisfaction and sense of accomplishment away from you. At least I have that.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

My Embarrassing Journals

Quote of the Day: "I always give myself such very good advice, but I very seldom follow it."--Alice, Alice In Wonderland

Wow. I was trucking along on my editing/writing of the two novels and suddenly, a few days ago: PPPPHHHHBBBBBTTTT. Nothing. Complete Standstill. Maybe I had been doing too much? Maybe I was tired of sitting at the computer and writing, rewriting, writing, rewriting, lather rinse, repeat? It's been two whole days now (today is the third) that I haven't even opened my writing folder on my computer. What is up with that? Writing Avoidance? Hmmm. At least I've been writing in my journal every day. (Heh heh, I'm going to have to burn all those things before I die...)

I've always kept a journal, since about the 7th grade. The other day on one of my writing forums, we were talking about "voice" and how a kid in their tweens would write. I went and dusted off my box of old journals, and found the very first one I had ever kept, and read through it. (let's just say I was a boy-crazy seventh-grader and leave it at that.)

I mean, talk about EMBARRASSING!!! Was I really that crazy? I think I had a crush on a different boy every month, and wrote about them with such...ANGST. And I had pictures pasted in there from magazines (it was a hoot to revisit the old "Benetton" and "Guess" and "Swatch" ads from the 80's!) and pictures, etc. Apparently then I was just as fond of writing in all caps as I am today, and I was also was suffering from a serious case of Math-itis. (As in I HATED it!) My Math teacher was an "evil troll who singles me out all the time and forces me to write Geometry equations in front of the entire class on the chalboard, and embarrasses me when I get the answer wrong, which is all the time! "(Okay, I was decidedly NOT a math whiz, but it did not help my self-esteem!)
But I LOVED my English Lit classes. I hated Phys Ed. I had very white legs (I don't tan easily) and I was embarrassed at how skinny they were. (Oh my gosh--if ONLY I had that complaint now!) People called me bean pole and Stick.

Oh well. I guess in order to write like a 12 year old, you just basically need to write with a nasally whining intonation and extensively (and painfully frequently) at length, ad nauseum, about the opposite sex. And there you go.

I mean, my journals could be dubbed "Cringe-worthy" in every sense. It wasn't until I got married that they stopped being so...ridiculous. But in truth, they started to be kinda boring. No more drama in my life. I need a little drama now and then...
...just not today. Today I need to write. I wonder if the kids will let me?

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

My First Ebay Sale...

Movie Quote of the Day: "Exercise produces endorphins; endorphins make you happy. Happy people don't shoot their husbands. They just don't!"--Elle Woods, Legally Blonde

I made my first Ebay sale yesterday! I've been a buyer for years, but I've never considered selling anything. But then I realized I have a lot of great stuff that I've bought that I never use, and so I started auctioning it off. Someone used my "Buy It Now" feature yesterday, and it was very exciting. I am a novice at selling but hopefully it won't be so nerve-wracking after a while.

In other news, we have an owl living in the wooded lot next door. A huge brown barn owl. I hear him hooting all the time at night, but last night, he revealed himself to me. It was strange and surreal, like out of a movie.
First off, I've never seen a live owl up close. Last night at 11pm I took my dog outside to do his business, and I heard the distinctive hooting, and looked up at my neighbor's house. There he was, illuminated by the glow of their porch lights, perched on the top of the porch roof and staring right at me.

I looked at him, he looked at me, and Hagan (my dog) froze stiff, and tried to stare him down, which was funny, because he was high above us.

Suddenly, the neighbor's lights went out (perhaps they were going to bed) and as soon as the lights snapped out, the owl flew away into the night. It was a little cool, a little creepy. My daughter and I have been watching one of my favorite movies from when I was a kid: Labyrinth with David Bowie as the Goblin King, and he watches over his muse (Sarah) in the form of an owl. (Dang I love that movie!)
My 6-year old son was VERY excited that we have a real live owl living close, because he is an enthusiastic Harry Potter fan (last summer he planted himself by the fireplace, determined that soon he'd be getting his letter from Hogwarts by Owl Post.) so you can imagine the wheels turning in his imagination.
I just can't shake the feeling that the owl was "watching" me. (Hubby thinks it was watching Hagan, and thinking he was a tasty treat) but I think there's more to Owls than that. Even before Harry Potter, they've always held a lot of intrigue for me. I wonder if I'll see him again any time soon.

Well, must dash, have about 321 things to do today! Cheers!

Monday, August 08, 2005

"England for Dummies"...

Quote of the Day: "Blessed are we who can laugh at ourselves, for we shall never cease to be amused."

How sad to wake up to the news about Peter Jennings dying of lung cancer. I mean, I grew up with the guy. He was a talented journalist. He will be missed. He died way too young, in my opinion.

The weekend was slow and dull. I am completely burned out from going to bed at 2 am five nights in a row, and right about now I'm wishing I was a coffee drinker. But alas, I'm not.

I'm bummed because I got sniped at the last minute on my Ebay auction last night--it was a big lot of vintage Sweet Valley High books (1-55 in SEQUENTIAL order, none missing) and some #$&*!! newbie with a feedback number barely into the double digits bid WAY high in the last 10 seconds. Biatch. I was very angry. Then again, I am guilty of sniping myself--I guess I should have waited to bid on them at all until the end. The only consolation I have is that my bid was pretty high and she now has to pay double what they were going for until the last ten seconds when she got all crazy with her bid amount! Heh heh. Serves her right, the little #&**! Sniper.

I'm finally cleaning out my craft room because it's starting to get very full. I am selling about 20 of my Stampin Up retired/rare stamp sets on Ebay because I just don't have room. (Even if I had room, I've never used them and they're just taking up space). I was heavy into collecting Stampin' Up! stamp sets four years ago.
Now I've grown out of it and it's all about Research Books: Books on the Edwardians, the Victorians, the Tudors, World History, Ancient Egypt, Ancient Maps, Baedeker, etc. My new novel series has my heroine traveling pretty much anywhere, any time, so I am starting to build my own personal research library. Latest additions:

Elizabeth I: Her life in Letters, Felix Pryor
(This book is amazing, it is a large full-size book with full color scans of letters Elizabeth I wrote and received during her lifetime. Man, it's cool.

What Life Was Like in the Age of Chivalry (Medieval Europe AD 800-1500) Time Life Books

The Oxford Illustrated History of Tudor & Stuart Britain, John Morrill

I think you can deduct from my choices that I am a hopeless Anglophile. I love all things Britain, especially the history. I even collect antique Edwardian and Victorian tea sets, for Heck's sake.

Don't get me wrong, I am an extremely patriotic flag-flying-outside-of-my-house-American, but the writers I loved growing up (Jane Austen, etc.) were all Brits and their stories were set in England. There's just something about that fun place across the Pond that calls to me.

Here's the sad part: I've never been. The furthest I've gotten out of the states was a bicycle trip to the San Juan Islands when I was a teen. (yeah, I know, not close at all.) All my historical novels for the most part are set in England, and only because of extensive research on my part through books. I have the Google version of England (past and present) and that will have to do for now.
We didn't have a whole lot of money for travel growing up, and now that I have the means for travel, I have three young children keeping me busy. I think when they're older we'll go, but for now, it will have to wait.
I told Hubby that when the kids are grown, we're going to do some serious traveling: England, Scotland, Italy, Greece, Spain, Argentina (his old stomping grounds) France maybe (kinda snobby, that lot) and I would love to go to Egypt and do the pyramids/tombs/Cairo Museum thing, but I wouldn't feel safe there anymore. Then again, you never know what could happen in ten years.

But now I'm rambling. I'm butt tired, and the kids need attention. Hubby comes home from Las Vegas today, and he'll be burned out, so we'll both be rags. We'll have to go to bed early.

Man, I need some orange juice...

Friday, August 05, 2005

Groovin'...on a roll...

Movie Excerpt of the Day: (From Spaceballs)

Dark Helmet: Before you die there is something you should know about us, Lone Star.
Lone Star: What?
Dark Helmet: I am your father's brother's nephew's cousin's former roommate.
Lone Star: What's that make us?
Dark Helmet: Absolutely nothing! Which is what you are about to become.

I had a sort of Epiphany yesterday about my middle grade mystery. So, like the writer on a roll, I wrote and wrote until 2:30 a.m., and now I'm deader than a doornail. Blech. I've got to wake up.
Funny thing is, when I did wake up (I'm usually ripped out of sleep by our dog whining to go out to the bathroom at 6am) it was nearly 8 AM, Thing One (my seven-year old daughter) had already taken the dog out, made her bed, poured cereal for herself and the boys, and was playing a board game with them to entertain them while I caught my Z's.
Needless to say, I was impressed. What a responsible little tyke she is. (She's a lot like her father, that one.) Of course once they knew I was awake they promptly began fighting over the game (MOM! THING ONE CHEATED! NO I DID NOT! YES YOU DID! MOM, THING ONE HIT ME! NO I DIDN'T! STOP SMILING AT ME! MOMMMMMMMMM!!!!)

So of course I had to go down and mediate/clean up. But Thing One surprised me. She's going to be a good mommy someday, aside from whatever she chooses to do. (I have a sneaking suspicion she's going to take after me: Writer/Amateur historian/Wannabe archaeologist. Which will be just fine.

She's so excited.--they have this auction on Ebay for uncleaned, unsearched lots of ancient Roman coins--I figured what the heck, why not. So we bought one lot and when they get here, Thing One and I are going to clean them and see what we find. (I'm sure they'll be a lot of black faded coins--but she's just excited that they are thousands of years old, and frankly, I am too!)
It's nice to have a daughter who is into the same things I am. In fact, its a little scary, she's me when I was younger, right down to the little devious streak--only she has blonde hair.

Anyway, about my Writing Epiphany: I have the first novel written, and the second novel roughly outlined, but my character grows one year older with each year, because she always comes back to her Uncle's house each summer. So, every summer, she is one year older, and has an adventure where a mystery is solved. In the first book, she's fourteen, which means that if I go until she's ready for college, I would be writing FIVE books total.
So last night, (until 2:30 am, ARGH) I "rough outlined" and put a working title on each of the five books in the series. (I am glad that I'm doing this before I edit the first book, because there are little details I need to put into it that will make sense later in the other books.)

It's actually kind of fun. My heroine is like a little "Indiana Jones-ette In Training" and she will have many adventures and travel the world before this is all over--and of course, she'll solve some great mysteries. (Well, at least great in MY mind, who knows, it all might be complete rubbish to everyone else.)

It's like in just the last few months I "woke up" and became a writer. So now, my goals for August include:
-Edit Book One and get it ready to send off to the agent for a read
-Research Book Two (for the historical mystery part)
-Get 10,000 words in on YA novel
-Continue outlining Books 3, 4, and 5 in the series

I've decided to lay off the trilogy (Book One is on submission but I suspect I'll be getting the "We like it but no thanks" any day now) because unless I can sell the first book, the rest of the novels in the trilogy would be a waste of time at this point. It kills me to have to shelve them for now, but I have to be realistic.

Ugh. I'm going to go have a diet Cherry Coke. I need to WAKE UP!!!

Thursday, August 04, 2005


Writing Quote of the day: "Originality is the art of concealing your sources."

First off, CONGRATULATIONS to my friend Michelle Miles, on completing her serial, Scars of Yesterday--what a major accomplishment!

Okay, I'm tired. I alternately researched and wrote my brains out yesterday. I'm struggling with this whole "mystery writing" thing. I can write Adventure, Romance, Horror, but Mystery--you have to be smart to write Mysteries!
It also requres your readers to take a leap of faith; faith that you will entertain them with a mystery that will keep them guessing enough until all is revealed at the end. Granted, these are 8-12 year olds I'm writing for, so I don't have to make it REALLY perplexing, but I have to add an element of fun or they won't read it.
Very challenging stuff, this middle-grade mystery writing. But it's also my saving grace. Whenever I write myself into a corner, I have to remind myself that KIDS will be reading my stories, not skeptical/cynical/callous adults. :-) So I can write myself out, and they will still believe.

It stormed all last night. I tossed and turned. I usually love storms, but when Hubby is gone they seem more sinister. My kids played so hard yesterday, they slept right through it.

We haven't had any major catastrophies on the kid front--I'm getting used to having Thing Three practically bald (since chopping his own hair) now, and I think the reason I was so sad was he had such nice hair before. I'm jealous of his hair. It's blond and thick and silky (like his father's) and well...I guess it's all moot because he doesn't have any hair anymore! BAH.

Today I think I'll drag the kids to the library. They've been bored out of their minds (I've been limiting their TV and Gamecube time) and they LOVE to read and love being read to, so I think I'll dust off the libarary cards and we'll have a go.

I just have to remember to take the books back on time...a feat I seldom accomplish.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

The Research Train.

Quote of the Day: "Not all treasure is silver and gold, Mate."--Captain Jack Sparrow, Pirates of the Carribean

One thing about the Research Train for me--once I get on, I don't want to get off. And my writing suffers. I got absolutely ZERO words in yesterday, I was so busy surfing the Net and browsing Half-Price Books.

Latest spoils:

The Wives of Henry VIII by Antonia Fraser

Six Wives by David Starkey

A VERY old copy of Collier's World Atlas and Gazeteer

I have been trying in vain to learn everything I can about Mary Newman Drake, Francis Drake's first wife--and sadly, she seems to be practically a footnote in history. I have contacted several people in Saltash, Cornwall to see if I can get anything more on her than a date of birth, marriage and death. She is the entire basis for an historical middle-grade mystery I'm writing, and it's good that there isn't much "on her" because then I can use my Poetic License, but I also don't want to make gross historical errors, either. I like to play it safe when writing about real historical figures.

I found another great website: The Tudor Shoppe. Call me crazy, but just for fun, I bought replicas of the coinage from the reigns of Henry VIII, and Elizabeth I. (If you go to the site, click on "coins" and you'll see what I got.) I'll display them somewhere, or use them. It will help to be able to handle the closest thing to the real thing--especially since one real genuine Elizabethan shilling goes for around £335 right now. (Eeek.) I use references to coinage in my stories, so I'll be able to know what they looked like.

Research. It sucks away my time, but it is SO fun! Almost as fun as writing, because I'm making new (and useful) discoveries, even if it is in the privacy of my own home. I can't just up and leave my kids and go to say, England to research my novels (someday, someday) so I have to settle for the two closest things: Library and Google. And word of mouth, so make that Three things.

Hubby just left for Las Vegas this morning, he'll be there until next week. I think I'll get a lot of writing done--I'm stalled again on my Ellie novel but if I just sit down and force myself to do it, the words seem to eek out eventually.

I think I'll avoid the Research Train today--gotta get some writing done! It's too darn hot to play outdoors anyway. I'm staying inside.

That's why Air Conditioning was invented!

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Headaches Suck.

Quote of the Day: "It is impossible to make anything foolproof because fools are so ingenius."

Stalled a little on the novel yesterday. Was multi-tasking, doing research for a sequel to the completed Middle Grade novel, and got stuck on a VERY well put-together Tudor Website. You can find it here, and the blog for the website updates is here. It's called "Tudor History.Org" and is a very well-maintained and organized website, for all you Tudor fans.

I think I am very quickly becoming a fan myself. The Tudor Period was so fascinating, albeit a "Crude and Stinky" time, as my 14-year old heroine would say. I found a wonderful book by Alison Weir, titled: The Six Wives of Henry VIII at Half-Price the other day, and like a fool, I didn't snatch it up. I think I might risk dragging the kids there again, to see if it's still there. I love Half-price books. I have found invaluable historical books there.

Then last night, about 5pm, I got a migraine. I get them once in a great while, and all I could do was take my medication and lay down in my completely dark room with a pillow over my head and try not to throw up for four hours, while Hubby (who had just gotten home from a harrowing day at work himself--he's getting ready for a major business trip) fed the kids and entertained them (and kept them far away from me) and got them into bed.

I have a good man, what can I say.

Today will be jam-packed, lots of errands and double sports night. This is the last week of T-ball, so at least we won't be having many more "Chef Boyardee Ravioli" nights...and yes, you can tell I have some guilt over that.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Thing Three: Part II

Quote of the Day: "The grass is always greener on the other side -- but that's because they use more manure."--Schapiro's Explanation

Interesting weekend, for sure. Saturday, although busy, was a good day, but Sunday...well...I'm wishing I had a time machine right about now so I could go back and do some MAJOR DISASTER PREVENTION.

You know that old saying about 4-year olds and scissors? (Well, if it isn't an old saying, it should be.) I mean, I never even saw this one coming...

Sunday morning Hubby and I were playing with the kids on the bed, having tickle fights and whatnot, and Thing Three runs up from the basement to join in. He jumped on the bed, and Hubby started giving him a tummy-zerbert, and froze in mid-air above him, and gasped. I was busy tickling my daughter's toes to death, and didn't realize right away until I looked over and saw Thing Three's head.

He had taken scissors and cut a huge bald spot directly in the middle of his hair, just slightly above his forehead.

And we're talking BALD SPOT. He'd cut it that short.

The next few minutes were spent with Thing Three getting alternately swatted by me and "sternly talked to" by Hubby and we finally realized that the only thing to do was to get out the electric razor and shave his head completely. You see, he couldn't have cut the bald spot to the side, or the back, so we could comb over and hide it, NO... it had to be in the EXACT STINKING MIDDLE ABOVE HIS FOREHEAD. I mean, he looked like some ridiculous old man with an odd balding pattern.

So, we plopped him on a bar stool in the bathroom and hubby got to work, shaving his head with a number 2 attachment. (even with his hair that short, you can still see the divot in his head, but we didnt' have the heart to shave him completely bald).

By the end, he was crying, I was crying, and now he looks like a cancer survivor (because his hair is super light blond) and he almost looks (if you squint at him) like a little alien. Of course my dear mother laughed and laughed and laughed (I think I can still hear her laughing) when I told her, but it will be a while before I laugh about it. I mean, school starts in a MONTH for cripe's sake!
I am going today to buy him a baseball cap because I don't want his scalp to burn during Tennis lessons. Needless to say, he'll never take a pair of scissors to his hair again. I couldn't even figure out how he got a hold of any--turns out he stole his big sister's school scissors out of her box, the sneaky little #&**.
This morning has started off lovely too. I just had to go and dump spilled milk (courtesy of Thing Three) out of my brand new running shoes (guess I shouldn't have chucked them by the table when I got back this morning...UGH)

Why me?