Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Happy New Year!


Here's to a polished draft (or two) in the new year! Cooking, playing games with the kids and putting together photo collages are creative in their own right but seem to sap the rest of my creative energies. (The ideas are still pinging around in my head but I can't seem to get--or take--the time to sit down and sort them all out.)

The youngest is pleading to play "Mousetrap" as I write this, middle kid is sick and the oldest is at gymnastics. I have hopes and plans for both boys napping, today! (Which never works out but it feels like the season for dreaming!)

Have a Happy New Year! Good luck to you, and in all of your pursuits, in the coming year!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

And now (again) for something completely different...

I am proud to be an American. I was born on the Fourth of July, for Pete's sake.
I am a former military spouse, my three-year-old already not only knows the Pledge of Allegiance but knows where to put his hand. We are proud Americans.

Despite what late night television commercials tell me--or you--I do not need this to prove it!

Friday, December 10, 2010


We are driving past the frozen lake, on our way to pick up the "big kids."

"Oh, no!" my three-year-old yells. "There is snow on top of the water! The birds can't swim!"

"That's OK," I say, "they can just walk on it until the ice melts."

"Oh. I didn't know. I never been a bird, before."

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

A little pick-me up

Only two mugs of coffee into my busy morning, I stopped at Starbucks for a little more help.

This afternoon, after picking the kids up from school, they all asked to stop at Starbucks for their after-school snack. So I got yet another latte--with this suggestion, wrapped around it! :)

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

I need an undercoat

I know what you're thinking. You think the blonde roots have resurfaced. (They haven't, what you see is grey.) You think I mean I need an overcoat.

It is snowing. It isn't icy, it isn't slippery, I can handle snow. The wind today, however, will cut through you. Not a little jab. Not through to your bones but all-the-way-through your bones. This is butcher-knife wind.

As a mother and sometimes-responsible pet owner, I know the dog would enjoy a good 2-mile run. (Good for the dog and safer for my offspring, who will not be pounced upon immediately upon entering the house, IF I take her for a run). Said pet, a golden retriever, has an undercoat. While I can see the wind blowing her fur everywhichway, she is unfettered. She lies in the snow, rolls in the snow and eats the snow. A moment later, I am almost reduced to tears when I open the door to call her in. Not because I don't want her in the house but because I opened the door. I let the wind in. It hurt.

I have the fire going, am wearing my slippers on and hold yet another hot mug of coffee in my hands. I have to go pick up the older two children from school in half an hour, so they won't be standing out in the wind but I don't want to go out there. I need an undercoat.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

No Nano banner

Technically, I CAN type fast enough to type over 35,000 words in the remaining 5 hours to meet the goal. IF I don't do anything but type, starting now. And that is with no time to debate about plot lines, dialogue or take a bathroom break.

It ain't gonna happen.

And I am OK with that! I got my "winner's" banner, last year. And last year, I used an idea that I had already tossed around quite a bit. This year, I started with a brand new idea on Day 1 and I really like the new story and where it is headed. Having said that, I am tired; the youngest is sick and tired; I took time off for Thanksgiving and have really cooked dinner here a few nights in a row (not shocking but not conducive to high word counts, either).

I will keep working on this novel and I will keep you updated.

Congrats to all of you who made it to the finish line, this year! Thanks to all who have listened to my ramblings about Nano and enouraged my progress, such as it was!

Rainy days and...Tuesdays

Do not, on a rainy day, ask your child what he feels like doing, because I assure you that what he feels like doing, you won't feel like watching.
~Fran Lebowitz

A gloomy, rainy Tuesday should be a good day to hole up and get lots of writing done.
Unless you happen to be in the house with a three-year-old and a puppy who are also holed up, staying in from the rain.

The rambunctious puppy has a new bowl of breakfast. (The little guy dumped her first bowl into her water dish. I guess he thought she'd like it more like cereal, this morning.)

She (the dog) is staring down the boy who is pretending to watch Max & Ruby but is really trying to figure out which Christmas decoration to dismantle next.
**Correction: in the time it took to type that, I realized the boy is actually surrounding himself with toys--the DOG's toys. No wonder she is staring, biding her time, waiting to pounce.

The dog really needs a run. And now, I have one of these. Which makes it easier and fun to run when the wind is at my back, pushing us along. The return trip though--pushing a wind SHIELD AGAINST the wind--seems like a little too much effort, at the moment.

Will I write today? Absolutely.
Will I reach my Nano goal today? Not unless this weather not only lulls little children and big dogs into nice naps but into nice, long, coma-like naps. Now I'm feeling sleepy, too...

To perk myself up, I'm also over here, reading Joshilyn Jackson's blog. Go on over. While I recommend her books, I insist that you read her blog. Even if it is about a Monday. Go!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

There are goals and then there are Goals

I want to reach the goal of 50,000 words by the end of Nano. It is wonderful to see the color slowly inch farther right on the status bar and it is fulfilling to get to post that "winner" banner after the contest is over.

The larger goal is to come up with a draft of a new story that I can then mold into a real novel.

I might achieve the second goal but doubt I will make the first one.

We had a lovely Thanksgiving dinner with family. It was great to see siblings and cousins but I did not make my children take dictation along the way! That meant no writing for three days. Yesterday, our family went out to lunch, put up the Christmas tree and watched a movie. Lovely family day but I still never got around to writing.

Today, after Mass and lunch, I sat down and found out about a whole new chunk that belongs in my novel. I'm excited, this one is fitting together so much faster and neater than the book I've been working on for years! I began Nano with almost no idea of what I would write and this thing is writing itself--WHEN I sit down and give it a chance! I am working on it now (except for this break to tell you about it) and hope to get this chunk finished before dinner. (I just have to hide a little longer or convince my daughter that the outdoor lights can wait until tomorrow!)

How is your post-Thanksgiving weekend going?

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Three Rs: Reading, 'Riting and Recording your mom's NaNo novel

A deadline is negative inspiration. Still, it's better than no inspiration at all. ~Rita Mae Brown

I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by. ~Douglas Adams

I optimistically signed on to do Nano again this year. I am not even close to the half-way mark, yet.

I agreed to take the kids to my sister's house tomorrow. She lives four hours away. Clearly, the only solution is for them to learn to take dictation. It's a useful skill.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Childhood wisdom

The voices rise from the backseat, Sunday night, after a long drive and a longer day.
"Mom! She keeps hitting me!"
"I am not hitting. I am just violently touching him."

Today, after I told the three-year-old not to touch anything. (He had just finished a few Cheetos and had very orange fingers). I found an open drawer and reminded him that I'd asked him not to touch anything.
"I made a fist," he tells me, "like this." He shows me the fist.
"Then I used the side of my fist to pull the handle. Like this. I didn't touch it."
I try not to laugh but smile. "Actually, that was pretty smart," I say. "But I still don't want you opening that drawer." I shake my head. "You are a smart kid."

He nods. "Sometimes."

In which I make excuses for my pitiful word count

My husband was out-of-town this past weekend, so it was a scramble to get my daughter to her gymnastics gym for team photos, back across town for my son's Taekwondo testing and then back to get my daughter. (Just when you think you can pull of the illusion of being in two places at once, you have to be in two places at complete opposite ends of town, at the same time!) I dropped her off early and raced to Taekwondo to wait (they were running behind. So I kept the toddler occupied as best I could during the wait and then stuck him in a corner wtih an assortment of trucks, construction vehicles and cars when the testing began. My son earned his blue belt! Yay! But he was done much later than we'd planned so we raced back to get my daughter before everyone left the gym. (At least, she was able to watch another team practice, after photos were done, so it was kind of extra preparation for her meet on Sunday).

Saturday my son's basketball practice was canceled so I only had to get my daughter to gymnastics practice and then get them all to Mass that night, as we would not make it on Sunday. I think I actually got a few hundred words written on Saturday.

Sunday, we got everyone settled in the car for the drive to Chesterton. The drive is less than two hours but seemed long to the kids. My daughter worries that she will be late, my middle child just doesn't want to be there and the youngest is 3. (Everything takes a long time, when you're 3!)

She was to be there 15 minutes early and we arrived with 5 or 10 minutes to spare, on top of that! We checked her in, only to find that the meet was running approximately one hour behind, at that point. After that first hour or so, her team was ready to begin warming up and my boys were ready to go! We made it through, though and six hours later, we were back in the car for the ride home. They ate lunch and dinner in the car (and the boys made many visits to the concession stand, during the meet).

We were home a little after 9pm, got the kids in bed, poured a large glass of wine and got some of the details of my husband's weekend trip to New York to see the Notre Dame game with his father. Poured a little more wine while I finished up a few dishes (he'd done them but I make sure that coffee pot is in there!) and checked email.

For some reason, I felt too tired to write at that point.

Today! Today is Monday! Mondays are good for me! Yes, Monday mornings are crazy and we did have to make the extra trip to one school after my son left his sitting on the kitchen counter but then I was already out, so stopped at the store and ran a few other errands, too. Made it back home to give the little guy his lunch and a NAP! (We actually do still work in a few, from time to time, and after this weekend, he was READY!) So now I'm set. On Mondays, I can eat lunch and write! :)

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Catchin' up

OK, y'all...not that I like cheating but it might be time to start putting some recipes, songs and a prayer or two into this NaNo novel!

Or at least take a closer look into what's there and see what their new dog just dug up, behind the house. Hmmm....

How's your week going?

***Status update***12:24pm***

Progress! (Sadly, not in the writing but it still counts as catching up!)
It has been exactly two weeks since my youngest got sick in the car. I removed the car seat, scrubbed the car, sprayed the car, rinsed and repeated countless times.
I disassembled the car seat as much as I could without tools, threw everything that I could into the washing machine and then put the rest in the laundry room sink and scrubbed it with bleach and water. I let it dry and put it in the upstairs hallway so I'd remember to take the time to reassemble it and put it back in the car. TODAY, it only took me a little under an hour to remember how to put it back together and get it secured back in the car. *Only* two weeks, exactly, from start to finish!
(Looks like he ought to outgrow it ANY.DAY.)

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Social consciousness

You just never know what your kids are gonna say!

The boys are watching Lilo and Stitch. (I only gave them the choice of that or Finding Nemo. The little one is tired, way he was sitting through iCarly!)

Even the dog is cranky. It's cold and wet outside. We needed some tropical fish!

My son has a religion quiz, this week. So I prefaced my preference with, "We are Catholic and of course, Catholics believe that when you die, your soul doesn't come back again. But IF the Hindus end up being right, I hope I come back as a fish."

My son's response? "MOM! How can you say that?! You could be reborn in the GULF!"

(He still curses BP every time we pass one of their gas stations.)

I love this kid!

Monday, November 15, 2010


It's all downhill from here, right? (Or as my 3-year-old would say, "abajo!")
(That kid watches a lot of Dora the Explorer!) ;)

The mid-point of the NaNoWriMo challenge was today, and I am far behind. Time to pick up the speed and race downhill! Who's with me?

50,000 words in 30 days just isn't enough pressure for me. I like to see if I can catch up, from way behind, near the end. *sigh*

How's your Monday looking?

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The voices are getting louder

I mentioned characters and, perhaps, an actual person from the past speaking to me.

Yesterday, I was upstairs and heard my son calling me from the backyard. He was out there with the dog, so I came running down to see what was wrong. When I made it to the backyard, I found them running in the grass. Both were FINE. So I asked why he'd yelled.
He shrugged. "I didn't."

Last night, I was in my bedroom when I heard my daughter call me. (I thought it was her. I am always getting in trouble for going to the wrong room when the other has actually called me.) But this time, they both frowned at me for coming into the wrong room. Neither of them called me. I was sure my youngest was asleep so I gave up.

At 4am, I nearly jumped out of bed when I heard a door slam. I looked at my husband--he'd heard it, too. We looked at each other, then heard the gate at the bottom of the stairs slam shut. We both got out of bed but after I second, I told my husband I was sure it was our older son. (He offered to sneak down and scare the snot out of him but wisely refrained.) When I did not hear any refrigerators opening or water running, I went to check. He was in bed. I checked my daughter's room, and she was in bed. Our youngest never gets out of bed in the middle of the night. Ever. (If he wakes--he cries, calls or just sits there but he does not even get out of his bed in the morning until someone comes to open his door).

But it had to be him. His door was still shut but that would explain the slammed door we'd heard. Sure enough, I went in and found his bed empty.

I went downstairs and found him standing in the dark living room. "I heard Daddy calling me so I came down here," he said, "but now I can't find him."

(I got him back upstairs and we assured him it was a dream. He wasn't completely convinced. He asked his Dad twice more why he'd called him.)

While I was putting him back in bed, I remembered the Bible story where the son woke his father three times, asking why he'd been called. The father finally realized it was God calling his son. My son was, apparently, only called once. And he is three. I don't think God has a message for a three-year-old that can't wait until morning.

Clearly then, there are only two possibilities:
I've invited spirits into the house that want to mess with us (now I know I'm not the only one hearing them) or, the dog has taken up ventriloquism.

Monday, November 08, 2010

Back from the dead

I started to have second thoughts about how "cool" my visit from my ghostly friend was. This weekend, we were hit by a nasty stomach bug. I started to think this might be the end and maybe she was coming to help me to the other side! ;)

My youngest had it Thursday and was fine by this weekend but the rest of the family was hit hard. We seem to be on the mend now so at least it was fairly short-lived but I am far, far behind on my word count!

I hope you all had a great weekend! Here's to a healthy, productive week!

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Haunting dreams or delirium--I'll take it, either way!

I closed the new document this morning at about 12:15am. I finished writing about a woman who has not yet given birth but her daughter will be an important character, later in the book. As I slid into bed, I was thinking of who she will be when she grows up and I thought she might be the first African-American nun. She has someone else to deal with by then though, so I knew she would at least be familiar with some Native American traditions. I got up and wrote it down, quickly before falling back into bed.

After being woken repeatedly in the early morning, I was delirious enough to even think I was still in a dream. Someone snuggled up on the side of me (the side with no real, physical child attached to me) and tapped me on the shoulder. She whispered a little of her story.

Too tired to wake up (still), I hit Google as soon as I had coffee. The first black nun in Georgia was born in New Orleans, daughter of a slave and a native American.

As a writer, it is a little like magic when your characters become your imaginary friends and talk to you. If you are writing a historical novel and real people (or people who used to be real, live people) show up and do it, that's just COOL.

Friday, November 05, 2010

Frantic Friday

Yesterday was busy but not with much writing. So I'm far behind on the word count goal.

Fridays are normally "my" days. (My youngest goes to a "Mom's Time Out" on Wednesdays and Fridays. Wednesdays, I volunteer at my older son's school during that time. Friday mornings are mine. But Thursday afternoon, the little guy got sick. So he's staying home, this morning. It is a Toy Story marathon morning here, with many interruptions to occupy the dog who is ready to PLAY. Somewhere in there, I've got a lot of work to do to make up for being very, very behind on my word count on the new novel.

At the moment, though the toddler is asking to make lemonade. And hiding in the pantry. I wonder if it's dark in there...
I bet somebody had a pantry 150 years ago. And a kid who liked to hide in it...

I wonder if I can count blog posts as part of my word count? ;)

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Wednesday's whine

I saw it coming, last week but was really hoping I was wrong.

The three-year-old has been three years old for three days. Hasn't napped in two. He is growing up, ready to give up naptime--but I'm not! (Especially not during the month of November/Nano!)

Stay tuned for Thursday's post:
Hair out
Red, bald
Distracts people from
All the

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Tuesday to-do list

Another load of laundry done, this morning? Check.

Get kids off to school? Check. (In reverse order, unfortunately, so one was a few seconds late. Not a lot--but late enough to need a tardy slip. Back to the "regular" order, tomorrow!)

Vote? Check. The three-year-old even tried to help.

Get dog groomed? We'll be there in an hour.

Catch up on my Nano goal? Oh....right. 400 words in, this morning. Here's hoping we still get a nap in for J, during or after the dog grooming!!!

(If not, we'll hope for Plan B: where J takes a late nap, after I pick up the older two and drop oldest at gymnastics. He can nap while C does homework and then, maybe, I can get a few hundred more in...)

How's your Tuesday going?

Monday, November 01, 2010


It is November 1st, my youngest son's birthday, All Saints' Day and the first day of Nanowrimo! If you have not signed up yet, there is still time! Go! Register! Write! (And then come back and finish reading my post.)

Speaking of reminders, I wanted to tell you how Souvenir turned out! I picked up the book at the writing conference, after meeting the author. The story Ms. Fowler has crafted is gripping.

I love it when, the day after I have finished a novel, I am still thinking about the characters. Meg is a little younger than I am but has a daughter a little older than mine. I kept turning the pages to see what Savannah, her 15-year-old daughter, would choose. I was afraid to see but more afraid not to! The books is about choices and consequences, for Meg, Savannah and Carson McKay.

(OK. So I also love it when a book I am reading can teach me about the book I am rewriting!) Which reminds me, it is time to get to work on the new one!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

A dream is a wish your heart makes

Once upon a time, I wrote a book. I talked about it here, and I was going to show it to people at the writer's conference last week. I missed the official deadline to send in pages for a critique and used that as an excuse to mess with it a little more.

If my book were Cinderella, she'd be standing here, in rags. She was dressed and ready for the ball, looking all put-together and then her stepsisters ripped the entire thing apart. I did the damage of two evil-stepsisters, all by myself! Now I'm just hoping I can also take on the role of fairy godmother and craft a new, shiny dress, complete with glass slippers. I am praying that there will be a happy ending to this revision journey so I can stick with the Cinderella analogy. I can't think about poor Humpty Dumpty.

I am reading Souvenir, by Therese Fowler. I love it. My problem is, I know it. The Theme seems very familiar to my Cinderella. I can't decide if that is a good thing or not. It might have been Shakespeare, or my creative writing teacher in college, who said "There are no new stories." But these two are very similar when you look at the bones. I have not finished the book but I think I know how it ends. (Maybe it does not end like mine--stay tuned!) The details are different, of course. Hers is set in Florida, while mine is in Alaska. Hers takes place now (or a few years ago) while mine takes place a century ago. I have not come across a moose in her story but she includes sex, drugs and rock and roll. My Cinderella just has sex.

I hope the next post will involve my Cinderella, pages fluttering in the wind, heading towards the sunset in a carriage pulled by two horses. I really hate to involve all the king's horses and all the king's men.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Chompin' at the bit

I signed on to Nano again. With no clear idea of what I would be writing about. Again.
Then, I got a shower!
In the shower, I got an idea for a novel!
I wrote a note about the main idea, almost got to dinner and saw the whole thing. This one will work! (I love the current WIP but I've been having a "relationship" with it for 8 or 9 years. It's not it it, it's me.) The new idea is great! BUT. I can't cheat. I can't write the first word now, if I want to count it as my Nano novel. Right? Right. Right?


No nap on Monday, no nap on Tuesday. It was starting to look like my youngest was ready to give up his naps! He will be three on Monday--the same day Nano begins. Which is why he cannot give up his naps, just yet! ;)

He argued about it today. (This is the child who has never given us any trouble about going to bed or taking naps). I know the end is near but I really need him to keep napping, for at least another month!

I had to wake him up, this morning to get him and his siblings to their dental appointments by 8am. After HIS first visit to the dentist (he has been dying to get behind that magic door!), I dropped his siblings off at their respective schools and took him to his Time Out program. He played with kids and had a snack while I went back to the elementary school for library time. When I picked him up, he had a few treats he'd been given for Halloween. He had a little sugar in the car and a little more with lunch. That was probably not the right menu for someone getting ready to go to bed!

He is finally asleep! I played fetch with the dog and now she is asleep. I have an hour until I have to leave to get the older kids. I can finish the dishes or fold clothes or take a shower or write or read. But I am daydreaming about taking a nap.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Hum dum dum ditty dum

Oh the wind is lashing lustily
And the trees are thrasing thrustily
And the leaves are rustling gustily
So it's rather safe to say
That it seems that it may turn out to be
It feels that it will undoubtedly
It looks like a rather blustery day, today
It sounds that it may turn out to be
Feels that it will undoubtedly
Looks like a rather blustery day today
~ Winnie The Pooh and the Blustery Day, Richard M. Sherman & Robert B. Sherman
Long days, Mondays. Longer yesterday--middle child had to be at school at 0-dark-thirty to ride the bus to the Red Ribbon Breakfast. Poor kid had a nosebleed on the way to school (yes, they wear uniforms--nice WHITE shirts). He received a new, red t-shirt at the breakfast to wear over his uniform and won a prize from a drawing: a giftcard for Playstation Network! So, he's good!

My daughter has gymnastics until 9pm on Mondays so everyone (but the little guy) seems to go to bed a little later on Mondays.

Tuesdays are the easy days. Tuesdays are the days I know I will have time to get the stroller and run with the dog while I get the little guy to the playground. So the three of us exercise, on Tuesdays. But it is WINDY. And WET. I can't open the windows so my house smells like a mix of new carpet (installed yesterday) and wet dog.

But I have time to sneak in a little writing, during Dora the Explorer episodes. Maybe I will even get around to sharing more details from the conference last weekend. (I promised details after I'd slept, which hasn't really happened yet, so maybe...) Or read a few more pages. I started Therese Fowler's Souvenir on the plane ride home. I hope to finish it soon. The first half rocks!

Enjoy your Tuesday!

Monday, October 25, 2010

The Conference

I have written three accounts of the South Carolina Writers' Workshop for you. All of them are FAR too long for any of you to want to read. I'm working on that. Here is the (very) condensed version. (Which, I think, is fair. I promised an account once I'd slept--and that has not happened, yet!)

In the meantime, I will just tell you that it was an amazing weekend! I wanted to walk on the beach and hear Joshilyn Jackson's keynote speech. I walked on the beach, took her course, talked to her, had her sign my book, and talked to her a little more!

Getting there, Thursday, was Hell and I was sure I had made a mistake. Friday was great! Saturday was amazing! (Did I mention yet that I had a conversation with Joshilyn Jackson??)Sunday was a blur!

Now I am tired, inspired, have new friends to email, a draft to revise and a better blog post to draft. At least there is still a week until Nano! ;)

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Mission accomplished

I cannot say that I got much sleep or got much writing done. I learned a lot, met some new friends and, most importantly, got that new mug! ;)

(The old mug. I swear, it says "Haystack!")

More on the conference and the writing after I have actually slept!

Monday, October 18, 2010

I need a new coffee mug

My favorite coffee mug sprung a leak, years ago. It now holds pens, pencils and whatever-else-the-kids-put-in-it, next to the big computer in the basement.

"My" mug (when I'm not using a travel-mug) was the "Mama Bear" mug I received at a baby shower for my oldest child. It started leaking around the handle, last month.

So I'm down to my green, glass mug. It used to have gold letters saying:
Program in the Arts & Sciences
Canon Beach, Oregon
School of Extended Studies"

No leaks, yet. It has held up fairly well. Except now, the gold letters read:
Pro am in the A s & Sci
Canon O gon"
(and the last row is simply a blur)

I am headed out-of-town this week to see what conferences are like in the 21st century. I wonder if they still sell things like coffee mugs.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

These genes don't fade

It is that time of year again--people need new jeans. One child's were too short, another's are too tight. Some of them have holes and they're all a little faded.

I wish I could stretch, tear or fade a few of the other genes they've inherited.

After school, my son will go up to his room to change his clothes. Before he has his belt off, he realizes he needs to visit the restroom. (He usually leaves the belt in there, on the floor, to make sure that he has to step over it the next morning before telling me he can't find it.) Then, back to his room, he shuts and locks the door. About a half an hour later (after some Lego ship has been reassembled, another disassembled, "Tech Decks" relocated and "Mighty Beans" counted) he emerges from his room in play clothes. He comes downstairs for that after-school snack and settles in to complete his homework. "Settling in" requires sitting on the dog, running with the dog, falling to the ground and allowing the dog to sit on him for several minutes before yelping for help, running outside with the dog, running back inside and taking something away from his little brother and asking if he can have that snack, yet. Once he finally eats his snack and asks what else he can have, I forcibly move him to another room, lay out his homework, hand him a pencil and shut the door. He will break that pencil, come out for another one, s_l_o_w_l_y walk back to that room, shut the door, play the piano, get back into his chair and yell for help, because he doesn't understand what he is supposed to do.

By the time I get to that room (I have to pacify a toddler and dog before I can get in there) he is rolling his eyes. After I read the directions and either ask him questions or begin explaining one way to approach the homework, he will yell that he doesn't need me, tell me he isn't stupid and demand that I leave NOW.

By now, he has killed at least a good hour and his sister is completely done with her homework. She will skip by and say something like, "If you could EVER finish that, you could probably have time to come play a video game with me." He will then proceed to finish all of his homework in less than 10 minutes. (I should really have her skip by earlier in the afternoon!)

It is just frustrating to watch him waste so much time every day.

As for me, I have some "quiet time" this afternoon while the two-year-old and the dog are both napping and the other kids are at school. I have been obsessing over the first pages of my novel as I plan to show them to real, live people at a conference next week. I was so happy to have this time to revise them again. So. I have consumed not one but two bowls of soup, checked in on facebook and have--for the first time in years--changed the layout of this blog. Isn't it pretty?

After I rinse out a few dishes and fold a basket of laundry, I should be able to get to work. Unless I need to play with the dog.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Delirium has set in!

Reviewing for the upcoming religion quiz went well, tonight.

Me: "Tell me who persecuted the Jews but then converted, even became an apostle and a saint?"

My child: "I know his name starts with a 'P' and has four letters."

Me: "Okay, good. A little more?"

M c: "Is it Peru?"

Me: "Yes. Exactly. Saint Peru. He was from South America. Now can we try again?"

M c: "I don't know."

Me: "What is my mother's name?"

M c: "Paula?"

Me: "Yes. Now...if you needed a name with only 4 letters that sounds like Paula, you'd have..."

M c: "Aula?"

And we're done.

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Deadlines and such

I am still around, just not updating the blog as I should. I am coming down to the wire on the Final Draft.
Ran into some issues at the end of the summer, so I did not get the pretty draft done in August, nor did I post any of it here, as I had intended. I wanted to have a cohesive draft done then, so I would have time to polish the whole thing in time for a conference in October.
I registered for the conference to give myself an absolute deadline. (Sad, at this age, that I still need a deadline to really put anything together). Sad or not, the conference is now 3 weeks away and my draft still looks like a bloody puzzle. It's chopped up, marked up, scratched out and out of order. But I have 3 weeks.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Forget historical fiction

I've got to learn how to write contemporary fiction. So I can use everyday life events. Like when the toddler gives the dog a Skittle.

Or when I can't find the time to run with the dog so the Universe does it--the wind is blowing a basketball around the backyard and she is LOVING the game!

Wait! I'd bet they had both basketballs and backyards 100 years ago. I'll try to work that in! ;)

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Back to regularly scheduled programming

The last month was filled with just a little too much real-life drama for me to focus on the other dramas playing out in my head. So as far as deadlines go, I've had to move to Plan B.
The big kids are back in school, the little guy starts going back to a "Mom's Time Out" program next week and I am back to my version of "normal."

Trying to catch up on revising and added two new pages today. If I could just stop myself from accessing the internet, I'd be done with this thing!

Here's hoping your September is off to a good start!

Monday, August 09, 2010

You knew it was coming

Well, my few loyal readers, I have let you down again. But if you're still here, reading, you aren't surprised.

The WIP is not quite there. I have so much done but can't wrap it up with a neat little bow, just yet.
Life has been surreal here, lately which would be great for composing but not so much for focusing and editing.

I have allowed myself a very brief extension.

The kids go back to school next week so my worst case scenario involves me finishing it up soon thereafter. Life certainly does not get any calmer or easier with them in school but we'll be back in a more structured routine.

Sunday, August 08, 2010


When I first gave myself 30 days to revise my novel, I thought a blanket 30 days was reasonable. After NaNo, I thought revising in 30 days would at least be do-able.

I didn't realize until after I'd "set the date" that 30 days would be August 9, or 8-9-10. I like the logical order of that date!

For the record however, I'm giving myself until midnight tomorrow. Every time I start to organize, I write more. I've come up with a few good parts, I think, but the original draft is still in a shambles. I write pieces here and there, planning to put them in order later. Now that later has arrived, I'm still not quite there. But I still have 24 hours and 13 minutes.

Monday, July 26, 2010


My deadline is approaching, the weather is beautiful but there is a fresh coat of paint on my deck railing. So. I can't sit out on the deck with the laptop and watch my kids play in the sprinkler. (I did request the non-magnetic paint with no tractor beams whatsoever but kids and dogs gravitate to it, regardless). So. I suggest a day at the local waterpark! Yeah! I rock, right? How fun?!
I have been told that it will be "the most crowded place on Earth today, Mom." So. They don't want to go. On this beautiful, sunny but finally, not TOO muggy day...they want to go to the video game store. No. So my daughter suggests "school shopping." What? Yes, she wants to go school shopping. I took them for uniforms last week (she was worried they'd run out of the grey sweatshirts--in July--so we got those). Now she wants to go get folders, paper, pens--instead of swimming. Because she doesn't swim, anymore. She does backflips in the pool.
We have all day today, you see, because gymnastics is closed this week. So she wants to go flip somewhere else or shop. The boys do not.
So. They are playing in their rooms and I am moving things around on my blog. (Though it's tempting to go sit out on the deck, alone. They might destroy the house but I wouldn't hear them out there, until the new, covered deck came crashing down on my head. Which would also ruin the fresh paint.)

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

We all have work to do!

My deadline is fast approaching--and I haven't made it very far, yet!
We taught the dog to "drop the ball" yesterday and she was great at it! Today, she is looking at me like I am speaking Dutch.
My son wants to watch an episode of a tv show AGAIN so I paused it and told him we can resume the show as soon as he can tell me what six times seven is. He left, to go play in his room.
It seems we all have a bit of work to do!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Maybe I just need patio furniture!

After I stayed up far too late (intending to write but not getting very far), I got up this morning to try again. I've been given some unanticipated quiet time as I am the only one up besides the dog but she wants to PLAY! A big dog biscuit/chew in exchange for a few undisturbed minutes on the computer isn't really SO wrong, is it? ;)

Otherwise, I considered sitting out on our newly covered deck with the laptop while I watch her run around the backyard. Option 2 is certainly better for her but I can't find my tv tables and can't figure out how to balance my coffee cup and my laptop in just a lawn chair!

It is time to pick out a table and chairs for our new pretty deck!

Friday, July 09, 2010

Deadlines and assistance

OK, I would love to have assistants but since I can't justify or afford even one of those, I will settle for some assistance.

It seems I am eternally working on the WIP but never making much progress, unless I have a deadline. (Self-imposed deadlines do not seem to work too well!)

I have decided to attend a writing conference this year, vowing to bring a polished MS with me, just to give me a deadline so I will have to get it done.

At this point, it is far from polished. At this point, it is still a mess. I should set an earlier deadline to make it somewhat coherent, at least. To that end, I am giving myself 30 days (a self-imposed deadline) but I am posting the deadline here to make me stick to it.

Y'all will hold me to it, right?

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Mama Bear is Angry

It is not nice to call people names. (Tell me when I get something wrong.)

Took all three kids to an indoor bounce-house to play today. It is full of many inflatable bounce houses and obstacle courses. Kids climb, bounce and fall. Soft, inflatable, bouncy fun but when you have several kids in an enclosed space, kids will bounce into each other. I get it. I can't help it. I take my kids there, anyway.

The older two were in the same Spongebob bounce house today until my son came out, ran to me and began sobbing. I figured he'd bounced into someone else but asked him to calm down and tell me what happened.

"Someone called me an idiot!"

Oh. We have been through this any number of times and you have to ignore kids that say mean things.

"Did you bounce into someone?"

"Yes," he sobs. "I didn't mean to! We were bouncing and I accidentally kicked someone."

"Okay. Did you..." (I don't even get to finish asking if he apologized.)

"I said SORRY! I told him I was sorry and he said he was okay but his mom came in and called me an idiot. I want to go home."

"What mom?"
"I don't know. I just want to go home."

Keeps sobbing. An employee comes over to see if my son is hurt and if he can help. I explain that only his feelings are hurt but many people are looking. Which makes him more embarrassed. "I just want to go home."

I tell him to go splash his face with cold water and as he turns, another kid looks at us, looks down and says, "I'm sorry."

I ask if this is the boy he kicked and my son nods. I ask the boy if he is okay (clearly, he is--he just sprinted by us) and he says yes and that he is sorry, again.

My son just keeps sobbing so I send him off to go splash his face with cold water.
My daughter comes running up and asks where he is. I tell her and she says, "yeah, some lady just came in and called him an idiot!"

"Did your brother kick the boy?"
"Yes, but it was an accident, Mom. We were all bouncing and well, he did not mean to."

Now I have confirmation. While she is his sister, she is his sister. She is THE FIRST ONE to give me every detail when he does something wrong. Occasionally, he does kick and she would tell me so. But she is also thrown by an adult calling him a name. And now I am angry. But I take a deep breath. We had storms ALL night last night, maybe she did not get any sleep. Maybe her son is recovering from something and she thinks he is fragile. But then, why bring him to a BOUNCE house?

I ask my daughter if she can point out the mom but she can't. I ask her to take her other brother on one more slide and then get their shoes. My son comes back from the bathroom and as we go to collect shoes, my daughter touches my arm. "I found her! I wasn't sure but then she called her son over. It's that lady--the one in the recliner, with the blanket."

My son grabs my other arm. "DON'T say anything, Mom! I just want to go home."
"I just want to talk to her for a second, honey."
"NO! Mom, PLEASE, can we just GO?"
He is distraught enough so I don't say anything but look back at mom, who has her feet up, blanket up, smiling and laughing with her husband and I realize that from where she is sitting, she has just watched our whole minor episode. She has seen how upset my son is, she has seen her son apologize, she has seen other people check on my son and she has sat there, snuggled up in her blanket and is having a grand time. I still don't say anything but as another employee cuts our bracelets off, I glare. Her husband looks up for a second but nothing from either one of them.
I am sure they've forgotten but my son was still whimpering the whole ride home. I explain that even grown-ups make mistakes but that the mother should have known better. I explain though that sometimes parents get upset quickly if they beleive their child is hurt. I offer any number of excuses but my son was still whimpering when we made it into the house. "I am not an idiot."

No. He isn't. But I have my doubts about this lady.

Sunday, June 13, 2010


Writing without rewriting is the literary equivalent of waltzing gaily out of the house in your underwear. ~Patricia Fuller

Of course, the above quote is true. We all know it is true. And yet, editing/rewriting the WIP is not easy, not fun, not how I was going to spend a Sunday, though I was excited to have the chance. I had some unexpected alone (quiet!) time this afternoon and pulled the draft out. I grabbed a red pen and the pages are bleeding. The good news is, I was very happy to find a few good lines in there!

(I took out entire paragraphs, even a page or two but there were a few really nice words and ideas!)
Rewriting can be productive. In addition to thinning out the pages, I came up with at least forty or fifty new ideas! (One or two might actually pertain to the novel at hand!)

Fun or not, productive or not, it has to be done. Because this mess, as is, is much uglier than me dancing out of my front door in my underwear. (Which would not be pretty, just in case you were curious).

Tuesday, June 01, 2010


The kids are out of school, the pup is a bundle of energy...I don't think I will be very successful at posting more often than I did during the school year! We'll see...might get to sleep in a little more so maybe that'll be enough!

I still have a few books that I have started reading but need to get in gear! I am going to get the kids going on a summer reading list and I want to start one, too! What are you reading?

Enjoy your summer!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Advice from a slacker mom

Things happen.

You may, for instance, have a puppy who might still be small enough to fit through your picket fence. You might even embark upon a home improvement project during this puppy stage and decide to have work done on your deck, which would leave small nails and pieces of lumber lying in the grass, attracting said puppy like a tractor beam. In such cases, you may find it easier to walk the dog in the front yard.

If you have begun such a project, you can guess that rainy weather is on the way. If you have a toddler who loves to run (who doesn't?) and who loves puddles (who doesn't?) at home during this reconstruction phase, you can absolutely guarantee that it will rain. You will want to plan ahead and make sure said toddler is dressed early, ready to just slip on rain boots so he can come along to walk the dog.

If however, you have not planned far enough ahead and said toddler is already tiring and approaching naptime, you might start to consider alternative plans. You may assume it would be easier to just leave the child inside, where it is warm and dry. You think about doing something that you know in your heart is wrong. You may be tempted to sit that toddler down at the table with a snack and allow Dora the Explorer to babysit while you run the dog outside for a few minutes. I can't say what works for your family.

Just a word of advice: if you are tempted to attempt such a maneuver, I suggest checking to ensure you have not left a carton of eggs on the kitchen counter before you run outside.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

And so it goes...

"Hey, Mom! That sign says STOP!"
"Yes, Honey! You're getting so big--you can read!"
"Mmm-hmmm. Just like Daddy."

"MOMMY!! My fingers are STUCK!"
Mom takes a deep breath but does not move the pocket door. She tells the two-year-old to take a deep breath, too, which he does--and then slides his own fingers out, by himself.
"WOW! YAY! Honey, you did that all by yourself! What a big boy!"
"Uh-huh!" (Smiles) "Just like Daddy!"

When it is time to get dressed, he puts his arms in the sleeves of his shirt, he holds on to Mom's shoulders as he steps into his pants, one leg at a time.
"I did it! I got dressed ALL BY MYSELF!"
"You are such a big boy!"
"I KNOW! Just like Daddy!"

Unfortunately, those jeans are a little too big. They keep sliding off. A moment ago, he ran right out of them! But he picked them back up and put them on--all by himself.
"Wow! Son, you put those pants on with no help! You did a great job! You got them on, but they are backwards."
"I did it! Just like Mommy!"

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Nature vs. nuture

No matter how you raise them, little boys are genetically predisposed to act like little boys. (Especially my youngest--he is ALL boy!)

Puppy dogs, no matter how much you treat them like toddlers, will still behave like animals. I cannot blame a pup for trying to bury a bone (even if the "bone" is an edible dog biscuit.) I can't blame a dog for trying--until she tries to bury it in the leather couch!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

A Room of One's Own (Or, How to have the Perfect Vacation without leaving town!)

If taking the road less traveled really makes a difference, it must, at some point lead to a room of one's own. At least for a night! That is what makes all of the difference, at least in my world!

I talk about attending writer's conferences, I envy writers who leave for a week or a weekend to draft their novel but I plan to just hide in my basement. Which never works. Someone always finds me!

A few weeks ago, I took all three kids plus the pup on a road trip, leaving my husband home alone for a few days. He was working and was on call that weekend, so he assured me that he did not get a chance to relax while we were gone. (These seems impossible to me, as we left him in an empty, quiet house!) In any case, when we returned, he suggested I take another night off at a hotel to write, or sleep, or whatever it is that I do.

This past weekend was it! After a week of griping and yelling, I told him I would not go. I did not deserve it. (I needed it but I should have been nicer, first!) Whether he disagreed or just wanted a break from the yelling, he booked the room for me and sent me on my way. I took a draft, the laptop and off I went.

I decided I could make much progress in one night if I just stayed up and fixed it. After I spent far too much time staring at the comfortable bed full of way too many pillows, I amended my plan. I decided I would be a much better writer and mother if I fell into that bed! (Revised plans--much like revised drafts--make much more sense!)

So my book is better but not done. I still did not sleep eight hours but I SLEPT! And the family? They're better, too. They all got a break from my stressed-out behaviour and rather than cringing when I came back in, they were happy to see me. The husband even shook his head and admitted, "I didn't get it. Now I understand why you are so stressed."

Thus ends The Perfect Vacation.

Friday, April 09, 2010

I get my best ideas in the shower

I know you've heard it before but I came up with THE End. Well, the concept for the end. Typed up the idea but now to wrap it all up.
This book WILL be done THIS year.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

One month later

A day late

Procrastination is the art of keeping up with yesterday.
~ Don Marquis

(I'm still behind but I can laugh about it, now!) ;)

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Freud's Dad???

I should not be posting after an argument so this will set least, for a little bit.

Eventually though--I want other parent's opinions. I KNOW I get touchy--OK, a little bitchy--or WAY bitchy--about a few things but when it comes down to it, no one ever goes into therapy and blames their dad.

Or do they? If you know of ONE person who actually goes into a therapist and says "If only my DAD had done this...(or hadn't)," please tell me. You will be my favorite person. Evah.

Monday, April 05, 2010

After answering a question about grammar, then offering an explanation on punctuation--I announced that this summer, I will be conducting English Boot Camp for my kids.

"English POOP camp?"
"Bwahaa ha!!! Mom said Poop!"
"No, boot."
"Hey, Mom? Are we having English poop camp?"

Does that word EVER get old?

Thursday, March 18, 2010

In which I retract the idea that a new puppy is giving me more time to write!

While the pup still prefers to sleep on my feet, that doesn't allow me to go very far! While I would love to stand here all day and write, I can't really do that when the mountain of clean laundry to fold is as tall as me. Or can I?

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Our youngest

The good news is that I have no excuse not to write--the laptop is on the kitchen counter and our new pup lays on my feet WHENEVER I stay still.

Of course, my family would probably prefer that I fold a little laundry--but she wakes up as soon as I move my foot--so I'm staying and playing, er, writing.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Historian

The Historian, by Elizabeth Kostova, truly is worth sinking your teeth into! ;)
I've been trying to post a brief review for a few weeks now and may never get it done. Go ahead and read it, if you haven't. I might have an actual review by the time you're done!

(I realize it was a hit about five years ago but, as usual, I'm a bit behind!)

Tuesday, February 09, 2010


Trying the "Sugar Busters" plan again but forget to check some things that really ought to be safe--at least, in my mind! My husband bought a platter of deviled eggs from the store for the SuperBowl. I usually make my own but he knows the kids like them and he was buying other snacks.

So, now that I've snagged quite a few for myself over the past two days--now...I look at the nutrition info and ingredients. Sugar AND corn syrup. Both. In deviled eggs. Why?

Thursday, February 04, 2010

In Xanadu...

Natalie mentioned Kubla Khan so I asked her if she had any idea who he was.

"We studied him!" she says.

"Who was he?"

"I don't remember."

"Good guy or bad guy?"
She has no idea. So while she's thinking, I start rambling...I've forgotten most of it, of course, but I remember the first line or two...

In Xanadu, did Kubla Khan, a stately pleasure-dome decree...

This is as far as I got. The toddler kept shouting "BE QUIET!" everytime I tried to recite the darn thing. Every. Time.

My pleasure dome would be silent.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Inspiration is fleeting

It's revising time and the WIP has characters, locations, romance, strife...but it was lacking...something.
I think I've got it. Trouble is, I'm jotting notes before the ideas completely flee my head but don't have the time to fully flesh it out. The nights that one or more children wake repeatedly seem, inevitably, to be followed by days where I have a flood of ideas but neither the time--nor the alertness--to put them together.

Nevertheless, 2010 WILL be THE year this gets DONE. (I will look like a zombie but there are trade-offs for everything!)

How is your 2010 progressing?

Monday, January 11, 2010

Mama said there'd be days like this...

My mother did teach me to use recipes to cook.
She also said (often) that I could not walk and chew gum, at the same time.

So--I stay away from gum and enjoy red wine while I cook, instead! Apparently, I cannot drink, talk and cook at the same time.

My husband and I are trying to kick a few pounds, together. So I found a recipe for a pasta sauce (to be enjoyed only with whole wheat pasta, of course) that I thought he'd like. He said it sounded good and asked me to double the recipe--so there would be leftovers this week. So I was sipping, talking and doubling. Rather than 1/4, I put in 1/2 cup of basil and crushed red pepper.

As it turns out, the original recipe called for 1/4 TEASPOON of red pepper.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

When it's you...

In a book, a little foreshadowing is all it takes. You can see when something is not meant to be.

My kids? My husband? When things aren't going their way, I remind them to step back and take a look--if it's this hard, perhaps it wasn't meant to be.

But me? I'll never learn...

Even when it is a simple pot of soup. I've had a taste for a bowl of homemade black bean soup. With the winter storm marching this way, what could be better than soup--and soup stored for the next couple of days? I'm thinking black bean, pea soup, cheddar sherry and if my husband is lucky--even chicken tortilla soup.

What could be easier than a pot of black bean soup? Not much. And yet, it has quite literally been on the back burner for the better part of the day. With one child home sick, one eternally uninspired and the third, well, TWO--it has taken me this long. If any one of them had been going at this for this long, I would tell them that God, the Universe or Someone had decided it was not in the cards for today. Me? I just overflowed the food processor trying to blend some and (you can probably tell) have poured another glass of wine in the process but am I going to quit now? Ha!

In my fantasies, my family smiles and enjoys the warm house full of the smells of homecooking. In reality, who really wants to smell cooked onions and spilled soup? And yet, I persist...

(I even had all of the ingredients for this one. Not for all of the soups but since the child who stayed home sick today ONLY wants jello--I ventured out to the store--to get that, plus ingredients for the other soups. With the "winter storm" approaching, I thought soups sounded good. However, with the "winter storm" approaching, I could not find a parking place at my normal store. Who has to go to 2 grocery stores with 2-4 inches of snow expected? Puh-leeese.)

Part of it took this long because once the kids were IN bed, I found a few songs/rhymes/raps and other tactics to help the 3rd grader remember each of his spelling words for tomorrow's quiz. We were working on these at exactly the same time that my daughter began to feel better (God Bless Motrin) and was working on the math assigment sent home. She had missed the class and had no idea how to do each section, so I was teaching math and singing spelling and running downstairs to stir soup. Again, if it had been any of them...

My husband is re-reading The Celestine Prophecy again. This time, he reminded me--"you know, if this were in the book, it'd be clear that you weren't meant to finish the soup..."
And yet...

So, my dear readers, the foreshadowing is clearly there. It is 10:30 and I am finally about to pour a bowl of soup for dinner. My kids are reasonably ready for tomorrow. So there should not be a shadow of a doubt that tomorrow will be a snow day. But we will have soup. So far, just black bean soup. Which no one eats but me.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Slacker mom strikes again

I have mentioned before that my youngest likes to stash food in his pjs. And yet, I continue to feed him before getting him dressed.

Today Slacker Mom allowed him to have a peanut butter and chocolate granola bar. SM was able to take the trash out and he was still enjoying it so SM decided to steal a few minutes on the computer. Toddler lowers the zipper. Slacker mom thinks: "He'll learn. It will be sticky and he will remember for next time." Slacker mom keeps writing.

Toddler stays quiet and happy for a few more minutes. Slacker mom makes mental note to change him and get him dressed in just a minute. She continues writing.

Several minutes later, toddler is completely zipped back up and Slacker mom has, of course, forgotten about the hidden contents. She watches him tiptoe around the carpet, trying to play with his toys. "Ha ha! This will make him remember not to stash food in his pjs!"

A few more minutes and Slacker mom finally stops typing. He probably needs a new diaper by now, anyway. Yep...he's unzipping...oh...riiiight. Those blanket sleepers are cozy...and chocolate melts.