Saturday, November 02, 2013

Two steps (or days) behind!

I was not going to sign up for NaNoWriMo, this year.

I am writing.  I need to write.  NaNo makes me write but I wasn't going to sign up because I felt guilty about not finishing the last thing I was going to write.  But I really do love that NaNo status bar! ;)

So....I signed up today (late) to pressure myself (and gain access to that status bar) to add 50K to the book I need to finish.  It is cheating as it isn't a new idea.  I already have 13,000 words.  Note: I did not say 13,000 good words.  Just words.  But 13K isn't anything.  So if I can 50K this month, that would be approaching something. we go!

Are you in?  How's it going?
(If you're in and are looking for buddies, I am "LoryKC" there, too!)

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Tricky Tuesday morning

Are you superstitious? How would you approach an obviously sinister threat, directly outside your door?
Our fluffy, Golden attack-chicken would like to know.

Human visitors are easy.  She will BARK loudly and be THERE.  (Preferably ON THEM.)  But what if the threat is more sinister?  What if you were to look out and see the tall grass swaying in front of the corn fields, only to see a black cat taking her time, poking around the outside of your fence?  Bark!  Right?    Yet one bark caused the cat to turn and look this way.  Looking into the direction of the rising sun, her eyes were glowing.

Golden chicken looked back at me, to be sure she had human back-up, before proceeding half-way out the door, barking and wagging her tail, simultaneously.  She cautiously made it all the way out on the deck,  bark-bark-barking until the cat stopped.  Sat.  Stared.

Golden chicken came back inside.  It's better to protect the home from the inside.  When the cat was ready to move on, gc did go back outside to bark the dog equivalent of "that's right, you'd BETTER go!" until the cat finally sashayed to the next yard.  Our fierce, fluffy protector then felt empowered enough to venture out into the actual yard (ever so slowly) for one last bark ("yeah!") before running back into the house to make sure I was okay.

She's chewing on her security blanket, now.

Monday, September 02, 2013

Jack, the Butterfly

I wish I were smart enough to be able to craft children's books.  Admittedly, it irritates me when my husband says I should write for children. He offers it as a suggestion because children's books are short.  (I am eternally "almost finished" with my current draft.)

I spend much of my day with children.  Every evening, I read to at least one child.  Thus, my husband believes that I KNOW children's literature.  When I have time of my own to write, however, I want to create something that I would want to read.  I wouldn't even know where to get inspiration for picture books.

There were very few "slow" or "boring" days this summer but on one of those rare days, my youngest was bored and had no one to play with.  I found him in the garage, talking to a small caterpillar.  He showed me his new friend, and I asked if he had a name.  He looked at the little green guy and said, "Jack."

I suggested we relocate Jack to the garden as he would starve in the garage.  My son was a little worried he would lose him in the garden but didn't want him to die in the garage so we scooped him up and moved him. My son stood, put his hand over his 5-year-old heart and said, "So long, Jack.  I will keep you in my heart, forever."

He will, too.  Five-year-olds, especially mine, do not forget.  Just in case, though, he did draw Jack's portrait so he would always remember him!  (The creature flying above Jack in this portrait is a bird.  My son began talking to a bird in the grass after he drew Jack's portrait but the bird quickly flew away.  Josh added him to this picture of all the friends he made and lost, all in one afternoon.)

My children, unlike myself, are artistic.  Another reason I do not consider writing children's books is the number of illustrations!  How would I find an illustrator?

All three kids are finally in school full-time, so on the four days that I am not going into the school as volunteer librarian (to read more picture books to more children) I fantasize about using those hours to craft grown-up, full-length sagas.  I keep meaning to get to those drafts right after I throw the kids' clothes into the washing machine, wipe toothpaste from the bathroom counters and empty trash cans that have been decorated with basketballs or zebra stripes.

After taking the dog for a long walk recently, I decided to clean up the backyard.  I paced the yard, thinking about the next chapter I really am trying to work out in a current draft.  While I searched the yard for piles of dog poop and thought about escaped slaves in Florida, one lone, beautiful butterfly kept following me.  By that time, I smelled.  A sweaty human who had played with a dirty, smelly dog and was holding a bag of excrement cannot possibly smell like ANY type of flower this butterfly might be trying to find. He kept flitting in my face, darting back and forth.  He would not get out of my face. I stopped thinking about Civil War battles, thinking instead that the butterfly looked like so many butterflies in so many children's picture books.  He circled my head again until I stopped, smiled and said "Hi, Jack."  He did a little spin in my face and flew away.

(This butterfly was not drawn by my son.  This is a close-up of part of a picture my daughter drew years ago.  It now hangs on a wall in our library/den/office so I have something to look at when I can't think of what to write next.)

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Parental guidance 2

One of my big challenges in parenting is recognizing that my child may not be able to be ANYTHING they want and guiding them towards areas that are similar to the skills and talents I see in them.

Having said that, my children can be anything they want to be.  I stand by that.
Having said that, some careers are going to be much easier than others.

Tonight, I heard myself say to my son, "There is no successful career path out there where you can procrastinate, find the loopholes around the work you should be doing and blame your mistakes on others."

As I shook my head (hoping he thought it was in dismay over the as-yet-not-completed homework), I realized that there is a career path where one can succeed with that particular skill set. And my son is charming enough to get enough people to vote for him.

Monday, July 22, 2013

It's all in how you say it...

For better or for worse, I have a tendency to pick up "local" accents wherever I go.  I don't mean to do it, it is just a bad habit.  (Not a problem until I hang out TOO long with friends from Canada as they start to look annoyed.) ;)

After 12 years as a military wife, you never know what I'm going to say! comes with perks.  Like drinking with my little brother one night and he says "with each glass of wine, you sound like you come from somewhere else!"  Or...the cab driver in Miami, the other day who was listening to me talk to my kids.  He finally asked "where are you from?"  When I replied, "I was actually born here," he shook his head and said "that's not it."  I said, "We live in Indiana, now.  Do I have a MidWestern accent?"  He nodded and said "THAT'S it!" *sigh*

Although I grew up in Florida, I acquired my "southern" accent more during college in New Orleans and it seems to show up again around family in the South, or when I drink.  Ahem.  So... I am going to feign innocence (as even the older kids are giving their little brother a "break" on this one) as it isn't TECHNICALLY wrong for him to ask, "What the Hail?"

Friday, April 19, 2013

If it's happened once...

The fun part of writing historical fiction is that you can spend a morning reading ("researching") and call it "work."  I have always been interested in the Civil War and Reconstruction eras in our nation's history and am currently fascinated with Natalie Benjamin (wife of Judah Benjamin, "the Brains of the Confederacy.")

I find history compelling but need to find a way to make it more accessible for my children.
This week, I reminded my son, "those who do not know their history are doomed to repeat it."
It did not so much motivate him as give him a new motto.
He keeps muttering, "I'm doomed!  DOOMED!"

Friday, March 01, 2013

Parental Guidance

Switching gears for a moment to review a non-fiction book (although the cynic in me suspects a few of the "correct" examples given in this book were fictionalized a bit).   Having said that, the examples of what to say and do were invaluable to me as most of the "what not to do" scenarios are exactly what I might say or do on any given day!

Getting to Calm, by Laura S. Kastner, Ph.D. and Jennifer Wyatt, Ph.D.  belongs on every parents' bookshelf!  My copy now rests in a very easy to reach/consult spot, snuggled between  T. Berry Brazelton's Touchpoints and Christie Mellor's The Three Martini Playdate.  As this book offers strategies for dealing with tweens and teens, I've come to it a little late but after reading it from cover to cover, I feel reassured that I may not be TOO late.  (If you have younger children, get this now and read this now--before you are in the midst of some of these scenarios.)  My two older children are 14 and 12 years old, and many of the chapters in this book apply to our situations today.  (The authors suggest keeping this book to refer to the appropriate chapters when needed--when these issues arise--but I found at least 11 of the 14 chapters useful NOW and the other 3 were still worth reading.  I WILL need them!)

I am still working on the calmness.  The authors detail a four-step plan to achieving the calm.  The stories/examples they provide in each chapter offer invaluable instruction as you witness parent/teen interactions.  Some go swimmingly well and you see WHY.  Some plummet quickly and things go horribly wrong and you see WHY.  Changes have been implemented in our house and more are coming.  And now, when I yell and nag, I understand where I've gone wrong much sooner.  It's a process. ;-)

Speaking of where I've gone wrong however, the book made me feel better.  Written by a professor of psychiatry and a psychologist, the authors show where parents go wrong without laying blame.

I usually use this space to discuss reading or writing fiction but once in a while, there are a few other must-have books out there that you should know about.  This is one.  If you are a parent, give yourself this book.  If you are not a parent, give this book to someone else in your life--somebody needs it!

Saturday, February 16, 2013

History repeats and it's a blast!

I am praying for the Russians who were in or near the recent blast but was also intrigued by some of the comments in this article.

"We would expect an event of this magnitude to occur once every 100 years on average," said Paul Chodas of NASA's Near-Earth Object Program Office at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

The only novel I have actually pitched begins in Ukraine and Russia, one day before the Tunguska event in 1908.  This blast was not in the exact same location but globally speaking, not far at all and roughly 105 years later.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Reminders for the New Year

I haven't kept up with this blog as I should but had to take the time to share this with you, today!  So take a break to visit this site--then get back to work! ;-)

Good luck and Happy New Year!