Thursday, December 30, 2010

So He's A Dog.

Last night a wicked person turned my hubby into a dog.


Yes, it's true, a big hairy one that drooled on the furniture, chased the cats, and licked my face.

Shudder. I don't even like dogs.

See? Evil.

Then they left him that way too long before changing him back to a human, and the dog thing stuck in his brain. Do you know how awkward it is to rub a grown man's belly and scratch behind his ears? Yup. Strange.

And yes, my dreams are usually strange. I spent the greater part of the night trying to coax my hubby back into humanity. It didn't work. The mental dogness was permanent. Talk about nightmare. You try taking your hubby/dog for a walk. You get really odd looks when you strap a human man to a leash. Just saying. And I'm not even going to go into fire hydrants because, well, this is a family friendly blog and some things are just so wrong.

I woke up feeling like I needed to get Hubby some shots and a really cute collar. I'm just so glad it was a dream.

What does this have to do with writing? Nothing. It's just that kind of day.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The Aftermath of Christmas

It's that time of year--the aftermath of Christmas. All the presents have been opened, the floor is littered with crumpled wrapping paper, and the tree looks like this:




The magic of the season seeps back into the frozen ground, waiting, waiting, waiting for next Christmas. Everyone feels it, this loss, and wanders around the house with a What do we have to look forward to now? expression on their faces.

I don't know about you, but this year I have my answer in the form of a story that has been tugging on my shirt tails for almost a year, begging to be told. I've had to hush it up. Until now. And I'm almost giddy with the expectation and promise of new adventure.

I know it will be work, but it will be thrilling work getting to know the characters that will play out their lives in my mind. It's like meeting new friends and rushing off to join in their life and death struggles.

So, how about you? What thrilling possibilities will you turn to in the aftermath of Christmas? What grand new adventures will this new year hold for you?

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Contest Winners!

The time has come to announce the contest winners. Can you hear the anticipation? And yes, you can hear anticipation if you listen hard enough. It kind of sounds like drum rolls. Hark, I hear them now.

Here is Kid D picking winner number one:




And the winner of the Barnes and Nobel gift certificate is:



Wren!

The winner of the hand drawn facsimile of a Barnes and Nobel gift certificate (non-negotiable but still really cool) is:



Jonene! You lucky woman you.

And last of all, the winner of the twenty-five page critique is:



Donea!

Well, the drum rolls are fading so that must be the end. Thanks to everyone who entered the contest. And thanks to all you guys out there reading. *Grins*

If you are a winner of one of these fabulous prizes, send me an email at klmaw@aol.com so I can get your addy. I will drop the prizes in the mail right after Christmas because I'm not crazy enough to brave the post office today or tomorrow. *Shudders*

Thanks again everyone and Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Christmas Wonder

This is the last week for my contest. Click here for details.

Christmas is just three days away. Three, not four because you don't count today. I know this because Kids B, C, and D told me so. A lot. And by a lot we're talking national debt numbers here.

The fun part of this is, they are so excited. Wonder walks around my house every moment in the form of those three kids. And we've waited a long time for it to come. With the boys' disability they never got Christmas until last year. Kid B's fourteen. That's a lot of waiting for wonder to strike. But strike it has. They're all bursting with it.

Their little bodies squirm and the magic name of Santa falls from their lips more times than they can breathe. Reindeer dance on the rooftops, elves peek in windows, and every present holds a wish my children can hold and shake.

It's more than a single Christmas worth of excitement. It's years of waiting, hoping, and faith all bundled up and delivered to me. And I thank my Lord for it, after all, he understands Christmas best. It all started with him and his own son. And the wonder of a special night.

Maybe as the years thunder past my boys will come to see the true miracle of the night, not in a jolly fat man and brightly wrapped presents, but in Christ. That is worth waiting decades for.

Merry Christmas.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Family Fun and Autopsies

One more week for the contest. Click here for details. Come on people, you know you want to.

And on to the post.

I've messed up my husband. (I know this must come as a shock to you all. I am so terribly normal after all.) How you ask? I ruined his ability to sit through a movie or a television show and just watch it.

As a writer I can't watch a show without analyzing the plot, studying the characters, and scrutinizing the details. You know, picking it apart to see how it works. Think of it as a movie autopsy. But without the death part--it's cleaner that way, and I don't get blood on my furniture.

Hubby has put up with this for years now, and he held out a long time. He'd say things like, "Can't you just watch it?" And I'd answer with something cheeky. (Again you all must be shocked.)

Last night Kid A, Hubby, and I watched an old SG1 episode. As the show progressed, Kid A and Hubby started dissecting the episode. It was great! They each made comments about the script, the characters and their developing arcs, inconsistencies they noticed, and motivations behind the actions of each character. It was like a show within a show, and I loved every minute of it.

I wanted to throw back my head and say, "Mwahahahahaha! My evil plan is working! I have demented you. You have crossed over to the dark side. Mwahahahaha ha!"

But I didn't. I just grinned to myself and added my own observations. Who said watching TV isn't a good way to get closer as a family? All you need is a little bit of conversation and an autopsy or two. Now go forth and do. :)

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

A Night With Jon Schmidt

Don't forget my contest is still on. Click here for details.

Recently I received an early Christmas present--a night out with my hubby and Kid A to a Jon Schmidt concert. And if you don't know who he is, I mourn for you. Check out this video.



Now, you might be wondering why I'm blogging about this. Here are three reasons:

1: Jon is freaking awesome.

2: His music moves me.

3: I write to him every day.

Not like a letter from some creepy stalker woman, I listen to him. When I sit down to write, I plug Jon into my soul and he helps the words spill out of me. I think it's because you can feel the emotion in his songs, and writing is an emotional thing. If you can't impact a readers feelings, you've failed. Miserably.

So, the concert was a big thing for me. Needless to say, I was excited. I think you could say giddy. I yelled like a teenager at a rock concert. I reveled in the beauty of the music. I ignored my sister when she poked me on the shoulder and told me to shush. Sorry, Sis, I love you, but it's a yelling kind of thing to be surrounded by the music that helps inspire you to create. And I wasn't the only one cheering. The guy is good. :)

And now I feel pumped and ready to crank out another book. AND I have two new albums to sink into as the words and stories and people fall from my mind. What a fabulous Christmas present.

What inspires you?

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Top Ten Things I Love About Writing

Sorry for the late post today. Kid D is sick and that slows everything down.

Anywho, if you haven't entered my contest for a fabulous Barnes and Nobel gift card and other almost fabulous prizes click here and follow the directions. :)

Sometimes I wonder to myself about why I write. It goes something like this:

Me: Why do I do this?

Other me: Because you are a crazy person.

Me: Well, yeah, but other than that.

Other me: Ummmm. You like pain?

Me: No. That can't be it. Try again. There must be a reason.

Other me: You sinned in a past life and must pay for eternity?

Me: What? Are you sure you're not the crazy person?

Other me: Whatever. You like this, and you know it.

Me sighing then grinning: It's true. Maybe I do like pain.

So, here is my top ten things I like about writing list.

1: I can do it in my pjs.

2: I can eat lots of snacks and say I"m feeding my brain. Yum.

3: People look at you like you are a crazy person. This is quite fun. You should try it sometime.

4: You get to be lots of different people every day. Who would want to be just one? Sheesh.

5: You get to live in cool new places in your mind--all while dressed in pjs and eating snacks at home.

6: Words are delicious.

7: So are stories.

8: Creating is magical, and we all need a little magic in our lives.

9: It makes me happy. :)

10: What could be better than getting paid to daydream?

There you have it. Why do you write, or paint, or create music, or whatever it is you do to enrich your life? What spurs you on in your quest for success?

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Say What?

My contest is still on. Don't forget to drop a comment and facebook, twitter, or blog about it for extra points.

Now on to today's post.

Saturday we took the whole fam to our church's Christmas party. Think lots of smiling people, lights, and kids bursting with excitement as they waited for Santa to make an appearance. When he appeared, the fat man in red disappeared behind a wall of children and the waiting began. Picture this



but in color, and with more children all hyped on candy, pizza, and good old fashioned yearning. Oh, and it's in the church. Filled with church people. Lots of church people.

Now place me, my kids, and hubby smack dab in the middle of it. And this is what I heard:

Awesome neighbor, who always asks about my books and knows I've been trying to off the bad guy, yelling over crowd noise to my hubby: Hey, did your wife kill that guy yet?

This is what I saw on the faces of about 100 church going neighbors:



Hubby, who didn't see the above reaction: Actually, she killed him today.

Every head swiveled to stare at Hubby. And this happened again:



Awesome neighbor, who also didn't notice the staring throng: Really? Did she blow him up?

Hubby: No. She stabbed him.

Now picture awesome neighbor giving me fist bump and asking if I used an exploding sword.

It was super funny to watch everyone's reaction. It was also super fun to finally kill the guy off. He had it coming for a long time.

How was your weekend? Did you have any say what moments?

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Contest and Free Stuff

This is my ninety-fourth post. What does that mean? It means I'm approaching 100, and my 100th post will fall on December 23, 2010. What does that mean for you? It means prizes. Think of it as Christmas presents from me to you. What kind of presents? Since I'm a poor aspiring writer--books. Well, to be completely accurate, one $15.00 Barnes and Noble Gift Certificate, one authentic, hand-drawn facsimile of a Barnes and Nobel gift certificate(non negotiable, but really cool), and a twenty-five page critique of your own fabulous novel. What else did you expect from a writer?

Here are the rules:

The contest opens now and runs until midnight the 22nd.

You enter by spreading the word about my blog. You know the drill, tweet about it, Facebook it, yell it from the roof tops. Then post a comment telling me you did your duty. You get one point for every social media blurb, just leave me a link so I can check up on you (like Santa seeing if you've been naughty or nice).

You get one point if you become a follower and leave a comment.

You get two points for loyalty if you are already a follower and leave a comment.

You also get a point if you add up your points so I don't have to do math.

Each point equals one slip of paper with your name on it. The slips will all be tossed in a bowl like green salad and then eaten. Oh wait, Kid D will choose three lucky winners, and I'll announce them on the 23rd.

Also, if you don't happen to be a writer and don't have twenty-five pages you want critiqued, you can opt out of that prize or gift it to a writing buddy. Just let me know in your comment if you don't want to be included for that prize. (Crazy talk, I know.)

Anywho, thanks for making my blog a fun place to visit! Let the contest begin! Merry Christmas. :)

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

When The Dogs Bark, Do You?

It's time for Kid A to register for next year's high school courses. This event led to a conversation between her and my hubby about college and the vast options opening up to her.

I sat and listened, wading through memories until hubby started reminiscing about the first day of a psychology class. I never took psychology, and now I'm wishing I had, because the first day Hubby and all the other students sat in their chairs and stared at each other, waiting for the professor to show up. They sat some more, stared some more, and tapped their watches in disbelief as the minutes dragged past.

Then someone started barking.

Yes, you read that right, barking like a dog that hadn't seen it's master in days. Drooping heads lifted, eyes widened, and silence reigned. At least it did until the barking resumed--coming from the professor who'd been hiding under his desk the whole time.

Kid A and I listened to the story entranced with the image of a teacher barking to a room full of astonished students. Kid A laughed. I grinned and said, "I'd have barked back."

Apparently that's what the prof wanted. Why? Probably for the same reason I suddenly want to head to a library, or session of congress, hide somewhere, and bark my heart out.

Because, wouldn't it be fun to watch all the reactions? Yes, I realize this makes me more than a little strange, but it would be great research into body language and people.

Writers make a living out of showing people's reactions and emotions with words. We can't just tell you someone was surprised or embarrassed. We have to show you, paint a picture in your mind so you live the event with the character. In essence, a writer shows you who the character really is.

Think about it, if someone, anyone, had barked back that psychology professor would have known a lot about them, almost as much as he discovered about the people who just stared. So, the question is, would you bark back?

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Snow

So, the time has come for snow. This is how I feel about that:


(Actual photo)

This is how Kid D feels about it:


(Not actual photo. She grins way bigger than that when it snows.)

This is what I have to say about it: Let it end. *Whimper*

This is what she has to say about it: Mom, this is a wonderful time of year for me! *Grins and dances through the house chanting "Snowstorm" repeatedly*

This is what the National Weather Service has to say about it:

...BLIZZARD HEADING FOR UTAH THIS AFTERNOON THROUGH TONIGHT...

STRONG SOUTHWEST WINDS WILL DEVELOP AHEAD OF AN ARCTIC COLD FRONT
EXPECTED TO MOVE FROM NORTHWEST TO SOUTHEAST ACROSS THE AREA LATE
THIS AFTERNOON THROUGH TONIGHT. HEAVY SNOW...STRONG WINDS...AND
BLOWING SNOW WILL ACCOMPANY THE PASSAGE OF THE ARCTIC FRONT.
EXTREMELY COLD TEMPERATURES WILL DEVELOP ACROSS THE REGION
WEDNESDAY AND THURSDAY...


My translation: Sit by the fire and pray for June.

Kid D's translation: Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Thanksgiving Lists

Thanksgiving is around the bend, turkey (or tofu) dinners, family, and all the fatness of life. I'm not talking the fatness of your waistband, but the mesh of things that make life sweet. Here is a short list of some things I'm thankful for:

my hubby
my kids
fireplaces
food
words
music
soft blankets and pillows
the words I love you and I'm sorry
my God
friends
stories
learning
pomegranates
frozen pizzas for the days I forget to fix dinner (this happens way too often)
silence
noise
cell phones
trees
sunsets
little toothless smiles
wet baby kisses
my parents and siblings
cars that work
fuzzy slippers
heaters and air conditioning
the sun and its light that chase away the darkness both inside and out
green growing things
and blue sky that reaches into always
promises kept
welcome home hugs
and sleep
even Mondays
you
me
the words us, we, and our


What are you thankful for? Let's add to the list and remember why life is sweet and fat.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Call of the Cat

We have a cat. Okay, we have more than one cat, but this post is about our eldest cat, Yoda. He's going on fourteen now, and that's pretty old for a cat. You know what they say about age and wisdom, well my cat thinks he's a guru. He also thinks he owns us. We think we own him. Can you see where this is going? Yup, you are so right.

Yoda's trying to teach us new habits. Habits that involve nighttime waking. It works something like this.

10:00 p.m.

Yoda standing at the door wanting in: Meow.

Translation: Open the door, my servant.

Me, standing at the door looking at the cold. (And yes, you can look at cold--at least you can in the mountains of Utah in November): Fine, come in.

Yoda: Meow. Purr.

Translation: Thank you. You are a good and faithful companion, and I will reward you well.

Hubby: We are so going to pay for that.

Me: I know, but it's cold outside.

Hubby sighing: I know.

4:00 a.m.

Yoda: Meow.

Translation: I would like to go out for a brief constitutional. See to my needs.

Me stirring from sleep: Uggggg.

4:01 a.m.

Yoda: Meow.

Translation: Now.

Me groaning.

Translation: Stupid cat!

4:02 a.m.

Yoda: Meow. Meow. Meow. Meow. Meow. Meow. Meow. Meow. Meow. (Repeated until my ears fall off, and a strange desire to yell and throw things fills me.)

Translation: Rise and serve me, puny human!

Me: Stupid cat!

Hubby rolling over and groaning.

Translation: I told you so.

Me covering head with pillow.

Translation: I know. Stupid cat.

Repeat until 6:00 a.m. in a vain attempt to train old cat new manners.

Translation: Yeah right. Good luck with that.

What does all this have to do with writing? Yoda sounds exactly like the little voice inside me that says things like: Sit down and write. You're wasting your time. Get of the Internet. You only have two pages today, get to work. Finish this draft. Get up and write. Why are you watching TV? Write. Write now! Don't you groan at me, young woman! I own you. I know how to keep you up at night and don't think I won't do it. Do as I command, and I will reward you well.

So how does this story end? I got up and put the cat out. And I'm sitting at my computer ready to write. So, I guess I can be owned after all.

How about you? What drives you? Is it a voice inside your head that won't shut up? A cat that won't let you sleep? Both? Drop a comment and share your motivation/torment. :)

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Corn Maze

Last night I took Kid D to parent teacher conference. She sat and giggled as her teacher praised her and her work. They've been writing stories, cute little first grade stories. The three of us, Kid D, the teacher and I, spent a few minutes reading them. I smiled and hugged her a lot. Kid D, not the teacher. That would have been a bit awkward.

Anywho, I asked Kid D if I could share one of her stories on my blog. She turned me down flat. I begged, I cajoled, I gave her puppy dog eyes. Nada. Her decision was firm.

I sat and pondered her cute little face and asked,"Why not?"

She said, "I'm embarrassed."

I told her I wouldn't use her name.

She shook her head, still firm.

I was stumped. After all, intellectual property is serious business, and she owned it. I complained to my hubby that his daughter wouldn't grant me usage. He urged her to let me post it. Nada. Zip. Zilch.

I told Kid D that I wanted people to read my stories. Heck, I wanted people to pay me for my stories.

A small smile tickled the corners of her mouth, and a glint appeared in her eye as she said, "No one pays me for my stories."

You guessed it, I bought her story. She's walking around the house two bucks richer, and I have the goods.

Here it is complete with illustrations. The light pencil scrawl is hard to read, so I'll provide a typed translation. (Without the 1st grade spelling. )

The corn maze was tricky! In one path there was a dead woman! There were scary decorations! The corn maze was scary!






Don't you love the dead woman in the box? And, yes, I asked about that. There really was a "dead" woman at the corn maze they went to for the class Halloween field trip. Personally I'm relieved because that means I don't need to get her counseling.

I'm also proud as a bag full of onion rings over my youngest's first published story. I can see great things ahead for this budding writer. Can't you?

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Flashlights, Washing Machines, Sinking Ships, and Perfect Storms.

Last night I went on a lovely boat ride on a vast and swift river. The clear water lapped at the ship's sides then began to fill the ship's belly. Fast. People began to fill the life boats even faster. I began to wrap my computer in about 900 layers of plastic and Duct Tape to protect it from the rising water. Hubby logged on the ship's Internet to check the sport scores. Yup, we have priorities.

Things were going well, after all I had my water tight computer taped to my back, hubby had his sport scores, and we could both swim. Then Kid D sloshed into the scene and announced in her six-year-old lisp that there were no more life jackets.

Kid D can't swim.

I panicked and woke up just before the ship went under. I then lay in bed from four to six trying to do a major rewrite on my dream to include a life jacket for my youngest, or figure out how to swim with both her and my laptop in my arms. Somehow it never occurred to me to try to edit out the flood or not have Kid D on board the doomed vessel. Because why would you remove such a nice plot twist? In the end, I left the computer because, like I said, I have priorities. I did attach a beacon buoy and a pink floaty to it so I could come back and retrieve it.

It's been a few months since I had a flood dream. It's also been a few months since our last washing machine catastrophe. I'm beginning to thing the two are linked because, you guessed it, we had a real flood last night. Thanks so much to the cosmic laundry Carma guy or whatever governs these things. Here are the main points to keep in mind during this story:

1: We just finished remodeling our basement.

2: We have a history of washing machine disasters. (Click here in case you missed the other link)

3: We just finished remodeling our basement.

4: Unlike the boat dream, the washing machine wasn't something you get to wake up from.

5: Did I mention that we just finished a remodel of our basement?

Here are the main facts:

1: Flashlights, even smallish ones, are not good items to place in your washing machine. Especially when they get stuck and jam up the whole monster. It's bad. Very bad.

2: Having about three batches worth of denim pants piled into the same batch by overly helpful children is also bad. So very very bad.

3: Having about five times the correct amount of laundry soap is also bad. And bubbly.

4: Walking down into your newly remodeled basement to find water and suds EVERYWHERE is beyond bad. In fact, it makes you cry. A lot. And maybe think bad words. And use a lot of towels. And cry.

So anyway, there you have the perfect storm of dreams and laundry conditions. Can you guess what I'll be doing today? Writing about it of course. Yup, I have priorities. :)

Thursday, November 4, 2010

The Lost Saint

I was lucky enough to be given an ARC of The Lost Saint by Bree Despain. It's the second Dark Divine novel and comes out December 28, 2010. If you haven't devoured the first book, The Dark Divine, you should before this one comes out.




Here's the blurb from the back of the book:

*Spoiler Alert* - If you haven't read The Dark Divine, this synopsis may contain spoilers.





Really





Grace Divine made the ultimate sacrifice to cure Daniel Kalbi. She was infected with the werewolf curse while trying to save him, and lost her beloved brother in the process. When Grace receives a haunting phone call from Jude, she knows what she must do. She must become a Hound of Heaven.

Desperate to find Jude, Grace befriends Talbot—a newcomer to town who promises her that he can help her be a hero. But as the two grow closer, the wolf grows in Grace, and her relationship with Daniel is put in danger—in more ways than one.

Unaware of the dark path she is walking, Grace begins to give into the wolf inside of her—not realizing that an enemy has returned and a deadly trap is about to be sprung.


Doesn't it sound yummy? Well, it is. Bree does a great job of pulling you into the world of a teenager trying to come to grips with her inner wolf, something we all deal with in a less life threatening and much more metaphorical way.

One of my favorite things about this novel is that it deals strongly with choices and their consequences. I'm dying to share several parts of this luscious book with you, but since it isn't mine, and it doesn't come out until December, you will just have to take my word for it.

Put it on your wish list.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Promises and Pics

First off, we’re doing a fun pass-along story at The Scribbler’s Cove. Head over there and add you own paragraph!

Second off, today is the Halloween parade at my kids’ school. For those of you who don’t have kids this means that not only do I have to have all my little ones dressed up in their various costumes, but I also have to get out of my pajamas and make myself presentable to the world. This means that you get a goofy picture and a promise.

Here is the goofy pic:



And here is the promise: I solemnly swear to wake up earlier next Tuesday and post a real post in which I use more words than pictures, and that the words will even have meaning and sound decent. Maybe. And I also promise to do it again next Thursday. See? Good promises, huh?

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Halloween, Wonder, and Fantasy Novels.

I've been a Halloween Scrooge. It's true. I can't eat the candy, and my children were terrified of the masks and creatures. They cried and had nightmares for weeks after the dreaded day.



But all that seems to be in the past. This year they are giddy with expectation. It's almost Halloween and the ghouls and goblins in my children are starting to ooze out of their little bodies. Scooby Doo reigns supreme on the TV, and pumpkins haunt the front steps. It's not all fright and monsters--princesses and fantasy live as well in gauzy pink dresses and crowns bedecked with streaming ribbons and sheer, sparkly material. This year the excitement is almost too much to bear.

As I watch my little horde tremble in anticipation of the big night, I can't help wondering, Why are they are so excited? Is it the tinge of safe fear that taints the air? Or is it the glee of running down the sidewalk trailing loot in their wake? Or maybe it's the rustle of leaves and frosted breath that promises, "This is just the beginning--Christmas is coming!" Maybe it's just the candy.



But, then I realize it is more. It's the wonder of the night.

Halloween is the one night they get to be anyone or anything they can imagine, AND everyone else joins in their make believe. The world of daydream and nightmare collide in costumes and candy, and that all adds up to wonder. Loads and loads of wonder. It's like the world pauses in its scepticism and lives out one night of fantasy.

When else do friends become dragons and elves, undead and sorcerers, kings and peasants, superheros and villains? It's a night of magic and mystery. And I should be taking notes. Why? Because I write fantasy. In my own way, I try to create the thrill of Halloween night and package it between page one and the end. I try to capture the emotion and wonder of pretending and believing for oh-so-short a time in fairies and magic. Maybe for once, I need to don a costume and shed my inner Scrooge. Maybe I need to embrace Halloween and live the wonder with my children--even if I can't gorge on chocolate.

How about you? Do you have an inner Scrooge? Are you excited for Halloween? What makes the night magical for you?

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Morning Mayhem

So, yesterday was one of those days. It all started with the melodious yowl of a cat fight outside my window. Have you ever been jerked from slumber by a cat fight? I'm almost positive that they use cat fights as a form of torture. Not a nice way to wake up--especially if it's your cat and you have to run down the stairs half asleep and rescue the thirteen-year-old puddy from probable death and certain vet bills. Yup it was that kind of morning.

As I stumbled back into the house silently cursing my cat, my sleep-fogged mind realized Kid A was in the shower. I stared at the light streaming from under the bathroom door and sighed. No more sleep for me. Time to wrangle the kids.

I descended into the basement, pulled Kid B from bed, asked-begged-urged-forced him to get dressed for school, and made his bed. Then I came upstairs and oozed into my chair and started opening emails. Kid A came in wearing a very confused look.

Here is our ensuing conversation:

Me: You okay?

Kid A: What time is it?

Me looking at the little clock on my computer. Me still looking at the little clock on my computer. Me staring at my watch. Me glaring at the little clock on my computer: Five o'clock!

Kid A: Why is it five?

Me, still glaring at my stupid clock: I don't know. It should be six. Why isn't it six?

Both of us staring at each other doing mental math.

Kid A: You mean I got up at four?

Me: You mean I got up at four?

Me: Why did you get up at four?

Kid A: My clock said six.

Me: My cat said, "**$#!@#%^&*!"

I almost said **$!@%^&*! as I realized I had missed out on two hours of blessed sleep. Two hours! If any of you are moms, I know you share my horror. And I haven't even mentioned that I didn't go to bed until almost one. Yes, cry for me. I cried for myself.

But there is a silver lining. I sat down on the couch to watch for the different buses with the kids, by the time they all departed, so did I. To dream land. I woke up four hours later with a kinked neck and a few missed appointments. So, if I stood you up yesterday, I'm sorry. But at least now you know why.

So, how was your day?

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Masks

I've never been much of a Halloween person, at least as an adult. Maybe it's because I can't eat the candy, maybe it's because my kids struggle with real terror every year as people they know change into monsters right before their eyes, or maybe I'm just plain boring. What ever it is, it's almost Halloween and masks are appearing everywhere--in the grocery store, at the playground, at writer's conferences. They even gave us some. Mine is a sparkly green one.



As the speakers at the conference talked about masks, I realized they were right. Writers wear masks. Lots and lots of masks. Every time I sit down at the computer to work on my story, I don a different character's mask. I may be a twelve-year-old boy fighting a dragon, or I may be an eighteen-year-old girl who sees the future, or even a really disturbed psycho who has way too many people's identities stuck in his head.

It's like these masks by Morgan Hersey:



Each one is different. Each one has it's own personality, history, and mood. And, for me, that's what happens when I write. I place the character's emotions, and history, and attitude over my own for a time. I wear them. I become them. At least if I let myself.

Sometimes it's hard to descend into someone's emotions. I mean, who wants to be a grieving father, or a love-struck palace guard who knows his feelings aren't returned? Sometimes I just want to take all the masks and put them in the drawer and just be me. But I always come back. Every time. Maybe I do like Halloween after all. Maybe I live it every day.

If you want to see more of Morgan's masks here's her website. http://www.masksbymorgan.com/

Friday, October 15, 2010

Apples and Creativity

Sorry about the Friday post, I spent yesterday at my parents' house picking apples, stacking wood, and winterizing their enormous raspberry patch. It was glorious, but as I worked, thoughts of winter whispered in my mind. Nothing speaks of long, frozen months like climbing into the frosted branches of an apple tree or wading through six-foot tall raspberries to tie them up like old-fashioned haystacks.



Time has trained my mind to turn from summer and warmth and reckless play to winter and snow and the holidays by repeating these fall rituals. The air can turn chill and the leaves can blaze with color on the mountains, but it isn't really autumn to me until the apples ripen and I disappear into the tree tops.

As I worked yesterday, my mind slipped back to my childhood and then to my books. I pondered how, just like time has trained me to prepare for winter by repeating the same activities every fall, I've trained myself to prepare to write by sitting in my chair every day armed with my laptop and imagination. My brain is geared to string words together in that chair, just like it's geared to think winter every time I pick apples or split and stack wood.

I've programed my mind and creativity so show up and engage by showing up myself. And the best part about this is, I never knew I was doing it. I don't know if you can have a habit of creating, but I think, just maybe, you can.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Inspiration, Brushing Your Teeth, and Spit

I sat down at the computer to blog this morning, and this is what I thought: Ummmm.

I'm ashamed to say that it continued for quite some time. I typed three different blog posts and deleted them all. Why? Because they were lame. Very Lame. Lame with a capital L. You are most welcome for erasing them and sparing you the pain.

My three failed posts got me thinking about inspiration. I needed some. So, I called my sister and asked her to give me a writing prompt. She paused, and all I could hear was a swish-brush-mumble kind of sound.

Again, for the second time, I said, "Ummmm?"

She said, "Brushing your teeth."

I silently said, "Say what?"

She rinsed and expectorated. And I had it. The answer to inspiration.

Spittle.

Yup, you heard me.

I thanked her and hung up the phone. I didn't blog about that. Yet. I went and brushed my teeth, cleaned my tub, took a hot bath, and thought about spit and writing. A funny thing happened. All the ummmm left me, and my mind opened up. Ideas started flowing for my novel. I even had an ah ha moment. Pretty cool stuff.

Why? Because I stepped away for a short time and let my mind relax and ponder spittle while my body cleaned the tub. Sometimes we need to let the creative process simmer, or in this case lather, before we set it down in hard words. Every story needs to be created in the mind before it goes in print. I'll remember this the next time I have an ummmm moment, but for now, I'm off to put my new thoughts into my novel.

So, I owe my sis a thank you for getting me to think about spit. I now have a clean tub, clean teeth, and clean ideas for my novel. Oh,and a blog post dedicated to spit.

What gives you inspiration?

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Nine Months Of No, The Accidental Engagement, and How To Face Rejection

I'm a writer. (That in itself should be enough for you to know that I'm a little bit cracked. But only a little.) As a writer, one of the scariest things I face is sending out my manuscript. Sure there's a chance someone will acquire it, but there is an even greater chance I'll get a rejection.

Rejection hurts. A lot.

I've been thinking about pain as I get ready to send out my latest manuscript, and this made me think about my hubby. Not that he is a pain, or that he causes pain, but because I caused him pain. A lot. It happened a long time ago, so don't look at me like that. Sheesh. This is how it went...

We met two weeks before I graduated from high school. I was young. I was a teenager. He was five years older. He was ready to get married. I wasn't. We fell in love. He proposed. I freaked out and said no. Did I mention I was young? Did I mention I was a teenager? Did I mention we were in love?

See? Pain. Poor guy. Poor me. I can only imagine the courage it took for him to get down on one knee and ask me. You can only imagine the terror that swept through my eighteen-year-old body as I thought about saying yes. Hence the no. But the real story is in the next nine months.

He proposed every other day for nine months straight. I told him no every other day for nine months straight. But he kept asking. I am so very glad he did, because it wasn't that I didn't love him, or that his offer wasn't good, or that I didn't want to marry him, it just wasn't the right time--yet. I needed to grow up a bit. So he kept asking--every other day--and I kept rejecting--every other day--until I accidentally said yes.

Yes, you read that right. We got engaged on accident. It happened over curly fries at the local Hardees. He looked up between bites and said, in the saddest voice imaginable, "Are you ever going to marry me?"

I dipped my fry in sauce and said, without thinking, "Well, yeah."

He stared at me with the most adorable goofy, shocked, I-must-be-dreaming expression, and then I froze with a curly fry halfway to my mouth and thought, What have I just done?

He said, "Really?"

I thought about it and realized (much to my own shock and surprise)that, yes, really. So I told him.

I had to take the keys away from him and drive us to my home. Friends just don't let friends drive in a love/success induced stupor.

But the whole point to this long and painful story is, he didn't give up. Last night I asked him why, and he said, "I knew I wanted to be with you, and if I kept asking one day you'd say yes."

Have you ever heard a more romantic thing?

So, in the tradition of my nine months of no, I will submit my novel, and submit my novel until someone says yes, because I know what I want. And if I keep asking, one day someone will say, "YES!"

What about you? What takes courage in your life?

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

I Got An Award!

First off, I'd like to mention a contest going on at The Scribbler's Cove. Hop on over there to win free books, awesome art, and a gift certificate to Barnes and Nobel. *Rubs hands together and grins*

Today I'd like to send a special shout-out to Carolyn V at Checkerboard Squares for giving me the One Lovely Blog Award!



I'm so happy. Thanks Carolyn! She has an awesome blog. Make sure you check her out.

Now, I'm supposed to pass this award on to other worthy blogs. Choosing is so hard. If you look at my blog list on the side you will see how hard this is. But, anywho, here we go. Drum roll please. (Can you hear it? I can.)

Heather at StoryMonster
Jolene at Been Writing
The Word Is My Oyster
Grab A Pen
The Scribbler's Cove Check out their contest--oh and I may have a post there today. Hmmm. Can I do that? Anyone? *Waiting for someone to tell me the rules* Anyone? Hmmm. Well, they are cool over there. Check 'em out.

Anywho, thanks again Carolyn.

The end. That's all today, folks. *Grin*

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Memories of Sword Fighting and Cornfields

My whole family, including all the brothers and sisters, spouses (Except Joycelyn, who came by iPhone because she had to work. We missed you.), and all the nieces and nephews, gathered at my parents' house last night to open their mission call

For you non-Utah peeps, a mission is where a young man or woman, or retired couple, volunteer to spend eighteen months to two years teaching religion somewhere in the world for the Church Of Jesus Christ Of Latter Day Saints. They don't know where they'll be sent, so opening the call is a big thing. It could be Russia or Idaho, France or Brazil, or almost anywhere in the world. My parents are heading to Portugal! So exciting! (Even if I'll miss them terribly.)

Anywho, while we were there, the nephews and some of the nieces discovered cornstalk sword fighting. What is that, you say? It's where this



becomes this



And yes, you can wear a kilt. Just saying.

I sat and watched all these little kids with their cornstalk swords and remembered the days when I was the one with my own sword, fighting to the imaginary death with my four brothers and two sisters. We came in every night with welts and bruises from our battles, but it was fun. So very fun.

The next day we'd rush home from school and cut a new weapon. We'd disperse through the fields to check our secret bases hidden in the apple trees or irrigation ditches, then the wars began. We reenacted every light saber duel in Star Wars, and every sword fight in all the pirate books and fantasy novels I'd ever read. Then we invented our own personas, and we put Captain Jack to shame.

Can you hear the laughter and the thunk thunk of cornstalk swords raised in battle? Do you smell the sun on heat-dried grass or taste the apples plucked right from the trees. I can. And I miss it all. All the grass stains and scraped knuckles from over-zealous duels, perching in the trees, gorging on fruit while waiting for the enemy to show themselves. No wonder I write fantasy. Maybe it takes me back to the days when I lived it all with a cornstalk sword, six siblings, and my imagination.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Um, Do I Really Need That?

So, yesterday I was working on my WIP, and I came to a major part of the novel, I'm talking a big chunk of it, and I find myself staring at the screen wondering, "Do I even need this? At all?"

This question was followed by a whole lot of this:



Then a whole lot of this:(except I'm a girl)



I haven't decided if I need it or not, but if you hear crying coming from my house, it will be not. Then it will be followed by a whole lot of this:



Wish me luck.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

More Ham

Today I told my six-year-old she was so sweet I could eat her. She leveled me with one of those are-you-kidding-me-because-you-have-no-idea-how-this-world-works-and-I-do kind of stares. Then with a straight face she said, "Eat Kid B instead. He has more ham."

I choked back a laugh and tried to keep my face neutral. It was hard, but I managed it before I asked, "Why does Kid B have more ham than you?"

She graced me with the same are-you-kidding-me stare and said, "Because he's bigger than me."

This got me thinking about having more ham. But not in the Oh-my-gosh-I-just-stepped-on-the-scale-and-I-have-more-ham kind of way. I'm talking the little extra umph some people seem to have. The pizazz kind. It's like Alice in the movie Alice In Wonderland. We're talking muchness with a rabbit kind of ham.



And I want some. In every aspect of my life. Writing, momming, wifeing, even cleaning (crazy talk, I know). I want to attack my life and have it be ham. Loads and loads of ham. We're talking this:



not this:



So, today is the day that I will get more ham. How about you? Do you want more ham?

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

How To Have A Romantic Anniversary or How To Torture Your True Love--If You're a Girl

Hubby and I celebrated our eighteenth wedding anniversary over the weekend. Not only does this make me sound really old, but what we did makes me sound even older--and just a fraction cracked.

Don't believe me? You might after I'm done writing this. And sorry in advance to my mom and hubby. Maybe.

So, what romantic activity did we engage in for our anniversary? A secluded retreat to a condo without the kids? A leisurely stroll along the fall colored mountain trails? A romantic candle-lit dinner? Um, no. We went bra shopping. Yup. My hubby loves me that much. It went something like this:

Me, showing hubby a newspaper advertisement for said clothing sale: Hey! Look! A sale!

Hubby: Okay?

Me: You want to go?

Hubby, just staring at me like I was a little cracked. (This happens more than you'd think it would. Strange.)

Me: Will you come with me?

Hubby: Do I have to stand in the bra department?

Me: No. You can go to housewares if you want.

Hubby secretly rolling his eyes. (It's secret because his actual physical eyes didn't roll, but I sensed the inner, mental rolling, because I can feel stuff like that.): Sure.

AND after I tortured him in the bra deptartment, Hubby took me to the book store. I left with two new books. Then he took me to dinner where he said this, "I have great respect for you."

And I said, "Respect?"

And he said, "Based on fear. I'm afraid you might bite me and I'll bleed out through my jugular."

See, isn't that romantic? And, yes mom, I am sorry for posting about bra shopping.

And, (just so I can start another sentence with and) I love you my awesome hubby.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Romance, Young Love, and Books

I'm thinking romance. The early stages that is. You know, the first loaded looks that hint at simmering feelings, the shy almost burning first touches when fingers meet fingers, and the heady, soaring emotions that wipe away fear. Young love.

Why am I thinking this? Well, it's not because I'm young, that's for sure. My hubby and I are celebrating our eighteenth anniversary tomorrow. See, so not young. Yikes. But I was young once. And I have a good memory.

And, I'm working on a romance scene in my WIP. It's challenging and fun. Struggling to find a way to express those first racing moments without sounding cliche and cheesy is frustrating. I delete more than I leave, and find myself turning to other books (and movies) for insight.

Here is a delicious example from Carol Lynch William's The Chosen One:



"But. Here is another secret. Another sin. Because I am not allowed to be with Joshua. I am not allowed to feel this way. Tingly when he looks at me. Weak when his hand is near mine. And the worst part--I couldn't help but wonder how it would be to kiss him.

And when we did kiss, it was all my fault.

Emily in the corner with her baby doll.

Me, in the Fellowship Hall with Joshua.

On the piano bench.

Smelling the soap he uses.

Watching his hands.

Hardly thinking of music.

...I glanced in his direction and saw him looking at me. Not at the piano keys.

"Put your hand like this," I told him. "You have to look here." I tapped the keyboard.

He let me move his fingers to the right position. So warm, those fingers.

"The C and E and G," I said.

But Joshua's hand didn't stay where I put it. Instead his fingers tangled up with mine. The whole side of his body leaned into me. His other arm slid around my waist.

"You can't play the piano holding my hand. Or leaning crooked like that, either," I said, my voice breathy. The words almost didn't come out of my mouth. But I thought, I could kiss you right now and go to hell and it would be worth it. Worth it.

...And then I kissed him. Just fell into him right in the middle of a sentence. Pressed my lips to his. So soft. Then he was kissing me back. And I didn't even know how to kiss, had never kissed anyone in my life but my family, and then only little pecks on the cheek.

It felt like Joshua sucked the breath from me, there on the piano bench, with all the thoughts of sin going through my head, but me not caring at all. Not at all.

"I better go," I said, when I finally pushed away from him. My hands trembled. My knees shook.

And he said, "Don't be scared, Kyra. I'm right here."


Isn't that scrumptious?

What is your favorite first love scene? Me? I'm off to create my own.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

A Letter To My Muse

Dear Muse,

Where are you? You said if I let you go on vacation for a few weeks you'd come back. Well, you're late. A week late. I don't want to sound like your mother, but seriously, I'm starting to freak. Could you at least call or send a text now and then?

I've been waiting up late for you, pacing the floor, and staring at the computer. The family started staring at me. They're giving me the eye. I can see them wondering if they need to pull out the little white jacket with the long sleeves. You know the one. They even took away my letter opener and stapler. I tried to tell them that it's you, not me, they should be worried about, but no, they won't listen. You're giving me a bad name.

So, come back. Please. I promise to give you your space. Lots of it. And days off. And a pay raise. And smoothies. Lots of smoothies. Just come back.

Love

Leisha

If you want to see my real post head on over to The Scribbler's Cove. *Grin* And Happy 16th Birthday to Kid A.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

A Night In Hawaii or Not

So, if any of you know me, you know I adore Hawaii. The beaches, the sand, the sun, the--oh lets be honest, I love everything about it. I've been once with my hubby and dream of going back. Literally.

Last night, my dreams took me there. Hubby and I stepped off the plane and the warm, salt-scented air greeted us. I was one hotel-room-stop away from sinking my toes into the surf. Paradise, right?

Wrong. I looked down, and there was Kid A. Now, Kid A isn't the problem herself, it was her eyes. They were red and had goobers attached to the eyelashes. One word shot through my dream mind. PINKEYE.

(I'd show you a picture, but I'm not that mean. And you deserve better, so imagine instead.)

Anywho, yup, paradise dream just went south fast and turned into nightmare city. Those of you who know me should be either groaning or laughing right now, because you know how pinkeye haunts me. There simply aren't words to describe the horror it brings into my heart. For those who don't know me, I'll try to explain. But remember, there aren't enough words. Really.

Some people are afraid of monsters, others have a hang up with spiders, or nuclear war, or death, or dismemberment, or I don't know, something bad. Well, they got nothing on me and my pinkeye phobia. It all started when my hubby received a corneal transplant and went from legally blind to ta-da I can see! (It wasn't that easy btw.) Then the doctor told me he could never get an eye infection-ever-or his body might reject his cornea, and he'd be blind.

Never tell someone with OCD tendencies something like that. Let's just say I change when someone gets pinkeye. Really change. It isn't good. The kids all sink into the corners and start to whimper, and I start scrubbing and randomly shouting things like, "Did you wash your hands?" or "Don't touch ANYTHING!" Then I wash and wash and wash every surface in the house till my hands start to bleed, and my hair falls out, and the paint starts to come off the walls, and the people with the white jackets show up, and the world ends, or hubby calms me down. A bit. See, not pretty. Picture Monk, but worse. (And if you've never seen Monk, go rent a season or two, or more, from Netflix. It's good.)



Anywho, back to my paradise dream turned nightmare. I stared into Kid A's red, demon eyes and went psycho. Do you know how hard it is to disinfect Hawaii? Sand just doesn't clean up well, and tourists touch things. A lot. We ended up in the hospital, which is another phobia of mine. Then we ended up lost in a maze of corridors trying to find a door to escape from. AND then as we raced through the halls, I TOUCHED MY EYE. Again, if you know me, you should be aghast at the horror. Aghast. If you don't know me, pretend to be aghast, or at least laugh. Please.

We never got out of the hospital. I got pinkeye. And then I woke up. I ran to the mirror, stared into my sleep-bleary eyes, and sighed. No red, not even a sign of pink. So, was it fun to spend the night in Hawaii? Not so much. It's good to be home.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

A Place Of My Own

It's done, my office that is. And I've moved in. Up until now, I shared a small corner of the front room with four kids and my hubby. Picture this, a desk squeezed between the couch and the door, stacks of manuscripts shoved under the desk, leaning on the couch, and piled on the floor. Books and pens, folders and staplers, my laptop and me, perched amidst it all. This is how I wrote, with young children tugging on my arm and sliding down my towers of papers. Adventure reigned--and not the good kind.

I wanted my own space. A place to put all my stuff. A place where my computer could live without the risk of becoming a launch (or landing) pad for rocketing children. A place where I could sit and think, and write, and plot, and create. This wish spurred months of remodeling, and now my room is done. Can you hear the cheering? Because I can. Oh, wait, that's me.



And it has a lock on the door. Heaven.

I love it. One of my favorite features is a chalkboard wall. Yes, an entire wall for me to write on, plot on, ponder on, and even doodle on. And I bought colored chalk. *Grin* It's like being a kid, but I'm bigger. And I don't have to share the chalk. He he.



Here's a list of things I won't miss.

Fickle sticky notes fluttering to the floor only to be eaten by the vacuum.
Me yelling, "Who turned off my computer?"
Me yelling, "Who erased my book?"
Me crying because someone erased my book.
Me wishing I had a room with a lock.
Piles and piles and piles of manuscripts stacked around me like I was some kind of crazed paper hoarder.
Piles and piles and piles of manuscripts not stacked around me because the kids decided to play in them.
Me thinking naughty words when I found the piles and piles and piles of scattered pages.
Me wishing I had a room with a lock.
Answering the door right after I discovered the piles and piles and piles of scattered pages.
Me thinking more naughty words.
The wide-eyed stare of visitors at the door when I answered it.
Me wishing I had a room with a lock.

Yup, I like the lock. Can you tell?

Anywho, I'm in. I'm organized, and now I'm going to get down to business. Time to write.

What is your secret, or not so secret, wish? Mine came true. At least the one about a room with a lock, I'm still working on the getting published one. Drop a comment and share your wish.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Cars, Inspections, and Bills

I took my hubby's car in for emissions and inspection yesterday. It didn't pass--at first. The technician brought me the news like a saddened surgeon stepping from the operating room to tell hopeful family members that their loved one died under the knife--at least until he whipped out the next paper and asked if I wanted them to run diagnostics for only $80.00 an hour. He turned into a ray of sunshine as soon as I groaned a yes.

This is the point when I silently chewed out my hubby for being at work. Not that I mind him working, in fact I really, really like being able to pay the house payment and buy stuff like food, which we couldn't do if he didn't work. But, as you might remember, I don't know ANYTHING about cars other than where to put the gas, how to drive, and how to work the radio. Yup, I have skills, and somehow the mechanics all know this.

This is me at the mechanics:



I'm the little one on the right with no skills and the mechanic is the other guy. This is an actual photo. Seriously.

This is the mechanic when I come into his shop:



Except he doesn't wear a suit, and I think he got more money from me.

Anywho, I spent the next four hours (and a wad of cash) pacing the waiting room and pondering death by mechanic bill as they fiddled, replaced parts(more money, of course), and cajoled my hubby's ancient Civic into passing emissions.

Guess what I get to do today? Take in my daughter's jeep she purchased for emissions and inspections. Yup, this is where I once again silently curse my hubby for working, while simultaneously wondering if he could possibly get more hours to pay for car bills.

I'm sure the mechanic will be excited to see my face again. I may just make it onto his Christmas card list. You know, just something like, Merry Christmas, Leisha. I'm enjoying my second home. Thanks for paying for it. Have a great holiday and see you come inspection time.

Well, off to face more cars, inspections, and bills. Wish me luck, I'm going to need loads of it.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Driver's Ed. and Writing

My latest post for The Scribblers Cove is up. All you never wanted to know about driver's ed. and writing. Check it out.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Gearing Up For Battle

I’ve taken a couple of weeks off from my WIP to critique a few novels for some writer friends. It was a great experience, but now it’s back into the fray with my own, and yes, it is the fray. This is war. Me against the wrong words. My wrong words. It may get bloody.

I find myself gearing up to face this rewrite. I’ve had too long of a break, and my muse is silent, hibernating somewhere in the back of my mind. What tools will I need to wake her? What tools will I need to win this battle?

I need to be armed, and like a true word warrior it will be with things like creativity, passion, conflict, plot arcs, and guts. If you don’t think writing takes guts, you try opening the door into you innermost thoughts and smearing the contents onto a clean white page for all the world to see. It’s freaking scary.

I’ll also need patience and food. Yes, food. I eat when I write, which might explain that pesky ten pounds that glued itself to portions of my anatomy over the summer. Sigh.

So, bring on the words! Let the typing begin! I will not go down without a fight, or without an increased word count. What weapons are in your writing arsenal? What snacks wake up your muse? Spill, cause I need her awake and kicking.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Just A Quick Note

I've been invited to blog with a group of fab writers. Here is the link to my introductory blog at the Scribbler's Cove. Run over and check it out.
http://thescribblerscove.blogspot.com

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Silence Falls

The time has come! School is back in session. The house echoed for three months, and now it sits and listens--waiting for sound to burst through the doors on the heels of grinning children. You can almost feel the wood and carpet and paint settle into the silence.

And me? I'm settling, too. Sinking into the peace and absense of TV, and video games, and obnoxious, beeping toys. My brain thrills with the silence, as if it found the perfect sound and is applauding.

Yet, at the same time the quiet strikes another chord in my soul. One of sadness.One of fear. My childen are gone and took with them the smiles and hugs and laughter. And for the first time, I see the future stalking me with mute promise. One day the laughter and noise might go for good and leave me listening to wood and carpet and paint.

And, I will miss it all. All the shouts, and blaring electronics, and yes, even the quarreling and noise, noise, noise. Because their sound fills me. Rattles around my being, seeps into my heart, which translates it into love.

For now, the silence is temporary, and I can embrace it with a sigh. But, I know now that it hunts me, and we stare at each other with knowing eyes. One day it will come to stay, but for now, my front door is open--waiting for the echoes of my children.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Mockingjay and Promises

Sorry this post is so late, but I had to go into town. Why? Because Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins came out today.



I had to get it. It wasn't a question of want. It was more like breathing. You must, or you will die. If anyone out there is shaking their head and saying, you won't die, you obviously don't know how serious this is.

I rushed into Costco and headed straight to the books. There it was, a large stack of beautiful blue, calling to me like a siren. Well, it started out as a large stack, but each new shopper gnawed at it, chewing away at the pile. I grabbed my two copies and then stood back to watch. Every person who passed the dwindling pallet stopped and added a blue-bound promise to their cart. And everyone of them sported a wistful smile. Why? Because that's what a good book is. It's a promise.

Of What? Of oh so many things. Adventure, romance, danger, anger, sorrow, death, blood, heroes, heroins, struggle, lessons learned, triumph, and above all emotions galore. Because that's what reading is. It's emotion packed between page one and the end. Gobs of it. Good and bad, sweet and harsh. It's life, sped up and consumed, in 400 pages. And the author promises the reader that life, that emotional experience--all the rush of first love, the terror of death, the soft, silent moments, and the triumph of surviving it all and maybe even winning--all from the safety of our easy chairs.

I can't wait to sink into the softness of my couch and disappear into Katniss's world. Because as I said, it's like breathing. I must.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Racquetball or Racket ball

My family has been on a short vacation. We've lazed around, indulged in the water, and turned a bright shade of red--even after repeated applications of 50 block sunscreen. Seriously, shouldn't that be like wearing a lead shirt? How can you burn through that? But anyway, we also played racket ball. I know some of you out there are shaking your heads and tisking away at my spelling. It might sound something like this:

"Racket ball? Doesn't she know how to spell? I thought she wanted to be a writer. Good Grief!" Accompanied by much head shaking and eye rolling.

But, I've officially re-named racquetball racket ball. Webster be darned. Why? Because it's loud. And because I think there was a bit of cheating involved in our game. And because I can. Here is a play-by-play of my very first ever game of racket ball.

Hubby: Do you want to play racquetball? (He spells it the old way because he is unenlightened.)

Me: Um. Is that the thing like tennis but in a small, stuffy room?

Hubby: Yes. It's fun.

Me: Define fun.

Hubby: I--

Me cutting him off: Never mind. My dad used to play that. He came home with fist-sized bruises. That doesn't sound fun to me.

Hubby: You won't get bruises.

Me: This involves a ball, right?

Hubby nodding.

Me nodding, too: Right. Bruises. Cramps. Ice packs. Crutches. Need I go on? (Can you guess my past brilliance at sports? Yup. I'm that good.)

Hubby handing me a racquet: It will be fun.

Me staring at racket: What do I do with this?

Hubby: Hit the ball.

Me ducking for cover as blue ball pings and boings around the room: You do realize you married a girl? A non sporty kind of girl?

Hubby smiling: Well, I do hope so. The girl part I mean.

Here's the crazy thing. It was fun. I don't think I even got bruised. Sore, yes, but it was so worth it. Now, this might seem like a small thing--me playing racket ball--but it's not. You see, I stink at sports. All of them. That whole hand-eye coordination thing never happened to me. Ever. But last night, I hit the ball.

More than once. And now I want my own racket ball court. Too bad that won't be happening. Sigh. But a girl can dream can't she?

What new things have you tried lately?

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

My First Award and Sprinkling Systems

I got an award. Hard to believe, I know, but here it is. Grin for me.



Karen from Typing With My Toes presented it to me last week. A great big thanks to her for the award. Check out her blog. It's a fun read.

Anywho, I believe I am supposed to pass on this award to five other fabulous bloggers so, drum roll please, ta da! Here they are:

Nikki at All About Words
Terresa at The Chocolate Chip Waffle
Brodi Ashton
Mary at Writers But Does Not Apply To Me
and my newest blogging friend, but long time real life friend Jonene at The Wonderful Obsessions

On to the rest of my post. Sprinkling Systems. I love them. They come on in the middle of the night and water your lawn and garden. Do you know what this means? It means they do work for you. Lots of work.

Until they stop.

Then everything green around you withers and dies. At least here in Utah. Here is a list of things I have learned about sprinkling systems:

I miss them when they go on strike.
Hitting the pipes in the little green box with a wrench doesn't make them work.
The neighbor's sprinklers love them.
Mine hates me.
Tomatoes miss water.
The grass turns brown fast if it doesn't get watered in ninety-seven degree weather.
The inner workings of the little green box are more mysterious than wizards and even less cooperative.
Trees miss water, too.
I was not meant to be a sprinkler whisperer--more of a yeller. Sigh.

There is something cruel about watching your lawn and garden crisp. Especially when you've waited all year for ripe tomatoes and squash. Sigh. Any ideas on how to make it work? Hitting it and mumbling threats doesn't do a thing.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

People Watching and Great Characters

I like to people watch. It's almost better than a movie. I say almost, because you never get the full plot with people watching. You just get snatches, glimpses into lives, and a few minutes of drama. I like to know the whole story, but people watching does stir the imagingation.

For example, I spent several hours sitting in the waiting room at the Social Security office this week. It leeched the life from me. Most people stuffed into a government facility tend to be on their best behavior, and that cuts down on the people watching fun, but I did overhear some interesting things. Some of them made me very grateful for the metal detectors and the security guard peeering at us. I mean, anytime you're sitting next to a guy who informs the room that he's been incarcerated thirty-seven times in the last ten years, you kind of inch your chair back a few spaces and flash him an unconvincing smile. Especially if he goes on to say, "I'm sick. I've been sick all my life, and I need help."

I don't think he was asking for a tissue.

I don't think the guard thought so either. Or anyone in the room. We all kind of nodded and looked away. Well, at least for a second. Then I watched him. He would be a great character in a book. I realize that may make me sound a little sick, too, but there you have it. You can't make up suff like Mr. Crazy. Let me give you a mental picture. He sported one purple heart sock and one pink star sock, a plaid head band, linen shorts, a button up shirt with the sleeves rolled, and his hair was reminisant of the original Willy Wonka, but in a pony tail. A funky pony tail.



I can picture that incarcerated thirty-seven times, can't you? (Not Willy Wonka, but Mr. Crazy.)

I could see a universal question hovering behind the eyes of all the forty waiting peeps. "What did he do to end up in the slammer thirty-seven times?" The room practically reverberated with it.

But my main question wasn't what he'd been locked up for, strange I know, especially considering I was within touching distance, but why he'd blurt that out to the whole room. What was his motivation?

That sent my head spinning. Because it made him such a great character. Did he want respect? Fear? To jump ahead in the line? A Tissue? Or, was he late for an appointment with a bunch of jail-bird oompa loopmas?

One thing I do know for sure is, he didn't like kids. One strayed too close, and he flayed the skin off the poor boy with some blistering explatives. Everyone inched their chairs back a bit further. Come to think of it, the security guard got up and stood by the door. Hmmm. Not comforting.

I think Mr. Crazy will have to make an appearance in one of my books. But, I'll keep the small children and helpless animals away from him just to be on the safe side.

What interesting characters have you run into lately? Drop a line and share the people watching fun.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The Herald of Doom

I found a white hair. Just one. Nestled in amongst the brown ones. At first I thought, No, it can't be. It's a trick of the light. I'm still young. I'm vibrant. I'm only th--

Well,*clears throat* never mind how old I am, just know it's not ancient. (At least I didn't feel ancient until I found the impostor hair.)

I yanked it out.

It deserved to die for bringing me the silvery message of approaching age. I stared at it as the whole world paused. Really it did--for about seven-point-three seconds. Then it screeched back into motion, faster than ever. If you've been feeling dizzy, that's why. The world sped up. All because of one white hair heralding the coming end. My end. I'm going to age like a time lapse photo. Wrinkles will flow down my face like melting wax, age spots will bloom on my skin like mutant tattoos, and a walker will materialize next to my bed some morning. And, I'll develop a sudden inexplicable liking for polka music.

Yup that's my future. Wrinkles, spots, assisted walking devices, and polka. Shudder.

I showed my hubby the monster hair. He said I was a bit wacked and obsessed. I mean, all I did was stare at it for extended periods of time and bewail my lost youth. At least I did, until he threw it away and told me to get over it. Can you imagine? Seriously. He's the one who threw away my hair. I mean, who throws away good hair? I'm aging. I might need that back for a wig.

All right, hubby didn't tell me to get over it. He said his own gray hairs didn't bother him because he knew I loved him anyway. So why should mine bug me? He loved me no matter what color my hair turned.

Sheesh. Sniffle. What a way to ruin a girl's old age rant. Yup, he's a keeper. The white hair wasn't. But, I'm going to call my sister and schedule a coloring just to be on the safe side.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Making The Perfect Man

What makes the perfect man? We start out as little girls swooning over Prince Charming, then we grow up a bit and want someone who isn't a cartoon and has a little more personality. We even want him to have a name. We want him to be more than an idea. We want depth. We even makes lists. Yes men out there, we make lists of what we want in a guy. But how often in life do we really get the chance to create the perfect man? Never. Unless you're a writer.

So as a writer, how do you know when you strike upon that elusive mix of characteristics that make the perfect man? I don't know. I'm working on a re-write and my leading man just won't cooperate. He doesn't know he's the leading man and keeps slipping into the background. It makes me want to reach into the pages and smack him.

This got me thinking about some of my favorite characters. What makes them memorable, and why do I fall for them when all I have are words to connect me to their world? I even asked my hubby who his favorite male love interest in a book was. I got this kind of the panicked blank stare and a, "Um ... do I have one of those?"

It was a priceless moment, and of course I laughed. A lot. But then my question led to a discussion on several books we've read. What makes the characters in these books so yummy? Why do we go back to read about them again and again?

Here is an excerpt (Spoiler Alert)from Catching Fire by the amazing Suzanne Collins. If you haven't read it yet, it's beyond delicious.



Peeta pulls the chain with the gold disk from around his neck. He holds it in the moonlight so I can clearly see the mockinjay. Then his thumb slides along a catch I didn't notice before and the disk pops open. It's not solid, as I had thought, but a locket. And within the locket are photos. On the right side, my mother and Prim, laughing. And on the left, Gale. Actually smiling.

There is nothing in the world that could break me faster at this moment than these three faces. After what I heard this afternoon . . . it is the perfect weapon.

"Your family needs you, Katniss," Peeta says.

My family. My mother. My sister. And my pretend cousin Gale. But Peeta's intention is clear. That Gale really is my family, or will be one day, if I live. That I'll marry him. So Peeta's giving me his life and Gale at the same time. To let me know I shouldn't ever have doubts about it. Everything. That's what Peeta wants me to take from him.

I wait for him to mention the baby, to play to the cameras, but he doesn't. And that's how I know that none of this is part of the Games. That he is telling me the truth about what he feels.

"No one really needs me," he says, and there's no self pity in his voice. It's true his family doesn't need him. They will mourn him, as will a handful of friends. But they will get on. Even Haymitch, with the help of a lot of white liquor, will get on. I realize only one person will be damaged beyond repair if Peeta dies. Me.

"I do," I say. "I need you." He looks upset, takes a deep breath as if to begin a long argument, and that's no good, no good at all, because he'll start going on about Prim and my mother and everything and I'll just get confused. So before he can talk, I stop his lips with a kiss.



Doesn't this just make you love Peeta? What are your requirements for the perfect guy? Or the perfect girl if you happen to be a guy, like my hubby, and are a little uncomfortable with that question? If you could design anyone, what would they be like? Would they have Jacob's abs and Peeta's dedication? Would they be the strong, silent type, or would they whine and complain their way into your hearts like one of my own personal favorites, Eugenides in the King of Attolia by Megan Whallen Turner? (If you haven't read this series, you should close your computer, after you finish my blog, and run to the nearest bookstore. It's that good.)

Here's a short expert.

Once again, spoiler alert.



Seriously.



"Because the king will not quit, Teleus," said Ornon as he joined them. "You must have noticed," he said. "He whines, he complains, he ducks out of the most obvious responsibility. He is vain, petty, and maddening, but he doesn't ever quit." Ornon shrugged. "Ever."

"He may not quit, but he will lose."

"Oh, I wouldn't place my money on it. I've seen him suffer setbacks." Ornon looked at the queen and away. "I have never seen him, in the end, lose. He just persists until he comes out ahead. No match is finished for him until he has won." Ornon shrugged expressively. "He won't quit, and he won't thank you for interfering."

...

Eugenides didn't respond. He limped slowly over to the his own wooden sword and stooped awkwardly to pick it up. Trailing it on the ground behind him, he limped toward the queen, and the courtyard quieted as he approached and was silent again as he dropped to his knees before her and laid the sword across her lap.

"My Queen," he said.

"My King," she said back.

Only those closet saw him nod his rueful acceptance.

He lifted his hand to brush her cheek softly. As the entire court listened breathlessly, he said, "I want my breakfast."

The queen's lips thinned, and she shook her head as she said, "You are incorrigible."

"Yes," the king agreed, "and I have a headache and I want a bath."


Isn't he loveable? And he is, flaws and all. Now, I just have to go on and create my own perfect man.

Drop a comment on what makes for the perfect man, for you, in a book or movie.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Another First Page--Again

Hey, today I decided to post another first page from one of my WIPs. This is book two in a three book series. And no, it's not a Vampire book. I don't to the blood sucker thing. :)

Vic crouched in the semi-darkness between the towering stacks tensing and un-tensing his muscles. How long is she going to sit there? He peered through the rows of books to where Trin hunched over a thick tome. She hasn’t moved in hours.

A low animal growl bubbled up from his chest before he clamped his lips shut and clenched his jaw, forcing the low bass rumble into silence. Patience! he chided himself. It used to come so easily. Before. A lot of things were easy before. Patience, laughter . . . sleep. He closed his eyes and sighed. Who needs sleep anyway?

Vic and Trin had been trapped in Taazair’s realm, for thirteen days, seven hours, and thirty-six minutes, and in all that time, Vic had barely slept. Not because exhaustion didn't stalk him, but because of the noise. Even now in the calm, private library, the sounds of the city overwhelmed him.

It wasn’t just the sounds, though they left his head ringing, it was the smells. They drove him to distraction, because everything reeked! And along with the smell came the relentless taste. At least if he didn’t breath, he couldn’t smell, but he couldn’t get away from the taste. It coated his mouth, clung to his lips, and wormed its way into his middle.

He wrinkled his nose in response to a stray odor and bit back another snarl. Sinking back on his haunches, he forced another calming breath. He raked his fingers through his disheveled hair and then ran them down his face, scrapping against two days of stubble.

Silently he cursed Brascarn, Taazair, and every other mage in this stinking land, including Trin. What is wrong with me? Vic wondered, shocked by his volatile thoughts. This isn’t Trin or Taazair’s fault.

Across the room, Trin’s head fell forward onto the pages of her current book. The movement, small as it was, snagged Vic’s attention. In an instant, he sprang to his feet and drifted from the shadows.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Dentist and Other Scary Stories

I took Kid C to the dentist yesterday, and yes, I seem to be blogging about him a lot lately. Poor Kid C.

Now, taking a child to the dentist is never fun. Ever. But, taking a special needs child to the dentist is bad. Really bad. (For those of you who are new to the blog, Both Kid B and C have fragile X syndrome and are mentally handicapped. See here , here, or here for glimpses of past adventures.)

Anywho, the dentist was awesome, and Kid C did pretty good. He only threw up twice. What horrible thing was the dentist doing? Drilling? Extracting teeth? Sucking in the laughing gas? Nope. He was brushing Kid C's teeth. Yup. That's how we roll around here.

This got me thinking about some other adventures we've had. Okay, they're more like scary stories, but here's a short one for you to enjoy. We'll pick on Kid B this time.

Kid B loves food. Not likes, or sort-of-loves, but the kind of love that becomes scary. He especially adores pasta salad. Around here we call it Kid B salad and make it every time we have a family get together.

Which leads us to grandma's house and a giant bowl of Kid B salad--and grandma's unlocked cupboard filled with several boxes of fruit snacks. Can you guess where this is heading? Yup. Brace yourselves.

Kid B devoured three enormous plates full of pasta salad then snuck into the fruit snacks. All of them. A few minutes later the groaning commenced. Then came the vomit and the multi-colored mess on grandma's new carpet. Hmmm come to think of it, this might be why everyone refers to it as Kid B salad.

Strange how both these stories deal with puke.

I hate puke.

Shudder.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

My Name Is Inigo Montoya

I know I promised to shoot off a post last Friday, but I didn't. I was in mourning. Kid C, who can not be held responsible for his actions, killed a large portion of my manuscript Thursday afternoon. It's gone. Disintegrated into nothingness with a few clicks of my mouse.

But I have back ups, right?

Wrong.

Why?

I'm stupid.

I've been feverishly working on a major rewrite, and in my addled state, I didn't back it up for several days. Several long, productive days. That sound you hear is me hitting myself in the forehead repeatedly. Oh, and crying. Gobs of crying.

There was also a fair amount of yelling. That is how I became Inigo Montoya. Except, I have way less chest and facial hair.



And, I'm a girl.

While my son's life wasn't in danger, he apparently thought it was. Maybe. After I calmed down, I asked him if he was ever going to touch mommy's computer again. He shook his head and pretended to slit his throat with his finger. Then, he pretended to slit his stuffed elephant's throat, too. Why? To show me what he thought would happen if he did touch my computer again.

Yup, send me the mother-of-the-year award right now. Just label it: Inigo Montoya--Super Mom.

I feel like I should slip into some leather pants and a frizzy wig and yell, "Hello! My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my manuscript. Prepare to die."

But seriously, Kid C and I made up. I gave baby elephant CPR, mouth-to-mouth, and a band aid. I gave kid C a big hug and some ice cream. He's steering clear of my computer, and I'm busy trying to reconstruct my pages. Sigh.

Now, all I have to do is find the six fingered man. Wink.

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