Friday, February 26, 2010

Writers block.

I spent the entire week trying to convince myself that writer's block doesn't exist. It's not working. And for those of you who don't write, it feels like this.

But more painful and in your head. You know something is wrong, but you aren't sure how it happened, and you're kind of left hanging. It stinks.

A large portion of my days have been filled with me muttering, "What do I do now?" and, "Stab me in the eye?" over and over again. I even growled like a feral animal when my computer wouldn't type by itself.

My children and hubby have melted into the basement, abandoning me to my fate. Or maybe it is just self-preservation, either way I feel like this.

But without the severed hand. Although I did mention that writer's block is painful.

For my sake, and my family's, I hope this doesn't go on much longer. Growling is hard on your throat.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Netherworld.

I have a great sense of smell. It is my divining rod in a world of taste, sights, and scents. When I walk into a room my nose goes ahead of me, scouting out the path, searching for trouble, identifying everything. Usually this is a good thing. Think of how enjoyable it is to enter a room with hot apple pie sending tendrils out to tickle my nose and excite my taste buds. But then there is the Netherworld.

My hubby took me there. It was awful. We barely made it out alive.

I have always read that the Netherworld is down under-way down under. And hot. You know, flames of hell and all that stuff: fire, brimstone, sulphur, a guy with horns and a pitchfork, screaming sinners.

Well it's a lie. It isn't like that. I know, I've been there, and it's closer than you think. You can drive there. And it's busy. The Netherworld is located at the town dump. My skin is crawling just remembering. Shudder.

Even garbage doesn't deserve to go to such a stinky place.

I am usually a brave person. I mean, I stuck my hand down a ripe toilet after all, but I had to draw a line in the oozing muck. I wouldn't get out of the van. I sat there, curled into the fetal position, wailing about the smell as it lashed out and struck me again, and again.

I'm still dazed.

Did you know that not only do people pay to go there, they work there. On purpose. Talk about brave! They show up every day in their soiled coveralls and grin big toothy grins as you drive through the gates.

And did you know people live by the dump? Seriously! There are houses next door! Do they all own hazmat suits? How can they eat when everything smells like rotten swine mingled with burnt metal and boiled glop? I think you'd have to de-nose me.

The next time my hubby wants to go to the dump, he's on his own. I served my time. The whole thirty-two minutes. And I'm not going back.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

The First Page Of My Book

As a wanna-be writer I spend most of my time slaving away at my WIP, or work in progress. Today, I'm posting the first page of my YA Fantasy for you to read. I hope you enjoy.


Trin’s head snapped up. She stared forward, eyes wide, thin hands trailing to her sides. The handle of the butter churn sank into the thickening liquid and the rhythmic sloshing quieted. A tremor ran through her small body and she blinked as sudden images swarmed her mind.

“What’s wrong with your girl?” Gerterude’s voice shattered Trin’s concentration and she looked up. The village seamstress’s square form blocked the light from the open door, plunging the one-room cabin into near darkness.

Mama glanced between Trin and Gerterude before forcing a pained smile. “Back to work, Dear Heart. Your face looks like an ancient’s. Don’t pucker it so.”

Trin bit her lip and hung her head, but the pounding in her chest drew it back up. She whimpered.

Mama’s head inched up at the sound. She turned away from her visitor, eyes narrowing, mirroring the compression of her full lips. Trin bit back another whimper, knowing the look said, Be careful! Keep silent!

“Mind the churn, Dear Heart.”

Trin reached out and grasped the work-smoothed handle, but paused after the first sucking plunge. “Mama,” she whispered, licking her lips as she found her voice. “I’m afraid.”

“Are you, Dear Heart?” Mama’s hand holding the dress patterns trembled.

Trin nodded, noting how her mother’s forehead crinkled in response to her words.

“Silly child, there’s nothing to be frightened of.” Gerterude stamped her foot on the whitewashed stone floor. “Mille, you must do something about her. She’s five winters old! And queer. Always saying things.”

“Trin,” Mama said, low and still. “Go find your papa.”

Trin twined her small fists into the hem of her dress to dry her now sticky palms before rising off the three-legged stool. “But, Mama, the men are coming.”

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

So What's Your Super Power?

I can already hear the question marks flying. Questions surrounding my sanity. And no, I’m not crazy, but I do believe everyone has a super power. Not like flying, or zapping an arch enemy with eye lasers or anything cool like that. I’m talking about real super powers. The kind we all come with. The kind we keep hidden under our Clark Kent selves that we don’t like to brag about and seldom reveal without blushing. My hubby’s is, duh duh da duh—(that was fan fair in case you didn’t catch it) Super Dish Washing Man. He also does laundry and lets me sleep in. If you don’t think that’s a super power, you’re wrong. It is. An awesome one!

After church on Sunday I started a book, The Queen of Attolia, by Megan Whalen Turner, recommended by my friend Nikki. As I read, my family evaporated. Or I did, I’m not sure which, but I was in the land of Attolia, and I stayed there all day. I didn’t cook. I didn’t get kids ready for bed. I didn’t do ANYTHING but read. It was fabulous. I read all night as I moved on to The King of Attolia, book three in the series. (Book one, The Thief, was also great.) I made myself go to bed at 4:30 in the morning even though I wasn’t done with the book.

Guess what I did on Monday? Yup, you got it. I read. Guess what my hubby did? Yup you got it. He ripped his shirt off in the nearest phone booth and changed into Super Dishwashing Man. (He looks good in spandex. Of course nothing, and I do mean nothing, is sexier than a man doing dishes!)

Not only were my dishes done, my kids fed, bathed, played with, cleaned up after, house cleaned, and laundry done. (I told you he was good!) But he ordered me to sit down and write so I could meet my goal. Talk about super powers!

This made me think about myself. What is my super power? Hmmm. I came up with a few possibilities but finally settled on, duh duh da duh—The Procrastinator! Mwahahahaha! Hey, not all super powers are good ones. With this power I am able to stall large projects in a single bound, forget to feed my kids while reading books, put off chores, and even miss my day helping the Kindergarten teacher.

How did I end up as the villain? Poor Super Dish Washing Man.

And what about our kids? What strange mix of powers did they end up with coming from such diverse parents?

Child A: Go-To Girl. Able to help anyone while wearing a cheerful smile. (Please note that even though her super power clearly puts her on the hero, not villain side, she is trying to kill me by driving the car.)

Child B: Bottomless Pit Boy. Consumes more in one sitting than a full grown man!

Child C: The Gum Locator. Sounds like a strange ability, but hey, he must be part blood hound. He can track down a piece of gum hidden in the back of a closet or bottom of a purse faster than you can say chew.

Child D: The Pink Princess. This power is based on the ability to wear more pink than should be humanly possible while dancing like a princess. Not a very useful power, but a cute one.

So, what is your super power? If you’re reading this take a minute to post a comment on your secret, or not so secret, ability. And no lurking. Lurking is not a super power, but commenting is!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

How could I be so OLD?

My daughter is trying to kill me. Not outright with a weapon or anything like that, she's much more subtle and devious. She's getting her driver's permit.

Do any other words in the English language strike such fear into the hearts of adults? Even boys aren't that scary. (Well, at least not yet. She can't date for six-and-a-half more months.) Am I really expected to turn this girl loose with a car? I've spent a large portion of my life taking care of her and keeping her out of danger. I spoon-fed this kid strained sweet potatoes, and read labels, and researched car seats, and changed the batteries in the smoke detectors. For years! Well, I didn't keep spoon feeding her the sweet potatoes, but the point is I devoted sixteen years of my life to keeping her alive. And now I'm supposed to say, "Here's the keys, try not to die?"

Am I alone in this?

And what happened to me? Somehow I went from a young woman and leaped in one giant hurdle to middle-aged woman. Ouch. What is it about having a child behind the wheel that makes you old? I mean other than the self inflicted claw marks down your cheeks from gripping your face too tight as you try to teach them to parallel park, and the bald patches from ripping out your hair by the roots during a close encounter with a semi in an intersection?

It's basic math. They teach it in school. Math makes you old. Someone sees your kid driving, and then out pops their fingers. “Let's see,” they say. “If she was at least twenty when she gave birth add six, carry the one." Walla! Old.

I don't feel old, well, not until ten p.m. or so, and I don't think I look that old. I don't have grey hair (yet), or that many wrinkles, but who can argue against the powers of addition? I'm now officially old.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

You want me to do what? And, what the heck is a cosine anyway?

In another life I was good at math, but that was seventeen years ago. In this one I forgot everything I ever knew from my past life as a student. It's gone. Vanished like mist. This didn't used to be a problem for me because I don't often run into situations in life where I need to remember my Calculus or whip out a Trig equation. I'm a mom, not an astronaut. I do laundry and clean up cat food and toilets messes. Not much math in that. Right? Wrong. Mom's have to do math. At least if they have kids who have to do math.

Enter the problem. My fifteen year old is in Geometry and Trig. I understand that this is a good thing. It would be even better if I could remember what Trig  was. Homework each night goes something like this . . .

Child A: Mom, can you help me with this?

Me: Groan. What is it tonight?

Child A: I don't know. I don't get it.

Me thinking: Neither do I.

Me saying: Did you read the book.

Child A: Blank stare.

Me: Let me see it.

Problem number one out of thirty-six: Find the measure of angle A using given data.

Me staring at page thinking: Stab my in the eye! What the heck is a cosine? I know I knew this once. What happened to it? Where has it gone?

Child A staring at me saying: Mom?

Me reading chapter and "remembering" Trig.

So let this be a lesson to all of you students and parents alike. You do need math, even if you don't know why you'd need to find the measure of angle A. I don't get paid enough for this. Oh wait, I don't get paid at all.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Gooder Is Not A Word and Freelance Editing By My Cat

A strange thing happens when you write books. You develop an internal editor that won't sleep. Everything you read, listen to, or see is subject to this inner critic. And I do mean everything. Radio commercials, books, movie scrips, your children's grammar, this blog. If any of you are writers I know you are dissecting this right now because I am, too.

This morning my six-year-old told me she was gooder than she used to be. Instead of being happy with her about this achievement my brain went right to editing mode and, "Gooder isn't a word," slipped from my lips before I consciously thought about it. So I guess I shouldn't get upset when my cat does the same thing to my manuscripts.

Now I know that any readers out there are raising their right eyebrows in disbelief. How can a cat edit manuscripts, you ask? They don't read. I know these thoughts are in your brains, because they were in mine. This is how it was . . .

I was sitting in my writing chair editing my manuscript. When I finished a page I laid it on the ground next to me and moved on to the next one. My cat, the same one who tried to bury the soy milk offering I gave him like so much poop, (see my first post for the full story) came and sat in front of my pages.
He stared at them for several long minutes. I stared at him. Have you ever seen a cat "reading" a book before? If you haven't, you should. It was funny. At least until he stood, flashed me an irritated look, and promptly tried to bury my pages.

My mouth fell open, and I grabbed my precious book. After frowning at my cat and turning my back on him, I returned to my editing only to realize he was right. The pages were rank. Like poop. I rewrote the whole chapter. The only problem is I don't have the nerve to show the new pages to my cat. He's a tough critic.


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