Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Great Fence Robbery!

One of my friends requested I post about the time someone stole my six-foot cedar fence. Yes, you read that right, and no, this is not a fictional story. Two guys stole my fence in broad daylight. Seriously.

Now, this did not happen at my current place of residence, which shall remain undisclosed thank you very much, so all you neighbors out there who might be reading this, you are safe from fence snatchers and can sleep well tonight. BUT it did happen in a city near you.

This is how the Great Fence Robbery went down.

One summer day I was doing my laundry, and yes, this is proof that laundry is evil. Just saying. But, as I walked to the laundry room with a bulging basket of evil, I noticed two strange men in my yard dismantling my fence with power tools and idiotic grins on their faces.

I just stood there, held my laundry, and stared for about seven-point-three seconds, because who expects to see this in their yard? It had to be a mistake, right? Wrong.

I dropped my laundry and grabbed the phone.

Did you know that if you call 911 and tell them two guys are stealing your fence they don't believe you at first? I swear, it's a sad day when a full-grown woman has to convince the 911 operators that she is indeed being robbed, and no, she is not high on anything, and no, this is not a prank. Sheesh!

With the assurance that the police would be there soon, I hid the kids in a back bedroom, armed myself with a camera, and burst outside to confront the very strange strangers.

Click. Click. Click. Proof for the police just in case they didn't believe me either.

As I snapped their photos, the crooks whirled around and yelled, "What are you doing?"

I hesitated for about two-point-one seconds then yelled back, "I'm taking pictures in MY yard. What are you doing?"

It was now their turn to stare at me. Only, their idiotic grins were gone. Somehow their demonic glares were worse. Shudder.

Now, I know you are wondering what happened next. I wondered the same kind of thing as I edged back toward my door, because suddenly a camera felt like a lousy weapon. They, after all, had power tools...and scary glares...and who knew what else.

Luckily, they didn't follow me into the house, but they did put away their power tools, and instead of politely dismantling my fence with said tools, they used brute force and tore it down. Within minutes only broken posts were left, protruding from the ground like jagged teeth ready to chomp my yard.

The bad guys threw my fence panels into their their waiting truck, which I also photographed, and drove away.

I watched them drive off, still not quite believing they took my fence, and waited for the police.

And waited...

And waited...

And waited...

TEN hours later they showed up.


They didn't even apologize for taking so long. Apparently fence stealing wasn't high on their list because it didn't involve weapons, and power tools didn't really count.

I wanted to grab them by their walkie-talkies and yell, "Seriously?" But I didn't because they did have weapons. Big ones. And handcuffs. And my kids didn't need to see me go away, too. The fence was enough loss for the day.

All I could do was take the tardy cops on a flashlight-lit tour of my now fenceless yard and give them the pictures. They never found the fence crooks--or my fence.

Needless to say, we didn't live in the best hood. Okay, it wasn't even the second best hood...or the third. And when the swat team became very familiar with my next door neighbors, we sold our house as fast as we could.

The good news is, we've never had our fence stolen at our new place, so life is sweet. And fenced. And swat team free.

So, what does this story have to do with writing? I'm not sure, but it's a great story. Make sure your own story is, too.

Leisha Maw

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

How To Throw Away Your Book, or The Art of Revision

Did you know it's Tuesday? Late Tuesday? I Yeah, I need help, what can I say? I guess sorry for the late post will have to do.

Anywho, last week I promised a WIFYR post, and here it is. Yay!

During WIFYR I was in the fabulous Martine Leavitt's class. I learned a lot, but one of the best things for me was a discussion on drafts. She mentioned that Cynthia Leitich Smith writes her first draft then destroys it--as in gone. Deleted. Poof.

If you don't believe me, read it in Cynthia's own words:
“I do this drastic thing... that freaks out my graduate students. When I'm finished with the first draft, I print it, read it once, throw away the hard copy, delete the file, and delete trash. Knowing as I go in that the draft is for my eyes only, that I'm not committed to it, frees me up to experiment. It gives me an opportunity to explore the characters and their world. I figure the best, strongest aspects of the character and story will survive when I write the second first draft.”

—Interview with Cynthia Leitich Smith
from the Faerie Drink Review.
Check out more about Cynthia at her website.

Now, those of you out there who aren't writers might not understand how drastic this sounds. I'm not one of Cynthia's students, but the idea is still freaking me out. Writing a draft is like giving birth, but harder. And yes, I can see you out there shaking your heads, but I've done both, so I KNOW. It takes about as long as a pregnancy for me to complete a draft from conception to delivery, and there is a lot of pain and joy involved.

The thought of taking all that work and effort and love and throwing it away feels like murder, or at least the kind of craziness they lock people away for. But the more I think about it, the more it starts to make sense. Sort of.

Martine doesn't throw away her whole book, but she does write the first one hundred pages and then trashes those. She said that by then she's done most of her experimenting and has figured out the main character's voice, objects of desire, and all the good stuff, and she knows where the story really starts. Then she can write the real first draft without all the exploration.

A hundred pages may still sound like a lot, but I've chucked more than that before on projects because I didn't like the direction the book was taking. And do you know what, I didn't miss those pages when I rewrote them, because the best and most important things did survive. And it freed me up to really revise.

That brings me back to WIFYR. Both Martine and Heather Dixon talked about making revising become a true revision, as in re-envisioning the project to make it the best story it can be. You can't do that if you're married to your first draft. Why? Because first drafts stuck. They're supposed to. The first draft is when you give yourself permission to write crap and just get the story out there. If you hoard those words you spewed out, it's like trying to turn vomit into fine cuisine. I guess it's possible, but maybe that's why it took so many drafts for my first book to be readable. It takes a long time to transform raw spewage into yum.

Maybe it would be better to trash the gross stuff and start with fresh ingredients. The menu would be the same, but the result would be so much better, wouldn't it?

Now, I'm not saying I'm ready to compost my whole first draft on my current project, but I am saying I'm willing to completely re-envision it. Maybe my dark elf might end up as an alien, or maybe I'll scrap my whole magic system and come up with something new, and I'm even willing to say goodbye to my favorite lines of dialog. Ouch. But it's like Martine says, "You will get other great ideas, and they will be better every time."

What do you think? Would you have the heart and guts to delete your whole book and start from scratch? How about if you don't write, does this fit in with your own creative endeavors? Can destruction actually help creation? I really want to hear your thoughts.

Leisha Maw

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Burnout and Cooking, Oh and Smoke, too. Lots of it.

Hey all my favorite peeps! My post today is over at The Scribblers Cove. Soooooo, just to whet your appetite, here's the opening paragraphs:

Tuesday turned out to be a pretty smokin' day. Literally. As in the whole house filled with it, and we all still smell like a toxic campfire. Think of it as our new perfume. We're calling it Burnt Burrito. So sexy. Meowwwww! Want some?

So, how did we all end up burritofied? Let's just say Kid C decided he could cook. By himself. Without permission. Yes, be afraid. I'm still having nightmares. Shudder.

The first clue that something was amiss reached me as I worked in my office. A tendril of charring snaked into the room and coiled up my nose. The mom alarm in me spazamed, and I ran from the room to find the billowing burrito. Did you know that if you fricassee one of those they become weightless? Really. And they turn blacker than the heart of a demon. I know, I checked. Don't ask how that is so another post.

Head on over to The Scribblers Cove for the rest of the story. And what's that? I'm a big meanie? Why thank you. I'm so glad you noticed. Mwahahahahaha!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

A couple of awards!

Hey all, the wonderful craziness of WIFYR is behind me. I learned a ton and got to mingle with some awesome writers. So now, I'm back to my regular posting schedule. Aren't you so lucky?

Anywho, while I was in Hawaii, Jonene from The Wonderful Obsessions awarded me with a Meme. Check out her blog and tell her thanks for me!

AND yesterday Brenda at The Startled Spyglass gave me the Irresistibly Sweet Blogger Award.

All I can say is yum. Oh, and thank you, Brenda. Make sure you check out her blog. It's delicious!

Anywho, with these awards I'm supposed to answer some questions. I'll start with the Meme and then move on the the sugar!

Meme questions:

If you could go back in time and relive one moment, what would it be?

Wow, let's see, so many to choose from. I think I'd go back and relive the first time my hubby kissed me. He says I kissed him, and it was soooo the other way around. If I could go back, I could get I mean, I'd get to have that first kiss all over again. Okay, I'd also be able to prove how right I've always been. And no, I'm not above using time travel to win a friendly argument. He he. And besides, it was a great kiss, in the rain. He leaned in and ahhhhh. Yup that's worth a second time.

If you could go back in time and change one thing, what would it be?

Hmmmm, I don't know if I'd change anything because I've read way too many sci-fi books where changing things set up a horrible paradox and messed up the whole space-time continuum. But If I had to choose, I'd not eat that doughnut from last week. And yes, that is so a good use of time travel. Sheesh.

What movie/TV character do you most resemble in personality?


If you could push one person off a cliff and get away with it, who would it be?

Depends on the day. Wink, wink.

Name one habit you want to change in yourself.

Ummmmm, I'd be more spontaneous because then I'd say wahoo more often.

Describe yourself in one word.

Crazy. Well, you did ask.

Describe the person who named you in this Meme in one word.

Shazam! Because that's even better than awesome or amazing or fantastic or wonderful or... well it's pretty darn cool.

Why do you blog? Answer in one sentence.

Because I get to meet coolio people like you guys.

Now, on to the strawberries, in which I must torture you with seven random things about myself:

1: I like to sing. My poor, poor neighbors.

2: I didn't shower yesterday. See, random. Aren't you impressed that I read the instructions? (I am.)

3: I'm going to shower today. Yup, I'm that good. I'm even going to use soap.

4: I love quaking aspen trees. The leaves always look like they're laughing, and I like me a tree with a sense of humor.

5: I pay my daughter to do the dishes. Yup, mother of the year. Yay me. Of course it helps that she owes me 400 bucks. I'm not going to have to do dishes for the whole summer. Ahhhh, so sweet.

6: I help her with the dishes sometimes because I have guilt. Stupid guilt. Grrr.

7: I'm always surprised anyone reads this blog. You are still reading right? Hello? Hello? Is anyone out there? Hello? Darn it, all alone again...sigh.

Phew! That was hard...and long.

Now the last part where I bestow these fabulous awards to other worthy bloggers.

Ali Cross at
Julie Daines at After The Toilets
Amy at Lap and Storytime
Rebecca Carlson
and Donea at The Queen of Procrastination

Yay! Check them all out! They're fabulous peeps.


Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Hawaii Top Ten


I'm back from Hawaii full of sun and even a few apologies. I planned on blogging while there, but our internet connection was dodgy. And when it worked, it made a snail stuck in molasses in January in the arctic without snowshoes or a dogsled team seem REALLY fast, hence the lack of posts. Just pretend I'm still on island time.

Anywho, in honor of Jonene's (thanks btw!!!!) guest post, here are the top ten things from our trip.

10: Chickens. Yup, they were everywhere. I even brought proof.

And somehow this sounded a little better than landing in Kauai and discovering the airline lost our luggage. Yup, we are that cursed. But they did find it--a sunburn and a trip to Walmart for toothbrushes and sunscreen and shoes and deodorant and...well a bunch of other stuff later. See, chickens suddenly sound awesome.

9: The Beach and sun. Way better than Chickens, and did I mention it snowed at my house the day before we left? Shudder.

Kid A did manage to get stung by a Portugese Man-of-war jelly fish TWICE! Once on the ankle our first time in the water. The second time from the upper thigh to her calf our last time out in the water(this may have been the reason it was our last time in the water). The thing wrapped around her leg and knee, and she had to peel it off with her fingers. Can you say giant welts? She still has red marks. You know that cursed thing? Yeah, you might not want to go swimming with us. Just saying.

8: Waterfalls.

Beautiful and not a jelly in sight. Ahhhhh.

7: Being surrounded by dolphins.

Again, way better than jellies.

6: The Napali Coast.

5: The Napali Coast, and yes, it gets more than one spot because it was so gorgeous.

4: Yup, the Napali Coast.

I may have like this place just a tad. :)

3: Adventures.

And we didn't even die. Alway a good thing.

2: Hikes.

This is Kid A and me on the trail. And yes, this was a vertical trail. Sooo much fun, especially since we avoided jellies. I did yell at Kid A when she started leaping from rock to rock with a 2000 foot drop on both sides. Kids!

1: Green stuff and cool trees.

And even better than all ten of these was coming home and finding the sitters...I mean the kids still alive. They even missed us (both the sitters and the kids). Pure bonus.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Guest Blog While Leisha's on Vacation

Hello, my name is Jonene Ficklin (aka: , and my good friend, Leisha, invited me to guest blog today, while she is 3,000 miles away in lovely, balmy Hawaii. I happen to be a fan of both Leisha, and Hawaii, so this is an honor.

Now, Leisha isn’t your run-of-the-mill vacationer. And as she hinted last week, she tends to gain more adventures than she plans for:

So in her honor, here are the top 10 things I hope she is/ or is not doing this time in Hawaii:

Let’s hit what I hope she’s NOT experiencing first:

1. NOT Surfing the Big One. I happen to know she got a little practice with speed, running, and adrenaline on a long board last week. The good news is she survived. The bad news is, I hear any surfing close-encounters-with-death tend to be addictive.

2. NOT doing the Wash Machine. Again. (See her blog from last week. By the way, the Wash Machine is a surfing term for getting spun around and around underwater by a wave.)

3. NOT having coqui frogs singing outside her window.  I’m told it’s like being surrounded by a preschool class of three-year-olds with whistles. If you’d like to experience it for yourself, check out this link:

4. NOT forgetting sunblock the first day out. Nothing kills a vacation faster than skin the temperature/color of a forge. And although people get paid to move like a robot over there, it’s no fun to do when it’s out of dire necessity.

5. NOT trying the chocolate covered squid. Yes, it is made AND sold AND obviously bought AND eaten there. I know we’re supposed to be brave and try new things, but this one is just plain wrong – especially when chocolate covered macadamia nuts are sold right next to it.

So, here’s what I hope she IS doing:

6. Entering a chicken chasing contest. Apparently, imported mongooses (I checked just to be sure the proper plural term isn’t mongeese – and it’s not) decimated the wild chicken population on all the Hawaiian islands except Kauai. The scuttlebutt is, that the farmers brought them over to kill off rats infesting their fields. When the first batch of mongooses reached Kauai, as they were being offloaded from the ship, one bit a sailor. He chucked all the mongooses into the sea. And nowadays, tourists are surprised to see feral chickens everywhere they go. Chicken chasing has become an official tourist pastime.

7. Trying Hamura Saimin or a Loco Moco. I know these sound like a sneeze, but they’re actually local specialty foods. Hamura Saimin is a noodle and broth comfort dish, and a Loco Moco is (take a deep breath and keep an open mind) white rice, topped by a hamburger patty, topped by a fried egg, topped by brown gravy. I know it sounds crazy, but the locals swear by it. I guess in the 1960’s, some hungry teenagers asked the cook of a local restaurant to make them something quick, cheap, and filling. Voila: the Loco Moco was born. Over time, it’s evolved into a respectable dish, even tweaked and refined by the likes of famed Hawaii chef, Alan Wong.

8. Hiking (and no, not hang-gliding over) the Na Pali coast. Okay, every dinosaur, tropical adventure, and back-in-time movie shows shots of this dramatic landscape. And I really hope she remembers her camera.

9. Taking hula lessons. I would pay BIG money to see any video footage of this.

10. Taking copious notes to be used in her next awesome book. By the way, if you haven’t noticed, Leisha is an amazing writer. So Leisha, have a great time, and come home in one piece – and bring a million pictures. I’m thinking her next blog will be one you won’t want to miss!


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