No one ever told me it would be this hard to finish.

This is the year I finish, I feel it!!! Maybe. And no I'm not talking about a book....

See, for the past however-many-years, I've been taking classes from the Institute of Children's Literature. I can recommend them, they are wonderful for forcing you to write, and for helping you see ways to make your writing stronger. The problem is, I'm on my third and last course, and I just can't finish it.

Part of it's me. I confess that freely. Even with the other two courses, I often needed extensions and whatnot. But I swear to you, it's like there are course-gremlins out there trying to keep me from getting the dumb thing done. Now I can't tell the Institute people all the reasons that it's taken me a YEAR to turn in this assignment. (They've been very nice about it, btw.) I can't tell them because that would sound like whining.

I can't tell them, but I can tell you.... *maniaical laughter*

1. In August, I have severe family emergency. Said emergency requires a plane ticket home, the eventually quitting of my job, and much emotional stress.

2. Also in August I get engaged

3. In September, I quit my job, and in October, I move out of my house and into a friend's spare room. Spend the rest of '07 fighting with wedding invitations and searching for employment.

4. In December, I start a new job, one that requires dealing with computers and data and insurance companies. Lots to learn, but I would have done better if not for...

5. January, in which I dive full-bore into wedding planning, apartment hunting and yet another family emergency.

6. In February, I move into an apartment, get married and go insane, not necessarily in that order. I remember my assignment, but by this time the good Institute people have put me on a leave of absence, up in March.

7. Having a leave of absence, I focus on my novel, which I then sell in March. This so occupies my brain that I don't think of my assignment until...

7. April. In April I discover that I cannot find my course notebook. Oh, and I get laid off.

I would go on, but suffice it to say, I finally got through summer, unpacking and NaNoWriMo, and found my notebook a week and a half ago. Only to discover that the lesson I needed was missing.

It's the gremlins, I tell you!

(The lovely Institute crowd are mailing me an extra as we speak. I just hope they send it to the right address.....)

No one ever told me I wouldn't know my own book.

I am now in the process if typing in/rewriting the novel I wrote for National Novel Writing Month. And something very strange is happening, very Twilight Zone.

Dee-dee Dee-dee Dee-dee Dee-dee.....

The book doesn't feel like mine at all. It feels like I'm typing in some strange thing I found at a yard sale or something. When I first started, I kept stopping and reading my husband parts, then asking "Is this good?" I honestly couldn't tell.

Perhaps it was the timeline. The last book I wrote, it took a year for me to finish the first draft, plenty of time to play around in that world. Plenty of time to get used to the characters and involved in the story. I wrote this current WIP in twenty-five days, then didn't look at it for a month. So now it feels odd.

It's a weird thing to poke about in your subconscious and not recognize yourself. Has this happened to anyone else?

Merry Christmas Eve!!!

I have a present for all you wonderful people! (It's also a kind of present for me too...)

You see, I was supposed to be up north this Christmas, buried in snow and hanging out with my family. Instead I'm still here in Boise, (pout) because of dumb plane prices.

*does shuffling dance of sadness*

One of the things I miss most is watching my nephew and niece. And since I cannot go to them, I will bring them to this blog. (The photos are stolen from my brother-in-law.)

Prepare yourselves for acute adorableness!

My niece as the most disgustingly adorable flower girl ever!

My nephew Christian, who was excited to walk up the "island" at my wedding.

My sister and the kids!!!

So, there you are. I hope all of you have a wonderful time this week with people you love, even if you can't be in the same room with them. Now, off to shop and wrap and prepare for tomorrow. (My husband's family does live in town, so we're going over there to eat and relax and whatnot.)

May your holiday bring smiles!

Or, whatever...

No one ever told me I'd have this problem with my shoes.

Let me give you some advice that will stand the test of time: Never walk in the snow with hole-y shoes.

Okay, I know what you're thinking. Why would I blog about something so boring? Ahhh, but let me tell you the story....

My work shoes are wearing out. Nothing very unusual about that. When you spend four to eight hours on your feet, your shoes tend to develop holes in inconvenient places. So now my work shoes have slits in the bottom. But they don't leak, and they're still comfortable, so I haven't replaced them.

However.... on Monday I decided to walk from my work to the library, a distance of about half a mile. I've done it many times, no problem. There was a little snow on the ground, but I figured my shoes were up for the task. What I didn't count on were the slits.

They didn't leak, oh no, nothing so mundane. They collected snow.

See, no one ever told me that when you have slits in your sole, it's like walking with little snow shovels on your feet. About halfway to the library, I discovered a snowball in my shoe between the sole and the inside lining. Then the snow got compacted by my weight and turned into ice.

Have you ever tried walking with a marble sized chunk of ice in your shoe? I don't recommend it.

Here's what the last half of my walk looked like: I would start out walking normally, begin to limp, stop bang my shoes against the curb, fence, pole, whatever, (swearing under my breath) and then start walking normally again. The drivers passing by must have thought I was a crazy person.

(Ahh, invisible spiders!!! Get them off me!)

By the time I got to the library, I was hot, grumpy and limping. Fortunately my library had lots of books and comfy couches. (Comfy couches cure all ills.) But I am NEVER doing that again.

So that's my 'duh' moment of the month. Anyone else done something stupid lately?

No one ever told me what agents really do.

I know that's hard to believe, but it's true. Until I started this blog--and started reading other blogs by wonderful writers, editors and agents--I had NO idea what agents actually did.

I think I pictured them kind of like Yoda. They gave advice to make you better, (Use the force Luke.) and helped you figure out where to go next in the scary, complicated world of publishing.

Plus they looked at contracts and negotiated them so the writer got a better deal. And just for kicks and giggles, they sold foreign and movie rights, etc, on the side.

Now agents do most of that. (I think the advice thing varies by agent.) But I was missing the biggie. Because here is what agents do.

Agents sell your book.

If you have an agent--which I don't--it's the agent who figures out who to submit to. They're the ones who do the querying, and make the pitch for your book. Your job is to write excellently, revise fearlessly and help promote.

I can do that. Or try to anyway. (Yoda says: Do or do not do. There is no try.) So instead of beating my brains out looking for a publisher for my new book, I will instead be beating my brains out querying agents. In fact I've already started.

*sound of frying pan beating on head*

I've sent Agent A a snail mail query, and entered my first chapter in the Firebrand Literary Query Holiday. The rest will have to wait until January first, as my wonderful job has morphed into The Annual Holiday Monster and is sucking out my soul.

(For example, it's four in the morning as I post this, and this is how I feel.

I'm going to work, where I will serve coffee and joke with customers and smile until one in the afternoon. Thank goodness for caramel lattes!)

No one ever told me I would hate my character.

I have a confession: I have a character I hate. And not in a gosh-what-a-good-villain sort of way. We're talking serious loathe here.

The guy does (almost) nothing productive for my story. He's obnoxious, lazy, and egotistical in every way. He demands to be re-written on a constant basis. He refuses to ring true or be realistic. Instead, he just sits around clogging up the pool and insulting the help.

I want to eliminate him from my story and delete him off the face of my computer. But I can't.

See, he does do two or three things for the story, small things true, but things I don't want to do without at this point. And here's the kicker: No one else in the story will do the things he does.

I've tried. I've begged and pleaded, trying to get my other characters to take on this guys work so I can get rid of him. They all refuse. Maybe it's a union thing.

This happened in my last novel too, a grumpy character that I couldn't write true. I have problems with characters like that. I can write good and I can write evil, it's the in-between that gets me.

Well, it turned out all right in the last book, I just kept re-writing until the character fell into line Maybe it will happen this time too.

But if it doesn't, does anyone know a good assassin?

No one ever told me about this little gadget....

I got an early Christmas present!

My husband knows how to make my heart beat faster, and it's not necessarily what you'd think...

New JC Penny ad.

Nope, I don't really do fancy jewelery. Instead, I got this, something to fill the cold, empty spot that my beloved lappy left behind...

The Dana by Alphasmart

I've been a serious writer since 2001, and no one ever told me about these things. But now I have one of my very own and it is AWESOME!!!

~I can put chapters I want to revise into it
~I can type directly into it, and then download it to my computer as a word file.
~It's super light and durable
~It was WAY cheaper than a laptop. (We bought it on ebay.)
~It runs on AA batteries.
~It also functions as a Palm Pilot, so I might actually get organized for once.

I think it's time for the happy dance of joy!

(Those aren't my hands, by the way. I stole this picture from a computer site. *hangs head in shame*)

No one ever told me I shouldn't brush my hair.

I had very short hair for most of my childhood/teenage years, something for which I affectionately blame my mother. It wasn't her fault though. My mother (due to her part Native American heritage) has wonderful stick straight black hair. My mother's sister had straight hair. Both my grandparents had either straight or slightly wavy hair.

I do not have straight hair. I don't even have wavy hair. I have thick, coarse, mega-curly hair with a tendency to frizz. And my mother would sit me down every morning and try to brush my hair.

I also have a very tender scalp. And my mom likes plastic bristle brushes, which are pretty much the worst thing you could use on my sort of hair. You can only imagine the screaming.

So in grade school, my mom got tired of it and cut it all off. Now this should not have been a bad thing. Hair like mine, when short, often does wonderful little curls all by itself. But only if you don't brush it every morning. Which I did. Yah, I pretty much spent the rest of my childhood looking like this.....

(As you can imagine, this did NOT help my nerd status.)

Finally, when I was seventeen, I decided to grow it out, and started researching different ways to care for curly hair. This was when I learned that you're not supposed to brush curly hair. I comb it between shampooing and conditioning, throw in some mousse, towel dry and then leave it alone. Much better.

The funny thing is, I spent most of grade-school and junior high feeling weird because my hair was so out of control. Now I get compliments on it all the time.

What about you? Is there anything you used to dislike about yourself that you like now? Why?


Good morning! New Year's resolutions have hit early around here, and I've made a few blog changes I wanted to let you know about.

1. For starters, I've discontinued my Excellence List. (my third blog) I have a hard enough time regularly updating this one, much less three. Don't worry, I'll be telling you about people I respect every so often here. Which leads me to...

2. I now declare that my Life of Books Blog will be updated the last week of every month. This one I really want to keep, so I'm establishing a schedule. The last week of the month, I will add another entry and let you all know about it here. Now onto...


I've been playing around for a while with the idea that I'd like to focus the blog a bit more. Then it occurred to me that there are a lot of things that no one ever told me when I was younger, things I had to figure out for myself. So I'll be talking about life a little bit more from that perspective. I'm also going to try to blog more about books I'm reading, with reviews for some of them. (Yah, books!)

Thanks for sticking around. Don't miss the other post I'm putting up today: No one ever told me I shouldn't brush my hair....

Here, have some laughter....

As promised, I have a story for you, my lovely readers. I was going to post a more serious one, but given the rather sobering news today from Random House, Thomas Nelson and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt I decided perhaps a little laughter is in order.

This story was sent in by Nic, who claims to tell the best stories in his family. Reading this, I would agree. Without further ado, I present to you...



the Town-Drunk

The state of Washington has a law that grocery stores can not sell beer or wine after 2am. The law also prohibits selling alcohol to persons who are noticeably intoxicated, or selling to minors. One night, my friend "Reese" (one of the graveyard checkers) had the pleasure of refusing beer sales for all three of those prohibitions.

The first refusal was to a group of teenagers trying to by the cheapest half-rack available shortly before 2am. Rather than looking for a different grocery store to score some booze, these offended minors scoured the Albertson’s parking lot looking for Reese’s car, hoping to fulfill a threat to “key it up.” How mature of them. The night manager headed out to make sure that no vandalism occurred, and (to the best of his knowledge) chased the adolescents away.

Less than a half hour later, the town-drunk showed up. Now, before I continue the story, I must provide a geography lesson. My hometown is situated next to a tribal reservation. The only thing separating the town of Marysville from the reservation is Interstate 5. The Freeway exit used to get to our grocery store is the same exit used to get to the tribe’s casino. Albertsons is within walking distance of the casino and was (at the time) the closest grocery store for everyone living on the reservation. Sore losers from the casino and drunk natives would often stumble the few blocks off the reservation into our store to stock up on beer and cheap wine. This is how the town-drunk ended up in the store.

He staggered into Reese’s line with two 40’s about 2:15, reeking breath strong enough to give Reese a contact buzz if contact buzzes were possible. Reese was finally able to check off items two and three: no alcohol after 2am… no alcohol for the obviously impaired.

Since the town-drunk was primed for a public intoxication charge, disorderly conduct was only a natural progression. At Reese’s refusal, the town-drunk went from drunk & stupid to drunk and angry in less time than it takes to drink a shot of whiskey.

“Whadda ya mean I can’t buy mu bee-uh? If I wanna bee-uh… I shud be aybuh ta buy sum dang bee-uh.” Reese again refused the sale and asked the town-drunk to leave the store. With some coaxing (and threats to call the police) the town-drunk slowly made his way to the exit, shouting a slurred mix of obscenities and unintelligible threats.

In line behind the town-drunk, and observing the whole exchange, was a young man in a Pizza Hut uniform. As the pizza boy stepped up the register, he slid a 9mm pistol across the checkout counter to Reese.

“Here,” he said, “if that guy causes any problems, you can use this.” After a confused look from Reese, the vigilante-pizza-delivery-g
uy continued, “It’s OK, I have a concealed weapons permit.” Reese, being of slightly above average intelligence, knew that bringing a handgun into the situation was a bad idea; he politely decline the vigilante-pizza-delivery-guy’s offer.

A few seconds later, a gunshot was heard, and one of the other graveyard workers called 911. The remainder of this story was not seen from the store, but gathered from witness testimony.

The denied teens, after being chased away by the night manager, did not leave the property. Instead, they hung out around the corner of the building (and out of sight from the store’s entrance) complaining about their inability to purchase beer and their further inability to inflict revenge on Reese’s car. The kids were still there when the town-drunk left the store, continuing his drunken rants and beginning his wayward stumble back to the reservation. The two parties crossed paths; the rejected youth listened to the town-drunk’s sob story and shared their own. The kids pointed to Reese’s car and suggested the town-drunk could wait for Reese to come out of the store – then the drunk could settle his own as well as the teens’ grievances.

Unfortunately for the town-drunk, the car parked next to Reese’s had a Pizza Hut delivery sign attached to the roof. When the vigilante-pizza-delivery-g
uy saw the town-drunk waiting by Reese’s car, vigilante-pizza-delivery-guy feigned oblivion to the night’s preceding events. He aimed for the back of his car, acting like he intended to put his armful of groceries into the trunk. He opened the trunk; instead of stowing away his food, he pulled out a sawed-off shotgun.

After a few sentences of utterly pointless dialogue, vigilante-pizza-delivery-g
uy pulled the trigger, shooting the town-drunk’s leg. Police were there in less than two minutes. Someone went to jail. I’ll give you a hint – it wasn’t the town-drunk.

The saddest part of the whole affair was its appearance in the local paper a couple of days later. The blurb – hardly longer than a run-on sentence – was buried deep in the eleventh page. It only mentioned that the police responded to a GSW in the Albertsons parking lot. No mention of the kids who wished they weren’t sober, the drunk, or the crazy pizza guy.

Special Sunday Bonus Post!!!!

Here it is, your special post, with several special things on it....

#1 Final NaNo update~

Book Genre: YA fantasy
Medium: Longhand

Total Word Count so far: 33,000 words

Well I didn't make 50,000. But as I said in last Saturday's post, I got a lot of good things out of National Novel Writing Month, and I look forward to doing it next year. I hope to hit 34,000 at the Last-Chance-Write-In tonight.

#2 National Day of Listening~

Friday was National Day of Listening, a fabulous day honoring the stories that make up all our lives. In honor of that, I'm going to try to find a story from a friend or family member to post on the blog on Wednesday. I will also provide a link to the story compilation that the lovely Moonrat is putting together. But for now, I ask you: Who in your family has the best stories?

#3 Facebook Page and Email list~

I now have over thirty fans on my Facebook page! :-) Which is awesome, partly because I like having fans but mostly because it's a really easy way to get people info about my book. The book is coming out next year, so if you want updates, sign up on Facebook. (The link is under the penguin... Oops!

If you don't have Facebook, and still want updates, drop me an email and I'll put you on my email list.

#4 Poke the Penguin!

So, I've been wanting to post this forever. This is me when my writing time is interrupted.....

Nanowrimo update #5

So, since National Novel Writing Month isn't officially over until tomorrow, and since I plan to write tomorrow, I'm not giving you an update now. Instead I'm announcing a...


Sunday afternoon, I will give you the wrap up on Nano, plus some other fun stuff. So stop on by...

Wednesday already!

Sorry about the late post, but I was at work until after 11pm tonight. But I just wanted to say...


And give you five things I'm thankful for. Tonight I am thankful for...

1. A wonderful funny husband when I'm tired out of my mind.

2. Carmel mochas. (until they spill on the floor)

3. Mops. (See #2)

4. The fact that I can eat whatever I want tomorrow and not feel bad. :-)

5. All the wonderful people who lurk on my blog. I know you're out there, and I'm glad you enjoy it. Also my consistent comment-ers. You keep me encouraged!

Have a great day everyone!

Nanowrimo update #4

Book Genre: YA fantasy
Medium: Longhand

Total Word Count so far: over 30,000 words

First things first. Sorry about not posting on Wednesday. I had a crisis come my way. I won't bore you with the details, but it did take up most of my attention on Wednesday and Thursday and Friday. I also had a revelation that perhaps trying to write 16,000 words per day isn't the best thing for me right now in terms of stress management.

Does this mean I'm quitting NaNo? Definitely not!

However, I'm not going to try to win this year. I'm going to keep writing every day and keep connecting with the other Nano'ers in Boise, but I'm not going to try to hit the 50,000 word mark.

Is this discouraging? A little. But on the other hand, I got some things out of Nano that have nothing to do with winning it.

1. I made the half-way mark, which means I wrote over 25,000 words in fifteen days. That's no small thing.

2. I know I can establish a good writing schedule and stick to it.

3. AND, I finished the plot arc for my next YA novel. (Yah!) It's a bit short right now because I have to rewrite and expand some parts, but to all intents and purposes I have a whole book with a beginning , middle and end, a book I might not have had the motivation to write without NaNo.

So, for you Nano'ers out there, DON'T QUIT YET OKAY? After all, someone has to win this thing....

Nanowrimo update #3

Book Genre: YA fantasy
Medium: Longhand
Daily Goal: 12 pages per day (ha!)

Total Pages so far: 130 pages
Total Word Count so far: 27,329 words


And now I'm out of plot.


(Which are cooler, zombie butterflies, or a herd of flying zombie unicorns?)

Unicorns or zombies?

So, while the rest of the country debates endlessly about the pros and cons of a president who has already been elected, a few brave souls are daring to answer a really controversial question.

Which are cooler, unicorns or zombies?

For those of you who don't lurk endlessly on YA author blogs like I do, let me direct your attention here, here, here and of course, here. Now that you have the flavor of the debate, I'll tell you what I think.

Unicorns. All the way.

Now, I will admit that my prejudice against zombies partly has to do with my aversion to gore. I hate gore, especially in movies. I tolerate it better in books but I just don't care for gore or horror. And zombies, my friend, are the poster children for gore and horror. They practically roll in it for heaven's sake.

However, there is a practical reason for my choice of unicorns. As a writer and reader, I find far more "scope for imagination" in unicorns. They can be wild or tame, intelligent or stupid, violent or friendly. They can be white or black, or if you really want to go nuts, they can be red, gold, silver, etc. They have big deadly horns attached to their heads, and if you want them to fly, no one argues with you. You can pretty much do whatever you want with unicorns, they are very adaptable.

Zombies are not adaptable. Zombies are slow, shuffly dead human beings covered in various forms of gross. That's it. They are good for scaring people and eating brains and triggering our latent fear of Death. But that's pretty much all they do. And if you're smart enough and fast enough and have a sword, you don't really have to fear them much.

According to Darwin, the species that survives is the species that adapts. Sorry, zombies!

PS. My husband is torn on this issue. This is what he says. "On the zombie side, you have Shaun of the Dead, while on the unicorn side, you have Charlie."

Quite frankly, I'm not sure if Charlie is an argument for or against unicorns. As for NaNo? Well right now let's just say I'm a tad behind. I'm pretty sure zombies ate my brain.

Stupid zombies.

Nanowrimo update #2

Book Genre: YA fantasy
Medium: Longhand
Daily Goal: 12 pages per day

Total Pages so far: 62 pages
Total Word Count so far: 1o,850 words

Okay, we're into the second week of National Novel Writing Month, and I'm doing okay. I did not meet my daily goal on election day, for obvious reasons, and I did not get a chance to write on Wednesday either. So yesterday was a off-and-on, five hour effort to get caught up. Which I did, but now I'm running into problems.

Someone told me very kindly, that the second week is the hardest
because that's when you run out of plot. I think I'm having the opposite problem. I have so many ideas for what could happen that I find myself staring off into space thinking, instead of writing. This eats up my writing time, and leaves me with no actual words.

Not good.

My other problem is that I keep adding scenes in my head that will eventually go in earlier parts of the book. But that distracts me from the parts I'm actually writing. This one is solvable though, as I discovered yesterday. I simply stop my character and have her remember what happened before, in a kind of cheesy, wavy-screen flashback. Terrible writing of course, but that's not the point.

Second week, here I come!

An early holiday post

There's an old English rhyme about Christmas. It goes...

Christmas is coming, the geese are getting fat
Please to put a penny in the old man's hat.

So apparently you can tell the holidays are coming by weighing the local birds. But since I work in a coffee shop, let me tell you how I know that Christmas is coming.

1. I got called in early to work yesterday because they were so busy. First time this year, though that has less to do with the holiday then the election. Still, it's a sign of things to come.

2. I have eggnog in my hair

3. My store has put out their yearly Christmas album, prompting my yearly I-want-this-so-badly-but-I-have-no-money argument with myself.

4. The holiday drinks are out, peppermint, eggnog, gingerbread, and not a sugar-free holiday option in sight. Sigh.

5. Every other person who walks through the door of my store says the same thing. "Dang, it's cold outside!" (and they all bring in leaves on their shoes, too.)

But what, you say, does this have to do with National Novel Writing Month?

Nothing. Except that between yesterday's super-busy day and today's aftermath, I've had little time to write. So I'm not thinking about it, because if I do than I'll freak out and it will be harder for me to write tomorrow. I'll add some extra writing time this weekend and catch up.

It'll be a breeze.


Nanowrimo update #1

Book Genre: YA fantasy
Medium: Longhand
Daily Goal: 10 pages per day

Total Pages so far: 11 pages
Total Word Count so far: 1944 words

Okay, so far so good. I'm actually a little ahead of the game, as I went to the fabulous Boise All Night Insanity Write-In last night and wrote from midnight to two in the morning. This got me to my current word count, and I'm going to try another hour or so tonight.

(I think the best bet is to try to get as ahead as possible, in case of emergencies or brain meltdowns.)

The bad news is I'm tired, and my writing schedule for the day was rudely interrupted by my leaving my notebook at home when I headed to work. I was wrestling with a plot point and forgot it. (irony)

The good news is that I now have a pretty good idea of how long it takes me to write ten pages, so that will help with the time management I'm SO good at. (heavy sarcasm) The other good thing is that in six days there is a Starbucks opening ONE BLOCK from my house. Aside from the glories of accessible coffee, there is a definite writing benefit here. The only writable place within walking distance at the moment is Hastings, which is great, but I would get distracted and start reading books and never write anything ever again. You don't get that problem with a Starbucks.

I hope everyone had a happy and safe Halloween. If you want a good laugh, check out Lauren Myracle's YA Author Halloween Dare. You'll have to scroll down a bit to get to the original dare, but this blog and all its follow-ups gave me the funniest October I've had in a while.

What have I done?

Well, I did it. I said I wasn't going to, and I did it anyway. I signed up for National Novel Writing Month.

Now I have to write fifty thousand words in thirty days.

Fifty thousand.

That's almost two thousand words a day.

And what idea did I pick to work on for this challenge? One that I've been saving in the back of my head because I didn't think I was a good enough writer to do it justice.

So I hope you all are ready for November, because pretty much all I'll be talking about is the novel. (Hey, at the very least, this should help me develop a consistent writing schedule.)

Wish me luck...

A very bookish post.

I had one of those mini-revelations yesterday, the kind that don't really change your life, but make for serious thought. Despite my well known book addiction, I've actually said very little about books themselves on this blog.

That seemed... odd. More odd than I usually am. But after considering the whys and wherefores, I found an answer.

I read too fast. As I explained in one of my Life of Books posts, I read much faster than most people I know, especially when it's a book I'm familiar with. This means that by the time I get to blog day, whatever book I was thinking about sharing with you is buried two to three books back. Plus, I've been on a comfort reading kick, which means all the books are books I've read before.

(I do promise to tell you if I read anything new or exciting.)

So for your amusement, I present an overview of my recent reading habits.

Tuesday was introvert-recharge day. My husband was gone all day. I opened at my store in the morning, got home at nine am, took a three hour nap, and proceeded to spend the rest of the afternoon/night curled up on the couch. I'm on a Mercedes Lackey binge, and made it through Exile's Valor, To Take a Thief, and most of Arrows of the Queen before I turned in.

Other Lackey books I've read in the last week/week-and-a-half include...

Exile's Honor
Storm Rising

Storm Breaking
Winds of Fate
Brightly Burning

I tried to read All Creatures Great and Small by James Herriot, but half-way through the book, I found myself fighting for it with my husband, who loves the Herriot books. So now I'm waiting for him to finish, and reading fantasy instead.

I have about... seven books in my car waiting to be read. About half of them are Lackey, but the rest are Gideon Oliver books by Aaron Elkins. They're forensic mysteries with solid writing, and a little easier read then Kathy Reichs's books.

I did read my first Temperance Brennan forensic mystery by Kathy Reichs: Monday Mourning. Very good, she definitely knows what she's talking about, and I really liked Temperance as a character. I got a little lost during the three page explanation of carbon dating and related sciences, though.

So that's my last couple weeks of reading. How about you?


Almost forgot to update there. That was a close one...

It's been like that all week for me, though. Thinking Monday was Tuesday, thinking this week is next week, stuff like that. Me, I'm blaming it on my rewrites.

Here's the deal. There comes a point for me in every project where I think to myself. "This is coming together really well. The writing flows and the dialogue is good. I just have to fix A, B and C."

So I fix A, B and C, and reread it. Now the flow is jerky, the dialogue sounds stilted and the whole thing just clunks. My repairs, though necessary, have lowered the quality of the whole dang thing.


I hate it when this happens because then I begin to wonder if I can really write at all. Maybe I 'm just a hack. I start wondering what I'm going to do with my life now that writing has so obviously failed me. Maybe, if no one is around, I cry a little.

Then I call the waa-mbulance and get off my bum and do another rewrite. Usually the third time is the one that works, with all problems fixed and good writing to boot. Needless to say though, the process is rather mentally exhausting, and that's why I keep forgetting what day it is.

It is Wednesday, right?

Many bits of random thought.

1. Two nights ago, I had a nightmare. I was at work and the place was a mess. The walls were falling down, and I didn't know where anything was and my supervisor wouldn't listen to me and I couldn't get to the coffee machine because there was this crack in the earth....

Then my alarm went off. Telling me I had to be at work in 20 minutes.


2. I took this awesome quiz to find out what fantasy character I am. This is what it said:

Which Fantasy/SciFi Character Are You?
A wandering spirit caring for a multitude of just concerns, you are an instrumental power in many of the causes around you.
And so am I, very dangerous: more dangerous than anything you will ever meet, unless you are brought alive before the seat of the Dark Lord.
(Gandalf is a character from the Middle-Earth universe.)

Dangerous. Oh, yeah, that's me.

3. My sister's family moved last week. When I called her to find out how the move was, she said, "Great, except all three of the kids got the vomiting/diarrhea sickness."

She has a four-year-old and two toddlers.

Suddenly my latest rejection letter didn't seem so awful.

4. According to the lovely Joanne at Whole Latte Life, today is Sweetest Day. It's a day for celebrating the people who make life special. So here's a cyber-hug for my family and friends. (especially Colleen in Iraq and Ashley and Caleen in Korea.)


Happy Saturday!

Ah... walking.

Last week I meandered into work, still yawning and sleepy. One of my shift supervisors asked me how I was doing and I said (trying to be funny) that I was tired. Her reply brought me up short. She said, with a look of concern, "You know, you're always tired."


And it was true. For the six weeks, I've been in a constant state of tiredness. Now I was blaming it on all the different things that have been going on, and just being married and having family visit and trying to finish my book. But I realized that none of that should put have made me as tired as I am. After some brain-racking, I came up with the answer.

I haven't exercised for almost three months.

I was doing well over the summer, exercising with a friend of mine. But then she moved to Korea. (pout) I had no motivation to do videos, and Dan and I can't even afford gas right now, much less a gym membership. So I decided to start walking. I used to love to walk, in fact, my husband and I were taking long night walks before we ever officially started dating. It's not as "fast" or results oriented as other exercises, but at least I would be moving.

So yesterday, after work, I went into this little neighborhood behind my store and walked for 40 minutes. It was quite relaxing to just be by myself, and the day was cool and sunny. One of those days that makes you happy for no reason.

This morning I woke up feeling more energetic then I have for a while. Hooray! So this is my goal, to walk before or after work at least 5 times a week for 30-40 minutes. I'll let you know how it goes.

After all a writer's mind is only as alert as her body, right?

Speaking of alert minds, 1987 is out on my Life Of Books blog. And my Excellence List will be the next to be updated, so stay tuned!

A new look for me!

So, I revamped the blog. I was hoping for a more professional feel, and I think I like it, despite it's conspicuous absence of red.

What do you, the viewers at home, think?

Today it snowed in Boise, and my husband and I indulged in a lovely rendition of "Have Yourself A Merry Little Halloween". As I stared out my window at the gray sky, swirling with huge feathery flakes, it struck me how very patient the snow was. It fell in absolute silence, slowly drifting down to stick to tree branches and melt on the sidewalk. There was no frantic lightning, no lash of rain and wind. It just... fell. Steady and calm and in no particular hurry at all.

But if that snow had lasted more than thirty minutes, all that patience would have paid off, and the world would have been covered in white. For some reason, I found these thoughts very encouraging, especially after all the soul searching about why I write.

So I decided to inflict them on you. (grin)

Also, the moment you've been waiting for is here. 1986 has been posted on my Life of Books blog, and I have high hopes that 1987 will follow close behind it. So check it out and find out what my favorite place on earth is.

More reasons why I write...

1. As I said before, it's good for my soul. I tend to get very cranky if I haven't written for a while. (This could also mean I'm addicted.)

2. It's fun. I love putting characters through tons of crap and watching them fight their way out.

3. It's simple. You only need imagination, pen and paper. I wrote almost all my second book in one five-dollar notebook and a couple yellow legal pads.

4. It's also pretty cheap, unless you get the conference bug.

5. I'm no good at high finance.

6. I get to be anti-social and other people think it's cool.

7. I have to.

If you don't understand that last one, there's no way I can explain it properly.

I can't not write. That's all there is to it.

Why I write.

So, I only got one comment on my "what's your opinion" post, but that's all right. I know a lot of you are blurkers, but I love you anyway. (I am also a terrible blurker-someone who reads blogs, but doesn't comment. I'm trying to get better about it.)

Anyway, I promised you my opinion on this subject, so here it is.

The question of why I write is an interesting one to me, because for a long time I was one of those people who thought there was no point to writing if you couldn't get published. Then, as I wrote more, and became more familiar with myself I discovered that I couldn't stop writing. It became one of the cores of my existence. I also learned how hard it is to get published, and so I stopped evaluating my writing based on that.

But I was still easily discouraged. Primarily because I thought there was no point in writing if no one ever read it. I went through a terrible period with my first novel where, out of the 15+ people who asked to read it, only 3 actually finished it. And most of the comments I got were along the lines of "it was all right", which is the worst thing in the world to say to a writer. It tells me nothing, except that my writing was bland and inspired apathy.

Needless to say, this was very depressing.

Then I had a revelation. To explain this revelation, though, I have to give you some idea of my view of the world. I believe that there are good and evil forces at war in the world. I believe that on some level we can't see and on many levels we can, good and evil are always fighting for the hearts and souls of people.

My revelation went like this: To create something beautiful with words or paint or music or clay, to create with joy and hope, is one of the most powerful and positive things that humans can do. If you create something, the very act of creating creates a positive ripple that affects the world, whether or not your creation is ever seen.

Words and art and music, they matter on such a deep level, that it doesn't really matter if no one reads the book or listens to the song. The artist forgot himself while creating, and so for a moment, selfishness, meanness and petty evil were overcome.

It is the act of creating that is important.

So that is very metaphysical, and I'm sorry if I confused you. But to me, writing is one of the things I was made to do, regardless of success.

Besides, I get really cranky when I don't write. It's good for my soul.

What's your opinion?

So a friend of mine and I were talking at the writer's conference, and we started wondering why anyone would write at all.

I mean, first you have to actually write something and then you have to rewrite it and then, maybe, if you're lucky, you get a publisher, then you have to market it, which is a whole other thing, and maybe a hundred people buy it and that's it. The only way to grow your audience is to continue to write, which means starting the whole process over. And there are all those days and weeks and years when no one buys anything from you and all your stuff gets nice form rejections which means it didn't get past the intern and you start to wonder if you're a hack.

Why would anyone do this to themselves?

All right my lovely little group of readers, this time I want to hear from you. I know some of you write. Why do you do it?

I'll let you know my opinion on Saturday.

I failed.

Dang. This consistent blog thing is harder then I thought. But I will not be defeated! Wednesdays and Saturdays, there will be blogging!

And if something comes up, like having four extra people sleeping in my computer room--two of which are toddlers--and having my brother-in-law borrow my internet cable for the weekend, then I will let you know ahead of time, so you know that I won't be posting.

We now return you to the regularly scheduled programing.

Updates and not-quite empty promises

So the writer's conference went really well. It was neither as wonderfully affirming as I was secretly hoping or as discouraging as I was afraid it would be. My personal critique with the editor was unusual--she said my book sample was interesting but that she might not be the right person to critique it since she prefers magical realism to outright fantasy. So, a little bit of bummer there. On the other hand, she's a lovely, kind woman and I actually got to talk to her about myself a little and where I was coming from as a writer, so I feel like I made a good connection. I made several good connections that day with some very nice writers, plus getting to hang out with my writer's group. All and all, it was great.

Sorry it took so long to get you that update. My sister and her family are coming into town tomorrow, so the last four days have been very intensive housecleaning and toddlerproofing. This is also why I did not get around to posting on the other blogs like I said I would. I will do it next week, though.


Just to wet your whistle, here are some of the COMING BLOG ATTRACTIONS!

Why I respect Dave Barry and Kevin Murphy

Why I am a writer

My favorite place on earth

The first book I ever wrote

Nerd confessions

These are all coming up in the next few weeks, so thank you to my regular readers. (you guys are awesome) And hang in there, I'm coming.....


So it's 2:30 in the morning, right before the writer's conference I've been looking forward to for months. And I can't sleep. Maybe it's my new medication. Or maybe I've angered the slumber gods.


So I'm posting, since I won't be able to post about the conference itself until late tonight. Check in tonight or tomorrow for updates. (If I don't' sleep through the whole thing.)

Random late night question: Is there a Guinness Book of World Records record for tallest/most layers in a peanut butter and jelly sandwich?

I did it!

All right! I totally kicked the rewriting gremlin's arse! My second book manuscript is officially typed up and off to my little Review Board. Initial reactions are positive! And the first ten pages is in for a personal review with a fairly big editor in the children's field. I'm going to see her on Saturday, at the writer's conference.

Okay, so on paper that sounds really exciting and full of wondrous possibilities. And there's a little part of me that's jumping up and down, clapping her hands and squealing. But I've also got a hyper-intelligent, practical and slightly condescending big-sister voice in my head. For your enjoyment, I've recorded some of my schizophrenic thoughts here.

Optimism: I can't believe it. I got it done! And the people who have seen it really like it. Maybe this editor will really like it too!

Pessimism: Maybe. But remember, even if she does like it, she can't just say "I want to sign you up right now" She has to do proposals and get the okay from her higher-ups.

Optimism: I think it's some of the best work I've ever done. Maybe I should print out the whole thing in submission form and keep it in my car on Saturday, just in case.

Pessimism: In case of what, your apartment exploding? She's not going to want to haul around a manuscript on the plane. And you can get her input, change things if you need to, and send it to her a week or so after you see her. If she even asks you to, which is kind of a big if.

Optimism: How can she not want to see it? It's good, I know it is. Maybe not Shakespere or Rowlings or anything, but definitely well-written. Surely she'll want me to send her the whole thing. Maybe she'll tell me how good it is in our session.

Pessimism: Or maybe she'll tell you all the things that are wrong with it. It's not like you know everything, you know. In ten years from now, you'll probably read it and cringe. Anyway, the most likely thing to happen, is she'll have some good things to say, and a lot of advice and changes to suggest. You should be prepared for her to say something like, "This wouldn't be right for our publishing house, but good luck in placing it." That's probably what will happen.

Optimism: (cries)

So there you have it. My inner argument. At the moment pessimism is winning. It's not that I don't love my childlike, optimistic side. I do. Perhaps I'm afraid if I get too excited about this writing thing and it falls flat then my exuberant, creative side will curl up and die from disappointment.

Does anyone else out there have this problem?


So, some of you wonderful people have pointed out that my other blogs are sadly lacking, and have not been updated for some time. This is something I hope to fix once I get over the Martian Death Flu.

And after I finish typing in the second rewrite on my book.

And after I pick up the piles of glasses and plates and Kleenex that happen when both the husband and the wife are sick.

And after Dan's gig on Friday night.

And once I finish getting ready for the writer's conference I'm going to on the 20th.

So... how does a week from Friday sound?

Questions, questions...

First off, I just became a facebook nerd. So come see my page and be a fan! (the link is on the sidebar.) All the cool kids are doing it. Or at least some of them are.... maybe...


I think I'm getting sick.

See, this is the annoying thing about colds-and-flu-type illnesses. Until it really hits you, you're not sure what it is. You don't feel well, but are you sick? You could be just tired, or maybe emotionally drained. Perhaps your air-conditioning isn't working well and it's too hot in your apartment. Maybe you just need to drink more water, eat so more protein or fiber for the day. All of these things are completely possible.

How are you supposed to fend off sickness if you don't know whether you're getting sick? This question is important, because I want to go to a friend's CD release party tonight. But if I'm getting sick I should stay home and rest. Not to mention the possibility of giving others this bug. But if I'm not sick, I certainly don't want to miss it.


Okay, I'll be logical about this, present the evidence for me being sick or not-sick. Here goes.


1. I've had plenty of sleep lately and I'm not really stressed, so those things aren't lowering my immune system.

2. I drove around today running errands in the sun and our apartment is quiet warm. i often feel sick when I'm too warm.

3. I haven't had a lot of water today, so I could be dehydrated. Or...

4. I could just be focusing on the way I feel too much, making myself feel worse in the time-honored manner of hypochondriacs everywhere.


1. I have gotten a lot of sleep lately, so why am I still so tired?

2. I'm feeling cranky, and emotionally spent with no good reason. All I want to do is curl up with Mercedes Lackey's new Elemental novel and do nothing, despite the fact that I had a rather good week.

3. I've been coughing a little, and my throat is scratchy. And finally...

4. My husband is sick. And I mean sick. With a mild fever and chills and sinus trouble and everything. And while he's been sleeping in a chair the last couple of nights so he could breathe better, that doesn't mean I won't wind up with whatever he has.

And the verdict is.... Indecision. I still don't know what to do. Perhaps I'll drink some water, turn up the ac and think about it some more.

Update: For those of you following along at home, I decided I was sick and stayed in last night. This morning I developed a fever. I hate being right.

I love the library!

So the rewriting gremlin has been kicking my, um... bum. Mainly because my desktop computer is no good for typing the way it's set up. And my desk is too small to fix the problem.

I miss my lappy. (laptop)

Anyway, so today I got off work at 8:30 in the morning,(don't ask what time I got there) and went to the local library. Since there aren't a lot of heavy computer users at nine in the morning, I've been able to stay on this computer for a good three hours.

Yeah, I've pretty much kicked the rewriting gremlin into the middle of next week. Because I'm awesome. And because the library is awesome. So, only three more major scenes and this baby is typed in. Which means those of you who are waiting with bated breath to read my second draft should brush your teeth and get ready to give opinions.


The life of two artists.

(Warning: this is going to be a slightly sappy post about me and my husband.)

It's official. We are out of food. At this point our refrigerator contains only condiments, such as ketchup and mustard, a couple of apples and way too many onions.

This is because my husband, Dan, and I are both artists--he's a musician and I'm a writer--and our time is pretty much divided between not having enough money to go shopping, and just plain forgetting that we need to buy food. (We are going shopping tonight, by the way.)

I know they say opposites attract, but I love being married to another creative person. There are downsides, like forgetting to clean the house or having tight budgets on some months, but the advantages are enormous. Since we feel the same way about our respective art forms, we're very respectful of each other's dreams.

Right now Dan is the major bill-payer (he drives a school bus and works as a bassist for hire) while I serve coffee part-time and work on my writing. We have a roof over our heads and enough money to buy food and gas for our two old cars. We have second-hand furniture and good air-conditioning. I go to his concerts when I can and he reads all my first drafts. We never tell each other that we're stupid or immature, or that it's time to find a real career. We just keep plugging away at our dreams and encouraging each other.

It's not easy. But it's very worth it.

(I was worried that I ended this too abruptly, but I showed it to Dan and he said it was fine. -grin- )

The saga continues!

Ah, rewriting... Aren't you cute? You seem so small and easy next to the pull-your-guts-out effort of writing a book. So simple and harmless and fun. Like a gremlin.

And then I feed you after midnight....

Now you're a monster. I've lost all my motivation and have spent the last three days re-arranging the living room, partly because it needed to be done, but also mostly because then I don't have to think about you. My mind is a constant swarm of self-pity and excuses. I'm too tired, my head hurts, my laptop blew up, the desktop computer chair is uncomfortable, I have to do laundry, I have to do dishes, I have to build a rocket ship and fly to Mars, etc.

No. I refuse to be defeated! Who needs comfortable chairs or clean clothes? I will sit down, start typing, and get this done if it's the last thing I do.

So there!

My husband is a hero...

After great labor (on my husband's part) and great stress and worry (on my part) the rewriting has been saved!

I am limp with relief. But now I must take a moment of silence to mourn my faithful friend, the laptop.

I'll miss you, buddy.



So I know this post is on the wrong day, but my laptop blew up a few minutes ago.

With eight hours of rewriting work on it that hadn't been saved to my stick drive.

I swear, I'm thinking of getting a typewriter. (Of course now that typewriters are all hi-tech, it would probably die as well.)


The rewriting begins...

I started revising my second book on Thursday. It's such a weird experience, reading something you've written after a month or so of not looking at it. And draining...

See, I'm one of the meanest authors ever, and in the last half of the book, I put this girl through so much crap that it's exhausting for me to read. The Lord only knows what my First Readers will think. (my First Readers are a small group of three or four that read the book before I do any really serious rewrites. It gives me a better perspective.)

I also came to the conclusion that I must like killing characters off. Granted, it's kind of a murder mystery, which means there have to be a few bodies, but still... I'm afraid I'm turning into a conflict addict in my writing. Things start to settle down a little for my characters and I think, "Gosh, someone needs to be punched in the mouth. Which one should I hit?" On the other hand, nothing livens up a story like a good fight.

(This is funny because I used to avoid direct conflict in my writing. In my early stuff, all my characters had massive internal conflicts, and very little exterior ones. It's still hard for me to write dialogue for fights and arguments.)

There are encouraging things. For example, nothing beats reading something you wrote some time ago and realizing that it's good. I wrote this book differently then anything I'd done before, writing the first draft out by hand and then periodically typing what I'd written into my computer. I didn't do a whole lot of rewriting when I first typed it in, just made sure that all the plot lines were consistent, names matched, etc. Going back and reading it, it turns out that this method works a lot better than I thought it would. The book still needs work of course, especially the end, but it was a very pleasant surprise.

By the way...

So, coming back to the problem of me and libraries. I have a book out that is overdue, and cannot be renewed because someone else wants it. I've known this for the last six days.

Every day I get up, putter about the house, glance at the pile of books by my door and think, "I need to grab that book and drop it off after work".

I've been at work, and within easy access of a library all week. Have I returned the book yet?


Maybe the library will take my firstborn child as payment...

Macaroni and cheese

I've been thinking a lot about food lately. One reason is that I recently cut severely back on sugar. I'm not supposed to have it, really, and I was being good for a while, but over the last few months my sugar intake has climbed again.

So, out goes sugar. (and chocolate, sniff...)

The other reason is that it's been a rather stressful summer, to put it mildly. Things were just starting to even out again when I got sick. (This of course was the same week that the scheduling gods at work accidentally scheduled me for nine straight days.)

To sum up my point: Emotional stress+ Physical exhaustion/discomfort= Need for comfort food.

And there is no better comfort food for me than good old mac'n cheese.

I've always loved it. When I was a kid, I was obsessed with tasting different kinds, from the stuff we made at home--adding real cheese, not butter, thank you--to restaurants and deli's and such. I thought of myself as a connoisseur. (Yeah, I was that kind of child.) My parents still tell how I would go to all-you-can-eat buffets and the first thing I would get would be macaroni and cheese. They didn't understand. Why would you get something at a restaurant that you could make at home?

I didn't have a good reason. It just made me happy.

It still does, but I can't eat it so much anymore. For one thing, I'm not supposed to have a lot of flour either, and it's hard to have pasta without flour. For another it's full of fat and carbs and low in all the healthy things I'm supposed to care about eating. So most of the time I'm disciplined and adult and eat vegetables and chicken and fruit and stuff.

But not today. I slept badly last night, woke up sick still, went to work and ripped my pants in a rather embarrassing place. I was tired, grumpy, headachy and upset, so I went next door, bought some deli mac'n cheese and ate it. My doctor won't be pleased.

I'm not sorry though. Sometimes the needs of the body just have to give way for the health of the soul. Besides, Fred Meyer makes the best deli mac'n cheese ever. It's like the holy grail of deli foods.

Bonus post!

So, I've already posted once tonight, but it was long and serious and rambley, and so I want to post again.

About chicken noodle soup...

I adore chicken noodle soup. Actually, anyone who knows me well will tell you I adore soup in general, but CNS has a special place in my heart. In fact I strongly suspect I may be addicted to it. I've had three bowls already today and I still crave more.

That may be because I'm sick though. Whenever I don't feel well, I only seem to want chicken noodle soup, saltine crackers and diet coke. Whenever I'm really emotionally drained, all I want is macaroni and cheese.

And now I have a terrific urge to go get some diet coke.


PS. I also just realized that the links on this page to my other blogs were not working. They have been fixed, so if you missed them before, you get another chance.

Library confessions

There's a pile of library books sitting by my door. To be specific, there are nine. I know for a fact that there are also five to ten others in my car. All of these library books have been read already and are waiting to be returned.

They have been waiting several weeks.


Why can't I return library books in a timely manner? It's not because of locations, or gas prices. I work, and have worked for almost three years within ten minutes of a library. I could go there before work, after work, or even on a lunch if I were desperate.

But I don't. And if I do, then half the time I forget my books, and simply end up checking out more books, and the pile by my door grows larger.

My personal record for a library fine is upwards of forty dollars. Granted that was a special case. I had about twenty books out and went on vacation for two weeks without checking the due dates. But still...

It has gotten better lately. I do return books mostly on time, and the fines are usually in the range of one to four dollars. I kind of accept it now. I'm a book junkie, and if paying a fine every couple of months for my fix is what I must do, then I do it gladly.

Besides, I'm pretty sure I personally paid for the library's new carpet.

A random slice of me

So today I was at my bill-paying job, serving legally addictive substances to the general public. (I work in a coffee shop.) One of my regular customers comes in, whom I will call Fred, not because it is his name but because I'm so tired right now I can't even remember to blink, let alone who I had a conversation with 12 hours ago.


Fred came in and ordered a drink, and we chatted a bit while I went to write his name on his cup. This is a close approximation of our conversation.

Me: I'm going to call you 'Super Fred!' today. (writes it on cup)

Him: Why?

Me: (pausing) Um.. I don't know. Because things like that just come to me and I say them.

Him: Ah, I see.

Me: (awkward silence)

Yeah. Scaring people with randomness. That's how I roll.

And there was much rejoicing...


Well, I did it. Tonight I put the last period on the last sentence in my second book. It's done.


I thought I wasn't going to get it done tonight. Part of me wanted to delay it, drag it out, that weird part of me that never seems to want to write. The part that likes to distract me with Important Things, like laundry and chocolate pudding and picking fuzz out of the carpet. Tonight's distraction of choice was World of Warcraft, which I just started playing. I'm literally an hour's worth of work away from this major achievement: finishing a novel, and all I could think about was how I could get my Cooking skill up to 50.

But I did it. Tore myself away, and wrote the last scene. And I swear to you, the last few sentences it was like writing through water. I was practically going at glacial speed by the time I wrote "The End". Now it's 11:30pm, and I've started this blog basically because I don't want to go to sleep yet, like if I let myself relax, I'll melt into an incoherent puddle and never recover.

I'm glad it's done, and I really think it will be a good book. But right now, I feel a little sick.

Is this normal?
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Fabric art in the header by Carol Riggs.