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.
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Fabric art in the header by Carol Riggs.