Wednesday, November 2, 2011


Yep. It's here again. National Novel Writing Month - that magical time of year when aspiring authors make personal commitments to write 60,000 words in a month - that averages 2,000 words a day.

Have I committed to same? Yes.

Please note I am writing my much neglected blog instead of creating memorable prose.

Last night, I wrote 1,100 words. Tonight I'm cruising the NaNoWriMo site.

Ah procrastination, thy name is Julie.

Seriously though, my heroine needs to be attacked a zombie - back to work.

Monday, October 3, 2011

The New Me...

I'm trying something. I can't create an many more hours in the day but I think there may be something I can do to impact my energy level. More energy means I'll get more writing done. Fingers crossed on that.

Oh, I also want to fit into an evening gown thats a few pounds too small....My brother-in-law started main-lining antioxidants and lost 25 pounds.

So, I am focusing on eating as many antioxidants as possible. Think berries, artichokes and apples. Also cinammon, cocoa, turmeric and cloves. The kids are not loving the new, healthier me or perhaps it's the dinners. Last night's gnocci with spinach, tomatoes and white beans was not a hit.

So far energy up, weight unchanged and word-count rising.

I'll keep you posted.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Never-Ending Story

I vaguely remember a movie from my younger days. It was called The Never-Ending Story. One of the characters was something like a dragon. It talked, or maybe it was a telepath... I do remember it wore an Elvis pompadour. The hero was a little boy who loved to read. He was a cute kid. The kind of cute that appeals to adults and gets kids beat up. Somehow, our young hero entered a book and battled to save the world.

It was a kids' movie so, of course, the cute kid prevailed against impossible odds. And just when you thought the movie was over some wise old guy - don't ask me where he came from, I don't remember - explains that the hero's story is still being written. It is never-ending.

I have been writing the never-ending story. True, it contains no dragons with retro hair-dos. Also, there are no wise old guys in it. Instead, it is an article that won't end. Every time I think I have finished, the editor asks another excellent question.

It has kept me from my novel, my blog and an ever-growing pile of laundry.

I just sent off another e-mail with more information. I am not so foolish as to believe the story is finished.

If it ever does end, look for it in November!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Graveminder is Great but I'm Looking for Zombies!

I love to read. There are so many amazing books out there. I wish I had time for them all. Of late, I've been reading histories of New Orleans, a short novel based on the life of Kansas City madam Annie Chambers and, because I was in the mood for southern gothic - Melissa Marr's new novel Graveminder.

If you are unfamiliar with Melissa Marr, you obviously haven't been reading enough YA. Her Wicked Lovely series is loads of faerie fun.

Graveminder is her first stab at adult fiction. I am in awe of her world-building abilities. Her characters live in Claysville - a town that has made a deal with Death. Anyone ever born in Claysville is buried there meaning there are lots of graveyards. It is the graveminder's job to make sure the dead don't rise. Spooky - especially when the grandmotherly graveminder is murdered by a walking corpse and Bek, who lived in happy ignorance of the town's deal with Death must take her place.

Worse, tt's a Stepford kind of place, where people who ask to many questions are struck with memory-wiping migraines. Bek can't get a straight answer from anyone - not the callow mayor, the heart-of-gold bartender, the sherriff or her sometimes boyfriend.

I was hoping for Beautiful Creatures style creepiness and I got in when Bek goes wandering among the dead and meets with Charles aka Death.

This isn't a keep-you -up-at-night wondering if you dead-bolted the backdoor kind of read but is entertaining.

I just want to read about some southern gothic zombies....any ideas?

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

A Poor Excuse for a Poem but a Great Writing Exercise

My eighth grader came home with a writing assigment. Rather than a boring essay on how she spent her summer vacation, she is to write a poem with 'summer' as the topic.

She has been given a format for this poem. It is supposed to follow a pattern:
I saw...
I heard...
I smelled...
I tasted...
I felt...
I said...
And it was the strangest thing...

If it were me writing, I'd end up with...

I saw the sky fade from lavender to purple to black
I heard the cicadas song
I smelled fresh cut grass and new asphalt
I tasted the ice cream cone melting in my hand
I felt the hint of a breeze move the humid air
I said, "It's getting dark earlier and earlier."
It was the strangest thing, I actually sensed summer's magic around me

My two minute, free-verse poem probably wouldn't garner me an A from the English teacher. That's not the point. I love the assignment because it encourages my daughter to employ all the senses when she describes something and it reminds me to do the same.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

A Good Yarn

When I was pregnant with my first daughter, I spent my third trimester on bed rest. The drugs my doctors gave me to stop unwanted contractions made it impossible for me to read. I played countless hands of bridge on a laptop and I learned to knit.

A thoughtful cousin supplied me with a pattern, yarn and needles and she taught me how to cast on, cast off, knit, pearl, count stitches, etc. I made the baby who was causing me such trouble a sweater. Next I tried a pattern with multiple colors and I learned intarsia and how to carry yarn. By the time my oldest daughter arrived, I was hooked.

I quickly discovered the romance of new yarn. The colors, the feel and the possibilities fired my creativity. I bought more than I needed. I created a stash - I've since learned many knitters maintain one.

New yarn proved to be a siren's call. Just when a project seemed dull and never-ending, hand-dyed virgin wool or a clever eyelash skein could tempt me to begin something new.

And then there's the finishing. I  find "finishing" a knitting project - sewing seams, weaving threads, blocking, etc... to be completely uninteresting. New yarn could always lure me away from finishing.

So, here I sit with a skein of new ideas and research. The new ideas seem so much brighter and more colorful than the writing projects that need finishing. The new ideas are begging to be written. Who am I to argue? After all, I finished all those sweaters - eventually.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The Dog Days of Summer

Apparently, the dog star can be seen during the hottest days of summer - thus, the expression. Who knew? I always thought the dog days of summer were about August waning into September and the promise of cooler weather.

My children return to school next Tuesay. Part of me is doing a discreet happy dance. Part of me is wondering why anyone goes back to school before Labor Day. I never did. Not once. Ergo, that is the way things should be done.

I have BIG plans for my writing life as soon as we are back on a schedule.

My best intentions melted like a popsicle in July's heat. By the time August rolled around they were a puddle on the pavement.

My to do list is long and August hasn't helped me at all. Keeping my fingers crossed that those waning days will be my friend.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

A Writer's Life

My vision of a writer's life includes sending my children off to school, walking the crazy Weim and settling down in front of a computer for four or five hours. The phone doesn't ring, the laundry does itself and a quick trip to the grocery yields ingredients for a delicious, nutricious dinner everyone will like.

The reality - I work at a job I love and come home to a house destroyed by two ten-year olds' attempts at making and icing cookies. I do loads of laundry, run the dishwasher, sweep up random pieces of duct tape (the kiddos are also fashioning bracelets), wipe down counters, chisel dried icing of the breakfast room table and try to figure out what's for dinner. And still, it's there. The itch...the need to write about air so warm and heavy it feels like flannel.

So - tonight the writing life will include a dinner sure to engender complaints - chicken again? A load or two of laundry, dishes and at least an hour or two of key tapping.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Judging a Book by its Cover

I didn’t major in English in college. I majored in French. And no, it wasn’t four years of conjugating irregular verbs. After learning to speak the language, we read its literature and poetry.

While my English major friends were reading Dickens and Shakespeare, I read Hugo, Flaubert, Balzac, Rimbaud, Baudelaire, Zola, Stendahl, etc…

When I wasn’t reading for class, I read literary fiction. None of that genre stuff for me.

Fast forward twenty years and I admit I love genres. Give me a romance, a paranormal, or a steampunk.

Call me shallow, but I don’t want to read about angst-ridden dysfunctional families. Sorry John Irving, John Updike and Jonathan Franzen, but I want something to actually happen that culminates in a happy ending.

What I don’t want is a witness. Call it pretentious. Call it foolish. Call it what you want. The thought of being seen with Angelina’s Savage Secret (two points if you can name the movie that engendered that title) fills me with shame.

My Nook has solved that problem. For all anyone knows, I’m reading Until I Find You (which I really liked), Rabbit is Rich or The Corrections.

And, I’m not the only one. Romance has seen a marked increase in sales since the advent of e-readers (different websites give different percentages – I like 27%). I bet the same it true of paranormals. And, I’m pretty sure I’m not the only adult reading YA on my Nook.

I read A LOT and I skipped whole genres for decades based on lurid covers.

The next the publishing industry decides to saddle a well-written novel with a half-dressed woman clasped to a glistening chest, they might think about me. ‘Cause if it’s too lurid, I don’t even want it on my Nook.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

MG v. YA

It has been suggested by some very smart people that my YA (young adult) novel should be rewritten for middle graders (MG). After the general sense of nausea and desire to burst into tears wore off, I had to agree they had a point.

So, I've been trolling the internet looking for the difference between MG and YA.

I stumbled across this incredibly helpful article.

Eric over at Pimp My Novel also has an interesting post. Including this sage advice:

MG protagonists are usually in the age range of 8 - 12. YA protagonists are usually 12 or older.
• The word count for MG is around 20,000 - 40,000, whereas it's 50,000 - 75,000 for YA (as
Jessica Faust notes here, these numbers are a little fuzzy, so take this with a grain of salt).
• MG plots tend to center on the protagonist's internal world, whereas YA plots are more complex and are more concerned with the protagonist's effect on his or her external world.
• MG is chiefly read by late elementary/middle school students; YA is chiefly read by high school students and up.

Basically, the MG/YA question boils down to Ramona Quimby vs. Bella Swan (shudder). Which is your protagonist?

My apologies to any Twilight fans out there - but really, he's right. I knew I was doing something right as a mother when my teenage daughter put down New Moon and told me she couldn't read a book where a girl gets that depressed over a boy (vampire). Booya!

I loved this post over at YA Highway for its valuable information and hint of snark.

And finally, this engaging post over at Upstart Crow Literary details a variety of differences...

  • Middle grade novels tend to be shorter. (Though not always—the huge and intimidating Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is middle grade, while Angela Johnson’s brief-as-a-vivid-dream The First Part Last is quite clearly teen.)
  • Middle grade novels tend to have main characters who are the age of—or slightly older than—the target reader. (Though this, too, isn’t hard and fast: The girls in The Witch Family are younger than the reader who can fully appreciate the story, and even characters such as Mr. Putter or Frog and Toad are for all intents middle-aged.)
  • Middle grade novels tend to be more outwardly focused: Their plot of events, of things happening to the character, is more important over the course of the book than what happens within the character. (Though that matters very much to the climax of the book, when the outward events trigger an inner change.)
  • Middle grade novels tend to have a simpler vocabulary and a simpler sentence structure.
  • Middle grade novels tend to have a single inciting element—the thing that sets the comfortable, given world a-kilter.
Right now, the difference between MG and YA is hours upon hours of revising. Wish me luck.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Dead Until Dark

In my spare moments, I've been re-reading Charlaine Harris' southern vampire mysteries.

Please visit my review of the first novel at My Vamp Fiction.

Just by-the-by, writing a decent book review ain't easy. It is hard to describe a plot without spoilers. It's difficult to describe how a character develops without giving away the ending. Although, I assume the whole world is watching True Blood and knows what happens in the first novel. If you haven't tuned in, do.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Not My Nightmare

I know it's a cliche - the dream where the assignment or report is due and the dreamer hasn't started it. For the record, I've never had that dream. My nightmares tend towards black storm clouds and watching the twisting finger of a tornado descend from the sky. Somehow I'm always standing in the middle of a wheat field with no shelter in sight.

At any rate - back to the missing assignment.

I got an e-mail yesterday from a magazine editor asking if my article would be ready by Friday. What? What article? Not one I pitched, one they'd been kind enough to assign to me. Only problem - I never got the assignment.

So, the novel's word count will suffer for another few days while I pen an article. At least with the article, I'm getting paid to write.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Is it cheating?

I have a new idea perking. It keeps me awake at night.

And yet, I feel like I'm stepping out on my other projects. I know they won't actually be jealous. But still - I owe it to Tinsley to get her on the Aquitania on her way to Paris in the 20s. And then there's the YA book that needs to be rewritten as MG - Betsi needs an attitiude adjustment.

Tinsley, Betsi and Eden (the YA witch) looked over my shoulder today as I tried to outline a first few chapters of something new. "Who is this Estella character?" they asked. "She does what?" Betsi demanded.

"June is over," I assured them. "In July, I'll  find time for all of you."

"And Estella too?" They sure sounded jealous.

"Well... I'll make time for Estella's outline." After all, I am trying to plot not pants.

"I need a rewrite," says Eden.

"Me too," says Betsi.

"Ha!" Tinsley snorts. "At least she finished you, I've been at a party in Sands Point since May."

Tonight, I'll go to sleep thinking about Estella. Tomorrow, Betsi, Eden and Tinsley take over.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Plotter or Pantser?

I have read that there are two kinds of writers.

There are those who carefully plan their novels. They are plotters (not to be mistake with plodders). They outline plots, sub-plots, character development, arcs and exactly what will happen in each chapter.

Then, there are pantsers (think fly by the seat of your pants - which is pretty ironic - writers describing themselves with a cliche and all). Pantsers have a general idea where they want to go but they make up the details along the way.

Guess which one I am. Not just in my writing but in my life.

I have an idea for a novel. I think it's a pretty good idea. It's an idea that needs to sit on the back-burner for a few months while the word count for a Roaring Scandal grows and Prairie Gothic moves from YA to MG. While it simmers, I just might write an outline.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Ding Dong the Witch is Dead

I'm from Kansas City. That means several things. It means I look to the west for weather. It means I've spent my life explaining that KANSAS City is actually in Missouri (apologies to my friends from KCK). And, it means The Wizard of Oz was required viewing (yes, I've read it too).

Today I feel a bit like the Munchkins. Ding Dong June is dead. That too long month is dead. Wake-up Sleepy Head. Rub your eyes, Get out of bed. NOT that I spent much time in bed. June was a marathon of kids activities, volunteer commitments, driving here, there and everywhere and the paying job.

July slows down. July takes its time.

July will add to the word count.

July is a gift - a breather - before I need to get kids ready to go back to school.

July is hot. I hate hot. I don't care. I love July.

Look for the word count to rise!

And maybe, somewhere over the rainbow, the book will be finished. After all, that's where dreams come true.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

The Declaration of Independence

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Life. Liberty. Happiness.

Life - seems pretty self-evident. We get due process; no one can haul us off to the gallows or guilliotine because we disagree with their politics.

Liberty - Free speech, freedom of assembly, freedom of religion - your basic bill of rights.

And finally, the pursuit of Happiness. That pursuit is one of the things that makes our country unique. Unlike Hobbes, we don't buy into the idea that life is, "solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short." Instead, we believe happiness is possible and, what's more, we have an unalienable right to catch it.

This weekend, I send my thanks to the men of vision who founded our country and to the men and women who fight to keep it strong.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Channeling my Inner Demon

Remember in The Excorcist when Linda Blair's head spins around and a voice straight from the depths of Hell comes out of her mouth? Yeah, I know it was 1973 but it's not like you haven't seen it on late-night television.

My head didn't spin this morning but I had the voice down. Granted, it was the fifth time I told my sleepy ten year-old to get out of bed. With each request, she'd raise an eyelid then cuddle deeper into her cocoon of blankets.

"Please," I begged. "I have things to do. You need to get up. Now."

"I'm tired." She snuggled up to her bear.

"I understand but you need to get up. Practice starts at 9:15."

She did the eyelid and cuddle thing.

"Get up." I pulled the blankets off of her.

"I don't want to." She pulled the blankets back on.

I tried to be a good mother. I remembered to count to ten. I took a deep cleansing breath. I said, "This is the last time I'm going to ask you nicely. Please get up."

"I don't want to."

Then it came. The voice. Rough and deep and angry and slightly Satanic. "GET UP NOW."

She looked at me like my head had actually spun on my shoulders and started to cry. "Why are you so mean to me?"

The voice wasn't done. "GET OUT OF THAT BED."

Sniffle. Sniffle. "Why are you YELLING at me?"

Gee. I don't know.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Lazy Saturday? Ha!

What happened to lazy Saturdays? Seriously?

I've lost count of the loads of laundry done today. I've ironed two weeks worth of shirts for Dreamy One. I've picked up the house.

Somehow working full-time, adjusting to the summer schedule, driving kids here, there and everywhere, and trying to put a few words on paper have eaten June. Whole.

Saturdays have become catch up days - and not catching up on word count days.

Sundays are writing days. I hope.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The first five pages

There are critique sites out there, good ones, where aspiring authors can submit the first five pages of their work in progress (WIP) for review. Anyone submitting can count on a variety of input. Some comments are incredibly helpful, others less so.

Many writers take the well-meaning critiques to heart and resubmit the same five pages again and again. I applaud them for their dedication. After all, the first five pages - a mere 1,250 words - are what an agent might consider before making the decision to ask for a complete MS or sending a form rejection letter.

Those five pages are a first impression.

I wonder though - with the time and effort that go into the first five are the next two hundred pages just as good? They need to be.

I am working on a chapter that seems trite. If I read it out of context, I would assume a nine year-old had had a bad writing day. Who wrote that drivel? Me? Did I drink one too many glasses of wind before I tried to type?

Yikes. I guess I can take comfort in knowing the first five pages of the MS are awesome

Monday, June 20, 2011


What makes us creative?

What gives us a spark?

Turns out the muse lives within us all - on the right side of our brains.

Our left brains, the side we use most often, governs organization and detail. It lets us multi-task e-mail and blogs and deadlines. The majority of  people in the developed world favor the left side of their brains.

Accessing the right side - the emotional, creative side of the brain can be a challenge requires some effort. Two of the best ways to tap into that right-sided creativity are meditation and repetitive exercise. So, if you see me on a treadmill with my eyes closed chanting 'oommm' don't worry about my sanity. I'm just trying to find creative solutions for the problems in my novel.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Who would you be?

Last night Dreamy One and I went out to dinner with one of our favorite couples. Sangria and tapas were ordered. Conversation meandered from red hair to house flipping to naughty greeting cards to the economy.

Then, N asked, "If you could be anyone for a week, who would it be?"

The expected questions were asked... Living  or dead? Do I get to pick the period in their lives I want to visit? Yes and yes.

I thought...hmm.... Shakespeare? No. Dorothy Parker? No. What do I want to do for a week? The answer was was easy. "Jimmy Buffet."

Dreamy One raised an eyebrow.

"Seriously," I insisted. "Think a beach, a margarita and flip-flops."

The other answers were the Pope, Winston Churchhill and Chief Justice John Roberts.

"You're sure about Buffet?" asked Dreamy One.

Positive. I'd spend a week with my toes in the water, ass in the sand, not a worry in the world and a cold beer in my hand (yes, I know that's the Zac Brown Band but I'm sure Jimmy Buffet is down with the sentiment).

Plus, Jimmy Buffet writes. I've even read one of his books. A book the Kirkus review said was..."So laid-back and rambling it's perilously close to sloppy, but Buffett's considerable charms as a performer and goof-off artist keep things afloat." Where is Joe Merchant? is the equivalent of cotton candy...spun sugar.

I'll let Dreamy One and our friends face WWII, lead the world's Catholics and write legal opinions that can change our country. You'll find me in Margaritaville.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

So the drama

Two strangers see each other across a crowded room. Their eyes meet. They're drawn to each other. They flirt. They talk. They date. They fall in love. Their parents approve. They get their HEA (happily ever after) without any drama.

While this might be the love story we want - for ourselves or our children - it's not one we want to read about. Frankly, its kinda boring. No conflict.

Two strangers see each other across a crowded room. Mary is in a relationship - it's complicated. John is fed up with women, especially complicated women. Neither is looking for anyone new. Their eyes meet. They're drawn to each other. Mary thinks he's a jerk. John thinks she's complicated. End scene.

Mary's boyfriend is arrested for fill-in-the-blank. He swears to her he is innocent (NOT). John is appointed as the boyfriend's defense attorney. Mary and John bicker and rub each other the wrong way and get under each other's skins while boyfriend sits in jail.

Mary feels awful - she kinda likes John. She shouldn't. She should stand by her man - even if he is an embezzler/thief/generally bad guy.

John feels worse. He has feelings for Mary. It's totally unprofessional. What's more, if he gets her  boyfriend acquitted, he'll lose her.

Ach - the drama, the conflict, the rocky road to love. But - I bet you're wondering what happens next...

Boyfriend breaks out of jail and threatens Mary? Mary is implicated in boyfriend's crime? John's complicated ex-girlfriend shows up with a baby she claims is his? Could be...

I am oh-so-happy to live a boring HEA and I'm oh-so-happy I don't have to read about it.

Monday, June 6, 2011

I'm melllttting

It is too hot for June. Frankly, it's too hot for July, August or any other month. Then again, I am a lover of winter. I actually like sleet and snow and gusts of cold wind.

I get more done in the winter. Cold invigorates. Heat saps.

I appreciate the variations of a gray sky more than the endless bleached blue that puts in an appearance every summer.

If I must watch sports on television, I prefer watching football or NCAA basketball (with my husband) or figure skating (with my daughters) to yawning my way through a game of baseball or golf.

I've reached the age where a swimsuit is not my friend.

I hate getting into a sun-heated car and sincerely thank the genius engineer who came up with air-conditioned seats. As my mother would say, "Best invention since sliced bread."

I don't like yard work, bugs (with the exception of fireflys), dragging around a hose, high humidity or ironing linen clothing.

Just so you know I'm not a complete curmudgeon - I do like cicadas' songs, summer dresses, sandals, ice cream, fresh peaches and having my husband grill dinner because it's too hot to turn on the oven. I like late twilight, the freshness of the air in the morning, the sound of children playing in a pool and unexpected cool breezes. Most of all, I like entering an air-conditioned house.

And now, before my brain melts like a popsicle in the sun, it's time to increase the word count.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Where does the time go?

I'm getting nothing done. It's a kid thing. Today - time trials for swim team and a soccer game - all in 90 degree plus heat with humidity off the charts. I collapsed this afternoon.

Tonight, I get to go pick up the 13 year-old and her friends from a movie. Where does the time go?

Some fab new books arrive about the 1920s, so some of my time is spent reading - ahem, researching. I am learning more than I ever wanted to know about The Stork Club (it started life as a speakeasy), loose morals, hemlines, the difference between auction and contract bridge, the growing popularity of golf and why cocktails became popular (syrups covered the taste of cheap booze).

Good stuff to know but it doesn't advance the word count of the WIP....yet.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Coming Out

The day I decided to say - out loud - "I want to be a writer" - I became accountable to my dream.

I am a writer. I write this blog. I write novels. And, I write articles (for which I am actually paid).

Dreams evolve. I am a writer. I want to be an author. I want a publishing company to say they love my MS as much as I do. I want to see it sitting on the shelves at Rainy Day Books. I want to download it to my Nook. I want to hold it in my hands and flip through its pages. I want someone to read it and think Yes! I've thought that/felt that/wondered that.

You know my dream. I just need to make it come true.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Flying Pigs

Summer officially began today. The girlies went to tennis and swim and dive and I drove from place to place (what a way to spend a vacation day). It's finally hot.

At the pool, the smell of chlorine, the splash of water and the sounds of children reminded me of my own childhood. Over by the baby pool, young mothers dreamed of the day they wouldn't have to watch their progeny like hawks. Ha! Just wait 'til their teenagers, then they'll truly watch like them like birds of prey.

Despite my best intentions, I wrote not a word. Tomorrow is June, the month of getting nothing done. Perhaps this will be the year when June is productive - and pigs will fly.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Lazy Sundays

Church, brunch and now the luxury of tapping away at the keys from the air-conditioned comfort of a quiet bar while my daughter and her friend enjoy a day worthy of swimming. What's more, I made the balsamic marinade for tonight's grilled asparagus this morning. I have no responsibilities for dinner.

I know I promised not to buy any more books until I'd written 10,000 words. Whoops. Does it count when the books are research related? Surely not. After all, I discovered an uber-flapper - Tex Guinan. Now I just need to figure out if she fits in the WIP. She welcomed guests at her nightclubs with a warm, "Hello Sucker!" and is credited with the expression butter and egg man.

I love popular history.


Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Tornado Alley

At current count 69 tornadoes touched down in the midwest today. In a city that is frequently blasé
about spring storms the spectre of what happened to our neighbors in Joplin looms large.

I spent part of today crouched in a basement stairwell. My children were herded into the basement at their school. The dreamy one even moved away from his glassed office to an interior room. It seems like the whole country has slowed down to look at what happened in Joplin - the loss of life, the destruction, the horror stories of teenage boys being sucked out of their cars. So, today we payed attention to the sirens and the warnings. Sort of...

Even as I hid in the basement, there were people in the parking lot gauging the storm. There is a youtube video of idiots on a roof filming as a funnel cloud forms.

Survival of the fittest? That Darwin was on to something.

I get it though - those clouds and their power are compelling.

I chatted with a friend today about books. She admitted she had seven unfinished novels on her nightstand. She told me they weren't compelling. Perhaps, as a writer, I need to go study a few clouds.

Sunday, May 22, 2011


Another weekend gone. They slide by too quickly - a haze of soccer games and dinner parties and tapping of keys.

This weekend included all three.

The dinner party was much fun until the man I was chatting with fell asleep. Granted, it was after dinner and the couch was comfortable. But still, it suggests my conversational skills are less than scintillating.

Hopefully, the results of key tapping were more interesting than my conversation.

I've been thinking about internal and external conflict for my characters of late, how one can cause the other or resolve it. So, I wonder how my current cast of characters would deal with a man who falls alseep next to them on the couch. My heroine would leave him be (the poor man must be exhausted). Her friend Clem might draw a mustache on his unsuspecting upper lip (how dare he fall asleep in her fascinating company?) Dottie would make jokes at his expense.

When he woke would he be embarrased? Grateful to Tinsley (main character) for allowing him to sleep? Furious with Clem for defacing his face? Angry that Dottie had made him the butt of clever jokes?

What did I do? Let's just say there are a few slack-jawed pictures to commemorate the night our friend stayed up past his bedtime.

Friday, May 20, 2011

The Evil Music Teacher

I sit at the computer trying to craft words into something greater than the sum of their parts. My ten-year old has decided to practice Ode to Joy on her recorder. Have you any idea how difficult it is to string together sentences while listening recorder song-stylings? Let me tell you - it ain't easy.

Dorothy Parker might ask, "What fresh hell is this?"

A hell inflicted upon my house by an evil music teacher. On the bright side, at least she's not playing the drums.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Zombie Apocalypse

In case you missed it, the CDC recently warned us of the looming (lurching?) possibility of a Zombie Apocalypse. Don't believe me. Visit here.

The agency's social media website was flooded. A site that usually sees 3,000 hits a day saw 60,000. Zombies? Really? They eat brains. Eww.

It just goes to show how the dark, the sci-fi, the fantasy is becoming more mainstream (please note, the agency decided against vampire invasions because, really, vampires are so yesterday).

What's next demon hordes? The riders of the Unseelie court? Ghosts? Sirens?

The CDC recommends water, food, medicine, hygiene products, copies of important documents, and a first aid kit. I've read enough YA to know you will need guns, an axe, a full tank of gas in your car, a bow and arrows and, if you can find it, a magical device of some kind - think a wand, rune stone or (for you Cassie Clare fans) mortal intrument.

Good luck protecting you and yours!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Feelin' Groovy and OLD

The thirteen year-old sat in the back-seat and complained about the radio today. Finally, my finger stopped on Mrs. Robinson.
"Seriously? We have to listen to this?"
"It's Simon and Garfunckel," I said.
"The circus people?"
"What? No - the Boxer, Bridge over Troubled Water, Feelin' Groovy. We're listening to this."
"Didn't one of them get mauled by a tiger?"
"I think you mean Siegfried and Roy."
"Oh. Yeah. Maybe."

Why would a teenager care about Simon & Garfunkel? She'd rather listen to Lady Gaga or Rihanna.

Something to think about as I write YA. My frame of reference is very different from my potential readers...

Sunday, May 15, 2011

On weekends...

I bet I'm not the only wanna-be writer who allows things to go to hell while I inhabit a story. My family is exceedingly nice about it. Except for dinner. They are never nice about dinner. Someone ALWAYS complains.

I didn't so much as touch the keys of a computer yesterday. Instead, I picked up my neglected house, did countless loads of laundry, ironed shirts for my dreamy husband (not exactly my favorite thing to do but infinitely better than sewing on buttons after the cleaner breaks them), and took the crazy doggo for a walk. I also read War for the Oaks. Wow.

Tonight I will write. Or edit. I will not succumb to the instant gratification known as Nook. Want a book, buy a book, read a book. Thirty seconds. In fact, I pledge to write another 10,000 words before I make another purchase. Promise. Cross my heart. I mean it. Really I do.

Hold me to it.

Current word count is 25,435.

What should my reward be?? Erik Larsen's new book? Hmmm.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011


There are days when I wonder if I'm wasting my time. I wonder if every word I've strung together stinks worse than old cheese. I wonder if my plot is plausible or not. I wonder if an editor will look at my ramblings and stop reading after the first few lines.

Today is one of those days.

And still, I write. My fingers tap the keys and my brain guides them away from creating words like was, that and could.

Does the plot have an arc? Are my characters likeable? Will anyone care if my heroine wears a gown I've researched or not? Actually, people who read historical fiction can be sticklers on details, so I'm guessing yes... It begs the question - will the book ever be read by anyone other than my faithful Beta reader? I can never thank her enough.,,

Other writers - some of them good writers - go through this. I am not alone. It doesn't help.

I take some comfort in knowing that today's drivel just might be edited into something readable. But that's tomorrow. Today I wonder if I am writing only for myself.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Happy Mother's Day

I remember the first mother's day I was actually a mother. The baby had colic going on six months. I was sleep deprived, emotional and my last nerve had long since sprung.

"Aha!" I thought, "A day for me. A day when I can sleep more than three or four hours at a stretch. A day when someone (consider this a hint Dreamy Husband) will bring me my coffee in bed. A day for me.

I forgot. I have a mother and a mother-in-law. We brunched and dined and hauled a crying baby all over the city. I did not get one moment to myself. I did not get any extra sleep. I did not get coffee in bed.

Fast-forward five years. We added a child but not much else changed. We brunched, we dined, we hauled children. No extra sleep, no coffee in bed. However, this particular mother's day has reached historical proportions at our house. This was the mother's day when daughter number two stopped breathing. I held a limp, purple toddler in my arms, certain she was dead, while my husband begged the EMTs to come to our house despite the fact we owned a large dog.

Daughter number two was an involuntary breath-holder. I spent five hours at Children's Mercy Hospital having her condition diagnoses and explained. It was not a good night. (Happy to report she grew out of the condition that I know took five years off my life.)

I have no expectations of mother's day. None. What a lovely surprise to get not only coffee but breakfast in bed - after I slept in. What a treat to have time to write this blog after a day of brunching and dining.

Thank you to my lovely daughters and Dreamy Husband for a wonderful day.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Prince Charming is not coming

I have a birthday coming up. Not a big one. But one landing me solidly in mid-forties. It makes me think about my daughters, my childhood and the things my girls will remember thirty years from now.

If you'll count back with me, you'll realize I was a little girl before Disney created empowered princesses. As a child Snow White, Aurora and Cinderella all needed saving by handsome princes.

I remember the first PG movie I ever saw - King Kong with Jessica Lange as Dwan. Who doesn't save the heroine in this movie? Between Jeff Bridges and Kong she need never worry.

The other 1970s movies that left an impression - Star Wars..Princess Leah is rescued (at least she's tough) and Grease...Sandy can't catch the man of her dreams looking like herself, she has to dress like a whore.

Yes, I realize five James Bond films were produced in the 1970s. Yes, I realize that not one had a single positive woman role model. Connery or Moore probably saved each of those girls at least once. I don't care. Go ahead and judge me.

Television? I remember Charlie's Angels and Wonder Woman. For the record - Kate Jackson (the smart one) was my favorite Angel, and I never understood why Wonder Woman had to work as an administrative assistant. Heck, she had super-strength, super-speed, a magic lasso and an invisible plane. Superman got to be a reporter, Spiderman a photographer, Batman spent his days as a brooding millionaire and Wonder Woman took dictation?

Thank heavens those wishy-washy types have been replaced by strong fictional girls and women on the movie screen, the television screen and in the books my daughters read.

Disney's latest Tangled princess saves her prince. Veronica Mars and Buffy kicked ass (I miss them both). My thirteen year-old is reading Prom Dates from Hell by Rosemary Clement-Moore (the heroine kicks demon ass). My ten year-old has thought provoking conversations about why Annabeth is tougher than Piper in Rick Riordan's The Lost Hero.

If we're smart, we all play the hero in our own lives. That's what I want to teach my daughter and that's what I want to write.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

The allure of bathroom grout

I admit it. I've been hoping that one of my daughters would do something amusing. After all, it's easier to recount their adventures than create something about which to write.

They've been remarkably unhelpful.

Sitting down to write might just be the hardest part of writing. I swear the screen sneers at me. "Hah," it says, "I know you don't mean it. You're not going to sit here and write a chapter. You've got nothing to say." And really, there are so many other things that need doing - laundry and cooking and errands and cleaning the grout in the bathroom with an old toothbrush.

The funny part - once I sit down to do it, put fingers on keys and stare down the snarky screen, it's not so bad. Ideas translate to words, pages flow into chapters, or, in today's case, an article for a local magazine. Heck, my ability to tap on keys extended to a blog post.

Monday, May 2, 2011

You've got to be kidding

I have a teenage daughter - barely. She's thirteen so she's still perfecting her eye-roll, her silent treatment and her look of icy disdain.

I am a wonderful mother when she wants a ride, money or new clothes. Our most frequent coversation goes something like this...

"MOM, I need a new phone!"
"The one you have works just fine," I say.
"Beggars can't be choosers." (Guess who pays her cell-phone bill?)
"Seriously Mom. It doesn't work. It takes forever to send a text."
"Boo Hoo."

Do you see a pattern forming?

Last night, a war raged through my house. My daughters sabotaged each other's drinks, argued over the computer, the television, whose turn it was to feed the hungry dog and even the color of the sky.

Finally in a sneak maveuver, the ten year-old threw a glass of cold water on her sister in the shower. Screams! Accusations! MOOOOMMMM!!!!! And a broken glass all over the bathroom floor.

I fetched the broom and dustpan and began sweeping up. BUUUZZZ!

Aha, thirteen year-old had left her cell phone on the window sill. I opened my mouth to tell her steam and electronics don't mix and then... wait for it... a dripping wet hand reached out of the shower, grabbed the phone and disappeared. I heard the tap of keys as she returned a text.

I sat on the floor, surrounded by shards of glass, and tried to find something appropriate to say. "WTF" seemed a little strong given my audience. I settled for, "What the hell are you doing?"

"Texting," she said over the sound of running water.

"In the shower?"

"I do it all the time."

What can you say to that? Really?

I wonder, as a new writer, have I been guilty of texting in the shower? Have I done something so unbelievably dizzy I leave people around me speechless?

After draining the hot water tank, teenage daughter approached me and said, "My phone's not working."

A hundred snappy comebacks zipped through my mind. Because I love her, I went with advice. "Put it in a bowl, cover it with rice and don't shower with it again."

Hopefully I built up some karma in case I ever inadvertently shower with my phone.

Friday, April 29, 2011

If I knew then what I know now

Ten things I wish I knew two years ago:
  1. adverbs are not my friends
  2. the passive tense is...passive
  3. present participles are like salt, they add flavor when used sparingly
  4. grammar and spelling count
  5. my crutch words include 'that' and 'could' - I used Wordle to identify them
  6. my characters smile too much
  7. I have a strange obsession with eyes - why not noses or fingers or ears?
  8. there's always a better verb
  9. there's more to POV than meets the eye (see item 7)
  10. 'he said' and 'she asked' disappear - unlike 'he opined' and 'she queried' or 'he remarked' and 'she inquired'

Thursday, April 28, 2011

The meth dealer next door

Every so often I’ll turn on the national news and a reporter will shove a microphone in a neighbor’s face. Now, this neighbor has four teeth, a mullet and rose tattoo declaring his eternal love for Dawn. He is shocked, SHOCKED, to learn the guy next door is a serial killer who has been sawing up bodies out in the shed.

Or perhaps it’s a woman who comments on the meth dealer across street and the hole in the ground where his house used to be. The woman has never met a bra (and should have). She wears a dirty tank top. Her hair straggles. Her teeth snaggle. She smokes on camera.

When I see these people, I pray, “Please, don’t let them be from Kansas City.” I love my home and do not want the rest of the country to think the heartland is populated with meth-dealing serial killers and their clueless neighbors.

It was Pennsylvania’s turn yesterday.

If you’ve not heard, a local news station in Middleburg skewered a high school English teacher of 33+ years experience because she writes erotica in her spare time. She is published under a pen-name. Until this hard-hitting expose, no one knew the 10th grade teacher moonlighted.

The neighbors turned out - parents spewed vitriol, students climbed on soapboxes covered with “holier than thou” stickers, school administrators had no comment, and reporters wondered on-camera about what kind of people are teaching our children.  

Thank God it wasn’t Kansas City. If I lived in Middleburg, I’d be red-faced with humiliation. This is worse than a toothless mullet. This is more embarrassing than a snaggle-toothed, saggy-boobed smoker.

I’m guessing the mullet and the snaggle-tooth are unaware of the impression they make on me. More likely, they don’t care. Do you think the good folks of Middleburg realize how ignorant they seem? Do they know the rest of the country now thinks they’re backward? Do they care?

I don’t read erotica. I’d never heard of Judy Mays until yesterday. I’m not going to buy her backlist. But, I am supporting her on Facebook. You should too.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Ranting - just a bit

A few things I find disturbing:

People PAY to listen to Charlie Sheen's manic rants.

People I know and love plan to get up at 4 a.m. to watch the wedding of people they don't know and never will.
The next James Bond movie won't be released until 2012. What happened to feeding my Bond fix every two years?

And then there is this - Levi Johnston has a book deal. That's right, the boy whose sole claim to his fifteen minutes is knocking up Bristol Palin has a book deal. He claims, "I’m doing this for me, for my boy Tripp and for the country." Yes, because the country is sitting on the edge of its collective seat waiting the hear what lessons this oh-so-responsible young man is going to share. Who is going to read this book? Enquiring minds want to know!

Monday, April 25, 2011

A good day...

It's raining here - off an on - the kind of rain that reminds me of Paris. A rain that can't make up its mind. A rain that makes me want to burrow under the covers. I didn't.

No matter that the kiddos had the day off and slept 'til ten. I did things today. I ironed shirts. I did laundry. I ran errands. And, I wrote. 2,000+ words.

Now all I need is another 20 or so rainy vacation days.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Let me count the ways...

I joined an on-line critique group. The upside has been some incredibly helpful advice about Point of View and pacing. Not so helpful was the reader who wanted me to add a tag after every line of dialogue.


"Hello," said Eden.

"Hi," Romy said.

"How are you?" Eden asked.

"Fine thanks," Romy replied. "And you."

"Just fine," Eden said.

See Spot sit. Sit Spot sit.

Having ten people offer comments on the same 250 words has been enlightening. Some love my descriptions. Some suggest I use too many adjectives. This reading and writing thing is subjective.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Wind, Sails and tired cliches

It happens. If I were a blonde country singer, I might say " happens." You're rolling along, wind in your sails (and voila, a tired cliche already), and it happens. Something unexpected. Something unwelcome.

I could go a bit cliche crazy - lemons and lemonade, God closes a door, opens a window. I could quote Nietzsche. I won't.

Shit happens. You have my permission to moan about it for a day or two (and in case you hadn't noticed, this is my day), then you get on with things. Like 1,250 words a day.

Monday, April 18, 2011


And so the world ends, not with a bang but with a pfft. That would be the sound of a motherboard shorting out.

It was much more civilized than the sounds I made - primal scream, recitation of four-letter words, the thunk of my head hitting my desk - repeatedly.

Yes, I upload to Google docs but I like having my WIPs on my laptop. There are places and times I don't have internet access. I still write and I admit, I'm not the best at remembering to upload.

I cradled my laptop in my arms like an injured child and hurried to the closest IT fix-it shop. "Look,"  they waved a bent electric thingy in my face, "Someone has yanked at this." Remind me again why I had children...

Oh right, so there would be someone around to complain about what I serve for dinner and break my stuff.

I bought them there very own refurbished laptop - windows, DVD player, etc... - and explained that my computer was officially off-limits. Their response was so ungrateful I shudder to repeat it. They surveyed the dull gray casing, opened the screeen and pushed a few buttons. "What? No video chat?" and "It's slooooow," and "Why didn't you get us a Mac?"

I think there's a parenting lesson in there somewhere. I missed it.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Weekend as a verb

Why do I think that I am actually going to get any real writing done on the weekends? Or, maybe it's just this weekend... How is it one child had a meet half-way to Iowa (really) while the other had a game half-way to Oklahoma (I exaggerate - but not by much)? Throw in church, swim/dive sign-ups, laundry and errands and my weekend is over with very little time for tapping on the keys.

I did pass off the first 20,000 words of A Roaring Scandal a friend with a critical eye. She is honest enough to tell me what needs fixing and nice enough to do it kindly. I also pulled out Working her Magic, re-wrote the first five pages and submitted them to YA Lit Chat. That was actually very inspiring so I've been re-writing chapters with "what I know now that I didn't know then." - stronger verbs, fewer adverbs, no passive voice, etc... I am also going to (gulp) re-write the hero. I have a paranormal idea I've not yet seen written. And, somehow between book one and being well on my way in book three, I have overcome my aversion to the delete button. A good thing. Working her Magic needs several scenes deleted.

Then there's Prairie Gothic - at least another week before I can hope to hear anything. Fingers crossed (which makes it harder to type). It remains a happy distraction.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011


Have I mentioned my MS is on sub? I have? Three times? Sorry. The thought takes up quite a bit of brain space. It's distracting.

I have been working my way through a new stack of bedside table books. Each one edited by a woman who has Prairie Gothic in her hands (or her in-box). So far I have to say that agent extraordinaire is a genius. The books are well-written engaging stories. They too are distractions.

Also, I have discovered Twitter. Well, not exactly discovered it - more like I actually downloaded the app to the trusty Blackberry and started following my favorite authors. Would it count as stalking if I started following editors???

Finally, Cassandra Clare's new book is sitting on the beside table BEGGING to be read.

With all these distractions you may well ask about my WIP? The word count exceeds 20,000 and that is with some serious deleting. I am going to channel Lawrence Block and start adding to that count daily (just not 1,250 words).

Saturday, April 2, 2011

On the beside table

My MS on sub is YA (to my non-publishing obsessed friends - my novel has been submitted to editors at a variety publishing houses. It is written for young adults).

I have always loved YA. Always. Somehow, I never aged out of it.
YA embraced paranormal long before Stephanie Meyer dreamed of glittering vampires or Harry Potter took up residence under the stairs.

YA isn't afraid to address serious issues - from eating disorders to sex to abuse to death.
YA writers are frequently brilliant.

A few of my favorites?

Cassandra Clare - her paranormals are creative, wise-cracking, steam-punk fun. Her new book City of Fallen Angels will be released April 5. I can hardly wait.
Suzanne Collins - dystopian, reminiscent of The Running Man and totally amazing. If you haven't read The Hunger Games, go buy a copy. Now. I'll wait. Read it, then you can thank me.

For the Urban Fae obsessed, Melissa Marr and  Holly Black are must reads. They write gritty novels with unexpected twists and turns. I recently discovered Julie Kagawa and am awed.

And, for those with a taste for realism, read the unbelievably amazing novel, The Book Thief or one of Simone Elkeles books (my oldest daughter is a HUGE fan. She also LOVES Meg Cabot).

Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Riddler, The Joker and The Juggler

Remember the Riddler from Batman? Not the Jim Carrey version but the campy Adam West version. The middle-aged man in a tight suit version. The completely inane riddle version…

A few of the riddles at our house… "What's for dinner?" Please note, there is no correct answer; someone will always be unhappy… "I hate fill-in-the-blank! We always have what she wants." Or, the ever popular, "Mom, where are my socks/cleats/shoes/shin guards? Where is my coat/backpack/money/school uniform?" Apparently, "wherever you left it," is not an acceptable answer. Divining the location of lost items is an overlooked aspect of my job description. I frequently hear, "Will you take me to the movies? And pay for it? And pick me up?" Or, the ever popular, "Why do you let her get away with everything?" This question is accompanied by the editorial comment – "It's so unfair!!!" Of course, I cannot forget, "Who drank all the juice? Who ate all the cookies? Who took my i-touch?"

I have a few questions…How do dirty socks end up in the couch? Who put the empty milk carton back in the frig? Where did that awful t-shirt come from? (I never bought it!) Why can no one feed the dog without being prompted at least four times? What is a roll of pink duct tape doing on the steps? For that matter, why do we have hot pink duct tape? ZOUNDS!

Current word count – 19,594

Tuesday, March 29, 2011


I had a brilliant idea for a blog post – witty, charming, urbane – the Cary Grant of blog posts. But, I got distracted by this bit of craziness. Jacqueline Howett named her book The Greek Seaman. The title alone should alert you to the high wackadoo quotient. Enjoy.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

The Sheik

In the name of research I read The Sheik this weekend. Written in 1919 by Edith Hull, the novel spent two years on the best-seller list.

Oh my.

To summarize - Diana Mayo, a beautiful, spoiled head-strong girl who has been raised by a much older brother decides to trek across the desert with native guides. She is kidnapped by The Sheik. He rapes her. Repeatedly.

Even with all the fight in her delicate body, she can't hold the brute off. She cries, she begs, she fights, she pleads for mercy - all to no avail. The Sheik holds her prisoner in a desert camp. One day she escapes, racing across the desert on a stolen horse. The Sheik shoots her horse out from under her, gathers her into his strong arms, rides her back to camp and as she is imprisoned in the circle of those arms, she discovers she loves him.

What the hell?

Now, I know women's societal roles in 1920s society were changing. They had jobs. They had money. They went on dates with men instead of sitting on the front porch swing. Still, according to Ms Hull, women wanted to be dominated.

Oh my.

The dominated Miss Mayo is kidnapped AGAIN by the Sheik's arch-enemy. Unlike the Sheik – think Rudolph Valentino (after all, the role made him famous) – the arch-enemy is dirty and fat and smells. Like the Sheik, he plans on raping Diana. The Sheik rescues her and murders the arch-enemy. Unfortunately, one of the enemy's henchmen knifes the Sheik in the back. Diana nurses him back to health. The Sheik, who has raped and abused her for months, discovers he loves her too. And because he loves her he decides to let her go (think that incredibly sappy poem – if you love something, set if it free…). Only, Diana doesn't want to be free. She cries, she begs, she fights, she pleads for mercy – all to no avail. And finally, when she realizes that he intends to send her away and nothing she can say or do will change his mind, she tries to shoot herself in the head.

Oh my.

The Sheik, who by the way is the son of an English earl (don't even ask), relents and the two live happily ever after. Or in romance novel terms HEA.

Oh my.


Friday, March 25, 2011

The Internet Millionairess

Of late, I have been fascinated with Amanda Hocking. Never heard of her? Until December I hadn't either. My dreamy husband gave me a Nook for Christmas and I eagerly shopped around Barnes and Noble's online store. There are multiple ways to search for your next good read – search your favorite author, or by title or by best-seller or by Deals. That is where I found Amanda Hocking.

I remember noticing the covers of her books and the prices and wondering how bad a $0.99 book must be. I bought something else that day (and on many other days).

When Amanda's name started popping up on the blogs I read, I revisited the Deals Page. She had seven books – all priced at $0.99 (for the first in a series) or $2.99 (for subsequent books). I bought one. It wasn't bad. I bought another. Again, not bad. She's not J.K. Rowlings or Suzanne Collins but she spins a good YA yarn.

In less than a year, the 26-year old girl who describes herself as unicorn enthusiast (I swear I'm not making that up – check out her blog) has earned more than $1 million. What's more, she just signed a $2 million deal with St. Martins for a paranormal YA series called Watersong.

It all makes me wonder if she's been wishing on pediddles.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011


When I was fifteen and wanted to believe in wishes (against my better judgement and despite the fact that a '67 Mustang convertible never appeared in my garage), my friend Jane and I wished on cars with one headlight. "Pediddle!" we'd scream like...well, like teenage girls. An argument would ensue over who'd seen the pediddle, who'd called it first and whose wish would be coming true based on the unknown driver's faulty equipment.

Falling stars, four-leaf clovers, peddidles... I'll wish on anything tonight. I have the list of editors to whom Prairie Gothic has been submitted.

Need I say that I have googled them all? Or, that I have looked up every deal they've closed in the past twelve months?

By-the-by, 1,250 words a day is almost impossible when combined with a job, mothering and a host of other commitments. Word count for the current WIP is 16,855. I'll keep you updated.

Monday, March 21, 2011

I continue to peruse Lawrence Block's excellent book, Telling Lies for Fun and Profit. I am awed by his commitment to write five pages a day. Five pages, 1250 words. Discipline.

Five pages, 1250 words, make the beds, what's for dinner?, Mom, I need a ride to fill-in-the-blank,do the laundry, walk the dog, do the dishes, go to that pesky but beloved full-time job, tuck in kiddos, kiss dreamy husband, rinse and repeat.

By the way, current WIP count is 15,945. We'll see if tomorrow dawns with a count of 17,195.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Home again, home again

At home in my favorite chair ignoring a basketball game. Temple and San Diego State? Even if I'd filled out a tourney bracket, I wouldn't care.

I've been reading Telling Lies for Fun and Profit - I actually had a whole hour to read yeasterday while the dreamy one took the girls out in a canoe. Lawrence Block eschews giving advice on flabby adverbs and the passive voice (e.g. Mom was tired v. Mom sank into her favorite with a grateful sigh. Her eyelids felt weighted and Bryant Gumbel's voice sounded like a lullaby). Instead he suggests writing a set amount every day and this gem, "Don't begin at the beginning."

So much to think about.

Oooh San Diego won. Still don't care. Probably something about those weighted eyelids.

Sweet dreams

Thursday, March 17, 2011

I have a dream

My dream vacation - I wake up to delicious hot coffee brought to me by my dreamy husband. Next up a leisurely walk by the lake/beach. And then, a few productive hours spent working while dreamy husband golfs or goes for a run or tries to catch a fish. Lunch on a sunlit terrace cooled by a refreshing breeze. A nap by the pool. A romantic dinner. Repeat.

My real vacation - I wake up and make coffee. The darling daughters inform me of the schedule for the day. Paddle boating, volleyball, mini-golf, biking... Their schedules do not include taking anything at a leisurely pace. Nor do they include romantic dinners or their mother working.

I wouldn't trade a minute of these days with my family but they'd be very different if I got to be cruise director.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011


We’re on vacation with two i-pods, two i-touches, one Nook and one laptop. Incredible beauty, flora, fauna, wild birds and certain someones are playing Angry Birds.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

What lurks in the cracks

Imagine a thirteen year old-girl in full whine mode. Why? Because the nefarious cleaning people have stolen both her i-touch and her camera.

My assertion that the cleaning people had NOT stolen anything and maybe she should clean up her room was met with the derision it deserved. No one can sneer like a teenager.

Last night, after a month of complaints, I offered to help her find her missing electronics. We looked in messy drawers, we searched under the bed and we shook down her little sister. Nothing.

"See. I told you. They stole it."

"Have you looked in the couch?" I queried.

"It's not there."

"How do you know if you haven't looked?"

"I just know."

Despite her absolute certainty, I moved dreamy husband and crazy dog (who isn't supposed to be on the couch anyway). Cushions were removed and sleeves pushed up.

The couch yielded $3.87 in change, six pens, seven ponytail holders, eight pens, candy wrappers galore, one camera and one i-touch.

I handed over the goods and gently pointed out that accusing perfectly nice women of theft when she couldn't put away her belongings might not be the best policy. This was met with an eye-roll of epic proportions. Imagine that.

Friday, March 11, 2011

The Round Table

The WIP is set in 1922. As a result, I've learned a great deal about speakeasies, hem lengths, cloche hats and the Algonquin Round Table.

The next time someone asks me which three famous people I'd invite to dinner, I'm going to tell them that I'd prefer to travel back in time and have lunch with the vicious circle.

Bob Benchley said, "You have no idea how many problems an author has to face during those feverish days when he is building a novel, and you have no idea how he solves them. Neither has he."

I might just post that above my desk.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

The Waiting Game

This time next week Prairie Gothic will be on sub. Then, the waiting begins. Yuck.

Jane Austen wrote Pride and Prejudice and her father sent it off to a publisher. It was rejected. Quickly. True - no waiting, but, ouch. So, she worked on Sense and Sensibilty. She sent it off to a publisher and waited. And, while she was waiting, she re-wrote Pride and Prejudice. The rest is history.

It's comforting to know that Jane Austen faced the same demons as today's authors. Queries and rejections and waiting 'til you go mad. I cannot imagine re-writing or editing a hand-written manuscript. It seems infinitely more daunting than using Word.

Really, imagine your life without spellcheck, the ability to cut and paste, and (my favorite) the delete button.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Fingers crossed

Prairie Gothic is with the agent extraordinaire. It feels a little bit like sending a toddler to pre-school for the first time. Will the other kids like him? Will he fit in? And what about mom? What will I do with all that extra time?

Actually, I know the answer. Write. Otherwise, the waiting and wondering will drive me nuts.

Fingers crossed!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Another step

It's the kind of cough that bends you in half, makes your eyes fill with tears, keeps everyone up all night. It's the kind of cough that requires Delsym by the quart. It's the kind of cough that makes you miss a deadline.

I HATE missing deadlines. Hate it. I wrote for a weekly for too long. And now, I am a day behind in getting my MS to my agent. She is wonderful, tells me to take my time, make sure it's perfect...cough, cough...

She doesn't realize I'm not sleeping...cough, cough... and that maybe changing the ending while running a low-grade fever is a bad idea. I can always change it back. Right?

Somehow, no matter how familiar I am with reality, my dream of being a writer ...cough, cough... resembles a fantasy. I'd sit at a roomy desk, positioned in the center of a charming room, filled with pretty things that inspired me. In my dream sunlight pours through the windows. Or, in wintertime, snowflakes drift past. My dream also features a clean house, folded laundry, a delicious and healthy dinner on the table and constant inspiration. Yeah, right. Oh, and I'd be thin and fabulous, too.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

I'm so tired...

For men of a certain age, there are five or six indispensable movies. I call them movies and not films on purpose.. because Animal House is a movie. Same with The Blues Brothers, The Man with Two Brains, Young Frankenstein, History of the World Part I, Caddyshack and Blazing Saddles.

Men have memorized their favorite lines (It's good to be king...Cinderalla story....Damn glad to meet you...). At our house, if one of the above mentioned movies in on television, we watch it. No matter that we own DVDs of all of them.

I have seen Blazing Saddles 57 times - and counting. Today I feel like Lilly Von Schtupp. I'm tired. So tired. NOT of my dreamy husband, NOT of adorable children, NOT of the crazy dog that occupies a special place in my heart. Today I am tired of the things that take me away from writing - laundry and carpool and volunteer commitments and what's for dinner (really that last one is a question not a statement). The next novel is being written on scraps of paper in scraps of time.

Also, I'm tired. Need-a-nap tired. Oh well. No rest for the wicked or mothers.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Dorothy Parker

The current WIP takes place in New York circa 1922 - the beginning of the party. The bootleggers had worked out the kinks and liquor was pouring into Gotham like a pitcher held above a parched mouth. Skirts had begun to rise, Harlem had begun its renaissance and jazz floated through the air, the music of a decade of excess.

The characters of the 1920s are larger than life - Rudolph Valentino, Fanny Brice, assorted gangsters and, of course, the Algonquin Round Table.

Dorothy Parker of the aforementioned Vicious Circle was the kind of writer I'd like to be - witty, smart, funny. I could do without the suicide attempts and the buckets of bath tub gin.

When the words just won't come, I tell myself, "You can lead a horticulture but you can't make her think." Please don't take my fondness for the quote as a description of my moral code. It's just that ninety years later Dottie Parker inspires.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Journey

At the age of thirteen, I decided to be a writer. And then I grew up and took a few detours - through banking and event planning and raising money for worthy causes (I'm still on that path). And for for a few years somewhere in the middle of all that, I got paid to write for a weekly magazine.

I've written magazine articles about houses and martinis and bizarre foods. I've penned a piece on the history of fashion in Kansas City (don't believe me? visit: )

Now I've written two novels. The first is on submission; the second is with my agent.

I know how lucky I am to have come this far. I've read so many blogs from wonderful writers who are still querying. Most days I believe. I believe that an editor is going to read my work, throw their hands up in undiluted joy and yell out their office door, "This is it! I've found her - J.K. Rowlings and Suzanne Collins and Gerogette Heyer all rolled into one!" Okay - I don't believe that - but I do believe.

This my journey - my daily search for inspiration, for hope when I know I've just written twenty pages of drivel, and the nerve to delete twenty pages of drivel and start fresh. Thanks for joining me.