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.