Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Here's another list of things you probably didn't know about me (and probably didn't really want to know, either. :) . The things I've done are in bold

1. Used real snow to make/eat a snow cone -- Yes, and snow ice cream as well. It was my favorite thing about living in New York

2. Slept in you car while parked at the side of the road--and in truck stop parking lots

3. Didn't go to bed until 4 in the morning on New Year's Day --actually, I do this quite often when I'm writing.

4. Dyed an Easter egg, using all the colors available

5. Catch a scent on the air that reminded you of something from your childhood (graham crackers really cause a sense of deja vu. my grandmother's pantry always smelled like that)

6. Taken a picture of the sky because it was a remarkable shade of blue that day--or because the cloud formations were really cool, or there was a rainbow, or...

7. Caught a fish and cleaned it yourself, then cooked it for dinner

8. Wished you bought two pairs of your favorite shoes -- many times. One of these days I'll learn to just go ahead and buy two or three pairs

9. Made a list like this

10. Taken art lessons

11. Taken ballet lessons

12. Driven a really scary stretch of road--Cameron Pass in Colorado back in the 70's. Oh. My. God. Sheer Terror.

13. Read a book from cover to cover in one sitting -- Oh yeah. Several times

14. Written a letter to your Congressman

15. Changed political parties

16. Made a boat yourself, and sailed in it

17. Worn mismatched shoes by accident

18. Been so happy you wanted to burst into song

19. Watched Barney, as an adult, without becoming annoyed

20. Thought you could walk to Sesame Street

22. Came up with a new recipe

23. Snorkeled or dived a coral reef

24. Been in a shark cage

25. Been told that a character in a Nora Roberts book reminded a friend of you

26. Howled in the car with your kids

27. Loved someone so much your heart hurt--every single day

28. Painted a house--more times than I want to think about.

29. Painted a picture in the style of a famous painter

30. Seen the Mona Lisa

31. Seen the Hope Diamond

32. Been the president of the PTA

33. Sat on Santa's lap...as an adult

34. Lost your spouse

35. Driven a race car--I wanted to, but dh wouldn't let me touch his hobby stock car. :(

36. Eaten fried okra--Love it!

37. Climbed Mt. Everest

38. Seen Mt. Rushmore

39. Saved a baby bird that had fallen from its nest

40. Tried a food you always thought was gross and discovered you loved it -- asparagus, avacados, tuna cassarole

41. Been to Hawaii--spent 2 weeks there. Loved it, wanted to stay.

42. Been to Africa

42. Had an "old-time" picture taken with your family, your friends or alone -

43. Made good friends via the Internet -- Most of my friends are online ones

44. Met a movie star--several. Too many to list, actually. Plus a number of country singers. Got to spend about 20 minutes backstage with Garth Brooks about 14 years ago.

45. Seen the Queen of England in person

46. Indulged in a tinsel fight while decorating the Christmas tree

47. Attended a family reunion

48. Couldn't turn out the lights for the night after reading a Stephen King nove

49. Gone on a cruise

50. Can you remember where you where the day the Challenger exploded? -- Absolutely. I was leading chapel services for a small school. Then had to deal with the shocked kids afterward.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Pay it Forward

I know Christmas is the season of miracles, but today I got one that floored me. I've been fretting about how I was going to pay for groceries this week after shelling out our last $400 for a propane tank and propane. With the kids all coming home for Christmas, as well as my two young grandsons, I knew we had to have heat and hot water for showers. The dh and I can get along fine without the heat, but not the kids. They aren't used to living with the cold. But the youngest comes home today and she requires a special diet due to stomach troubles, so I needed to be able to buy things she can eat.

I've prayed and prayed the last few days. Stress made my stomach burn. Still, when I went to bed last night nothing had changed. It looked like I would be picking the youngest up at the airport and not able to buy her anything to eat on the way home.

I woke up this morning to an email from a friend, with a link to Paypal. There she had sent a Christmas gift, one that will let me buy food for the youngest plus enough to get the grownups through Christmas. And I know something else will come up by then to get us through, a concrete job or a house remodel or something.

And when we get back to having money coming in, I'll pay it forward by helping out someone else who's running short.

Thanks, friend. You know who you are. You'll always have a special place in my heart and prayers.

For everyone else, if you've been blessed this year, pay it forward and help someone else. Look at your own family, first. Do you have a brother or sister, nieces or nephews, who are struggling? What about your parents? Your kids? Even a $20 bill could buy them a tank of gas or a turkey or something to put in their kids' stockings. What about that struggling older couple down the street? Could they use a bag of groceries or a stack of firewood?

If you don't know anyone who needs help, check with your local nursing home. There are always old people or mentally handicapped people there who don't have visitors and might not get anything for Christmas. Take a bag of gifts and drop them off with a nurse for her to hand out. Pick an Angel from the Angel tree and go shopping. Read the ads on Craigslist in your area to see who is begging for toys for their kids and help them out.

There are so many ways to be a blessing. Just look around. While I haven't had much money this season, I have dug my change out to put in the buckets for Toys for Tots and Salvation Army. I've also been Freecycling like crazy--cleaning out no longer used clothing and things and passing them along--free--to whoever can make use of them. I've called people I haven't heard from in a while to check on them. I've been extra nice to the harried clerks in the stores, offering them a smile to help make their day a little brighter.

And you know what? I feel better every time I pay it forward just a little bit.

Merry Christmas!!

Friday, December 08, 2006

Santa Claus is Coming to Town!

Looking forward to a great Christmas this year. All four kids will be here, as well as our two grandsons. I had fun buying presents for everyone, did most of my shopping--stress-free--online, and I've finished decorating the tree and setting up the Christmas village on the buffet. I still have to hang the garland around the windows, wrap the stairway banister and the walkway rails with garland and lights, add the bows, and hang the mini-decorations along the banister. Then it's on to the outside. We're saving the outside for next week when temps are supposed to be back up in the 60's. (The pic is from last Christmas)

I have 2 things I'm making that have turned out to be much more work than I'd planned, so I hope I get them finished in time.

Now I just pray that the kids will get along while they're all here. :)

What do you have left to do before Christmas? Are you looking forward to the holidays, or dreading them? I have to admit, I'm looking forward to them more than usual and one of the reasons is that I'm getting a laptop for Christmas. Actually, I'm getting it next week. Dh finally decided to agree that I really, really need one, and that my writing has reached a point where publication is a real possibility, so he sees it as an investment in my future, not as a luxury. Yay!!

Oh, and did I mention that I'm going to be paying $30 a month for that laptop, probably for the next 5 years? LOL.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006


Well, I got my Golden Heart entry finished and sent in on time...but. The danged file on the CD wouldn't open, so I've just finished printing out a hard copy and I'm on my way to the post office to send it to RWA.

Monday I start in on the revisions. I need to add about 100 pages to bring it up to Mainstream length, though it would work for Intrigue with just about another 5000 words added--words sorely needed to fill a couple of plot holes. So I might do that first. But I think this book has real potential and I don't want to sell it short. So I'll be doing the agent query thing over the next few weeks, too. There are a couple of big contests besides RWA that I want to enter it in as well.

It feels really good to know I can write a book in the midst of all kinds of chaos, while doing backbreaking, mind-numbing labor, and I can make (barely) a deadline no matter what. I'll never again be able to tell myself I don't have time to write. The time is always there. It's just a matter of how we use it.

I also entered a photo of my dog, Blue, in a photo contest. You can rate it at http://photocontest.shutterfly.com/action/photocontest/vote?entry=167948 We could use the prize money, and the dogs could use the dog house since they got kicked outside for peeing on my rug and ruining my hardwood floors. Well, okay, they sleep in the enclosed back porch, but still. :)

We finished the house renovation as well. Hopefully the dh's uncle will be able to sell it quickly now that it's been updated and repaired. It looks like a totally different house. I'm still impressed with what all the dh can do. The tile floor looks fantastic, the kitchen looks so much better with new countertops and a new wall. The patio looks so inviting, with half walls around it just the right height to sit on or to line with plants. The termite damage to the carport area is all gone and replaced with new wood. I even mowed the yard and put mulch in the flower beds.
So I have two reasons to celebrate. Book finished, house finished.

Oh, and one more celebration coming up tomorrow. Our 34th wedding anniversary.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Important Info Every Writer Should Read

Do you have a will? Does it address what happens to your books, your short stories, your works-in-progress, your unpublished manuscripts, poems, songs, etc.? If not, click the link above, download the .pdf file, and get it done!

Progress Update

Just need another 65 pages to get to the GH target length for this book, but it's looking like I'm going to have to settle for a little less. It's been a wild and exhausting 5 weeks, with many distractions and important things vying for my attention. But I want to enter, so I've spent many a late night/early morning working around the other things in my life. But I'm so excited about this book. It feels "right" you know? Like when you see that perfect guy and you suddenly know, without even being introduced, that he's "the one." That really happened to me when I first saw the dh. I knew he was the one I was going to marry. It never even occurred to me that he might be something other than what I saw--a good looking man with laughing blue eyes and an easy, little boy grin. We'll celebrate our 34th anniversary Dec. 7th.

And this book will sell. I know it will. But sending it off to the GH won't be the end. I need to expand it by another 30,000 words, expand and develop some scenes, add a subplot. That's my goal for December and maybe January (lots of other things that need to be done between now and Christmas.) But I'm going to go out on a limb and send out some agent queries when I get within 10,000 words of the end.

The remodeling job should be finished by the end of next week, so once that's behind me, it's full speed ahead on the writing. Can't wait!

Saturday, November 18, 2006

What are you thankful for?

Too often we get caught up in our problems and woes and forget to give thanks for the good things in our lives. The last few months have been hard ones. Work has been slow and jobs few and far between, our oldest daughter is still battling the deep vein thrombosis problem caused by the birth control patch, one of our dogs was nearly killed by a pack of wild dogs, and my mother ended up in ICU with pneumococcal meningitis.

So what am I thankful for? The remodeling job that has provided a steady income for the last 4 weeks, that my daughter is still with us, as is the dog, and my mother improved rapidly once diagnosed and is now back home. I'm thankful I have four beautiful, smart, witty children, two beautiful and smart and loving grandsons, a husband who loves me--and who can do just about anything he sets his hand to--my four dogs who love so unconditionally, my friends who pick me up when I'm down, and most of all I'm thankful that God never gave up on me.

Happy Thanksgiving. Do a random act of kindness for someone you don't know this week, and don't tell anyone you did it.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Update on mom

Shortly after I posted about mom's car being repossessed, I got a call from my sister telling me that mom was in the hospital, in ICU. At first they thought she'd had a stroke, but it turned out she had meningitis. After 24 hours of touch and go, she's responding to the medication, can now say yes and no--but nothing else that makes any sense. She has pneumococal (sp?) meningitis, very dangerous, especially for the elderly. Started as an ear infection and progressed within a few hours to a life-threatening illness.

Hug your moms and check to see if she has a fever. If she does, take her to the doc!

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Super Nitwits

My mother is 77 years old, living on social security and a small pension. She was one payment behind on her note to GMAC, with another soon to be due. As she was getting ready to leave for an overseas mission trip sponsored by her church, she called GMAC to explain the situation and tell them she was leaving a check with my sister (who she lives with) to be mailed when her social security check was auto-deposited to her bank account. GMAC assured her that was fine, and mom left on her missions trip thinking everything was taken care of.

She arrived back at my sister's house 10 days later to find that her car had been repossessed the day after she'd left.

There is more than one nitwit in this situation. By far the biggest is GMAC, who lied to an old lady and repossessed a car she'd faithfully made payments on for 2 years (in spite of the fact that she'd been totally taken advantage of by the car dealer and things were slipped into the contract that she'd specifically said she didn't want, like the extended warranty) and who used information she gave them (date of her trip) to sneak in like thieves to take the car away.

The second, and barely lesser nitwit, is my sister. Why didn't she just make the payment for our mother and let her repay her when she got home? The whole situation could have, and should have been avoided. I mean, geez, it's not like my mom never does anything for her. She sold her house and gave my sister $100,000 to finish building their new house. (bye-bye inheritance). Mom babysits my sister's grandkids so she doesn't have to. She helps out at the church my sister and her husband pastor, cooks, cleans. So my sister could have stepped out of her ingrained selfishness for once and helped out, don't you think?

Mom never even told me she was behind. I'd have sent her the money, even if it meant being temporarily behind on my own bills. I have no house note or car notes, so nothing would have been repossessed if I was late.

Now mom has to either come up with $13,000 to get her car back, pay the difference between the note and what they get for the car at auction (likely around $9000) and not get her car back, or she's going to have to declare bancruptcy. I can picture my dad up in heaven, pulling his hair out.

Someone should give GMAC a clue gun so they can shoot themselves. Which is better? Waiting a few days to get their payment, or now losing most of the money? Maybe being a little more humane would win them more customers at a time when Americans are lapping up foreign cars and turning their noses up at the Chevy gas hogs. Ya think?

Saturday, November 04, 2006


Blue is much, much better, though his neck is swelling a bit again. Guess there's still some infection in there, so I'm starting him on another round of antibiotics and more rinsing with hydrogen peroxide (a risky proposition for the person applying the peroxide.) But he's back to playing Frisbee and barking at anything that moves.

As for writing, I'm on page 166 of the book I'm trying to finish in time to enter it in the GH. In spite of working 10 hours a day, 5 days a week, the last several weekends taken up by family or doggie responsibilities, I'm keeping to my 5 pages per day most days. I've crashed and burned a few nights and gone to bed without pages completed, but not too often. I've started taking my Alphasmart to work with me, writing 2 pages on the way there and another 2 on the way home. That way, at least, I only have to coax one page from my overtaxed brain.

And speaking of...I hear my bed calling.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

More Nitwits and a Blue Update

More Nitwits: the people who base their political choices on a candidate's fiction writings. Come on, do we not realize there is a difference between fiction and reality? The stuff I write in my books is not necessarily something I would do in real life. That's why it's called fiction, people. In order to have a compelling story, you have to engage your characters in situations that are sometimes larger than life. Not to mention the fact that in today's market, it had better either have lots of sex, or be a Christian story, to get published at all. Let's make the choices based on who has the right vision for our country's future.

As for Blue, he's still better but the side of his neck is very swollen. I can't get him to the vet without tranquilizers, and I can't get the tranquilizers without taking him to the vet. I don't know what to do at this point. I'm giving him some Oxytetracycline I had here from when a calf had scours, so I'm hoping that will clear up the problem. I still can't let him outside, though, unless I'm with him. The dogs are all back. Yesterday they were attacking the neighbor's Shetland pony. The pony was kicking them, so I'm hoping at least one of the dogs got a good head kick.

Doesn't the stupid neighbor realize one of her little boys is very likely to be the next victim?

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Blue update

Just a quick update. Blue is moving very slowly, holding his neck still, barely turning his head. Looks like the dogs went for his throat mostly. Going to the vet today for tranquilizers so I can take him in to be checked.

One good thing out of all of this is that the neighbor across the street has restrained his pit bull and is building a fence to keep him in. The neighbors next door seem to have gotten rid of most of the other dogs. Hopefully they took them to the pound. Since they have small children, I think possibly this incident might have prevented a worse tragedy in the future.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Control Your Dogs, People!

My dog Blue was attacked by a pack of dogs tonight, including a pit bull (On our own property). One on one, he could have whipped them, but there were 6 or 7 of them. He's hurt, neck torn, dripping blood but not gushing. He won't let me touch any part of him other than the top of his head. There are no vets open around here. He's finally settled down on a pillow next to my desk and he's moaning. It's tearing my heart out.

I'm shaking with fury at the neighbors who refuse to do anything about this pack of dogs that hang around their house. My dh told them that the next time one of their dogs puts just one paw on our property, it was dead. No more warnings. Dh is sitting with the shotgun at his side right now. I hate hurting animals, and so does the dh. But this bunch is running as a pack and now we've seen what they're capable of. The neighbors have three little boys. Is it going to take one of those children being maimed or killed before they wake up? I hope to God not.

I don't know what to do for Blue. If I had valium, I'd probably slip him one and try to see how badly he's injured. He's so touchy I don't know if I could even get him into the car and to the vet's office. He nearly attacked the dh just for moving his pillow. But dear God, I hate listening to him moan in pain.

And we have to work tomorrow. How can I go off and leave him? He'll have to stay in the house, because I can't leave him outside until those dogs are gone.

Somedays it just doesn't pay to get up

Friday, October 13, 2006

For Old Times' Sake

The dh and I went to the State Fair today for a trip down memory lane. Our second date 35 years ago was an all day and half the night trip to the fair. In 1971 we spent 15 hours at the fair, rode rides off and on all day, ate ourselves silly, played the Midway games, and made out beside the lake. All in all, we spent $100 that day.

Today it costs $13 per ticket just to get in, $10 to park, a hamburger/fries/coke costs $11. We didn't buy anything but lunch. No way were we going to spend $10 for a $2 box of salt water taffy or $4 for a 6 oz. beer. I missed out on the fried Oreos, fried Mac and cheese, cotton candy, etc. Good thing, since I'm still on a diet. But we had a great time looking at the cars (have you seen Saturn's new convertible? Gorgeous!), going through the Creative Arts building, watching the Frisbie dog show, and just walking around holding hands, being together.

I love my dh. He's a really good man. And he's a prince for taking me back down memory lane.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Nitwit of the Month!

I'm not a fan of politicians just on general principle. Just for example--Foley. There's a problem child if there ever was one.

But this guy, Fred Head (Oh, what I could do with that last name, but I'll refrain!), takes the cake for sheer stupidity and gall. He's running for Comptroller in Texas. His campaign is all about how he's such a good Christian family man, and how his opponent is a porn writer.

HUH???? Susan Combs wrote a book for Kismet Romance that was published in 2000. First off, Kismet didn't publish porn. Yeah, there was a love scene in there, but it was pretty damned tame compared to today's books. But Mr. High and Mighty has decided it's his place to judge (even though the Bible says judge not that ye be not judged) Susan Combs--publicly--for achieving something so many of us would love to achieve.

As if the above isn't enough to get Mr. Head (his mother really should have named him Richard) named as Nitwit of the Month, he has taken this stand in Texas--home of Romance Writers of America. Duh--what a NitWit.

Not only that, he copied pages (on a copier, poorly done at that) of Susan's book and posted them on his website. Go take a look. (click on the blog title) or go to the page at http://www.votefredhead.com/book.html I think that's a violation of copyright laws, isn't it?

Do we really want a nitwit like this controlling our money in Texas? I don't THINK so. I'm voting for Susan Combs.

(This is a personal opinion post and is not instigated by anyone other than myself.)

Sunday, October 08, 2006

This is what it's all about...

Writing, I mean. A writer on one of my favorite groups posted an inspirational quote the other day that really hit home. It said : "Indian legend states that a story seeks a writer and if it finds her worthy, it will settle on her heart. The author's gift is to give that story life."

Can I just say "Wow!" My story is about a group of Native American warriors who have special gifts--powers--that help them fight against men who are trying to destroy this country and others. The story came, like many do, as I settled down to sleep. It came so strongly that I had to get up and turn the computer back on so I could get the basic idea down. Since then, it's gotten me up several more times when snatches of dialogue or a new scene started rolling through my mind.

I've written more the last 19 days than I have in the last six months. I know where this story is going, and I just wish I had more time in the day so I could get there faster.

And the muse isn't satisfied with giving me ideas for this story. I already have the basic story ideas down for another 4 books after this one.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Progress Update

Finally got my partial ready for the GH. I'm really excited about this book. God bless Nancy for sticking with me and not screaming over all the changes she's had to suggest.

Now I'm ready to do some power writing to get the book finished. I have about 50 days to write another 65,000 words or so. That's an average of 5 pages a day, which is what I've been doing so far. I need to get in a few 10 page days so I have some breathing space to get through birthdays and Thanksgiving, but that should be doable.

Anyone else trying to get something new ready for the GH?

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Scam of the Day

If you've thought about buying on Half.com, let me give you one word of warning: DON'T! I lost nearly $50 there on a book I'd ordered for my oldest son's birthday--nearly $100 if you consider the fact that I had to buy a second copy elsewhere.

My youngest son is about to lose well over $100 on textbooks he'd ordered for school.

The way the scam artists on Half.com work is that the policies are set up in such a way that by the time you follow the proper steps, it's too late to get the charges reversed by the credit card company. And if you pay by debit card, like I did, then you're SOL because the debit card charges won't be refunded.

If my son doesn't get his money back, you're going to hear me scream all the way to court. He's a hard-working honors student, struggling to get by, and he doesn't deserve this. Just so some scum bag can make a few stolen bucks.

The only way to stop them is to get the word out. Either Half.com changes its policies, or people quit using the site.

Nitwit? Or Downright Criminal?

Read the article and decide for yourself. This might be in the UK rather than the US, but this kind of behavior shouldn't be allowed anywhere. And the reporter says the firms are investigating. What about a criminal investigation? Criminal charges? Why aren't these men being punished?

More Nitwits

We're being trained to call the cops every time someone does something we don't think is right or don't like. But the ladies of the Cat Protection division of an animal welfare charity are probably carrying things a bit too far.

But then again, you can never be too careful. A teenager who would allow one flea (yes, just one), on the cat he'd recently adopted--well, who knows what such a kid might do? The fact that he'd chosen to adopt an abandoned kitten has nothing to do with it. He allowed a flea, and he must be stopped! By brute force, if necessary. Therefore two burly cops accompanied the ladies when they returned to the boy's home to repossess the cat.

I think we should send an entire armed troop to the ladies' homes and have their pets checked.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Progress Update

Since I teamed up with a friend a week ago to write and revise 5 pages per day, I've written 35 pages, revised those same 35, and critiqued 35 for her. It's been hard, I've wanted to whine, make excuses, anything to keep from writing, but I've sucked it up and gotten it done.Better yet, I actually have an idea where this book is going instead of heading into dark waters with no life jacket.Whether it's any good or not, I have no idea. I can't judge my own work. It's kind of romantic suspense (light on romance) with a paranormal bent to it. Deciding which category to enter in the GH should be interesting.

So what are you working on? How do you make yourself get the pages done when you're tired and other responsibilities crowd you from every side?

Nitwit of the Day #3

Not just this school district, but all of them. I'm so tired of hearing about kids suspended for 10 days for a water gun (especially the little guys. Teenagers should get a butt paddling or 3 day suspension). Or the kids who get kicked out for wearing a T-shirt that says they love God or that abortion should be banned. Kids have a need to express themselves--as we all do. Since when did it become against the law to have an opinion? You can actually find yourself in jail for speaking out against sin or for speaking up for your beliefs. I guess it could be worse. In the Middle East you can get your head cut off for it.

But I thought we lived in a free country. At least, we used to. The last 5 years our thinking/government has taken a turn down a very scary road.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Nitwit of the Day #2

You have to wonder about some parents. Cheerleading moms, soccer dads, and now a father who spies on a rival team so his son can score more passing yards. Yeah, that should impress any college who might have wanted to recruit his son.

What are you teaching your children? Do you teach them respect for rules and respect for others, or do you teach them that getting ahead at any cost is the right way to go? What about with your writing? Do you teach them to respect your dreams, your creative process by setting rules about interrupting you during your writing time? Or do you drop everything at the first whine and go do what they want?

I think it was Nora Roberts who said if it didn't involve blood, she didn't want to hear about it until the writing was done. (Don't quote me on that) But at some point, your kids have to learn that while they matter, so do you. You have goals, dreams, and a need to create. Yes, you love them, yes you want them to succeed, but they should return those same feelings to you.

Forget scouting the other team. Forget what everyone else is writing (yes, it sounds so much more brilliant than your idea. So what?) Forget that people are selling all around you and you're still waiting. Forget that you haven't heard diddly squat from the editor who's had your manuscript for over a year, or from the agent who's had a partial for 18 months. They don't matter! What matters is getting the words on the page, training your muse to be there when you sit down to write, and finishing that book. What matters is you.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Nitwit of the Day

I think I may start a Nitwit of the Day thing here on my blog. Or not. There sure are plenty of them out there, including this judge who just made it illegal for the public to boat, fish, hunt waterfowl, etc. on public waterways. Yep. That fishing tournament your husband is signed up for, the one that cost a bundle and that you were looking forward to so you'd have 3 days alone to write? It's now illegal. Whoops.

Click on the link above to read all about it.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Ding-Dong! Avon Calling

No, I probably won't be showing up on your doorstep unless you live near me, but I'm now officially an Avon Representative with my very own Avon website.

After missing the last two RWA National conferences because I couldn't justify stretching our already stretched finances, I decided I needed a way to earn some money of my own until I start selling my manuscripts. If you're looking for Christmas gifts, stocking stuffers, makeup, jewelry, or any other of the myriad products Avon sells, check out my new Avon website at http://ppayne.avonrepresentative.com/ If you'll register on the site (free), you can browse the online catalog, place an order online, get free shipping, and have the items delivered directly to your door.

And in the process, help a deserving author get to Nationals. (Okay, sorry, couldn't resist)

In other news, I've teamed up with a friend to write and critique 5 pages per day from now until the GH deadline (if she can stand me that long). So far, so good. She's been a tremendous help and I've been getting my pages done. I hope I'm helping her in return.

Monday, September 11, 2006


Has it really been five years? Seems like only months ago when the greatest single tragedy to hit this country happened.

I was at home when the first plane hit. My husband was on a concrete job in Dallas. When I heard the news, I turned on the TV. It was after the second tower was hit, before the Pentagon. By the time that plane had gone down in Pennsylvania, I was in the car, racing to Dallas to pick up my daughter because I was terrified an attack would happen here as well. Mostly I think I just wanted my family close by. I kept her out of school for two days before I finally took her back. When I got home from picking her up, I sat down at the computer and wrote a poem that ended up being published in the local paper, surrounded by names of dozens of businesses who had paid $10 each to have their name there.

It took me a long time to feel "safe" again. The lack of planes in the sky really shook me, as did the sound of planes once they were allowed back. I still feel for those who lost loved ones that day, for the children who lost their innocence. I've posted a copy of that poem below. No, it wasn't particularly good, but it was fueled by the emotion of the moment.

Freedom 911

A moment forever frozen in time
In all of our hearts and all of our minds
As we watched with horror what a few evil men
Can do with hatred and evil intent.

So many emotions filled us that day
Stunned disbelief, anguish, anger, and pain.
Our minds as clouded as New York's city streets
We could only pray and tremble and weep.

We waited for news of loved ones so dear
And listened to stories of bravery and fear.
We cried with the mothers and fathers and wives
We grieve for the children who want to know why.

How can we answer their questions when we,
as adults never dreamed how evil mankind could be?
So we hold our own close, so glad they are safe
And ask God to surround them with angels each day.

Then we lift our heads high and stand firm and tall
As we proclaim to the world that our country won't fall.
We stand united, red, black, white and brown.
And say you can't keep America down.

We'll see these men punished for what they have done,
No stone left unturned till we've found every one.
We'll pray for our soldiers as they fight and they win,
Then we'll put it behind us and build once again.

But we'll never forget the ones who were lost
in airplanes and buildings, we've counted the cost.
We'll mourn and grieve the heroes once more,
and emerge even stronger than ever before.

God bless America, this land of the free
May you always reign righteous and always believe
In the Almighty God who holds us upright
And ever continue, for our freedom, to fight.

Pamela J. Payne
September 11, 2001

Monday, September 04, 2006

What makes a good mother?

On one of my lists, we've been talking about whether or not we were/are good mothers. We've discovered that none of us lived up to our own expectations.

I always thought, growing up, that I’d be a great mother. I was wrong. I didn’t spend my days down on the floor playing CandyLand or Barbie with my daughters, or Battleship with my sons.

Well, okay, I did once in a while, but in my mind a great mother would do this all day, every day. And somehow, along the way, she would keep the house spotless, the laundry washed, dried, folded, and put away. Dinner would be on the table at six on the dot, perfectly cooked, perfectly balanced nutritionally. The kids would get baths every night and would go straight to bed with no fuss after the perfect mother read them two bedtime stories. And she would never, ever forget to make them brush their teeth.

That my children’s teeth have fillings is a silent testimony to the fact that I wasn’t a great mother. Somehow, in spite of my less-than-perfect mothering, the kids turned out all right. Except for the baby, of course, who is totally gorgeous, exceptionally smart, independent, caring---and thinks it will take the rest of her life in therapy to undo the damage I did. I look at her and think, if I’d had half the strength of character she has at that age, there’s no telling what I might have accomplished.

My kids deserved better. But then I stop and think. Did it ever occur to them that maybe mom yelled because she was stressed because they all had things they needed me to do, and that there were three other children and a husband who had their own demands and expectations, and I was trying my damnedest to hold it all together, and there were times when I felt like I was being pulled apart, like I was going to split into a half-dozen pieces?

And on top of my children’s problems I kept trying to solve, I had my own problems. I’d had a bout with cancer that made me worry and fret until I descended into depression no one else recognized. Then my father came down with lung cancer and the depression deepened. He passed away, and I felt like I'd lost my anchor. It was at the worst possible time for my youngest kids. They needed their mother, and she didn't have enough emotional fortitude to pull herself out of the mire to meet their emotional needs. All I wanted was for the world to go away and leave me alone.

So, does all that make me a bad mother? I never sold my kids into prostitution like some mothers have. I didn't scald them in the bath, beat them senseless, starve them in a closet. I did try to make sure they went to good schools, tried my best to keep them safe, instilled in them a love of reading, tried to control their television exposure as much as I could. I took them to church (at least until the depression got too bad), even started my own Christian school to give them the best start in life that I could. When they were little I worked at jobs where they could be with me instead of establishing myself in a career that would have kept my husband and I out of the mess we're in now. I loved them more than life itself and at any point would have given up my life for theirs if necessary.

I've prayed for each of them since before they were born. No, they haven't always made the right choices, but they've always known that the choice they were about to make might not be the best one. And when they made the wrong choice, they fixed it. They backed up and started over, sometimes at great personal and emotional cost.

Yes, I have a lot of regrets. I regret not spending enough one on one time with them when I had the chance. I regret not listening when they needed me to listen, not give advice. I regret missed opportunities. But I don't regret the people they have come to be. They're wonderful, bright, witty, mature men and women. None have ever been in jail, they aren't thieves or drug addicts, they respect others, they study hard and do well in school.

So was I great mother? Maybe not, but that's what we decided on the lists. We might not have been the best mothers, but we did our best with what we had to work with, and the kids turned out all right.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Rules are Made to be Broken

How many times has a critique partner told you, "You can't do that?" Or "You need to get rid of every word ending in 'ing'." Or you've heard on a writer's loop somewhere that historicals are dead, cowboys are passe, you can't have a heroine who commits a crime, intentional or not (I actually had an editor tell me that once.) Then you pick up a new novel and on the freshly printed page is--horrors!--a heroine on her way to jail for committing a crime. (Unintentionally of course, and she's exonerated in the end, as mine is).

I've been doing a lot of reading lately. You know what I've found? I don't notice the word was. This is a biggie, because I get dinged for it a lot. Yes, I try to find other ways to say things, but sometimes was is the only word that works. (And no, I'm not referring to the most recent critique where a very kind author pointed out the tremendous overuse of was in an old ms. I have learned a few things. :) I also don't notice the use of adverbs, unless the story itself doesn't hold my attention. What I do notice is rambling thoughts, stilted dialogue, stupid heroines or unbelieveable plots.

Tell a good story, and I'll forgive you anything. So please, quit editing the life out of your book and just write it so I can read it.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Rain? Oh please!!

It's cloudy, I hear thunder in the distance, and it smells like rain. We're in the worst drought in recent memory, so please help us pray for rain. Not just an inch, though we'd take it. We need a good 6 inch rain to fill the ponds and bring the grass back to life. The cows and I would really appreciate it.

In other news--for a change, there isn't much. Which means I have no current crisis going on in my life, so I'm writing for all I'm worth. Youngest daughter is safely back at college, second youngest son goes back to college on Thursday, and other than my romance chapter meeting on Saturday, I have nothing crowding my schedule besides the ongoing job hunt. This is the first time in months and months that I've had any free time. I have 4 writing projects going at once. If I get stuck on one, I switch to another while ideas percolate on the first. If I get bored, I switch to the third. But I do have goals in mind. I want to finish two of these in time for the Golden Heart. That's only a few weeks away (Yikes!) The other two I want to have finished by the end of the year.

One of these projects is just in beginning pages form right now. It's different from anything I've tried before, so I have no idea how it will go. I'm just trying to stretch myself by writing outside my comfort zone. I figured I'd better do it now while I have the freedom to pick and choose my projects. (IE, while I'm still unpublished.)

Friday, August 18, 2006

The "New" Car

I was cruising Craigslist the other day, looking for a car for my youngest son, hoping to find someone who wanted to trade a decent car for his truck. Found a guy with a 1990 Subaru Legacy that had a blown head gasket who only wanted $600 for it, or was willing to trade for something else. We had a gas scooter that we'd never been able to sell at the flea market and he agreed to the trade. DH has been working on the car and it runs great, has a brand new MP3/CD player and speakers, new tires, new paint. I think we got a pretty good deal.

Trouble is, dh wants to keep it instead of letting our son have it. So now I have to start looking for another car.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

I Believe in Miracles part 2

I might believe in miracles, but I still don't trust Blogger not to eat my post so I broke that first lost message into two parts. I've forgotten what I wrote after GeeBee's good news, except the part about writers being solitary beings, by necessity, but coming together through the internet to form communities like the Bat Cave and the Wet Noodle Posse, becoming friends, rallying around each other when encouragement and support is needed.

If you don't have a community of support, find one. It's vital to have friends you can count on to pray when prayer is needed, to have people you can share the joys and trials of life with. Breaking in can be hard, but I've learned that the way to become part of an online community is to post, and post often, until you become familiar to the others. Getting through my father-in-law's death, my mother's stroke, and my daughter's blood clot crises would have been much harder if not for my online support system.

And just for GeeBee, because it touched home at this particular time:

7 Wonders of the World

A group of Geography students studied the Seven Wonders of the World.
At the end of that section, the students were asked to list what they considered to be the Seven Wonders of the World. Though there was some disagreement, the following got the most votes:
1. Egypt's Great Pyramids
2. Taj Mahal
3. Grand Canyon
4. Panama Canal
5. Empire State Building
6. St. Peter's Basilica
7. China's Great Wall.

While gathering the votes, the teacher noted that one student, a quiet girl, hadn't turned in her paper yet. So she asked the girl if she was having trouble with her list.

The quiet girl replied, "Yes, a little. I couldn't quite make up my mind because there were so many."

The teacher said, "Well, tell us what you have, and maybe we can help."

The girl hesitated, then read, "I think the Seven Wonders of the World are:

1. to touch
2. to taste
3. to see
4. to hear

She hesitated a little, and then,

5. to run
6. to laugh
7. and to love.

It is far too easy for us to look at the exploits of man and refer to them as "wonders" while we overlook all that God has done, regarding them as merely "ordinary."

May you be reminded today of those things which are truly wondrous.

~Author Unknown~

I Believe in Miracles

I'm going to try to recreate a post that Blogger ate, because I think it's an important message to hear...but I don't know if I can do justice to the original.

A friend's 3 1/2 year old grandson fell while jumping on his trampoline and hit his head on the frame. What followed was a grandmother's second-worse nightmare. He had a blood clot on his brain and the doctor's said IF he survived he might be paralyzed, on a breathing machine for life, mentally handicapped--all sorts of dire predictions. The members of eHarlequin's Bat Cave started to pray. They even changed the name of the current cave because it seems our lives tend to live up to the cave name, and this one wasn't suitable under the circumstances. People were praying in the U.S, in England, Australia, Sweden--all around the world, around the clock.

We nicknamed Cearha's grandson GeeBee. At first, GeeBee was in a medically-induced coma, his right side paralyzed, on a breathing machine. That was okay--at least he was still alive. Then he coughed against the tube a few times--baby steps, but progress just the same. Then he twitched his right side--the paralyzed one. He squeezed his grandma's hand. He curled into a fetal position. Finally, when he'd had enough of being messed with, he pinched the nurse, on purpose! Go GeeBee became the rallying cry in the Cave.

His brain pressure normalized and he was weaned off the sedation. Yesterday he began to breathe on his own, and last night he woke up! He knew his name, his sister's name, and he asked for his mama. So yes, God does answer prayer and miracles do still happen.

Next step--to see GeeBee walk, then run, then go on to live a totally normal life.

But for the love of God, I hope they burn the trampoline.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Lunch with My Favorite Noodler

Got to have lunch with Stephanie Feagan yesterday. Two hours of good conversation along with good food--what could be better? Listening to her stories about National really brought home how much I'd missed by not going to Atlanta, but it also made me more determined to make it to Dallas. I've already started cleaning my purse out every night, depositing my change and dollar bills into a coffee can. One can is full, and I've started on the second. I might not be able to afford the conference fee, but at least I can join the Noodlers for lunch one day since I live close enough to drive.

So how do you save up the money for conference trips (those of you who have to budget for such things)?

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Making Memories

I've spent the last few days with my grandsons, going swimming, playing at the park, fishing, watching as they rode their electric Harley. We had fun, but most importantly, we made memories.

No one was better at making memories than my father-in-law. He did it by repetition--doing and saying things over and over until they were forever a part of us. My grandmother always greeted us on our visits with homemade rolls, buttered and toasted, and mugs of hot chocolate. I hope I can follow their example with my own grandchildren. I've started by having a tradition of a big breakfast in the mornings when they're here. We have eggs, sausage, biscuits, pancakes, orange juice. If I forget something ( like I did this week when I failed to buy orange juice) the kids let me know I goofed.

Do you have "memory makers?" Things you do with your kids every year, or with your grandkids? I'd love to have some ideas of things I can do to make our own memories.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Something Every Unpublished Writer Should Read

Rita Winner and Wet Noodle Posse member Stephanie Feagan posted a letter to a friend on her blog at http://www.stephaniefeagan.com/blog/ and I think it's a classic. Something every aspiring, unpublished writer needs to hear. And it wouldn't hurt the published authors to read it, either. Go take a look. It's the blog titled The Secret To Getting Published .

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Back to School Already?

This month on the Wet Noodle Posse website I wrote the Top 10 Tips for back to school. Click on the link above to check it out.

I'd invited my grandsons to spend a week with Gramma this summer, but with their Disney Cruise in June and the big wedding in July, then their mom being in the hospital, time just seemed to slip away. My oldest grandson informed me last week that he only had 21 days left until school started, so I picked them up today and brought them home with me. We stopped by the "sprinkler" park on the way home, where they had a blast, ate dinner at Grandy's, then came home to watch the Phillies/Cardinals game. Tomorrow we're headed for the park before it gets too hot, then we'll come back and play in the sprinkler for a while before heading over to my sister-in-law's house for a swim in their pool. Friday we're off to the waterpark, and Saturday we'll do something else involving water. The boys take after me--swimming is their favorite summer activity.

The news from the RWA National convention continues to roll in, with Noodlers taking top honors in a number of different contests. You can read all about it on the Wet Noodle website (www.wetnoodleposse.com) Also, JoAnn Ross, author and mentor extraordinaire, was awarded the RWA Pro Mentor of the Year award. There isn't a nicer, more helpful and more considerate woman on the planet and we love her dearly. Hop over to her website (www.joannross.com) and check out her fabulous books and writer's tips.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Three Rita's for the Wet Noodle Posse

Tonight was the annual awards ceremony for RWA's prestigious Rita and Golden Heart Awards. Three members of the Wet Noodle Posse (http://www.wetnoodleposse.com) took home the gold. Congratulations, ladies!!!!!

Best First Book
Show Her The Money by Stephanie Feagan (0373513542) Silhouette Books - Natashya Wilson, editor

Best Long Contemporary Romance
Worth Every Risk by Dianna Love Snell (0-373-27426-2) Silhouette Books - Allison Lyons, editor

Best Regency Romance
A Reputable Rake by Diane Gaston(0263843912) Harlequin Mills & Boon Limited - Linda Fildew, editor

Friday, July 28, 2006

Home Again

A week in the hospital was about all my daughter could stand. It's a good thing the doctor let her go home today, because she was all packed and ready to leave whether he said okay or not.

I've spent 18-20 hours a day at the hospital with her this past week, so I'm pretty much beat. I've lost the thread of the story I was working on, which means going back to read from the beginning and hopefully pick the momentum back up. This is the reason it's so important to write every day, to keep yourself immersed in the story. I've already decided that if I get a rejection on the current WIP, I'm going to drop it for now and get back to something that really interests me. To hell with the market, I want to write a story that grabs me by the throat, not the pursestrings.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Taking a few days off

I won't be blogging for a few days because my oldest daughter is in the hospital with DVT (deep vein thrombosis.) Until she's out of danger, my husband and I are staying with her at the hospital. Please keep her in your prayers, and if you know anyone who is using the patch for birth control, please tell them to talk to their doctors about the increased danger of blood clots from that product. It's much higher than with regular pills.

She has two little boys who are afraid for their mommy. I'm sure they'd appreciate your prayers also.


Sunday, July 16, 2006

Date Me Baby, One More Time

I can't say enough about this book. Stephanie Rowe has created the most unlikely group of characters on the planet, a plot I'd never have thought of in a million years, and put it together in a way that will keep you glued to your chair, laughing your ass off along the way. I can totally picture this as a movie. It would be a smash hit. Go get this book. You'll regret it if you don't.

Friday, July 14, 2006

What's with all the depression?

Everyone I've talked to lately seems to be suffering from depression. For some it's because they can't go to the RWA National convention in Atlanta this year. That's part of mine, I'm sure, along with the incessant heat, the drought that's going to force me to sell my cows (who are like pets to me) if it doesn't rain soon, the prospect of having to go back to a regular 8-5 job with the accompanying 1 1/2-2 hour commute each way, the increasingly obvious fact that we're going to have to sell our home in the country.

But even people I know who don't normally suffer from depression are being hit this summer. Is it something in the air? Is it the fact that no one has time for fun anymore? Is it that we're disconnected from friends because no one has time to sit down and visit anymore? Whatever it is, I don't like it.

I'm blogging about missing out on National on the Wet Noodle Posse Blog tomorrow, so pop on over and check it out. (I'll be giving some pointers on getting the most out of your National experience.)

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Clearing out the clutter

Imagine this: your office is clean, no clutter to be found anywhere (okay, just don't open the desk drawers). You've given away a ton of junk (well, it's piled by the driveway, awaiting the arrival of the junk man). Your once impossible-to-walk-through carport is nearly empty, your cluttered porches are clean and hold only patio furniture, the storage shed holds only gardening supplies...

For most of my life, I've lived with other people's junk. I inherited some stuff from my grandparents, some from my parents, some was left by the kids when they left home, some was thrust upon me by my flea-market-loving husband, and some I managed to inflict upon myself.

My garage, closet, and upstairs bedroom are still overflowing, but I'm tackling those next.

Why do we hold onto old stuff we don't need or want? As I look up at my newly-cleaned bookshelves, I still see a dozen books I could get rid of, old RWR's I'll probably never read, 6 telephone books (yes, they're for different cities, but honestly!), 22 bottles of vitamins (If I were to take a dose of each, it would probably kill me), and a stack of old manuscripts that have since been revised. Obviously, I still have a lot of work to do.

But the upside is, I've written more pages since I cleaned my office than I have in months. It's like the clutter around me clutters my mind, as well, and staunches the flow of creativity. Feng Shui will tell you that clutters also blocks opportunities. I don't know about that, but I did get a phone interview the day after I cleared the clutter out of my office, so maybe it's true.

I just cleaned off the shelves above my washer and dryer. Does that mean the laundry will start doing itself? Hmmm. Somehow, I doubt it. But I have found cleaning one thing leads to the desire to clean something else, so now I'm off to tackle the closet. If you don't hear from me within a week, send the rescue dogs!

Monday, July 10, 2006

Check out this new release

A man who thought he had life figured out...just met a woman who proved him wrong!

Kindergarten teacher Grace Adams wants to turn over a new leaf. She's hoping a new school and a new apartment will de-magnetize the loser magnet she seems to possess. According to a student's mother, she's cursed. All it would take is a simple ceremony, some friends and a teeny-tiny bonfire in a coffee can to shake it...

Within a few moments her apartment is engulfed in smoke, her fire alarm is blaring, and she can't stop laughing because she really should have known better. The next thing she knows someone is busting through her door to "save the day".

That someone is firefighter Eddie Mancilla. He has one thing on his mind—fire chief. It's been a family tradition for generations. He’s not about to jeopardize it for his former high-school crush. Eddie doesn't believe in curses or have time to rekindle a relationship with Grace. But as the reunion combusts, Eddie has to douse a lot more than structure fires, now he has to quench the fire he has blazing for Grace.

Once they unite it’s going to be a four-alarm situation. Grace is under his skin and unfortunately her bad luck seems to have spread.... to him!


4 Cups "…Ms. Scott has written a cute love story about good friends carrying secret torches. Grace can only be described as self conscious, always second guessing her decisions, until she is forced to assert herself. Eddie is a fat kid in a thin suit, at least in his mind he is, achieving a lot in his life while failing to recognize the hole in his heart. Their interactions are both sweet and shy, and bold and aggressive, plainly showing their hidden passion for each other. I got caught up in their story and finished it in one sitting. I enjoyed it and recommend it to any reader who needs a change." ~ Kathy, Coffee Time Romance

Heather Scott moonlights from her writing job to play hostess on eHarlequin, where she's known as Hostie Rae. Go grab your copy now. Print version should be available in August, but I gotta get mine today.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Anthology or book?

The 4 ladies who participated in the latest RR are working on their stories--I'm doing Josie's story, Nancy's doing LaWanda's (she's renaming her Rhonda), Grace is doing Donna's, I think, and I guess Barbara is going to do Midge's? Anyway, wanted to see if anyone had any thoughts on the best way to do this. Right now we're thinking of our RR start as the Prologue or first chapter, then follow that with Josie's story, then Rhonda's, etc. each written by a different author. Kind of an anthology with a prologue.

Or would it be better to do a continuity series? This, of course, means longer stories for each member of the group, but that's still do-able.

So which would you choose?

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Say that again, please? In English, this time.

I received this email on one of my loops. Thank God it wasn't one of my writing loops, but a flea market one. But still...Would you hire this person to fix your resume?

The ad:

Have you noticed that your resume needs to be updated and am not sure how to do it? Do you need to write a letter and am not sure of the proper words to use? I can help. The website listed below lists provided services. Please browse and see is you are interested in having me so a project for you.

Then she signs her name, and under that her title: Senior Technical Advisor.

And I'm finding it difficult to find a job?????????

Good Lord.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Update on Paddy

The calf we very nearly lost back in March is doing great. You can read the previous post in the archives, but basically his mama's bag was so engorged, he never figured out how to nurse. We found him unable to stand (at 2 days old), nothing but skin and bones, and the vet didn't hold out much hope. But thanks to colostrum and milk from a local dairy and a bit of patience on his mama's part while I showed him how to latch on, he finally started nursing about at about 5 days old. (The vet stills says it's impossible.) :) Here's a pic taken yesterday.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Another Round Robin anyone?

I'm bored and the long holiday weekend stretches before me, tempting me to go outside and do things like paint the house or clean the cobwebs off the front porch or--heaven forbid--clean my office. (I've already cleaned out one corner, quite enough for today). So how about another round robin? Anybody? Bueller?

The beginning:

"This meeting will now come to order." Josie Davenport banged the gavel on the kitchen table and did her best to look dignified and "official." Watching Midge Sinclair stuff a brownie in her mouth—whole—fixed that. She grinned and shook her head.

"Sarah, will you give the treasury report?"

Sarah Lemmons stood and nervously cleared her throat. "The kitty has twelve dollars and thirty-eight cents. I know we didn't make as much on the bake sale as we'd hoped, but that was because everyone kept sampling the goodies. There wasn't much left to sell."

Guilty looks crossed most of the well-rounded faces at the table.

"Okay. Next time we'll wrap things better so they're harder to get into. Donna, do you have our resolution ready to present to the group for a vote?" Josie gave Donna an encouraging smile. By far the shyest of the group, she tried to make herself invisible by slouching in her chair and staring at the table.

Donna Mitchell lifted her head with a neck-jarring jerk, then slowly pushed herself upright. She pulled a sheet of paper out of a folder and smoothed it carefully on the table. Her voice trembled as she read.

Be it henceforth known that the members of
the XXX club resolve to rid the world of prejudice
toward women who are weight challenged, to bolster
the self-esteem of said women, and to resist society's
determination to heap loads of guilt upon our heads
for not conforming to its ideal of the perfect woman.
We resolve not to diet for any reason other than
our health, or because WE want to. We will not diet
for anyone but ourselves.
We resolve to lobby for wider airplane and
theater seats, attractive clothes in sizes eighteen
and up, and real people of size in movies and television.
We resolve to develop effective put-downs for
people who stare at us in disgust when we eat, who
make hurtful remarks about our size, or who counsel
us to lose weight "for our own good."
We resolve to boycott all gyms, health clubs, fat farms, and diet centers.
Last, but not least, we resolve to kick the ass of anyone who treats us as less than human because we're big.

With her cheeks flushed and a bead of sweat trickling across her brow, Donna slumped back down in her chair to a round of applause.
Josie stood up and banged the gavel on the table for order. "Is there any discussion about the resolution?" No one spoke. "Would someone like to make a motion to accept the resolution as read?"

Midge lifted her hand. "I make a motion to accept the resolution as read."

"The motion has been made. Will someone second the motion?"

Lawanda Jackson spoke for the first time since the meeting was called to order. "I'll second it, godammit. It's about friggin' time someone did."

Josie grinned and gave her a high five. "The motion has been made and seconded. All in favor raise your right hand." Five hands went up.

"The motion has passed unanimously. Ladies, our group is now officially on the warpath. Congratulations. And please, help yourselves to the cookies."

Friday, June 30, 2006

Featured Noodler of the Month!

Tomorrow, July 1st, the 2nd anniversary edition of the Wet Noodle Posse e-zine goes up, and I'm the featured Noodler of the Month. Be sure to stop by http://www.wetnoodleposse.com and read the great features. Here's the announcement for this month's issue:

Boom! (Ooooh!) POW! (Aaaaah!) We know July is the anniversary of U.S. independence, but we hope you're also oohing and ahing as each Wet Noodle Posse article bursts into view, bathing you in the sparkly gold light of cheer and helpfulness, but hopefully not burning you with the falling cinders of typos or choking you with the smoke of broken links. There. That metaphor has been tortured to our satisfaction. Bang! On with the articles.

Speaking of bright things that shoot across the sky and then fizzle, Jenna Ness gives you the Top Ten Reasons to Be Glad You're Not a Celebrity. Can you say divorce? How about middle age = death? Jenna can, only she says it much funnier. If you're looking to beat the heat, we recommend staying indoors for a couple hours with not one but two craft projects! (Oooh!)

First, Colleen Gleason shows writers how to gain inspiration from another kind of art - collage. Who knew looking at colorful images could be more inspiring than staring at a blank computer screen. Of course, you don't have to be a writer to enjoy this inexpensive and thought-provoking art form. We're not going to come to your house and check.

However, Kiki Clark knows that everyone wants their name on the spine of a book, and now you don't have to write one to accomplish that - just buy a papier-mâché book form and decorate it! Actually, the point of this project is to have a cool place to hide things in plain sight, on your bookshelf, but Kiki can't seem to stop stroking hers.

Bonnie Vanak gets her inspiration from helping others. In addition to writing romances, she also crafts promotional materials for a not-for-profit organization that helps some of the world's most disadvantaged people. Photographer in tow, Bonnie travels to disaster sites, which explains why her books are set in places like Jamaica and Haiti. Norah Wilson tells how happily-ever-after endings help this SuperHeroine cope.

It is unquestionably summer, and we know the last thing you want to do is spend a lot of time slaving over a hot stove. But you have to eat, and what could be quicker than pasta? We're talking nine yummy meals, including Chicken Primavera, Pesto Pepper, Alfredo Supreme, and one with tomatoes, olives and fennel. Pow! Save any leftover noodles and gently lash a friend. You'll be glad you did.

July is the Noodlers' anniversary, and many of us will be reuniting at this year's RWA conference, held in Atlanta, Georgia. If you'd like to meet published Noodlers (and hundreds of other published authors) while supporting literacy, come to the Readers for Life signing and book mart, where sales of autographed books support literacy programs across the U.S. It's open to the public and it's a bunch of fun!

Georgia is just a hop, skip and jump away from the most visited national park in the United States - Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Because this cool, green oasis is so rich in flora and fauna, it's been designated an International Biosphere reserve, not to mention one of the last known habitats of the elusive Stuckey's. Trish Milburn takes you on a tour.

Vacation fun continues with the Noodler's Top Ten Vacation Spots. Fishing, Broadway shows, cathedrals, mojitos. Hey, can we get all those in one place?

Pam Payne is July's Noodler of the Month, and she wants to know when someone will come up with a waterproof laptop. Pam's career started with a bang when an editor asked to see her full manuscript when Pam had only written 63 pages. Since then, she's written a lot more.

This month, Dr. Debra answers the difficult question, What can you do when a good friend's death makes you question your faith in God?

Come join the celebration!

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

When all else fails, start over

Got another rejection on Satin and Steel, which I had retitled Winner Takes All. But they want to see something fresh and new from me, so that's okay, I guess.

How can a book that came so close to being bought at one house, got a contract offer (that I turned down) at another, get rejected at others? I get the same comments. Writing is good, characters and dialogue are great, but they just didn't fall in love with the story. Geez, I'm not asking them to marry it, just buy it.

Okay, that book is done. It's been filed under the bed and I've moved on. Started a new story that I like so far, but my confidence level is pretty much in the toilet. I've decided not to share this story with anyone until it's done. I'm going to try to write it like I did my first one, the Golden Heart finalist. Just write and write and write until it's done, no second guessing, no fiddling with the first chapters over and over. Just write. We'll see how it goes.

Some new pics, just because I want to look at them myself. :)

This is our youngest daughter when she was about a year old. The rest of the family was in the living room watching TV or something when we realized she wasn't with us. I found her sitting on the floor of the kitchen, dipping powdered formula out of the can and pouring it over her head. She had to have climbed the shelves in the pantry to get to it. Did I mention she's always been precocious? Or maybe she was just hungry.

Well, our sucky wireless connection isn't cooperating, so I'll post more pics tomorrow.

Friday, June 23, 2006

The last job?

We took pictures of the concrete job we did this week, because we're really hoping it's the last one. We both managed to hurt ourselves (not major, but flare-ups of old repetitive-motion injuries.) So now I either have to start selling my books , dh needs to learn how to make money with his pictures, we need to learn how to write and sell magazine articles with photos, or I have to find a job. Pics are below.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

DH has a photo blog!

Finally pulled the hubby into the 21st century. He now has his own photo blog. http://pcsphoto.blogspot.com/ Check out his very, very cool hummingbird pic.

Can you take a vacation from your life?

Sometimes my life seems like a never-ending drama. It's always one thing or another. Someone sick, someone broke, someone doing something really dumb--like one of the kids running into another one of the kids' garage door with their truck. Ora kid getting off the bus at the wrong stop and sending the entire family into a panic as they try to figure out where the kid is and how to get them back to where they belong. Or we're dealing with a drought and hungry cows, overheated dogs, and parched trees.

So, how do you take a vacation from your life? Just pack up and take off for a week or two and don't tell anyone where you are? Would that really work, or would you just end up worrying about what's happening to everyone while you're out of touch? I'd end up worrying. So I guess I'll grab a good book and head for the claw-foot tub. That's as close to a vacation from life as I'm likely to get.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Father's Day & Hummingbirds

It was a bittersweet day. A good day, because two of the four kids were here. A tough day because my father and father-in-law are both gone. I thought a lot about them today, but for once it was without tears, just missing them and regretting not doing more for them and with them while I had them with me.

We spent the afternoon trying to capture pictures of the many hummingbirds in our back yard. Those are tough little suckers to catch on film. But we did get a couple of good pics. I took this first one, my first time to use the DH's Nikon D70 with it's big old lens.
There is a hummingbird right in the middle of the tree in this next picture. You just have to look close to see him. My oldest daughter took the next picture. The hummingbird is playing hide and seek. The nextt one the dh took. Looks like a silhouette. And I saved the best for last.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

It's a Beautiful Morning

Heavy clouds hang low in the sky, the wind is blowing, there's a feel of impending rain in the air...

What's beautiful about that, you ask? We live in an area of Texas that's suffering a severe drought right now. The cows come up to the pen every morning begging for food because there's not much in the pasture besides weeds. My trees and plants are sagging from lack of water. We don't dare use up too much of the pond to water them, and the city water costs an arm, and a leg, and a first born to use. So bring on the rain! I'll even take the tornado risk that goes along with a good drenching thunderstorm.

Sent a partial (actually, a first half) of a book off yesterday, made some contracts changes on another and sent that off, played on a couple of blogs, then settled in and wrote some pages. Maybe not great pages, but at least they're done. I can fix them later. I'm having a hard time settling back into writing. We have a big concrete job starting Monday that's really too big for the dh and I to handle by ourselves, even if we hire day laborers. But we're going to do it, one way or another. So I'll spend today and tomorrow worrying about that, and all next week trying to get it done.

But I'll take my Alphasmart with me this week, I think, and write during the drive to town and back each day. I'll be too tired at night. And we'll be leaving too early each morning to get any early morning pages in. Sometimes it sucks when my real life crowds out my dream life.

At least the drought has slowed down the grass-growing process so I don't have to mow!

Thursday, June 15, 2006

More pics, part Two

Pics of the calf I saved and raised on a bottle a couple of years ago, who follows me around like a pet, another view of the pond behind my house, a dragonfly, and our grandson (check out the basketball in the hoop).

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

More Pics

I'll list what they are up here, then post the pics. Otherwise, they get all screwy on the page. First pic is of our male Great Pyrenees, Willie (named for Willie Nelson), relaxing in the pond. The second is a butterfly on our mimosa tree. The third is of my new bush in the backyard. No, wait. The dh shut off his computer and I can't access his pics anymore. So the bush and anything else has to wait until tomorrow. Shoot.

Sunrise over Southfork

This morning, we woke up to a beautiful sunrise, though it's kind of hard to see here. But there was mist rising from the pond, fog over the pasture, and a gorgeous deep-red sun, but before dh could get the camera, the sun had risen a bit and turned yellow.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Anybody want to play?

I'm bored. I've already mowed the lawn, bought a locking mailbox and helped the dh put it up, bought groceries, cooked 2 meals, cleaned the house, did the laundry--and I'm avoiding the WIP like the proverbial plague. So, anyone want to do a Round Robin? I'll start off with a paragraph or two, or three, you jump in and add as much as you want, then someone else jumps in for the next bit. We'll keep it going as long as there's interest.

For the sake of my kids' sensibilities, we'll keep it PG-13. If a post gets out of hand, I'll delete it and ban the poster, so keep it clean.

So...to start it off...

"Karen, would you hurry up? We're going to be late. You know how angry Mr. Skiles gets when we're late." Jessica Winters checked her reflection in the mirror and adjusted her Little Red Riding Hood costume. She tied the cape around her shoulders and pulled the hood over her head. She was ready for the masquerade party, right on time.She wished she could say the same for her roommate.

She loved Karen Chantal dearly, and she was grateful to her friend for helping her get a job and giving her a place to live, but her constant tardiness was irritating.Jessica didn't want to go tonight. She was tired from being on her feet all day, waiting on grumpy customers who couldn't find the right size blouse or skirt or pants. Well, it was no wonder, when they insisted they were a size twelve when they were actually a size sixteen.

To make matters worse, one of the customers complained to Mr. Skiles when Jessica continued to bring size sixteens to the dressing room. Of course, Mr. Skiles had issued his standard 'the customer is always right' lecture, right in the middle of the store in front of other customers and employees. Now she had to go to his stupid party.

She hated Halloween, she hated costume parties, and she hated Mr. Skiles. It was going to be a totally boring evening. What she really wanted was some excitement in her life. Something different. A challenge.

An adventure.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Some new pics

Tony's been playing with his camera again. I'm his not-quite-willing subject matter.

He's also playing with Photoshop. He took a prom picture of me from 1971 and Photoshopped out my date (it wasn't him. )

But my oldest got him back by getting a picture of him.

He got this pretty cool picture of a mama Emu with her chicks while we were on a garage sale outing.

Life on the Farm

I usually write late at night, often not going to bed until 1:30 or 2 a.m. I don't do this when we have concrete work to do the next day, but I do it pretty often. Last night was one of those nights. I'm working on a romantic suspense/thriller and I was in the groove, so I finally hit the sack around 2. Woke up at 6. Not sure why, but it might have been those dang cows bawling outside my window. They were bawling yesterday, too, but we thought it was because they wanted something to eat. But when they're hungry, they don't usually come up to the fence until around 8 or so.

I figured something must be wrong, especially since I heard echoing bawls coming from way across the pasture. So I drug my tired ass out of bed and went outside. There was my mama cow, staring at the back door and bawling her head off. And no calf to be seen.

Shoot. Paddy was missing. But from the bawls I could hear, he wasn't too far away. Just over in the neighbor's pasture. So by 7 I was dressed, had my shoes on (I never put shoes on until I absolutely have to, was armed with wire cutters, pliers, and extra barbed wire, and the dh and I went out to risk life and limb by cutting the fence and going into the neighbor's pasture at dawn. In earlier times, we could have been shot. Shoot, considering that all our neighbors are heavily armed, we could have been shot this morning. But we got him back, patched the fence, and laughed while his mama gave him what for. I'm pretty sure Paddy is grounded indefinitely.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Have a job, anyone?

I need a job. I mean, I really, really need a job. It's too freaking hot out there now to pour concrete. Just walking outside makes me want to run screaming for the air conditioner. Facing a full day in the sun is almost more than I can bear.

I'm one of those women who got caught in the middle between career and family. I'd decided early on to try to put my kids first. So instead of embarking on a real career, I worked at the daycare so they could be with me. I taught in a small private Christian school. I even went so far as to start my own school, then started two very successful daycares for churches. Once the youngest was in elementary school, I tried my hand at selling cars. I was good at it. Made salesman of the month and salesman of the quarter more than once. Then the economy tanked, my boss went off the deep end, and my husband moved us to the country.

There are no jobs here unless I want to work at Subway for $5.50 an hour. Or the bank for $7 an hour. Not enough. We can make more money than that in concrete working one day a month. But how do I explain the long years of not working (my "writing" years). I was anything but idle during those years. I built websites, I wrote books, I networked, I even helped coordinate a full-day tour for 100 members of the KOD chapter during the Dallas convention.
I read, I got a short story published. And I learned the concrete business and worked hard labor, bid on jobs, bought materials, hired workers, collected payments, did the taxes. Why don't those things count with HR managers?

Anyone have advice on how to translate skills to the current job market? I think I'm worth at least $36000 a year, not $7 an hour.

Friday, June 02, 2006

What a day!

Started the day with the news that my daughter and grandsons' flight to Orlando had been cancelled due to engine problems. They'd arrived at 5 a.m., totally excited about their Disney Cruise that starts tomorrow, boarded the plane, only to be kicked off the plane at 8:30. No flights available all day long. She went from gate to gate to try to get on Stand-by, with no luck. Phone calls to American Airlines were met with so sorry, not a damned thing we can--or will--do. So she spent 9 hours in the airport with two very active, very upset little boys. American wouldn't even put them up at the hotel across the street for the day, wouldn't offer any kind of compensation, nothing. I will NEVER book a flight on that airline again.

Then, to top things off, my youngest son got stranded two hours from home in an unfamiliar town with a truck that won't start. To say he's clueless when it comes to cars would be an understatement. He's still stranded at this moment.

The only two bright spots in my days were the gift of an Amazon gift certificate from my oldest son and getting to go out to eat so I didn't have to cook.

Other than those two things, I'd have to call this the worst birthday ever.

Okay, maybe not the worst. Daughter and grandsons are now safe in their hotel room, with their luggage, and youngest son is safe at his sister's house with his truck running. And I indulged in a very rare beer, a long bath, a bag of Dove's Dark Chocolates, and JoAnn Ross's Impulse--a total treat for me. So all's well that ends well.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

It's My Birthday

When I was a kid, birthday's were a BIG DEAL. I carried those feelings of excitement into my married life, where I got a big shock. Not all families made a big deal out of birthdays! My dh didn't understand why I thought a BIG DEAL should be made of the day I was born. Every one has a birthday. They're kind of like...well, you know.

As I've gotten older, the excitement has died down. Now every year reminds me of dreams that haven't come true and makes me wonder if they will ever happen before I die. Every birthday brings me closer to the time when I'll have my last one. Will I even know it's to be the last? Or will I let it pass by with little fanfare and enthusiasm?

I got the best card from a friend, an e-card that she thoughtfully sent while on a trip to Egypt. The worst part is, I'm horrible at remembering dates. I let friends' and relatives' birthdays slip right by me because I rarely know what day it is. But it was the first card I got, and it just absolutely made my day. It arrived just after midnight, so I have a full 24 hours to enjoy that feeling of being special.

I hope everyone has someone who remembers their birthday and makes them feel special.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Oh my!

I've been offered a contract on one of my books, but by an e-publisher. Now I have to decide what's most important to me. My heart's desire was to see this book picked up by a big New York house, but most of them want you to have an agent first. Agents want you to have a book published first--not all, but many. My husband says sign the contract and then finish the book I'm working on now and get it out there. But this book is one I love and I kind of feel like my first born didn't make it into Harvard so we're sending her to Texas Tech.

This e-pub has a decent reputation, though I'm hearing some negatives from disgruntled authors, which I guess is what's giving me the most pause. But if I sign, I'll be an RWA recognized author so I can put published in my query letters.

So...decisions, decisions.

Who knew it would be this tough?

Monday, May 29, 2006

Memorial Day

Today we celebrate Memorial Day. But what is it? A day off to spend time at the beach with family? A day for picnics, barbeques, drinking? Many have forgotten the meaning of Memorial Day. The actual date of Memorial Day is supposed to be May 30th. Congress moved it to the last Monday in May so that it would make it a three day weekend, but in doing so they helped destroy the meaning in the day we are supposed to observe.

Memorial Day is supposed to be a day to remember, in specific ways, those who gave their lives for their country:

by visiting cemeteries and placing flags or flowers on the graves of our fallen heroes.
by visiting memorials.
by flying the U.S. Flag at half-staff until noon.
by flying the 'POW/MIA Flag' as well (Section 1082 of the 1998 Defense Authorization Act).
by participating in a "National Moment of Remembrance": at 3 p.m. to pause and think upon the true meaning of the day, and for Taps to be played.
by renewing a pledge to aid the widows, widowers, and orphans of our falled dead, and to aid the disabled veterans.

Did you know any of that? I certainly didn't. I knew people put flags on the graves of veterans and flew flags in their yards. I knew the local VFW had a ceremony at our Veterans Memorial here in town and put flags out at businesses. But the dh and I noticed several flags at half-staff around town Friday and wondered who it was for. Now we know.

Take a moment today to remember the brave men and women who fought to keep us free, and also take a moment to wonder what they would think about the freedoms we give away daily in exchange for "safety."

"They who give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." Benjamin Franklin

Today's Blog is dedicated toArchie Howard Payne and Charles Arden Maeker, who both served bravely during World War II. We miss you both so very much.

Archie Payne

Charles Maeker

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Why do I care?

Someone sent me an email asking me why I cared about what Barbara Bauer did to Absolute Write. I've never queried her, never lost money to her, never knew anything about her except that she was on the 20 worst agents list. Well, for one thing, I liked the Absolute Write site. I've used it in my own agent search, I've posted on the boards, etc. What she did was not fair, and it was immature.

But I think what bugs me the most is that stuff like that hurts legitimate agents by association. I've met a lot of the romance agents, and I like almost all of them. Most of them work hard for their clients, they give of their time to help educate unpublished authors, and most of them are fair, honest, and above board. Yet every time one of these non-working agents does something to hurt authors, talk gets started about agents in general. Everyone dredges up the horror stories--the wait times, the form letters, the less-than-polite conversations. Hey, everyone's human. We all have our bad days. I could tell you horror stories about romance authors too. There are some nasty ones out there. Some are rude, crude, or just full of themselves. When I run across them, I write them off my list of authors to buy. I talk about them among friends, and we all agree we wouldn't buy their book if it was the only thing available in the world to read. But we don't call their ISP and demand their website be yanked.

Hmmm, maybe we should. :)

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Watch out for the scammers

You'll find them in all walks of life. Who doesn't know an elderly person who lost everything, thanks to a less-than-honest "financial planner"? Or someone who paid money for "fees" associated to winning a non-existent big prize.

In the writing world, the biggest scammers are fly-by-night publishers and agents. Everyone who manages the herculean task of finishing that first book is high on the dream of fame and fortune. They will get that work published (or so they think until the rejections start rolling in.) But all of a sudden, that dream has turned into a nightmare. They've found an agent who loves their writing--after they sent that agent $300, $500, $1000 for "expenses" associated with sending the work out. Shoot, I'd love anyone's writing if they were willing to pay me to love it.

Wake up, folks. Reputable agents do NOT take money up front. They do NOT charge you to read your work. They do NOT send your work to a book doctor (who just happens to be their husband). And any agent worth their salt should be willing to give you a list of their clients and what they sold for them. If they act like it's a big hairy secret, it's probably because they haven't sold jack squat.

Don't be stupid. Do your homework. There are lots of places to get information on agents and publishers (beware the vanity and subsidy presses out there). http://www.aar-online.org/ offers a list of agents who must adhere to a canon of ethics. http://www.anotherealm.com/prededitors/ lists agents to steer clear of. http://www.writers.net/agents.html is loaded with information.

And just in case you're really too naive (or lazy) to check for yourself, at least read this list and make sure you don't include them in your query list, and make special note of letter d:

From Writer Beware :

None of these agents has a significant track record of sales to commercial (advance-paying) publishers, and most have virtually no documented and verified sales at all (many sales claimed by these agents turn out to be vanity publishers). All charge clients before a sale is made, whether directly, by charging fees such as reading or administrative fees, or indirectly, for "editing services." Writer Beware suggests that writers searching for agents avoid questionable agents, and instead query agents who have actual track records of sales to commercial publishing houses.

a.. The Abacus Group Literary Agency
b.. Allred and Allred Literary Agents (refers clients to "book doctor" Victor West of Pacific Literary Services)
c.. Capital Literary Agency (formerly American Literary Agents of Washington, Inc.)
d.. Barbara Bauer Literary Agency
e.. Benedict & Associates (also d/b/a B.A. Literary Agency)
f.. Sherwood Broome, Inc.
g.. Desert Rose Literary Agency
h.. Arthur Fleming Associates
i.. Finesse Literary Agency (Karen Carr)
j.. Brock Gannon Literary Agency
k.. Harris Literary Agency
l.. The Literary Agency Group, which includes the following: Children's Literary Agency Christian Literary Agency New York Literary Agency Poets Literary Agency The Screenplay Agency Stylus Literary Agency (formerly ST Literary Agency) Writers Literary & Publishing Services Company (the editing arm of the above-mentioned agencies)

m.. Martin-McLean Literary Associates
n.. Mocknick Productions Literary Agency, Inc.
o.. B.K. Nelson, Inc.
p.. The Robins Agency (Cris Robins)
q.. Michelle Rooney Literary Agency (also d/b/a Creative Literary Agency and Simply Nonfiction)
r.. Southeast Literary Agency
s.. Mark Sullivan Associates
t. West Coast Literary Associates (also d/b/a California Literary Services)

Okay, you've been warned, so don't come crying when you hook up with one of the above and find you've wasted a year of your precious career, not to mention hundreds or even thousands of dollars, and no editor has ever seen your work. As for letter d, check out the writers' blogs. They're up in arms over that one. For a really funny take on it, go to http://p-n-elrod.livejournal.com/12120.html . To get the real scoop, no holds barred, visit Miss Snark's blog. What do you mean you don't know the url? It should be #1 in your blog bookmarks. Sheesh! http://misssnark.blogspot.com/ Also see what Kristin Nelson http://pubrants.blogspot.com/ has to say. From those two you'll find plenty of links to keep you busy, including a link to the new Absolute Write site-- Barbara Bauer had the old one shut down because someone posted something about her.

Folks, scamming is nothing new. But in today's world of the Internet and Google, there's really no excuse for getting taken. It only shows how desperate you are--or that you're lazy beyond belief. Take the time to check things out before you jump in. There's really no need to wear lead boots and a concrete vest in this day and age.