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 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. 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. 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.