Thursday, December 24, 2009

The Lights at Temple Square in Salt Lake City...

were beautiful last night.


We started the evening with A Christmas Carol, which was performed at the Hale Center Theatre in West Valley City. Highly recommended! Then we feasted at The Macaroni Grill in Salt Lake, and finished the evening with a walk through Temple Square. It was incredible! Every little branch supported a string of lights. My favorite spot was the reflecting pond with the illuminated floating bubbles.

That said, I'd like to remind everyone of the four basic food groups at Christmas. Candy, candy canes, candy corn, and syrup. ...Anyone know what movie this is from? It's one of my favorites.

And, to top things off, my youngest has decided to put Santa to the test this year. When he sat on his lap last week, he asked for a squirrel.

Yes, a squirrel.

A real, live, teeth-and-claws-squirrel.

His older brother, who visited with Santa next, asked for a pony and a girlfriend. To which Santa replied, "You're too old for the first, and too young for the second." Unfortunately, he didn't give the youngest a witty reply, so Christmas morning will be interesting, unless Santa finds a way to bait and trap some furry rodent while traveling over Wyoming or other nearby state that hosts such critters.

Happy Holidays!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Good Times


It's been a while since we met, but holidays and other events have a way of bringing friends back together, especially friends who love to talk about books (and many other things--some of which I could never talk about here--but that's what makes them so fun).

We met at local restaurant and were treated to many surprises of the evening, including dessert on the house and a bottle of wine bought for our table by a friend of a friend. Thank you, Paul! The 7 Deadly Zins is a new favorite vino. And thank you, Ted! You helped make the evening special.
I love these ladies. They are one of the many blessings in my life.
I don't know what I'd do without them.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

So, it's the day after we devoured turkey and stuffing with all the fixings, and I'm still feeling incredibly blessed. I do have much to be thankful for, even though some days I feel completely overwhelmed. And here it is, Black Friday, a day I opted not to shop and woke instead to see why I'm the luckiest mother in the world.

I'm thankful for two boys who will wake themselves at the crack of dawn to make sure they can surprise me with breakfast in bed. (I tend to be an early riser.) It was one of my favorites. French toast, a mini ham and cheese omelet, and OJ. And they did it all on their own.

I'm thankful for a daughter who tells me she loves me and that I'm her best friend. A daughter who showers me with hugs and plays uplifting, empowering songs when I need them, even though I'm not telling her I do. A daughter who stands by me in the kitchen before and after the Thanksgiving meal to help with preparations and clean-up. A daughter who hands me her size 3/4 jeans because she thinks I can wear them, after I see that mine are too big and no longer fit. (I won't tell you if hers fit, though!)

I'm thankful for family and friends who show their support and share their love and help keep me focused on my hopes and dreams. I'm thankful for a wonderful home, good schools that help educate my children, the means to put food on the table, and strong health. I'm thankful to have full days to enjoy, the sun when it shines, and a future that keeps me looking forward. And I'm thankful to live in a state and a country that affords us so many freedoms to do the things we do.

Happy Holidays!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

On Moving Forward


My friend Darla shared her favorite quote with me. I thought I'd post it here.
Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving. --Einstein, in a letter to his son.
Make it great day!

Monday, November 16, 2009

What were they thinking? (Patriots)

Okay, so I turned off the game and sent the boys to bed, so that I could watch my movie (Nights in Rodanthe--yes, it was good) before it got too far past my bedtime. After all, with 2:38 minutes left and a 13-point lead, and Tom Brady handling things, while Peyton and crew seemed to mangle key plays, I thought all would be well. And so did my boys. They marched off to bed in good faith.

However, I lost all credibility on the football front when my youngest brought in the morning paper and asked through a veil of confusion, "Who lost by one point last night? Was it the Colts?"

He was trying to sound hopeful.

I spun from my desk.

"One point! Did you say, one point! They had been leading by 13! With two minutes left to play!"

But I knew before I even snatched up the paper, deciphered the meaning behind the amazing photograph of Reggie Wayne's catch, that I should not have doubted Peyton. I knew he was capable of amazing come-backs such as this. After all, the announcer had reminded me so on their last failed drive before I clicked off the TV with confidence.

I won't doubt him again. Watching those two drives would have been fun. (Don't tell my sister. She's a true Patriot fan.) Me? I just hate missing out a good game. What was I thinking?

Sights are on the playoffs for sure.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Another blog, and interview

Okay, so life has been a bit crazy the past few months, and while surfing the web this morning, catching up on what my writer friends have been doing, I realized I forgot to share an interview that I did with Lori Nawyn in August. August.


The calendar tells me that was 2 months ago.... To me, it seems like that was merely days ago, or at least a handful of them. But, if you're interested, you can check out the interview here, as well as the other useful and insightful posts and interviews she has. Hopefully, I'll soon have good news to share on some of the projects I talked about. (Fingers crossed!)


Lori has her own good news. The book she illustrated, What Are You Thinking?, written by Valerie Ackley, is a 2009 National Best Books Awards finalist. What a wonderful accomplishment! Congratulations to Lori and Valerie!


Make it a great day, everyone.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

The Proposal, a great movie


My new favorite movie is The Proposal, and I owe all thanks to my daughter who said we absolutely had to watch it (She'd already seen it with a friend, and wanted to see it again--and a third time, as it turned out, by the time she watched it with me.) Anyway, I loved it. I had no idea I would be laughing so much, until the end, when I cried, but only because the ending was a happy one. Even my boys liked it, which was surprising, since they are boys, and The Proposal is a romantic comedy, which is all good, because it means they have soft spots in their hearts and are willing to sit down and enjoy a movie that a mom, or a sister, or a girl would like to watch.

As for the rest of the week, it's work, work, work, a bit of rewriting on a manuscript, and then the SCBWI conference in Salt Lake on Friday and Saturday. I'm looking foward to hanging out with fellow friends and writers Judy Torres, Laura Madsen, Sydney Salter (My Big Nose and Other Natural Disasters), Bree Despain (The Dark Devine), Karen Nelson, and many others, and meeting editor Elizabeth Law from Egmont and agent Kendra Marcus, if I'm lucky.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Survivor!

Yes, I survived. Or, rather, we. My daughter and I, when we rode the Big Shot on top of the Stratosphere in Las Vegas last weekend.

We were there for the Las Vegas Mayor's Cup soccer tournament that her team was playing in, and a friend had suggested we take that ride on the Big Shot, or at least get to the top of the Strat for the view. Lucky for us, these plans became part of the team's agenda for Saturday night, since they didn't have an early game scheduled for Sunday morning.


But as the captured Kodak-moment shows, even 4Gs of being shot 160 feet upward at 45 miles an hour isn't quite enough to zap my brain into motion. It took more than a few moments for me to realize, that yes, we were indeed moving, possibly and quite quickly, toward death. And by the time I was in full comprehension of my experience--that I may not survive--the zero-G's bestowed on us as we plummeted back downward kept me from vocalizing any of the sheer terror I felt in comprehending that there really was NO WAY off until it was over.

But of course, once it was done, I kind of wished I could do it a second time. And maybe a third.... What's up with that?

All in all, getting away to Las Vegas was great. The sun was warm enough to kiss my skin, the soccer games well-played and enjoyable to watch, the watershow at the Bellagio perfectly timed to impress upon my teenage daughter that I really might have clue as to what we were doing as we toured the strip, and the singing bus driver on route to the terminal was fabulous enough to end the weekend with a smile. Although the singing vacuum cleaner--i.e., the fellow who was riding a motorized vacuum cleaner at the SLC airport while singing Kumbaya upon our return--left me a bit perplexed over the intricacies of human nature.


As for daily life, the sun and warm weather have returned for at least a few more days in northern Utah before the snow truly starts to fly for good. Although I like to ski, here's hoping the sun will stick around for a little while longer.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Finding Inspiration in Kokanee Salmon


A couple weeks ago I took my kids to see the bright red kokanee salmon making their way upstream in the Little Bear River above Porcupine Reservoir. As I watched these beautiful fish swimming among the rocks in the shallow water, I struggled with wondering what sort of inspiration could be drawn for both life and writing from a journey in which a fish returns to its hatching grounds after a few short years of life solely to spawn and die. What drives that undeniable urge? And why?

Although as humans, we're nothing like fish, I've come to realize that in some ways we may mirror this behavior when we allow ourselves to give in to that gut-wrenching pull toward something or someone we like in hopes that the journey forward will lead us to a place that resembles our roots, shapes the foundation of our soul, and sharpens our senses to the point of knowing what it means to truly be alive. So that at the end of it all, we can say, yes, life's ultimate journey was worth it, even if we did get battered among the rocks along the way. Because feeling something is the first step toward believing, and believing in something provides the purpose for moving forward, even if we're swimming against the current and dodging all sorts of debris coming our way.

For me, I want to believe that the ultimate journey will have been about love. I want to be able to say that I held on to it when it was found. That I did everything I could to make it grow, and that in doing so, in sharing it with those around me, made my corner of the world a better place.

Last week, I came across a quote I liked from Souza. Here's part of it:

Love as though you've never been hurt before....Live as though heaven were on earth.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Out of the Dust ...

and chaos and complete utter mess that a remodel can bring.

I had no idea what I was in for when the remodel on our house started, and now that the largest part of it is done, and we are back to living on the first floor, it almost seems like the summer has been a surreal existance, at least as far as trying to stay connected with the writing and publishing world. I learned that I can not necessarily write "anywhere," at least as far as keeping up with office to-do lists. Being limited to 2-square-feet of floor space at an itty bit desk-that-is-not-a-desk in my daughter's room underneath the watchful starry eyes of Ashley Tisdale and Taylor Lautner (who is now wallpapered on my screen, thanks to youthful daughter) did not do a lot for inspiring the muse to keep the blog updated. (Or the photos downloaded--sorry, Mom! Those will follow.) But thankfully, the embers that feed the creative side--at least as far as making fiction--kept burning and I managed to wrap up my middle grade and get a picture book hammered out by writing in quiet pockets outside.

It's hard to believe summer has passed by and fall is well upon me. The first big rain of the season lured me from bed early this morning, and already I'm looking forward to drier and warmer weather to return. There are too many things left to be done in the garden. Green beans and corn plants are ready to be ripped out, and limas, carrots and beets are standing tall for harvest. Thank the Lord for a friend like Kristen, who does not have a garden and who has found a new passion for helping in gardens that are not her own. We have a date to do all good things with beets, carrots, and a bottle of wine on Tuesday. Yesterday, we tackled the beans, tomatillos, zuchinis-that-are-now-listed-as-deadly-weapons, cucumbers, and tomatos. Good times, good times.

I'll leave you with a few photos of summer journeys 2009.....

Monday, June 22, 2009

The Dark Divine give-away



Check this out. Bree Despain's upcoming book, The Dark Divine. Doesn't it just make you want to reach out and grab it? I, for one, would love to know the story that lies in wait behind the cover. Especially after reading a blurb like this:

“Reading THE DARK DIVINE feels almost like following a trail of moonlight into the heart of a forest at midnight--at once spooky and compelling. Bree Despain takes familiar myths and legends and wraps them elegantly around a haunting story of love, loss, family and forgiveness. Beautiful.” -- Lesley Livingston, author of Wondrous Strange

But, for most us (like me), that means waiting until the book comes out in December. December 22, 2009.

HOWEVER, there is a way to get lucky. I.E. you may be able to snag an advance reader's copy (ARC). Get the story before everyone else. How cool is that? You'd be able to brag and tell all your friends how good it is, but too bad, they'll have to wait, unless of course, you can be bribed to lend personal ARC for pastries and chocolate.

Sounds great, doesn't it? So, how do you put yourself in such a position?

Go to Bree's website, and follow her. Watch for the monthly countdown-contest give-aways. Let your friends know they should do it, too. It's that simple. If you're linking there from here, be sure to drop her a comment and let her know I got you into the loop. And good luck! My fingers are crossed for both me and you!

Monday, June 15, 2009

WIFYR Conference Update 2

What a week. I can't believe how fast it went, and am grateful for the new friendships made and the new things learned. This is one the best conferences I've attended and the most fun.

Alane Ferguson was definitely a daily highlight. She kept me laughing in her class, while showing how to critique manuscripts well. Learning from her was more like an osmotic-process than a bottling process, if that makes any sense. Here are a few Lanie-isms that I enjoyed walking away with:

"That is absolutely one of the unbreakable rules, except for the fact that it will be broken next week."

"My curtains are always closed, because I know there are people like me out there."

"Does he glitter? I get a lot of gratification when people glitter."

"I'm the rebel, but I'm also so compliant."

"That is brillance in action, people."

"I'm giving you the Lanie Guarentee. Editors will love this."

............ I can only hope!


I also attended break-out sessions. Here are a few words of wisdom.

"Sometimes what your characters don't say reveals more than what they do." -- Ann Dee Ellis (Everything is Fine)

Mette Harrison (The Princess and the Hound) wasn't there, but she was quoted. "Clarity first. Pretty words second."

"Does each scene move the plot forward? Does each scene deal with internal/external conflict?" -- Ann Cannon (The Loser's Guide to Life and Love)

I took a few notes during Krista Marino's address. Krista is an editor with Delacorte. She highlighted 4 books from her list and discussed why she had chosen them. They were:

The Witch's Alphabet by Caitlin Kitteridge (Feb 2010). A "steam-punk novel described by her as A Great and Terrible Beauty meets The Golden Compass, which was the original steam-punk novel.

The Owl Keeper by Christine Brodien Jones. Described as The Penderwicks, as perceived by Tim Burton.

The Maze Runner by James Dashner. Described as The Lord of the Flies meets The Hunger Games.

The Forest of Hands and Teeth, which is a love story with a zombie threat, described as 28 Days Later meets The Hand-Maids Tale.

The best part of the conference was the send-off extravaganza, in which Carol Lynch Williams and Cheri Pray Earl danced and sang and Will Terry showed the story of The Little Red Toyota. I have pictures, and as soon as I get them downloaded, I will add them here.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

WFYR Conference Update

I'm down at the Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers conference this week at BYU. Well, actually I'm driving back and forth 2 hours each way every day (long story, equally long commute) except for today, because I'm getting kids off to their 4 day soccer tournament in Cedar City and meeting with tape-measure-and-hammer people about the house remodel that is about to whip up in a flurry around us.



I'll have to remember to take pictures tomorrow. A camera being toted around in purse does not take pictures by itself.



I'm in the morning workshops being led by Alane Ferguson, who is absolutely amazing. Her knack for editorial insight and guidance has blown me away. Here are a few nuggets.



Don't underestimate dialogue. Good dialogue will move a plot forward more than narrative.



In addition to having a good hook on page 1, tap into a Universal by page 2. A universal is that element that everyone on the planet can relate to: need to belong, fear of abandonment, fear of failure, a curiosity in wondering how a character will use his/her power to get what he/she wants, etc.



At the end of the story, the conflict must be resolved (of course), but there must always be a cost for the character in getting that resolution.



Be mindful of "burying the lead." This means, put the emotional hook, the conflict, the important stuff up front. Don't let it be muddled in an otherwise beautiful, well-written narrative, assuming the reader will "get it."


Claudia Mills was thoroughly entertaining. She suggested a few books for inspiration in the craft. Two of them are If You Want to Write by Brenda Velan and The Creative Habit by Twyla Thorpe.

Lael Littke, the bionic woman with titanium knees (my mouth literally dropped to the floor when she told us of her recent surgery!), also stressed the importance of adding that emotional conflict to the main conflict. This gets the reader connected to the character. And, of course, there has to be an event that forces the character to take a different direction.

Make it great day!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Winner!

I'm tooting my horn for a friend of mine, writer Carol Lynch Williams, who was selected as this year's winner of the PEN/Phyllis Naylor Fellowship award for fiction. She is a wonderful author who has given so much of her time and talent toward mentoring and teaching aspiring children's writers like myself. Her newest book, The Chosen One, has been receiving high praise across the industry, and is definitely worth reading. And if you find yourself in Utah, her writing workshops are top-notch.



And guess what? I'm a winner, too! Although I laugh when I think how it pales in comparison.... But I won a B&N $50 gift card! That's right. Fifty bucks to spend on books, just by being one of the lucky seekers of a treasure chest on writer Bree Despain's website. She's another talented Utah author who will see her first book, The Dark Devine, in print by February 2010. Her website is great and definitely worth checking out. While you're there, tell her I said, hi!



Sunday, May 3, 2009

Storming Sunday


I love thunderstorms.

I don't know why, but for me, they always signal a time for putting work aside and cozying up with family to read books or play games. It's time when life can slow, and we can hang together indoors where it's safe and warm.

We don't get many thunderstorms in Utah, but we're having one now. The rain is patting at the windows, the chimes are blowing in the trees, the thunder is rolling and rolling and rolling, high across the dark tumbling sky, and my children are luring me with puzzles.

Utah, though, is different from Iowa, and I know I wouldn't be saying this if I still lived there. In Iowa, thunderstorms terrified me. Tornadoes were a common occurrence, and my safety zone? A mobile home on top of hill--the only one, it seemed for miles around. All too often, with one of the rainiest seasons on record during my stay, I was left hunkering down in a feeble shell of a tin can that seemed to scream, Come and get me!

But none did. So the wild dance remains. As do my children, who are calling me. It's puzzle time.

Happy Thunder Day!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

One experience you won't want to miss

You must, without a doubt, go to youtube and check out this video of Susan Boyle singing on Britian's Got Talent. WOW Wow wow wow. This is one you won't tire of watching. It simply brings a smile to my lips, my soul, my heart. Pass it along!

I love it when taking a break from the rewriting of a novel brings such pleasant surprise.

Cheers!

Monday, March 16, 2009

A quick update...

I attended a children's writers conference at UVU last week. Shannon Hale (Goose Girl, Princess Academy, Book of a Thousand Days) gave the keynote address, which pretty much kept me laughing for about 30 minutes--she's quite entertaining, to say the least. And inspiriing. I loved her favorite quote:

"Fairy tales don't tell us that dragons exist. They tell us that dragons can be defeated."

G.K Chesterson said that. And I think it's pretty cool.

Other than that, Shannon said she keeps on top of her writing by setting daily goals, and then making them. ... Something I should start doing. Work, of late, has gotten sorely in the way. BUT! With my new-found inspiration, that will change.

Happy Spring, everyone. The snow is melting and the air is quickly growing warm.

Monday, March 9, 2009

I Challenge Thee....

Well, maybe not thee.


He.


I challenge HE.


Mr. Groundhog. To a duel.


Because that furry, brown rascal brought winter back to my door. And just to make sure I hadn't forgotten what winter looks like, he brought a whopping two feet of it.


This is how it went:


I woke this morning and had to shovel through 10 inches to get to my truck. Something I was not expecting at all, so in order to even begin, I had to march back inside and get my snowboots. I felt so juvenille...wearing snowboots to work. Big, black rubber ones, with a not-so-attractive, tan-suede upper. Any way you work it, black rubber does not make beautiful footwear. But it does keep the toes warm and dry, which makes the day doable.


But I digress. Because after coming home from work, I had to trudge through another 10 inches to get to my house.


Yeah, I know. Ten plus 10 does not add up to two feet. But, given the fact that it's still snowing, I think I can take the liberty of tacking on a few inches. Plus, I still need to go out again.


But before I do, I'm leaning toward curling up with a cup of hot chocoloate and watching the snow fall a little bit more. And then, maybe if I'm really comfortable, I'll wait and sit around, watching and waiting for the snow melt.


Ciao!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Recipe for Lemon Tart? Or, murder....

Contests always make me nervous, because as a rule, I never win anything.... So long as you don't count the time when I was 11 and had some mysterious, mystic connection with a set of dice being rolled at an carnival booth.

Yes, that one and only time, I got lucky, and somehow kept placing my quarters on the numbers about to be thrown....After starting with $1, and walking away with about $20, I think the booth manager started kissing the ground when he finally saw me go. Because more than a few people had caught on to how I'd been doing, and started following my bets....For a while, that booth was the happiest place on the boardwalk, if not the planet.

But anyway, back to contests.

Want to win a free book? Better yet, want to win a really good free book?

Then, check out Anne Bradshaw's blog, for an easy chance to win Lemon Tart, the first novel in a new culinary mystery series by author, Josi Kilpack. Looks tempting, doesn't it?
I, for one, can't wait to dive in.
But for now, I'll keep my fingers crossed that I get lucky and beat you to it!


Sunday, February 15, 2009

Reluctant Readers & The Underneath

My 10 yo son is a reluctant reader. Very bright, but also a typcial boy who is struggling with growing into all things "cool."

Yesterday, we were relaxing, resting, after a long day of skiing. I was trying to entice him into Kathi Appelt's The Underneath, and read the first few lines to him.

He rolled his eyes and told me he liked very few books, but said he did like Diary of a Wimpy Kid, and said I should read the series, and that it wouldn't take me long to do so.

So, I told him I would, and then a few minutes later, started reading aloud from The Underneath (call me persistent, and maybe also a cheater, because I had skipped ahead a few chapters, and had deliberately picked out a few lines where things started getting scary....well, not Stephen King scary....but there was definitely a hint of horror to come, perhaps some fantasy, and mystery).

His ears perked. He scooted next to me to read the text. Then, he made me go back and start at the beginning.

After a few chapters, I put the book down to get dinner ready. He picked it up, and started reading on his own. Later, I had to pry the book away to get him to eat. Then after watching a family movie, (Pirates of the Carribean 2), he had his nose back in the book again even though it was after 10pm....

This book is not written in Diary of a Wimpy kid style. It is literary. It's almost poetic. But it has an amazing voice. One that definitely connected with my son, which is so cool.

This is the second "long" novel I've gotten my son interested in reading, after he had initially said, "no," (the other was The City of Ember). Yes, he was judging the books by their covers and length, and thought there was no way he'd want to read them. But all it took was five minutes of reading aloud, five minutes of mother-son time, and he was hooked. Now I'm in the situation of having to read to catch up to him, so we can continue to read aloud together.

The Underneath is a great read-aloud--mainly because it is so beautifully and flawlessly written. I highly recommend it, particulary if you can share it with a reluctant reader--open their world of books to something they normally wouldn't choose for themselves, or even, something you normally wouldn't choose for them. The chapters are short and switch from character to character, which keeps it interesting and relatively fast-paced.

This whole experience has made me question what "makes" a reluctant reader. Do kids fall into this category themselves? Do we hold that label over them? Do they hang on to it?

Or, are they willing to eventually let go? And if so, how will they do it?

(Here's an article by author John Green that tackles adult expectations vs teen preferences, where he too, was surprised by what teens liked.)

I'm not even sure my son knows what reluctant reader means, or if he even knows the term exists. I haven't ever said, "You're a reluctant reader." But I have lived with the frustrations of dealing with a child who doesn't really want to read much, besides nonfiction and his favorite sports magazine. Thank heavens he's beginning to open his eyes to other things, namely longer works, which require some thought, attention, and commitment.

And thank heavens, I took a chance with The Underneath. The result was completely unexpected, but so much appreciated.

Monday, February 9, 2009

A Great Workshop

Saturday I had the opportunity to attend a great class on novel writing. It was led by the talented Carol Lynch Williams, whose latest release is the well-reviewed, The Chosen One, and Cheri Pray Earl, who has a few books coming out this year.

Perhaps the best thing about this class were the assignments that we had to complete beforehand: writing bios for our MC (highly recomended, btw) and completing an outline for our novel (which was great, because now I have the final stages mapped out). Even though I knew where I was headed, it's great to have it all on paper. It seems like finishing should almost be effortless.

We talked about lots of stuff. One topic centered on voice and the fact that all award-winning books are effortless to read. Sarah, Plain and Tall is one good example (among many). When asked how she wrote that book, Patricia MacLachlan said she took out all the words that didn't matter.

My favorite quote of the day was, "The mystery of life is how we respond." Which is why we, as authors, need to know our characters so well.

For me, to putting this insight into action means, writing those character bios for all my characters, even though I think I already know them fairly well in my head. Then, even after that's done, I think I'll go back and expand them as I finish and rewrite.

Carol and Cheri used many books for examples. (One shall go unnamed.) Some of those included:
This is What I Did by Ann Dee Ellis
Everything is Fine by Ann Dee Ellis
The Loser's Guide to Life and Love by Ann Cannon
Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson
The Killer's Cousin by Nancy Werlin
Everything on a Waffle by Polly Horvath
The Midwife's Apprentice by Karen Cushman
On Writing by Stephen King

You can learn more about their classes and see a list of must-read books at http://www.thefirststory.org/.

Monday, February 2, 2009

SUPERbowl!!!!!


All I have to say is, I LOVED watching that Superbowl last night. Loved, loved, loved it. Cheering for the Cardinals was just so much fun, especially since they were doing so well, and especially since all my cheering and praying started making all the Steelers fans in the house nervous, since it seemed to be working.

The best part was when I bet my husband 50 cents--yes, 50 cents--I'm feeling rather poor--that the Cardinals would hold the Steelers at the goal line and keep them from scoring again (I think it was their 4th drive--and the Cardinals had been doing a fairly good job at it). Anyway, I was out that 50 cents for all of 1 minute, even though I was screaming, Challenge the call!--until they did, and yes, the touchdown was reversed. ...Thanks to that beautiful thing called, review of play, I was 50 cents richer. Too bad I hadn't risen to the challenge and made the bet at $50 bucks, like my husband was taunting me to do. That would've been a glorious thing.

OH well. I wanted a fun game, and I got one. I think it was the best bowl I've seen yet. It was so good, even my husband cheered for the Cards at one point--because that's what good football does. Or any good game, cause there's no denying good, good playing when you see it, no matter which side of the line it falls on.


In other news, ---WHATDOYA know..... It's Groundhog Day!!! I don't know what the weather held back in PA this morning, but it's been sun-shining all day here, which means.....too many more weeks of WINTER.






BRRRRRrrrrrrr!!!!

Well, okay. I like to ski, and more snow would be nice, but if winter's gonna be hanging around, tell that Groundhog to keep all the white stuff up on the slopes where we need it. We don't need any down here in the burbs, or more specifically, in my drive. Because if I get any more snow and need to go shovel, I may just go pull that hog out of his hole and make him get it all off himself. With his tongue, or his nose, or his burry brown coat.....

There.
If you made through all those long sentences to the end of this post. Hurray! You just may be ready to sit through an episode of HOUSE. Did you see last week's? Did you understand any of it toward the end when his private investigator was talking mumbojumbojulkigidygook before inspiring that ever-burning bulb to light-up in dear, old, Gruffity-Gruff's head? I don't think the actors knew what they were saying, either. Which doesn't necessarily mean--if you're trying to go full circle here in my post--that I don't know what I'm writing now. Because I do. Just in a long-winded, spangdingingly kind of way. Which seems to be the trending way to flow.
So, in closing, to buck the trend, I'll be brief....

Ciao!

Saturday, January 31, 2009

SUPERbowl 2009

Here we go again.

I'm not one of those die-hard fans, that goes crazy when her favorite team makes it to the playoffs (unless, of course, we're talking about my kids), probably because being a mom keeps me from having too much time to be a die-hard fan.

Over the years, I've turned into one of those people who, upon turning on a game on the televsion, will forget who she's rooting for, and root for the team that's losing, mainly because she likes to watch a great game, and if it's not happening, well, she wants it to. It keeps life interesting. And makes watching, fun.

Yes, I know. Perhaps I have a twisted idea of fun....

Which bring us to Sunday, February 1, 2009....

Cardinals VS Steelers....

Do I have a favorite?

I can't say. Won't say. But I will say this....It is a surprising duel....One I didn't expect....And it kind of reminds me....yes, it brings certain memories to mind....

Well,...all you STEELERS fans,... not to jinx it or anything, but it seems to me that the playoffs--this whole, road-to-the-bowl sort-of-thing--is kind of similar to what happened last year, when the GIANTS shocked the world by making it to the SUPERbowl.


Everyone thought for sure they'd LOSE the game, and more importantly, that it would be a bad game at that, since they were PLAYING AGAINST THE BEST TEAM in recent history, (even if the PATS had been CHEATING to ensure that spot...) But I digress. The PATs should have won. They should have won so badly, that it was sad, sad, sad, SAD, that they lost.

It left me sorely in a bad mood, which lingers to this day, considering some of the problems they seem to have hired on their medical staffffff who don't know how to heel a broken bone....


Anyway.

Warp speed to present day. DOES THIS STORY SOUND FAMILIAR? I mean, WHAT the HECK (Utah-speak) ARE the CARDS doing PLAYING the STEELERS? Aren't they going to be SPANKED?.....One would think so, unless of course, you witnessed and recall what HAPPENED LAST YEAR....

All I have to say is, Pray, baby Pray. Any of you. All of you.

Cause, if anything, I want it to be FUN.

ciao!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Adele's "Make You Feel My Love"

Today I want to tell everyone--kids, friends, family--how much I love you. I love your easy smiles, unexpected hugs, and stories you're ready to share about your day. You make my world complete. And to those who need a hug--those I don't know--who may be struggling through tough times, I'm keeping you in my prayers. This goes out to you. Consider yourself hugged. ...


me[[[YOU]]]me



Wednesday, January 21, 2009

I Have A Dream ...

Yes, we all have dreams, and yesterday was a particularly exciting day for me to watch Barack Obama's inaugoration. It is so inspiring to think that we are truly embarking on a new period of change in so many ways; and I look forward to being a part of the positive experiences and journeys that are to come in our world.

As for my personal space on the planet, I just received good news that a poem of mine has been given preliminary acceptance into June Cotner's upcoming book: Earth Blessings, which will feature a collection of prose, poems and prayers about the earth. Truly exciting. This will be the second book of June's in which a poem of mine has been published. The first book was called Miracles of Motherhood: Prayers and Poems for a New Mother.

June has other projects ongoing, for which she is accepting submissions. Check out her website for more information: http://www.junecotner.com/.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Breaking the Block, and another Happy New Year

I'm back, having survived travel through the holidays...yes, I was one of those stranded Christmas-time travelers, eyes searching the arrival and departure screens in three different airports, no less, for some small sliver of hope that I would 1) make it to my destination with 3 kids and in tow, and then 2), while repeating the whole episode again upon my return trip, really did not need to buy my own personal airplane to get home.

The highlight of the trip had to be when we were stranded in Minneapolis on our first leg out of Salt Lake. After checking into our hotel, with a whole day and night ahead of us, we hopped on the free shuttle to the Mall of America. My son, after having fallen in love with our room at Embassy Suites--with its two tvs and pool and great-glass-elevator and an upcoming happy-hour of free popcorn and soda, said, "This is going to be the best trip ever! It's like two trips in one!"

Yes, kids are awesome. And in a way, he was right. They loved the tunneled aquarium at the Mall, swimming at the pool, going up and down the great-glass-elevator all night, and drinking as much soda as they wanted for free while being surrounded by an indoor rainforest.

All this helped carry us through the next day, when we faced a couple more set-backs in Detroit.

Having gone through all that, I'm probably the only person on the planet, who after having suffered the inconveniences of cancelled flights on our way to NH, complained when I found I was booked in first class for our return flights to apparently make up for it. I complained--althougth not too loudly--because I'd be separated from my kids, who were flying coach. I can't fault the airlines, since it was an easy oversight. We'd booked our itineary on two different tickets -- with the kids' tickets bought via frequent flyer miles, and mine, via regular cash, so to speak.

Oh well, I didn't complain long, mind you. I figured the kids would be fine back in coach without me, being the seasoned travelers that they are...and as it turned out, they were... so those extra-big seats and comfy footrests were all worth it in the end.

Despite the setbacks, it was a fantastic holiday season. We reconnected with family, ate great food, got plenty of rest, plenty of play on the slopes, and enjoyed lots of fresh snow on both sides of the country. It seemed to follow us wherever we went, giving fresh new meaning to "White Christmas."

Perhaps the best present I got from Santa was one I hadn't expected, but one I very much needed--a break from this writer's block I'd been suffering. Yes, it happened to me, for most of the last half of 2008. And I was embarrassed by it. I didn't want anyone to know. I mean, as far as progress, I probably couldn't do any worse as a writer, because this is how my most of my days went:

Write. Delete. Write. Delete. Repeat.

I figure I wrote and deleted close to 50,000 words. I'd get to an end of a scene or chapter, and decide, "no, my character wouldn't say/do that. What's the point?" And I'd beat my head, decide what I'd written was crap, and walk away.

By December, I decided I'd had enough. No more. And I unplugged my laptop, hid it under some papers, and stopped thinking about that darned MG that was literally going to make me crazy if I didn't give it a rest.

I didn't think about it for a month. I needed a vacation, and I was going to enjoy the one I had with my kids and without the disappointments that writing was bound to bring if I dared pick up a pen.

Unbeknownst to me, Santa left something for me under the tree. And it wasn't anything that came wrapped. It was intangible, but definitely something I could feel.... it was a pull, a steady tug, luring me back to the computer. My story was finally ready to be told, or at least another part of it.

Last week, with the kids back in school, I sat back down to work again. For the first time in a long time, I was excited--eggcited, as my daughter used to say-- about the prospect. Giddy, even. And turned out, I had the best week ever. 25 solid pages of text added to my novel. Headway. At last!

Thank God, the BLOCK is over. On the bright side, I like to tell myself, that after having gone through all the things my characters would not have said and done, I finally know what they will.

And I can't wait to work it all out. Till the end.

So having gone through this, I have a question. Your answers might be helpful to me and others who have experienced this, or who may be going through it now. ... What have you done to break writer's block?

Happy New Year, Everyone!