Dec
26
2006
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

I’ve read some really great comments in my spam blocker. Unfortunately, they come with credit card offers and mortgage loans and, of course, the ever present offers of granny and Paris Hilton porn. I absolutely do not comprehend the purpose of spam like this. Does anyone actually click on these links??? Well, to those who’ve posted genuine comments, Thank You From The Heart. I hope there is some way you can re-post without the spam add-ons. I’d love to talk to anyone about writing, books or any of the topics I’ve posted about.

Merry Christmas to everyone! I love this time of year. I love having my tree up with all its lights and decorations. Every year that we’ve lived in our home, we’ve added one ornament with that year on it. If we can. It’s a way of being thankful for the roof over our heads and the one address we’ve had for so long. It’s really one of the most meaningful things to me. Then there are all the ornaments added by my mother in law who loves those over-full trees. :) Every year she sees our tree and says, “You guys need more ornaments.”

We tell her we really don’t, but she gets us some anyways. My favorites are the angels she made out of crystals and little gold wings. Mine is dark red, one of my favorite colors, since I am a capricorn and love garnets. The best thing about the tree is the lights. This year, a strand broke and we only have 1500, but we wrap them from the inside so the tree glows from the inside. What do you think?

I can’t remember how I did the pictures before. I’ll figure it out, though. :)

Anyway, I know God doesn’t live in my tree. But it’s still pretty and I love to put presents under it. Especially when we’re able to buy for all our family and friends. I’m hoping one year to do that without credit cards. :)

It’s so interesting the different things people believe. I went to church on Christmas Eve, a basic non-denominational Christian church. The pastor was young and excited. And they totally skipped the traditional Jesus was born in a manger sermon and used, of all things, clips from the Polar Bear Express. Believe. That was the message. Believe in Santa and the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny. Open your hearts and believe as a child, the way the Bible says to believe in Jesus with the heart of a child.

I guess I left my childhood behind a long time ago. My daughter loved the dancing elves and Santa at the church, but all I could think was, “If I lie to my daughter about Santa, the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny, how on earth will she be able to trust me about God?”

I despise lying. Even playfully, I try it. Mom? Are you playing my game? No, honey. Two seconds later. Okay, I am, but I’m just trying to figure a few things out on it. :) Do not ask me about Christmas presents or birthday presents. Do not tell me secrets. If there is a way to tell the truth without spilling the secret, I will search for it diligently. But if I’m backed into a corner, I will spill.

It’s hard to believe Christmas is over already. We even drag it out so long you’d think we were Jewish celebrating Hannakuh. But, no. You see, my youngest was born on Christmas Eve. Pretty special. She was a week early, due on New Year’s Eve, but it worked out. :) Right then, we made a deal with my oldest daughter’s mother. We take Christmas Eve and she takes Christmas Day and both girls are always together for the birthday.

But that would mean the oldest was opening her presents later that day, putting them away and then not seeing them for two weeks. Well, that’s not fair. She should be able to enjoy them. So we open gifts early. It used to be a few days before Christmas, but the school districts are infringing more and more on Christmas time. So now, she gets out of school for “Winter” break, then has sports practice *during* break (this just infuriates me.) People *travel* or celebrate with family all during the time leading up to Christmas so no what used to be a full week before Christmas is only a day or three.

So, this year, though we weren’t done shopping, we opened most of our gifts the night we got her. She was able to enjoy her presents for 3 days. Of course, now she’s at the age where the gifts travel with her. :)

But even celebrating Christmas and my youngest’s birthday and seeing family, all with a free conscience since my revisions were turned in (Praise God!), it still passed too fast. No cards were sent out though they were half written and ready to mail. No gift boxes, though it was half packed and ready to go. No emails or My Space comments wishing everyone Happy Holidays, though I’ve gotten stacks of them. Now I feel like the Rabbit in the Hat, running around and holding out a watch, gasping, “I’m late. I’m late.”

I wanted my revisions done 3 weeks before they were, and I stayed up all night every night to do them. Honestly, the hours after midnight are the best. Watching the sun come up is a little weird, though.

I guess the best thing to do now is finish the things I most wanted to do and wish everyone a

Very Happy, Successful and Productive New Year!

So there you go. I’m a bit early, or on time, for that at least. :)

Dec
14
2006
Courage in Action

Today was my daughter’s 4th MRI this year. Over the last 3 years, she’s had at least one every 3 months. So, she’s had a little more than 12 of them. Since her very first aborted attempt at one, when she was only 8, she’s been terrified of the machine. The sounds scared her. She’s needed to be sedated for every MRI since. However, since she is getting older and there is a risk, however minimal, with sedation (Which is why it can only be done within the presence of an anesthesiologist.) we’ve had to find a way to help her do it without. So we found a counselor to help her work through her fear, but it’s only been less than two months.

We went in today prepared to do another sedation. Instead, her doctors wanted to try Versed, anti-anxiety happy medicine, and have sedatives as a back-up. The nurse tricked her, making her think she’d given Versed, but she wanted to wait. See if she could do it on her own.

So, my dh and I watched our daughter walk into that hallway where the MRI room was. Usually she is wheeled. The door has always needed to be closed before. The sounds would send her into a panic. We’ve kept it open most of this year, but she’s always had to be knocked out in the hallway. It wasn’t even until this year that she was knocked out on the gurney that goes into the MRI room. It’s always been the bed before. But today…today she walked through the hallway and up to the open the door.

She froze on the line that separated the room from the hallway and stood there for the longest time. By herself. She’d already told my dh and I that she wanted us there today but not to say anything as she worked through her own fears of different things from getting an IV to going to the radiology holding room. We stood back and let her do it, watching her take deep breaths and build herself up.

Then she passed over the line, walked up to the gurney that slides up to the MRI, and sat on it. She was crying, but there was no arguing, no fighting, no last minute panic attacks. They hooked up her oxygen monitor, dried her eyes and got the heated blankets ready. She was stiff and crying as they laid her down and covered her up, but she did it. They rolled her into the machine with the door open so we could watch. It seems like such a tiny hole, but it swallowed half her body and she didn’t panic or scream.

They shut the door and the machine, that’s noisy even when it’s sitting, started making the horrible knocking sound. We waited, listening for a scream that never came. After a minute or two, we left for the waiting room. She did the entire 40 minute test with one nurse holding her hand and writing a poem on Thalon’s heated blanket. Later she copied it onto paper and I think we’ll frame it.

It won’t always go so well, but today my little girl conquered one of her biggest fears and came out smiling. That’s something worth sharing, so I’m doing so—with everyone. :)

Merry Christmas!

Dec
9
2006
Research

I’ve discovered my research organization finally! It feels so good. After all the years of trying to maiantain file cabinets and accordian files, I’ve finally admitted they just aren’t my style. Binders are good for most things, keeping medical papers together is one of them. We have a binder for each member of the family that holds important school and medical information.

After gathering so many cards for each doctor for my youngest daughter and I, we had a hard time keeping them together. So I got a regular 1″ binder and put in a package of plastic business card sheet protectors. We have several blank business cards. Between the cards we’d collected and blank ones we’d filled out for friends and family, we had our own address book, organized the way that fit us best. If someone’s information changes, we only need to change one card, without effecting any of the others. (I write too big for typial address books.)

So, for research on my book, the best thing to do is binders for the many things that aren’t on the computer. But if I printed everything I’ve ever found, I’d break the bank with paper and ink costs. Not to mention enough binders to hold it all. So I had to figure out a different system for online research. But how to do it while maintaining the information I need without trying to copy and file the entire internet on my computer and re-read it to find a quote or two here and there where I need it?

So, I now have a system that works for me and I thought I’d share for anyone else who might find it works for them. It’s simple and obvious, but for anyone who struggled with it in school, they’ll try to avoid it.

Endnotes. Simple endnotes embedded at the end of the document. So, in MS Word, I get to the end of a word or sentence that needs research, then go to Insert, Reference, Endnote, OK. Where your cursor is, there is a superscripted number. At the end of the document is the corresponding number and you type in your quote.

So, for a full novel, there are lots of quotes and notes to make throughout the book. When you need to insert an endnote between two that are already there, all endnotes are automatically re-numbered for you.

Do this throughout the novel, everytime you stop and research something really quickly for a scene, and you’ll be able to finish with your research already documented and in one place, one file.

I don’t know about you, but my memory tends to work a bit differently. I’ll remember the color of the book I was reading, or the left or right side of the pages, or something totally unhelpful when I want to find something again. Then I’ll grab the blue book with the right size font and search all the left facing pages. That doesn’t help years after you’ve returned all the books..

Ask a librarian for a blue book on a certain subject and see where it gets you. :) I did this in a bookstore once and it was sooo funny to see the facial expressions I got.

Endnotes work for me. You have absolutely no idea how wonderful it is to say I’ve found a solution to something that’s been bothering me. :)

Nov
15
2006
X-Men 3 and Will Power

So who knew a DVR could cut off *6* times in the course of 1 single movie? Add in two potty breaks and it’s amazing I retained any of the movie at all. That’s okay. It was clearly a filler movie where they needed all these huge things to happen so the next movie starts off with a bang.

Or that’s my secret wish, anyway. I have stayed away from spoilers, reviews and anything of the like. So, I’m an open mind. lol But seriously, how could they possibly end with three major characters dead, Magneto’s powers stolen, Mystique not blue and Rogue powerless before she’s even met Miss Marvel? Not possible.

So, filler. But, why did they need it? They had excellent potential with Jean all Dark Pheonix and Logan and Scott in love with her. The cure angle was interesting, though I wonder how the little boy is assimilating into life at school when no one around him can use their powers. That’s gotta create friction.

I sound as if I’ve got all kinds of free time to wonder these things. Actually, I’m taking a break. I woke up at 3:30 am and worked for four hours until it was time to get my kid to school. Thus, break time for me now. :)

I’ve been thinking a lot about will power and goals lately. When I first started writing, I heard all the admonishments to forget the laundry and dishes and WRITE. Yeah, that didn’t work. Tried it, though. The problem wasn’t finding time to write, it was using the time I had. It was actually typing something other than emails and staring blankly at a screen that I needed to work on.

A few years passed where I took writing workshops, read writing books and emails, analyzed every episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and somehow managed to write a manuscript. Very slow progress, though, especially when my obsessive-compulsive side would look at other writers turning out four manuscripts a year and here I was struggling over fifteen pages a week.

Somehow, somewhere between that time and now, I sit on my laptop for hours a day doing something writing related, but mostly actually writing. I get up at 3 in the morning, or go to bed at 3, depends on the day and our schedule. I read research books in the van as I wait for Craig to run in and out of places and when I need a break…

I play Sims 2. I create characters, name them, analyze their physical characteristics, put my author logo on cool black workout outfits, create bios and neighborhoods…like the neighborhood that currently houses my series. I built the main buildings for the first 3 books and if my laptop were a little faster I’d do more.

It was such a slow, gradual shift of focus that brought me to the point I’m at. And many days, it took one word at a time.

And my therapists wonder why I’m not selfish with my therapy. Because I’m selfish with my writing. Maybe in a few years, I’ll be really dedicated to working out. Or not. Maybe I’ll just watch my sims do it.

Nov
14
2006
Long road to go…

So, 8,000 words from the end of book 2, I set it aside. I couldn’t finish it in time before my revision letter. Now I am back to Betrayed, checking facts and figures again. Learning how to put footnotes in documents and wishing the text color changed automatically when I delete it in track changes and it goes to a balloon.  See, I work with a black screen.  Easier on my eyes that way.  But the balloons appear white and the automatic text which goes from black on a white screen to gray on a black screen automatically, shows up gray on a white balloon and invisible to see.  And I haven’t figured out how to change the color of the balloon.  So, for every balloon showing deleted text, there is a second showing I’ve changed the balloon font to a dark red.  The screen now looks *very* busy.

And I’m very busy. And grumpy. See, people see the number of pages I need to work on and say they understand I’m busy.  And honestly, every revision means work on all the pages of the book, it’s the nature of the beast, so every revision means 3-400 pages of work, but when it’s an invisible file and they only see you staring at a computer screen, that’s no big.  So, now it’s all printed out and lots of people *say* wow, that’s a lot, I understand.

What they really mean is: here, let me throw a token nod your way so you’ll be more amenable to listening to my problem and doing what I need you to do.

Want to know what’s really funny about that? Most of the ones I’m talking about will never read my blog.  Of the ones who do, all of them will think I’m talking about them and it’s not justified.
Ahhh, family dynamics.  I just put my revisions on hold for my very tired and grumpy 6th grader who’s having an unusual problem grasping simple and basic math. Now, I will go spend time with my dh. Staying up until 4-5 am so I can have necessary quiet time does not make for good family quality time.

But, thankfully, Craig has solved my dilemma. He rented X-Men 3 for me which I have been wanting to watch for months.  So, I’ll now turn off the laptop, close all my research books, put away my revision papers and try to let my head silence as I spend time with my family.

Oct
30
2006
10,000 Words to go

I’m at the end. The last big rush. The dark moment to the end of a very complicated book. I’m beginning to think that’s my author structure, to write very complicated. See, I’ve heard so often over the years: make sure your conflict will last an entire book. Don’t be afraid to heap misfortune on your characters.

I’ve seen often how that means give the h/h lots of little things to stumble over. Or even one defining life struggle, like with difficult parents or a personal tragedy. Sometimes this is written really well.  I hope I’ll fit in that sometimes category. Because the alternative; the look-my-h-or-h-is-a-real-live-person-with-issues-that-will-barely-be-dealt-with category is not one I want to be in.

I am fully confident in Betrayed. I took my time writing it and passed it through several readers, gained lots of feedback, it won absolutely awesome agent and then it went through lots more work with a freelance editor. I have confidence in that book.

I love Cinderella’s Shoe. But, I haven’t finished it, my agent and editor haven’t seen it, a few readers have read just over half of it and love it, but they loved Betrayed before it went through 9 revisions. So, am I confident in this story?

Not yet.  I think it’s great. I see it being great. But I don’t *know* it’s great. Isn’t the artistic  temperament funny? Am I arrogant, with an almost conceited belief that lots of people will love the story I want to share with them? Am I completely insecure and convinced no one will like it?

The short answer is: yes.

Oct
26
2006
Almost there!

I am so close to the end of Cinderella’s Shoe, I can taste it!  It’s like riding the very fine edge of an orgasm.  Feels wonderful, but if it keeps taking so freakin’ long things are going to get really painful.  How many times can a person say, “Just a little more time, I need just a little more time!”

Well, I’ve got a bit of time. I stayed up until 4 am working on a difficult scene. Now i’m zooming through a really cool section that’s really about 3 scenes ahead of where I am, but it really helps to write a scene when I feel the most passionate about it. So, I’ve skipped ahead and then I’ll circle back and then do a read over and be on track for the ending, where I get to tie all kinds of threads.  :)  It’s an exciting process.

Oct
17
2006
Dark Protector by Alexis Morgan

I just got through reading this and it was very cool. :) I like the premise with the Paladins and can’t wait to see what she’ll do with the Others. I especially want to learn more about Barak. And since no one who hasn’t read it won’t know what it’s about, or who these characters are so just go buy it and read it. :)

Okay, so book reviews aren’t my forte. I’ll leave it to the reviewing experts. LOL But, it was a very cool book and the beginning of an interesting new series.

Today I joined The Raven Vampire Nightclub at Yahoo. We’ll be having a big Online Party with lots of other authors, readers, interviews and prizes on Thursday, October 26th! You might want to check it out. :)

Oct
9
2006
Happy Birthday, Lover!

On this day 15 years ago, I accidentally showed up at my husband’s birthday party. Weird, I know. How do you accidentally go to someone’s birthday party? Well, I had just moved in with my aunt and didn’t have a key to her apartment. When she dropped me off at the football game my junior year, the agreement was to let my friend Amy drive me home.

Amy tried. She did. But in Spokane, October is a very chilly month. When I couldn’t get in the apartment, she took me with her to a birthday party I hadn’t been invited to. It turns out at least 30 of the other kids that showed hadn’t been invited, either.

I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of the movie Worm Eaters. It’s the worst B, or Z, rated film you’ll ever come across with women whose busts are bigger than their IQ jogging down the road, seeing a worm filled hot dog laying on the side walk, picking it up and eating it while they don’t notice worms wiggling from their mouths. Totally disgusting. That year Craig’s mom had decided to give him a themed birthday party, making spaghetti (the gummy worms in it melted) and a birthday cake with gummy worms in the middle. (The gummy worms worked here. When you cut a slice and pulled it away, a still glued together worm slid from the rest of the cake. It grossed even her out and she’d made it.)

One of the guys there loved the movie and sat, his long legs stretched out over half the floor, shoveling spoonful after spoonful of spaghetti into his mouth as he stared in horrified fascination at the movie.

To admit how totally shallow I was, the first thing I did after arriving was count the candles on his cake, 17, and hope sincerely that there wasn’t “one to grow on”. There wasn’t. He is legitimately 3 months older than I am. :) I couldn’t stand the thought of dating someone younger than me and boy did I want a boyfriend.

I wanted someone to hug me. Someone to hold me. Someone who was there for me. And someone I could love and care for. I needed this in the worst way, prayed for it with all my strength, and apparently God agreed. He sent me Craig.

I realize making you go to school on your birthday doesn’t make you feel very loved, baby, but I’ve never seen you work so hard on a project and you deserve the best grade on it. Happy Birthday, honey.

Oct
8
2006
Answered prayers…

are wonderful!  I didn’t wake up with THE PERFECT SCENE in mind.  Even better.  I woke up with the desire to sit and type and see what popped up on the screen.  Is it any good?  We’ll see later.  It was a bit unexpected, but I think it will do well.  It’s not totally finished, but I wrote over 1000 words today.  If I can do that again tomorrow, I’ll be heading into the scenes I really do visualize.  Then 1000 words will be a drop in the bucket.  Yes, I alway look forward to those moments when I feel like I’ve accomplished the world and therefore every effort up to that isn’t quite enough.  So I’m a perfectionist.  Oh well.  At least I’ll go to bed happy tonight.  :)