Sunday, December 5, 2010

Captain's Blog—Are We There Yet?

Stardate: You'll have to just guess. I don't feel like telling you today.

That stardate may communicate some of the attitude of the captain at this point, but she just finished writing a 50,000 word novel, and has to get the rewrite done fast. The crew is trying to get their homework done, and she can't find the admiral. Christmas is coming, and the captain really dislikes shopping (especially in cold weather) unless it's online.

Need I say more?

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Captain's Blog—Turkey Nebula dead ahead

Stardate: turkey baster

Powering up engines for the challenge of the Turkey Nebula. Have told the ensigns to set phasers on preheat and to quit drooling on their uniforms. We believe relatives will be beaming in on Thursday in order to participate in Turkey Nebula reconnaissance mission.

A captain's job is never done.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

A word

My husband has been nagging me about posting, and since it's been over a month, I have to say that he's right. But it's not like I've been lazy, or anything. I've been writing for, posting to the Last Draft blog, and writing two novels. Gee, it's like I'm going to have big bulging finger muscles after this month. (Did I mention that it's Nanowrimo?)

Captain's Blog—Under attack!

Stardate: It's raining

We are defending our position, but the leaf creatures are closing in everywhere. Shields failing! Quick! Grab a rake!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Captain's Blog—Winter approaching

Stardate: Stormwindows

Today I had to roll up my sleeves, captain though I am, and wash the screens and windows of the space ship to prepare it for the harrowing journey ahead. I'm hoping that we can do a little remodeling at some point so that we don't have to change out the storm windows twice a year. The Admiral was vital to the process, since he has more muscles than me, and storm windows are kind of heavy, especially for a top of the line space ship like this one.

The question? Will it be enough to withstand the gale force winds of the Snowflake Nebula? We hope so.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Moving in on Nanowrimo

Between blogging on my writing group's blog and writing for, I don't have a lot of extra words left for my personal outlet here, so I'll just write a bit today about what I've been doing.

My goal is to finish my middle grade novel this month, because I want the first draft done and able to gel awhile while I'm knocking out a Nano-novel in November. With that in mind, I'm trying to put out at least 1000 words a day. It's coming along. Some days I don't quite make it, and some days I do extra. From this week on, I'm going to try to push it up and make sure I finish. I'm already over 17,000 words, so I'm almost halfway, I think.

I'm also compiling note cards with scenes of two more books. One is a sequel to my pirates book, mentioned above. I was thinking about how authors sometimes are asked to sign multiple book deals and considering how difficult I would find this to commit to. As I let my mind wander (I always do this while I'm getting ready in the morning) I had an idea for a possible sequel. It sounded even better than the first book, so I started working on scene cards during my daydreaming sessions. Scene cards are great because they allow me to go further ahead in the future of my characters actions than I can without them. The second group of scene cards are for a book I've been considering for almost two years. I think I've finally hit on a plot thread that can take me through the book, and I might try it out during Nanowrimo if I can get prepared in time.

Finally, I'm still trying to get a few articles out each week. This is a little harder, because they count and you have to make them good, not just first drafts. Someone actually reads them, as far as the stats show.

Also, I'm reading a lot right now: Uncle Tom's Cabin, Great Expectations, and multiple children's books as fast as I can for reviews.

So if you're out there, reading this, and you're a writer, what are you working on right now? If you're a reader, what are you reading?

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Normal Mom Blog—Must Have Sleep

Condition: depleted energy cells

Diagnosis: must recharge with sleep and chocolate, preferably the good stuff

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Captain's Blog—Approaching ground zero

Stardate: memo to the crew

One of the little people is approaching her birth anniversary, and secret preparations are being made. I can't say any more except that this event involves chocolate, balloons, and wrapping paper. If you receive this memo, please understand that it will self-destruct in five seconds.

Take cover!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Normal Mom Blog—Mission Possible

Stardate: Does it really matter?

This is a normal mom blog, so the stardate isn't important. Suffice it to say we're deep in school year territory, having completed our first month in the trenches. I'm back in writing mode, and have been able to post regularly on The Last Draft, but only semi-regularly on my page. I'm back to making steady progress on my book, but not enough to satisfy my avid family readers. Oh well. If they're not going to help, they'll just have to be satisfied with what I do on my own.

We're having a few issues with A.J. She is sort of tri-lingual, if you don't count the one she made up. The problem is that she won't duplicate a word in any language. If you ask her to say, "Cookie," she'll sign it. If you ask her to say, "Yes," it only comes out in Spanish. If you ask her to say, "yellow," that's what you get. We're looking at it as a temporary technological glitch, but we're working on it.

Beyond that, God is good, all the time!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Captain's Blog—Attack of the mutant kamikaze acorn creatures

Stardate: After dinner

For days now, we have been under attack by the tiny mutant kamikaze acorn creatures. They periodically launch themselves from their perches in the oak trees surrounding the star base and hurl their small bodies at the roof. Only this week, one of the ensigns took a direct hit in the head while stepping out of the rover to get the mail. We are working on personal shields which will vaporize the small hostiles, but in the mean time are reduced to using umbrellas to fend them off.

It's a strange world we inhabit.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Captain's Blog—August

Stardate: Can I have a glass of water?

Our situation has become more dire. The Slip-n-slid-aton has been damaged and the temperature is climbing. Meanwhile, the vile enemy Mosquitians are attacking from every side. Our Cutter's force shields are down to 12 percent and failing quickly. Have sent out distress beacon with hopes of reinforcements.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Captain's Blog—July

Stardate: hot and humid

Trapped on the planet's surface, the sinister Dr. July is sending his scorching humido-rays to suppress the populace. The ship's ensigns are flailing about and moaning for relief in the form of a popsicle drop from the U.S.S. Groceries.

When will help come? Will the secret weapon, the Slip-n-slide-aton, be enough to get us through?

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

They Plead Safety First, but in This Case, Stupidity First?

I am amazed that anyone would even consider removing the American flag in schools. This link takes you to a poll by Fox to determine what the people think about such a move.

Let's just go over a few common sense thoughts before you vote.

• This is America. If you're offended by the flag that represents our country, then why don't you move to a different country where you aren't offended by the flag? Seems like common sense to me. (Probably because in most countries you don't have the right to be anywhere near as vocal about what you believe as you do here.)

• If you are an American citizen, this flag is your flag now. Period.

• Offense is a choice. That's why two people can view the same issue either with offense or without it. If you choose to be offended by a flag, that's your problem, not anyone else's.

• The school's job is to teach and to enforce discipline. If a student has broken the rules, expel him or her until he or she decides to comply with school rules. Do not remove our national flag so you don't have to correct inappropriate behavior. That's about the same as the parent in the store with the screaming kid buying candy to get him to be quiet.

• Political correctness is not correct. In most cases, it is the cowardly majority giving into the terrorist minority who is throwing a tantrum to get their way. That's why we have less freedom in America today than we did yesterday, and why the outlook for tomorrow isn't good.

I'd like to see an America that uses a little common sense. Just to set the record straight, here are some things that I'm for. Some of these have to do with the issue above. Some just deal with the erosion of general freedoms and I'm getting them off my chest. I believe we should:

• Display the flag of our country prominently and correctly.

• Educate people so they realize that the separation of church and state was originally designed to keep the state from controlling the church rather than to keep God out of government. (I'm amazed at how many people don't know this.)

• Not rewrite the text books to leave out important information and quotes that include God.

• Promote only LEGAL immigration. (After all, that's how most of us got here, including me.) If you didn't follow the rules to get in, back you go. Either do something to fix the country you are a citizen of, or get used to it being awful there. America didn't turn out the way it is because no one was willing to pay a price for freedom.

• Have a strong military. You just have to look at history to figure this one out. If no one had listened to the pacifists, Hitler's war would have been a contained conflict rather than a World War and millions and millions of people would not have died, plus, we might not have had to resort to an atom bomb to get Japan to back off.

• Allow ALL differing opinions. You may think that we already do that, but it's changing fast. You're freedoms are being legislated away. You don't have to agree with one thing in this post, and I won't think any less of you for it. (If you hate everything I've said up to now, the good news for you is that I'm the one who will probably be silenced and not you. If that doesn't bother you, though, it should.) It is not hateful to disagree with someone else's opinions. It's normal. We're all different, and we do not all think alike. We have laws to protect us from people who use criminal actions to inflict their opinion on others. Beyond that, think and talk as you like.

While you can, that is.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

The Big Storm

Last night we had a big storm. It took out electric to 250,000 people in the Chicago area, knocked down well over 1100 trees, and had winds which were close to 80 mph in some areas. After it was over, one of our chickens wandered out from under the bushes by the house where she had been waiting out the storm. She looked wet and bedraggled for a chicken, and the first thought that came to me was a line from one of Jesse Duplantis's funny videos.

"I never thought I'd drown standing up."

That poor little hen had to take her chances out in the storm while I was comfortably watching it through our big front window. That's a little like what happens when you write a story. You write your book from the comfort and safety of your desk while your characters struggle through the story, bedraggled, worn, and barely alive. Circumstances progress from bad to worse until it looks like there's no way they can possibly make it out alive. Then, you, great author that you are, come to their rescue to orchestrate a perfect ending that pulls them out of a fate worse than death at the last second. When the protagonist gasps out a thank you. You look modest.

"It was nothing, but if you think that was something, just wait until the sequel."

Your protagonist pales and passes out while you boot up the computer.

The thing about storms is that after you pick up the pieces, there's no guarantee there won't be another one rolling through later.

Monday, June 14, 2010

And the Winner Is...

Not me. Not this time, anyway. The Highlights for Children's 2010 Fiction Contest is over for this year, and I just got a letter in the mail announcing the three winners. I can't wait to read the three stories. One thing I love about Highlights is their quality fiction. I'm sure these three winning stories were good ones.

And yet, I felt like a winner too, because my form letter from Highlights had a little note scrawled in the bottom right hand.

Dear Ms. MacKinney,
We like your writing . Please try us again!
Best wishes,
Joëlle Dujardin

Just a few words, but great encouragement for a writer. Editors have zero time. Likewise, associate editors are busier than proverbial bees. A hand written note means a lot. So I'm dedicating this post to Ms. Dujardin. Yeah, I didn't win this year, but it made my day to know that you enjoyed my story. I felt like a winner, because what greater pleasure is there for a writer beyond knowing that she wrote something that provided reading enjoyment for a reader? Thank you for spending a little of your valuable time on that short note.

Anniversaries and other things

This weekend my husband and I celebrated 22 years of marriage. We had fun, going out to eat with our youngest who happened to have a reading program certificate for the restaurant we chose. I'm glad we took her with. She was very entertaining, and it was nice to get to know her alone without three older kids competing for equal time. The next night all the kids were gone but our son, and we had a movie and popcorn night with him. Again, it was nice to connect with only one child at a time, and to really see what he's about.

Challenge to you parents for the month: Take just one of your children out and do something alone with just that child, if you possibly can. Or ship the rest off to friends' houses and stay home with one. And spend time with that child. It will bless your kids, and you'll get to know them in a different context.


Sunday, June 6, 2010

My Daughter Starts Driving School Tomorrow!

Hey, this is exciting news. Do I have to say more?

Friday, May 21, 2010


I loved Christine's post yesterday. I felt like I was on the walk with her, hearing the gravel crunch under the stroller. She talked about opening our senses (not just our eyes) to the world around us. Seems kind of basic, but what a great idea. I think as a general rule, people get comfortable in their everyday space and forget to pay attention to what's around them unless something new pops up. If you're a writer, you've got to live an observant life. You can't afford to become deadened to the details that are around you.

When I was in high school, I had a science teacher named Mr. Jurgenson. Since it was a small school, I was fortunate to have Mr. J for general science, Physics, Chemistry, and all my computer science classes. The first day we walked into his class, he had written "OBSRVE" on the blackboard. We snickered quietly to ourselves, wondering if he realized he had spelled the word incorrectly. Of course he had. He told us that the main thing we were going to learn in science was to observe. If we were somewhat observant, we might have noticed that the "E" was missing. If we were a little more observant, we would have noticed that the small "E" to the right at the front of the room. But then Mr. J walked all the way to the back of the room behind our desks. There in the very back on the wall was a small letter "E" by the clock. If we were exceptionally observant, we would have noticed that one little letter at the back of the room.

Most of us did figure it out. We all thought we were pretty smart to find the "E" at the front of the room. But if you're livelihood depends on your ability to absorb and recreate details of the senses, you're going to have to stretch yourself every day to be the person who finds the "E" at the back of the room.

This week challenge yourself, just as Christine said, to open your senses. Share something that was there all along, but that you opened yourself up to experience as thought you never had before.

Thursday, May 20, 2010


Today I just don't feel like writing anything. Does anyone else have days like this or is it just me?

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Don't Have Time to Be Patient?

The writing gig is basically about three things.

1. Writing no matter what, day in and day out

2. Hard headed determination used for good ("I won't give up," as opposed to, "No one can tell me anything.")

3. Patience

There's a lot of waiting involved in writing. You have to wait for your writing to cure after you've written it before you revise it. (Queries need this too.) Once it's ready, you also have to wait to hear from publishing houses and agents. There won't be a note in the mail after a week. The general waiting period is about four months to almost a year. Queries take less time to wait for than unsolicited submissions, but almost as much time to write (for me anyway). If you're not in it for the long haul, there's not much point in being in it at all.

The patience part is tricky. If you're not careful, it can slide over into procrastination masquerading as patience. Writing procrastination is generally fueled by fear. It's easier not to write or not to submit rather than face possible rejection by your inner editor or the outer editors. The key is to keep on with number one while still doing number two and number three. It doesn't hurt to send your inner editor on vacation to Cancun during first drafts, either. Keep a close eye on her during rewrites, because her negativity can stall a project that has potential but needs work.

I'm still contemplating Randy I's words about scheduling success. There are so many advantages to writing by schedule. It develops discipline. It keeps you from thinking of writing as a hobby. It causes you to become better than you were yesterday. It produces something that will finally be worth publishing.

Conclusion? The formula for writing is easy. It just takes doing. It is not for the faint of heart.

Don't expect polished posts this week. We're getting near the end of the school year and I don't have much free time. I've been thinking about this as I work on my novel, which takes more grit in the writing area than the picture books have for me. I feel a lot more like giving up, so I'm assuming this is when the hard headed determination needs to kick in.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Car Names You'll Never See

Ever wonder who decides what the names of cars should be? I'd like to know. But whoever it is, I'll bet anything that there are a few names they will NEVER use. Relatives rolled in last weekend for a family wedding and we had a few spare minutes so we passed the time making up car names for cars that will never be. (Names of individuals participating have been changed to protect the innocent—er—sort of innocent—participants.)

10. The Ford Fungus—A personal favorite. I can really see this model in a mottled greenish-grey.

9. The Hyundai Hopeless—The advantage to this car is that you don't have to drive it off the lot for it not to work. It's hopeless. Just take it to the mechanic and forget you ever saw it.

8. The Dodge Danger—An SUV with attitude.

7. The Honda Hiccup—Available in pickup model as the Hiccup Pickup, this car drives beautifully but always feels like the spark plugs need to be replaced.

6. The Nissan Nausea—Particularly built for people like me who couldn't stand the "new car smell" that came with our new cars in the late 70's. Keep your eyes on the horizon, eyes on the horizon...

5. The Subaru Smash—There are some things that you'd rather not have become a smash hit. Your car is one of them.

4. The Volkswagen Varmint—Forget the Beetle, Mustang, and Thunderbird. This baby rolls them all into one.

3. The Lincoln Luxury Lemon—It comes with all the worst features you can think of. There always has to be a lemon, and since Lincoln starts with l...

2. The Volvo Victim—We're not sure who the victim was, but it could have been the person with the bill of sale.

1. The Kia Pet—Need I say more? Smear on the seeds and don't park in the garage when it rains.

Runners-Up: The Cadillac Crunch, Toyota Ticket, Suzuki Sabotage, and Porche Push.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Captain's Blog: The Infamous Friday Nebula

Stardate: 1-800-SAVEUSQUICK

We have entered the infamous Friday Nebula and bizarre things are occurring all over the ship. After turning my back briefly, the sink is overflowing with dirty dishes. The Advanced Math teacher booklet has mysteriously vanished. Wailing babies are heard echoing through the corridors. Someone has eaten all of the banana bread.

Worst of all: no one wants to take a nap but the captain.

When will it end? Will we ever escape...the Friday Nebula?

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

There's No Place Like...

I can now understand why people get those handy little GPS units. Talinda had one, I'm happy to say. She and her husband have named their little electronic helper Richard. He was invaluable on this trip.

There Talinda and I were, in the bowels of downtown Chicago. If you're not a person who jogs around downtown very often, it's easy to get turned around. Not that Talinda couldn't handle driving part. She did. (I was there for moral support, cheering from the passenger seat.) Generally you do okay if you just keep moving. But if you don't know your way around and you have to find a specific address and get your car parked nearby, it can be a little dicey when you don't do it every day. Throw in a baby in the back seat who really doesn't want to sit in her car seat any longer and a better-be-there-on-time appointment, and little beads of perspiration begin to break out on your brow as the clock ticks on.

Richard helped us numerous times as we wove through the streets. The only glitch was that Richard doesn't have eyeballs. He didn't notice that he was trying to route us to turn right onto a street that was clearly blocked off with large orange signs that said "DO NOT ENTER." But, polite as ever, he pleasantly rerouted us when we ignored his instructions, and we arrived safely at the desired destination after more turns.

We finally discovered a parking place where they charged something like a mere $15 an hour to wedge Talinda's SUV into a space on a lot never designed to hold that many cars, but it was right across the street from the building for her baby's audition, so hey, no complaints from us. An hour later, we were on the way back to the burbs, mission accomplished.

Tonight as I listened to the birds in my back yard competing with the roar from I-90 a mile or so away, I found myself quite happy to reflect that I live nowhere near the loop. Love the museums. Lots to see. Endless restaurants. Probably a shopper's paradise for people who like to shop (not me). But when the day is over, there's no place like home.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Driving School for Parents

Since I have a child entering driving school soon, I was wondering why they don't have a driving school for the parents of soon-to-be-licensed teens. Certainly there are a few things that we need to learn, too. The DMV could make a mint with a required parent-of-new-drivers course. Here are some suggestions for material that such a course might cover:

• How to remain calm while hurtling down the road with a teen at the wheel
• How to scream in muted, non-threatening tones during high pressure situations
• How to avoid duress while your teen parallel parks for the first time between a jaguar and Mercedes Benz
• How to bribe your spouse into riding shotgun in your place
• How to install an ejection seat in your car for quick escapes

And last but not least...

• How to pray effectively as a parent of a driving teen

(Somehow people forget all about that separation of church and state business when there's a teen behind the wheel. Same tendency when they're in a jet with engine trouble.)

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Captain's Blog: Sunny Day

Stardate: Sunshine

I took a deep breath today of 20% oxygen, 78% nitrogen, and a little less than 2% other gases. It was great. I could smell things and breath again. There's nothing like a head cold to make you appreciate not having a head cold.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Captain's Blog: I hate head colds

Stardate: Nasal Decongestant

I can't tell you how much I hate head colds. I can't think of one good thing to say about a head cold.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Top Story: Easter Eggs Go Into Hiding

Reports have reached us that Easter eggs all over America, stuffed to capacity, are preparing to go into hiding. Red, green, blue, yellow; it doesn't matter. They all wait nervously for the final word which means they must disappear before voracious egg-hunters begin the search.

Who will survive?

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Terrible Log Line Contest

If you aspire to write terrible log lines, check out this:

Monday, March 15, 2010

Captain's Blog: If I Was Floating in Space, My Feet Would Not Hurt This Much

Stardate: Way past bedtime

The little people are in bed, and I'm trying hard not to be envious. They don't have to grade papers, and there are four of them to generate schoolwork and only one of me to deal with it.

(Although two of the little people aren't really so little anymore, and they insist that they're really ensigns by now. I maintain that unless you clean the bathroom once a week, you cannot be promoted to ensign. Also, ensigns must be able to swab. It is a longstanding tradition, and I refuse to be the kind of captain who doesn't observe the formalities of swabbing.)

Also, two of them don't have to deal with physics or trigonometry. Somehow that should benefit me, but I can't quite figure out how yet.

It's been a long and busy day, and I decided to make it longer by making banana bread and streusel topped strawberry muffins. (Please note that being able to bake floofy snacks is not required in order to be a captain, but it does make for a happier crew. Also note that spell-check denies floofy is a word. It's objection to my using the word is duly noted and ignored.)

Somewhere along the way, my feet got really tired of standing in the kitchen. I think it was because I was wearing my old shoes. All I know for a fact is that if I was floating in space, my feet would not hurt this much. But on the other hand, I've gotten sort of used to oxygen. Decisions, decisions. I think I'm better off here.

Muffins, anyone?

Friday, March 12, 2010

Nothing Like a Warm Brownie and a Smile

Today was a busy day. I didn't save the universe. I didn't discover anything that altered life for mankind. To be honest, I didn't even get my house cleaned and all the papers graded for school.

But I did get to make brownies with my youngest child. We had a good time, just doing something fun together. You know, sometimes, that's enough.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

When Really Bad is Really Good

I don't know how many people look forward to exercise. Probably very few. But we do look forward to the results. So here's an exercise which I hope will help us all come up with some great ideas as we work on our books. (P.S. I didn't come up with this, but am adapting it for my own current needs.)

1. Lift pencil
2. Lift paper
3. Choose character
4. Duct tape mouth of inner editor
5. Drop and give me twenty-five terrible things that could happen to your protagonist (You heard me, mister. I said twenty-five.)

Because really bad is really good. The worse things get for your protag, the better it is for you. I'm not good at making my MC suffer, so I'm hoping that doing this is going to help me get past a stuck place on a ms that I'm working on, especially since I only have a vague idea of where I want to go with it. Hope it works for you too!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Who Are The Manufacturers Kidding?

Today I fed a friend's baby some babyfood. Having eaten mushed pears and raspberries earlier, she was an unsuspecting victim when I gave her the first bite of Herbed Chicken and Pasta. Her expression and subsequent wails as we continued the meal clearly said, "Why are you trying to force me to eat Weirdly Flavored Chicken Gunk and Pasta Globs?"

It was not fun for either of us.

Personally, I'd eat chocolate cake for every meal if I could get away with it. Alas, that's not possible. I remember my college meals of popsicles and cold cereal. Cooking was not a skill I had acquired at that point in my life, plus my roommates never cleaned up after themselves in the kitchen. After helping them get organized once, I wasn't interested in staying on as their housemaid. Thus the strange uncooked meals.

But I do feel a little bit for those under the age of 18 months who have to eat baby food. You don't even know how to say the word "yuck," and you are totally at the mercy of the adult with the spoon. In my case, I can't quite bring myself to try out Weirdly Flavored Chicken Gunk with Pasta Globs. But I guess in the baby's case, it's a good thing that people don't remember much of what happens to them before the age of three.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Writing Vaccination: Purple Prose (This Won't Hurt a Bit)

Ever heard of purple prose? For a writer, it is a fatal disease, the true way to kill a sale.

Purple prose happens when a writer tries to make his writing sound more writerly by using fancy words. The result is that the reader hits a speed bump in the reading road and is yanked up short because the words draw attention to themselves rather than telling the story.

It ain't pretty.

Words should never get in the way of the story we're trying to tell. This little poem has been attributed to either anonymous or Madelaine L'Engle. (Either she wrote it or quoted it from an anonymous source.) It doesn't really matter who said it first; it's the best medicine for the purple prose bug:

The written word
Should be clean as a bone,
Clear as light,
Firm as stone.
Two words are not
So good as one.

The problem with purple prose is that it is not any of these things. When a writer thinks that he's going to juice up the fancy end of his writing a bit so the can impress a publisher or agent, he's probably got the heinous sin of purple prose in mind. Don't try to sound like a writer. Just tell the story in as clear a way as you can, using your own words, simple may they be.

There's a line I like from the movie, The Rocketeer, that can be applied: "Acting is acting like you're not acting. So act!" That's also true about writing. Writing isn't supposed to sound like you're writing. If the reader feels written to, something is wrong, and it's quite possible your purple prose showing.

The right words are important. As Samuel Clemens said, it's either the lightning or the lightning bug. Take your pick. Purple prose is the lightning bug that needs to be squashed.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

What's New?

And now, time for another gripping episode of What's New?

Still waiting for word from Magination Press, but not expecting any for a couple of weeks or so. It would be great if they take the book, but it won't be the end of the world if they don't. (Please note: the earthquake we felt recently in Illinois didn't happen because I'd gotten word that they didn't take the manuscript, although at 4 a.m. in the morning, you might have been so shaken you would have believed it.)

Been thinking about pirates a lot lately. Not sure why. Just finished reading and taking notes on James Scott Bell's Plot and Structure, and I'm considering how I can use some of his methods to create a better foundation for a story with said pirates. Trying a new method doesn't feel natural yet, but I believe it would produce good results in the long run, so I'm up for trying it out.

My driver's license is about to expire, but they're letting me renew by mail. This is good news, since I tend to be reclusive in some respects. (But yes, Christine, I am going to try to force myself to go to the mall and shop with you very soon. The girls can't wait.)

I need to go to the dentist. This is not earth shattering to anyone but myself. I'm planning on making the fateful call tomorrow. Now that I've told you all, you can hold me accountable. I feel a lot better now that that's off my chest.

Aren't you glad you tuned in?

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Captain's Blog: Tofurkey and Beyond

Stardate: Dinnertime

The Admiral has decreed that we condemn no food without trying it out first, so tonight we're trying tofurkey. As I see by the underlying dotted red line, not even spell check believes it's a real food. Yes, it has come to this. I find myself wondering, did the tofu want to masquerade as a turkey? Did anyone ask the tofu's opinion before dressing it up in giblets and gravy? (Perhaps toblets would be a more appropriate choice.)

Certainly not.

I believe this is a gross violation of the tofu's right to be tofu. In fact, because of the magnitude of such a crime, it's only a matter of time before the tofu police catch up with us all. In fact, I think now would be a perfect time to explore a hostile new planet.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

This is Only a Test

This is a test of your Emergency Cookie System

Crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch.

This has been a test of your Emergency Cookie System. If this had been a real Cookie Emergency, you would have been informed of where to tune in for more cookie information.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Captain's Blog—Why We Do What We Do

Stardate: Friday

Have you ever wondered why captains go off into uncharted regions to explore where no one has explored before, braving the unknown and darkest recesses of space? It's not fame. It's not the money. It's not the status. It's not even to escape the IRS.

It's paperwork.

I bid you adieu as I begin to grade papers.

Ensign, engage engines.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Journal of a Private Eye—Tremors in the Earth

In the early AM hours, the inhabitants of the house snored placidly, their gentle breath going in and out with the practiced ease of travelers through a turnstile. Such innocence. Such trusting. Little did they know what dire twist of plot was heading their way.

Suddenly, a rumbling roar erupted from the bowels of the earth, tossing sound sleepers from their bed. They groped about in the dark, trying to find their cell phones so they could open them for light. The husband was quickly dispatched in pajamas to wade through six inches of snow and secure the perimeter of the house. He returned quickly, none the wiser. (The wife made mental note to remind neighbor to keep dog from using yard as bathroom.)

All was quiet.

Had it been a sonic boom? Had a tree fallen on the house? Had the gas company finally discovered that pesky leak a few blocks over?

None of the above.

Earthquake. Pure and simple as the new fallen snow that carpeted the eerie winter night's landscape. Wakeful, the family waited for something more to happen until it did...


Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Captain's Blog—The Chill of Space

Stardate: 5 degrees

We were lulled into a false sense of security as we swung through an unexpectedly balmy portion of space called the Southern Nebula. As we emerged, however, cold gusts of subspace crystals slammed into the hull of our intrepid little ship.

The question on everyone's mind? Will our fuel oil hold out until we land and escape the cold reaches of space?

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Captain's Blog—Winter Déjà vu

Stardate: Dinnertime

Despite my best efforts to manipulate the time space continuum, dinner time rolled around again tonight. I believe I'm caught in some kind of diabolical time loop. The crew still resists the idea of fasting, so I made pancakes in self-defense.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Captain's Blog—Winter

Stardate: Dinner time

Suggested today that we fast tonight in order to avoid having to make dinner and clean up afterwards. Idea not well received by the crew.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Fe-e-e-e-eelings (insert music here)

I really don't feel like writing today. The past couple of weeks have not been easy, and the emotional drain that came with them makes me feel like curling up in bed and going to sleep for a LONG time or escaping in a book (written by someone else). Sigh.

So it's time to overcome the feelings and get to work. Face set like flint. Neither rain, nor sleet, nor darkest night (in my case, deepest snow) shall stop me from my appointed word count.

I'm only letting you all know this because it's on my mind, and I haven't blogged for a few days.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy New Year

I say this with the possibility of being redundant. I was in a classroom with 28 four- and five-year-olds. We had a short service and then moved on to what was top in all of their minds: popcorn and a movie (Bolt). As one of my assistants remarked, they were surprisingly quiet. And as I carefully avoided giving them anything with sugar in it, they remained so for the entire evening. With ten or eleven assistants, counting Crew, we had an excellent adult to kid ratio that we don't often enjoy.

I remember the first New Year's Eve service in what was at that time the new church building. I think we had over one hundred four- and five-year-olds. And not enough assistants. And it was a four hour service instead of three. That was a wild ride that makes you appreciate evenings like last night, where we just had fun, and it was not overwhelming for the kids or the assistants.

How did all of you spend your New Year's Eve? I hope that however you did it, it was a blessed time to look back at a good year and forward to a better year. Happy New Year!