Tuesday, August 31, 2010

It's PARANORMALCY Release Day!

I know, I know. I said I was going to try to blog M-W-F, and this is T. But it's a Very Special T. So you're getting T instead of W this week. Think of this as me keeping you on your toes.

Anyway, Congratulations to my Agency Sistah, Kiersten White! Her debut novel is officially available as of today. Isn't this the most gorgeous cover you've ever seen?

AND I have it on good authority (our amazing mutual agent, Michelle Wolfson -- you can find her on Twitter @WolfsonLiterary) that Paranormalcy is one fantastically entertaining read.

In fact, Michelle told me this during our very first telephone conversation, when she offered me representation. I was trying to impress her with my agent research skills, and mentioned how much I enjoyed her client Kiersten's blog, and Michelle raved about her. Told me not only was she as nice and funny and sweet as she comes across on her blog, but that she was an extremely talented writer too.

I'm pretty sure my good taste in blog reading was the clincher that made Michelle offer to represent me. Just sayin'. ;)

Personally, I can't wait to dive into this book!

So, what are you still doing here? Shouldn't you be at the book store already?

What? You say you want to order it online? Oh, all right. Here's a link to Amazon. It's eligible for free Super Saver Shipping -- go crazy!

And let's hear it for the Wolf Pack! WOOT! :)

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Let's bypass that question and get to the heart of the humor

So, is wrong that even at the height of my worry during my father-in-law's recent triple bypass adventure I was mentally taking notes, in case I ever need the details for a book?

Sheesh. Writers are a ruthless bunch.

It's not that we don't care. And we're not really clinically detached (well, not me, anyway--guess I can't speak for all writers). But some small part of a writer's brain is always "on," I think. Always exploring possibilities, always picturing characters in real life situations.

For instance, when the fifth hospital denizen came into the room where my FIL was being readied for surgery, and asked the same set of questions four other nurses, techs, and doctors had already asked, I couldn't help but see the potential humor in the situation.

Now, each of them was very polite, and apologized for the redundancy, explaining how it prevented hospital errors. I suspect it's also a way to judge the patient's overall mental state. If you can't tell them your name, birth date, and what kind of surgery you're in for, they might start to wonder if you're having a bad reaction to the sedatives.

But by the fifth round of "and why are you here today?" I was picturing my MC's great-uncle in that bed, getting grilled by the doc before bypass surgery, and answering "Boob job. Double-Ds, please." I could see the whole scene in my mind's eye, from the glint in her Uncle Jack's eye to the shock on the doc's face.

And to think, until that moment I didn't even know my MC had an uncle Jack.

[BTW, that's what I plan to tell the hospital grillers, if I'm ever in the same situation myself. Who knows? I could go in with a chest that's killing me, and come out with one that's to die for. ;) ]

Question for the writers out there: What's the oddest moment your muse has ever intruded into your real life with an idea?

P.S. I'm experimenting with a new font. Easier to read? Or is the old "Times" I was using before better for you?

Friday, August 27, 2010

Proactive Worrying, or How I Prevent the World From Collapsing Around Me

Ahem. *knocks on microphone* Is this thing on?

Hello. My name is Linda, and I am a worry-holic.

*sigh* My family tells me I have worrying down to a science. Sadly, they are right. I do worry. It's almost a superstition with me--I'm afraid if I don't worry, something bad will happen. It's as if I can prevent whatever I'm worried about from happening by the sheer force of my worry.

(But I don't worry compulsively. Honest. Once I've put in a little worry time about something, I let it go. I figure it's covered then, and why belabor it?)

See, I have come to a realization: it's the stuff you don't think to worry about that always sneaks up and bites you on the ass. Like when lightning struck our maple tree out front, for instance, and the resulting arc of electricity fried every plugged-in electrical appliance (i.e., all of them) we had. I had never worried about that happening.

And yet it did.

On the other hand, I have worried about a plane falling out of the sky on its way to or from a nearby airport, and landing on our house, possibly while we are all asleep on the top floor, crushing us to death beneath its flaming fuselage.

And this has never happened, not even once.

You see? My method of Proactive Worry must work. Anecdotal evidence supports it!

Other Things I Have Prevented through Proactive Worrying:

  • My nose falling off when I have a cold (due to having to blow it too much).
  • Bears eating my family while we stayed at a cabin in the woods in West Virginia.
  • Sharks eating my family while we were at the beach. (This one has worked multiple times.)
  • Horrendous car crashes every time someone I know gets in a vehicle.
  • Getting stuck in an ice cave in Switzerland, only to be found years later, frozen solid, by an unsuspecting group of Swiss schoolchildren.
  • Forgetting my lines onstage.
That last item is the clincher: the one time I didn't worry about forgetting my lines--because I knew them so gosh-darn well--I got onstage and...blanked. It was a dress rehearsal, not an actual performance, but still mortifying. You can bet I never made the mistake of not worrying about forgetting my lines again after that.

So, how about you? Worrier or not?

I understand if you're not. Worrying can be time-consuming (but not as time-consuming as if the things you're proactively preventing by your worry were to happen, mind you), and not everyone is willing to make the mental investment.

Tell you what. Since I've become so adept at it myself--really, it's second nature to me now--I'd be willing to take on some of your proactive worries for you, on a temporary basis, just until you can work it into your schedule.

So, what is it you'd like to prevent? Alien abduction? Adult onset acne? Hemorrhoids? Horrible confrontation with your in-laws over whether to have turkey or ham for a holiday dinner?

Just let me know in the comments, and I'll be happy to work it into my worry schedule.

And then, whatever you do, try not to worry about what I'll expect in return...


Wednesday, August 25, 2010

It's tough to get where you're going...

...when you have to keep stopping to follow the directions on the sign.

TG and I had to laugh when we saw this sign* on the way home from the hospital after visiting his dad. Hope it gives you a chuckle, too.


*Uh...if you don't know why it's funny, I'm not explaining it. Let's just say I have juvenile sense of humor, and leave it at that. Carry on.

Monday, August 23, 2010


Last week, when I was nagging you all to enter my Dead Pets Caption Contest, I added an impromptu Sur-PRIZE Caption Contest, wherein a randomly selected commenter would win a surprise prize.


As you can see, it is actually THREE prizes in one:

  • First, a plastic container of FLARP!, an incredible gooey substance that makes rude sounds when you squeeze it.
  • Second, a genuine VINTAGE (or so it says) peg board game, all the way from CHINA!
  • And third, CHAMPAGNE BUBBLES! (Yes, you can really blow bubbles with an itty-bitty bubble wand--wand INCLUDED.)

Uh-huh. Bet you're sorry you didn't enter now, aren't ya? Remember that next time I have a Sur-PRIZE contest.

How the random WINNER was selected:

First, I wrote all five names on pieces of paper of exactly equal sizes from a sticky pad that says "My Blood Type is Coffee."

Then I wrapped each piece of paper around a liqueur-filled chocolate miniature. Me + chocolate + liqueur. What could be more appropriate? (Liqueurs and I have a complicated relationship.)

You might say I already have a certain aptitude for *cough* hurling liqueurs, but what I wanted was a launch mechanism that didn't involve a trip through my alimentary canal. So TG retrieved the catapult he helped DD build (a middle school physics project) from the garage rafters.

The candy to fly the farthest would be the winner!

TG volunteered to do be trigger man, because I didn't want my unpainted toenails to show up in the pic. (He didn't care if his unpainted toenails showed up.) We launched all five liqueur-candy missiles from precisely the same spot.

And the WINNER is... *drum roll*...

(In the picture it kind of looks like one went a little bit farther, but that's just the piece of candy from the test launch. TG can verify that Jessica is the actual winner, in case any of the other entrants try to challenge the findings. You know, given the extreme coolitude of the prizes and all...)

So, Jessica, if you will DM me on Twitter with your address, I will put your sur-prize in the mail. :)

Friday, August 20, 2010

Freak Me Out Friday

Five Things That Freak Me Out (in no particular order):

1. Flying. Apparently this is not genetic, as my DD loves to fly. She married a guy who also loves to fly, and is, in fact, a pilot. I can't say for sure she did this just to freak me out, but she did meet him during her rebellious teenage years. You do the math.

If you ever see something like this in the air...

...rest assured, it is NOT me.

2. The possibility of finding a gray hair. You know. There. Women in my family tend to start graying in our twenties, so seeing the hair on my head lighten up doesn't bug me. I look at it as Mother Nature's highlights -- way cheaper than having it done at the salon. But as for the other...well, I just don't want to contemplate it. (Silly, I know. But things that freak you out don't have to make sense.)

But gray HARES are fine...

(Admit it. You were kind of afraid of what picture I'd show for this one.)

3. Snot. I mean, eeewww. I can't even eat stewed okra, because if the cook accidentally sneezed into the pot while preparing it, how would you know?

4. Small, closed-in places. Yup, I'm claustrophobic. Though, for some strange reason, elevators don't bother me.

5. Driving over long bridges. (Or even being in the passenger seat.) The same goes for those freakin' highway fly-over ramps. *shudders*

Don't get me wrong. I can do it. I won't hyperventilate or anything. But I will pray the whole time.

So, how about you guys? Anything freak you out?

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

And the weeeeener is...!


The day you have been waiting for BREATHLESSLY!

It is time to announce the winner of the Caption Contest.

First of all, let me say, this was So. Not. Easy!

You guys! You are all so good. I giggled so much, TG asked me if I'd been hitting the sauce more than usual. But then I showed him, and he understood.

Seriously, I laughed so hard reading through all the entries, I almost wet myself. (And I was driven to use the word "so" repeatedly. Redundancy, people! You drove me to redundancy with your hilariousness.)

But I forgive you.

Finally, because I suck at tough decisions, I had to divide the winners into categories.

In the Best Homage to the Classics category, the winner is...BILL CAMERON! With my theater background, how could I resist:

"What light through yonder window breaks?
It is the east, and Clancy is the sun."

In the Best Musical category, the winner is KELLY BREAKEY. Her "Clancy" take-off on "Sandy" from Grease was brilliant. (Follow the Caption Contest link above to read her whole entry in the comments.)

And, finally, in the coveted Almost Made Me Consider Buying Depends category, the winner is...

*drum roll*


"I shit you not, Clancy. We jump out of a tall tree, spread our arms and legs, and float gently to a waiting branch. What say I open this window and you give it a try?"

Steve's entry not only tickled my funny bone to excess, but it was also the one that made TG spew his coffee this morning, when I employed the very scientific Watching-Husband-Read-Entries method of double-checking my selection.

What can I say? Steve appealed both to my potty mouth and my warped sense of humor.

Bill, Kelly, and Steve: if you will either DM or email me your addresses, I will send each of you a Raise the Roof CD.

The rest of you: Thank you so much for participating -- your prize will have to be the warm inner glow of knowing you brought joy and laughter into my life.

OR, you could pop over to yesterday's post for a chance to win a random sur-PRIZE. If you're willing to take a risk on what I consider to be a good sur-prize, that is. Bwah-ha-hah!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

I know. I'm SUCH a nag...

"Pssst...hey, wake up! You're going to miss the deadline of the Caption Contest!"

If you'd like to amuse yourself -- and me -- today, feel free to provide an alternate caption for the above picture, too. I will hold a random drawing and send the winner a sur-PRIZE*.

*Well, duh. A surprise prize. Ya takes yer chances with this one.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Post by post, until...

I finally got this sucker up.


When I started this blog, I had serious doubts about whether I'd keep at it. I've had blogs before (we won't go into how many, or where you can find their sorry carcasses on the web), and I've always petered out relatively soon after starting them. Mainly because I only have a certain amount of time to devote to writing, and I'm kind of dedicated to churning out the fiction.

But this time I've stuck with it. I've made it this, my 100th post.

*\o/* YAY, ME! *\o/*

(This: *\o/* ... represents a cheerleader. In case you were wondering.)

(Oh, and this: 8\o/* ... is a cheerleader who took her bra off. She's a little over-excitable. *ahem* Never mind. Carry on.)

In celebration, I dyed my hair brown, put on a bikini dove into a pool with the number 100:

Okay, that's a lie. I would never dye my hair. But it's the sentiment that counts, right?

This process has taught me something important. Sometimes, even when you're not sure you can do something, even when you're relatively certain you absolutely suck at doing that something...sometimes if you just go ahead and do it anyway...well, sometimes you'll be glad you did.

Like I am. :)

I'll probably never be a regular five-day a week blogger, but I'm going to try for at least two or three times a week. Probably M/W/F, but don't freak out if you see me on a T or a Th instead.

And to all of you who've been reading -- THANK YOU. Thank you so much. You're awesome, and your comments always make my day.

P.S. Remember, the Caption Contest closes tomorrow (Tuesday, August 17) at midnight. If you haven't entered yet, there's still time!

P.P.S. I'm taking Blogger's word for it that this is my 100th post. Do they count the ones I wrote but am waiting for an opportune time to "publish"? I don't know. But what the hey. I wrote 'em, even if you haven't seen them yet, so I guess it's okay to celebrate.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

The Best Pets You Can Get Yet

Wrapping up the week by sharing our current pets with you. The first two are not very cuddly*, true, but extremely low-maintenance. No fuss, no muss, no feeding.

No cleaning up poop.

(One can hardly say enough about that last feature.)

This is "Good Dog":

And, on the chair being standoffish, his alter-ego, "Bad Dog":

TG always wanted an English bulldog, so I got him one. Of course, he'd rather have one that breathes, but c'est la vie (which I believe translates as "tough titties"). I've told him he can get a real live one after he retires, and will be the one around to take it for walks...along with that little plastic bag.

(Yeah, I know. I'm such a bitch. Don't hate on me!)

And this is "Good Kitty":

She's a little on the cold side, being made of cement and all. Not much of a ratter, but then we don't have rats anyway, so that's not a problem. She's got the "cat stare" nailed, though. And she never claws the furniture.

And, finally, because we really do prefer to pet furry things, "Miss Kitty" (yeah, I know -- we are sooo creative with the names). She's our part-time pet:

She actually belongs to our neighbors, but I think she likes us better. Could have something to do with the kitty treats, tuna, and ham we slip her from time to time, when she's convinced us she hasn't eaten in a week. She drops by for a cuddle every morning, and sometimes in the evenings, too. Stays about five minutes, then continues her rounds.

With Miss Kitty, we get all the affection and none of the responsibility. In other words, she's the perfect pet for now.

*Yeah, I know I said yesterday would be the last Now-Dead Pet day. Technically that's true. While the first two listed here are not alive, they are not dead either.

Sunny Days! (The Final Dead Pets Installment)

And the final Now-Dead Pet: Sunny!

Sunny's full name was Ice Cream Sundae, because the kids thought she looked like someone had squirted chocolate sauce on her head.

A comedian who played TG's theater once said: "If you have two cats, odds are one of 'em ain't wrapped up too tight."

In our family, Sunny was that cat. She was high strung right from the get-go.

In fact, her favorite possession (and, yes, it was definitely her possession) was a string. She carried it around like it was her long-lost kitten, and put up a mighty struggle if you tried to take it away from her.

Never underestimate the strength of an 8-pound cat -- she always won. Because she never gave up. [Insert applicable Life Lesson here.]

After an initial WTF (what the...er, fudge) reception from Clancy, the two of them became best buds. I think Clancy warmed up to her when she offered to clean his ears for him, and he realized she could be handy to have around.

Random Sunny Facts:

~No Lego car tire was safe from her. She would find them, no matter how well-hidden, chew them up, swallow them, and then regurgitate them in inconvenient places around the house.

~It took Sunny a long time to become a lap kitty. At first, she would only lie down beside you if you pretended you didn't see her. She graduated from that to crawling onto your lap, but only if you were asleep.

~Exception to the above: if I was on the computer, she would jump onto my lap and demand attention. If I tried to remove her, she would dig in and hold on for dear life. If I stopped typing and gave her my full attention, she left.

~She loved to hide her toys (and anything else she could drag) under the welcome mat in the front hall.

~Houseflies trembled in fear of her hunting prowess.

Sunny was only ten when she died (young for a cat) of an intestinal disease. I knew those Lego tires couldn't be good for her...

Clancy only lived for a few months after Sunny left us. I think he missed her even more than we did. He just sort of gave up. Either that, or he was afraid he'd have to break in another kitten, and he got out while the getting was good.

Crap. Now I'm crying.

I hate to cry. Go cheer me up with an entry in my Caption Contest!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Dead Pets Society (cont'd)

FIRST OF ALL: Have you entered my Caption Contest yet? No? Well, what are you waiting for? GO. ENTER. NOW. I'm finding everyone's captions/dialogues vastly amusing, and, as we all know, I live to be amused. Plus, there is a cool prize.

*ahem* Now on with today's post.

In continuing the Dead Pets theme of the week, allow me to introduce you to Buster:

Buster, aka Boober the Wonder Dog, came into our lives shortly after TG and I were married. The Boobster's mother was a ginger-colored cocker spaniel who showed up on my mom's doorstep right before the wedding, gave birth to eight puppies, stuck around until they were six weeks old, and left.

If you ask me, that was one helluva well-trained dog.

My mom, of course, thought it was some sort of sign from above that TG and I were meant to have one of the puppies, four of whom were blonde and four of whom were black. ("Ginger," as Mom so aptly called her, apparently got around.)

We chose a black, curly-haired butterball, mainly because he licked us more than all the other puppies combined. We thought it meant he liked us. More likely, it was just that he couldn't contain that tongue.

The first night home, we put our un-housebroken puppy in the bathroom, in a cardboard box, with a pillow and a towel, and added a stuffed animal for company. But he missed his litter mates, and didn't hesitate to show it, employing the most heart-rending whines and whimpers to let us know he was not satisfied with any old teddy bear.

He wanted a heartbeat.

Now, TG and I had decided on a tough love route--we'd have to let him cry it out for a few nights. He'd get used to it, and eventually learn to sleep on his own. Seemed to be working pretty well, or so I thought. Until I woke up and realized TG was not beside me in bed. I found him in the bathroom, leaning up against the tub, asleep, with the little black fuzzball cradled under his chin.

That's when I knew TG was destined to be a good father. :)

Aaaah, Buster. What can I say about dear old Boober Dog? Well, look at that face: totally sweet, even if he wasn't the sharpest crayon in the box.

Random Boober Dog Facts:

~Buster would eat almost* anything, from the handles off of TG's prize set of screwdrivers to the contents of the cat's litter box. Even apples from the tree out back, but only when DD fed them to him.

~Crayons were his favorite. (See above crayon reference. Uh, yeah.) He once ate a whole box, and later decorated the yard with "Easter egg" poops.

~Buster peed when he got over-excited. Sitting on TG's lap always seemed to excite him.**

~The only person Buster ever bit was a politician who lived next door to TG's parents. (We found out later the man had a mistress, whom he beat regularly. Apparently Buster was a good judge of character.)

~Buster loved the water. He was also fiercely protective of our kids, whom I'm sure he considered to be his younger siblings. He felt obligated to stand guard whenever the hose was turned on out back.

~Buster died on our son's third birthday. Sadly, the only clear memory Son has of him is of the time Buster peed on the Slip-'n-Slide. (Hey, he was excited.)

I miss you, Boober Dog. But I'm sure Doggy Heaven is more entertaining place with you there.

*The only thing Buster ever turned up his nose at were the biscuits TG made using the baking soda from the open package we kept in the fridge as a deodorizer. We were out of baking powder, and TG was forced to improvise. (We didn't eat the biscuits, either. In case you were wondering.)

**What can I say? It excites me too. I, however, don't pee when excited. Much.

A Caption Contest! (Subtitled: Hooray! Another freakin' contest!)

[You can't say I didn't warn you about the impending pet pictures.]

This is Clancy, my all-time favorite cat, and his being dead doesn't alter that. He was the best cat that ever lived, and I miss him horribly.

So, cheer me up! Invent a creative caption for this picture. The squirrel behind the glass was part friend, part nemesis to Clancy. It showed up at the window bird feeder every day, and drove him crazy with its lack of fear. Taunted him, really. But it was entertainment for good old Clancy Doodle Dandy.

RULES: Share your caption in the comments. (Short and sweet is fine, but if you want to develop a longer dialogue between cat and squirrel, that's cool too.)

That's it. That's all you have to do. Entertain me!

The winner will be chosen on a purely subjective basis: whichever caption I like the best. Hint: my tastes run to funny, but sometimes I can be moved by pure sentiment.

The contest is open to everyone. If the winner lives outside the States, it may take a while for the prize to arrive, since I will mail it the cheapest way possible, but it will get there. :)

In case of a tie, the winner will be decided by random launch of the names from a catapult we happen to have in the garage. (Honestly? I'm kinda hoping for a tie. I'd like to get out the catapult and play with it.)

Contest will close at midnight, Tuesday Aug. 17, and the winner will be announced as soon thereafter as I can decide. Shouldn't take long.

PRIZE: the Raise the Roof CD. It's a sampling of the various artists who've played the Barns at Wolf Trap, the venue where TG works, and it was produced by the theater god himself. All songs were recorded live right there the Barns.

If you want to see a listing of the songs, you can look here.

P.S. As I promised, Clancy is a still-alive pet in that picture. And even in these, regardless of how he may look:

And in this one, he only wished he were dead:

I will consider offering extra credit if you add a caption for it, too.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Old Photos, a Little more Blarney, and the Doll from Hell

Spent yesterday digging through my Old Photo closet. (This used to be a small linen closet just off the master bathroom, but has slowly been taken over by boxes of old pictures, so why even pretend anymore?)

No, I wasn't hit by an attack of nostalgia, though it was kind of sweet to reconnect with past experiences. Especially the kiddos at all their earlier ages. I do have exceptionally adorable children, if I do say so myself.

But it was also kind of...I dunno, discombobulating. (Does anybody but me even use that word?) Because nothing will make you realize how fast life is whizzing by like looking at tons (and tons ... and tons) of old pictures. This is why I don't do it very often, and probably why I've never, despite the purist of intentions, taken the time to organize the pics into albums.

(Not because I'm lazy. Really. Okay, maybe a little.)

The reason I went on the photographic archeological expedition was this blog. In my file of possible blog posts is an item I've labeled "Dead Pets." Nice, huh?

Come back!

I'm not going to show you pictures of dead animals -- I'm not that morbid. But I have a backlog of moderately amusing stories about the pets we've had over the years, and I thought it would be nice, should I get desperate enough to use them as blog fodder, to illustrate the posts with while-they-were-still-alive (I swear!) pictures.

(Relax. No dead pets today. This is just the heads-up post.)

I did come across a few other pics while sifting for pet gold, though. You remember my post about the Blarney Stone, and how kissing it may have contributed to my potty mouth?

Well, here is the proof I actually did it! And TG, too. That's me in the first pic, TG in the second.

Yeah, I know. Our heads don't show, so how can you be sure it's really us? You'll just have to trust me. I recognize the clothes.

Oh, and here's another random pic I came across. At the bottom of this post about the importance of enunciation, I mentioned how my daughter started reading and writing at an early age. Because of her interest in writing, we got her a Suzy Scribbles doll (yes, she has a face--she's just looking down):

Suzy came with her own desk, and could really write! Animatronically, of course. Only she was possessed by demons or something, because instead of writing "Hello" like she was supposed to, she always stopped after "Hell."

Yeah, try explaining that to your four-year-old.

Toodles for now. Beware of future posts, now that I've figured out how to upload old photos. You have been warned.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Wild Strawberries and Special Places

There is a word in Swedish for an idyllic place: smultronställe.

Translated directly it means "wild strawberry place," but it's really a beautiful metaphor for a uniquely special spot, even if it's only special to you. It can be a favorite vacation venue, a cafe, a certain tree in the woods, the curb by your mailbox--anyplace that that feels "right" to you. A place that resonates with you, that makes you happy.

I was thirteen the first time I tasted a wild strawberry. It was the summer after my dad died, and my mom took me back to Sweden for a visit. We spent a fair amount of time on Ljusterö, the island where she spent her summers as a child.

My aunts took great pleasure in dragging me out for long hikes through the fields and woods. I suspect they thought I spent too much time with my nose in a book (they were right) and not enough out experiencing the real world.

I tolerated the nature marches mainly because I knew there would goodies brought out at some point--chocolate or pastries or, if I was lucky, both. I was a dedicated "snask gris" (a pig about sweets) and they were well aware of it. Considering they were not mothers themselves, they were clever about bribery.

One day we came across a patch of newly ripened smultron. I was enchanted by their tininess--not at all like the giant strawberries I was used to seeing in Texas. After getting the go-ahead from my aunts, I picked one and popped it into my mouth.

Oh. My. God.

The flavor! Imagine the ripest, strawberriest strawberry you have ever eaten, and then multiply it by a gazillion. It was sweetly, intensely berry-ific. If there is any food on this earth I love even more than chocolate, this would be it. And you know how I feel about chocolate. After that day, convincing me to go for long walks became an easy task.

It doesn't take a genius to see how the metaphor came to be. Those Swedes and their poetic, food-loving souls, God bless 'em.

That spot on the island was forever after my main--and quite literal--smultronställe. But since I can't visit it on a regular basis, I've added a few more:

~A spectacular cherry tree I pass on my walks through the neighborhood -- it looks like a giant bonsai, and I always half expect to see a ginormous hand reach down out of the heavens, with snippers, to tend it. It's a tree fit for a fairy tale, and I love gazing at it.

~The collection of benches and chairs around our fire pit out front -- a magnet for our neighbors on balmy evenings. Sharing drinks and conversation there gives me a glow.

~And my "writing" smultronställe -- right here, on my well-worn leather sofa, in my den, in front of the fireplace (we keep candles in it during the summer), with my trusty laptop. The beauty of this particular spot is, from it I can dream up endless imaginary wild strawberry places. There are no limits.

How about you? Do you have a smultronställe, either for writing or just for being?

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

What kind of ass are you?

Recently I've taken some ribbing on Twitter about my bad-assedness. Or apparent lack thereof.

Well, maybe not total lack. More like my bad-assedness is "cute" or "sweet" or "adorable." Which kind of takes the teeth out of it, yannoh? Makes it anemic. Hell, it pretty much neuters it.

But, if I'm totally honest, my Twitter-kidders (you know who you are!) are probably right.

Yes, I admit it. *clears throat* I am a Bad-ass Wannabe.

The inner me may be clad in black leather, with every square inch of epidermis body-pierced and tattooed, but the outer me is rocking the mom jeans and tastefully artistic earrings. I tried a temporary tattoo once, but the kids told me Bambi looked silly on me, so I washed it off.

I know. Sad.

So, since I suck at being a Bad-ass, I've decided to audition some other kinds of asses. These are ones that made the callbacks:

Kick-ass -- akin to bad-ass, only more superhero and less Hell's Angel.

Lazy-ass -- this one is tempting, if only because it allows for lounging in my PJs until late in the day.

Sorry-ass -- possibly reserved for days when I just can't get the words down in the WIP, or can't think of a decent blog topic. It could be an understudy, waiting in the wings to go on when the main-ass is out of commission.

Dumb-ass -- we've all been there, right? Please tell me I'm not the only one who does dumb-ass stuff, like drive all the way to the grocery only to realize I've left my wallet at home.

Raggedy-ass -- perfectly suitable for the days I haven't done laundry (and so have to resort to wearing the stuff from the back of the closet), or showered, or washed my hair...you get the picture.

Smart-ass -- okay, I think I have this one nailed, though I could be wrong. But I'm willing to give it plenty of rehearsal.

So, if you had to pick an ass (tee-hee), which would it be? One of these, or perhaps one I've forgotten to mention? Please tell me in the comments. Come on, don't be shy!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Come Sail Away with Me, Subtitled: HEAVE-ho!

So I was reading Kelly Breakey's blog post today (gorgeous pics of the Emerald Coast!), and it reminded me of my one and only experience on a sailboat.

I was twenty-one, and had just finished up a semester abroad at the University of Stockholm. I'd carried twenty-one credits, so it was no blow-off vacation-masquerading-as-school, either. Sure, classes were fun, but they were also demanding, and I was ready for a break.

My aunts (who were really my mother's cousins, but whatevs--they were always aunts to me) had a good friend who was almost like a sister to them. This good friend had a son, five or six years older than me, who was, naturally enough, something of a nephew to my aunts. Which, in a way (bear with me here) made him practically my cousin.

Not that it really matters to the story. I just thought it was a good way to bring out how convoluted "family" relationships can be.

Anyhoo, this semi-cousin--let's call him Sven, even though that's not even close to his name--and his then girlfriend, Heidi (oddly enough, that was her name--she was German--but I doubt she'll ever stumble across this blog anyway, and I think it's a cool name, so I wanted to use it) lived near the coast.

(Not that Sven's real name isn't cool, too, by the way. But I used it in one of my books, and if that book is ever published *pause for extreme finger/toe-crossing maneuver* I don't want anyone to think I modeled the character on my semi-cousin. Because I didn't. He just happens to have a good character name.)

(Now that I think about it, I suppose I could have pretended "Heidi" wasn't Sven's girlfriend's real name, and then question of coolness wouldn't even be an issue. Too late. I feel committed now.)

*ahem* On with the story.

Well. As you may or may not know, liquor is very expensive in Sweden. Mainly because they tax the holy hell out of it. If you are going to get buzzed in Sweden, the government is darn well going to partake in the party.

Yup. There are worse things than hangovers. There are hangovers with empty wallets.

All this is by way of explaining why, at twenty-one, while living in Sweden, I was unaccustomed to holding my liquor. (Fortunately, I outgrew it. Practice makes perfect!) The occasional glass of red wine with dinner was the most I ever imbibed. So, when Sven and Heidi brought out their carefully hoarded stash of tiny liqueur bottles, which they had painstakingly gathered on their frequent business trips between Germany and Sweden, I wasn't prepared for what was about to hit me.

Dinner had been lovely, I'm almost sure. Don't quite remember, but I never to my knowledge had an unlovely meal in Sweden, so it's safe to assume. After dinner, the real fun started. Sven was totally liqueur-proud, and rightfully so. I think he had miniature representatives of every brand of cordial known to man.

Decision time was upon me. How to choose?

Then again, why choose when you don't have to, ha-ha-ha-ha! Just taste a bit of each, and see which you like better, huh? Am I right?

Oh, it went swimmingly! The more I tasted, the better my Swedish got, too. I became amazingly erudite, discussing topics ranging from world politics to capital punishment, with nary a pause to search for a word. A little slur here and there, perhaps, but what are a few slurs among equally inebriated friends?

I'm pretty sure I eventually went to bed, because I did get up the next morning. After a fashion. Fortunately, I didn't have to tackle the complicated process of getting dressed, because I was still fully clothed.

Sven and Heidi (who were obviously much more adept at drinking than I) assured me nothing would fix me up better than a sail around the archipelago. It was a toss-up as to which was greener--the sea or my face--but I decided to trust them.

They were right. Ten minutes into the wind I felt wonderful. Of course, that was after I'd barfed over the side of the boat twice, with every ounce pouring out of me a tainted reminder of the sickly sweet substances I'd poured in the night before.

Once I was empty, though, the rest of the day went all right. The Stockholm Archipelago is gorgeous. We stopped on a few different islands, explored the rocky coastline, and generally enjoyed the rest of the day.

That night, after dinner, when the liqueur bottles came back out, I politely declined. And mentally added "liqueur tasting party" to my list of things never to do again.




So, thanks, Kelly, for reminding me of my sailing trip. I think it may have been the green of the sea that triggered the memory. ;)