Monday, February 28, 2011

Signs of maturity...

TG and I are on a min-vacation down here in Norfolk, visiting our darling daughter. Since I'm on vacay, DD has kindly offered to do a guest post for me, so I can continue drinking relaxing. I did, however, give her some of the touristy photos I took, in case she wanted to work with them.

(What? You sight-see your way, I'll sight-see mine.)

Without further ado, I hand you over to DD:

The first time my parents visited us after the Navy brought us back to the Old Dominion, the local landmark that caught my mother's eye was not the vividly blooming Norfolk Botanical Garden. Neither was it the historical majesty of the battleship USS Wisconsin, nor was it the seedy summertime charm of the Virginia Beach boardwalk.

No, it was a hair salon.

She immediately made a solemn vow that -- unbeknownst to my dad (should I call him TG? No, I'm afraid that's just too weird) and me -- would lock us into a quest fit for... well, fit for a blog post: "Oh! Oh, I have got to get a picture of that next time we're down here!"

It started out innocently enough. Tee-hee, a "bear" bottom! How droll.

But then the chortling started, and the camera click-clicked again.

The local mall turned out to be a wellspring of Mom-giggles, the source of which would be readily apparent to any given gaggle of twelve-year-old boys.

After a certain amount of speculation as to whether the aforementioned bag store would have been better situated directly beneath "Good Wood," we found something that elicited something resembling a cackle of gutter-minded glee.

Oh yes, you can only imagine her delight upon seeing that Fudge Brothers was also a purveyor of roasted nuts. Fresh ones, even.

The ride home yielded one final gem: "Heh heh... do it. It's a hardware store."

Now, I am married to a Sailor, and we spend plenty of time around his fellow aviators. The ready room is by no means a bastion of rarefied academic discussion; there is a reason that these guys are quick to joke that they are "officers and gentlemen by act of Congress only!" Naughtiness doesn't particularly faze me. And yet...

Even I am a little scared to contemplate that which might tickle my mom's sense of humor after we partake of a little "questionable" wine with dinner.

Friday, February 25, 2011

"Why not?" she said awkwardly.

Remember when I had a contest to get the best answer to the question "Why?"

(Hmm. Do I need another question mark at the end of that sentence? It looks awkward either way.)

(I suppose I should rearrange it somehow, to get rid of the awkwardness. But you know what? I think the world could use more awkwardness. It's kinda cute. And mostly harmless. It makes people feel more comfortable themselves to see someone else being awkward. You know, in that whole "at least I'm not the only awkward person in the room" way. So I'll leave it.)

There. Don't you feel better now?

Wait! Not that you're awkward. I didn't mean to imply that at ALL.

Dang. AWKward...

*ahem* Moving on.

My point is, I thought that whole "Why?" contest was kind of fun. So I thought I'd do another. Only this time the question is:


Because that was one of the answers given to the "Why?"

Ha-HAH! What're you going to answer now, huh?

Hint: "Why?" won't cut it. 

[Okay, okay. You caught me. YES, this is just a clever ploy on my part to bolster my collection of excuses. As I've discussed before, one can never have too many excuses on hand. Indulge me.]

Best answer wins a prize!!* 

Pithiness is not only allowed, but encouraged.

As is poetry, if you feel like it. You can answer in the form of a limerick. Or a haiku, if limericks are too long. Heck, if you write a whole sonnet, you're practically guaranteed at least an honorable mention.

You could even link to a self-made music video on YouTube. You know, if you're the over-achieving sort. But it doesn't have to be a poem or a music video. You could just channel your inner smartass, and dash off something rude. You know I'm a great aficionado of all things smartass. 

Winner selected on a purely subjective basis, by me, and wholly dependent upon my mood at the time of selection.

Contest closes...*thinks*, Tuesday, March 1st, at 5:23 pm, EST. Enter early, enter often!

*Prize to be determined by me, on a whim, and, as before, likely to be something silly and/or edible.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Story of a Book Deal, aka "!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

Remember back when I told you how I used to tell stories to my baby brother? How he couldn't pronounce "Once upon a time," and he said "Ponsa ponsa time" instead, and how it got to be kind of a catch phrase in my family for the stories I tell? Well, I have a new story for you.

Ponsa ponsa time...

...there was a little girl who loved to make shi--er, stuff, up. She would frequently bend the ear of anyone who would listen to her. When she got old enough, she started writing down some of the, um, stuff. Her first novel, Trixie Belden and the Kentucky Derby Mystery, was a piece of inept fan fiction, lovingly scrawled out longhand. It was a shameless ripoff, but we can forgive her because her intentions were pure, and besides, she was only ten.

As she grew, certain distractions (*cough* boys and theater *cough*) came between her and her writing career. Eventually, she married one of the theater boys, and between them they produced a few more distractions.

But she never forgot about her writing. While focusing mainly on raising her brilliant (and astoundingly good-looking, though that's really not important) children, she pulled from her soul a long and intricately woven novel, just to prove to herself she could do it.

Then she put that novel in the place most first novels (she doesn't count the Trixie Belden ripoff) belong: a desk drawer. She figured she would give it a little distance before tackling the rewrite it so desperately needed.

In the meantime, to keep herself occupied, she started writing a fluffy bit of pure escapism, just for fun. Also, because she'd seen the name "Ciel" on a license plate, and the character who popped into her head wouldn't shut up.


Heck if she didn't like Ciel and her new story better! When she finished writing it, she showed it to a few special friends, and heck if they didn't like it, too! So she decided to try to find an agent and sell that book instead of the drawer novel.

After collecting her share of "I like it, but it's not really for me" rejections from agents, she came across a listing for Wolfson Literary Agency, a small, one-agent operation.

Huh, she said do herself. This looks good. She probably won't like my book, but I'll try.

But the super-amazing Michelle Wolfson did like her book, and wanted to be the one to help bring it out into the world, so readers everywhere could get to know Ciel and Billy and Mark, and the whole motley crew of characters.

And she did it!

Yes, in this story, the big, bad wolf (sorry, Michelle, I couldn't resist) is the hero who granted the wish of that little girl who wanted to be a writer by getting her a two-book deal (!!!) with Tor, the Sci-Fi/Fantasy imprint of Macmillan Publishing. 

So now begins the not-so-little-and-not-really-a-"girl"-anymore's happily ever after with her new editor, Melissa Frain*.

Let the new adventure begin! 

*Follow her on Twitter. She's cool. :)

Monday, February 21, 2011

Happy Wash-Linc-ton's Birthday!

In honor of Presidents' Day, I'm going to help you speed through your blog roll.

I know. Sometimes I'm just so considerate it astounds me. ;)

Have a good one!

Of course, if you want to say hi in the comments before you leave, that's okay. As long as you're here you may as well. Your hellos make me happy. :)

Friday, February 18, 2011

American Idol: the Deluded Edition, aka Doubt Demons of Doom

The theater god and I have been watching American Idol again this year.

(Oh, all right. So I've been watching it, and TG--when he doesn't have a show--has been sitting next to me on the couch, surfing the web on his netbook, only looking up to make the occasional snide comment about a contestant. Which is perfectly acceptable, because we are, of course, on the Couch of Judgment.  You remember the COJ, right? If not, look here.) 

We stopped watching Idol several years ago, mainly because it got all samey-samey, and frankly we were bored. This year, though, Simon (the big meanie) is gone, and Steven Tyler and Jennifer Lopez are there, so we (and by "we" I mean "I") thought we'd give it another shot.

May I just say I am terribly impressed with Steven Tyler? He's been witty, charming, and spot on with his assessments of the contenders. He's also still pretty dang hot, considering he's almost old enough to collect social security. ;)

It's a kinder, gentler Idol this year, and I find it inspiring to see so many people going balls out after their dreams. They train hard. They practice for endless hours. They push themselves to their absolute limits during auditions. And it is beautiful to behold when it works out for them.

But there are painful moments. Moments where the wannabes

The worst are the ones who seem absolutely oblivious to their lack of singing talent. You can tell they just want it so bad, and that they somehow think just wanting it bad is enough to carry them through. Makes me cringe to watch them crumble.  

And then, if I'm not very, very careful as I'm sitting there on the COJ, the niggling little doubt demons turn on me and start nipping at my brain.  

What if that's me? What if I only think I can write? 

What if *shudders* I'm tone deaf about my own books? 

I try to remind myself I'm pretty open to constructive criticism. I mean, I've never actually hit one of my crit partners or beta readers. When somebody (like one of my aforementioned, un-hit, supremely stupendous crit partners or beta readers) has a helpful suggestion, I'm willing to listen and give it a try. I don't automatically assume the words spilling from my keyboard are golden nuggets of perfection.

Not sure, but I think if you can admit you're not perfect, maybe you're not completely tone death, either.

But, just in case, if you ever have a chance to read one of my books...please don't sit on my couch while you're doing it.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Wednesday Weirdness

Pardon me while I geek out a little.

I've probably mentioned my fondness for quantum mechanics at some time or another. For some reason this stuff fascinates the heck out of me. I don't come close to understanding it, of course--and I'm told that anyone who thinks s/he does is sorely mistaken--but just reading about it relaxes me.

I know. Weird, huh?

Or maybe not, when you really think about it. I write what I like to call "popcorn" fiction--light and a little salty. Funny stuff, for the most part, purely for entertainment value. Something you might like to escape into to get away from heavy thinking.

Since that's what I do...well, I was going to say "for a living," but that would be premature at this point. But I have high hopes. Anyway, since writing the light stuff is my work, when I need a mental break, I tend to go for nonfiction of a scientific nature.

Yes, I think it's fun. What can I say? Talk nerdy to me, baby. *waggles eyebrows*

Yesterday I bought a copy of Briane Greene's The Hidden Reality, which explores the subject of parallel universes.

Gawd. I just drool over the topic of parallel universes. See, from the time I was quite small, and first learned to read, I always imagined that somehow, somewhere, the stories I read were real.

And it turns out this may not be so very far-fetched. Here's a quote from the book:

"Quantum mechanics suggests that every possibility embodied in its probability waves is realized in one of a vast ensemble of parallel universes." (p. 309, hardcover)

Which means, to my way of thinking, even the remotely possible (i.e., anything you can think up), does exist somewhere. Which further means that somewhere out there, my characters are real.

It tickles me just to contemplate that.

Of course, it also means all of Stephen King's books are real out there somewhere, too. Which is rather more frightening.

So, if all this, I mean scientific speculation turns out to be true*,  which book worlds would you like to visit?

*Though, technically, I suppose there must be a parallel universe in which it isn't true, but let's not confuse ourselves needlessly with paradoxes.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Valentine's Day ain't always sunshine and chocolate...

I hated Valentine's Day when I was in high school. The pep squad--aka, all the wannabe cheerleaders who didn't quite make the cut--sold carnations to raise funds. Funds for what I'm not entirely sure. Cute uniforms, maybe? Cheerleader camp? Never even occurred to me at the time to wonder. Every club and organization in school was always raising money for something or another. Personally, I sold candy bars for the International Thespian Society.

(Calm down. "Thespian" isn't nearly as interesting as some of you may be thinking.) 

Anyway, the carnations were to be ordered ahead of time, and delivered to homeroom on the big day (or as close to it as you could get on a school day). The purchaser could add a little note, and either sign it or remain "romantically anonymous."

Of course, the popular girls and guys got tons of flowers. The girls would cradle their bundles like babies, practically cooing with happiness. The guys would lug them around nonchalantly, dangling them by their stems, all macho in their I-don't-care-ness.

And the rest of us, either flowerless, or maybe with a bloom sent by a sympathetic friend, would smile our stiff little smiles and pretend we weren't humiliated.

There was one nice guy, though. He was a senior when I was a freshman, and he was popular. Not even a jock. Kind of a sensitive artist type, really. The girls just ate that up, and he got an armload of flowers that year, the year I was an awkward "fish" and could only admire him from afar.

Instead of carrying his bouquet around like a trophy, he quietly, in between classes, went about handing red, white, or pink carnations to every girl he passed in the hall who didn't have her own. He did it with a genuine smile, a friendly one, not in the least condescending or pitying.

I was one of those girls, and I've never forgotten him.

Happy Valentine's Day, everyone. Be nice to someone today. You never know who might remember you fondly in the future. :)

Friday, February 11, 2011

Deedle-lee-dee--Potatoes! (For that to make sense, you have to watch the video.)

Since it's Friday, and since I spent yesterday fighting off food poisoning*, and don't feel clever enough to tackle writing a blog post, I thought I'd share with you one of my favorite comedians, Danny Bhoy. He's half-Scottish, half-Indian (hence the "Bhoy" in his stage name), and wholly hilarious.

Oh, and he's just a wee bit naughty, though this particular clip is safe. He only insults the French, Germans, Scots, and Irish.

Enjoy! Me, I'm going to go find something bland to eat. Very, very bland. Maybe potatoes.

(Don't worry if you don't have time to watch the whole video--the deedle-lee-dee thing is explained right up front.) 

*Which is a perfect illustration of "be careful what you wish for." I'd been wanting to lose a few pounds ever since the holidays, and wishing there were an easy way to do it without, you know, willpower. Um, yeah. Got my wish.

[Edited to fix a spelling error. I really do know "Scots," when referring to the people of Scotland, only has one T. I blame the food poisoning for rotting the spelling center of my brain. Oh, and I have a nephew named Scott, so I automatically spell it that way. Would anyone have even noticed my slip-up? Or cared? Maybe not, but it was bugging the stew out of me.]

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

How full is your glass?

On the pessimist/realist/optimist continuum, I fall somewhere between realist and optimist. Maybe a bit more toward optimist. I like feeling hopeful. It's just a more pleasant sensation for me.

I'm not totally whackadoodle about it, though. If somebody gives me a sack of horse hockey for [insert gift-giving occasion of your choice], I'm not going to jump up and down in excitement and start looking for the pony. But I probably will spread it on the garden. No reason not to make the best of a *cough* crappy situation. Of  course, I'll likely tell whoever gave it to me to where to go before I start fertilizing, and there won't be any cool breezes in my suggested destination.

Mostly I agree with this:

Which I suppose makes me a pragmatist more than anything.

It turns out, according to this article in a British newspaper, that where you fall on the spectrum is quite likely genetic.

So, apparently, some people can't help being negative. They were born that way.

Okay. I can buy that. But I still say, even if you are genetically pre-programmed to be a curmudgeon, that's no excuse to be a #$@%-wad about it.

Yes, I know how annoying it is to be around the Perpetual Pollyannas. How all that smiling optimism in the face of the bullsh!t tsunamis life throws our way can set your teeth on edge. But try to bear up. Remember, they were born that way, too.

How about you?

On a scale of 1 to 10...

...with 1 being "If I won $100 million in the lottery, I'd whine about the taxes"

...and 10 being "If my car got towed, in the rain, on a day I forgot my umbrella and had no money for a taxi, and I lived ten miles away--uphill--I'd tell you I was happy for the exercise,"

...where do you fall?

Personally, I think I'm a nice, healthy 6.5. (Maybe a 5 when I'm feeling hormonal. But then I eventually get over myself and just thank God I still have hormones...)


Please don't try to impress me with negative numbers. Nobody's that negative. ;)

Monday, February 7, 2011

Astrology, schmastrology...

Yesterday was my birthday, which explains why this post is a little ... is there a polite way to say "yanked from my nether region"?

The important thing is, I had a Very Fun Day, full of food and prezzies. And wine.

Not so much wine that I feel bad this morning, but enough that I didn't write a blog post last night. However, I was totally thinking about it. Honest. (Okay, maybe not "honest," in the truest sense of the word. But if you warp it a little, and squint when you look at it, and interpret its meaning with compassion in your heart...)


Anyway, I share a birthday (Feb. 6) with:

Ronald Reagan

Zsa-Zsa Gabor

Tom Brokaw

Bob Marley

Axl Rose

Rip Torn

Babe Ruth


And Aaron Burr

If that doesn't shake your faith in astrology, I don't know what will.

Do you share a birthday with anyone famous? Does it bolster your belief in astrology, or rip it from its foundation?

Friday, February 4, 2011

What gives your muse a charge?

The thing about any creative endeavor--say, like writing--is that you can't just keep pouring forth without pausing to refill bucket. Recharge the batteries. Feed the frickin' muse.

Face it. If you don't put something in occasionally, you're not going to have anything to take out when you need it. You might be able to keep spinning your wheels...

...but the view is going to get monotonous.

Okay, I could drag out some more metaphors, but you get the idea, right? If you don't lubricate the gears (<--okay, I had to toss in one more) with some mental leisure oil (oooh, that sounds kind of kinky, doesn't it?), pushing those creative pedals is going to be a lot harder (heh, I said "harder") than it needs to be.

With writing, as with anything, it's good to work hard, but it's better to work smart.

Reading that trashy book just for fun, watching that stupid TV show, soaking until you're pruney in the bubble bath, laying on the couch and staring at the water spot on the ceiling while fantasizing about...*cough* whatever it is you fantasize about...

...these are all things that can ultimately make you more productive, people! Don't neglect them.

If it helps assuage your guilt, think of it as carbo-loading before a marathon. Eating pasta by the plateful might be unwise most of the time, but sometimes it's just what you need to achieve your goal. 

So, what are you feeding your muse today? :)

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Six more weeks of winter? Not if I have anything to say about it...

Go ahead, Shadow. Make my day.

Um, yeah. So I'm crawling back into my burrow to work on some of my un-reality while Punxsutawney Rambo here guards me from more wintry weather. 

Later, gators! May the groundhog be good to you.