Friday, December 31, 2010

New Year's Resolutions

"A New Year's resolution is something that goes in one year and out the other." - Oscar Wilde

According to statistics, 97% of New Year's resolutions are never fulfilled. 40 to 45% of optimistic people use New Year's Day to make resolutions and set goals for the year. (statistics taken from the Miami Herald)

I'm going to be one of the 40 to 45% and hopefully in the 3% that fulfill.

Last year I only set two:

1) Write a book.

2) Be less judgemental.

I was successful with one. 1/2 isn't bad, right?

This year, I'm throwing #2 out. It's me. It's who I am. I'm judgemental, but I don't open my mouth about it so that's like not being judgemental, right? If no one knows that I'm judging them, it doesn't count!


On to this year...

1) Complete the rewrite of Dark Forest (and I mean complete it! so that I am querying by the Spring).

2) Better use of my time. This really needs fixing, folks. I'm not going to lie. Today, great use of my time. Yesterday? Not so much. I'm not in my early 20s anymore so it's completely unacceptable to be so upset over a football game that I spend hours (yes, hours) posting on messageboards about the team, coaching staff, GM and certain players. Not even joking.

3) Vegan. Not 100%. But as much as possible. I have a great start so far! This is for my health!

4) Run a 5k and a 10k. Notice I didn't put marathon. I've been running a bit with Lily, but her enthusiasm wanes after...oh, half a block. It looks like I'm torturing her. She hangs her head and looks up at me as she trudges along as if to say, "Mommy, WHY are you doing this to me?" The last two nights I've waited until the end of our walk, which has worked out better. I've gotten TWO whole blocks...in a row even!! If she can't step it up, though, I'll have to strike out on my own before or after our walks.

5) Finish the rewrite on my Dystopian as well. That will take place the latter half of the year.


I'm pretty good at setting writing goals and meeting them so I'm sure I can be 2/5 in 2011! Although I really will aim for all 5.


I'm tempted to throw in things like Organize the Garage and Organize the Closets, but who am I kidding? Those haven't been done in three years. Not sure they're getting done now. The key to success is setting attainable, realistic goals/resolutions.

Actually, I think I'll throw in one more...

6) Have as much enthusiasm towards everything in life as Pinky has towards her ball.



Wouldn't it be nice to tackle everything with the amount of gusto she has? EVERYTHING? (Even the digging of the hole at the end?)


What about you - any New Year's Resolutions this year?


HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Ending 2010 with THANKS!

Things that I am thankful for in 2010:

1) My health - it isn't the best, but it isn't the worst and I have the power to change it. Can't ask for more than that!

2) The Hubster - he may drive me nuts sometimes and get the dog sick often, but he's a good husband, a great partner in crime and a lot of fun to have around.


3) My friends - I have managed to gather a great group around me over the past few decades. Solid, wonderful people that I love dearly. I am so, so thankful for their love and friendship.


4) My family - Maybe not ever single member, but most of 'em. Especially that little Dillon. I love that kid to pieces. In fact, I couldn't love my nephew more had I given birth to him myself (Latest Dillon story: He was misbehaving so my mom said, "Alright, you stinker..." He cut her off and said, "Grandma, you can't say stinker 'cuz it's a bad word!"). I have three parents who love me to pieces and believe in me with all their hearts - even at my age! I have an aunt who is my biggest fan (next to my two moms) and always wants to be the first to read everything I write. Lucky, lucky girl - that's me!


5) My writing - It's a crazy world out there and writing keeps me sane. Mostly sane. Okay, a little sane.


6) My pets - Unconditional love. Nothing better!


7) My house - It's just so nice. And warm. Thank the gods for central air/heat (even in SoCal). I have a roof over my head. What more could I ask for?
8) My new bed - I had to throw it in there. It's huge. I have to use the nightstand to crawl up into it every night. I don't want to get out of it on the chilly winter mornings. Love, love, love it!
What about you - what are you thankful for in 2010?

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Wednesday Wishes

This is Wednesday leaning out of her cat tree. She may look like just your average gray tabby cat, but she has many skills. Most of these skills, she uses for The Good. Okay, 'most' might be a slight exaggeration. Wednesday is a good little kitty, though, at heart. She loves her family, loves her sisters, loves annoying those sisters and she also loves to grant wishes. Every Wednesday morning, I will rub the side of the cat house and summon our magic cat!

My Wednesday Wishes for the week:

1) Rain. The perfect writing weather! I have the time for it the rest of the week too. If you have some, send it our way! I'm all stocked up on new candles, yummy coffee and ready to dive into the forest.

2) Healing for Lily. Here we go again. Nothing like a poorly bred dog! My poor little baby. It's always something...or everything all at once. Right now we're dealing with a skin infection, an ear infection and an IBD flare up thanks to turkey from Grandma and roast beef from Daddy. I just want her feeling better, although I do like how extra snuggly she is when she's sick (isn't that just awful??).

3) A FANTASTIC 2011 for me, my friends (that means all of you out in Blog Land) and loved ones!

What about you - what are your wishes for Wednesday?


Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Tuesday Top Christmas Gifts List

The Hubster spoiled me ROTTEN this Christmas. He went way over our agreed upon budget. I, of course, did not. Now I feel rotten for not overspending. Thrifty me. Poor Hubster.

My favorite gifts?

Rosetta Stone Spanish. It's embarrassing how little I speak after eight years of it in middle school and high school. The problem, though, is that they taught us Spain Spanish. My friends all speak Latin American Spanish (of differing versions). So do the children I teach. While I can understand what they are saying to me, I can only speak a handful of words in return. To educate, I need this language (especially at weekend fairs and when dealing with the pet owning public in Los Angeles). I'm SUPER excited to dive into this!!!

I got TWO wall calendars. One for the office, one for the living room. Both rescue American Pit Bull Terrier calendars - one from BAD RAP (My Dog is Family) and one from the Unexpected Pit Bull. Both adorable. They include stories with the pictures, which is always fun. Tomorrow, I plan to transfer all important dates from 2010 to these!

TWO filterless air filters! Yay! No more replacing filters. This will save hundreds of dollars a month! And help my allergies to my pets.

My stepmom does the BEST thing for all of us - we each get a bag. Full of goodies! It's so much FUN to take our time sorting through each small gift she has picked out especially for us. CANDLES! Socks (the warm, fuzzy, nonslip kind)! A pad of paper that hangs on the fridge for my grocery list!! So many other nifty little gifts. She has wanted to discontinue this for years, but we won't let her. It's tradition and we all just love it.

The Kind Diet by Alicia Silverstone. My partner in the non-profit bought this book last year. She's been trying a few new recipes a week and loving them. When she finds a good one, she forwards it to me. Haven't missed yet! She bought me my own copy AND a recipe binder. She started the binder already. Too cool! I made a lentil soup tonight that Erik and I just LOVED. I'm so glad there are leftovers for tomorrow night!

I got an awesome Vera Wang purse. Thanks Mom!!

But the best gift of all? A laptop desk with a FAN! No more overheating! I can spend hours blogging and writing without my computer shutting down. LOVE IT!!

What about you - what did you get for Christmas? What were your favorite presents??

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas






Erik, Lily and I hope Santa brings you everything you've wished for this Christmas!































Don't forget to leave out the milk and cookies for Santa! And maybe a little something on the lawn for the reindeer too!


MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL AND TO ALL A GOODNIGHT!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Wednesday Wishes

This is Wednesday leaning out of her cat tree. She may look like just your average gray tabby cat, but she has many skills. Most of these skills, she uses for The Good. Okay, 'most' might be a slight exaggeration. Wednesday is a good little kitty, though, at heart. She loves her family, loves her sisters, loves annoying those sisters and she also loves to grant wishes. Every Wednesday morning, I will rub the side of the cat house and summon our magic cat!

My Wednesday Wishes for the week:

1) The ability to control the weather! I want it to stop raining when I need to walk the dog and start up again when I'm home and ready to write! It would be nice to make it SNOW! In Burbank! That would shock everyone. And when I say control the weather, that means I can call down lightening and throw it at mean people as well. What good is weather control if you don't have THAT ability??

2) Donations. I wrapped a gift yesterday and guy left two PENNIES. Even better, I wrapped five for a very particular guy and he left me forty-five cents. Yes, the gift wrapping is offered free. I'll do it for you for FREE, but don't ask me for the bow and ribbon I paid for out of my own pocket if you aren't going to leave a donation because then we're out money. And you know where you can shove that attitude when I tell you so as well. On the flip side, I had a very grateful man watch me wrap his extra large globe, plus five other presents and he left me a twenty. Made a big show of it too - not to show off, but to show the line of people what donations means. Also, had the CUTEST teenage boys that only asked for one thing each, were so polite (including running to get me a copy of one of their books) and each left me $2. That kind of stuff just melts my heart. A dollar is a decent donation. But don't leave me two pennies please. You might as well keep those.

3) A Very Merry Christmas to all of you! May your holiday be bright, full of family and joy. May you all be safe and happy and healthy!






What about you - what are your wishes for our magical Wednesday?

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Rewrites

Sometimes rewriting feels likes this...



Doesn't it?

Remember that feeling when you finish the first draft?

THE END

So much excitement as you type those two words.

It feels like this...




or maybe even like this...


But then the excitement wears off as you sit down to read what you just wrote. All those "I can tie this up later" moments that never happened. Now they have become "Ah ha!" moments. Or even "Oops" ones.

The work seems vast.

You roll up your sleeves and dive in. Again and again and again. By the fifth or sixth rewrite, you start to feel like that kitten on the turtle.

Doesn't this thing go any faster?

I think the more we rewrite, the more we refine our process and the quicker that little turtle moves. Or we realize we don't need the little turtle anymore.

As I dive back into Dark Forest again, I've been reading to get tips from others. To help refine my own process. Liz over at 8-Bit Words shared an AWESOME (sorry, no other poetic writery word for it) link and I want to be sure everyone sees it. I think it's very clever!

Revising by Color - and I'm not talking post-its like I usually do. This shows you how to do it on your computer with your MS. Amazing.

Nothing is ever a quick fix. This certainly won't be QUICK. But I think it can be thorough. I'm excited to try it!

What about you - any great revision tips? Are you riding that turtle?

Monday, December 20, 2010

Be Jolly By Golly Blogfest

Welcome to my blog, all you Jolly Blogfesters!











We didn't do a tree this year.

Who am I kidding? We haven't done a tree in three years because of the cats.

Next year we're getting a FAKE tree, though. How much trouble can they get into with a fake tree? Maybe I shouldn't put that out there.

In the meantime, I have to content myself with decorating the house (because The Hubster won't let me decorate the pets).

This is our entertainment center...







(click to enlarge for better effect)



This is my beautiful grandma. Grandma was such a great cook. She also made killer Christmas treats - not just cookies. My FAVE was her Buttercreams. I would stuff my face until I was sick. Not literally. My tummy ached and I would have to rest before eating more (a few hours later). The best part is - they're super easy to make!




GRANDMA'S BUTTERCREAMS
1lb confectioner's sugar
1/2 stick butter
1/4 c. cream (scant)
1 teaspoon vanilla
dash of salt

Line cookie sheets with wax paper.

Combine ingredients and knead until creamy. Roll into balls. Place on cookie sheets and chill in fridge until hard.

In saucepan, melt together:
1/2 lb bakers semi sweet chocolate
1 inch off a block of parafin

Dip balls into melted chocolate, returning to cookie sheets. Refrigerate until hard.


My FAVE drink this time of year is a Peppermint Mocha. I make them at home on rainy days (or evenings). Here is my version of Starbucks famous drink...

PEPPERMINT MOCHA
2 oz espresso
1 c. nonfat milk (you can use whatever you want)
1 spoonful (LARGE spoon so it's probably a Tablespoon) SugarFree Peppermint Syrup
2 scoops cocoa powder

I have an espresso machine - don't be jealous. I got it at Target for $24.99! Best purchase ever. So I make 2-4 oz. depending on whether I want a Tall or Grande. Then I steam the milk on the side (sometimes I heat in the micro if I'm lazy...okay, I heat it in the micro most of the time because I'm very lazy). Stir in the milk, Peppermint Syrup, cocoa powder of your choice and - viola! You have a Peppermint Mocha and have saved yourself $4.55. Now, you have to play around with this to get it to your specific tastes. My husband likes more cocoa, whole milk and regular Peppermint syrup.

You can add whip cream if you'd like!




I am wrapping for donations tomorrow (for my non-profit) from 9-6pm so I won't be home to blog hop until the late evening, but I promise to visit you all then!!

Thanks for stopping by and I wish you all a very Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Top Ten Thursday








Starbucks Peppermint Mochas, Christmas Decorations on every block, Wrapping Paper and Ribbons and Bows - oh my!
I am getting in a festive mood! When I wrap presents, I like to put on music.




Tonight as I was wrapping the presents that must go out in the mail tomorrow, here were the Top Ten Songs on my Playlist:


1) What Child Is This? - Harry Connick Jr.'s
2) Rudolph the Rednose Reindeer - Burl Ives
3) Hark the Herald Angels Sing - Amy Grant
4) O Holy Night - Celtic Woman
5) Do You Hear What I Hear - Whitney Houston
6) Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer (Don't judge me!)
7) Little Drummer Boy/Peace on Earth - Bing Crosby & David Bowie
8) You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch - Boris Karloff (I luv his deeeeeeep voice!)
9) Silent Night - Andy Williams
10) Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring - Celtic Woman
I'm not what anyone would call religious. Not in the least. I'm spiritual, certainly, but I can't tell you the last time I set foot in a church. Maybe my grandfather's funeral? Three years ago. Before that it - grandma's funeral and that was seven years before my grandpa died. I find it a bit amusing that there are so many songs that I would consider "religious" on my list! Go figure.
You can't go wrong with the following for Christmas music: Andy Williams, Bing Crosby, Celtic Woman and Amy Grant.







What about you - what are your favorite songs this time of year?

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Wednesday Wishes

This is Wednesday leaning out of her cat tree. She may look like just your average gray tabby cat, but she has many skills. Most of these skills, she uses for The Good. Okay, 'most' might be a slight exaggeration. Wednesday is a good little kitty, though, at heart. She loves her family, loves her sisters, loves annoying those sisters and she also loves to grant wishes. Every Wednesday morning, I will rub the side of the cat house and summon our magic cat!

My Wednesday Wishes for the week:

1) Magic Laptop - That's right. The internet isn't enough for me. I want a laptop that magically knows the links I need to research for my books AND I want it to organize them into files that are easy to find. Because it's SUCH a pain to keep up with and I lose soooo much time trying to find that darn link that I know I clicked as a favorite! That one I can never seem to find when I google it again because I'm forgetting a word or adding a word...Yeah, so magic laptop.

2) A personal trainer. Jillian would be nice. No, not really. She scares me. But I would really like one. I want someone to kick my tush daily. I love to workout. I mean, REALLY workout. I love hardcore sweaty workouts. But it's hard when your friends have moved away, you're trying to write books, you have a dog that needs two walks a day (and those aren't exercise because she sniffs more than walks), you have a business to run...so much gets in the way. I cut my workouts short. Or I skip them entirely. But a trainer seems like a luxury. After Christmas, I'll be diving in to my old workouts despite the time restraints. I need them to stay healthy. I need them to stay SANE. And there's no reason that I can't run through chapters or shiny new ideas while I'm working out, right?

3) A vegetable garden!
Wouldn't it be lovely to pull this from your own backyard?

I feel healthier just looking at it! One of my bestfriends started her own garden last year and has done quite well. We just don't have the room for it. Not if we want to allow Lily to have the run of the yard for her playdates. So maybe instead of a vegetable garden, I should wish for a magic yard - like the tents in Harry Potter! It will look like our normal sized yard, but once you step into it...rows and rows and rows of veggies and herbs growing, plus room for the dogs to run and frolic to their hearts content!

What about you? What are your wishes for Wednesday this week?

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Sick Days

WHO looks that good when they have the stomach flu??? WHO??? I found that picture and thought it was amusing. Next time, that's the look I'm going for.

I'm about to overshare, but not in a gross way. So...The Hubster, wonderful man that he is, decided to surprise me with a surprise birthday party (which is now being called a barfday party) on Saturday. GREAT IDEA! Super sweet. But then he needed my help with planning so there went the original surprise part. I was very impressed that no one said anything to me about it (points to all my friends!) and some even tried to pretend they knew nothing about it when I brought it up.

Anyway, I get home from wrapping and the house is decorated like this!
































How sweet! He did a great job...but...

Someone brought a BEAST into my house. Feeling that they couldn't miss the party, they came even though they weren't feeling well.

I got the call the next morning - stomach flu. MY WORST FEAR. Happy Birthday to ME! I sweated it out...and got it Sunday night. Oh, it was violent and painful and no fun!!!!

This is what I looked like in reality.




Only probably not even that good.





The best thing about being sick? When you're just starting to feel better. The storm has lifted. You know it's over. The major part anyway.

I had brand new pajamas from Leslie! Ooooh, how I loved those pajamas. I appreciate them even more now!

I got CANDLES from Mere and Mel - those candles were going to be my writing candles, but they ended up being my sick day candles. I have all kinds of ideas for my rewrite thanks to those lovely candles!!

Other favorites (not for my birthday, but from being sick):
Ice chips
Popsicles
Saltine Crackers
Cinnamon Toast
Rice with Butter
Tea


But the BEST present that I got was...




My photography will never win me any prizes. This was the best of the bunch.
Nutschell stood in line and got me an autographed copy of Torment! Lauren Kate was even nice enough to write "Happy Birthday"! How cool is that!?! Made my birthday!


I'm sorry I haven't felt up to visiting everyone's blogs! I promise to try over the course of the day today. For now, I'm crawling back into bed in my lovely new pajamas!

Friday, December 10, 2010

FUN Friday

HAPPY FRIDAY!!!


One of my all time favorites - Choppin' Broccoli!



Frank Caliendo - and his amazing impressions!




KID FUNNIES:

I had a 2nd grader say this:
"I have a friend and he can communicate with dolphins. He speaks their language and they understand him. He can translate for humans." He went on and on and on, then he finished with, "Actually, that friend is me."

How do you even react to that?


One of the great things about my job is that the kids remember me. I went back to a school this week that I had taught at two weeks ago. The third graders were at recess as I was walking across the playground. "Look! There's Ms. Jennifer!" I hear. Followed by about four girls saying my name over and over as they ran up to me. Remember, my accident with the hair dye? "Hi, Ms. Jenn...heeeeeeeeey, what happened to your hair?"

Picture a very suspicious face like I did it on purpose to trick her.



I'm gift wrapping this weekend for my non-profit! Here's to hoping people are generous with their donations so children can continue to teach me dolphin speak and make fun of my hair.



What about you? What are your plans this weekend?

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Wednesday Wishes

This is Wednesday leaning out of her cat tree. She may look like just your average gray tabby cat, but she has many skills. Most of these skills, she uses for The Good. Okay, 'most' might be a slight exaggeration. Wednesday is a good little kitty, though, at heart. She loves her family, loves her sisters, loves annoying those sisters and she also loves to grant wishes. Every Wednesday morning, I will rub the side of the cat house and summon our magic cat!

My Wednesday Wishes for the week:

1) Christmas Shopping DONE! Because it's not. I'm planning to knock most of it out on Thursday. I will only have The Hubster left to buy for and he's making it difficult this year. "Nothing" has been his patented answer for what he wants. I remembered two books he had mentioned a few weeks ago in the bookstore so I bought those. He's worn his t-shirts out so I got him those. I'll pick him up some running shorts, I think. And he needs sweatshirts. See, if you don't request things (like candles!), you get practical gifts. Not that candles aren't practical. But I'm anxious to WRAP so I want to get the shopping done. Christmas music and pine scented candles and peppermint hot chocolate and wrapping!

2) That last cat! I got the females. Most important ones out of the way. We have one male left. He's spent two weeks watching us catch the others and he's refusing anchovies and mackerel and KFC. Can I tell as someone who hasn't eaten meat since they were 13 that it is a true labor of love to touch that yucky stuff as I set the traps?!?! But it will be worth in the end. A full colony trapped, speutered and back out to live their lives without bringing any more in. The restaurant where the older gentleman is the caretaker hasn't had a single rat outside since a few weeks after the cats arrived. He feels there is a benefit to keeping them around.

3) Magic. I want the ability to be two places at once. Not only would it be nice to be at home asleep while I'm teaching in the mornings...or at home writing!...I really need to be in San Diego AND in Los Angeles on Sunday. My dad and stepmom are visiting from Seattle. They will be in San Diego. At the same time, Erik's family party with all his favorite cousins is taking place here in Los Angeles. He doesn't get to see them more than once a year so this party means a lot to him. So, you see, I need to be two places at once. Magic would really help that. If I could split myself.

What about you? What are your wishes for Wednesday?


Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Whatcha Readin'?


In the midst of NaNo, I forgot my love of books. I have spent the last few days burying myself. Oh the joys of opening pages and stepping into another world. But my pile is actually LOW.

Yes, I said it.

My To Be Read stack is no longer a stack.



I am down to a single book.













I have three more coming in the mail from Amazon.

Perilous by Tamara Hart Heiner














Matched by Ally Condie













CassaStar by Alex J. Cavanaugh (and don't get me started on how annoyed I am that this has taken SO LONG to get to me...still waiting)












So they will be cracked open as soon as they get here but my goal for the month is ten books and this will only put me halfway there.

Whatcha readin'?


I have a library trip planned for Wednesday and I need recommendations!

Give me a world I can step into, get lost in and not want to put the book down until I'm finished. Give me sleepless nights huddled under the covers with the flashlight so I don't keep The Hubster awake! Give me, give me, give me!

Monday, December 6, 2010

The Dilemma



I have a dilemma this week. Do I get with this? Or do I get with that?

Do I complete my NaNo novel, knowing that I will need to reoutline and change a few things already written in the 50,100 words? Or do I set it aside and go back into the forest with Eva? I was in the middle of rewriting Dark Forest when November knocked on the door.

I walked out of the forest and went underground while all hell broke loose in the world around me. It's dark down there. Claustrophobic. Uncertain. Not at all like the crisp, clean air in the forest, surrounded by green and the sound of the river rushing over fallen logs and smashing into large rocks.

(Cue music: in your head)

The choice is mine.

So do I get with this?










Or do I get with that?









Or do I get with this?









Or do I get with that?









I could go with this..











But this is kinda phat...









I think I'll go with this, 'cause this is where it's at.










Do Da Dippity.




What would you do?


I'm still undecided. At the moment, I'm enjoying catching up on some reading. I have at least six books to get through this month along with critiquing. I forgot how nice it is to curl up with a book on the couch while it rains. It can be just as lovely walking into that forest. Not so wonderful underground where the future is bleak, but not completely unpleasant because I still have so much hope for their future. Can I leave them stranded until next year?

I guess I'm asking for HELP. Or opinions anyway.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Flashback Friday

I got this idea a few months ago when Jennifer Hillier posted a story she'd written when she was twelve years old. I've decided to have Flashback Friday once a month now. I will include a picture from high school and one or two high school pieces I wrote.

Can you believe that I went to WinterBall with Harry Potter? That was actually a foreign exchange student from Denmark that I had my eye on the minute he showed up in my Economics class. Poor guy.


Yes, my hair is crimped. Yes, those bows are fabulously big. Yes, I looked FANTASTIC in the 80s.


I know that I have mentioned before how my writing choice in high school was mainly...gulp...poetry. Some of it was horribly teenage angtsy bad. Others not so bad and actually got published. My main way of expressing myself was through my writing. Almost everything became a short story or a poem. Mostly, poems.


I crammed as many activities into my four years as I could - some for the fun of it, but most for college admissions. Transcripts looked better with activities. Cheerleading, drill team, poetry club, math club, spanish club, drama club...there were so many others I don't even remember. Because of all the activities, I had to be good at multi-tasking. (On a side note: By 16, I had given myself an ulcer) If something stressed me out and I had to do an Ode for English class...that source of frustration (usually math) became a poem. I bring one such multi-tasking example.












ODE TO A HYPERBOLA
by Jennie Hayes

Oh,
stress and panic
you fill me with
as I pencil in,
erase,
refigure,
and graph.
We had to chart
focal points, too?
Oh,
diagonals
through your stomach,
arrows around your sides,
test tomorrow,
erase,
pencil in,
erase...
forget it!


As if I "forgot it"! I worked on it until it was done. Jennie not turn in her homework? GASP! The teacher would have fainted. When she/he came to, they would have declared a national emergency because there was NO WAY I didn't get my homework in (early, if I could!).


It's so much fun to look back. I don't know how I made it through those four years without having a heart attack. But I did. And you'll get a glimpse into them once a month or so...


What about you - do you have any delicious writing from your younger years??? Do you cringe when you read back on things? Do you laugh? Are you ever proud?



P.S. - Donea is having a FABULOUS NeToReMo this month. What is that? Well, hop on over (HERE) and find out! It's such a fun idea!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

There's No Place Like Home

Or no place like Mom's Home anyway.

I survived the dentist! Whew! Poor man. I'm really good in that chair as long as you don't give me shots that make my heart race. I sit still and don't make a sound. He's such a good dentist, which is why I drive all the way to San Diego just to see Dr. Fenn. Worth the drive. Plus, I get to see my mom.

AND this little guy...








Sigh. He's going to be writer, I think. Such a creative mind. We were taking him to his pre-school last night (his mom is the Assistant Director) when he said, "That's not my school."

"It's not?"

"No, it's a haunted house!"

"A haunted house?"

"Mmhmm. There's a MUMMY in there!"

"Oh no! I'm scared of mummies."

"You can stay in the car."

Well, I was brave enough to get out of the car but there was a lot of running around and hiding behind cars and bushes to avoid that Mummy. Then a GHOST appeared as we were opening the door. He pulled me out of the way just in time.

"Aunt Jen! The ghost almost got you!"

He watches waaaaay too much Scooby Doo, I think. But he has so much fun pretending. WE have so much fun pretending.

We pretend the couch is a train. We go to visit people we know and famous people we wish we knew. Sometimes I ride the train and he is the conductor.

We pretend the jungle gym is a pirate ship and we're pirates. The sand is water and there is an octopus waiting to eat us at the bottom. One of us gets snatched and the other has to fight valiantly to save the victim.

We pretend so many fun things. He's so good at it. So natural.

Trips to visit Mom are so much fun - even when there is a dental visit in charge and your hair ends up purple.


What about you - who do you love to visit?



Tomorrow, I'll be posting a flashback from my past - a poem I wrote when I was 16! I had a very productive time at Mom's digging out my high school poems and short stories. So much fun to relive those times!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Wednesday Wishes

This is Wednesday leaning out of her cat tree. She may look like just your average gray tabby cat, but she has many skills. Most of these skills, she uses for The Good. Okay, 'most' might be a slight exaggeration. Wednesday is a good little kitty, though, at heart. She loves her family, loves her sisters, loves annoying those sisters and she also loves to grant wishes. Every Wednesday morning, I will rub the side of the cat house and summon our magic cat!

My Wednesday Wishes for the week:


1) New hair color! On a whim last night (never a good thing), I purchased a bottle of Mahogony hair color. Then, I had my mother with her ever failing eyesight, put it on my head. Yes, yes, laugh all you want. The result is...embarrassing. And the worst part? Not only had my hairdresser refused to ever color me red again, I'm now going to be caught redhanded. Or purple handed because there is definitely a purplish tone to it. With CHUNKS of blonde all over because mom missed spots. I'm prepared to go in on Friday and make atonement to the Hair Gods. I deserve every ounce of ridicule I'm going to get for the two hours I am in that chair AND there is no way that I'm getting out without a hairstyle of HIS choice now. At least my mother got an evening of laughter out of this. Her stomach hurts she laughed so hard. Yuck it up.

2) Is it eleven am yet??? Dental appointment at 9am. I can't wait until 11am because it will be over (knock on wood), I'll be in Starbucks getting a coffee AND then I'll be in theater to watch Harry Potter. YAY me!

3) Another week to finish my NaNo novel. 50,000 words does not a novel make in my world. Not with this story. So, did I really finish NaNo? I got just over 50,000 but I still have probably another 15-20,000 to go. Does that count? Well, I'm moving forward. I have decided to EXTEND my NaNo. I'm not going back to rewrites on the first book until I have this one completely out of the birth canal!

What about you? What are your wishes for Wednesday this week?


Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Bucket List Blogfest Entry

1) Hike the PCT. What is the Pacific Crest Trail you ask? It stretches out over 2,650 miles from the Mexican to the Canadian border. It's a hard fought journey of 20 miles a day. But it's worth it, I hear. The hubster and I plan to do it before we die. Sooner, rather than later. Because you have to be able to WALK to do the trail. Here are journals: PCT journals. Just so you can get an idea of the punishment and the beauty we're in for. You have to take six months off from work.

2) Run a marathon. I hate to run. But I want to do this just to show myself that I can!

3) Pit Bull Rescue. I want my own. I'm in no position now with the non-profit I just started gathering steam, but I figure that's a good goal for my retirement years. Love the breed. I won't own any other. I put together a section for the website here. This is the organization I want to be like - BAD RAP. Donna Reynolds and Tim Racer are my heroes.

4) And speaking of heroes...I want to meet LaDanian Tomlinson before I die. More than meet him. I want to have dinner with him. NOT a date. I want to tell him what a wonderful human being he is, how many lives he has influenced and how honored I was to watch him play. How mad I was that he didn't get a SuperBowl ring in San Diego. Just stuff. He's a cool guy. Great man, running back, husband, father, mentor.

5) Get published. I want to see my book on a shelf.

6) Leave a legacy. I always said, "When my father dies, people will say Man, he made a lot of money. But when I die? People are going to say Man, she really made a difference." I may not know how many lives I have touched - human and animal, but I want to do it anyway. I want to leave this place a little bit better because I was here.
I expect to pass through this world but once. Any good, therefore, that I can do or any kindness I can show to any fellow creature, let me do it now. Let me not defer or neglect it for I shall not pass this way again.

7) Give my mom at least one grandchild. My mom. Sigh. She was a mom at 22. That meant my grandmother, her mother, was a grandma at 40. I threw a whole monkey wrench in her system, let me tell you. I was career girl. Television production. 60 hour weeks. No time for a marriage or a family. She wanted me to get married, then have kids. By the time I was 25 (and she 47), she was willing to get one any way she could. She became like that gambler in Vegas who starts out sure they're going to win big, but now they're down two grand and are so desperate they just want to break even.

I came home to this on my answering machine one night, "Hi Jen, it's Mom. (Big sigh. - now you see where I get it) I just got my latest People magazine. You know, Rosie O'Donnell just adopted a kid. Rosie's single. They're letting single women adopt. You could do that."
It used to be she wanted biological grandkids. Then she decided she'd take them any way she could them. Besides, our genes aren't THAT great that we need to be passing them on. It didn't help that she worked at the high school I graduated from. In the records office. That means everyone came back to see when they needed transcripts. And I got to hear about it.

"So and so was in today. You know, they have FIVE kids now. FIVE. I'd be happy with ONE."
"So adopt one."
"Noooo. I meant ONE grandchild."
"Have you talked to Drew?" (my younger brother)
"Oh, like that's ever happening!"

Drew gave her a grandson four and a half years ago.

"But I want one from you and Erik," she whines now.

Before Drew had Dillon (well, his wife because obviously my brother didn't birth the boy), my grandfather died and left my mother a sizeable inheritance. She had a family meeting and offered $10,000 to the couple who gave her a grandchild first.
I'm ashamed to admit we did get hung up in the race for a few months. It's not like we didn't want one. But we weren't married yet. C.R.A.Z.Y.

So we waited too long and three years later it's just not going to happen. We'll be adopting because I do so want to be a mother. And she is a wonderful grandmother. She deserves more. Many more.


That's my Bucket List at the moment. Or the parts that I'm oversharing with you in an attempt to make you laugh.

What's on YOUR Bucket List? Pop on over to Liz's blog and hop around to read the others!




P.S. - Abby has finished her first novel! And in celebration, she's having a fantastic giveaway! Hop on over here to enter.

AND

Colene is having a contest that ends on December 2nd HERE.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Monday NaNo Musing

I am sprinting towards the finish line, cold and all. I'm only at 45,000 words. Will I make it? I don't know. It's okay if I don't. This is my second cold and I broke a tooth last week. Fun times. Through it all, I've tried to stay on track and keep plugging away. Here is what I do know:

Even if I reach 50,000, my book is not finished. There is still too much that is unfolding to wrap it up in the next 5,000 words!


Once I'm done, this is going to need a massive makeover.


I can both pants and plot...the same piece of work.


If you follow the writing, it takes you crazy places! I've been shocked at things that have happened and characters I wasn't expecting to show up!


You can do NaNo and still have a life if you manage your time well. Yes, I work part time but I did not miss out on a dinner out with friends or family this month. I didn't skip a hike that I felt well enough to do. Laundry still got done twice a week. Grocery store still happened. I made dinner from scratch four to five nights a week. My house might actually be cleaner than it was pre-NaNo (amazing what trying to think things through can do for your house!).


NaNo has been fun - precisely because I refused to stress out or take it too seriously. I got my family time in. I did a massive cleaning of the house on Friday (even though I was sick, maybe why I'm more sick) and still wrote 2,000+ words!


I won't be able to upload my 50,000 words by the deadline because I will be in San Diego getting ready for some dental fun. But I will certainly post it here (the number count) whether I reach that number or not. I have some fun visits planned for Tuesday, but that doesn't mean that I can't fit in at least three hours of writing that evening.


NaNo has shown me that I wasn't making the most of my writing time before November. So I will go into December knowing that I can be more productive if I simply manage my time better! And I'm so looking forward to blog hopping and Christmas decorating this next month!


How about you - how is NaNo going? If you didn't NaNo, how is your writing going? Do you have Christmas decorations up yet?


P.S. - Liz is doing a FUN Blogfest - Bucket List!! So pop on over here and join in!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving NaNo Interview

HAPPY THANKSGIVING EVERYONE!

I hope your day is full of family, friends and FUN!

I bring you my interview with Liz at 8 Bit Words. Liz started NaNo, but had to drop out. You can read her post here explaining why.

I felt it was important to include an interview with someone who started the journey but didn't finish on time for several reasons. The most important reason - I think as writers, we can be extremely hard on ourselves. We are our worst critics and we all have that awful voice that tries to fill us with doubt. People need to know that it's okay not to finish. We all have those moments where life gets in the way.

Without more of my rambling, here is my interview with the Lovely Liz:


Is this your first NaNo?
Nope! This will be my 3rd NaNo. Can't stay away!

How did you prepare?
Once I got the idea, I rounded up some characters and planned it out from beginning to end. This way, I'd have a clear picture of the beginning, middle, and end, and everything in-between.

Do you have an outline or are you flying by the seat of your pants?
I learned from past NaNo's that I am simply not a pantser! This year, I prepared an outline to prevent those "oh crap, what do I write next?" moments. Time is at a premium this month, so the outline will be a big help.

Can you give us a brief synop of your story idea?
A noblewoman and the man she loves struggles at the hands of a fallen angel bent on destroying humankind.

How soon before NaNo did you get your idea?
About 10 months ago. Since I was busy revising another novel, I shelved it for NaNo. Fortunately, the idea is still pretty "fresh" and I'm looking forward to writing the story!

Where is the strangest place you've found yourself writing?
Hrm, maybe not strange, but different. I wrote part of my 2009 NaNo in a hotel in G├Âteborg, Sweden while on a business trip. Despite my jet-lagged state, I managed to get a lot done during the evenings! (How COOL is that!?!)

What has been the snack that has fueled your writing most?
Oreos are my favorite snack. I also enjoy crunching on RiceWorks Sweet Chili Brown Rice Crisps. (I'm actually making The Hubster stop at Ralphs so that I can pick these up on our way to the in-laws tomorrow. They sound so yummy and just what I need to finish!)

Are you pulling out hair or biting your fingernails?
I'm a lifelong nail biter, so I can promise those nails will stay short this month!

Any new habits you've developed as a result of NaNo?
Maybe not a habit, but my first NaNo really taught me how to shut off my internal editor when I need to focus on "just writing". I also track my daily word counts throughout the year to measure and monitor my writing activity.

What is your word count?
I stopped at 25,883, just beyond the halfway point.

Any parting words of wisdom, encouragement or insane babbling?
Write, don't look back, and have fun! Oh, and backup your work!

What will you give yourself for finishing?
A marathon game of Civilization V!


I hope you enjoyed the interview as much as I did!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Wednesday Wishes

This is Wednesday leaning out of her cat tree. She may look like just your average gray tabby cat, but she has many skills. Most of these skills, she uses for The Good. Okay, 'most' might be a slight exaggeration. Wednesday is a good little kitty, though, at heart. She loves her family, loves her sisters, loves annoying those sisters and she also loves to grant wishes. Every Wednesday morning, I will rub the side of the cat house and summon our magic cat!

My Wednesday Wishes for the week:

1) Someone else's TEETH! I broke another tooth today. No big deal except that the dentist is my worst fear. So I spent an hour crying. Yep. At my age. How pathetic! But I hate the way the shots make my heart race. My pulse shot up to 200 last time. That was WITH an anti-anxiety on board. The rest of the visit is no big deal. I don't mind the pain. In fact, if they would just do it without giving me anything? No fear. I'm fine in the chair. I don't mind the sound of the drill. I just don't like the feeling I get from those shots. So I'm shuffling my schedule around next week so I can go to San Diego to get this tooth fixed. My reward to myself? HARRY (yes, again! so what?)! And a visit with a close friend's mom who haven't seen in far too long.


2) A week away. This may become permanent on my list, but I'll switch it up every week! Somewhere with a cabin! Can we make it a place where the mountains meet the ocean? With Lily and the hubster. Throw in a chef that makes yummy vegan healthy food (and desserts!). That would really recharge my battery! A week of hiking every day! Beach walks in the morning and at night!


3) Christmas Music and Christmas Trees and Wrapping Paper, oh my! I have nothing to wrap yet. No tree to decorate. But I'm already in the spirit! I'm trying to find a weekend night for my Wrapping Party - everyone brings gifts, two rolls (minimum) of wrapping paper, bows, ribbons, etc. and we wrap to Christmas music while drinking Hot Chocolate (or a Hot Toddy!) and laughing. It's fun to use each other's wrapping paper! But I'm sad because it may not happen this year due to scheduling. We'll see. Is it too early to decorate for Christmas on Friday?


What about you? What are your wishes for Wednesday this week?

Monday, November 22, 2010

Monday NaNo Interview

Today I am interviewing the lovely Lola from Sharp Pen/Dull Sword. For those of you who aren't familiar with Lola (I'll be shocked if you all aren't), she is cake and shoes and hot pictures and oh my! As you can see, she's one of the blogs I follow and I check in whenever she has a new post up because I know it will be full of the following: inspiration and fairy dust. With a bunch of other stuff thrown in.

Let the interviewing commence...



Is this your first NaNo?
Nope. I did it officially last year and 'won'. It was a blast.

How did you prepare?
I am not a plotter at all. Last year it was the evening of Nov. 1st when I finally sat down with my laptop. I had NO CLUE what I was going to write. Not even a 'feeling'. Zip. But when I sat down with my laptop a female character came to me and away we went. This year isn't looking to be much different. I've been focused on revisions on another project and haven't had much (any) time to think about Nano. But, yesterday, while in the shower, a seed of an idea I've had niggling for months began to sprout. I haven't written anything down (I'm still trying to focus on those revisions). It's just the smallest bit of a sprout, the smallest sign of life peeking out of the seed. That's more than I had last year, and it's not even Nov. 1st. Score! I do make other preparations the days leading into Nano: a big grocery shop, letting friends and family know I'm going to be sequestered for the month of Nov., and a major preemptive cleaning of the house.

How did your family prepare?
My husband and daughter know how I work, and they've been through Nano with me before. They are good about shoving food, quietly, under my cave door and fending for themselves. I make a point to come out of my cave and give them my full attention once in a while. (note: my daughter is in high school now, so this is easier. But, strangely, she does still want me. And Husband wants me too. They are very supportive, but when I sense they want/need me, I come out and spend quality time with them.)

Did you pants or plot?
I'm definitely winging it.


What is the oddest place you've found yourself writing so far?

Well my MacBook is happy to let me play with it anywhere. I write out by the pool frequently in the summertime. I've written entire scenes on the backs of receipts on the side of highways before, because way too often I have writing breakthroughs while driving. I once got out of the shower with shampoo still in my hair and wrote on the side of a tissue box a solution to a plot problem. I've written many chapters in a (paper) notebook while soaking in a bathtub...many times. But my favorite place to write (in the winter) is in my bed. I don't know why, but writing late at night while under the comforter puts me in a zone.

What has been your can't-write-for-NaNo-without-it snack?
I snack all the time, year round. I'm a snacker. Lately it has been 2-alarm Doritos and Halloween candy (Reese's).

Are you consuming mass quantities of the following: coffee, tea, soda or energy drinks?
Coffee. Always. With cream and sugar. Keep it coming.

How many hours of sleep are you averaging a night?
I normally average around 5 hours/night year round. That remains my average during Nano.
(Um, WOW! I wish I could go on that little sleep and still be functional - how much does she ROCK!?!)

What is your word count?
I make it my goal to write a minimum of 2,000/day 5 days/week on all my first drafts, but for Nano I do that number 6 days/week. I try to do more than 2,000 when I can, especially early in the month, to 'bank' extra word count for any emergencies that may pop up. (Her current word count is 51,021!).

When you finish, what is your reward?
Husband always buys me good champagne, takes me to dinner, and buys me little goodies. He's the best. But I usually reward myself when I finish any major writing goal with a trip to the book store and buying an armload of yummy books while sucking down a caramel frappe.

Any parting words of wisdom, encouragement or insane babbling?
Have fun! Because it IS fun. I hope you attend some of the meet-ups in your area and make some new local writing friends.
And really, if you are planning on being a career writer, putting out a book a year-ish, you need to get used to writing 2,000 words/ day 5 days/week , so this is a good exercise on writing daily.


So there you have it, my friends! We will have another interview on Thursday with Liz at 8-Bit Words. That will conclude our NaNo interviews!

How is everyone's writing coming - NaNo and non-NaNo? Did you have a great weekend??

NaNo Word Count (me): 36,012

Feral cats trapped count: 4 out of 6 (and only because I ran out of traps!)

I'd say a very productive weekend culminating in a very productive Sunday night!







Friday, November 19, 2010

FUN Friday

HAPPY FRIDAY!!

Or should I say...HAPPY DEATHLY HALLOWS PART ONE DAY!!


This is my friend Jess' 4 year old, Eli. How cute is he? Talented too. He LOVES to beatbox. Both mom and dad are musicians so it's in his blood.


And another version (notice the BIG breath he takes before he starts):


How FUN is that!?! Love him so much. So does Lily. Here's a pic of the two of them when they were both a bit younger.














The Hubster is taking me out to dinner and we have reserved seating for a 7pm showing of Deathly Hallows! He's so NOT into these movies and has never read the books, but he takes me anyway because he loves to see the joy I get out of it. This year, I promised NOT to dress up. First year. I figure it's the least I can do since it's just the two of us.



So no spoilers, my friends!! Simply tell me how much you LOVED it (and if you didn't, LIE TO ME and say that you did).

Any big plans for the weekend? Another viewing of Deathly Hallows on hand?

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Thursday Award

This is what I feel like at the moment. I've had a really busy day and only got 1,000 words written. My head is pounding. My back aches from dragging presentation materials up and down stairs today, then carrying large cat traps from a clinic to my car (four trips). My bed calls my name. I can hear it.

So...1,000 words short of my goal today. You know what? Too bad. Not beating myself up over it. Okay, I already did. DONE beating myself up over it. I can make it up. I WILL make it up. I teach tomorrow, but Lily has a playdate in the evening which means she will resemble the above picture and give me plenty of writing time. I will hit my word goal tomorrow PLUS an extra 250. That extra 250 over the next four days will catch me up!

On to FUN things like...An AWARD!


Thanks to Abby for this. I am passing it along to:









Nutschell at The Writing Nut - If you haven't seen her blog yet, you must check it out. Fun AND informative. You can't beat that. What does she blog about? What doesn't she blog about?
Signings (sometimes she includes videos of the authors offering advice!)
Books to improve our craft
Retreats (GREAT, detailed coverage)
Martial Arts Training (The girl doesn't just write about a characters who can defend themselves, she LIVES it!)

Her pictures are always FABULOUS.

She's doing Harry Potter week - interviews, trailers, her recent trip to The Wizarding World!

She's absolutely amazing and her blog is irresistible! Check it out!

IT'S ALMOST FRIDAY PEOPLE!!!

Who has their tickets?

Who is going TONIGHT??

Who has NO IDEA what I'm talking about??

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Wednesday Wishes

NaNo Word Count: 28,019!

This is Wednesday leaning out of her cat tree. She may look like just your average gray tabby cat, but she has many skills. Most of these skills, she uses for The Good. Okay, 'most' might be a slight exaggeration. Wednesday is a good little kitty, though, at heart. She loves her family, loves her sisters, loves annoying those sisters and she also loves to grant wishes. Every Wednesday morning, I will rub the side of the cat house and summon our magic cat!


My Wednesday Wishes for the week:

1) No more nausea. You know that throwing up is my biggest fear. I've been burning the candle at both ends for the past week. I have a delicate stomach. I'm not real susceptible to the stomach flu (knock on wood). BUT I get sick to my tummy if I don't get enough sleep (five days in a row on six hours sleep or less), if I don't eat right (two REAL brownies today), if I have a migraine (gone now, but had one that woke me up 2am this morning)...if the wind blows, if the sky is blue, if the sky is cloudy, if it's Monday/Tuesday/Wednesday/Thursday/Friday...you get the point. The problem? Because this is my biggest fear, I've had panic attacks all day today at the slightest hint of nausea. Good times. So I'm asking for it to GO AWAY!


2) Friday to get here FASTER!!! We have tickets for the 7pm
showing of Harry Potter and I can HARDLY WAIT!!

GET HERE! GET HERE! GET HERE!


3) A house elf to clean up the aftermath of 4 hours and 2 bullies.

That's just the house. The yard is even worse. They went through EVERY toy in the toy chest. Four hours of tug and shredding. They even managed to find a few toys in the yard that I thought had died a looooong time ago. Apparently, Lily has gotten good at hiding them behind bushes! It looks like it snowed in the yard.




It's already cleaned up. But a house elf would have been nice. They clean up yards too, right?

I apologize for not being as attentive as I usually am! This week I am really struggling to get my word count out. Tired brain = longer than normal writing time. I promise to visit blogs next week when I have an entire week off! I'll make up for it. I love you even if I'm not commenting!!

What about YOU - what are your Wednesday Wishes for this week?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

What's On YOUR Browser

I'm in the thick of NaNo. Well over 20,000 words in. Almost halfway there. I jumped in with my idea and a short outline. Nothing indepth as I've found in the past that I waste time with an indepth outline that changes and changes and changes again before I'm done. Once I start writing, the story can take me in an entirely different direction and I have to scrap the original outline. Surprisingly, this has kept me pretty close to the original outline.



In looking for a quick recipe I had googled weeks ago, I found the following in my browser:

HOW TO GET OVER RAZOR WIRE

IMPORTANT SKILL SETS FOR REBUILDING SOCIETY

HORTICULTURE

WHAT TO DO IF SOMEONE FAINTS

ESSENTIALS FOR SURVIVAL

SPRINKLES CUPCAKES

I love watching true crime stories and I'm always fascinated by the stories where spouses have Googled the way they kill their other half. I mean, seriously? In this day and age, who doesn't know they have access to your computer and internet search engine? If I'm on that jury and you have Googled "Ways to kill someone and make it look suicide using drugs" and your wife died of a drug overdose when she wasn't depressed? You are so going down, buddy (and apologies to my two public defender besties who are probably spitting their morning coffee at their screen right now).

I wonder what someone would think with those searches? I'm starting my own cult after I break out of prison? But I'm stopping for Sprinkles Cupcakes first. Their cupcake mix is essential for survival.

What about you - what are some of the funny things you have searched?