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Showing posts from October, 2008

Three Items of Importance

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First, I'm not a huge Halloweener, but here's my effort at being festive for you:




This is the costume my youngest wore a couple of years ago and the one I'm most proud of making (even counting the elaborate lion I slaved over and spent way too much on when #1 was two).

That year, her brother was Obi Wan and one of her older sisters was Princess Lea. So Hubby thought it'd be awesome to carry on the Star Wars theme and make her Yoda. She was too young to have much say in the matter, so we went ahead with it, and she was the neighborhood hit.

(Props to #3, who refused to be a Star Wars lemming and insisted instead on being Cinderella.)

Second, Notice the link at the top right? It'll soon be replaced with a fancy schmancy button, which will be up for the entire month of November.

Starting tomorrow, November 1,gothere often to bid on some rockin' awesome items, from jewelry to chocolate to Twilight shirts to autographed books to professional edits (including one by yours…

Your Wish . . . Sort of

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A couple of people asked for a picture of The Purple Tent. I seriously don't remember ever seeing a picture taken from that Halloween. I wonder if I screamed and ran from the camera or something.

But here's one from the previous year (or the one before that . . . I'm not sure I'm remembering the dates), when all three of us sisters were gypsies:



I'm in the middle with the red head scarf.

Dontcha LOVE the 70s era curtains behind us, out-done only by the shag carpet? Aw . . . look at my cute baby-fat cheeks. Wait. I STILL have the same cheeks. Baby fat isn't so cute when you're entering your mid-thirties, darn it.

Hope my sisters don't mind me posting that. Freaky thing is that they almost look like themselves still, especially Mel (left).

Of all my siblings (there's one more; my big brother isn't pictured. I think this was his year as a blue Incredible Hulk), I'm the one who's changed the most since childhood, to the point that my husband can&…

Halloween as a Purple Tent

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Somewhere around third grade, I had dreams of the perfect Halloween costume. I wanted to be a magical fairy princess, you know, the kind that flits around like a glowing orb on her gauzy wings and bestows wishes?

Something elegant, mystical, and beautiful. Something like this:


When explaining what I wanted, I made the mistake of telling my mother, seamstress extraordinaire, that I wanted to be a fairy godmother.

My bad. My really, really bad.

Mom took me at my word. She sewed up a costume that looked remarkably like this:



Yep. That year I wore a giant purple tent with a hood. I don't recall having a maroon bow or two colors of purple, though. Just the lavender tent.

It was totally my fault, because I didn't explain it well enough, and all Mom had to go by was the only fairy godmother she'd ever seen. And by golly, I did look like Disney's overweight matron. All I needed to round out the image was an extra fifty pounds, white hair, and dentures.

Mom was thrilled with …

An Answer: Word Nerd Rears Her Head

It's been weeks since MelanieJ asked a linguistic question involving the letter Q. In typical word nerd fashion, I dug around and answered it. Because I have a compulsion like that.

In the comments, I volunteered to explain why Brits insist on pronouncing "lieutenant" as if there's an "f" in the middle ("luff-tenant"). A couple of commenters expressed interest. Whether they were just being nice, I'll never know.

But for all three people out there who enjoy these things, here we go. Keep in mind that I'm not a linguist or an expert on these things. This is just what I've pieced together from my time in college and doing minor research on my own. So take it for what it's worth:

Many, many years ago (in the ages of Old and/or Middle English), the letters F and V were pretty much interchangeable and pronounced the same.

So fox could be (and often was) spelled vox.

Remember, this is before the printing press, public education, and other thin…

The Importance of Beta Readers

Last night I got through the last of three edits of my next manuscript. (Yay! And there will be chocolate celebrations in the land!)

All three edits were done by ladies in my critique group, women I've known for many, many years. All are published. Two are Whitney Award winners (here and here), and the other has won many awards of her own, including a Best of State medal for her teaching.

Qualified readers, no?

Absolutely. They're all excellent. So why did I bother getting all THREE of them to read the book? Because the more eyes, the better. I've known that for a long time, but this round, the truth of that was even more apparent.

For example, on the most basic level: typos.

Most typos in this manuscript were things that spell check wouldn't catch (like "an" when I meant "a").

I fixed a bunch in edit #1. Going through the second edit, I was surprised at how many new typo corrections it had. And I went through #3, and the same thing happened: she caught a…

Rescuing My Ghost-Girl

The dreams returned every few months, several times each year. Without fail.

For twenty-one years.

I dreamt of the different bedrooms I called my own. Of the living room's red velvet chairs I huddled in as I read books.

Of the kitchen counter, where I ate breakfast each morning, looking out the front window through the pine trees at people passing on foot or bicycle.

Of the family room downstairs where I spent hours watching recorded episodes of The Cosby Show because it was in English . . . and therefore a link to home.

The same room where I first cried hearing “The Star-Spangled Banner” during the opening ceremony of the summer Olympics in L.A. From the ages of ten to thirteen, this was the house I lived in across the ocean, on another continent, in Helsinki.

Sometimes in the dreams I was returning to the house. In others, I still lived there. Often the house appeared different, and I discovered passageways or rooms I never knew about. Or the floor plan had changed. Or the whole place…

Now I Get It

At dinner, after Mom diffuses argument #2,081 of the day, she says:

"Why can't you guys just get along?!"

To which #2 replies with a matter-of-fact tone, emphasizing each syllable:

"Be-cause. We're sib-lings."

Oh, of course. Mystery solved. Duh.

A Good Book . . .

Reading preferences are so strange. Even among avid readers and writers, the same book can evoke totally different reactions. Sometimes one person will enjoy a book and another person will hate it.

I've also seen a lot of times lately where one person will think a book is absolutely horribly written and another person thinks it's the cat's meow. Those aren't the same thing: I can dislike a book while admitting that it's well done but just not my cup of tea. Yet it's odd how often people can disagree on even whether something is well-crafted, aside from whether they liked it.

Who's right?

Not long ago, a good friend of mine despised two books I really enjoyed (one of which I loved and read in one sitting, which is very rare for me).

Another friend said that an author I enjoy is too much like Jane Austen . . . like that's a bad thing.

And yet another friend recommended a book that nearly seared my eyeballs it was so bad. I couldn't finish it.

At the core, I…

Reason #8,972 I Love Him

I've spent the last week trying to get caught up with life (still not quite there since our Finland trip), and I was trying real hard to get an edit job done before my kids' school break so we could play. (Up for today: a "reading party." I'm good at tricking the kids into loving something good for them.)

Crazy busy-ness. Hence, a lack of blogging this week. I have several posts in mind that I plan to do soon, but today something happened truly blog-worthy.

See, one thing that happens when I travel (all what, three times I've done it . . . we're not exactly world travelers . . . or even continental U.S. travelers . . .) is a huge release of creative juices. Generally if we're traveling, if I've brought along my Neo to type on, I never actually get any writing done, because I'm too busy sight seeing (or sleeping off jet lag, or talking with family, or eating, or whatever). This time I just left it home.

But as usual, going somewhere new, with fres…

I Heart Finland

It's all done!

For anyone interested in checking out the trip I took to Finland last month with my husband, click here to see my blog devoted entirely to our trip.

If you're more interested in seeing locations from At the Water's Edge than in reading all twenty-some-odd posts, the ones having to do with that book are tagged. Just click on the label in the sidebar, and they'll all pop up.

Now I'm homesick again for Finland. I have a little Finnish chocolate left. Excuse me while I indulge . . .

A Life of Almost

This week there's been a lot of talk on the LDStorymakers e-mail list about teachers, English ones in particular, who beat down students' morale—students who have gone on to fight back and become published.

Several writers shared similar stories, some so dreadful I wanted to hunt down those evil teachers.

Other writers had the flip of the equation: a teacher who believed in them whole-heartedly and encouraged their writing genius, which led them to believe in themselves and try to live up to their mentor's belief in them.

It seems that both sides (major discouragement and major encouragement) can light a fire under a student to do well.

My journey has been a bit different. I didn't really have either side of that coin.

First off (for which I'm grateful), I never had an English teacher tell me I was terrible or anything like that. I always managed to be in the advanced English classes, where students took the subject pretty seriously and the teacher expected higher quali…

Help the Techno-Idiot

We got a cat a few months ago. That's another story in and of itself. (It's white with "flame tipped" markings, meaning it's got orange ears and a striped tail. Way cute. Sorta matches my redheads.)

Anyhoo, this morning as I was scrolling through my Google Reader (HOW did I read blogs before I got one of those things?!!!), she walked off my lap and onto the keyboard. Her feline paws pushed . . . something.

Then the highlighted post in my reader popped up, expanding to this really big font size. When I scrolled to the next one, I got this jump/pop where the old one went back to normal size, and the next one expanded to the giant font for someone seriously near-sighted. Happened every time I went to a new post. The jump/pop was blinding. (For someone prone to migraines, this kind of visual stimulus is unpleasant.)

And I couldn't figure out what the heck the cat did to make that happen or how to turn it off.

It was driving me crazy, people. Kitty couldn't have h…

One Chore I'm Good at

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I'm the first to admit that my house isn't as clean and tidy as it could (okay, should) be. I do work at it, although I also think that my kids need to be taught to do their share (one of many reasons I don't do Fly Lady—I may end up with a squeaky-clean house, but the kids won't be the ones cleaning the toilets. That's not okay with me).

Like most human beings, I dislike many areas of housework. But I've been surprised at how many times I've run into bloggers recently who say they abhor the one chore I don't really mind doing: laundry.

Really. I don't mind. It's rare that my laundry becomes a mountain of doom. It's one chore that almost takes care of itself. You load it and walk away. Sure, there's the folding afterward, but that's minor (and it doesn't involve crumbs or germs or dirt).

So it occurred to me that maybe my method of doing laundry is different, especially after I did that meme where I showed a picture of my laundry ro…

Resistance is Futile

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I'm in the process of putting together a whole blog about our trip to Finland (it's almost ready!).

When it's done, I'll post the URL here for those wanting to check out part or all of it. I'm even labeling the posts where I visited locations that appear in At the Water's Edge, for all three people out there who remember it's existence. :)

Be forewarned, this trip was a huge thing for me, so on the blog, I'm verbose, and we took LOTS of pictures.

In the meantime, here are two photos taken while browsing a bookstore in the heart of Helsinki. I almost didn't believe my eyes.

YOU CAN'T ESCAPE IT, PEOPLE! IT'S EVERYWHERE!!!


Yes, those are what you think they are. Translated into Finnish. I wasn't sure whether to laugh, cry, or retch. Are you kidding me? The madness has gone that far?But according to Katri, a good friend of mine over there, in Finland it's really only teens reading the series rather than grown women lunatics who pine after Edw…