Sunday, October 30, 2005

Bob and Wendy

Hubby and I went to a Halloween party on Friday night as Bob the Builder and Wendy. That wig itched so bad, but at least the costume was easy to put together. I made dh's sweatshirt by dying a white sweatshirt yellow then painting the squares on with fabric paint. DH usually wears a beard and mustache but shaved them off for this event (plus the fact the beard is turning more and more gray).

We had fun at the party although we were only there for a couple of hours. The wig drove me crazy and we didn't know many people there. Food was good and drinks were free and children were not invited. How bad could it be?

Friday, October 28, 2005

Oh Happy Day

Whatever I pay for HBO is worth it.  I heard today that Alan Ball, the brains and creative force behind “Six Feet Under” will be producing and directing a new vampire series for HBO based on Charlaine Harris’ Southern Vampire novels featuring Sookie Stackhouse.  I am so beyond excited.  Here’s the link for the story: Variety.com - Ball back in HBO's court

Haunted Tales

Happy Halloween!  Okay, so it’s a couple of days early, but this is special.  My friends Melissa and Becky have contributed a couple of haunting stories for a short story site I created for Halloween.  Haunted Tales has some terrific stories and as a added treat, a book giveaway so please check it out.  

Thursday, October 27, 2005

How I Torture Myself

…well besides having three kids.

I love going to Amazon and looking up my favorite authors.  It isn’t so bad when their new book isn’t out on the list yet, but the true pain is when their titles are posted along with their publication date.  The torture becomes worse when the cover is finally posted with a blurb here and there.  Then the author posts the first chapter.  Its like bamboo shoots under my fingernails.  

I have very few authors I feel this way about, so the torture is that much more acute.  Am I the only one that does this?

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Crazy for Pumpkin

I love pomegranates.  I love a cup of warm, spiced cider on a chilly Fall day.  I adore the heavy comfort foods associated with cold nights.  I love the colors of the leaves.  I love sweaters and fuzzy slippers.  Autumn is definitely my favorite season.  But my favorite thing about this time of year is pumpkin.

I’m crazy for pumpkin.

I love pumpkin pie, pumpkin cheesecake, pumpkin muffins, pumpkin cake, pumpkin ice cream, pumpkin milkshakes, pumpkin bagels, pumpkin coffee and pumpkin ale.  I’ve loved pumpkin since I was a little kid and my love for it seems to increase.  

Does anyone else love pumpkin?  Hate pumpkin?  Have another Fall food obsession?  Have a good recipe for something made out of pumpkin?

Teaser….

Look out on Friday.  I have a Halloween treat coming up including a book giveaway.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Monday, Monday

Some days I’m just glad it’s Monday.  We had one of those non-stop weekends and I am exhausted.  I did manage to post to Age of Enlightenment with some info about gothics and their history.  That was the extent of stuff I did with writing.

My daughter had her soccer game and she was a stud.  She scored 2 goals within the first two minutes with the potential to really burst out and run over the other team.  She got pulled to defense and out of the game for most of the rest of the time.  What was really cute, however, was our team’s attitude.  We were truly the dominant team, bigger, stronger girls and we could have run over the other team.  As it was, we scored 5 goals.  Our girls were so concerned that the other team wasn’t going to score that they wouldn’t defend the goal and in the end ended up passing the ball to the opposite team so they could score.  I was very proud of them for their sportsmanship and the way they played.  For kids this age, soccer should be fun.

After the game, we went to the Village Venture.  My town’s quaint downtown area turns into a humongous street fair one day a year.  This is really nice stuff, lots of art and beautiful (expensive) crafts.  There must be about 800 booths.  I think if you live in my town and don’t go, they send the Rotarians out with cattle prods to herd you down there.  Anyway, dh bought me a really cute apron and one for each of the girls.  Mine says “Queen of Everything.”  Glad the hubby understands my place in the world.  I also bought a few cd’s from this guy.  I bought a few last year and fell in love with them.  Very good writing music.  We also ate our weight in junk food.  One booth sold almonds roasted with cinnamon, sugar and vanilla.  Yum….  We were down there most of the afternoon.

But that wasn’t enough.  We took the kids and their friend to Legoland.  It was so busy with lots of little kids in Halloween costume.  The kids had fun although Allison was a demon.  She’s at the age where she wants to ride the rides but is half an inch to short.  As soon as she would get out of her stroller, she’d take off.  I was exhausted by the end of the day.  I was never so glad to take my kids too school this morning.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Back in the Saddle Again

My histrionics were for naught, I started writing again yesterday.  I actually got four pages done: one on a Halloween short story and three on a new WIP.  The page for my short story isn’t very good, but that’s okay, at least I did something.  The three pages on my WIP are pretty good, very emotional.

I’m borrowing heavily from the WIP’s I’ve discarded, proving once again there is value in all writing we do.  I had one of those moments Kacey talked about the other day.  One moment I had nothing, the next, three stories burst through my head.  It didn’t feel like an epiphany or anything, more like the same old thing.  

I feel better about writing this time around, less insecure, more confident that I can write quality, that I can produce the type of book I can be proud of     Maybe I just needed a break.  Who knows?  

I do know I feel much clearer with my characters.  The last couple of books I’ve started, I couldn’t answer the “Why?” question.  Like an annoying two year old, I constantly ask my characters why they are doing something.  If I don’t get a satisfactory answer, I know I have a problem.  Also, I didn’t feel the passion.  My characters would reach a point far too early where they became comfortable with one another.  Not good.  

The book I want to write is one where the characters are swept away by grand emotions, forced to make decisions with difficult consequences.  I want the HEA to be hard won and that much more satisfying.  

I feel like heroes and heroines are becoming too nice.  I haven’t read too many books where the characters do much in the way of soul-searching, where they have to make some kind of life-changing decision about themselves in order to love and be loved.  

“Bodice Rippers” from the 1980’s have been so maligned.  But they were filled to the brim with passion.  I can still remember the names of Woodiwiss’ early heroes and heroines despite the fact I haven’t read any of those books in 20 years.  But heck if I can name the hero and heroine from a book I read two weeks ago.  Yes, these old books were unrealistic, inaccurate, un-pc and in many instances, down right silly.  But the writers still managed to pull us into their story, exhausting us with the wild passion of their characters.

That’s the kind of book I want to write.  I’d even like to have Fabio on the cover if it were possible.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Chicken Pot Pie

Melissa loves chicken pot pie.  It really is a wonderful comfort food, particularly in chilly weather and can be very easy to make.  So here is my recipe.

Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees.  Set out a sheet of frozen puff pastry to soften.  I use the Pepperidge Farm puff pastry sheets, you can find it in the freezer section near the frozen pie crusts.  

Ingredients:
2 large carrots
1 cup chicken broth
3 Tbs. oil
3 Tbs. butter
½ a medium onion
½ cup sliced mushrooms
3 Tbs. flour
½ cup cream
3 cups diced chicken
salt & pepper to taste

Slice the carrots into thin slices and boil in the chicken broth for about 10 minutes.  Set aside.  In an oven-proof skillet, melt butter and oil.  When butter foams, add onion and cook until softened, about 3 minutes or so.  Add the mushrooms, cook for a minute then sprinkle with flour.  When the flour is well-blended, add the cream.  After the mixture thickens, add the chicken broth with the carrots removed.   Once the broth is blended and the mixture is thick, add the chicken and carrots.   Salt and pepper and mix well.  Roll out the pastry until it will cover the pan and pinch into place.  Make air holes in the top and bake in the oven for about 20-25 minutes or until the crust is golden and puffy.

I originally got this recipe to use up leftover turkey from Thanksgiving.  But during the rest of the year I use rotisserie chicken from the grocery store and strip it.  It makes pretty close to 3 cups.  I don’t add mushrooms because I don’t like them in pot pie.  I also don’t use cream; it isn’t something I usually keep on hand.  Instead, I use evaporated non-fat milk; an item I always keep in my pantry.  Canned broth is fine too.  

I use a 10” cast iron skillet, but it is okay to prepare the filling in a skillet then transfer it to an ovenproof dish and cover it with the crust.  

I’ve gotten this meal down to taking less than an hour to prepare.  I think if you did everything up to the baking the night before, you could just throw it in the oven the next evening and have dinner ready in about half an hour.

I got this recipe out of the newspaper but have long since lost it, so hopefully I haven’t botched it with my memory.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

The Well is Dry

I’m struggling for inspiration.  It is a unique situation for me, I’m one of those writers who usually has a million different ideas in their head at any given time, bursting with stories and characters.  But for some reason, it’s all disappeared.  

I have no idea why the well has dried.  My creativity seems to have gone on vacation.  Characters stop by in my head but they don’t stay, their appearances are brief, giving me little glimpses of their story before fading away like the morning mist.  

The odd think is how little I miss it.  Writing has been my passion for the last few years.  It has supplanted many other things, making my other hobbies molder in the closet while my time and attention has been devoted to my writing.  

Kacey talked about her difficult writing, pointing to the length of time she has been writing and how her goal of being published is taking so long to realize.  I don’t think that’s my problem.  I wish in some ways it were.  I have two fulls out there, the lingering hope of getting an agent still gleaming dully in the background.  It isn’t writer’s block; I don’t feel frustrated by my lack of creative juice.  I do not sit for hours looking at a blank screen, flogging my brain into producing.  

My fear is that my creativity was linked to my depression.  I started writing when my second daughter was a baby.  It was a very stressful time in my life and I was going through some post-partum depression at the time.  Life continued its roller coaster and I kept writing, finding solace in the written word.  Now, having been on medication for a couple of months, I wonder if the odd chemistry in my brain was what created my stories and my characters.  I wonder if the medication I am on has changed me so that part of mind has shut down or at least slowed down.

If I am truly a writer, the creativity will return.  The characters and stories will come back, maybe altered, maybe not.  Surprisingly I am not too worried about it.  My subconscious probably knows something I don’t.  I am planning a short story for Halloween and have no concerns about writing it.

I will say, however, if I never write again, it is worth it not to feel the level of depression I was at before.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Quandaries

A couple of quandaries have come regarding my children, neither one issues I thought I would have to be dealing with so soon.

First, my daughter Katie.  She’s in the first grade.  Yesterday as we were getting ready for school, I asked her if she wanted to buy or take lunch.  She said she’d buy and mumbled something about her friend Ally.  When I asked her to elaborate, she refused to say anything but after pressing the thumbscrews to her, she finally talked.  Apparently her friend Ally finishes lunch first and makes Katie stop eating and go play.  I told Katie she is to finish her lunch whether her friend is done or not.  This little girl was in Katie’s class last year and I’m not real keen on her.  I was hoping the friendship would fade since they were in different classes.  I talked to her teacher about the situation and her teacher is adamant that Katie not hang around with this girl.  She is playing with older kids and they have already gotten in trouble with the principal.  So we are going to work together to steer her towards other children.  I’m not sure why Katie is so enamored with this kid.  I do not find her very pleasant.  Last year, when they cleaned out this child’s cubby, they found a bunch of Katie’s stuff in it.  Katie is so na├»ve, she couldn’t understand how it got there.  The next step her teacher is going to try is to tell her who she needs to sit with at lunch.  Katie is only five so in some ways she is easily bossed around.  She loves her teacher so I’m hoping she will follow her teacher’s directives.

I really didn’t think I was going to have to deal with “bad kids” until jr. high.  But my concern is Katie will pick up the behaviors of these other girls.  She’s a handful as it is.  Any ideas on what I should do?

The second isn’t really as serious, but I think I need to do something.  My son brought home a book yesterday called Solar Eclipse by John Farris. This book was in his classroom, one of his teacher’s books.   It’s a suspense novel for adults.  The subject matter is pretty violent but what most concerned me was the language.  The swearing is bad and uses language one would read in an Ellora’s Cave book.  Now, he has heard this language from his mother, screamed through the house, so he doesn’t seem to notice it.  He is half way through the book, so it might be too late to take it away from him (it is a suspense novel, it would kind of suck to take it away before he found out the end).  But I think I should bring it to his teacher’s attention.  I’m not upset and I have no interest in making a stink about it.  But some other parent may.  BTW, my son is in 4th grade, the class is a 4th-5th-6th combo class.

Again, any ideas of what I should do would be appreciated.

Odds & Ends…..

Katie and my husband were sore for a few days after the accident but it seems to have dissipated.  The car isn’t so lucky.  The estimate to repair it is over $6500 but they think they will have it back to us before the end of the month.  We’re guessing that really means the end of November, right when the rains start.  

Hubby bought me a new washer and dryer.  Mine are fine, but this is a stackable unit that went upstairs so I’m not carting laundry up and down the staircase.  I’m hoping the bratlings will learn to do their own wash within the next year.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Back to the Ol' Drawing Board

Sigh....After 142 pages I have found a fatal flaw in my WIP. I don't feel the passion between my characters. There isn't enough at stake to give the characters anything to do. They like each other too much. So, I'm going to start over with an entirely new story and new characters. But being a smart cookie, I'm sticking to the same time era and setting, so none of my research will go to waste. Boy, I sure hate when that happens.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Snack

There comes a time when the soccer moms are seperated from the SOCCER MOMS. I am talking about Snack. On the schedule your name is placed beside a date and that is the date you bring snack. This entails a fruit during half-time and a snack at the end of the game.

Like a peacock spreading its glorious tail in briliant fall sunlight, I show off my plummage with little brown lunch bags filled with a bounty of treats to please the players. I look through the grocery aisle and select the most tempting delights for my snacks, searching for that unique tidbit that will one-up me amongst the soccer moms. I am good, I will admit. Today was my turn for my son's game. Target had their Little Debbie snacks on sale so the boys got frosted brownies in their bags along with a fruit snack, cheetos and gatorade. I have no qualm saying I am out to impress for my son's team.

For my daughter's team, I was first, knowing it was my sacred duty to show by example how to do a proper snack. Since Katie is in U-6, there are mostly newbie soccer moms. Hopefully they have learned from my turn, just as I as a young Grasshopper soccer mom learned from the Wise Soccer Moms before me.