Thursday, June 29, 2006

Another Excuse

I thought this was a cool picture. It's a jellyfish. They keep them in a circular tank with some kind of black light on them over at the aquarium at Mandalay Bay. Very cool. I think one would look good in my living room.

I've decided I need a new chair. Previously, I was doing all my writing in the office on my computer with a proper chair. Well, at Christmas time my hubby took over the office and exiled me to the family room with my desk. I don't mind. It keeps me out where I can keep an eye on my kids and central to the heart of the home. I've been using a dining room chair but as soon as I get out of it, my back doesn't move. I can't sit more than 10 minutes without being in pain.
This kind of stuff never bothered me when I was younger. When I was in my early 20's I'd write in a pretzel position, sitting for 4 hours with a keyboard in my lap without feeling a thing. Now.... I suppose age does something to us. I'm sure the carrying of babies too large for my frame for 9 month spans hasn't helped either. I think its a pretty good one. I could sit down on the couch and stretch out in a reclining position, but after so many years as a proper Queen Bee secretary, I can't type without correct form. Also, the $#&* laptop runs out of juice in less than a half hour without being plugged in.

So that's my excuse why I haven't been writing. Do you have any good excuses? I'll probably need one if I get a new chair this weekend.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

The Aloha Spirit...

is alive and well in Vegas. If you have ever been to Hawaii, the ABC Store is a familiar site. For those who have never been, let me just say this store saturates the island in a way Starbucks could only dream of doing. They are everywhere. They are a combo convenience store and souvenir shop. And they are now my favorite Hawaiian store since Hilo Hatties got expensive and classy on me. By the way, this mall did have a Hilo Hatties. I really didn't bother with it because we have one in Orange County in California. Anyway, on our trek through the Aladdin's Desert Passage shopping center.

The Desert Passage is designed to look like an Arabian Nights type of village. As you can see, they really go in for the fake skies. The Forum Shops at Caeser's Palace also employs this technique. Check out this Bath & Bodyworks

Isn't that cool? This was a pretty nice mall. It had a Ben & Jerry's, how could it go wrong? This was the nicest part of the trip. It was just my mom, my aunt, me and my older daughter. The stores here were more my type, meaning I wouldn't have to sell a child to buy something. Plus, they had ship coming through the wall. Gotta love that.

Monday, June 26, 2006

You Look Like a Tourist

That's what my mom said while I was snapping away at the Venetian. This is a view of the Canal Shoppes. You can ride in the gondolas down the fake canals for a mere $15 per adult and $7.50 per child. What a rip off. They have a bridal gondola and I saw a line of brides waiting for their romantic cruise down the canal, being stared at by pasty people taking a break from the slots. Most of the stores are the pricey kind I don't go into but it is pretty.

This fellow above is a living statue. He stands there, people squint at him. Occasionally he blinks. As you can see, people give him money too.

Here is the ceiling to part of the hotel. Pretty impressive. The whole ceiling is painted like this in the one part of the hotel. Talk about opulent. No wonders they charge a screaming fortune for gondola rides.

So we are home now, safe and sound. I cannot tell you how glad I am. My aunt's place is a little small for me and my three kids. It was pretty stressed. Plus the heat was incredible. Of course I came home where the temperatures are in the 90's but the humidity is way up and there is the threat of thunderstorms. However, I am glad to be away from the family. A little family goes a long, long, long way.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Valium with a Beer Chaser

That's all I really want. It has been tense here in the desert. I won't go into it right now (it would take me an hour to write that post) but the title should give you a pretty good clue. HOME SWEET HOME has never sounded so good.

On the plus side, we went to Shark Reef today and The Venetian's Grand Canal Shoppes. Both were pretty cool. We went into a store called David & Goliath. I could have gone broke buying tee shirts. They were so cute. They also had a Jimmy Choo store. I thought it wise not to go in. I could easily exchange a child for a pair of shoes.

Tomorrow we are headed to a brunch buffet. They aren't as cheap as they used to be. But then they are still cheaper than California, so I'm not too put out. Not sure what else we will do. When the temps are over 105 degrees, it really discourages one from doing anything.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Stuck in Vegas

I've hijacked my aunt's computer this morning. We are stuck in Vegas. The motorhome went insane just as we pulled into town. Damn thing had to be towed. Ah well.... The decision has been made not to go on to Utah, we are taking it as a sign.

Today I think we are headed to Kohl's for a sale. I might take the kids to Shark Reef at the Mandalay Bay Hotel. I'm not sure when we are going to come home. My mom hates driving home on Sunday because of the traffic. At least the weather is nice...if you are a gila monster. Highs today are supposed to hit 112 degrees (44C).

No, I'm not going to go out and have a good time on the Strip. Yeah, I know what happens here stays here, but I'm just too dull for that. My big thrill for Vegas is if I can find a really good buffet.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Travel Preparations

I'm leaving this afternoon for a trip across the southwestern desert to go to a family reunion. I'll be going in a motor home with my 3 kids, my parents and my aunt. I'm looking forward to this in the same way I look forward to oral surgery, food poisoning and scrubbing a refrigerator.

But you gotta do what you gotta do. I actually like the desert and look forward to sightseeing. I hope my kids enjoy it as well. I'm sure they will be too busy fighting and annoying everyone to truly appreciate it.

We are leaving this afternoon (I think) and I've only packed one thing: my books. What a tough decision. I wanted a nice variety. But it was the most important thing I could think of. I'm also bringing my laptop. The motel I'll be staying at in Utah has high speed internet, so I won't be totally lost. I'm hoping to get some writing done as well. My mom bought a laptop at Christmas time so I told I would work with her on using some of the features.

The biggest part of my trip I'm not looking forward to is the separation from my hubby. He isn't going because he has to go to Ohio next week. He'll be gone before we get back. I wouldn't feel so bad if he was going to be home when we get back, but we get home Monday and he leaves Sunday. He won't be back until next Wednesday. Not very long, really. But I can count on two hands how many nights we've been separated...and still have fingers to spare. We have been married almost 12 years and have never spent more than 2 nights apart. I thought this might be a nice break, but now I'm really dreading it. How could another person become so vital to me? We are each other's world. We don't do separate vacations. He doesn't do camping trips with the guys. I don't do girls' weekends in Palm Springs. We are content to be together. I can't imagine going on a separate vacation. However, I do think I will go to Dallas next year for conference. I'm not that bad.

But being the kind of gal that makes lemonade from lemons, I think these emotions will be great to use in my writing. It will help when I'm trying to write a scene where the heroine is being dragged away as the hero is about to be executed for a crime he didn't commit. Or when the hero watches helplessly as the heroine's life is sucked out of her by a demon. Yeah, those are far more extreme than what I'm going to experience, but that is the beauty of writing: taking everyday emotions and blowing them up to epic proportions. Its giving the reader something they can identify with and pumping it up, making it bigger and giving the reader a thrill.

Well, I'm going to start packing the rest of the boring stuff, you know, like clothes and toiletries. Maybe I should look for the suitcases. And the valium.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006


Hope all the dad's out there had a nice day. I got my hubby a couple of DVD's. I got him "Heartbreak Ridge" and the 4th season of "Home Improvement." He loves the first opening scenes of "Heartbreak Ridge" and knows the dialogue. Lucky me.

So yesterday was basically the beginning of summer break and it went well. I told the kids breakfast would be served at a certain time and gave them a choice of what they could eat. Same went for lunch and dinner. I gave them a time that I wanted them to work on cleaning their rooms and getting their laundry sorted. For the girls, I told them they could play in the sprinklers at a certain time. We're going to the library today and I gave them a time for that.

I never realized how structure provides such security for kids. I thought they would be more content with freedom. I'm sure the teachers out there are saying "DUH!" I wish I'd realized this earlier. Ah well. We are planning a trip to the zoo next week so my daughter is getting excited and starting to ask about the animals she'll see. For some reason she got on a cleaning kick yesterday and started cleaning. She went through a whole bottle of Swiffer solution when she mopped the floors upstairs. Yikes.

Now I need to work on structure for myself. I've got the housecleaning thing down, but not the writing. I give myself a schedule for everything else, why can't I do so with my writing? The "artist" in me is trying to "feel" the time to write. I suppose I'm waiting for a wave of creativity to crash down on me and flow me out into an ocean of brilliance. As writers know, it doesn't really work that way. Writing is focused work. It requires dedication and a willingness to sit down and do it. Writing is a disciplined craft. But I think the creativity spirit balks at the need to make writing time routine. Like everything else, it needs to fit into a routine. Like making coffee, fixing breakfast, washing dishes, writing needs a place in my day. I think I have a tendency to brush it off and put it in the same category as watching t.v. or sitting on the couch reading. But writing can't be treated as a leisure activity, not if I'm serious about it. I signed up for a BIAW so my goal this week isn't so much to crank out lots of pages but to make writing a part of my daily routine.

Here is something interesting I found. An agent weighs in on the "writing from your heart" theory which writers struggle with. You can see his comments over at Wylie-Merrick.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Father's Day

Some of us become parents and trip through it with the grace of a rhino in a Japanese tea garden. Others flow into the job with the naturalness of a river. My husband is one of those fathers who seems born to parent.

Without thought, he puts his kids first. As some of you know, he is a lawyer. He could be wealthier than he is now, more prominent in his profession, if he didn't put his kids first. He is rarely home later than 6 p.m. every night, sometimes earlier if he is coaching. When other attorneys try to schedule something for after 5 p.m. he refuses because he wants to be home with his family. He doesn't work on weekend ordinarily and if he must, he brings his stuff home and works on it in his office.

There are nights I watch him come home, the exhaustion apparent in the glaze of his eyes and the stiffness of his step. I know all he wants is to sit down on the couch and watch a ball game until its time for dinner. But then the Diva demands he play soccer or baseball with her. He never turns her down. Tired, he drags himself out there and plays with her.

When we bought our house, his primary interest was how it would fit with our kids. As he went about planning the landscape of his yard, he tried to create a place his kids would enjoy. He took an old shed in the back yard and worked for a month to make it a play house for the kids. Our yard is full of fruit trees and blue berry bushes because that is what our kids like. He wants them to have the experience of picking their own fruit, encouraging them to eat healthy things.

Our weekends are generally devoted to the kids. Saturdays are quite often sports and Sunday mornings are spent at the local farmer's market. My daughter doesn't like me to go because this is a special time for her and her daddy. My daughter's teacher told me she loves seeing my kids with their dad because they adore him. They shower him with affection which he returns with unabashed enthusiasm. And his attention isn't reserved just for his kids. He is popular with other kids as well. He coaches baseball and the kids think he's great.

I think my children learn a great lesson from this man. Not only how to be a great parent but other things. I hope my daughters realize how valuable they are. Their father ensures them everyday about how much they are loved and cherished. I hope as they enter adulthood they realize this is the type of love they should be looking for in their relationships. I hope my son understands what it means to be an adult, a father and a man through the example set by their father.

I hope everyone has a lovely father's day. I have an awesome catch for a husband and a man who truly knows what it means to be a father.

On another note....

Teresa has a new post at Age of Enlightenment for you 18th century history enthusiasts and Olivia talks about regaining her creativity over at Villa in Tuscany.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Hell's Kitchen

I don't have too many shows I'm into. I like Deadwood and I started watching Hex but my new favorite is Hell's Kitchen. The show is a competition for cooks to win the opportunity to be the executive chef of a restaurant in Las Vegas. They are put through all sorts of cooking competitions with the big contest at night when they try to serve a meal in a restaurant setting. What makes the show is the executive chef in charge, Gordon Ramsay. He is in turn bombastic and harsh, handing out insults and swear words with glee. Then he turns around is very charming to the same people he has been haranguing. An awesome character.

As a I writer, I love him. I've been working on a story which revolves around cooking and celebrity chefs in the 18th century. Yes, chefs were stars in that era and cookbooks were everywhere. I'm in the midst of research but I've had a problem creating the characters. The heroine I've got down but not the hero. Until now. Gordon Ramsay is excellent, a mixed bag of over-the-top characteristics which would make for good reading.

I'm not really one to base characters on people however I will use bits and pieces of people. This guy, however, really clicked with me. Not looks wise, I never base by characters' appearances on real people, I can't. Not that I would mind thinking about a character who looked like Johnny Depp or Hugh Jackman all day, but it isn't how my mind works.

Other stuff....

Last night was a two-Tecate night. Our first day of summer break was rather rough. The kids got into stuff. I went to take a shower and when I got out, I discovered my kids trying to clean up a broken bottle of General Tsao's Grilling Sauce. They made a bigger mess trying to clean it up. I was constantly reminding them to clean up after them selves and my 6 year old followed me around the house asking questions, asking for stuff and generally annoying the crap out of me. We picked up a couple of more fire-belly toads to keep our other one company and got some crickets to feed them. Dummy me, I didn't think about it, but I woke this morning to find the bag of crickets with a hole in it where the critters chewed through. I've spent my morning picking up crickets.

Friday, June 16, 2006


Today is the first day of summer vacation at my house. I told my husband I would try my best to remain sober by the time he got home. The Diva woke early and immediately started hassling me for a variety of things. I couldn't wait for The Thing to wake up so they could entertain each other. I put them in the bathtub just to give me some time this morning to blog.

I have a new challenge this summer. My kids are turning into vegetarians. I'm not kidding. We have to beg them to eat their meat on their plates. And I'm not feeding them liver or goat's head or anything scary like that. I made Milanesa the other night. This is basically thin steak battered and fried. They wouldn't eat it. Took seconds on the cauliflower and the salad, but skipped the meat. While I don't mind this so much (I'm a carnivore, I could skip fruit and veggies altogether), I am going to have to adjust our menus to reflect this change. The girls love cheese, so I can work with that. My son is obsessed with healthy food. At ten, he is constantly asking if one dish is healthier than another. Of course he won't go out and exercise which I've tried to explain is just as important as a healthy meal. The kid has this incredible metabolism. He out-eats me and yet he is so thin even the slim size pants have to be belted. Cinched, actually.

The kids get their freedom today but I think on Monday I'm going to start a schedule. There is no way I can have a summer like last year where the inmates ran the asylum.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Fred & Ginger



Moving on:

Last night hubby and I had our second dance class. I can safely say we aren't the worst couple there. We both have our strengths and weaknesses on the dance floor. I can't follow. It really is difficult not to try and lead. Or I try anticipating his steps before he leads me. He's much better at the fox trot than I am. I'm better at the swing. This is the first time we've done something together like this in a long time. I'm not sure why. Anyway, its fun to do something totally unrelated to the kids.

Moving on to kids, today is the last day of school. We have become the summertime home to one of my daughter's class pets, a fire belly toad. After reading about the toad, I found out it prefers to have others for company. The teacher who gave out the toads apparently didn't take that information into consideration. So we are headed to the pet store to buy at least one more. The Thing started the week off well by playing Vidal Sassoon with her hair. I had to make an emergency trip to Supercuts to get it fixed. She did a pretty good hacking job. Her hair went down most of her back. It doesn't anymore. I think its fine for summer anyway. I wanted to post a picture of her but I haven't been able to get her to sit still long enough for a photo. I'm not kidding. I've five blurry photos. I gave up.

On the writing front, well, I've taken a page from Kelly's book and started working on something unrelated, next thing I knew, I had 6 pages. Janie asked what I'm working on, so I thought I would give a quickie rundown. I'm working on an 18th century straight historical, two paranormal historicals, both 18th century although they are from different times, a contemporary erotica and now a contemporary paranormal featuring elves and fairies. Spread a little thin don't ya think? Yeah, but my mind is in a million places. I generally work on a couple for a week or so. The two historical paranormals are higher on my priority list than the rest. But historicals are more exhausting for me. Not just the research, but the use of voice and style. So the contemporaries give me a chance to write more informally and use a more staccato style.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

The Black Moment

Some people are plotters, some pantsters. Some think of their characters first, others their plots.

I'm a black moments planner. I plan my black moments first then figure everything else out. I've discovered when I don't do this, I have problems with the rest of the book. I think of a couple of characters, and put them in a miserable situation, then I kick them and make the situation worse. From there, I pattern a plot and characters to fit the moment.

I generally have 3 or 4 black moments per story. Some of them are related, some of them aren't. The tough part is making sure I don't write myself into such a tight corner I don't know how to get out. But I would rather be in that situation than the opposite.

Too many stories I read lack a really juicy black moment. Sure, there are plenty where the hero or heroine are in mortal peril where the bad guy is dangling them from the top of the Empire State building or some other type of life or death situation. While these are exciting, they are over in an instant. I like those black moments which are internal. I like to read those situations where the hero or heroine has to make a choice which will cause them unimaginable misery either way. I like to see what they do and how they make an untenable decision, live with it and still end up with a happily ever after. It raises the stakes for me as a reader, makes me more concerned about the characters and makes the story memorable.

As a writer, it is a challenge. First, do I have it in me to put these people through the wringer? Ha! I have three children, I delight in suffering. Second, is it a tough enough moment to put the reader on edge? We all have our threshold. For some, a black moment could be breaking a nail, for another, it could be the earth being destroyed by an asteroid. But I think the most effective is the black moment which really tears the character apart emotionally. Third, the challenge of finding a way out is tough. As a I writer, I don't want to make it too easy but at the same time I don't want to write a 200K word book.

In one story I've started, the key black moment is a toughy and I'm not sure how to write myself out of it. I think is a tough enough conflict for the heroine that the solution will be a big pay off. In another story I started, the black moment isn't black enough to hold my interest, so I've put it aside until I can think of a way to make my characters sufficiently miserable.

How important are black moments to you? Do you have a process for creating them?

Sunday, June 11, 2006


With summer having arrived in all its glory, I start thinking about projects. Not goals per se, but projects. Those mammoth or incidental tasks set aside for a time when I have time. While I'm not real thrilled with the prospect of having my kids home, it also means the end of their activities until fall. No more carting kids to ball games or practice, no after-school classes and no in-school events which take up so much time. Heck, I gain over an hour by not taking and picking the kids up. So I need to turn my attention to something.

My project for the summer is organizing all of my magazine cut outs. Oh, I'm a rabid recipe hound. I tear out so many recipes then stick them in a drawer. Then a file folder. And now they are residing in a huge plastic container along with organizing implements. I figure if I work on the project 15 minutes a day, I'll make some headway and actually have some of the pasted and able to use in a binder.

That's my big project. What about you? Any project you have pushed aside?

Friday, June 09, 2006


I'm a coffee junkie, I've accepted it, lived with it, understand it. I don't feel complete in the morning if I don't have a cup of java in my hand. I'd trade my kids for a tall brew of the day at Starbucks. But then, I'd trade my kids for a ball of lint, a bent paper clip and an unwrapped stick of gum, so that probably isn't a good comparison. The point is, my day doesn't start without my cup of French roast or whatever dark, road tar brew is in my cup. The addiction is as much psychological as chemical. It is my weakness, but livable, because nothing else debilitates me in such a way.

Until now.

I start my morning by going through my email then moving on to my blogs. If I'm going to blog on a day, I post then start going through my blogroll, cup of joe in hand. Yesterday, I got up, did my email, then started posting. My post was immediately eaten by the blogger demons. I tried again later, dang if it happened again. So I gave up. But the complete disruption of my morning lasted throughout the day. I was irritable and lost, a pathetic wraith wandering about the house in a daze. Well, I did do the laundry and cleaned the spa. I tried reading through my blogs but most of them are bloggers as well, so it did me little good.

I don't think it is the blogging so much as the change in my routine. I know I've blogged about my penchant for routine, so I guess it is logical a ripple in the blogging routine would make me edgy. I don't remember what I was going to post about yesterday. Heaven knows I typed it enough in a vain hope that blogger would be up and at 'em. Hopefully it wasn't something important like the cure for the common cold or the winning Lotto numbers for the weekend.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006


I've been pondering whether I should have my own website. A friend of mine has offered me free space as a subdomain to her site, so I don't have to worry about the cost and I'm sufficient enough on html to make a website on my own. But what would I put on it?

Plenty of unpublished writers have their own sites and most of them are full of interesting stuff. What would I put on mine? I know I could do a page of links, a page of writing articles and tips for writers, but what else? For those of you with websites, when you decided to have one, what was the reasons for it? What function did you want your site to play? Has it helped?

Did anyone notice that Blogrolling was down yesterday? I almost had a heart attack. After resisting using it for so long, I am now totally dependent on it. I saved a back up file on my PC when it came back up. I had no idea how dependent I had become on it. I use my blogroll everyday to visit my sites. I went crazy yesterday because I hadn't gone through my entire roll yet.

Directv added Sleuth to the channel line up. It is the crime drama channel. They already have the "A-Team" playing, if they would only add "Banacek" and "Quincy," my life would be complete.

I spent quite a bit of time yesterday whining about writing. Amazingly enough, I still found time to write hammered out over 4 pages on a new WIP. I really need to stick with something. I have 3 WIPs now that I feel connected to, so now it is time to focus.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Goals Rehashed

Well, hell, I've failed miserably at working on my goals. I'm not sure what it is about January. Perhaps it is the newness, the feeling of a fresh start, the mental sense of starting things over, but I had some great goals. I've accomplished none of them, in fact, the waste away in the corner gathering cobwebs, forgotten in the midst of a life filled with the here and now rather than what could be.

They weren't particularly strenous goals, but it has been easy to push them aside. So now it is June and I need to give them some attention. I've been lazy, content to float along without really pushing myself. I set a goal of writing everyday. To be honest, I forgot. But that is an easy one to fix. Maybe I should put a big sticky on my laptop commanding me to write? My other goal was to lose weight, another one which I have been half-hearted in accomplishing. I did warn hubby this would be the beginning of the end this week. Summer is here and it is time for lighter foods. So that is what I am aiming for.

We are mid-year, how are you doing with any of your goals?

On another note, I found something interesting to do with the kids this summer and I talk about it over at Search for the Good Life.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Sometimes I'm Inspired

Today was the first meeting for my new RWA chapter. It was a great meeting. We initially thought we would only have 4-5 people but we ended up having about 15. We met at a Barnes & Noble but have decided it will be too small for our gathering. An interesting collection of people arrived, including to guys who just graduated from college and want to write. They heard about us and thought we could help them.

This group seems very interested in craft and they would like to spend some of our time on critiquing along with workshops. They seemed very enthusiastic. I feel inspired, the desire to write, particularly since I have to bring 5 pages next month to critic.

For something extra special, hubby cleaned and waxed the convertible for me so I would have a nice car to drive. He and the kids were gone when I got home, they'd gone to the gym then picked up lunch. It was one of those nice days which is pleasant in its simplicity. This day was made nicer not just because of the weather (which is lovely) or the activity but the people around me. Too often we forget how nice people can be and how being with others is fun rather than a chore.

So how has your Saturday been?

I did get a couple of new books. The British Housewife is a book from the mid-18th century which is full of recipes and tips for running a household. It is a facsimile so the type is the same as when it was originally published, meaning the "s's" look like "f's". But it is pretty interesting and though some of the names have changed, many of the dishes are current. I also got The Element Encyclopedia of 5000 Spells. While I got that one for research, I'm hoping to find one which will make my children behave.

Friday, June 02, 2006


How come I'm never satisfied? Is it a human trait?

I complained to Melissa yesterday that I was feeling restless. My house was clean, there were no tasks that needed to be done. I had plenty of time to write but I couldn't make myself sit down and do it. Here I had plenty of time to do those things I complain I never have time to do, and yet I couldn't get myself doing any of it. Why is that?

Mel thinks I need a vacation and maybe she is write. Perhaps a change of scenery is what I need. I also feel as if I'm on the edge of a precipice, that when the kids get out of school, the ground will fall from beneath my feet and everything will change. Not that it is a bad thing, I am looking forward to doing things with the kids this summer. There are a wealth of museums and libraries all over the area which would be fun to go to and there is also the beach.

But I can't help feeling this edginess, a feeling I can't put a name to. Do you get restless? Do you ever find yourself staring into space wondering what the heck you should be doing?

I did get some good news yesterday. My daughter has had the same teacher for kindergarten and first grade. She told me yesterday that next year she will be teaching a K-1-2 class, so my daughter gets her for another year. Poor woman, when my daughter finally leaves her class, my youngest will be there waiting. I'm very fortunate with my kids' school because the teachers are so available. This woman is amazing and I'm so thrilled my daughter will have her again.