Thursday, May 31, 2007

And Kitten Makes Three

Well, tomorrow we will be the proud owners of a kitten. We lost Garrett on Monday (after a $200 trip to the vet's office. I don't mind the money to get rid of the wolf worm he had but half of that went to neuter him. Sigh.)

It is quickly becoming dangerous for pets at our house. Along with Ming and Garrett, we lost 4 baby bunnies last week (she was a new momma and didn't take care of them. By the time we realized it was too late to foster them with another bunny). Yes, we live on a farm. No, this isn't the first time we've lost animals. But before they were goats or chickens, things that lived in the barn. Not things that curled up with me in bed at night. PC has pissed off the water gods, apparently, I've pissed off Saint Francis of Assisi.

So, we're getting a kitten. Garrett was actually Sweet Pea's cat. And when DH called to tell me, letting her have another kitten was the only thing I could do. I was standing in the Old Navy dressing room, one jean leg on, half naked. Sweet Pea was sobbing in the background and I couldn't get to her to hold her and make it alright. I told her she could have another kitten instead.

My family thinks I'm crazy. And I'd have to agree with them. But my girls have dealt with enough death over the past month. At the moment, Sweet Pea is focusing on that new kitten and that's the way I want to keep it.

So, any advice on kittens? I'm hoping they come litter box trained *laughs hysterically*


Wednesday, May 30, 2007

And what do YOU do?

I’m blogging remotely from a campground about two hours from home where the DH and I have a little getaway trailer. It’s a reward to ourselves for the years of raising two boys, all the parent-teacher conferences, Little League games, scout meeting, braces, ungodly auto insurance premiums that go along with two boys, college tuition and all the other expenses parents face. Now that we no longer have those expenses, we have some extra money to (1) dote on the grandbaby and (2) dote on ourselves. The campground falls under number 2. And this week I’m doting on me. I decided if I had internet access I could take care of business from here and well… here I am.

There’s a regular gang that visits this campground along with folks who happen upon it in their travels. We have standing Friday and Saturday night card games, shuffleboard tournaments, darts, volleyball, tennis and my favorite, the pool. My husband is a die-hard volleyball player and frequently captains competitive teams. I, on the other hand, tell folks that I’m captain of the suntanning team, a position I take quite seriously including my bottle of SPF30 face block and SPF15 body block.

In the course of conversations with both regulars and new folks, the topic of occupation regularly arises. And when asked, I tell folks that I’m a writer.

Them: Oh. What do you write?

Me: I write romance.

Them: Oh. Are you published?

Me: Not in book length, but I’ve sold some short stories to magazines.

Them: How do you know what to write about?

Me: I get ideas from all around me. I read newspaper articles or articles online and an idea will spark. I hear a snippet of conversation or see something on a blog and I ask myself, “What if?”

Them: *snicker and a sidelong glance at my husband* Do you use him for ideas?

Me: No, he’s too boring. But his wacky family is a hotbed of ideas.

Husband shoots me a dirty look at this point, but he knows it’s true. About his family, that is.

Them: How much money do you make?

Me: None of your damned business.

Actually, I don’t say that last part but I’d like to. I don’t ask them how much they make. They don’t ask any of the other people how much money they make, but my income is apparently intriguing and open for discussion.

Me: You wouldn’t believe me if I told you.

Them: Do you know Stephen King?

Me: No.

Them: Do you know the guy who wrote the book… you know, the one that was a movie with Matt Damon? He played a spy or something. Uh, something about identity.

Me: The Bourne Identity?

Them: Yeah. Do you know that guy?

Me: No, I don’t know him.

Them: Well do you know Jackie Collins?

Me: No.

Them: Do you know Danielle Steele?

At this point, I begin to sense a pattern and decide to stop it in its tracks.

Me: No, but I met Nora Roberts once.

Them: REALLY?????????

Me: Yes. We attend the same writers’ conference each summer.

Them: I’d like to write a book. It doesn’t look like it could be that hard.

By this time I’ve pasted a smile on my face that’s as fake as Pamela Anderson’s bosom.

Them: I feel like I have a book inside me just waiting to get out. If I tell you my idea can you help me write it and get it published.

Me: *sigh* You really should write it yourself because it’s YOUR story to tell and it should reflect your voice.

Them: Voice? But this is a book, not a tape.

Me: *deeper sigh* Voice is how your personality comes across in your writing. Everyone’s is different..

Them: Oh. Well, if I write it in my voice can you help me get it published?

Me: I’m sorry, but I don’t have an inside track to publishing. You just have to submit and wait with the rest.

Them: Oh. And what do YOU do?
they ask the next person.

Him: I’m a doctor.

Them: Oh. I have this place on my foot that’s been bothering me…

It’s different being a writer, isn’t it? And I suppose I ought to get back to being a writer and write since I don’t have a phone ringing and the usual household distractions.

Image by

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

The voices in my head

Sunday, 3 pm

Opens WIP file.

Let’s see, where was I? Oh, yeah, dinner. Okay, so he’s playing footsie with her under the table…

Pssst. Hey. My name’s Kayla. Wanna write my story? Get this—Chapter One opens with me waking up naked in the hero’s bed and I’m not totally sure how I got there. Cool, huh?

Gee, that’s great. I’m kinda busy with these two right now. Just take a number and I’ll get to you later.

These two are boring. They wouldn’t know conflict if it bit them in the ass. Me? I’ve got oooodles of confict. Internal, External—I’m just rolling in conflict. Add in my hero and it’s practically an emotional train wreck waiting to happen.

They’re not boring, and they do too have conflict. It’s just more subtle. Now, shoo. I’m busy here.

You call that conflict? Snore. Plus, I have angst. Lots of angst. I could handle more if you want. You can even give me an alcoholic mother and an emotionally distant father. I can work with that.

Really? Ooh, Angel would be so pleased. Tell me more about this angsty internal conflict of yours… Can you be funny too? NO. Wait. Don’t answer that. I’m working on THIS book right now. Go stew in your angst some and come back after these two are living happily ever after.

But they’re being difficult. I would be so easy to write. I promise. Just let me and my hero—his name’s Jake, by the way, and he has those broad shoulders you love so much and big brown eyes—rip and you’ll have us finished in no time. Those two are going to be fighting over dinner for the next six freakin’ months at this rate and I’ll never get written.

(Fingers in ears) La, La, La, I’m not listening to you.

Oh, that’s mature. I’m not going anywhere. Just hit Save—not that you’ve written anything worth saving recently—and open up a fresh, new file. Come on. Just type Chapter One. You know you want to.

(Louder) They’re playing footsie under the table and he says…

Oh for the love of Mike. Fine. I’ll tell you what. Just type out my first couple of pages. Try me out. You can always come back to these deadweights later. Just a couple of quick pages. You know all the NYT bestsellers do it. What have you got to lose?



How about I write down your vitals and promise to get back to you in a month?

A month? You think you can whip this book into shape in a month? Please.

One month. I’ll give myself a deadline. You can come bug me endlessly after that until I write your story.

Seriously? Okay, then. But one month is all you’ve got, sister. My friend Helen is over here working up her own Inner Conflict and I’ve told her she has to wait until I’m on paper. And she’s really impatient.

Thank you. (Closes eyes to think and picture scene.)

What are you wating for? Clock’s ticking, sweetie. You’d better move quickly from footsie to something far more interesting or we’ll all be asleep by the end of this chapter. Type, Wannabe, type! Tick, tock!

If you don’t go away, I’ll give you bad skin or jiggly thighs.

My hero would love me anyway.

AND saggy boobs.

Sigh. Fine. Go write your non-conflict filled book. It’ll never sell. I’m far more marketable, you know. Editors love spunky heroines like me.

I’ll give your hero—Jake, was it?—a small penis.

You wouldn’t. You couldn’t. Romance heroes are never lacking in that department. But, okay, you’ve made your point. I’m outta here. For now.

(Waits. Hears only silence. Sighs.) Now, where was I? Oh, yeah, dinner.

/a pause/

I wonder how Kayla ended up in Jake's bed...

Hel-lo? Remember us? Gwen and Will? We've been sitting here playing footsie for, like ever. Focus, lady, focus. Could you please figure out what happens next and just get us finished?

Okay, Okay, I'm working on it.


I am, really, working on it.

Monday, May 28, 2007


Oh dear, I'm in trouble now!!! I totally forgot that this was Monday, my day to blog. This weekend was filled with dance rehearsal and recital for Drama Queen, then Sunday at home organizing more of the house. I'm grateful that our recital went more smoothly than Problem Child's and also that it is over. The downside is that now DQ has decided she wants to take another year of dance.

Today, Instigator, Smarty Pants and I are embarking on a little shopping excursion before seeing the new Pirates of the Caribbean movie. We're all very excited! There's just something about Johnny Depp in eyeliner... and Orlando Bloom is nothing to sneeze at either. I didn't care for him as much before the Pirate series, I think because he was a little too young for me. But now that he's full-grown, all out male... yum!

Anyway, that's my ramblings for this Monday. I hope you all have a wonderful holiday and tune in tomorrow for Problem Child, who I'm sure will be much more prepared than I was today. :)


Friday, May 25, 2007

Closing a Chapter

Well, it’s done. I turned over the keys and picked up my check at closing. I ran from the building like it was on fire and went straight to the bank (by way of Arby’s) to deposit it before they changed their mind. So far, so good. I am no longer a home owner, much less a dual home owner, which was my biggest fear.

It was kinda sad to walk through my empty house – a house I had built and picked out every detail from the colors to the flooring. It was my baby, my first house ever. Now it belongs to a nice couple from Massachusetts. It’s their first house too, so there’s some poetic justice to it all. I laid in bed all last night worrying about closing and something going wrong. Of course, in my dreams, the problems were absurd dream-type problems like unwanted monkeys in the attic. All this time, since I got the initial offer, I never really believed that all of this would actually happen – something was bound to go wrong. The inspection would be a mess or the appraisal would come in below the offer, their credit would tank and they’d lose their loan, termites...something. But everything turned out fine. What a relief. I feel like the weight of the entire house has been taken off my shoulders.

In other good news, the builder is scheduling my closing on the new house for after my return from Scotland. Although I’d like to be settled in the house and out of my apartment before I go, this allows me the time to relax and enjoy my time in between, including the trip to Scotland. DB is mightily excited to be so close to Chick Fil A and the world in general, after being 30 minutes from anything for so long. He might not even miss me the two weeks I’m gone with so many culinary options nearby – Subway, Chinese, Pizza Hut, McD’s, Checkers, Wendy’s, Arbys...who needs me anymore?

The question I have now what? This move has been occupying my brain for months. I’ve been preparing to sell, preparing to move, etc. since January. Now it’s done. If I moved straight into the new house, I’d probably be able to start obsessing about decorating or whatever, but I’m a solid month away from that. Almost two weeks out of those four will be in Scotland, but the rest of the time, what am I going to do?

Write the dumb book? Is that what I heard you say? Perhaps. I need to jump on the literary bandwagon and get the rough draft of this book cranked out ASAP. Maybe for once my mind will be uncluttered enough to actually focus on the story and the characters.

But I think for a few days, I’m going to revel in nothingness. Nothingness! How wonderful. Calls for champagne and non-WW approved goodies. What have you celebrated lately? Lets all celebrate together!


Thursday, May 24, 2007

Animal Saga Continues

Everyone probably already knows that we got a new dog last week, Friday specifically. Jack is fitting in wonderfully with our family. He's the most loving, obedient dog I think I've ever seen. By the second day with us we were letting him run our yard without a leash. Call his name and he immediately comes to your side.

He even gets along with the goats and actually herds the chickens away from the girls when they're all in the pastures together.

What he isn't doing is getting along with our cats. Neither Alex nor Garrett are thrilled with the new addition to our family. It's taken several days, but at the moment Alex and Jack have reached a truce of sorts - Alex stays higher than Jack can reach and hisses and Jack barks incessantly. Whatever. It works.

Garrett on the other hand...well, we couldn't find him for two days. It was so bad that Tuesday after work DH, the girls, and I spent quite a bit of time canvasing the neighborhood and yelling for him. I was in the bedroom putting together a teacher gift when I heard a very, very faint meow. I thought I was hearing things at first but it kept coming as I continued to call for Garrett. I dropped what I was doing and ran outside because I figured as faint as it was it had to be coming from there.

I circled the house and called again and again. Every once and a while I'd hear the meow but it was still very faint and I just couldn't figure out where it was coming from - although I usually heard it from the front of the house. I asked DH if the cat could be stuck under the house. He looked at me rather skeptically but grabbed a flashlight and crawled into the dark, spiderweb-infested space - grumbling the entire time. At one point he yelled that he'd found him only to realize it was Alex (they look so much alike our neighbors didn't realize we had two cats).

Finally giving up, we all headed back inside. I was really worried. We'd already lost a dog this month, I really didn't want to deal with losing Sweet Pea's cat too. It would not have been pretty.

I was giving the girls a bath when DH came up behind me and whispered, "come here." We found Garrett, crouched in a corner between a book case and the computer desk. There is no telling how long the poor boy had been back there, probably two solid days. DH was not pleased and groused about crawling under the house for nothing (well, not nothing as I got a good laugh out of it but don't tell him that).

At the moment, Garrett is still lodged in the corner and will not, under any circumstances come out. I figure he will when he gets hungry enough. Until then, at least we know where he is now.

Since I wrote this blog, Garrett is still refusing to come out of the corner and Jack has torn the arm off my sofa. I think the honeymoon stage is over :-) Although I can't seem to stay mad. Not when Jack looks up at me with his brown/blue droopy eyes. It's almost as bad as when Baby Girl pouts. I just can't stay mad at him.


Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Gender Bender

I spent the better part of last Saturday in two airports as I made my way back home from a week of playing nursemaid. I had several hours in the Charlotte airport between flights. After I ate lunch in one of their overpriced restaurants, I roamed through the overpriced gift shops, grabbed a latte at Starbucks, successfully resisted the enticing aroma of Cinnabon and browsed through a newsstand/bookstore.

Maven Linda will be glad to know that Cover of Night and Raintree: Inferno are all over the airports like white on rice.

That, however, isn't the point of this blog. The point is gender. More specifically, author gender.

As I browsed I watched a very well-dressed and very handsome man (hey, I'm married, not dead) peruse the paperbacks, which were basically the NY Times top titles plus some others. He would look at the title and cover, turn to the back and read the blurb. After picking up and putting back several books, he pulled Born in Death by J.D. Robb from the shelf.

When he flipped it over and saw J.D.'s photo on the back, he dropped it like a hot potato. He looked way too old to still be a member of the "Girls Have Cooties" club so I can only surmise that he didn't want the book simply because it was written by a woman. He didn't look at the back long enough to read the blurb. So his action had to have been because of the picture on the back cover.

On her website, La Nora looks all gorgeous and girly with a big smile on her face. How she wears those heels is beyond me (unless they were just a photo prop). But she looks quite feminine.

Pick up a J.D. Robb book and there's another photo entirely. She's got the whole denim and leather thing going with an urban background and a stop-them-dead-in-their-tracks look on her face. I really like the J.D. photo. Should I ever need cover photos, I'm going to show the photographer this photo and say "Make me look like this. Please."

I've read plenty of male authors over the years -- Sidney Sheldon, Stephen King, Robert Ludlum, Homer Hickam, Clive Cussler, Robin Cook, Michael Crichton, Ian Fleming, Nicholas Sparks, Robert James Waller, Scott Turow, Tom Tryon and even a little Erle Stanley Gardner. And Mr. Brown, if you're reading this blog (yeah right!) I was enthralled by both The DaVinci Code and Demons & Angels.

It didn't matter to me that the above named authors have a Y chromosome. What mattered was a good story that hooked me from the start and kept me reading.

So I'm wondering if Mr. Hottie had a Y chromosome requirement for his reading material. It sure looked that way to me.

I realize that now I read mostly romance and romance is mostly written by women. But I've read some romance by male authors (we had one blog with us on Valentine's Day) and as long as it was a good story with a HEA, I didn't care if the author was male, female or Martian.

Answer me this: Does it matter to you?

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Where were you people raised?!?!

I thought I lived in a suburban community of middle-class folks in middle-class houses.

Alas, it has come to my attention that this city is simply full of barns.

"Barns?" you say. "PC, you live in a bedroom community of Huntsville. Y’all aren’t allowed to keep livestock within the city limits."

Yeah, well, I’m now convinced that the 500+ people I spent Saturday morning with were all raised in barns. They may be pretty-looking and expensive barns, but for all intents and purposes, this is Barn City and everyone acts like it.

My rant stems from AC’s dance recital, held Saturday morning. Several hundred children and their parents, siblings, grandparents, and extended ‘come-here’ family members gathered to watch the little angels dance. I thought I was going to your basic dance recital—tutus, tap shoes—but I was sadly mistaken.

There were cell phone issues of course, which I will refrain from ranting about beyond saying that unless you are awaiting a liver transplant and must be reachable at any second, turn the damn thing off. There were the parents with their video cameras blocking the aisles and everyone’s view as they jockeyed for position. (You know, the dance studio is selling DVDs of the recital for a reasonable price. Buy one of those instead.) There were the parents who roped off ROWS of 15-20 seats for their families—families who couldn’t be bothered to show up on time and waited until the house lights went down to try to come in. This, of course, prompted MORE cell phone usage, with the lovely addition of those sitting in the seats standing up and waving their arms so they could be found. That’s okay, I didn’t want to see that part of the show anyway. There was the lady behind us that kept whacking DG in the head with the ENORMOUS bouquet of flowers she brought for her lil’ punkin (who you would have thought was dancing the Black Swan solo instead of being third from the left in “Wheels on the Bus”).

Spare me from the etiquette problems of others.

But that’s not what had me questioning the zoning laws of my fair city. Somehow, these Barn Dwellers mistook a dance recital for a soccer game. Or a NASCAR race. Some sporting event instead of the dance recital it was advertised to be.

Picture this—seventeen little girls in pink tutus file on to stage. The stage lights come up, and the darlings are blinking in shock at the size of the stage and the brightness of the lights. Then, from the darkness of the audience comes: “GO SARAH!!!” “WHOOO HOOOO!!! YAY MADDIE!!!” "YOU GO GRACIE!!! YEAH!!" This continues until the music starts.

First of all, the kids can’t see into the audience. This is noise coming out of a black hole. Of course, they’re trying to figure out where Daddy is, and end up missing their music cue. Or, better yet, it scares the bejeesus out of them and they burst into tears.

But that aside, am I the only person left who sees the inappropriateness of hootin’ and hollerin’ during a dance performance? That kind of carrying on is appropriate in certain places—the ball field comes to mind—but this isn’t a sporting event. There are finer rules of etiquette in place for events that take place in the theater. Appreciation for the dancers is shown by sitting quietly and attentively while they are dancing and applauding nicely (even enthusiastically) when they are finished.

What’s next? Cow bells and air horns? Rabid mom-fans rushing the stage and flinging flowers? Turning the orchestra pit into a mosh pit?

I’m all for encouraging children and showing how proud you are of their accomplishments. I’m also for teaching them that there’s a time and a place for everything. I’m for teaching them that different situations have different standards of expected and acceptable behavior. I’m for teaching them about inside and outside voices—and outside voices only belong inside during basketball games, rock concerts, and when someone is on fire.

I know DG and Mom are with me on this one. How about you? Are we in a minority here?


Monday, May 21, 2007

Summer Break

Tomorrow is the last day of school around here. I'm really looking forward to it, even though my days won't slow down until next week. My sister is a teacher, so I'll be keeping her kids while she has teacher in-service. Then it will be time for Drama Queen's stage appearance—her dance rehearsal and recital, that is.

I won't miss having to get up every morning at 6:30am. My biological pre-dispositions set me up to be a night owl, who would love to sleep until 10am, but can only hope for 8am now that I have kids. I'm sure if he could grasp what was coming, Little Man would be looking forward to not having to be dragged out of bed twice a day. Once in the morning to take Sissy to school, and in the afternoon to pick her up.

Besides the trip to Scotland we've talked so much about on the Playground, there are other things I plan to do this summer. I want to learn to grill. Maybe there will be more BBQ's in my future like I had this past Saturday when my Dad came to visit from Florida. My new backyard is ideal for get-togethers.

I want to take the kids to the park, which I rarely do because there isn't one located conveniently nearby. When the days get too hot to spend hours outside, we can go bowling. A newfound activity that Drama Queen really enjoys.

But mostly I want to sit on the deck and watch the kids play while I write. I haven't been able to do that in so long, that it sounds like heaven at the moment.

What are your plans for the summer?


Friday, May 18, 2007


So amid a sea of boxes and rubbermaid totes (of which I got 24 into my Ford Focus, a miracle, I must say) I realize its Thursday night. Shoot. I haven't written my blog yet. A slew of curse words follow as I dash into the office, shurking my packer's assistant duties to type this.

I may have a dash of brilliance and write more later, but if not - tell me your best or worst moving story. I know its my personal version of hell, so I'm certain y'all have some frightening stories to share. Maybe later I'll tell you about the 40 foot long mud trench and the tow truck...

Your turn. I'll pick one story to win a copy of Body Movers by Stephanie Bond. If I haven't packed that box... :)


Thursday, May 17, 2007

Meet Captain Jack

Two weeks ago tomorrow we lost our beloved Pekingese, Ming.

She was my first baby. Dh gave her to me for our first Christmas together after my parents told me I couldn't have her (I was still living at home). You have to love a man who'll buck the in-laws even before he's proposed. She was twelve and had been completely blind for the last several years of her life. But we loved her.

What made losing her more difficult was the fact that she hung on several days after a debilitating stroke. DH used to work for our vet and I think both he and Mike were reluctant to let her go without a fight. So they loaded her up with medications and shots in the hopes we could get her over the first few days to recovery. It didn't work. The Friday before the luncheon I said my goodbyes before leaving the house. It was extremely difficult because while her body was completely useless, unable even to get herself to food and water, her mind was sound. She responded as I talked to her and licked my face goodbye.

I think what breaks my heart the most is seeing the empty spot in our kitchen where her bed used to be. Which is why we're driving 4 hours round trip tomorrow to pick up a new dog (assuming the girls get along with him, he doesn't bite anyone, and he likes us).

Meet Captain Jack

He's a one year old Australian Blue Heeler mix. Neutered, housebroken and up to date on shots. The information on him says he loves children and responds well to commands. As much as we loved Ming, she wasn't exactly a farm dog. I have no doubt that Jack will fit in quite well with the cats, goats, chickens and bunnies that roam freely in our front and back yards.

I know part of the reason I'm so excited to meet him and bring him home is because I'm anxious to fill that little hole in my heart. We'll always love Ming, but it's too quiet and lonely here without her.


Wednesday, May 16, 2007

The pitfalls of a good beach read

These are the Playground Monitor's feet lounging on the beach on St. Simon's Island, Georgia. Today was the first day I've been able to hit the beach, and for a couple reasons it might be the last day I get there.

First, my mom was released from the hospital late yesterday afternoon and she's doing very well. She improves each day and gets a little bit stronger. It will take time, but the doctor said there's no reason she can't make a full recovery. So now that I have her home, I'll be playing Nurse Marilyn instead of bopping all over the island and lounging on the beach.

Second, I kinda sorta let the time get away from me today and I'm a little sunburned. And why did I kinda sorta let the time get away from me today?

The answer is simple: a good beach read. The photos are horrible, I know. Bottom-of-the-line cellphones don't take good photos, but it's all I have. You can't tell it by the photo, but the book in my chair is one that was mentioned in the comments of last Thursday's blog.

When I was packing for my trip, I searched for several books to bring along because I knew I'd have lots of reading time. Because of the blog last week I'd hunted down a used copy of Shades of Twilight and decided to pack it.

It went to the beach with me today along with my jug of ice water, my sunscreen, my beach chair, towel and hat and my barbeque sandwich from The Beachcomber.

I got so involved in the story of Roanna Davenport and Webb Tallant that I (1) missed the big car carrier that traveled by the beach on its way from the port at Brunswick to who-knows-where, (2) forgot to reapply sunscreen, (3) lost complete track of time which caused me to get pretty pink from the aforementioned lack of sunscreen and (4) missed Matthew McConnaughey, Daniel Craig, George Clooney, Hugh Jackman and Gerard Butler frolicking nude in the surf.

Just kidding about number 4.

A good book has that effect on you -- it makes you stop paying attention to your surroundings and lose yourself completely in the world the author creates. Be it a couple in an old Alabama mansion, a Navy SEAL on a mission in the middle east, a bodyguard keeping tabs on a reporter in Boston, a CEO seeking revenge on his ex-wife or a Regency era rake and the object of his affections, they all exert a power that if harnessed could light the world, just like my sunburn is probably going to glow in the dark tonight.

Combine that book with the beach and... Riddle me this: what is it about the beach and a good book? What are your favorite beach reads?

P.S. I saved a place for you on the beach today but you never showed up. Maybe next time.

Monday, May 14, 2007

How dumb do you think I am?

Several of my friends are English teachers, so when we get together, conversation often turns to students. And the stupid stunts they pull.

It’s amazing how stupid students think we are. Like we were never undergrads. Like we’ve never heard that excuse before. Yep, we were born yesterday.

It’s frustrating, but amusing.

Take the students who turned in the exact same paper for an assignment. Student A claimed surprise that her paper would be on the internet. She actually seemed to imply that *I* had uploaded it to a paper mill site. Student B admitted her sister had helped her with the paper, but also claimed shock and surprise it was available on the internet. Both claimed coincidence that another student would have the same paper. (Now, a thousand monkeys with a thousand typewriters might eventually create Shakespeare, but the chances of two students creating the exact same paper for the exact same class at the exact same time—and that said paper just happens to be the third link on a Google search for “Othello”—well, those odds are astounding.) Both were seriously upset to receive a big fat zero on the assignment.

I once presented a student with a paper also easily found via Google. She didn’t deny it. Instead she claimed that since she had purchased the paper for $50, it was now really hers. Not only was she out $50 with a goose egg to show for it in the grade book, she wasn't happy when I told her that even if I hadn't found the paper mill she bought it from, the best she could have hoped for for her $50 would have been a C. She didn't even buy a good paper.

The funny thing about students who plagiarize is that they don’t do it very well. Let’s see, if you can find it easily on the internet, what makes you think I won’t find it with a simple search? I’ve had students cut and paste into papers and forget to remove the hyperlinks from the copied text. (Underlined text in an essay is always a giveaway.) Back in the day, it was relatively easy to copy and not get caught—you just went to the dustiest part of the library stacks and pulled an obscure text to copy from. (Not that I ever did that, of course.) But students seem to think they are being clever by typing “Othello” into a search engine and choosing a link.


Let’s see. Then there was the student who dropped my class shortly after receiving her second not-stellar grade on an assignment. She sent me a lovely email, telling me how much she adored me and my class, but she had to drop because her father had been suddenly transferred to New Jersey, effective immediately. She was asking that I give her a WP (Withdrawal Passing) instead of a WF (Withdrawal Failing). WP doesn’t affect GPA; WF counts as an F. She was sure that if only she weren’t moving in the next couple of days, she’d be able to pull the grade up. So sorry. I guess she didn’t realize that I would get a copy of the drop slip. Interestingly, only one out of four classes had been dropped. Seemed she could still take her other classes from New Jersey. She was upset to find out she wouldn’t be getting the WP. She came by my office to tell me so two weeks later.

Umm, thought you were in New Jersey, honey.

I’m an evil, mean teacher. I don’t accept late work or give make up tests unless you have a really good excuse and the paperwork to back it up. Death, car accidents, ER visits, arrests*—all of the good excuses come with paperwork. Bring me a copy and we’ll talk. Of course, then there was the student who brought me a note from her mother…. Seriously—a college student with a note from her mom.

*Yes, I did have a student bring me a copy of his arrest report as his excuse for turning in a late paper. I didn’t feel that his stupidity (he spent the night in jail for public intoxication and urination) should actually give him a free pass on the late assignment. See, I’m evil. He had the paperwork, but still got no sympathy for the situation.

I am also jaded. I come across as uncaring when I ask for an obituary or funeral program, but do you know how dangerous a time midterms is for grandmothers? It’s downright dangerous to be a grandmother of a college student—it cuts your life expectancy drastically.

I don’t claim to be foolproof. I’m sure there are students out there gloating because they pulled one over on me—a paper I didn’t realize was plagiarized; a sob story I bought. But I have caught a lot, and my BS detector is getting pretty accurate.

Since your school days are behind you, ‘fess up. Did you ever manage to get one by your teacher? What was the stupidest excuse you tried (and failed) to get him/her to buy?


Sunday, May 13, 2007

Surprise, Surprise!

HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY!!!! Yes, I realize I'm a day late, but the thought still counts.

I had a really nice Mother's Day, but we'll get to that later. The Playfriends celebrate motherhood all around. Most all of us are mothers (poor Andrea just gets to hear about our child-rearing dramas... I mean, adventures), and we all have mothers. We appreciate the love, commitment, and sheer energy involved in raising children. So we want to say a big THANK YOU to all the Moms out there.

For those of you who are wondering, Playground Monitor's mother is doing better. (See full report below.) She's recovering slowly from her surgery, but PM has flown out there to be with her. She hopes to bring her home from the hospital early this week.

I had the pleasure of talking to my Mom on the phone yesterday and ironing out the details for her visit in June. Though I won't get to spend more than a day with her, I'm excited about that day being my birthday. This year I get to spend it with my twin sister AND my mother. What fun! The next day I'll fly with the Playfriends to Scotland and leave my children in my Mother's capable hands while my hubby is at work. I know she'll cherish this chance to spend uninterrupted time with them.

My husband went out of his way to treat me special this year. He knew the desire of my heart and bought me a NEW CAR!!!! Well, it's new to me, and he traded in my old one for it. He surprised me with a black Dodge Durango on Saturday night. And I mean really surprised, because even though we'd talked about trading my car in, I figured it would be at least a few more months. Wasn't that incredibly awesome of him? As a bonus, he threw in a lower car payment. Now that's a prince!!!

I love Mother's Day. Not just because my husband and children go out of their way to show me their appreciation, but because it reminds me of how blessed I am to be a mother. Despite terrible twos (Lord, help me!), tears (their's and mine), and the constant battle to get them to put away their crap (I mean, stuff), there isn't anything like the feeling of holding your child in your arms. Hearing your two year old say "I love you, Mommy" for the first time. Cheering them on as they grow and learn new responsibilities. Through years of infertility, I never thought I'd experience it. Now I have. Times two.

I hope all of you had wonderful Mother's Days, surrounded by your own Mother and children, if you have them. Or at least with wonderful memories of those you love. So tell me how you spent your Mother's Day, what presents you got or gave, and what you did to treat yourself. (You better have treated yourself, if only just for ten minutes!) I unpacked boxes (trust me, I wanted to) and didn't cook! How about you?


Progress Report on PM's Mom

Some of you have asked about my mother and I really appreciate your concern. I arrived on St. Simons Island late Friday afternoon (flight from Huntsville to Charlotte was a but bumpy and the flight from Charlotte to Jacksonville was delayed two hours and then I had to rent a car and drive 60 miles to SSI) and went straight to the hospital. My mom is still very weak but is recuperating well and getting stronger every day. The doctor originally said she would be released yesterday, but on Friday he amended it to Tuesday because she's still too weak to be at home. She began eating soft foods Friday and graduated to real food yesterday. We told her we'd get her a hot dog from Willie's Weenie Wagon when she's ready for it.

She told me they made her climb Mt. Everest yesterday and walk around the world today(which translates to walking across her room, a few steps down the hall and back to her room). Her sense of humor tells me she must be feeling better. They took out the morphine pump too so she's off the happy juice.

All her pathology reports came back negative for cancer so that was a big relief, and I'm sure the peace of mind will help speed my mother's recovery.

I'll let her know that the Playground friends were asking about her and I know she'll appreciate all your thoughts and prayers.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Stop the Train, I Wanna Get Off

It's hard to blog after Linda. I feel, well, unworthy of my own blog. Alas, it is my day and I have to do it. Its appropriate, though, given her unnatural attraction to plywood, that I would blog once again about building my new house. No swords named Kitty, although DB accused me of having to name everything. I do. Doesn't everyone name their plants, car, computer?? No. Oh. Hmmm. Moving on...

Well, if I wasn’t in a state of panic before today with home appraisers, wood insect inspectors and handy men hammering roof shingles, the events of the morning pushed me over the edge. I found out that my new house is anticipated to close on...wait for it...June 13th. Ugh. For those of you that don’t know, that’s the day we leave for Scotland. I’m working with them to try and push the date back to the 11th or 12th, but if it doesn’t happen, that means I will set up closing as early as possible that morning, hand DB the keys, and hit the road to Birmingham. No romantic “first night in our new house” sort of thing. Just wrap up the paperwork and run. I’m hoping a day or two early might let me get utilities turned on, maybe even move a few things in. We’ll see.

I guess you should be careful what you wish for. I’d hoped the house would be done before the trip instead of after, but that’s sure cutting it close. It’s also a little disappointing that I won’t be able to revel in new house glory very long before I have to leave it behind and revel in Scotland glory. I wanted to pace my glory. Now I’ll be coming home, jetlagged and exhausted, to an entire house (potentially sans internet or electricity) that needs to be moved into and all my junk put away. Sucks the fun out of it.

Keep your fingers crossed for the two extra days, ladies. Otherwise I'm going to be a scattered, neurotic travel companion. I give all of you fair warning to bring extra toothpaste because I'm anticipating to forget half my stuff in the chaos. Thank goodness for Ambien. Everyone gets one. :)

Considering everything else, we’re not even going to talk about my book. After the luncheon we brainstormed some good ideas for where I went wrong (I've stalled) and there’s a lot of work to be done on what I’ve written before I can move forward. Guess I’ll try to squeeze that in between getting fully moved into the house and leaving for Dallas. I do have one positive development on the book front -

I have a title...the winner of last week's contest to name my book is...Pat L. My working title will be Ghost of a Chance. Kathy gets honorable mention for coming up with the longest list of completely crazy titles. My favorite was Deadliest Match : A PIMPS Mystery. Instigator also gets honorable mention for the best title that wasn't eligible to win with Ghost Encounters of the Future (Dead) Mother-In-Law Kind. I'll keep that in my back pocket when I sell this book and the editor wants a list of titles to choose from. Anyway... Pat - email me at with your home address to claim your prize.

The winner of yesterday's guest blog with Linda Howard is Ladypugs! Email with your snail mail address to claim your prize.

That's it. I'm going to bed. Happy Friday.

Thursday, May 10, 2007


I'm very honored to welcome Linda Howard, one of our very own Mavens, to the playground today. Over the next three months all three Mavens will be blogging with us about their new Raintree trilogy. So pull up a swing or a patch of sand and enjoy!


So . . . about five years ago, Beverly Barton, Linda W. Jones, and I were sitting in our hotel suite talking about writing. Big surprise there, huh? Actually, they were talking and I was listening. They had both written books in multiple continuity stories for Silhouette, and they were talking about how difficult it was when the story "bible" wasn't one they'd plotted themselves, and when they didn't know the other writers involved. One thing led to another, and soon we were talking about writers whom we could collaborate with, which somehow segued into "let's come up with our own continuity." The continuity idea devolved into a trilogy, because, let's face it, three writers working together is difficult enough, much less six or twelve!

I honestly don't remember how the idea of a paranormal clan came about. I know how we got the name Raintree: from the phone book. We all liked it, and within minutes we'd each chosen our character: I had the king of the Raintree clan, Dante; LJ had the cop brother, Gideon; and Beverly had the sister, Mercy. We each named our own character. We agreed on certain things, such as that Judah, the king of the evil Ansara wizards, was practically a mirror image of Dante in their powers. Why make this easy, right? We agreed on the location of each book, which set up some logistical problems when we had to get all three of the main characters together.

Then we began researching. We researched everything we could think of: guardian angels, mythology, numerology, astrology, Tarot, paranormal abilities, the hidden meaning of names, and a bunch of other "ologies" I can't remember right now. Of course, all this research necessitated several trips to the mountains, to a casino . . . all I can say is, I feel much more creative with a good shopping day under my belt. Understand, I have an SUV; on our first trip to the mountains, we bought so much that, on the trip home, so much was packed in that SUV that all we could see of LJ was her face. Remember the scene in ET, where he was hiding in the closet of toys and his face was surrounded by all the stuffed animals? Like that. Beverly was also holding stuff she'd bought on her lap, and bags were stuffed around her legs. I, fortunately, was driving. If I'd had to slam on the brakes, all three of us would have been crushed under the impact of our purchases flying forward.

The things we do for our writing. (Picture the back of my hand pressed to my forehead.)

We worked on these books for years. Well, not on the writing part, but on the research part. I bought most of each year's Christmas presents while we were researching. I have no idea what I'll do this year . LJ wrote Haunted really fast, or at least the first draft, and laid down the timeline that Beverly and I then followed when we wrote our books. It didn't matter what the timeline was, or who set it, just that there was one.

Because the lead characters in the subsequent books would have to be total idiots if they hadn't figured out the Raintree clan was under attack after everything that happened in Inferno -- we'd agreed that the action in all three books would have to be taking place simultaneously. Oh, man, the trouble we caused ourselves with this one decision! Take my advice: don't ever, ever do this. Time zones, flight times, sunset and sunrise times -- erk! It was detail after detail after detail that didn't matter a hill of beans to the book's plot, but were crucial to the logistics of our overlapping scenes and the big ending. Not only that, but with that one decision we also prevented both LJ and me from having a big, real, final ending in each of our books. In the end, there can be only one. Ending, that is. Right? And that had to be in the last book. If the big ending was in the first book, well, then there's no point in the second and third books.


We had either really set ourselves up to fail, or somehow readers would forgive us and read the books anyway.

But, at last, Beverly and I began writing our own books. LJ, I'll point out, has been very gracious (most of the time) about us taking so long. It helped that she was very busy with other books and contracts (whew!) because Beverly's schedule for those five years or longer has been absolutely hellacious. I was busy with my own stuff, such as remodeling this house, gutting and remodeling an old house on the property, buying and remodeling a house in the mountains, selling it, building a new house in the mountains, taking care of family members, landscaping, building a new office behind the house . . . have I mentioned that I like construction? I do, I do, oh I do. Love the smell of sawdust.

Anyway, finally we began. We each had notebooks full of research, the mythology we'd agreed on, what each character's powers were, etc. After five years (and lots of shopping) you'd think we'd have covered each detail. You'd be wrong.

The e-mails were flying like confetti in a ticker-tape parade. One memorable e-mail from Beverly asked, "What are y'all naming your swords?"

LJ: "Sword?"

Me: "What sword?"

LJ: "I don't have a sword in my book."

Me: "Dante's not a sword type of guy. He's into fireballs."

Beverly: "There are swords in my notes! Mercy has a sword!"

LJ: "I'm not going back and rewriting this book to put a sword in!"

Me: "No, no, no, I'm so tired I can't think. I can't name a sword. The only name that comes to mind is Kitty, and I refuse to name a sword Kitty."

LJ, perking up: "Kitty? A sword named Kitty? I like that!" (Have we mentioned that LJ's a little on the bent side? No? Well, she is. I gave her Kitty the Sword, because I sure don't want it. Kitty makes an appearance in one of her future books.)

Beverly: "Y'all don't have to have swords, but I'm not taking mine out. Mercy has a sword and she's keeping it."

And so it went, with detail after detail after detail. On toward the end, our e-mails bore the subject header: "Those damn Raintrees again."

But you know what? The characters lived with me. Lorna was fiercely independent, prickly, and determined not to let anyone close to her. Dante was a complicated man, part modern, but a big part of him was very much like a medieval ruler. In the paranormal world, his word was law, and he was ruthless in protecting his clan. He could and did kill in the protection of what he held dear, and he didn't lose any sleep over it. He often overstepped his bounds, mainly because he didn't really recognize that he had bounds. One of Lorna's duties in life now (ahem) is to point those out to him, and make him miserable if he doesn't listen to her.

We had fun doing this trilogy. We talked endless hours about it. We never, ever argued, which is something of a miracle considering how different our voices, work styles, and approaches are. Our friendship not only survived, it flourished. Silhouette gave the trilogy some great covers, came up with a smart marketing strategy, and did some whiz-bang advertising. Ads usually don't make an impression on me, but the fold-out ad they did in Sci-fi magazine was breathtaking.

We lived with them for five years, but now it's almost over. Raintree: Inferno is out. Raintree: Haunted will be out in three weeks, Raintree: Sanctuary will make its appearance in about seven weeks, at the end of June.

Those damn Raintrees. They were a lot of fun. I miss them.

Linda Howard
P.S. Anyone familiar with the playground knows we love contests :-) One commenter today will receive a copy of Raintree: Inferno. Wow us, surprise us, tell us about your favorite Linda Howard book or never know what might snag our attention and win that prize :-)

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

When you turn mom upside down she's wow!

I have Mom on the mind because mine had emergency surgery on Monday night. She's still in the hospital and they're not quite sure what's going on. We're waiting for the pathology reports to come in with some official diagnoses, but right now we're hoping it's just a low-grade infection . I may be flying to her place on Friday to help when she comes home from the hospital. It's the least I can do to repay her for bandaging skinned knees, drying tears and nursing me through countless colds, the chicken pox, measles, mumps and icky stomach viruses.

Sunday is Mother's Day and this is in honor of all moms.

Of course, no post about mothers would be complete without embarrassing motherhood stories. What's your best one?

P.S. Today is Smarty Pants's birthday so please take time to wish her a happy birthday. We hope she enjoys the cake.

P.P.S. Pat L and tetewa are yesterday's winners. Please contact Problem Child with your name and snail mail address to claim your goodie bags.

Tomorrow's guest blogger is Linda Howard. She'll be talking about her latest release -- Raintree: Inferno -- and anything else she wants to talk about. Don't miss it!

Monday, May 07, 2007

Things I learned this weekend at the Luncheon.

1.) I can scare people. When the room wasn’t set correctly when I arrived Saturday morning, several phone calls produced two muscular guys ready to move tables. However, there was a 20 ft screen that also needed to be moved. When I mentioned that, the guys started to tell me that was someone else’s responsibility. Obviously the look on my face was not a happy one, because mid-way through passing the buck, they said “Or maybe we could just move that for you.”

2.) When you ask for a breath mint and someone hands you something that looks like one of those Listerine pocket packs, make sure it’s not actually a Chloroseptic sore throat strip. Especially if you’re expected to speak shortly thereafter.

3.) Jennifer LaBrecque is a hoot to hang out with. Rhonda Nelson (while also a hoot) has bad timing when it comes to trying to be funny with the luncheon coordinator :-) . At least she didn’t seem to hold my snappish remark against me…

4.) Wear an outfit with pockets. (Every year I bemoan my lack of pockets, yet I have yet to show up in an outfit with pockets. Cute capris and little flowey skirts just don’t come with pockets.)

5.) Keep your car keys with you even if you lock the rest of your stuff in someone’s room. That way, when you get locked out of that person’s room, you can still get home.

6.) People will take centerpieces off luncheon tables without even asking. (huff)

7.) To a five-year-old, book signings look a lot like Trick-or-Treating. All the authors have candy and goodies after all. (And when Kelley St. John starts you off with half a bag of Jolly Ranchers—and the bag to fill—you can score enough sugar to be bouncing off the walls in no time.)

8.) True friends don’t mind when stress makes you an evil bitch. Instead, they come up to you with glasses of water and the wonderful soothing words of “What can I do for you now?” (Instigator adds “Hon” to the end of that statement to make you feel even more special.)

9.) Angel will be making all of my author baskets for me when I’m published. (And for everyone who thinks I’m anal about things, go show Angel a basket an author has let tip over in the car and isn’t bothering to straighten back out properly. You could just see her fingers itching…)

10.) You’ll never make everyone happy. Someone is always going to complain about something. That person can kiss your ass.

11.) Twenty authors in a bar can toss back a lot of booze, be very loud, and can embarrass traveling businessmen three tables away.

12.) If you sing Happy Birthday to Smarty Pants in public, she turns interesting shades of red.

13.) Certain people, when presented with a beautiful, unique (and not cheap) salt lamp as a gift, will feel the need to lick it to see if it’s really salty or not.

14.) People often expect you to back down if faced with opposition. “But ma’am, we can’t do that” needs to be met with raised eyebrows and the assurances that oh, yes, they can, because that was what was agreed to by their boss--no matter what it says on the silly piece of paper they’re holding. Continued denials of action need to be met with cold stares and silence until they slink off to do what you asked.

15.) Our Playground Monitor knows everyone and can get them to donate cool stuff. If not, she puts them to work. She is also an excellent Promo Ho.

16.) Authors are the coolest people to hang out with.

17.) 181 people looks like an ocean of humanity when you’re standing behind a microphone all by yourself.

But it went well, I think. The food was good. The company was good (except for a few people—see #10). We sold a lot of books for charity. I’m kinda sad my days of being in charge are over, but I’m already looking forward to next year’s luncheon.

To celebrate a successful event, I’m giving away two goodie bags left over from the luncheon. You get a Susan Kearney tote bag, 2 books, and assorted promo goodies. Just put an “I want a goodie bag” in the comments tail to enter.


Congratulations to Sassy35803, who won yesterday's prize, since her situation reminds Angel of her much-missed Mother. Please send your name and snail mail address to Angel to claim your prize.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Hi Ho, Hi Ho, It's Off to Work We Go

This morning will be the last Monday appointment in my realty saga: I'm closing on my house today! Funny thing about selling houses... you work so hard to get it on the market. Keep it pretty while strangers invade it with prying eyes. Then do the dance of joy when it sells (or in my case, stand stunned while the real estate agent is thrilled at how little work she had to do to earn her 6%). You think the hard part is over. The End is near...

Oh no. The work is just beginning! Now you prepare for the inspection. Do the requested repairs. Prepare for the appraisal. Breathe a sigh of relief when it comes in at the right price. Stay at home for the termite inspection. Thank God we don't have any pesky critters! Then the real work starts... You MOVE! :)

I thought the lower half of my body would quit functioning last week. Every morning I woke up, creeping out of bed like a little old lady. Now, keep in mind, I'm a writer (both in my day job and dream job). Writers are essentially sedentary while they work. The only exercise I get is when I force myself to follow along to my Walk Away the Pounds videos or hauling around my two-year-old. I'm not made to pack and heft boxes. So the muscles in my jelly thighs and overworked calves protested with a mighty roar.

It reminded me of a similar experience in my writing life. Okay, not the jelly thighs, but still... As writers, we push and work to reach the goal—to write The End. We celebrate with chocolate and intense satisfaction when we type those lovely words. They symbolize such an accomplishment. One that we SHOULD revel in and value. But they are just the beginning of the work. Now our book must be revised, reworked, submitted, revised again, etc... The real work is just beginning. And it never ends.

What I'm learning from my published friends is that even selling doesn't end the work, because then there are editor requested revisions, copy edits, forms to fill out, and promotion that needs to be done. And all while working on the next book.

The work doesn't end. So we sure as heck better enjoy parts of it! Unlike the pain of packing up and spending days trying to figure out where I put the file folders, I have the joy of dreaming up new characters, seeing them come to life from my imagination to the page, and, yes, writing The End again and again. I'd rather do that than move any day of the week. :)

So how do you revise? Do you do it throughout the book or after The End? What are your pet peeves about the revision process? When does it end for you (or does it ever end)?


P.S. I'm in a REALLY good mood, because on top of closing on my house today, I enjoyed a fabu luncheon this weekend AND finally received my passport after 13 weeks of waiting. I can now legally go to Scotland with the Playfriends!

So I'm passing along a prize to one commenter today. If you aren't a writer, just introduce yourself or tell me your own real estate story. Problem Child will announce the winner tomorrow!

Playfriend Power

Wow. My Playfriends are the best.

Yesterday's luncheon seemed to go well. A few minor hitches early in the day, but by the time the attendees arrived, everything was in place and ran like clockwork.

Why? Because my Playfriends worked their collective bootys off.

And they are still speaking to me--amazing since I had a small meltdown and completely forgot my "pleases" and "thank yous" and probably was a bit snappish.

So thank you my dear Playfriends. I couldn't have done it without you. (And you too, Honorary Playfriend Kathy. You can boss me around next year!)


Friday, May 04, 2007

A Rose By Any Other Name

Earlier this week, myself, along with the hordes of PAN and PRO RWA members, rushed to the website to sign up for editor and agent appointments for the conference in Dallas. Aside from some glitches due to server overload, I was pleased with the results. I snagged the last appointment for my agent of choice and got a group appointment for an editor that I just want to talk with. Now every single appointment is filled. If anyone ever questioned the value of PRO, they need to be one of the non-PRO members wanting an appointment that won’t be there by the time they’re able to register. Of course, if they’re pitching, they should have a finished book and if they have a finished book, they should be PRO.

Anyway, now the frenzy begins. Not that my life isn’t screwed up enough right now, but now the pressure of getting my book together in time is looming. Recently, I’ve noticed I have a couple minor issues to address. For one, it has no title. I call my book PIMPs, but that is a wholly unsuitable title to submit to contests or pitch to an agent or editor. So I need that. I’ve also been working on a high concept pitch line. And of course, there’s also the actual pitch. Oh, and writing the last 150 pages of the book. Need to do that too. At least I know what happens. That’s half the battle.

I know the title isn’t really important because if it sold, marketing would change it anyway, but I want something snappy enough that when I pitch it, people go “Hmm...” (in a good way.)

So I’m trying to think of something, maybe y’all can help. It’s the story of four very different women working together to solve paranormal mysteries. A sort of a Ghostbusters meets Sex in the City scenario. It’s set in Savannah, Georgia. The heroine is a sarcastic, spunky PI who doesn’t believe in ghosts. (Boy, is she in for it.) Although it’s a paranormal, it’s more of a funny, contemporary single title mystery. Could we throw a few more genres in there? Special snowflake...anyway...Someone mentioned if the hero or heroine isn’t a ghost/vamp/shape-shifter, etc., it isn’t really paranormal in the traditional sense. My twosome are both very real humans, although everything else going on around them is in the paranormal realm – ghosts of a dead partner, mother, etc.

So words in the title might be...

Paranormal Element: Haunted, Ghost, Spirits, Dead, Spook
Private Investigators: Guns, Detectives, Hunters, PI
Southern: Belles, South/ern, Georgia, B&B

I want it to be funny, but not in a campy, chick-lit sort of way. At the same time, I don’t want it to be too serious, like Deadly Whispers or something. It’d also be cool if I could work in the subtitle “: A PIMPS Mystery.” Maybe it could start like a Perry Mason movie – The Case of the Meddling (Dead) Mother-In-Law. Something where follow-on books could follow the pattern. Dead Mothers Do Tell Tales: A PIMPS Mystery.

Something like...Ghosts, Guns and Gucci Bags? Maybe for Erin’s book, she’s more of a Gucci girl. Some Like It Spooky. I don’t know. They all stink when I say them out loud. I’ve set a tall order for myself. I keep drawing a blank, which is weird cause my titles usually come pretty easily. I always sit in awe when I see clever titles like The Givinchy Code or The Good, The Bad & The Undead.

Ugh. You try. If I pick your title, you get a book of your choice. One less thing to pack!


Thursday, May 03, 2007

Angel is AWOL!

With Angel currently MIA, you’re stuck with me again. (Lucky you. Two PC posts in one week!) Okay, so she’s not actually AWOL or MIA, since we know where she is, and all codependence aside, she is allowed to do things without Playfriend approval.

We're just missing her, that's all. We're a party of five, darn it. Four is an odd number for us.

The sad and tragic fact is that Angel is without internet access. (Collective Gasp!) And has been for several days, bless her heart. If she’s lucky, she’ll be back online sometime today.

I’d be nuts by now. Oh, who am I kidding, if my internet goes down for longer than two minutes, I go into withdrawal. I’d be homicidal by now.

Hello, my name is Problem Child and I have an internet addiction.

I’m not addicted to online gaming or porn or even chat rooms. It’s mostly my email I can’t live without. I check my email obsessively. Obsessively. If I click “send/receive” and nothing shows up, I click it again in disbelief. Granted, the Playfriends are responsible for a lot of the email in my in box, but if I don’t get 30 or more emails, I feel unloved. Forgotten. Disconnected from the universe and my people. Alone in suburbia.

I don’t know how I lived before email. Heck, I don’t know how I survived before high speed access. I’ll never forget how DG worked so hard to convince me that high speed was something we needed. He snared me with the “we’ll try it for a month and if you don’t like it, we’ll cancel it” trap.

Yeah, right. That’s how crack dealers catch their new customers too. After 30 days of high speed bliss, there was no way in hell anyone was taking that away from me.

We are a family of three. We have three computers—all of which are networked together on a wireless router so we can all access the internet at once. Yep, even AC. Have you ever seen a five-year-old bemoan a slow web page? It’s downright funny. All of a sudden, I become my grandmother—“When I was your age, Missy, we didn’t even have a computer. We had to play games on boards with pieces. And we had to make our own sounds as we did.”

Dear dog, get me my cane.

So have you sold your soul to your internet service provider? And how soon after Angel’s connection is restored do you think she’ll show up here?

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Adventures in Babysitting

Things I forgot, things I remembered & things I learned.

In 2004 on her fiftieth birthday, Oprah Winfrey proudly proclaimed, "Fifty is the new thirty!"


Spreading that sort of unsubstantiated tommyrot has to be stopped. In the immortal words of Barney Fife, we must nip it. Nip it in the bud! The woman is as rich as Croesus, has Bob the personal trainer, Dr. Phil, her best pal Gayle, her main squeeze Steadman and Lord only knows who else to make her life easier.

What she doesn't have is a 10 month old granddaughter that she kept for four days last week.

I forgot just how much work babies are. Of course, I'm at that age where the memory begins to fade, unless you believe that malarkey that subtracts two decades from your age. Yeah, yeah, yeah, fifty is a great time to wear purple with a red hat and make up for the sobriety of your youth. It's a time to enjoy life and reap the rewards of a couple decades of hard work. But sometimes fifty sucks has its limitations.

I had to squeeze in a shower while she napped. I thought I could prop up my feet while she slept and read a new book I'd bought the week before. HA! I'm not sure what I did during nap time, but it sure wasn't reading.

I dragged out plastic bowls and spatulas for her to play with. We watched her Elmo videos (la la la la, la la la la, Elmo's song) and Bob the Builder on PBS. While I didn't completely blow my diet by grabbing junk food between stopping her from eating cat food and eating lint from under the sofa, my diet kinda went to hell in a handbasket this week. Tomorrow I'm back on track.

What I did remember, though, was how to change a diaper on a squirming baby, how to blow raspberries on a baby's tummy and the lyrics to many of the songs from Sesame Street. I also remember what a mess it is when a baby sneezes in your direction with a mouthful of Gerber lasagna dinner.

I remember too how sweet a baby smells right after a bath and how her giggles can make me giggle too, even when I'm covered in lasagna dinner.

I also remember why you have babies in your twenties and thirties. The next time I read a headline about some fifty-something woman giving birth, I'm going to write her a note and ask if she's lost her ever-loving mind!

Don't get me wrong. I love my little granddaughter to pieces. But it's hard work to tend to one day in and day out when you're not used to it and your house isn't childproofed. Folks talk about waiting until they can afford to have children. If I'd done that, I'd have a toddler right now. Take my word for it -- have 'em while you're young.

And now that she's gone back home, I've learned that exhaustion is cured with a long, hot shower and good night's sleep, little fingerprints will wash right off the window in that back door, apple juice is easily mopped off the kitchen floor and I'll be finding Cheerios all over my kitchen and den for weeks to come. I also discovered that Kermit the Frog sang "Kokomo" and "Who Let the Frogs Out."

When I met my son at a halfway point between their house and mine and handed her back over, she greeted her Daddy with a big smile and a hug, and she waved her little backwards wave and said "Bye" to her Grammy. Once I returned home, I put away the bucket of makeshift toys so they'll be ready for the next visit. She'll probably be walking by then and I'll forget, remember and learn a whole lot more.

This has nothing whatsover to do with writing unless one of you can somehow make the connection. My brains are still a little fried and I'm trying to get them rested for Saturday's luncheon. My good friend Annie is driving in from Kentucky to attend the luncheon with me and I can't wait. I haven't seen her since last summer, though we email with regularity. It's going to be a great weekend. The DH has already said he's running away from home on Friday.

I'd forgotten he was such a wuss. :grin:

P.S. What's your best baby story?

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

T minus 3 and counting

Three days until the luncheon. Yes, I know the luncheon itself isn’t until Saturday, but for me (and a few lucky suck—ahem, dearest friends) the luncheon will start bright and early Friday morning as we schlep several hundred books, several thousand bookmarks, seven boxes of assorted goodies like pens and notepads, fifteen gift baskets, twenty-five centerpieces, and the rest of the stuff it takes to make a luncheon a success to downtown Huntsville.

Oh, and my luggage too.

Not to jinx it, but I’m pretty sure it’s going to be a fabu event. At least I hope so.

Yeah, I know I piss and moan about it, but planning the luncheon is actually something I enjoy. It’s a very fun event, and folks seem to really have a good time. And, yes, it is a lot of work, but if I weren’t such an anal-retentive control freak, I could probably delegate some of the chores and it wouldn’t all be me. I take a lot of pride in an event that comes together well, and I like watching people have a good time at a function I put together. Plus, I love a girlie event where everyone dresses up and has a nice lunch (of course, ANY meal that I don’t have to cook, is brought to me on a real plate in a place without a PlayPlace attached is a big-girl event indeed.)

So, I’m looking forward to Saturday. We have a good crowd, a fantastic speaker, and some really great authors coming. I’ll get to see old friends and make some new ones. There are several folks I’ll meet for the first time in real life (Hi, Jen!), and I’ll get to see my CP at her first event as a published author (even if her book isn’t out just yet). Things are in place—just cross your fingers nothing goes horribly wrong between now and 3 pm Saturday. (And that the flu doesn’t keep several of the authors home like it did last year.)

But this will be a bittersweet event for me as I’m passing the luncheon supply boxes off to another member and letting her take over for next year. I’ll still have my fingers in the mix—I’m still the Events Chair, and I’m a control freak, remember? Kathy will probably be begging me to butt out. I know she’ll do a great job (and I’m harboring the not-so-secret hope that I might sell and therefore be too busy to butt in too much).

I still have some last minute shopping to do, and the To Do lists (you knew there would be at least one, right?) are amazingly detailed and include not only what needs to be done, but when.

(Now I can cross “Blog Entry” off my list and move on to the next thing on my list—calling in the head count to the caterer and finalizing the menu.)

Everyone knows what I’ll be doing this week and this weekend. Thank goodness DG is the Best Ever Hubby and doesn’t bat an eye at the organized chaos that is life-before-luncheon AND the fact he gets to be single dad all weekend.* I think he’s looking forward to life going back to normal next week (when all the books, bookmarks, and other goodies will be out of the office. And the garage. And the bedroom. And the hallway.)

What are you looking forward to?

PC (which stands for Party Controller this week)

*And this weekend is the Daisy Girl Scout sing-a-long. He’s really looking forward to that! (snicker)