Thursday, January 31, 2008

Warning: Rant Ahead

Where did everyone learn to drive? Okay, maybe not everyone. Just the people I've encountered over the last several days. I am not the world's most cautious driver. I've had a couple fender benders, a speeding ticket and a failure to follow signage ticket. What I'm trying to say is that I've been known to break a rule or two. But seriously!!

The turn lane is for TURNING. I really wish some people would try it sometime. As opposed to slowing down to five miles an hour before pulling halfway into the turn lane and stopping. Turning requires planning. Forethought. Perhaps it's a radical idea but why don't you try pulling into the lane BEFORE you slow your ass down so that you don't interrupt traffic? There's a reason the city planners put the lane in. Use it. Please.

Deceleration lanes are for the same purpose. When the tiny broken line to your right appears on the pavement and you intend to turn....get in the damn lane!! Don't wait until five feet before the turn and THEN decide you need to use the lane. I'm behind you idiot and I'm already in the lane because I know where I'm going.

Acceleration lanes should be used to get up to speed before entering traffic. You can't do that if you drive to the end of the lane and then have to stop because there isn't a hole. What? Did you think space would magically appear in between two lanes of speeding cars? I think not. Don't get upset with me because you can't wait thirty seconds and have now lost your spot in line.

And don't get me started on the drop off/pick up situation at my girl's school. We have a lane with a canopy that's used for dropping/picking up. However, I have 2 children (Baby Girl and my nephew) that require the use of a car seat. Rather than hold up car line while I buckle/unbuckle said children I prefer to pull out of traffic to accomplish this. Considerate, yes? We have a section in front of our flag pole that is designed for this precise purpose. It holds 2 large cars or 3 small cars if everyone pulls all the way forward. Do they do that? NO! Instead some soccer mom driving a sedan chooses to park smack dab in the middle so that no one else can get into the spot. What is wrong with these people?

This morning a guy ran a stop sign and almost hit me. My patience is almost out. I realize some of that is on me - patience is not a strong point on a good day. But I'm just not sure how much more I can take....if one more person cuts me off you may see me on the evening news.

Do you have any driving pet peeves?


P.S. Congratulations to Catslady, yesterday's winner. Please email PM here with your snail mail and she'll get your prize out.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

It's Not Easy Being Green

You can't go a day without reading an article or seeing som
ething on television about being green. The earth has finite resources and landfills everywhere are overflowing with things that won't ever decompose.

But just what is "being green?" There's not enough space on this blog to go into all the different things you can do to help the environment, but I'm going to hit on a few that we've incorporated at our house.

* Recycle and Freecycle. We have curbside recycling in our town and we've participated from its inception. Every item that's recyclable through our system goes in the blue bin and then out to the curb once a week. Items we no longer need are donated to a thrift store. Or another option is something I just learned about: This is a
nationwide organization that operates through Yahoo groups and is a place where people can offer or request items. The only hitch is they must be offered free. We had an old computer monitor that had conked out during the warranty. The company replaced it but the old one had been in our attic for a year. Last week I pulled it out, posted it on Freecycle and had a dozen folks ask for it. Freecycle is a great way to get rid of items without putting them in the landfill. One man's junk is another man's treasure.

* Insulate your home. Double pane windows or storm windows, caulking and weatherstripping, proper floor, ceiling and wall insulation can reduce your heating and cooling costs. It's an inexpensive solution with big returns.

* Turn down the thermostat. In winter, set your thermostat to 68 degrees. Put an extra blanket on the bed. Wear a sweater in the house. A two-degree adjustment to your thermostat setting can reduce heating costs by 4%. In summer, set it to 78. Use ceiling fans to circulate the air and keep rooms cooler. Depending on the type of heat you have, a programmable thermostat that automatically turns down the setting at night and/or while you're at work may work for you. Heat pumps don't benefit from them, but other types of heat do. Also, remember to change your furnace filters regularly. If you use the cheap ones, change them monthly. If you use the more expensive ones or the ones you can wash, follow the manufacturer's suggestions for when to clean or replace.

* Use the power of the sun. If solar power is available to you, use it. But you can use the
sun's power to your advantage without ugly panels on the roof. Open curtains and blinds in the winter to let the sun heat your house. Likewise, close them in summer to keep out the hot rays.

* Wash only when full. Run your clothes washer and dishwasher only when full. Use cold water when possible to wash clothes. Obviously, the dishwasher won't work with cold water, but you can turn down the thermostat on your hot water heater to 120 degrees and still safely clean your dishes.

* Paper or plastic? Neither. Many grocery stores now offer inexpensive reusable shopping bags for around $1. This, of course, is the no-frills model. You can buy all styles and colors for more, but they all accomplish the same goal -- to keep plastic out of the landfills. Of course, remembering to take them is my biggest challenge. I've also started using cloth napkins at the dinner table. They are a dark color so they don't show every little thing. And the DH and I aren't that messy either. I keep lots of cleaning rags on hand to use instead of paper towels. I've discovered microfiber towels and they rock! I can clean a mirror and leave it streak-free with nothing but a little water. We do use facial tissues and toilet paper. I'm not fond of carrying a snotty hankie around and well... they don't make the Sears catalog anymore. ;-) Use resealable plastic containers to store leftovers instead of plastic wrap or aluminum foil. Use them to pack lunches instead of resealable plastic bags

* Watch those miles. Drive a car that gets good mileage whether it's a regular gasoline burning engine, bio-diesel or hybrid. Consolidate your errands to minimize the number of trips you make from home. Carpool if you can and if available, use public transportation.

* Be cyber-green. Use your ATM card and online banking and bill paying to reduce the number of checks you write and bill payments you mail. And if you use a program like Microsoft Money or Quicken, your bank transactions will download straight to it, which helps a lot at tax time since you can categorize your expenditures into deductible and non-deductible items. That will feed into most tax software programs, most of which allow you to file online, again saving paper and postage. And if you're getting a refund, you can opt to have it deposited directly to your bank account.

* Don't take a bath. Bubble baths might be fun and relaxing, but showers use less water, especially if you've installed a low-flow shower head.

Are you trying to be green? Wouldn't you like to shower with Matthew McConnaughey? Give me your best "being green" tip and I'll pick one commenter and mail them $2 to buy a reusable shopping bag. That will use less packaging than mailing you a bag. *g* But you gotta promise to buy and use the bag.

P.S. Our winner from yesterday is Rita. Please contact Problem Child with your full name and snail mail info to claim your prize.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Guest Blogger Kerrelyn Sparks

Here on the Playground, we have an affinity for those dark and dangerous vampires. Give them a sense of humor, and it's definitely love! That's why we're excited to welcome author Kerrelyn Sparks to the Playground blog today. Her titles include bestseller How to Marry a Millionaire Vampire and Be Still My Undead Heart.

(And I'm sorry, but I have to rub it in. Her newest release, The Undead Next Door, is supposed to hit shelves today. But I found a copy at the local BAM on Sunday and already sped through it. It's really cool, so check it out! How could it not be with that gorgeous hunk on the cover?)


Since this is a playground for writing, I figured I should write about writing. For me, it all boils down to the characters. When I read a book, I want to feel like I really know the hero or heroine, so much so that I can slip into their skin and happily become them. I want to care what happens to them, and I want to be sad to say goodbye at the end of the book.

It doesn’t always happen. Sometimes I find myself skimming to the end of a book, and I wonder why? The book may be very well written. It may have a very interesting plot. So what’s wrong? I’m skimming because the plot is good, and I want to know how it is resolved. But I’m not reading every page and enjoying each line of dialogue because for some reason, I have failed to CARE about the characters. (By the way, that doesn’t mean it’s a bad book. The next reader who comes along might love the characters. It’s a matter of personal taste).

As a writer, my goal is to make the reader care. This is tricky cause you simply cannot make everyone care. And for those you do reach, their tastes can be wildly different. One little trick I unwittingly stumbled upon was to create a whole cast of vampires for my Love at Stake series. Some of the vampire men include Roman, Angus, Connor, Ian, Gregori, Jean-Luc, Phineas (aka Dr. Phang), Giacomo, and Laszlo. I have received fan mail for each of them. Different women have fallen for different Vamps!

Now, the cool thing about that is when the next book releases (The Undead Next Door, which releases today!!!), there will be readers who will buy the book, not because they give a hoot about the hero, Jean-Luc, but because they want to know what happens to Ian or Gregori next. Hopefully, by the time they finish the book, they’ll also love Jean-Luc! He’s a wonderfully, sexy guy! That’s him on the cover. Yum!

How can we create characters that readers will care about? First off, the hero and/or heroine should be likeable. What makes a person likeable to you? Do they have a strong sense of honor; are they loyal to their friends and family; do they have a great sense of humor? But don’t make them perfect! Perfect people are not very likeable, and they tend to be boring. So give your characters some flaws or vulnerabilities that readers can relate to. For instance, Ian is a five-hundred-year-old Vamp, stuck in a fifteen-year-old body. He occasionally feels awkward, out of place, and has trouble dating. Who can’t relate to that? (By the way, if that has never happened to you, see the above note on perfect people).

Who are your favorite vampires? They can be from books, movies, or TV. Tell me what you like about them. And one lucky person will win a signed copy of the third book from the Love at Stake series, Be Still My Vampire Heart. To find out more about The Undead Next Door, (on sale today!!), please visit my website at Happy writing!

Kerrelyn Sparks
You know the drill...comment for a chance to win Kerrelyn's book! Marilyn will announce the winner tomorrow.

Kerrelyn will also be in the Sandbox in February! Be sure to pop over and read her interview!

Sunday, January 27, 2008

The Muse Has Returned...

I had an awesome day yesterday! Why, you ask. Well, I wrote. I not only wrote, but I wrote 10 pages. Pages that seemed to flow from my brain straight to the fingertips and onto the paper. Man, it felt good.

These past few months – six months, if I'm honest – I have struggled to put words on paper. A few pages here, a few pages there. It just wasn't working. So yesterday's 10 pages were a blessing.

I'm beginning to think the problem is the project I was working on. For some reason, that book hasn't flowed from the beginning. Though I think what I've gotten on paper is good, getting it out has been like pulling a stubborn cow along with a rope. Very little progress. Maybe a step or two here or there. If you show it a little corn, then you might progress until the food runs out. Not fun.

I'm not sure what to do about that. I feel like I should finish it, but at the moment I'm just glad to be writing anything. I'm finally starting to feel sane again. :) Though I'll continue with this new project, I feel a little guilty as I imagine my book and its characters waiting on me to try once more. That just makes me want to avoid it.

Sigh.... What do you do when your work won't cooperate?


Don't forget to join us tomorrow when Kerrelyn Sparks, author of the Love at Stake paranormal series, joins us in the Sandbox! And pop over to Cheryl St. John's blog where the Playground Monitor is visiting today. The link is listed below.

PM has left the building...

... and is guest blogging at Cheryl St. John's blog tomorrow. Please pop over and say hi.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Coming to An Agent's Inbox Near You...

Ok, so I’m done moping. All it gets you is to the bottom of a Ben & Jerry’s carton. Mmmm... Cherry Garcia...uh, where was I? Oh yes, I’m going to get off my lazy, fearfully procrastinating butt and do something about my career instead of whining. Yes, my antibiotics have kicked in and I’m ready to take on the world. Well, at least send out some queries.

Angel invited me over last weekend to perk me up. She plied me with cheesecake and Wii trivia games. She also pitched an idea to me. I’ll call it the Circle of Five unless you all have a better name for it. Generally the concept being that at any one time, I have at least five manuscript related items circulating, be them queries, submissions, or contest entries. When one comes back rejected or the contest ends, another query goes out in its place. Something to keep me motivated knowing my stuff is out there. I know some people run a Circle of Twenty or something, but I'm going to start off small.

Anyway, so I’m starting today. I currently have one item out and long overdue, so I’ve sent an email inquiry for a status on that. I will also be querying four other agencies. Lord love them, most take electronic queries, so I’m able to fire them off without a trek to the post office. We all know how bad I am about mailing things. So that’s done. In addition, I’m scouring the contest deadlines to see what’s coming up and hopefully I can enter one or two with editors I’d like my stuff in front of.

So, I have my Circle of Five up and running and hopefully I’ll get some positive responses for partials. I’m also bracing myself for a rapid fire of rejection. I’m going to attempt to take it in stride. Or at least cut back to half a carton of Ben and Jerry’s. Although not a resolution, per se, I’m going to do my best to make sure I have at least five items of mine out in the world at any time. While they’re out – I also need to write more.

There must’ve been a dose of motivation in there with that B-12 shot they gave me. What are you doing to boost your writing career lately? For the readers out there, what are you psyched about?


PS. WHOA! Rapid rejection is right. I just got an R from an agency I emailed 30 minutes ago. Wow. They said it sounded interesting, but wasn't the right fit for them at this time. Well, guess I'd better send another one out to keep my 5 balls in the air.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Heath Ledger

I'm sure by now everyone's heard about Heath Ledger's death. I was completely shocked and upset when I found out. 10 Things I Hate About You is one of my favorite movies. Not to mention The Patriot. A Knight's Tale. The Four Feathers. There were so many fantastic films and I just can't believe that there won't be more.

But what's really bothering me is the media circus this has turned into. Yes, it's tragic. And because he was a public figure everyone thinks they deserve every last detail - to the point of speculation, half-truths and innuendo.

What's wrong with that? The man has a child. A child that will one day grow up to google her father and find all the crap that was written about his death. Sure some of it is probably true but I'd bet most of it isn't. The problem is she won't have him there to ask which is which.

Maybe I'm overly sensitive about this because I have a daughter just a little older than his child. I can't imagine Baby Girl growing up without her father. It just breaks my heart.

I went through my heros file today - I keep pictures for inspiration there. There were quite a few of Heath. I'm not sure I'll be able to use them anymore.

Hmm, this post has become quite a downer. So let's talk about something more pleasant. Who's your favorite go-to guy for writing inspiration? I tend to like Raoul Bova.


P.S. Congratulations to yesterday's winners! nascarandbeans won Rocki's prize,
Mickey won Allison's, and Pat L won Karin's. Please email your snail mail address here to claim your prize.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

A Playground Hat Trick

The Playground is delighted to have not one, not two but three guest bloggers here today sharing with our readers about the "stories behind the stories" from their anthology WHAT YOU CAN'T SEE.

Allison Brennan, Roxanne St. Claire and Karin Tabke are visiting today a
nd we've built another campfire in the middle of the sandbox to help keep us and our guests warm. It's going to hit 44 degrees today, which is twice as high as it got on Sunday. Pick up a wood skewer, grab a marshmallow and be careful not to burn your fingers.

The Stories Behind The Stories

Deliver Us From Evil by Allison Brennan

Nearly five years ago, I had an idea for a supernatural series. But shortly thereafter, I sold my romantic suspense and my supernatural idea had to be put on the back-burner. I
needed to build an audience in one genre before I started writing in another.

After six romantic suspense novels, I had a chance to write something a
little different--a paranormal romantic suspense. It was my chance to dust off my supernatural story idea and I was very excited.

But my ideas were all "big"--too big for a 35K word novella. I re-read the opening of the first book of the series--I'd written it back in 2003 and it was rough, but the core of the idea was there. And I realized why I had never gotten past those first hundred pages. I didn't
know enough about my hero's past.

The hero of my series is Rafe Cooper. He is the classic tortured hero, but I didn't really know why. Then it clicked--his backstory. His backstory--what made him the tortured hero he is in
my series--became my novella.

Rafe is the only survivor of a massacre at the lost mission of California. He's in a coma the entire novella, saved by his best friend Anthony Zaccardi, an historical architect and demonologist from a small island off Sicily. What happened that fateful night when twelve psychologically disturbed priests were slaughtered is known only to Rafe. And while Anthony was able to piece together the truth, he certainly didn't know what Rafe endured--or what he will have to endure when he comes out of the coma.

Deliver Us From Evil stands alone as well and serves as a "prequel" for a series I haven't sold yet. I had so much fun writing it. While there is a supernatural element, as my mom told me after she read it, "It sounds just like you." I couldn't help but laugh--my authorial voice is the same,
but having the freedom to explore what you can't see made this story both a joy and a challenge to write.

Reason To Believe by Roxanne St. Claire

Thanks, Playfriends…and especially my dear buddy Marilyn…for the invite to visit the Playground again! I love being here, and especially love sharing the swing set with my super-talented co-authors, Allison and Karin. WHAT YOU CAN’T SEE is my first toe-dip into the swirling waters of the paranormal, and I admit I was a little perplexed at how I would incorporate the world of woo into the Bullet Catcher fantasy I promise every reader.

It turned out to be tons of fun, as it usually is when we force ourselves to push the envelope of our comfort zone. But I didn’t go entirely out of my zone – I cheated when I wrote the novella,
Reason to Believe.

Back in 2000, I wrote my first manuscript, a romantic suspense called DANGEROUS SKIES. It
had a great run on the RWA contest circuit, finaling with reassuring regularity, and winning several first place slots. Best of all, the work garnered my first agent, an almost-offer or two, and lots of requests for a full, but it was ultimately (and mercifully) sent to that final resting place for all Not Quite Ready for Prime Time manuscripts...the box under the bed. But in that manuscript lived a hero I loved. My first love, really, since he was truly the first fully-developed (in every sense of the word) hero I'd ever created. Chase Ryker, a former Navy fighter pilot, an astronaut who’d flown the space shuttle, an engineer stud (I know, I know, can you spell oxymoron?) with a wry sense of humor and bone-deep belief in every law of science.

When it came time to write a paranormal, I pulled Chase out from under the bed just so I could throw him on it one more time. Did he still have the ability to make me go weak in the knees? Could he still wake me up at night with the
perfect line of dialogue and a twinkle of deep blue eyes? Did he still remind me of David James Elliott, when he peaked on JAG? Chase had gotten excellent scores in the contests, a few editors commented that he was memorable and delicious, and, honestly, I’d never really gotten over him. It turns out he just needed a new story, and what better way to torment the Man of Science than to force him to protect – and believe – a Woman of Woo? I really didn’t want to change his astronaut backstory….but somehow I had to make him a Bullet Catcher. I did, and I even used my own manuscript plot points as his personal history, and private pain. I let him grow his hair a little, too, since he wasn't in the military anymore. He still woke me with whispered dialogue, and he still buckled my knees.

So, what do you know? Some heroes never die, they just grow new plots! I hope he’s a welcome addition to the Bullet Catcher cadre and worthy of his HEA, since it was so many years in the making.

Redemption by Karin Tabke

Thank you ladies for inviting me to come by and play for the day! And hanging out with Allison and Rocki is an added plus!!!

I’ll cut right to the chase:

Have you ever read on a back cover blurb about how the hero is a bad boy, or a rake only to read the book and find out the author has told us he’s a rake/bad boy but he really isn’t? In Redemption, Zach Garrett is bad to the bone. But he lives hard, and he loves hard, and in Redemption the balance of humanity hinges on him righting his dastardly deeds done to the one person in the world who holds sway over him. Danica Keller.

I didn’t mince words or paint Zach into a rose-colored corner. He does some crappy stuff: this story is about his redemption. I hope you fall in love with him like I did.

My novella Redemption is the prequel to my Legends of the Fallen series. If I had to describe it in a nutshell I’d say Legends is about hot cops who go bad, and the women who try really hard not to love them—but do, all while trying to keep the bad guys, in this case the Immortals (bad cops who chose the dark side), from retrieving the key to the destruction of humanity as we know it.

Boiled down, it’s also about good vs evil, right vs wrong and how so many of us cross the line for the greater good even though we know we are breaking man’s law as well as god’s law. It’s also about love, and passion, and righting long ago wrongs.

I hope you enjoy!

P.S. All three authors have graciously offered to give away an autographed copy of the book, so three commenters will be selected today to win! Thanks Allison, Rocki and Karin.

KILLING FEAR will be released next Tuesday, FIRST YOU RUN will be released April 1st and MASTER OF SURRENDER will be released on June 24th.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The lengths I'll go to for a decent plot...

Well, the Snow Day at Maven Linda’s was quite the hit with Playfriends and Playkids alike. AC is just lucky all Playfriends look after all kids or else she would have had to stay home.

See, this was my annual plotting weekend with my fabu CP. I wasn’t home to load AC up and take her. Thankfully, Kira picked AC up on her way past my house and carted her to Maven Linda’s where all Playfriends looked after her. Because the snow day was postponed from Saturday to Sunday, I was able to come by Sunday afternoon after I finished for my turn on the sled.

This plotting weekend is important. It gives me a chance to bounce ideas off my CP, brainstorm plots, and flesh out characters. Actually, it’s only one full day, because by the time we get there Friday night, eat dinner, get caught up, show pictures, and drink a bottle of wine, the evening is shot. But we get a running start on Saturday and go until we both have books ready to write.

But as we all know, it’s not a PC trip until someone (namely me) gets hurt. And this weekend was no exception. We’re at this lovely historic house bed and breakfast that is just wonderful. The innkeepers are super friendly, very helpful, and have two cute sheltie-type dogs.

One of the dogs bit me.

Yep. You read that right. I go on a plotting weekend and get bitten by the innkeepers’ dog.

Now, when I called DG and the Playfriends to tell them that it was officially a PC trip, there first words (after they quit laughing) were “What did you do to yourself?”

I did nothing to myself—I was injured through no fault of my own, thankyouverymuch. No, I was not doing anything to annoy the dog either, unless you consider entering the building grounds for getting bitten.

I guess it beats falling down their stairs or something.

I have a lovely mark, but the bite didn’t require stitches. And, no, they didn’t comp my room. But I have a book ready to write and a funny story to tell, so maybe a dog bite was worth it.

Some things can only happen to me…


Don’t forget—Allison Brennan, Roxanne St. Claire and Karin Tabke are guest blogging tomorrow. I bet they didn’t get bitten by a dog while plotting…

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Snow Day

Snow Day


Yesterday, the Playfriends and Playkids had a grand adventure. A highly anticipated adventure that wasn't totally planned and set in concrete with schedules and lists and a writing-related theme. We had a SNOW DAY!


We had the deepest honor and pleasure of driving to Maven Linda Howard's farm, where we got to meet the cows. (See them in the background?)


Roast marshmallows, eat corn chowder, cornbread, and lemon squares.

But most of all, do lots of this:


and this:


Nope, we didn't get any natural snow here in Alabama, though they were predicting it over the weekend. Instead, Maven Linda and her husband set up the snow machine (in the wee hours of the night, I might add) and iced a hill for us and our children to come play on. Since neither of my children have ever seen a really good snow, much less gotten to sled, it was a wonderful (if somewhat exhausting) time.

It was oh, so much, fun! By the end of the day I was tired, cranky, cold, and did I mention tired? But it was so worth it. I haven't slid down a hill since I was in my teens (I'm sure my body will thank me for it in the morning). To enjoy this time with close friends made it special. And to have a friend be willing to go to the trouble of opening her house and losing sleep for us was extra special.

Talk about making some exciting, unique memories. Playfriend Snowday in Alabama!

What's the most exciting, unusual memory you've made lately?


Friday, January 18, 2008

Harvey the Wonder Hamster

I don’t know if it’s my pesky cold, the dreary weather, or just life in general, but I’m feeling pretty bleh about things lately. About my writing in particular. This is usually the time of year I get a rejection letter, so I have a reason to feel this way. So far, I've heard nothing from the agent I queried, but I still feel bleh.

I’m just tired. Like a hamster on a wheel, running, but never seeming to get anywhere. I'm tired of forcing a story that won’t flow. I'm tired of feeling guilty for not wanting to write. I'm tired of revising books that no one is asking for. I'm tired of rewriting lines with passive voice because I can't seem to get it into my head not to write that way. I'm tired of worrying about my character arcs or lack there of. I'm tired of query letters and synopses. I'm tired of entering and agonizing over contests that mean nothing in the long run. I'm tired of judging contests. I'm tired of submissions and self addressed stamped envelopes. I'm tired of waiting to hear back from someone who is so unethusiastic about my work they haven't bothered to write and tell me so. I'm tired of rejections, even the good ones. It never ends.

Like that hamster, it’s always on to the next book, next submission, next idea...running, running, running, yet still just spinning on some little plastic wheel. Being published is not a magical cure either. I know if I sold a book, it wouldn’t be any better. Yeah, I’d get paid, but I’d also have the pressure to deliver, even if I was tired. But maybe, just maybe, I’d feel like I had leapt off my little wheel and actually had something to show for all the spinning. I feel like I’ve accomplished a big nothing. I haven't even earned activity points for all the aggravation.

I’ve been writing, seriously, since 2003. That’s five years and 4 completed manuscripts. Five years of plotting and writing and submitting and failing and writing some more. And I've been halfheartedly working longer than that. I started piddling around with my first book in 1997, finishing sometime in 2000, then started fudging around with the sequel for a while until I got serious. If you count that, you've got 11 years at writing. And what to show for it? A flash drive full of rejected manuscripts and a couple lovely conference tote bags. At least it feels that way.

And yes, before you say it, I do stop to fill the well. I have plenty of fun, watch plenty of movies and read books and whatnot. I go on vacations and have other hobbies outside of writing. I know I've made strides in the industry, meeting people, making a name for myself. I know I'm making progress, even if I feel like I haven't. If I got my butt in gear, I could very well be on the verge, or I'd like to think I could be. I'm just tired. I feel as though I'm a marathon runner on mile 23 of 26. I'm vomiting on the roadside, every muscle screaming in me to stop. I'm close and yet, today at least, those last three miles might as well be thirty. I mean, given that agent turns me down today and I query a new one tomorrow, say, it takes them three months to request a partial. Then another three months to read that and request a full. Then six months with that before they ask to represent me. Then a year of shopping the book around until they find a house that wants it. Then a year of revisions, etc. Then a year before the book actually hits the shelves. Best case scenario, that makes me a published author in oh...2012 or so. And that's if I work quickly.

I’m not giving up, so don’t jump on me. I’m just feeling wore down. Mentally fatigued, I guess. Anyone else feel this way or are you all hyped up on that New Year's Rush of enthusiasm? Maybe I'm just one of those winter depression people. Pity I can't get in a tanning booth for some 'sun therapy.'


Thursday, January 17, 2008


It's snowing outside. Yay!! Okay, so there isn't much on the ground (maybe a half inch on my porch and pastures) but it's been snowing for hours. It's beautiful. And makes me want to take the girls to Michigan. I haven't been back for twenty years but times like this really make me want to visit. I remember playing in the snow as a child, going tobogganing with my family, sipping hot chocolate with frozen fingers after snowball fights. I want those experiences for my girls.

My memories of snowstorms are colored by the fact that I've never really had to deal with it as an adult, responsible for driving to work and protecting my children. I will admit that I'd love to have all the fun with none of the danger like black ice and drivers who don't know how to handle slick roads (of which I am one).

My Dad and I were discussing the sled he brought with us when we moved to Alabama. It has metal runners, steering and probably lead paint. But the thing can fly. And he still has it stashed in the garage just in case. I want my children to experience the thrill of coasting down a long hill, the wind in their face and snow floating around them.

Do you have any winter memories? When was the last time you saw snow?


Wednesday, January 16, 2008

The Strike Zone

In case you hadn't heard, TV writers are on strike. Without writers, there are no scripts, and without scripts, there are no television shows.

Reality TV, however, is exempt from this strike so now that we don't have a clue about what's happening on Wisteria Lane, we have a spate of new reality shows on television.

Allow me to familiarize you with a few I've watched.

HOW TO LOOK GOOD NAKED (Lifetime TV, Friday night) with Carson Kressley. Carson, of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy fame, hosts a new show that isn't about dieting or plastic surgery or any other crazy things women do to look good. It's about learning that more than likely your perception of your body is quite skewed and with a little help from proper foundation garments, the right clothes, a good haircut and a makeover, you can look fabulous not only to others but to yourself. Kressley (who has an impressive bio, which includes designing for Ralph Lauren, being a member of the US World Cup Equestrian Team and graduating magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from college) demonstrates compassion that would make a lumberjack cry. He also sometimes dances in a Carmen Miranda outfit.

MISS AMERICA REALITY CHECK (The Learning Channel, Friday night) strives to change the image of the typical Miss America contestant. All fifty-two contestants (the fifty states plus Miss District of Columbia and Miss Virgin Islands) live in a Los Angeles mansion with only seven showers and compete in various mental and physical challenges. No one gets voted off the island, no one has to eat bugs or forage for food in the forest (at least they haven't yet). They have to listen and learn, and each week the top three and bottom three contestants are selected by the celebrity judges as those who have made the best progress and the least. Gone are the aqua-netted hairdos and brash makeup, and it looks like this week they'll learn to strut the catwalk like a Paris model. Poor Miss Utah went from top three to bottom three in a week based on her bad decision to show up for a pool-side challenge with big hair, bigger earrings and way too much make-up. It's been interesting to say the least and January 26th's Miss America pageant, telecast live from Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas, should be even more interesting. I know I've always looked at Miss America with a "yeah, right" attitude and rolled my eyes a little , but one of the Playground's friends, Michelle Buonfiglio of Lifetime TV's Romance B(u)y the Book, was a top ten Miss America finalist and credits the scholarship money she won for her being able to complete her college degree. Knowing someone personally who benefited from the scholarship program has definitely made me reevaluate my attitude toward it.

DANCE WARS: Bruno vs. Carrie Ann (ABC, Monday night) is the search for performers who can sing and dance. Hosted by former boyband star Drew Lachey (who proved he could dance too) it pits two teams of singers/dancers coached by Dancing with the Stars judges Bruno Tonioli and Carrie Ann Inaba. We're two weeks in and they've auditioned thousands and picked two teams of six (three men and three women). Over the next weeks we'll see them perform, the viewers get to vote and I'm still not quite sure what else is going to happen. Does someone get sent home each week? Do the teams just earn viewer votes? What will the winning team get? What I REALLY want to see is Bruno and Carrie Ann dancing. I want to see them samba or quickstep or tango and have someone tell them their shoulders slumped, their toes weren't pointed or call them on an illegal lift.

AMERICAN IDOL (Fox, various nights). An old favorite is back for its seventh season and last night we got to start watching America's worst singers audition. Well, maybe you watched, but I vowed a couple years ago to wait until they at least got to Hollywood week before I tuned in. Okay, I caved because I'm a glutton for punishment and I'm fascinated by train wrecks. Isn't it amazing how some people are willing to completely humiliate themselves in front of millions of people for fifteen minutes of fame? And what about the guy with the grizzly bear hairy chest who waxed it off so he could try to be a Pussycat Doll?

Alabama has had its share of AI hopefuls and winners. Second season winner Reuben Studdard attended college right here in the town where I live. Bo Bice, runner up to Carrie Underwood, also lived here for a while as did fifth season winner Taylor Hicks. And it seems Alabama may have another chance to claim an American Idol winner. Cardin McKinney lives in Nashville, Tennessee now, but she graduated from high school about five miles from my house. We'll just have to wait and see how she does in the audition process.

One bright spot in the TV line-up is the return of MONK on Friday nights on USA Network. He's quirky, he's brilliant, he's so flawed that he's lovable and I cherish each six-episode season they dole out twice a year. Why won't they give us more?

So what have you been watching during the strike? Or have you been reading more?

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Things that suck...

So, I’m trying to polish a first chapter and synopsis for a contest. The chapter was coming along just fine, but it was time to work on the synopsis.

I hate synopses. First of all, I can’t write a synopsis for a book I haven’t written—I’m a pantser. I know the beginning and the end, but the middle is still a question mark. A journey of possibilities, if you will. But since only the first four chapters of this book exist, writing that synopsis would be a real challenge.

But, hey! Look! I have a synopsis for this book. Neatly labeled as such in the computer file. Excellent. I have no idea why or when I wrote that synopsis, but let’s not look a gift horse in the mouth. I click on it, knowing it probably sucked, but figuring I could work with it.

It’s NINE freaking pages long.


Now, let’s ignore for a moment that the contest only allows a two-page synopsis. I want to know what possessed me to ever write a nine-page synopsis in the first place. Especially considering how I have NO idea how the middle of the book will unfold, how in hell did I come up with nine pages worth?

Of course the upside to a two-page synopsis is that you only have to hit the highlights—surely I can cull highlights from those nine pages and pull something together. As I read through the nine pages, though, I realized why it ended up at nine pages.

Have you ever been told that you can spot a lie because the liar doesn’t know when to stop talking? Because the lie doesn’t sound credible to them, they think more details are the way to make it sound credible to you. So they ramble on and on, piling on the extraneous details.

A nine-page synopsis for an unwritten book is kinda like that. At least in my case.

I’m a terrible liar, too, just for the record.

But I worked and worked and managed to pull together a two-page synopsis. I’m so proud. Then I went back Monday morning to double-check the rules. It’s supposed to be two-page, double-spaced. ACK!! More hacking required.

But I buckled down and got that puppy down to 2 double-spaced pages. And I only had to mess with the margins a little bit in the end. (Come on, one measly sentence ran onto page three. So I decreased the margins just enough to pull it onto the previous page. Shoot me.)

Of course, after all of this, I find out the book may be ineligible for the contest anyway.

Now I want to go cry. All that work, and I might not have an entry to show for it.

But I think everyone has been in a similar type of situation. You work so hard, only to have it fall apart just as the end is finally in sight. (A good friend is going through something much like this today as well. I think we’ll go get drunk tonight.)

Feel free to vent about something that recently went all to hell for you. Or simply marvel at the insanity of a NINE PAGE synopsis.

~heading to the bar~

Monday, January 14, 2008

Newness of it All

Plotting a new book is always so much fun. This weekend, out of the blue, a new idea sparked. Actually, it's a twist on an old idea. :)

Since then, the images and light bulb moments have flowed like a leak slowly getting bigger and bigger. Too bad I'm in the middle of another book. But I'm trying to write it and plot this next one at the same time (I'm a plotter, not a panster). At the very least, it makes me want to finish this one quickly. :)

For a writer, new ideas lend vitality not just to writing, but to life in general. Writers are weird that way. During life's mundane challenges – like keeping the dishes washed – our minds are busy with, well, the people in our minds. Okay, step away with the white jacket...


Friday, January 11, 2008


No, we're not talking about the television show.

We're talking about the hits on our blog.

We passed the 75,000 mark today and want to thank all our wonderful readers for helping us hit it.

Next goal: 100,000!

Taking Care of Business

I hate resolutions, yet each year, I line myself up with the rest of the sheep and sign up for some lofty unattainable goal. Really, all I’m resolving myself to do it make me feel bad because I fail. This year, I did make a resolution, but I decided to keep it vague enough that I couldn’t outright fail, but could also use it as an excuse to get massages. Any resolution that involves massages is okay with me.

So I decided that my resolution for this year would be to take better care. Just in general. Of myself, my car, my pets, my house, my relationships...I tend to get lazy and just let stuff go. Like my car, for example. The engine has been stuttering for over a year. I took it in for an oil change in September and they couldn’t figure out why it was doing it in the time allotted. They said to bring it back when I had more time and they’d get it fixed up. I went back Monday. I finally, finally got it fixed. It was just a hassle and I was too lazy to take good care of my car.

So I’ve been trying to brainstorm different fun and productive things I can do to meet my resolution. I’ve already had the car fixed (although now the newly turned rotors and new brake pads are making a ruckus.) I plan to make myself wash it once a month, clean it out once a week, and I’m going to replace the broken wheel covers so it doesn’t look so tacky.

For my pets, I bought them new beds and feeding bowls at Christmastime. I’m going to get my cats a water fountain so they always have fresh water. I’m going to try to walk my dogs more since they’re not as free to roam as they should be. I’m also resolved to fix my fence so they can spend more time outside without escaping.

For my house, I’ve put together a cleaning schedule that I can hopefully stick to. It’s just a little each night to keep the house neat, not spotless. I’m considering paying my mom to help me do a “big clean” once a month. Better than paying someone else and she could use it.

For my relationship, I’ve started with the dirt bike purchase. It’s such a large part of DB’s life that I’m completely uninvolved in, so I’m taking the step because it’s important to him. Going camping for a weekend and riding is something we could do together that doesn’t involve us sitting on the couch or computer not talking to one another.

For my writing, I’m going to finish putting my office together so I can actually get some work done in there. I hate to quantify, but I’d like to focus on some consistency in my work. Its an issue for me. I think establishing my workspace is a good place to start.

Then there’s for me. Barbara inspired me to sign back up for my online Weight Watchers program. I’d like to lose weight, but really, putting a stop to the gaining and eating better foods is the real goal. I’ve started packing my lunch each day so I don’t end up with drive thru junk. I’ve also started mass cooking on the weekends so I have easily prepared dinners and lunches available for both DB and I that are healthier. Taco Bell is far too close and too easy.

I might do better on WW this time if I actually exercised, so I’m working on that too. As PC mentioned, we signed up for some yoga classes. I thoroughly tweaked my shoulder, but it’s once a week, so hopefully I’ll be healed up by the time we try it again. I do like yoga as a whole, but some of those poses are just torture. Pity I can’t earn activity points just for the meditating portion. We’re going to branch out and see what other kinds of classes we can take. There may be some bellydancing or water aerobics in our futures. She threatened me with ballet. Not sure that will fly, but I’m open. Of course, I still have my Curves membership, so I thought I might show up, maybe once a week there, at least. There’s one near my house. No excuse. And I try to walk a time or two a week with Maven LJ. If I could do all that, maybe walk my dogs and do the occasional Sweating to the Oldies Tape, I’d be in good shape in terms of caring for my body.

For my mind I’m planning to reward myself with therapeutic massage. I’m putting together a goal sheet with different rewards that include pamper me treats like mani-pedis, massages, facials, etc. I’m also looking into detox programs, accupuncture and doing more meditation, outside of yoga, to deal with some of my stress.

Wonder how such a simple resolution could turn into such a big hoopla? Well, I’ll probably do better than I would if I said I wanted to lose 30 pounds or something. We’ll see. I’ve resolved to treat myself better this year. Are any of you resolving to do something for yourself in 2008?


Thursday, January 10, 2008

Change and Choices

My husband is getting fixed tomorrow. I'm not sure he'd like me talking about this but...I'm gonna do it anyway. No one tell him okay?

It's honestly not that big of a deal although I'm absolutely certain he'd disagree with me. Yes, I know it involves incisions and pain. I understand. I birthed two children. His two children.

To be fair he isn't complaining about it. He's actually handling the entire thing really well. Although he did call me the other day after speaking to the nurse and say something that completely surprised me. He asked me if it was natural for him to second guess the decision. He'd begun to think that maybe we should have a third child, that it would be nice to have a boy.

The funny thing is that I've had these same thoughts off and on since he made the appointment for the surgery. Logically I realize this is probably normal. And I also know that we made this decision after careful thought and consideration. We have no room in our house for another child. That child would be at least 4 or 5 years younger than our youngest. I no longer have the energy to deal with months of no sleep. Not to mention the fact that while we'd be trying for a boy we'd be more likely to have another girl. Don't get me wrong, I love my girls. But 2 is plenty for me.

So yes, we've made the right decision. However that doesn't seem to have stopped the small voice of doubt in the back of both our minds. I'm wondering if it will go away.

I'm also wondering if it shares an apartment with the nasty voice that keeps telling me I don't know how to write and that any day now someone important is going to figure that fact out. If so I'm wondering if we can evict them both tomorrow.

Any nasty voices in your head you'd like to get rid of?


P.S. Elen Grey is our winner from yesterday's blog. Please email Playground Monitor with your snail mail info to claim your prize.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

What day is it and what am I supposed to be doing?

January is a time for making resolutions and setting goals. The Playfriends got together for lunch on Sunday and we talked about what we're working on and what our goals are.

I won't go into details, but at one point Problem Child pulled out a desk calendar/day planner that was the envy of Angel. PC had purchased it at Staples, which was a few doors down from our lunch destination, but alas, they had no more of them.

I hope Angel was able to find a desk calendar/day planner to her liking because it's a very important tool. Or at least it is to me.

I've used everything from a dollar store desk calendar to a very expensive Franklin planner and everything in between.

Without a calendar and a place to write things down, I'd never be on time for a single appointment. The memory just isn't what it used to be, not to mention I have a lot going on in my life. I have appointments and deadlines and luncheons and meetings. Then there are birthdays and anniversaries and holidays.

The Bylines calendar shown above is what I used last year. It's laid out by the week and in the front it has a goal-setting section for the year and then a page for each month where you can fill in your goals for that month and then check them off. It also has a tasks list for the month. It lists literary holidays (did you know January is National Get Organized Month?), all the Nobel prize winners for literature and the Pulitzer prize winners for fiction and poetry. There's a contributors' section (more about that later), some pages for notes, a list of books for writers and two pages of sources on the web.

They buy short essays from writers and feature a different writer each week. I wanted to submit to them and I needed to see exactly what sort of essays they'd bought, so that's why I bought it -- as a research tool. Consequently I sent in two pieces and one was selected. I'm in the 2008 Bylines calendar. There was a delay with the printer and I don't have it yet; it's due in sometime this week. I just hope I wasn't the featured author for last week. I know it sounds egotistical, but I want to be in a week yet to come so people all over can see my face and read my words and think "Oh wow! I'd like to have my picture in this calendar." My current "To Do" list contains "Submit for 2009 Bylines."

Are you a desk calendar person? Is there any particular one you use or just whatever strikes your fancy and/or meets your budget? Any tips for keeping it up to date? I started with the goals pages last year and made it through February. :-( I'm good about taking the old calendar and moving birthdays and anniversaries to the new one. And I always mark down doctor's appointments and haircuts. But it's the darned goals stuff that gets me every time.

One lucky commenter will receive a... no, not a desk calendar, but a journal for writing down your New Year's resolutions, to-do lists and your deepest secrets and desires.

Speaking of goals, our good friend Barbara Vey of Publishers Weekly hit her weight loss goal yesterday and is blogging about it today. Please pop over and congratulate her. She didn't just lose a couple of pounds; she lost a LOT and has been an inspiration to many people.

Good news department: Peggy Webb who is a member of our RWA chapter has been nominated for two career achievement awards by the reviewers at Romantic Times magazine. Congratulations to Peggy!

Good news department part deux: #2 son has been accepted into graduate school at Western Carolina University, which is where he did his undergraduate work and also is mine and the DH's alma mater. His graduate studies will be in Physical Education with the goal of becoming a college track coach. Three cheers for my baby boy!

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Scary Stuff

Since everyone is blogging right now about goals and resolutions for 2008, I won’t bore you with my whole list today.(And yes, I do have goals for myself. Big ones. Life changing ones. They involve yoga and soy and vegetables. And quality time with my laptop.)

However, I did make a minor goal for myself for 2008 that I will share with you. My goal is based on a quote I have hanging above my desk: “Do one thing each day which frightens you.” (Eleanor Roosevelt)

Something about that phrase is resonating with me these days. I’m taking it as a challenge, because fear is, of course, one of the things that holds me back. A fear of failure, a fear of looking like an idiot, a fear of...well, lots of things.

So, on Monday, I sent several emails I’d been avoiding. Pulled out my WIP and made some changes I’d played with, but worried they might be too “different.”

And I agreed to go to a yoga class tonight with Smarty Pants. 2008 should be very interesting.

So share a goal if you like, or even a quote that inspires you. Or tell me about yoga--like how much I'm going to love it (right?).


EDITED TO ADD: Stefanie is Angel's winner from yesterday. Send your shipping info to

Monday, January 07, 2008

Keeper Giveaway!

Recently, my husband and I (and his parents) cleaned out our storage unit. We really didn't need it anymore, since our garage is bigger. Now we could load all the stuff in there and I can go through it much easier to put things away or get rid of stuff.

Anyway, along with all of the furniture and knickknacks came boxes of books. Several boxes of books. About ten, in fact. Hi, my name is Angel and I'm a bookaholic. I have a hard time getting rid of the things, but this is what's left after I culled about 3 boxes full when we were packing this past spring.

As I started going through them, I felt like I was like visiting with old friends. Most of my keeper shelf was boxed up during the move and I hadn't had the time to unpack them. I bet I spent an hour rummaging, reminiscing, and moving piles into the house.
Over the holiday season, I've read quite a few of these "keepers". I've always been a rereader, and I often revisit books while I'm writing, because I can skip to the good parts. :) Recently, I've reread After the Night and Loving Evangeline by Linda Howard, When Dreams Come True by Cathy Maxwell, and an old Silhouette Special Edition by Lucy Gordon titled Enchantment in Venice.

Piling up in the bed with these familiar reads was comforting and satisfying. The characters are old friends. The settings like taking a vacation in a much beloved spot. There is a reason why we call them "keepers"; they are just too good to let go.

What is your favorite "keeper" book? What authors fill your Keeper Shelf?

Today, I'll be giving away a new hardback copy of Maven Beverly Barton's Killing Her Softly to one lucky commenter. I'm sure it will be a great addition to someone's Keeper Shelf!


Saturday, January 05, 2008

Free Books!!!


Southern Magic (our sister chapter) needs more judges for the Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence Contest.

There's no special training or skills required--just a love of romance. (And they want READERS, not writers, to judge, so spread the word to your friends).

Here's how it works:

You let the contest coordinator know how many books you'd like to read and in what categories. She'll mail the books to you ASAP. You read the books, score them on a scale of 1-10, and email the scores back by February 14. You get to keep the books you judge as a thank you.

It's a great way to be introduced to some new (to you) authors. (I have to admit, my mom is a judge in this contest and I get to read the books when it's all over. I've found some really great authors this way. Mom, have you signed up yet?)

So if you love romance and want to judge, send an email to Let her know your name, snail and e -mail addresses, the number of books you'd be willing to read, and the categories you prefer. She can also answer any questions you might have.

Categories are:
Short Contemporary (Under 70,000 Words)
Long Contemporary (Over 70,000 Words)
Contemporary Single Title
Single Title Romantic Suspense
Series Romantic Suspense
Paranormal/Fantasy/ Futuristic/Time Travel
Young Adult (Teen)

Be sure to tell Jennifer that we sent you!

Friday, January 04, 2008

Adding Insult to Injury

As I’m writing this, it’s like, 14 degrees. Practically tropical compared to the previous day’s 7 degree windchill as I drove to work. My dogs are becoming world champion speed pee-ers. My electric mattress pad stayed on all night. My flannel PJs have made their way out of the drawer. As though coming to work these first few days after a long vacation wasn’t bad enough, my car almost refused to leave the driveway, even after letting the engine run for 10 minutes. If it could talk, she would’ve said “Are you high? No way we’re going anywhere. And clean out the backseat, would you?”

Coming off vacation and returning to work is never easy and it gets harder the longer you’re out. I lay in bed Tuesday night with my mind racing a million miles an hour. I managed to get about 5 hours sleep and nearly started crying as I drove to work. I was looking forward to a nice, long, warm sleep last night. DB laid down with me and started talking, which was fine until I realized I was up later than I’d planned. Then, to make matters worse, my power went out at 5:30AM. This happens a lot. It flickers, resets all the clocks, but comes right back on. Not today. No sir. It went out and stayed out. DB comes upstairs and tells me if I want a hot shower, I’d best get up despite having an hour left before I normally crawl out of bed. So I shower by candlelight, washing the essentials and putting my hair in a bun for a time when I can see it to detangle it.

I look out the window and notice our backside neighbors have power. Great, it’s just out on my street, starting with my house down. (The big power box is in my yard. Yay.) Since its not widespread, I call the power company. Someone is on their way. Sure they are, after they stop at the Burger King for a sausage croissandwich and coffee to warm themselves up. So, I dress by flashlight (yes, I match), get ready as best I can (I’m sure my foundation isn’t blended well) and I just went on to work since there wasn’t anything else to do.

At 6:30AM, as I left my subdivision, I passed the big utilities trucks. DB assures me the power is back on, so the $200 in groceries I just bought won’t be spoiling just yet. I crank up the heat in my car (to its dismay) and trudge along. I’m normally the last one to work, but today I managed to be first. Of course, that means I had to crack into our area with nineteen codes and spin locks and whatever. I spend ten minutes in the hallway trying to get in. I was never good at opening my locker either. As my coworkers file in over the next hour, they give me odd looks, knowing I shouldn’t be here yet. Of course, since the power outage was so localized, no one else had this problem.

So now, here I am. Short on sleep. Short of patience. Freezing to death. Wishing I had taken these three days off as part of my vacation. By the time I would’ve come back to work next Monday, the freakish weather will be back up to the high 60s. Mother Nature obviously has issues, as do I.

How’s the weather where you are? Where would you rather be at the moment? Maui is sounding awesome right about now...


Thursday, January 03, 2008


I completely forgot that today is Thursday. My days are all messed up. I can't remember if I'm supposed to be coming or going. And I can't for the life of me remember to write 08 on my checks! And I write checks for three organizations. That's a lot of shredding.

I'm backwards and upside down not to mention sleep deprived. But I did watch something amazing last night. We went out to eat with DH's family since we really haven't been able to all be together over the holidays. Nothing fancy just a chance for everyone to relax and chat over salads and pizza. However, when we were almost through a man walked into the restaurant with a remarkable resemblance to Santa.

The girls began to ask questions - namely if it really was him. He, obviously being used to the reaction, stopped and asked the girls if they'd been good on the way to his own table. It wasn't long before both of my girls were convinced that the man a table away was Santa taking a nice vacation after his long journey on Christmas night.

The man was wonderful. He pulled out a card - a picture of himself dressed as Santa - and told the girls they could come speak with him. He was so sweet. And it was wonderful to see the excitement in the girl's faces. Sweet Pea talked of nothing else until bedtime. What touched me most was to see her go from a little girl who was beginning to question to a little girl who believed wholeheartedly in magic once more.


P.S. Anyone else hoping that the return of late night TV might mean a looming end to the strike? I'm really not excited about all the reality TV shows that seem to be popping up.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Can we get back to normal now?

I've been a bit under the weather the last few days, and combined with the holidays and having the DH at home since last Friday afternoon, I've lost all track of time. I had to miss the Playfriends New Year's Eve party because I wasn't feeling well (and the DH thinks maybe he has shingles and we didn't want to put any of the Playkids at risk if he does). The days have blurred into a montage of CSI reruns, the Food Channel, Clinton and Stacy's fashion advice, TiVo'd Christmas movies and a couple of romance novels. The DH goes back to work today, I'm hoping both of us can get in to see the family doc and #2 son is heading back home so maybe my sense of time (not to mention my good health) will return to normal. But just what IS normal, anyway?

It seems like just yesterday that we were all sweating the moment when the clock rolled over from 11:59:59 to begin the year 2000. Would things keep on keeping on? Or would the world begin a slow meltdown or maybe a quick, fast crash and burn? Did any of you have food and water stockpiled? An alternative form of heat for your homes? Extra gasoline for the cars? Cash stashed away in case all the ATM machines and banking software went kaflooey?

The world didn't come crashing down and we thought things would go on as normal, but a lot's happened since January 1st, 2000. We've seen changes we could only imagine in our wildest dreams, and we've seen things that could only happen in our worst nightmares. But we keep on keeping on and try to do our parts to make the world a better place.

I know we all toasted on New Year's Eve, but I'd like to offer one more toast that I believe y'all might enjoy.

Have a happy and prosperous 2007 2008! We'll talk about those pesky New Year's resolutions and goals next week. Or maybe not. *g*

The Playground Monitor

P.S. Remember when I blogged about baby Charlie last summer? He's six months old now and absolutely adorable.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Happy New Year!

A toast:
Here's to the possibilities ahead for all of us in 2008.
Here's to the great things I know are coming our way.
Here's to the things we learned this year.
And here's to friends,
who make all of it possible and bearable.

We wish you a happy, safe, prosperous, and productive 2008 filled with much joy and abundance.