Sunday, December 30, 2007

Second Draft

These dendroglyphs from the Chatham Islands are nearly characters in their own right in my book... Isn't this one beautiful?

This is a picture I took in the Chatham Islands. Not really much more to say about it, really, except that I loved seeing this on the sand.

I'm 45 pages into my second draft, and so far, it's easier than the first one was. This makes me a little wary because I've heard so many writers say that the revisions were the hardest part--cutting out mass quantities of writing and then adding new scenes. I'm not doing this all that much...which begs me to question, am I doing this the right way? Am I creating a novel that's worthy of reading or am I just kidding myself?

Maybe it's easier because I'm not messing with plot and storyline as much. I'm just making things smoother, less cliche (I hope), and adding some info here and there as needed. Hopefully, things will come out nicely in the wash (ah! a cliche!) and I'll have a real story here.

Jim has Tuesday off (like most people), so it'll give me some more time to work. I also found out there's a "Kid's Day Out" one day a week here where you drop off your kid, pay $20, and pick her up six hours later. It's a daycare I can afford, and since it's just once a week, I won't feel guilty about it. She needs interaction and loves playing with toys we don't have.

Of course, she's got tons of toys at home now that Christmas has come and gone. Elizabeth's favorites seem to be her Little People Noah's Ark, her rocking horse, her play laptop, and her baby doll. To her father's delight, she also likes playing with the Duplo's (Lego's) we got her. Everything else came from the family.

After Wednesday, I'll be able to post pictures because we'll finally have internet connectivity. It's been difficult setting it up here, for some reason.

Wish me luck with the re-write!

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas

I hope everyone had a nice, relaxing day--I did!

There are two main reasons I wanted to blog today:

1) Jim and I saw "I am Legend" two nights ago. Actually, I only saw about 2/3 of the movie because I spent so much of it cowering. I actually had to go to the bathroom to remind myself what was real and what was not. It terrified me, and in the end, I was disappointed. It didn't seem to have much in the way of plot. The acting and special effects were very good, though. Still, I was shaking for a long time after the movie was over. I think I actually cried in fear. We should have seen "Enchanted" instead.

I am probably in the minority, though. I bet most people love it and aren't afraid at all.

2) I finished my first draft yesterday...and it was so darn anticlimactic. I was like, "Oh, I finished. I should be jumping for joy." The truth of the matter is that it's not REALLY done. I still have about a month of re-writing before I send it off to the editor. I guess when I print it off, and the major revisions have been made, and I put it in the mail, THEN I should celebrate. And start my next book.

Things I got for Christmas:
1. A body-blanket to wrap myself in while writing.
2. 2 G of memory for my computer.
3. The new Leapoard OS for my Mac.
4. A lap-desk to put my dana on while writing so I don't strain my neck.

All of it was perfect!

I got Jim an RC helicopter. He's currently out in the yard looking for a piece that flew off. (He's crashed it a few times--thank goodness he doesn't fly real helicopters this way.)

Now, we're going to take Elizabeth to see "Alvin" and then if things work out, we're going to see "Enchanted" by ourselves. (We have to make the most of our babysitting time.)

Friday, December 21, 2007

Off to Neverland

(I just wanted to say that.) Actually, we're headed to Blacksburg, Virginia tomorrow for Christmas.

I wrote one hundred words today, which makes me laugh. That's all I got done in the twenty minutes Elizabeth slept. I'd have written more if I'd gone straight to it instead of making myself some hot chocolate first.

Some amazing news: she slept for eight hours last night. At 5:20 a.m., Jim went in to make sure she was still alive. She woke up about ten minutes later. I'd much rather have a full-night's sleep and wake up early than wake up at 3 a.m. for an hour. This was the first time I've gotten to sleep six hours in a row for a year and a half. It was heavenly.

I will be writing in the car (Jim's driving), if I have to. Either that, or I'll be reading The Golden Compass out loud so he can finish it before we get there.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Until Christmas

I have until Christmas to finish the first draft.

Crazy like Howard Hughes crazy. I'm repeating myself and finding all sorts of dirt in my house that needs to be cleaned before I pick up my pen and green tea.

(Well, no, I don't really write in pen first.)

We're going to Blacksburg, VA for Christmas this year, to be with my husband's family. It might snow! Jim and his mother have been concocting some sort of surprise gift for me. I can tell b/c when she calls he muffles the phone with his hand and speaks in curious fragments of sentences.

Hmm. Well, I may not know what it is, but I know what it's NOT.

We're working on night-weaning Elizabeth in the hopes that she'll learn to sleep through the night. So far, it's improved the situation but hasn't cured it. She woke up only once last night, but it was for over an hour, and she cried. I'm sure time will be the biggest cure--humans eventually wean and eventually sleep for long stretches without needing mom and dad to help them back to sleep.

Oh, and another Elizabeth note: she's very much under the Standards of American Girls Weights, and the pediatrician we had last week felt it was entirely my fault. Apparently I am both starving her AND forcing her too crudely to eat. How in the world can anyone DO that? Shove the food down their throats until they give in? The Queen would never stand for that. And she does eat. Today she had bits of ham and baked beans. Isn't that fattening? (It's scary though---I end up eating right along side her. Some day I'm going to have to eat a salad instead.)

Ok. I need to stop writing and get to my WRITING.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Billions of Books

We are here in Maryland. California, Maryland, to be exact. (Just south of Hollywood, MD.)

In one of the rare moments I have when Elizabeth is napping and I'm in-between boxes, I decided to get online--mostly so I could purge my frustrations... Ugh. I didn't realize we had so much stuff! Where does it all go? Why must we have a box of nothing but electronic cables of some sort? Why must we have an old 12-inch monitor? (We don't even have a TV!) Right now, I'm in my new writing room. I've got the two bookshelves in the right spots now and most of the books unpacked, but there are still boxes of books and no more shelf space. I've doubled-up on the paperbacks, too.

Tomorrow we're going to Ikea (a two-hour drive) to get Elizabeth a bed and some furniture, as well as some other things to store our stuff in. We've got a table and two chairs on their way (we sold our old one before we left SD), and a computer armoire coming on Monday. I haven't been so excited about furniture before...but I'm thrilled because things will be put away and the house will be settled.

Then I can get back to writing. Isn't it ironic that I'm about a week away from finishing, and I have to unpack a house during naptime? There's no way I could write right now, though, with everything all over the place. Soon...soon.

On the really bright side, I will have my own room to write in! Just an 8x8 room with two bookshelves and a rocking chair upon which I shall do my composing. We're keeping the computer in the living room because I tend to get distracted while writing...and I only need that for editing, which I can do outside of my little special room.

This townhouse is really cute. It's smaller than our last one, but feels cozier and more livable. We even have a little back yard and a bay window in the kitchen. :-) The neighborhood is really just a bunch of townhomes, but they're all so cute! I can't wait until the snow melts so Elizabeth and I can check out the playground.

Again...why do we have so many books? There's got to be a way to thin them down. I don't really need two shelves of Russian and Japanese grammar books anymore.

Oh! I forgot! On Wednesday, when we were just two hours from our new home, the car overheated. It was snowing large wet flakes, but there was smoke coming out of the engine. So we spent five hours in a small town in which Elizabeth busted her lip after slipping on melted snow (she looks like I whacked her with a mixing spoon). We got a rental car and finally got out of there. Tomorrow, before Ikea, we will go and get our car back. Stupid car parts.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

The Right Idea

See these penguins? They're smarter than your average penguin...

Why stand out in the vast plains of Antarctica, when you can build your nest with your mate in nice, secluded coastal brush?

When I woke up today, it had snowed three inches or so and was mighty frigid. The cat wanted out, and when I opened the door, he was nearly blown over. (He changed his mind.) I think I'm more like the yellow-eyed penguins of the above pic--I'd much rather hole up somewhere comfy and wait it out.

And yet, I have no desire to dive into really really really cold water and swim about for dinner.

On a side note (ok, not really a side note but my trumpeting call) I think I finally figured out how my book will end. *sigh of relief* I was as clueless as anybody, and so I perused the How to Write books at Border's and saw, to my devilish delight, the Novelist's Boot Camp. It's written like your average Army manual--it even includes breaks for push ups--and shows you how to plan and execute your mission; which is, of course, your novel. Catchy book, no? Anywho, there was a chapter on "Have an Exit Strategy" and I thought I should take a peek. After that, I wrote up a short paragraph on what happens in the end after the series of events yet to be written, and voila! An Exit Strategy!

Ok, off to read a chapter in Click and then get some shut-eye. For at least an hour or two before the Queen wakes up.

Someone today told me I should dose her up with Benadryl at night to get her to sleep more. Although tempting, I'm just not sure of it. I don't think I'd like to be drugged up by people to remain unconscious longer... Would you? Of course, I'm saying this now after over a year of not sleeping enough. It seems that if I've waited this long, why bring out the WMD now?

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

On my way...

First, I want to say sorry to Karen for missing our meeting today. It was swept from my mind, and even now I'm not certain if we were going to meet or not, but I'm still sorry!

Second, I have to admit I didn't write at all yesterday. As I laid about the house, lethargic as a run-dead horse, I thought about my diet, my increase in milk demand (I'm making a bottle now to hopefully fill up the Queen's belly before bed), and the lack of sleep (she's practicing her Tea Time conversations at 3am) I've been getting lately. Inside my belly, an inkling arose. Ahah! I need vitamins! (Actually, I need to TAKE my vitamins rather than look at them in their pretty plastic bottle.) When mom came home and I passed off the babe so I could cook with two hands, she said I was probably anemic.

I've had two multivitamins since then, and I have to say, I do feel better.

Starbucks was crowded tonight, so I went to Border's. Alas, after the weekend, when we move to the Chesapeake Bay region, we won't have a bookstore with a cafe nearby.

I was sleepy and not in a mood to write, so I browsed the YA section, convinced a 13-year-old girl and her dad to buy The Book Thief on the spot, and picked up the Children's Book Market. I browsed the book (uh, really, flipped right to my favorite editor's imprint to make sure nothing had changed since the last time I looked at the exact same book) and read an article written by a woman who had won the critique award at a SCBWI conference. She only had 40 pages written at the time... and then finished it up in six weeks! It was motivating enough for me to put down the book and start typing, which I did for an hour and wrote 1600+ words. (Yes, I'm a word counter. It's how I stage my progress.) I turned off my Dana and then the store closed. Perfect timing.

Here's a link with an article that discusses a bit of what my book's about:

I'd be in bed reading Click, but I'm hopped up on caffeine. No, really, I'm just excited about sludging through my sleepy brain and getting the work done.

The story goes on...

How am I going to write the rest of the story in just...four days? Determination! (It's the only way I could finish a book, I think.)

Again, wish me luck.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Crunch Time

Wish me luck! I've given myself one more week to finish my first draft. That means I won't be dilly-dallying as much and will be on a one-track mind---Rohana. Well, that and playing with blocks and trains and stuffed cats on my "off" time.

Next Sunday, we'll leave for our three- or four-day drive to Maryland. Home Sweet Home. After we get settled and my writing room is nice and cozy, I'll finish up the second draft. (By the end of the year? I hope so!)

If I'm not around much between now and then, it's because I'm being dutiful and not letting myself get distracted by the internet. As I am now...

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Spin Diesel

Alright, alright, I'm going to tell you a tale for your own benefit, AT MY EXPENSE.

A long time ago, like, last night, I grabbed my dad's Jeep keys, my bag of writing material and my dana, and headed out the door. "Hey, fill up the car, ok? It's going to snow tonight, and it needs to be filled." I nodded, and made my escape whilst the One in Penguing Pajamas was looking the other way. I donned my ski-cap and rushed outside and into the Jeep. I wish these seats were heated, I thought.
At the light, I had to make my decision: fill up the car now, or after Starbucks? Dad had said something about having to go the opposite direction from Starbucks to the gas station, so I sat for a moment, and when the light changed, I turned left. I was, for once, going to do the "chore" before the fun. As I approach the gas station, I saw there were two--one was a Shell, and lit up nice and bright in the frigid air. That was the one we always seemed to go to. The other one was smaller and had a nice dinosaur on the sign, so I took a quick turn and pulled in there, thinking it'd be nice to give them some business. I swiped the credit card, unscrewed the cap, and noticed it was green. It said, "Diesel only." Ahah, I thought, I have to select the right button. There on the panel was a red, a green, and a black button. The green one! I pushed it, shoved the handle-thingy into the gas tube and squeezed. I pushed the little lever to keep it pressurized so I could go back into the car, where it was warmer, but instead I decided to jump up and down like all the other Denver-gas-fillers. As I did so, I glanced at the gas pump and read the green square. UNLEADED.
I jumped a bit higher, cursed at myself, and frantically pushed all sorts of buttons, trying to cancel the flow of fuel. Then I remembered all I had to do was unsqueeze the handle. When I got the fuel stopped, my stomach sank. 2.42 gallons of unleaded in a diesel car. What do I do now! I thought I was surely screwed.
So I did what I always do--I called my husband. He laughed, then said he had no idea how to fix it, but "don't turn on the engine!" I swallowed and felt like I was sixteen again. I called my dad.
"Um, what happens when someone puts gasoline in a diesel car?" He blew the roof, understandably. Within fifteen minutes, he was at the gas station, helping me move the car (Without turning it on!). "Why did you go to this gas station? We never go to this one! It doesn't even have diesel!"
He was mostly mad because it was freezing outside.
We tried siphoning the gas out, but the Jeep has an anti-siphon mechanism (isn't that helpful?). After shivering more than I wanted to bear, we left the Jeep there and went home.
I ate freezing humble pie, and did not write at all.

It snowed last night.

Dad called and said I was "incredibly lucky" because the Jeeps people said all we have to do is fill it up with diesel and flush out the gas. I didn't put enough in to cause any damage. Phew!

Now, if you ever happen to drive a diesel car or truck, go to the bright and shiny gas station and find the green pump with the GREEN HANDLE. And whatever you do, don't just go by color coding. READ THE SIGNS. ;-)

Friday, November 16, 2007

Ode to my writing friends

Oh, how I languish without thee, writing friends...

Truly, though, where would I be? Certainly not this far along in my novel.

I am in a good mood right now because I just finished writing 1500 words (not exactly in publishable form, mind you) while trying desperately NOT to eavesdrop on the people sitting and chatting around me in the coffee shop.

Next Saturday I'm joining back up as a contributing member to my critique circle--my best writing pals on the planet. I'm excited to be part of it again, and getting to read sneak peeks of their manuscripts-in-evolution. They're all so damn talented, too. It's humbling.

Just a note: Elizabeth loves the cat. And the dog crate.

Other good news: Jim found us a home in Maryland. It's a three-bedroom townhome with a fenced-in back yard and a playground across the street. I've already laid claim to that third bedroom. It's where I'll be working on my stories. :-) Also, Jim's boss said he didn't want me driving across the country alone with Elizabeth, so he told Jim to take time off, fly out here, and drive back with me. We're going through Columbia, Missouri (where I was born) and St. Louis (where I went to university). I want to show Jim around the campus a bit, and maybe meet my old Russian professors. (Hopefully, they won't ask me to speak Russian. I'm so rusty.) After that, it'll be a straight shot to Maryland and Home Sweet Home. For ten months, at any rate. Isn't it cute?

Other good news: Elizabeth is sleeping in her own bed now, and only waking up every three or four hours in a night. This is a drastic improvement. I didn't mind having her in bed with me before, except that it was a little uncomfortable. She also woke up every two or three hours. Now, as long as I don't fall asleep in HER bed, I get lots of room. And yet--I'm still tired with waking up twice in a night.

Tomorrow, I'm getting TWO writing breaks since mom and dad will be home. While they're out feeding the ducks, I'll be here, trying to ignore the siren call of internet.


Monday, November 12, 2007

Back in the Swing of Things

A cliche I love to say!

Here's where my mind goes to during every break I get in the day:
Isn't it beautiful?

Last night I finally got back on track and wrote a scene--and it's wasn't a re-write, it was an addition! I found a way to get myself moving forward. The problem was that I knew I had things I wanted to change in the first hundred pages, and I couldn't get myself to move much past that without going back and making the changes.... so I printed the first 110 pages off, went to Border's on Saturday night, and sat there for about two hours with a red pen. I marked out the changes I wanted to make and did a read-through all in one, and PRESTO! I can now move forward. I'll go back and actually DO the changes after the first draft is finished. It's simple, but it's like magic! (You have no idea, but trust me on this one.)

The piece I wrote last night entailed an attempt to run away from a chasing Maori man and a successful escape from a burning house by tearing through the thatched walls. Exciting! My parents were watching Elizabeth in the basement and watching something on SciFi (Atlantis something-or-other) and I could hear lots of screaming and village-plundering, which was perfect. I should have recorded it, because tonight's scene is when the really gory stuff begins. You know, the massacre and Eating of Man. How delicious! Roasted forearm, anyone?

Friday, November 9, 2007

New Zealand Pics

Here are just a few of the pictures we took while in New Zealand and on Chatham Island. Jim took the pics with him to Maryland, so I can only put on which ones he emails me... Hope you can see them clearly.

This is what Chatham Island looks like now...

And this is what it looked like before the introduction of livestock.

Jim and Elizabeth at the Basalt Columns on Chatham Island. This was the type of day the phrase "wind chill" was coined for.

Elizabeth on the infamous Long Jump Beach, in Southland, NZ.

Us at a waterfall in southern South Island, near where we saw the penguins (which we didn't take pictures of, sadly).

The Franz Josef Glacier on the South Island of NZ.

And Elizabeth's favorite part of New Zealand...the ducks! (Any bird, really.)

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

In Colorado

It has been nearly three months since I have been alone in a house while Elizabeth was napping. Meaning: it has been a very long time since I've had the time and means to blog!

Our trip to New Zealand was fantastic. (Pics to follow, when I get them off the camera.) We spent five days in the Chatham Islands and then about two weeks driving around New Zealand.

In New Zealand, we got to Christchurch, picked up our not-so-new campervan and promptly left the city for Mt. Cook. That first night, we pulled over and stayed at a picnic area, and then drove on to the mountain -- which was, of course, obscurbed by misty clouds. That night, it snowed, and when I went to shower in the bathroom, I was dismayed to see I had to stand bare-footed on a frigid concrete floor wide open to the elements (with a privacy door, though). The water was hot, so I stayed a very long time until I had the nerves to shut the water off and dry off in the frosty air. After I got back to the campervan and Jim went to shower, it snowed. Did I mention NZ was cold?

After the Southern Alps, we drove down to the southeastern part of the island and stayed in a campground for two days overlooking a wind-swept beach. It felt as if the world was lonely there, and our presence warmed it up a bit, so we all enjoyed it. The best part of the southland was seeing penguins in the wild. We went to Nugget Point and waited for the Yellow-Eyes Penguins, the most endagered and shy of all penguins, to return from fishing. Eventually, we did see two return to shore. One took half an hour of swimming up and down in the surf, keeping an eye out for predators (of which there was nil) before finally hopping UP A CLIFF to his nest in a bush. Not what I had imagined a penguin would be like --- it wasn't like Happy Feet at all. (But it was cool!)

All was going well until I stupidly thought I could warm myself up by jumping on the beach. I decided to show off for Elizabeth and do my first long jump in ten years, so of course I slipped on some rubbery seaweed and hurt my back. No problem, I thought, I'll be fine. And I was, until that night, when getting ready for bed I pulled something and couldn't move a muscle without spasms. In case you should ever need it, the NZ medical system is awesome--they have free insurance for travelers from out of the country. Can you beleive that? The Saturday morning doctors' visit (best ever, too) cost us $25. The meds were a bit more, but boy did they help. Thankfully, we were driving a campervan, so I could lie down in the back while Jim and Elizabeth took us across country. After a few days, I could walk again and went back to the front seats. (It was dreadfully boring lying in the back by myself, staring at puffy clouds.)

We drove up the West Coast, saw a glacier, and took the ferry to Wellington, where we stayed a few days to visit the museum and the University. (The museum is awesome, by the way.)

Then we drove to a national park loaded with active volcanoes. The biggest one had actually errupted only a week before, so I was excited. We also glimpsed the infamous Mt. Doom of LOTR fame (it looked a bit kinder in the white snow and without the special effects). After that, we drove to the Otorohanga Kiwi House so Elizabeth could see some birds (she's obessessed, I tell you!) and then up to Auckland. At that point, we were tired and ready to go home, but we had three days we went to an Underwater Aquarium to see penguins and fish, and then to the Auckland Zoo. Now, Elizabeth can point out sheep and say "pshee!"

We got back to San Diego on the 30th, took Elizabeth trick-or-treating on Halloween dressed as the last costume available at Target (an angel) and then had our household goods packed up on the 1st and moved away from San Diego on the 2nd. Quite tiring. We got to Denver on the 4th, and I finally have time to sit down, take a look at my novel, and get back to work. I've got to finish the first draft by the end of the month.

Cheers--and I promise, pics will appear soon!

Saturday, October 13, 2007

The Chathams

We are here! It took 27 hours of travel time, but we finally landed on the misty isle and ran directly from plane to van in the sideways rain and slammed the door shut. It's cold and wet, but most of all, it's windy. Just as I had expected! Our room is in an old inn built in 1870, but the windows and bathroom are new--which turned out to be good, since the wind howled and screamed and tried its best to sneak in through gaps. By morning, after a good, long sleep, we woke up to...fog and wind and rain.

Yesterday, our first real day here, we went to the Kopangi Marai (the meeting house of the Moriori). I had no idea it existed until on our way here, so I was excited and nervous. We were welcomed by the only Ieriki (Chieftain and Elder), named Mana, who first welcomed us, brought us to the long post in the center of the octagonal room, and began chanting in Moriori. He welcomed us to the House of Peace, as it is called, and then spoke to the ancestors on our behalf. The entire time, I tried to imagine him as an Ieriki in the 1830s, dressed in an albatross feather cloak, singing out a welcome. Then, Mana took us to a wooden plank hung vertically in one corner and told us about himself and the building. Then he gave us a chance to speak, and I told him about why we were there (for my book, naturally). Then he took us around the room to each plank in each corner, and told us about the styles of carvings and how each represented a long-gone ancestor (and in a few cases, some ancestors yet-to-be). We spent hours there, talking. Well, actually, Jim and I were listening, Mana was speaking, and Elizabeth was running around the place with a large plastic robot she found in the toy box.

Today, we rented a car and drove around the island. We had planned to go to Te Awapatiki, the mouth of the big lagoon, but it's a 6 km trek across peat, and since it was still raining, our hosts kindly suggested we forego that idea. So we drove around and saw the island. It's easier if I list what we saw:
1. rolling green hills, polka-dotted in sheep (and nearly half were lambs)
2. black swans (not native birds)
3. a tiny Anglican church built 150 years ago or so
4. lots and lots of wetland, peat, lakes, and streams
5. wind-beaten ocean waves in turquoise and lapiz
6. doubled-over evergreen trees
7. a grove of kopi trees, and a dozen or more dendroglyphs
8. basalt colums beaten by the sea
9. Hokopoi (a crucial hill in my novel)
10. Whangaroa Harbor (where my heroine is from), nestled by cliffs and protected from the wind a bit
11. a serene beach with sky-blue waves (too bad it's a frosty day)
12. a rusting minesweeper left to rot in the inlet
13. the grave of the last Moriori and his statue

Then we rushed back to the hotel and had tea. It's called tea, but it's actually dinner, which was a bit of confusion the first night.

Tomorrow, I plan to stay inside and read read read the historical books I've found in the inn's library. (They have out-of-print books with critical anthropological and historical info that I can't find anywhere else.) Then, with Elizabeth and Jim outside, I'll sit at my desk and write write write. There are some things I've got to change, now that I know better.


Monday, October 1, 2007


I wrote 2,000 words last night! (And they weren't all that bad, either!) This may not sound like a lot to the professionals, but it was a personal record.
And other good news: Jim just got a job! We'd been biting our nails, hoping he'd get something to tide us over until he starts Grad School, and finally, he got one. It's with the Navy, in Maryland somewhere. He starts in November, right after we get back from NZ. The job is temporary, and goes until the end of September of 08. We might even be able to afford some sort of part-time daycare so I can write at times other than middle of the night.
Now we're off to the store to find Elizabeth some rubber-soled shoes. She's been wearing Robeez, but she needs something more weatherproof and hike-worthy for our trip to the lower hemisphere. We already got her a bright-yellow raincoat from REI. (I was surprised they had something there her size.) She refuses to wear the hood, but maybe she won't mind so much if it's actually raining.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

San Juan Capistrano

Thanks to my Great Aunt Helen, we've got somewhere to stay until we leave next week for New Zealand. Jim is busy studying, Elizabeth is teething, and I am writing and reading like a furious monk who can't have any more beer until he'd copied the Old Testament into Swahili. (Ok, I know, I don't really drink much beer, and I don't think Swahili has much of an alphabet.)

You get the idea.

Although I've virtually been given the go-ahead to write my book, I still fear that I'm taking the story in the wrong direction. What if I'm wasting time? What if it's too over-the-top in certain places? What if it's not all that interesting? What if my writing isn't a good in the middle and end as it is in the begining? AHHHH!!!

My husband is a dear, however, and continues to encourage me. We just went over the plot, and it was nice to have someone else go through it with me. He says it sounds exciting, but then again, he's my husband. What if the ending is horrible? Hopefully, any editor will be able to help me out there and let me know when certain sections aren't working. I'm betting that the editing process will take a bit more than a fortnight. (I read Shannon Hale's Austenland last night, so I am still breathing out Regencyese.)

So speaking of good books... Yes, Austenland. I little book of chick power. I could NOT put it down. I tried. I went to the kitchen to make myself some late-night oatmeal (Ms. Sick Teether is nursing like crazy, and oatmeal helps me make more milk, in case you wanted to know...ok, maybe not, but I said it anyway). I decided to read a bit of it while eating said oatmeal, fully planning on getting back to MY story after the chapter. Jim asked when I was going to start writing. I said I would, later. Then at TWO A.M., I finished. Voila! Shannon Hale is so good at storytelling, it's scary.

I have also recently read Shabanu, Daughter of the Wind, by Suzanne Fisher Staples. I had to read it because that wonderfully encouraging editor said my story reminded him of it. It is beautifully written... ;-) I was completely immersed in the Pakistani world while reading it, but I was a little disappointed at the end--it was over too soon! Ms. Staples is really good at describing things in a different sort of way, usually referring to the way the light bent at that particular moment, or sounds, like the jingling of copper bracelets. Everything became real and clean and illuminscent. I can only hope my story comes out at well!

I'm printing off a chapter I wrote back in late spring, before I changed the plot, because there is a part of it I want to use in the next chapter I'm about to write. It's the point in the book when the Moriori gather at Te Awapatiki to discuss the Maori take-over. They have to make the decision if they should fight back and defend themselves or stick to their code of non-violence and try to make peace with the Maoris.

Fortunately, I saved all of my work on iDisk because my lovely computer is in storage. Again, here's my ad for alphasmart: get a Dana. If you can't afford a laptop, or don't want to deal with lugging around much more than you need, a Dana is perfect. I've even found it easier to type on than my at-home keyboard.

Wow, my Aunt's printer is S L O W. I'm only trying to print off 12 pages. Ok, it's almost done... now, back to writing!

Monday, September 24, 2007

An edit

Yes, I took out the editor's name in the previous post. I was getting cold feet and started to worry that I had jinxed myself by naming him, so... voila! Name removed.

Jim, Elizabeth, and I went to dinner tonight with some friends from long ago, and although it was a buffet, we spent most of the time chasing after the roaming pink monster. She wore herself out and didn't eat much (no surprise there). At this present moment, she is passed out wearing nothing but a diaper and two hair ribbons.

Tomorrow is my last day on Air Force duty. Yay! My skin was starting to turn camouflaged from wearing my BDUs every single day.

Off to bed... I'm going to have to wake up an hour early each day to finish my book on time. Since she wakes up at 0400 and nurses for a half hour before falling asleep again, and we all get up at 0530, that's my one window. That is, IF I can keep myself awake.

Wish me luck, and pray that Elizabeth doesn't wake up between now and 4. (She usually wakes up at 1 or so, but I'd like to start skipping that one, if possible.) Someone tell me their kid did this too, please. I'm tired of hearing everyone else say, "oh, my son/daughter slept through the night when he/she was only three months old." I haven't had a SINGLE night yet where I was able to sleep the night through... If my novel turns out whacky, it's due to severe, prolonged sleep deprivation.


Thursday, September 20, 2007

The Most Glorious Email Ever

This is a photo of me, absolutely excited (and with a horrible hair cut).

I called Jim from work this morning:
Jim: Do you know who ******* is?
Me: Yes.
Jim: He sent you an email.
Me: It's just a mass email, probably.
Jim: It looks personal.
Me: No way.
Jim: It says, "Dear Ms. Matthews"
Me: What?! (followed by yelping and shrieking)

Yes, a rather prominent editor emailed ME. I couldn't believe it! He went on to say that I was runner-up in the SCBWI Work-in-Progress Grant, and that he had been one of the judges. He also said he thought my writing was "beautiful" and would like to see the rest of the manuscript.

I was shocked, full of glee, and shaking. Someone likes my book! And not just someone, but an editor! I sat in on a discussion of his at the LA conference this past August and kept thinking that he and his staff were exactly the kind of people I want to work with to make my book a great one. I just didn't know how it would ever happen...

And to think that yesterday I was this close to volunteering to go to Iraq for some financial security. (Not that selling a book will solve our money issues, but it would take me longer to finish it if I were away and working all the time.)

Of course, I didn't focus well at work today, and I couldn't wait to tell my mom. ("See? Writing isn't a lost cause...")

Woohoo! I'm not insane to think I can do this!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Still Kickin'

No, I'm not dead. I actually wrote a blog message on Friday, but Jim's laptop and my Dana aren't working well together. (If I could convince him to buy a new computer, like a Mac, we'd be in business).

I've been working seven days a week, and it has been draining me. I feel guilty about being such a wimp, though. There are millions of people world-wide in much worse conditions than I am in, working seven days a week for years on end, and here I am, complaining about a few weeks of it.

I miss spending all day with my daughter, though.

Friday night was "Parents' Night Out" so Elizabeth spent the evening at daycare while Jim and I went out to dinner. We debated about seeing a movie, but decided it would be more fun if we went to the bookstore to write/study. I loved it - we got to sit down, together, throughout an entire meal. We got to browse the bookstore without running after Ms. Toddlypants. I got to sit down and write an entire scene in Rohana's tale.

Sunday was depressing because I spent eight hours in a building attacked in 1941, presumably full of ghosts of men who had been sleeping in their beds that fateful Sunday morning, ALL BY MYSELF. I didn't see a single soul the entire time I was in there. (Maybe that's a good thing: No souls = no ghosts.) Anyhow, today was much better as there were other people living and breathing nearby, with tinkling brains.

Only one week left. We leave next Tuesday for San Diego, and then Jim will brave the Physics GRE. I know he will do fantastically well on it. :-)

Saturday, August 25, 2007


Yes, yes, I've been away. I have been insanely busy. I mean that literally - I have gone insane...

Just before we left San Diego, Elizabeth swallowed a penny. That alone took an entire day. We sat in the ER for a few hours, then got x-rays, then sat in the ER for another few hours. Then she had surgery. There were 20 people there for it - all of the pediatric surgeons, the ear-eyes-nose-throat surgeons, the anaestheticians, and their residents. The scariest part was when I had to hold her down while they gassed her. Part of me thought, when she passed out instantly, that it'd be nice to have one of those at home for those non-napping days, but most of me just cried. It was horrible lifting her limp body and placing her on the surgery table. The docs quickly ushered me out to join Jim, and within twenty minutes, she was out of surgery and completely fine. By the time we got home, we were all exhausted - but not so tired that we didn't scan the area to make sure there weren't any other items she could suck down.

Then, on Sunday, we left our house. It was empty, too - everything had been put in storage. We jumped on the plane and flew to San Fran and then to Honolulu, and have been here since. I started my Air Force Reserves job on Monday, which was quite a shock to my system after a year of being home with Elizabeth. By Friday, we had gotten into the swing of things. Jim has been taking care of her all day, but starting this Monday, she will be going to day care for four hours a day (he needs to study for his GREs). I've been trying to finish up my homework during lunch hour, but I haven't managed it yet.

And writing? No. Nada. Nothing. I haven't even looked at my manuscript in over a week. I have, however, been thinking about it. As soon as I've got a free minute with more than 5% energy level, I'll write again. Maybe next weekend, during my lunch break. (I have to work 7-days-a-week after next Friday or the USAF won't pay for the hotel.)

We are here until the end of September, when we return to San Diego for a few weeks prior to our New Zealand trip.

Oh, and I may have to go on Active Duty in November for 6+ months. I just found out that I'm highly vulnerable to another deployment to Iraq, even though I've already been. (The only people who are free from getting called up are those who have been involuntarily told to go before, so my voluntary deployment doesn't get me out of the hot water.) I'm trying to see if I can just stay here for six months (they need people here, too), and get a waiver of some sort to keep me from going back to Iraq. It's not that I'm afraid of going - I just don't want to leave my family. If I didn't have a child, I might have volunteered again just to get it out of the way.

*Sigh* I am looking forward to a change in the Administration...

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Nearly all Packed

I put this pic in because it's just too cute. Isn't she adorable? *gushes* Even though she likes to scratch at my face, bite, and not take naps, she's still cute. :-)

Packing... hmm... Well, I didn't do much throughout the day because the Queen didn't take a nap and kept wanting me to hold her. When Jim came home, she was happier and let me put her on the floor as long as we played music and danced.

This morning, Elizabeth and I met up with two writing mamas from my critique group. They're both writing fantastic novels and have progressed far beyond me at this point (but their kids are a bit older and they're not moving - that's a reasonable excuse, right?). Cindy is writing a great fantasy steeped in Chinese folklore, and Kirsten is writing a very smart, dark-humored psychological tale. See? I have smart friends - and smart friends make me feel smarter!

I called my best friend Kelly, who lives in England, and told her all about the SCBWI conference. I was talking about the time when I will send my manuscript out, and trying to sound confident (to psyche myself up), I said, "I think Scholastic will like my book because it will be great - as long as I keep working on it until it's great." After I said it I realized it sounded a little arrogant, but what I meant was that as long as I give it my best effort, and really work at it so the pages are well-crafted and the story itself is better than anyone else could make of it, it will be great.

I have to remind myself this at times like these... when the only time I get to write is at midnight, blogging.

Yes, I know, I could be writing instead. Well, I will - when my copyediting and grammar lab homework is done and the house is packed up. You see, I can dip in and out of blogging much easier than I can my story; it's mindless most of the time. Besides, when the only time I get to write is at midnight, my mind is a little too sore from a day's work to do any justice to Rohana.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

SCBWI, Denver, Disneyland, and Packing-up

Yes, quite a long list, so I'll list out the highlights of each event:

SCBWI LA Conference:

I got there too late on Friday to partake, but I did have a blast Saturday and Sunday... The best part of going to the conference was that I got motivated and encouraged to finish my book. (I will do a great job, as long as I don't give up!) I got to see Walter Dean Myers and Kirby Larson - I'm a fan of both writers. I met up with Laini Taylor and Jim Di Bartolo again, which was great because they're funny, friendly, and (here's that word again) encouraging. :-) I also met some new people that I'm planning on keeping in touch with... Having Jim and Elizabeth there in the hotel made it stress-free for me, and they had a great time at the pool (even though Jim forgot he had his cell in his pocket).

As for networking and learning things, Laini and her husband Jim introduced me to some very nice people at the By the Light of the Silvery Moon party. At one time, I got to speak some (very weak) Russian, and when I asked if the gal was a writer, she replied, "No, I'm an editor." So... editors are real people, too! I enjoyed talking with everyone that night, and then the next day, I got to sit in on a workshop with Arthur A. Levine and Rachel Griffiths (the Russian-speaking editor). Listening to them talk about their imprint (well, Arthur Levine's imprint) inspired me. I think, just maybe, they would like my book. (When it's ready.)

I had to leave early, unfortunately, so I missed a lot of activities on Sunday night and Monday, but I felt like it was all worth the money, the time, and the temporary feelings of ineptitude.

Then on Monday, Elizabeth, Jiji, and I drove to Denver. Only, we only made it to Utah on Monday. We didn't get to Denver until Tuesday night. The main reason we went out there was to deliver the cat and the car to my parents so they can both be watched while we (Jim, Elizabeth, and I) go circling the globe the next few months. Elizabeth and I flew back Friday, and then yesterday, we went to Disneyland.

It was Elizabeth's 1st birthday, so we had to do something grand. (Besides, we hadn't been in ages.) The first hour we were there, she cried, but then calmed down after I realized her toe had been mangled in her shoe (my fault). After that high-intensity period was over, she had fun in the It's a Bug's Life area, splashing in the water. We met up with a friend from college, did the birthday-day cupcake thing, and spent the rest of the day walking around. It was a completely different Disney experience for me, since we weren't trying to ride all the rides (I think we rode three). The best parts for Elizabeth were the little shows with live animals and princesses. I was surprised that she paid attention - she was enraptured, especially when Belle was telling a story. We stayed until the fireworks... and by then, she was zonked in her stroller.

Today, which is our 2nd anniversary, we are moving stuff into storage boxes. We'd be done by now, but the company that dropped them off yesterday only dropped off one (we ordered two), and they aren't the advertised size. I was (just a tad) annoyed, especially since we couldn't get ahold of them today to fix the situation. So I called a different company which is going to deliver two (bigger) boxes this afternoon. Anytime now... In fact, now would be good, since Elizabeth is napping...

I apologize if this whirlwind of events wasn't told in all that of an interesting manner, but I'm tired. Really.

I plan on emailing the writers I met at the conference, as soon as I can. My computer is getting boxed up today, but I'll have Jim's to use, and then we'll be off to Hawaii for our next job-adventure on Sunday, so I'll be out of commission until I figure internet, etc. at the hotel.

Ciao! Or rather, aloha.

Friday, August 3, 2007

A Feline Fan

As you can see, my cat Jiji has found a use for the new Harry Potter book. Unfortunately, he's the only one who's spent any time with it yet. This past week has been spent packing, doing homework, and guiding Elizabeth as she pattered around on two feet (!!!).

The last two or three hours have been spent going over my manuscript. I wanted to make sure it was as clean as could be before printing it off. I've got to bring at least one copy with me to the conference - all 13,986 words! (Thus far.) It's not finished, obviously, but at least I will have something to show anyone should they be interested. Should I be so lucky.

Now, off to bed before she wakes for her midnight feeding... tomorrow night, I'll be in LA!

Saturday, July 28, 2007


I apologize for not having anything interesting to say. Usually, that means I don't post anything, but I'm up late after doing some critiques and poring over Craigslist. (We've been trying to sell all of our furniture and find cheap boxes.)

In addition to this:
1. Editing work
2. Two classes
3. Writing
4. Packing up the house
5. Practically turning the house into a store
6. Setting things up for my six-week stint as a Reservist in Hawaii (i.e., going back to work temporarily)
7. Setting up our trip to New Zealand
8. And, oh yeah, being the primary caregiver to our just-walking daughter,

I have a nasty sinus infection.

So yes, bleh.

Two great things:
1. I met Laini and Jim on Thursday while they visited San Diego for the ComiCon.
2. Jim and I got away baby-free and saw the new Harry Potter movie. (My Jim, not Laini's Jim, of course!)

Meeting my new friends was awesome, and I'll get to see them next weekend at the conference in LA.

The new Harry Potter movie was fantastic. As my mother said, "it didn't have everything in the book, but how could they make a movie that long?" They did a great job transferring the words into film, and I think the acting was great. I especially like seeing Emma Thompson. I hadn't noticed her in the movies before...

Cheers, and here's to Vitamin C.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Me, Excited

This is me super excited because... *drum roll, please* I'm going to SCBWI's LA Conference in August! Yay! Just a week and a half away!

I know I will feel like I'm in over my head. So many published writers, so many agents and editors, so many talented artists - where do I fit in with them? I must convince myself that my writing is just as good, but "undiscovered." :-) I'm nervous in the sort of First-Day-of-School-in-a-New-Town sort of way. (I moved around about every two years as a kid, so I know that feeling well.) You know: will I be too boring? Too weird? Will I fit in? Will I find any kindred spirits?

Then I smack myself on the side of the head - of course I will find kindred spirits! Lots of them! They're all writers/illustrators/publishing-world people who want to make good art for kids (and teens)!!! My kind of people. Hurrah!

Jim and Elizabeth will be there too, but mostly in the pool or driving about LA. Although they're BOTH interested in Kid Lit (Elizabeth says it's rather tasty), they're not going to bother my co-artists.

By the by, see that rug hanging on the wall behind me? I bought that in Baghdad from a Turkish man who bought it in Iran (what a circuit). It's from Qom, and is pure silk. The best part: it was woven the same year I was born - 1980. I was 25 when I bought it, and I thought it rather nifty that the rug and I spent the same quarter-century on this Earth together. It's a hunting scene, and very pretty. Unfortunately, my wicked cat Jiji has tried a few times to use it as a scratching post.

Sunday, July 22, 2007


Since my last Sunday Scribblings was dedicated to my dogs, here is an ode to my black cat (in haiku form):

twitching his long tail
Jiji lifts a furred eyelid
and bites in a flash

and in Japanese (not exact b/c the syllables wouldn't be 5-7-5):

nagai-no happo
Jiji-ga heya miru
shoshaku suru

Thinking back, the last haiku I wrote in Japanese was about dogs... and that was in 1992.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Hair, of Canines

These were my dogs. I say "were" because over the last six months, we have given them both away. The collie is Silver. She is 8 years old. The beagle is Chewbacca. He is five years old. Chewbacca went to a new home with a doggie door, a younger beagle brother, and a yard last December. Silver flew to Virginia today.

I was never going to be one of those people who get rid of their dogs when they have a baby. How could a baby replace any member of the family, whether human or not? I still believe that had we lived in a real house, with real grass (or maybe just nearby a park), we would still have these dogs. But I caved. After a year and a half of Chewbacca peeing on the floor because he couldn't hold it, I had to find him somewhere else to live. (This was after I made a pallet of grass on our patio, which he peed in once and then returned to the floor/door.) At his new home, he has yet to have an accident. Silver, on the other hand, is a model citizen. She is truly a perfect house dog - if you don't mind vacuuming every other day. Yes, fur. Everywhere. She moved to my sister-in-law's house because we are moving next month and will be in transit for a year (to who-knows-where).

When we got home today from the airport I set to vacuuming the whole house. We had taken her to the beach yesterday, so sand had scattered itself all over and mingled with the silver fur that was stuck to the Elizabeth-spilled sticky places. I was relieved to know I wouldn't have to vacuum again so soon, but with each swipe of the whirring machine (the Dyson Animal, bought specifically for our animals!), a ball of guilt tumbled about inside me. Had I given Silver away merely for a decrease in vacuuming frequency? Had I shipped her off to her favorite Auntie only so I could have more freedom? What was I doing trying to erase her imprint as soon as was possible?

Half-way through I emptied the vacuum container and watched the doughnut-shaped clump of gray fur braided with dust and sand as it fell into the bag with a satisfying plop. Then I reaffixed the container and continued on with the rest of the house. I mopped, too. There, I sighed, a clean floor. Maybe it would last a week!

The guilt rose higher in my throat. Silver had no idea she would never see this home again, just like she had no idea where Chewbacca went. Our cat, Jiji, was very sad when Chewie was gone. I don't know how he'll act these next few days as he realizes Silver is gone now, too.

The price of a life En Route has turned out to be greater than I had anticipated. The weight with which we handed over our dogs is still with me. As I learned with giving Chewbacca away, Silver's contributions and presence are irreplaceable. A clean house is not a good trade, no matter how many fewer times I now have to toss out clumps of silver hair.

Halloween, 2005

This has been a Sunday Scribblings about HAIR. (Good timing.)

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

House for Sale

Ugh. It's just not fun selling our house. I imagine selling a home could be fun, in the right location and the right time, but at the moment, it's as uninspiring as a half-eaten bag of pretzels. No wait, less so. You could build a play fort with pretzel sticks - so that's pretty inspiring, actually.

We had the "Broker's Open" today, but only 7 people came. Two agents looking for their clients, one "design to sell" person, two agents looking around to see how their condos compare, and a single buyer looking for a place for his kids. Yes, it could have been worse, but zheesh! (I do have to admit it was better than I'd expected, though.)

Great news: I got my first freelance editing job. :-) It's a non-fiction book about the on-coming Armageddon and how the aliens/angels are selecting good people to go into an alternate dimension to save them. Yes, I know. Anyway, the book is quite a challenge because it's all over the place, but I'm having fun editing (um, rewriting, actually), and my customer is incredibly interesting and sincere. Hopefully, this is a sign of things to come - editing jobs, not Armageddon.

More great news: The used car we bought a few months ago that was going to require $8,000 in repairs recently got a second opinion from a transmission shop. The repairs from them will cost us $300. Yes, quite a change! I was thrilled when I found out because who wants to spend $8,000 to fix a $4,500 car? We felt so trapped when we were facing thousands of dollars in repairs, so a few hundred is miracle. :-) Soon, I won't be stuck at home when Jim goes to work, so Elizabeth and I can go to parks, the beach, and maybe the Wild Animal Park during the day.

I am going to Lake Tahoe on the 6th of July for a college friend's wedding. I'm a bridesmaid, and this will be the first time I've been able to attend as a bridesmaid (twice before, I couldn't make it and I already had bought the dresses). Elizabeth is coming with me. The cool thing about this wedding is that we have to ride a ski lift up to the ceremony!

Here are two pictures from the cruise that my Uncle took... the second one is the best!

Monday, June 25, 2007

Sunday Scribblings

Here's my first-ever Sunday Scribblings post:
"I have a Secret..."

They say the ones that got away, the Chosen Ones, went to a land called Paradise, where the sun is bright and the air clear and warm. My grandparents, and the others like them, were left behind to dry like thrown-up food on a rock.
We all know this much. We've been told about Armageddon since we were whelps, but I know more than my cousins. Those brats just nod their heads during storytime and stare into the fire. They haven't looked into the eyes of the Grandparents - they haven't seen the green storms that whirl there.
They haven't once gone up above to feel the snow.
It's not wet like the Grandparents say. It's like dust, but fine and cold and layered with ribbons of grays and blacks like rocks are layered with quartz and mica. The air there is dry also, but it stings. I had to hold my breath, take a look, and then crawl back through the metal-rimmed hatch I had found.
That was the first time.
The second time, I held my breath and looked for animals. Big ones. The kind I've heard that can knock a human over -- not the rats or roaches or worms we eat. I scanned my torch all around, but I saw nothing. The air was thick and dark-white, and nothing but snow still covered the ground.
It was the fifth time I went above, when I brought along a mask I'd made of peat-mud and leather straps, that I found it, just steps from the hatch door. The wall of stone stood out from the snow like a skeleton spine and ran in both directions as far as my torch would light. Gasping through my mask, I staggered in the knee-deep snow to the wall and touched it. It was as real as piss.
The wall only stood as high as my dad at the highest part, but every ten feet or so it dropped a few feet and then rose back up so that the top moved up and down along the line of the wall. I grabbed the gray stone with my cloth-wrapped hands and quickly pulled back. The rock was frozen solid and the cold bit right through to my fingers. I wanted to climb on top, so I pulled up in a huff and threw one leg over on which to stand. I didn't think about it until later, but the top of the wall wasn't covered in snow.
The light from my torch bit through the darkness like a rodent chewing on something soft and fleshy so that only bits of light scattered across the top of the wall, but there in the iceflake darkness I saw the wall was as wide as two men were tall, like a road. I knew in a heartbeat what I had found. It was in the legends the Grandparents talked of, how people built walls not only to keep their food animals penned in, but to keep people out.
This had to be it. The Great Wall had not been destroyed in the ice that crawled across the landscape.
I peered through the shard-like dust snow a final time and then jumped off the wall. I rushed back to the hatch, back to the safety of the caves where the scents of musk and human waste mixed with the tears that fell from the Grandparents' eyes. My hips scratched through the hatch and into safety as I yanked off the mask and breathed in deep, wondering what the air inside the wall would smell like.
My little sister waited for me with hands folded across her chest. She asked me in the lowest voice she could spit out,
"What was up there?" I wanted to tell her everything. She would admire me, call me a great explorer and discoverer, and listen to my stories of what the world was like now, but instead I shrugged my shoulders and said,
"Nothing, whelp. Just wet snow like they say."

I like where this story idea is going, so some day I might do more with it. A short story, perhaps, or another novel. At any rate, it was great getting into the groove again.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Alaska and Moose Hats

Our cruise was fantastic. :-) The only stressful bits for me were the dinners, because we had to keep Elizabeth happy in a fancy environment for over two hours each night. However, we did get to pawn her off a few times and walk around on the top deck, watching the late sunset from a warm sauna. I only got away to write twice, but I got almost 2,000 words written and I'm proud of that. The hard part was getting back into the story because it had been a week since I'd worked on it.

Elizabeth finally found a hat she'll wear! Behind one of the antlers is a glacier. Notice the floating ice? We hit one with the ship, and it shuddered. (Made me shudder, too!)

Here we are pulling into port at Skagway. I think of the towns we visited, Skagway was my favorite. We went on a nice little hike there, too, and checked out a secluded lake. Elizabeth napped on me on the way up, then pointed out leaves and rocks when Jim carried her down.

A beautiful valley. I would love to have a home there - as long as we had a runway to get in and out. A valley like this one is what I think of when I need to escape pain mentally (like when I was in labor).

Here we are at the Mendenhall Glacier. If we'd had more time there, we would have hiked to the waterfall. While we drove there on a bus, my sister Hazel got to take a helicopter ride and land on a few glaciers and do a walkabout.

And Elizabeth finally got to get in the water. One of the days was a bit warmer (in the 60s), and the pool was heated and the sun was out, so we put her BumGenius diaper on and let her crawl around. She kept going for the deep end, and it was pretty funny watching Jim chasing after her. I, claiming a painful back, sat in the hot tub and watched.

Our flight home yesterday was longer than it should have been, but we made it. Jiji, our cat, was thrilled to see we'd returned. Although the trip was awesome, I'm glad to be home and comfortable again. Cruising with a baby is hard work.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Open House, Open Water

The house goes on the market today, and we are going on a cruise! My Grandparents are celebrating their 50th Anniversary, so they bought everyone passage on an Alaskan cruise (Princess Cruises). Yippee! Jim, Elizabeth, and I are sorely in need of some pampering and relaxing. I'm bringing my notepad, notes, and my determination along to get some writing done. I haven't written in ages, and it's wearing on me. Finally, I will have loads of babysitters lounging about.

Wish us luck in the housing market. We need a good sale!

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Why I am NOT an Interior Decorator

Apparently I cannot do anything I put my mind to. For instance, I cannot be relied upon to choose complimentary (and sane) colors. It may sound strange, but I thought blue and green would look great in the kitchen. I thought it'd liven things up a bit. My dear husband just went along with it, trusting I had a miraculous plan.

Well, it felt more like a blue cave with slime trim, as you can see in this picture:
After a week of being depressed whenever I thought of the kitchen, we went back to the hardware store and spoke to a painter. He suggested the following color scheme:Much better, don't you think? It took a bit longer than a weekend... Getting the new invisible hinges in took a while, but it makes things smoother. Let's hope we get someone in here during our Open House that thinks the kitchen looks terrific. It looks much nicer than it did when we moved in, at least.

In the mean time, I am spending every waking moment organizing, cleaning, and spiffing up the place. I even have a babysitter scheduled for a few hours tomorrow so I can get the nitty-gritty stuff cleaned up. I am sooo sleepy, but we are going on holiday next week, so I can sleep then. *yawn*

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

A So-Called SoCal Escape

Some of you know how Jim and I have been hemming and hawing the past year about moving away from San Diego. Yes, it's beautiful here. Yes, it's sunny. Yes, it's warm year-round. Yes, it's crowded and expensive. Then you heard us complaining about how we bought this house (so expensive) just before the housing market started to slide downhill, and about how we'd gotten ourselves stuck in a place we're not that enamored with anymore.

Well, the tides have turned. As the saying goes, we're going to cut our losses and run. We will sell our house this summer (hopefully) and move to Denver for a bit until Jim gets accepted into a grad school.

We've got a #1 choice right now: University of Oregon. Not only does the school and PhD program seem great, but the town (Eugene) does, too. They even have a Japanese Language Immersion elementary school there, so all the Japanese I've been teaching Elizabeth won't be for naught. (No, she can't speak Japanese yet. She can't really speak English yet, except the cat's name. Oh, wait. The cat has a Japanese name. Hmm...) We've also got some other grad schools on the list that he'll apply for this winter (like University of New Hampshire, University of Washington, and others). He just needs to study a lot and take the GREs. Good for him. I'm glad I don't have to do it!

The best part of leaving San Diego is that we'll be finding a place that will allow us both to pursue our dreams. He can work towards his Physics goals, and I write. Some day, we will have the cute little house of our dreams, and he'll bike to the University to do research while I sip tea in my office and dream up fantastic characters with challenging storylines. And Elizabeth will go to school. :-)

We're both excited, but have heaps of work to do to get the house ready. Fortunately, he has another 3-day weekend coming up. He told me last night that his Command (his temp job until August) gives a day off for every 40 days they don't have an alcohol-related incident. Unfortunately, a ship is coming back soon, and that usually makes them start from scratch. Drunken sailors - cliche, yes, but true.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Copyeditor's Handbook

I got my copy of the handbook yesterday and have already read the first section - amazing, since the Queen is teething hard-core. The book has prompted me to take some grammar quizzes online. I didn't know how fun grammar could be until today! (I did know about punctuation being fun, though - from Eats, Shoots and Leaves.)

My editing website has been updated, but I'm still working on the wording. It's not quite right, just yet. I'm taking a copyediting course, which should help me figure out more of what to say.

Oh, yes. One more thing. We took Elizabeth to see her first movie today - though it was more for us than for her. Which movie? Shrek, of course. Who wouldn't want to see a green ogre on screen the first time they go to the movies? She did very well for a nine month-old... meaning, she lasted about thirty minutes. We walked around, nursed, played with the tracking lights on the floor, and stood in the back by the door. I missed the last fifteen minutes or so, but we enjoyed it none-the-less. The best part: in one scene, the princesses are clapping while Fiona opens a Baby Shower gift. Elizabeth saw them clapping - and she clapped with them. It was too cute!

How much writing have I been getting on? Sadly, not much, but I do have a date with the coffee shop tomorrow. When my husband gets home, we're trading off so I can get some much-needed storymaking done. I just can't let Rohana and the others sit in place for too long, or they'll invade my dreams with fists shaking and fingers wagging.

I got my hair cut today, too. A week of clouds, no car, and a fussy baby made me feel sorely deflated, so I took off all alone to get my hair changed. It didn't come out quite like I had wanted, but I like it.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Modest Mouse and a Modest Day

Yesterday, Jim and I dropped the babe off at a friend's house and went to the Modest Mouse concert. It was great for a few key reasons, the first being that we got out of the house without the Queen and the second being we got to see a great band. The only downside was that they played in a basketball stadium, and with the metal rafters, the acoustic resonance was a bit painful (i.e., screechy metallic sounds bouncing from the ceiling). They did play some great songs, though.

While there, I actually thought about what I would say in this blog. Now, however, it all seems silly - that which I can remember, anyway.

Today, I went to the doc for pain meds. I've been unsuccessfully "dealing with it" and Jim got tired of my whining. The culprit for the pain? Carrying around an infant. Apparently, even an infant in the 3rd percentile in weight (yes, THIRD) is heavy. She weighs in at 15lb 9oz. Her doctor said I need to try feeding her more. She, who cannot bother to sit still long enough to eat! At any rate, I came home armed with a wrist brace that looks like a gauntlet, motrin, and muscle relaxant.

She's teething (I think). I felt really bad for her because most of the day passed with pitiful cries. I tried to soothe her, but nothing much worked. She is usually all-action, but today she just wanted me to hold her while she turned in circles on my lap and cried. For me, it wasn't much fun. I don't think she enjoyed it much either. At the moment, she's fitfully asleep with her warm daddy. I should go join them - it's late!

I apologize about the tone in this post - the computer is slowing down, my fingers are cold, and I am exhausted. Time for those muscle relaxants...

Wednesday, May 9, 2007


Yes, that is a lance, being held by a Native American, on a horse. And yes, they are galloping freely across the countryside. Not towards an Englishman in Armor, I hope.

So, in other words, I am going freelance. I've started my own business as a Freelance Editor. Sounds big, but fun! As cheesy as this sounds, my website address is: (I wanted, but it was already taken.)

Now I get to make business cards, market myself, and all those other things I didn't think would be fun but are turning out to be exciting. Here's to a successful business helping people get their words (and facts) straight!

Oh, and yes, I will continue to write my book. As a matter of fact, I went to the coffee shop this evening in the midst of business planning and wrote 1,000 intense words. I just had to find a way to bring in money so that I can eat and raise my child while I'm writing my book.

Monday, May 7, 2007

The Great Outdoors

We went on a picnic yesterday. :-) If you ever want to distract a baby, offer up a water bottle. It's amazing what plastic and liquid can provide for entertainment. That, and twigs and bits of grass.

And what else goes with the Great Outdoors?? Outdoor clothing and gear! I applied for a job as a copywriter in an outdoor clothing catalogue... in Wyoming. We'll see how that goes. Not having spent much time in the State of Wyoming, I don't have much to judge it by, but it's certainly cheaper than San Diego. Probably less traffic, too. More horses and cows, I'd imagine. Wasn't it Wyoming that first allowed women to vote? (I'll have to look that up...)

Well, the child has turned into a Screaming Banshee, so I must quit for now. Cheers!

Friday, May 4, 2007

Warriors of Peace

The Moriori may not have been warriors in the traditional sense, considering they were peaceful people, but they hunted prolifically and held on to their pre-peaceful legends and songs, carving them into the trees. These wooden planks decorated a spirit house in the Chathams --- aren't they beautiful? It's disconcerting that the rest of the world is having a very difficult time metamorphosing their warrior spirit into one of patience and love like the Moriori did, but it's a Truth in humanity, I guess.

Sadly, the Moriori are no more.

And that is what the book is about. (Well, that and an adventurous young woman with really good spear-throwing skills.)

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Writing Plans

Starting tomorrow, I'm going back into writing full-swing from the lefty side of the plate. It's been a week since I've really had any time to myself, and I can't wait.

On another note, Jim got laid off on Friday. He and another guy from his work were "downsized," and told to get out by 2:30. He came home with his things in a bag and we stood in the yet-unfinished kitchen wondering how in the world we could pay our mortgage, how we could sell a townhome in a "buyer's market," and what comes next. And yet, he looked younger as he struggled with the realization that we were suddenly both unemployed. The past two years at his job had aged him, and I was relieved we were done with it for good. As the Buddhists say, in death, there is rebirth. As Maria says in the Sound of Music, "when the Good Lord closes a door, somewhere he opens a window." I, for one, am excited.

Better yet, today he got a call from the Navy Reserves saying they'd like him to go on Active Duty for 90 days. Bottom line: We will have medical insurance, a paycheck, and three months to find new jobs, a buyer/renter, and a new place to live. It's like a three-month warning.


Friday, April 27, 2007

working for money

As much as I would prefer to be a stay-at-home novel-writing mom, I have to transition into a working-full-time novel-writing mom. At least until my writing pays off, which will be in ... five years?

I am blaming the housing market on this one because if it had not taken a dive just after we bought our townhome, we'd have sold this place and moved somewhere cheaper. San Diegan weather be damned. I'd take rain, wind, lightning, snow, and drizzle over congested, crowded, and expensive sunshine any day of the week. It rained last Friday as I was lying in bed nursing Elizabeth, and I nearly dozed off to the pattering on the roof. It was beautiful, and I realized how much I miss it.

Bleh. Working for money. Now I have to scour the classifieds and job market for a job that is flexible, pays well, and interesting. Do they exist? I did find one as a Background Investigator and I applied for that. The best part of the application for that job was a spelling check. The quiz was online and quite fun! (Yes, I'm a geek.) I guess they don't want peple with poor grammar and spelling to be writing up investigation reports. Hopefully, I'll get that job because a) I can work mostly from home and set my own schedule, b) it sounds like fun, c) I won't have to look for any more jobs, d) I'll get to wear suits when I'm out doing interviews.

I've never worn a suit before. (Unless you count the fashion-backward Military Service Dress. I'd post a picture of me in that on here, but the internet would crumble.)

Oh, yes, we did paint the kitchen. Rather - paintING. It is taking much longer than anticipated. One thing I've learned is that I am completely out of touch with reality. (For some reason I am always finding myself re-learning that one.)
Reasons we are still painting:
1. Blue walls and green cabinets are not a good combo, no matter how much you may like those colors individually. Especially when the green reminds you of a Carnival Fun House.
2. Babies like to side-swipe painted walls.
3. Cabinets just take a long time to paint, dry, paint.
4. I am too wishy-washy with colors. Even now, I am unsure about the blue walls and white cabinets. We'll see...

Yes, I've rambled. You get a gold star for reading this far along.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Drill, Knit and Paint

In an ideal world, I'd have hours upon hours to write, but this weekend is going to be Computer-Phone-DVD Free. We are going to do some home improvement. Yay! I'm banking on the idea that a beautiful, organized home will bring the Muse here to visit a long while.

1) Jim is going to FINALLY finish the bannister. That way, no one will fall onto the couch if they should slip off the stairs. When we moved here, there weren't ANY bannisters, and I was always wary of walking on the stairs in socks. See how there are stairs going down on the other side? Scary!
2) We are repainting the kitchen. It's something we've been meaning to do for months. It'd be great if we could get a new stove, fridge, and cabinets, but paint is something that will change the look drastically without costing too much. It should be fun, too. Here's how the kitchen looks now. Yes, it's blah. Just wait for the color update!
3) When we're done with these projects, we're going to scrub down the house.

How's that for a Spring Makeover?

And for my knitting addition, here's a picture of what I've done so far. It's my first-ever knitted project, as you can see by the stitches (particularly the earlier ones). That really wide stitch - that was with baby-on-lap.
And just because I'm having fun with iPhoto today, here's a picture of Elizabeth and me last night just before bedtime:ZZZZZZZZZZ

Wednesday, April 18, 2007


I don't have any comforting words, but I wanted to say that I am inspired by the unity the Hokies have shown since the shooting yesterday. I didn't want to have a happy turkey on this page, so I've posted a picture of a wall made of Hokie Stone. (It's what all the building there are made of.)

My husband is an alumni and grew up in Blacksburg. His dad retired from VT as staff, and his sister and her husband both work there now. Jim and I found out about the shootings from an email she sent, titled "we're okay." If the shootings have affected me even a little, I am sure they have affected him greater still. He hasn't said much, but we've talked together about why someone would do such a thing, just as everyone else seems to be doing.