Monday, December 28, 2009

A much-needed break

Well, I took a much needed break from full-length novels this month. My current project is a short chapter book written for a special young boy who has been very sick. Sir Jordan and the Treasure of Libraria is over half completed and, hopefully, will be done before the new year! After that, it's back to revising Fortune's Gift, my NaNo story, and querying J.T. Middleton to agents and publishers.

Happy writing in the New Year!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

NaNo winner!!!

I did it, I did it! I can not believe I have written that many words in two days. Fortunately, the children behaved, the computer did not crash, and I finished it!

First Person vs, Third Person

Last night I suddenly found myself writing Chapter 19 in first person...and I began wishing I had written it all that way. I do not know why I chose third person. All of my J.T. stories are first person (although Troll Quest and my two adult novels are third person omniscient) and it seems to come more naturally which is rather weird. Until J.T., I had never written with all those "I's" and "me's" and "my's".

With the deadline for NaNoWriMo being tomorrow, I am not going to change the narrative until after it is over. Then I will read and make the call.


Well, I am at 86% after tonight's (this morning's?) marathon session. I managed about 3 thousand words on Thanksgiving Day, but that was all. It was hard because we were out of town and we were visiting with relatives. (Wonderful visit, fabulous relatives by the way.) There just wasn't a lot of time like I have at home.
So, we got home, we had some trees taken down (and one landed on the fence which was bad but since we worried about the dead tree falling on the house or our neighbor's house, it wasn't as bad as it could have been.). We went to church to celebrate the beginning of Advent, and then it was home. I have been writing since around 8:30 pm, only taking a break to tuck in the Rouskateers. Now it is 2:43 am and I am at 43,000 words. I did not think I would win at NaNoWriMo, but I just might be able to get it finished between tomorrow and Monday night. (No Girl Scouts on Monday so there is an extra two hours!)
I think this will be an interesting novel to edit. Although NaNo says to turn off your inner editor and do not worry about rewriting, etc. I have found that is very hard to do. I actually have added a prologue that shows what is about to happen at the end of the novel because it is a better hook than chapter one. (Chapter one is not a bad hook, this is just better.) I do have to stop that inner editor who wants to make it more concise, cut out superfluous words, etc. I need those words for my word count!
Good night! (Or, rather, good morning!)

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Getting there? 21090!

It's amazing how some days the writing flows quickly, and others are a struggle. I got behind last week (WAYYYY behind!) Friday night went well in trying to catch up (hard when you are already 6k behind and each day puts you further behind), yesterday not so great, and today is still here! I'm taking a quick break for sustenance before continuing Fortune's story...the weirdest thing is I'm putting all the backstory in because I NEED WORDS, but I know it's all going to get cut eventually...

Monday, November 9, 2009


Yes, that's the NaNoWriMo count as of tonight...Of course, I only had time to write for less than one hour at school and no time to write this weekend so I am now behind. At this rate, according to my hand-dandy NaNo spreadsheet, I'll be finished on...December 17! I know I'm now about 6,000 words behind thanks to my training to take Girl Scouts camping. (It was COLD in that tent Saturday night!)

Wednesday is a day off, and was supposed to be my day to work on the yard with the Rouskateers, but thanks to Hurricane Ida I should be able to get lots of writing done! (Unless the 3 Rouskateers band against me and create havoc in the home...)

In the NaNo novel, Fortune has now met her Great-Grandmother who died eight years ago. There's some funny backstory woven in regarding Fortune's relationship with her twin brothers, Alex and Andy, and her other brother, Sam. Hopefully I will write more tomorrow.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Getting it done...14%

Writing 50,000 words in one month sounds like a lot. It is. And this weekend I'll be unable to write from Saturday morning until mid-day Sunday (and then I'll probably be totally exhausted!) This is my weekend to prove to the Girl Scouts that I can camp...despite my 11 years of Scouting as a child, being a camp counselor and lifeguard, going on 3 Wider Ops (and 2 of them were backpacking in Wyoming), and being a Cub Scout den leader I have to prove it!

Currently, my word count is 7,193!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009


Yes, I'm counting on that percent ticker on the NaNoWriMo site to motivate me to keep going. Chapter one flew from my fingers into keyboard. (Probably because I'd thought about the beginning so much.) Chapter 2 took some thinking and then it went quickly. Then I started ch. 3...hmmm. It seems my Main Character's oldest brothers (the twins) decided not to go to summer school and they have now shown up in the middle of my plot! This twists Fortune's plans a bit, and may lead to some controlled mayhem (how's that oxymoron?!?) later in the novel.

Finally, however, I did manage to get a name for my librarian. Of course, she's now a HE, but that's better than being a ? every time your name is mentioned! Now the librarian is beginning to play a much stronger role than I'd planned, moving from supporting cast to lead supporting actor.

I'd better stop procrastinating and get to writing tonights 2k-3k words!

Monday, November 2, 2009

And so it begins

I figured the first day of NaNoWriMo would be a piece of least 4000 words would fly onto my paper since I had several hours of driving time to and from a soccer game. (I was not the one driving, don't worry!) However, everyone wanted to talk on the drive down so I only managed about 600 words traveling south. It was so blasted cold during the game that my hands were frozen and I couldn't write! I did manage to get about 2000 words total last night though. Tonight I'm aiming for another few thousand...we'll see how long I can stay awake and type coherently!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Whoo hoo!

What can make 176 nine-year olds stand up and cheer? What makes them giddy with excitement? What on earth could get them to voluntarily write during LUNCH?

NaNoWriMo notebooks, of course!

These cute, small (3.5" x 5.5"), 200-page notebooks did it! ($1 each from It's absolutely amazing to have them come show you they've written another page of plot ideas or developed a great villain for the novel they haven't even begun writing!

Meanwhile, I've planned my MCs except for the name for my librarian...she's almost 50, miserable with her lot in life (which is part of the plot!), and anxiously awaiting the day after her 50th birthday when her dreams will come true (so long as the MC, Fortune, makes the right birthday wish). Any suggestions to a great name for this unlucky lady?

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

NaNoWriMo Preparations

Today we began our "hype" for NaNoWriMo with our students. Each student has a little 200 page notebook (3"x5"...I do mean little!) for writing ideas, notes, character info, and their novel (if they choose not to type it.) The excitement was huge!

I have my own little notebook in my purse, decorated with smiley faces and several pages of notes. Poor Fortune Applewhite. She has a huge decision to make with the help of the ghost of Great Grandma Agnes, the local librarian, and her teacher/neighbor/mentor Mrs. Wagner. (Like most almost 13 year old girls, she's constantly at odds with her parents and her little brother) Her dilemma (which I can't write about until Nov. 1) makes me wonder if I would have been able to make the right decision at her age. Could I have doomed my family and myself (until the age of 50) to a life of unfulfilled dreams, poverty, bad luck, etc. (but good health) for the sake of an entire community? Or would I have ensured our good fortune by giving away good health and good fortune for neighbors, friends, and strangers? Tough question for my girl to answer on her 13th birthday!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Fortune's Gift

Last night was a productive night of planning and outlining for NaNoWriMo. I've played with five different titles, and decided to go with the original, Fortune's Gift. It's a play on the name of the MC (Fortune Appleton) and the theme of the novel about fortune vs. misfortune. I'm liking what I've done so far, and I wish I could go ahead with writing but I'm being good! I'll start the actual writing on Nov. 1 as we drive to a soccer game in Lumberton (2-1/2 hours each way!).

Tonight I'm going back to my promise to myself to work on Josiah's synopsis and cover letter.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

New Profile Pic

I decided to change the profile pic because, well, the old one was out-of-date. Now, we don't have a new puppy. This picture is to remind me that things that are cute and small can grow and become cute and BIG! Isn't that the way our writing works? We get a neat little idea for a story, and suddenly it's several chapters long with no end in sight to its growth until it's this really involved book! (Kinda like my dog!)

Character building

Using NaNoWriMo's lesson plans (with many modifications since we're in the library), we've began our character building, pre-writing. Do you know who your main characters are, I mean, REALLY know who they are? What do they do for fun? What annoys them the most? What one thing in the world would motivate them to do something he/she would never do on their own? It's a lot more involved than looks, age, and name.

The students really like the idea of creating the three types of characters since most have only dealt with main characters. They are beginning to see the importance of supporting characters (and needing to know just as much about them to make them believable). Of course, most were even more excited to spend time writing about their villian(s). It will be interesting to see which type of villian they choose: the bully, person in authority, or enemy to battle against.

For my NaNoWriMo, the main character is a "just-turned-13" girl (the story begins on her birthday) who must make a life-altering decision by sundown when she'll blow out her birthday candles. (And it's not her life alone that will be affected by her decision, but the lives of everyone living in the valley.) Her supporting characters include her family, an ancestor's spirit, and friends and neighbors in the community. The villian? Herself. (No, she doesn't have a split personality. She simply has an internal battle with her wants/needs/wishes versus her conscience.)

Wednesday, October 7, 2009


We've begun the prewriting activities at school for NaNoWriMo...right now we are thinking about characters. Imagine your favorite character: age, looks, location...easy, right? Now think about the things that character does for fun...what annoys him/her...favorite color, food, TV show, music...How would your character react to certain situations?

Our students are really getting into this project, which is great. Of course, they only have to write 2,000-5,000 words per their teacher's goal sheet. I have to write 50,000. In 30 days. On a new novel. I keep wondering, is it really cheating if I take the 5000 words in Troll Quest and I add 50,000 words to it? It's not like I'm THAT far into the novel! The idea of beginning yet another new project is rather daunting and slightly discouraging. Finding time to write is getting more difficult, and 30 days on yet another novel means 30 days of no writing on Amelia, the Trolls, or Josiah's synopsis.

Grrrrrr for starting Troll Quest a few months ago! Grrrrrr for not finishing Amelia so I'd have one less novel on my flash drive! Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr in general just because I want to growl some more (and get my dogs to look at me really funnily!) :-)

Tuesday, September 29, 2009


I found about 40 minutes to write yesterday, and I got an entire chapter worked out and some reworking of the first 2 chapters! Amelia, Amelia,'re paranoia and quirky habits are so much fun to write! Now I must find time to write more tonight! (If I make it 3 nights in a row, then I know I'm on a roll!)

Sunday, September 27, 2009

We're healthy again

Finally, I think we've eradicated all the germs in our house, and we're all healthy...I hope that doesn't jinx us!

I wonder if other writers have as many projects in their minds as I do? It's hard, sometimes, to focus on one when I have so many thoughts going through my mind!

Anyway, for now I am concentrating on my wonderfully intelligent, but woefully paranoid Amelia in her adult suspense novel. Her backstory is emerging as the novel progresses, and the reasons for her extreme fears and the ways she deals with her fears are more clear. She's a fun person to work with right now!

The synopsis and query letter for Josiah is also coming right along, but no where near good enough to send out yet.

J.T.'s stories are going to be on hold until I receive my letter from the Delacorte contest. It's almost October so there's just a little over a month left for hearing from them. (The longer it takes to hear from them, the better! Keep your fingers crossed that I don't hear from them for another month and 3 days!)

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Profile Pic

I just looked closely at the profile picture. It was taken last year at Mendenhall Glacier in Alaska, and it's woefully out of touch with reality. Our eldest son is no longer shorter than me...he towers over me by almost 3 inches. Our middle child has about 6 inches to go to match my height, and our daughter has short hair that has aged her at least 2 years. (She's NOT in middle school, but looks like she should be!) I guess it's time to find another picture to use!

And so it goes...

I'm thankful. Really. I am. We just received added money in our budget at school. More library books can be bought. TVs that are dying can be replaced. Overheads will have bulbs. It's great. Really. It is.

I don't sound excited, because it's my job to purchase everything. The process is tedious and time-consuming, and I don't have a planning period or much time available each day. Plus, I've been given one week to get everything spent in case the state retracts the money they just gave to us. GRRRRR.

However, I've decided to redirect my efforts at home to three things. (I'm making a list in order to make sure I do them all!)

1. The Curse of Josiah's Orchard is going to find a home. The synopsis will get written. The query letter will be perfected. (Ok. That's reaching pretty high. Maybe it'll just be really, really good.)

2. The trolls are staying put. I've decided they are not the priority for me. Instead, I am going to return to Abigail and her paranoia and have some fun with the kidnapping. (Got ya curious, don't I?!?) :-)

3. The book that's been in my head for the last 2 years will get outlined and put aside. Hopefully that will quiet those voices in my head. (THE CHARACTERS' VOICES. That's what I'm talking about. Really. I promise. ---Shhh! Don't say that too loud!---)

4. I will remember to charge my laptop every Monday and Wednesday night to ensure battery life for Tuesday and Thursday soccer practices.

Notice house cleaning and keeping up with laundry are no where to be found on this list? They get done each week with the help of the least the healthy ones. I just have two to count on this weekend unless they succumb to.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Encouragement, discouragement, and emotions

Well, between being sick for two weeks and then having work, soccer, scouts, and life to work around, I've not gotten much done in the way of writing. The trolls are going to have to wait, J.T. is stuck in Roanoke with the not-so-lost colonists, Josiah is not yet on his way to a publisher (synopsis needs work!), and the issues plaguing my paranoid Abigail have been solved only in my head!

For work, I'm reading books that might be considered for the 2010 Newbery. This is for a fifth grade project we conduct every year. Anyway, there are 35 titles to preview. I read some, and I feel encouraged because I can see the strength of my own writing in comparison. (I know, it sounds rather egotistical to think I'm better than them, but my writing seems better IMHO.) Others encourage me because I feel the writing is equal to my own so I truly see the worth of my hard work and ambition. When I read books like Lisa Graff's Umbrella Summer and Suzanne LeFluer's Love, Aubrey, however, I get discouraged. My genre is different, my style is different, yet I see how absolutely breath-takingly superior these books are to anything I've ever imagined. Both books made me cry with the way they addressed death of siblings and parents and how their characters grew and changed.

I'm just trying to remind myself that my books shouldn't be compared to these, but it's hard!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Long week with a forecast...

...of a great weekend. I've been busy with the first day of school, both my 3 Rouskateers' homework and teaching 5-6 classes per day. (I'll be honest, it's always nice that kindergartners don't show up for a week and a half! I like that afternoon break!)

JG made the soccer team at school, so he's on 2 teams and will practice M, W, F until 5:30 and T and TH until 5:30 with one team and 6-8 with the other...WHEW! Oh well, practice time = writing time for me, and I'm looking forward to getting more written.

J.T.'s story is doing well on authonomy although I can't seem to break 100. Maybe that will happen this weekend or next week! Anyway, as soon as the kitchen's clean, I'm sitting down with some trolls and talking them through the woods and on to the land of the sprites! (Who used to be fairies and might become pixies...) :-)

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

School starts, summer ends, and my mind...

...feels overwhelmed at what I did and didn't accomplish! I really felt confident the trolls would be on the second draft by now, Josiah would be reworked, and J.T. would have broken the top 100 on authonomy. So far, only Josiah's where he should be!

I did get the pictures organized by date (but not in albums), we had a great trip through Pennsylvania and New York, watched fabulous soccer, visited Montreal, and went through the Coast Guard Academy and Westpoint. I also canned A LOT of vegetables and cleaned out a few closets!

I guess I did accomplish a lot, just not the items that were on the top of the list. Hopefully the trolls will find their way through the woods, visit the sprites, and return to Notyalc safely before...dare I say Halloween? Or should I play it safe and say Christmas? Who knows. I'm too tired to think right now!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Moving right along

My Troll story is finally moving along, albeit slower than I'd wish. Unfortunately for the trolls (but fortunately for us!), I have 8 lbs. of banana peppers and a couple quarts of tomato sauce to can. The trolls will just have to take a break from questing through the forests.

On another note, I've decided the third race in the land of Marf will be the sprites, not the fairies.

Thursday, August 6, 2009


Editing is sometimes the most difficult part of writing. Every word is your own creation, and it's difficult to let them go, especially when it's a scene that's near and dear to your heart but might not help the story along. Anyway, because of that I'm entering Janet's contest from to see if I can win that 10,000 word edit. The biggest question for me, if I win, would be which story to send for the edit?

Should I send The Curse of Josiah's Orchard, the adult crime/suspense novel? Probably not since I learned of the contest on SCBWI. Maybe I should send J.T. Middleton, Time Traveler (Book 1, The Wild, Wild West)? This is the one my critique group is helping me with and is posted on authonomy where I've been getting some great feedback already. Then again, I have Troll Quest, a true work-in-progress that may have a great deal of potential. Decisions, decisions. And these are decisions I might not even need to make!

Nonetheless, I think all writers/aspiring authors are greatful for any chance to have their work edited in order to have it improved.

I met my goal...

...sort of. I added a prologue to Josiah, saved each chapter separately, and am printing today (storms yesterday as I was about to start printing so it was put on hold.). I read through the first 3 chapters and the foreword of Troll Quest. There were some minor editing changes to be made, but it's getting my mind back into the story. Unfortunately, I have some preliminary paperwork for school to get finished today (lesson plans to help renew NB certification), and a trip to Lowe's, a visit to school, and 2 dogs to bathe while getting the boys prepared for their camping trip. Nonetheless, the trolls will be worked on this afternoon. (If I use the laptop, I'm not as concerned about the weather!)

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Will this be the day...

...I actually get some writing done? Probably not with over 4 lbs. of tomatoes to peel, puree, and can plus a vet appointment. However, I'm going to try! I'm also going to print off all 175 pages of Josiah. (The groan you hear is from my 6 year old printer. That's senior citizen age for it!) I do better at major reading off paper, not a glowing screen.

J.T. Middleton is doing well on authonomy, at 125 last night. He's also waiting on the Delacorte contest, but we DON'T want to hear anything until October...that would mean they liked it more, even if he doesn't win.

Meanwhile, the trolls are angry and not speaking with me because I promised I'd get them out of the woods, and they're still languishing there with dwarves lurking nearby. (Trolls and dwarves are enemies, you know.) I'll try to coax them to let me back on their good sides tonight.)

And for those who aren't writers: my characters may not breathe my air, but they are real, and I do talk to them! :-)

Monday, July 20, 2009

Time and dedication

and very little sleep...that's all it takes to tackle revising the biggest plot twist in a crime/thriller novel in all 172 pages (20 chapters. And it's longer once I switch it to Arial, which the publishers seem to prefer!).

If only the solution had come to me in a dream FIVE YEARS AGO! Instead, this novel has bugged me and frustrated me for five years because I was struggling to change what desperately needed fixing!

Now it's done, except to go back and read it all again and make sure the flow and suspense have not been altered by my recent work.

Maybe I'll have time as we drive to NY to work on the trolls next...

Sunday, July 19, 2009

The Truth about...

anything is rarely as inventive as the imagination!

(Don't know why I said that, but it just popped out of my mind onto the screen.)

Getting JG off to a soccer tournament has occupied a lot of time this week, plus all of the friends who have been coming over to swim and hang out. Nevertheless, I have edited 14 of 20 chapters of my original novel, The Curse of Josiah's Orchard. I haven't read the novel in a few years, and I still like it...that's a good sign, I hope! I am going to try to finish the rewrite tonight before submitting it to several "editors" whose opinions I value a great deal.

I will probably put this on authonomy to get feedback from there as well, but I would hate for Josiah to compete with J.T.'s adventure. I've noticed a lot of people will read one book by an author, but not another. (Or maybe that's just me...)

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Garden gnomes

The garden gnomes have frolicked frantically this morning, hoping there was a need to beat the rain. (Provided the rain actually comes!) We pulled up the zucchini and squash vines that are gone, discovered a new squash plant that is blooming, and then planted round 2 of...cucumbers! (Just kidding. We did pick 24 more cucumbers. Last Wednesday, I picked 25.) We planted some different squash plants (spaghetti and acorn), cantaloupe, potatoes, and watermelon. Tomorrow looks like a tomato picking and canning day, and when the peppers are ready in a week or so, we will have a slew of banana peppers and jalapenos.

I have begun the rewriting of The Curse of Josiah's Orchard, my first full-length novel. Poisoned Pen Press sent back a mostly favorable, personalized rejection five years ago. The changes they recommended were time-consuming and difficult, but the overall problem they noted had to be solved. Well, after much soul-searching and finally revisiting the entire book, I figured out how to do it! The rewrite is still difficult, but not insurmountable. I'm working on that, working on J.T.'s third adventure, and jotting down ideas for an adult novel cautiously titled Surround Sound Soap. It's about a woman who feels she's surrounded by real-life events that should be the plot of a soap opera.

On top of all that, my mother-in-law is coming to visit this week and we're preparing to go to NY in a few weeks with JG's soccer team! BUSY BUSY BUSY! (Isn't this supposed to be "summer vacation"?)

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Pickles, pickles, everywhere...

...and I don't even eat them! Tonight is day 4 of pickle-making...I have 11 jars of sweet relish, 7 quarts of giant dills, 20 pints of smaller dills (spears and chips). I think I'll go ahead and make something else with the cucumbers. Oh! Wait! There isn't anything else you can make with pickles. (Besides fresh in salads!)

I'm going to experiment tonight with some spicy relish for hot dogs. Less sugar, some hot peppers. The cool thing is these will all have homegrown onions and peppers! I have 22 cucumbers to use tonight. That's still saving some for tomorrow's salad.

I wish the tomatoes would turn red so I can make homemade sauce to can. I much prefer canning foods I'll actually eat. :-)

Tonight was supposed to be a writing night, but challenge soccer was canceled. I'll never get anything written while three Rouskateers pack for summer camp! It will be nice while they're gone. Jeff and I will be celebrating 16 years a few days after our anniversary so we can do so on a night sans children.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Too busy for trolls

Well, I've been too busy for trolls. With only 1 workday this year, we had to get everything done before summer in the library. That took awhile with inventory, shelf order, weeding the collection, fixed asset reports, media reports, etc. On top of that, I've already completed 3 rounds of canning...and it's not even the middle of June! We have green beans in the freezer, squash to be frozen tomorrow, and enough dill pickles to rival the grocery store shelves. Honest! One cabinet in the kitchen that used to hold the corning ware dishes is stuffed full of pickle jars! I made relish tonight for the first time. It tasted good; I just hope it cans well.

This, of course, means the trolls are still on their quest and there's no end in sight for them. :-(

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Busy, busy month

This month is busy with everything going on at school...collecting overdue books/fines, inventory, collecting overdue books/fines, getting equipment in, collecting overdue books/fines, administering tests, collecting get the picture! Half of everyday is spent going room to room to make children turn in books due 2 weeks ago!

I haven't had time to write anything about trolls lately. I have more things in my brain than time to get on paper (or in the computer. Same thing!). I need to get those trolls out of the woods, but then I got a really cool idea for a book about a "gift" (curse?) and how this thirteen year-old deals with it. Of course, I've been working with my other novel on Authonomy, which takes a lot of time. Right now it's #323, which is great! It keeps moving up in the rankings and, if it gets in the top 5, maybe an editor at Harper Collins will review it. Then there's the synopsis I'm working on to submit the same novel to the Delacorte/Yearling contest. It's due before the end of June, so I've got to finish it soon and mail it off.

At least the last of the projects are done, Girl Scout meetings are planned through June 15 (last meeting and the bridging ceremony), and the laundry is all done! (The last is remarkable, I know!)

My plan for the summer is to get those trolls moving faster, scan photos from old albums into the computer, clean out 2 closets, and finally fix the problem with my original novel (that has set on the shelf for 6 years because I couldn't figure out how to do what the publisher advised me to do!). Whew! How many weeks are there in summer vacation? Probably not enough!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Goals achieved...

...well, almost, anyway. The suncatchers are all ground and washed, ready for the next step in the stained glass process. (42 of them!) I managed to edit book two of my time-traveler series through chapter 5 of 11 chapters. The kitchen is clean, one load of laundry is done, and...the trolls are still stuck in the woods without going any further. Oh, well. I'm only one person. Now I have something to look forward to! (Along with foiling the suncatchers, chapters 6-11 being edited, volunteering at soccer tryouts tomorrow night, and a few more loads of laundry...)

When life gets in the way...

...make brownies! (Hey, that should be a bumper sticker!)

Seriously, I'm actually glad that this is our state-mandated End of Grade ("EOG") week. It will give me the chance to get caught up on many things. How, you might ask? Well, no need for lesson plans and my children have no homework to be nagged into doing when they really just want to run around outside with their friends. Because of EOGs, there are no after-school/evening activities to ferry them to and from so I get to...

DO LAUNDRY! (Just kidding. Sort of. Well, actually, I'm not.)

I'll also get a chance to finish the rewrites for book two of my book series and hopefully add the next chapter to my poor trolls' adventure. Tonight I'm planning to grind the glass for the 34 stained glass cancer awareness suncatchers sitting on my worktable. Then, once the Rouskateers are in bed, I'll revert to my trusty laptop for some serious writing time! (Oh, and since it's EOG week...they go to bed EARLY!!!!!!) I'm almost giddy with my anticipation.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

For today's schedule...

...We have: 2 soccer games back-to-back, house cleaning, baking for the Relay for Life Bake Sale, working on the next set of 30 stained glass awareness ribbons for Relay, watering the garden, and trying to figure out the finances. (Our governor decided we could do with lower pay for 2 months and an increase in insurance rates for our families.) Grrrr.

On the other hand, all children were told that any fights/arguments would result in extra chores for EVERYONE involved, not just the instigator. I firmly believe that it takes more than one child to start World War III in our house.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Oh to have time to myself

Well, the garden and pool have taken a lot of my time, plus the end of soccer season for all 3 has kept me busy. Therefore, I've had no time to continue working on anything! I did start work on the summary and query for the Delacorte Yearling contest, but it's no where near perfect yet. That's my next focus since June 1 is looming. I can't wait for between cleaning closets, the garden, preventing WW III from erupting at my house, scanning in the pictures of 36 photo albums for my mother, and spending time with my kids doing fun stuff (and the not so fun chores that need doing), I'm going to write, write, write!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Query, what query?

Well, after a fabulous visit from an author, I'm back to trying to write about the trolls! They aren't doing too well on their journey so I'm thinking they need a little more excitement in their lives! Hee hee hee! I doubt they'd agree, but life's too short to be humdrum!

I did get some wonderful insight on the intricate world of query letters. I'll be working on mine this weekend, as well as polishing J.T.'s world in order to submit that novel to another publisher.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Ahhh the life I could lead...

...if I were a troll on a quest for glory and a beard. (Trust me, you'll have to read the book to figure that one out!)

Have you ever noticed how things seem to work out? When things are going great, everything goes like you want. However, sometimes everything snowballs downhill. For instance, today was a unique day in the library with our lesson plans because of our preparations for an author visit. So...of course we got observed today! Since she hadn't read the book, our AP didn't "get it". And why should she? It wasn't for her benefit! Then, naturally, the one day I'm late getting into the hall for comes my principal wondering where I am! Oh, well.

Now it's time to put away the trolls and become a Brownie leader.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

And the trolls finally continue their journey

I got a little sidetracked by the real world! My usual writing time is during 4 soccer practices each week, Monday through Thursday, but track practices have interrupted that! Each day I bring 2 children home and then, while their Dad takes them to soccer, I return and wait for track to end...the driving time cuts into the writing time! Once the book fair began, my time stopped being my own completely.

However, track ends this Wednesday, and soccer only has another two weeks for two children. (Challenge soccer is year-round. It never ends!) I celebrated by working on Chapters 4 and 5 during spring break! Yeah!

My poor trolls had left on their journey and been stuck in the woods, unable to quest, until I got back to them. Now, however, they are partially through their tiring trek in hopes of completing the quest successfully. Both are discovering it is difficult to travel with someone you don't particularly like and with whom you have nothing in common.

Unfortunately, they'll have to get along without me some more. With Relay for Life in six weeks, I have many, many stained glass awareness ribbons to finish. There's also the slight matter of needing to finish the polishing of my entry into the novel contest!

Friday, March 6, 2009

Trolling through the chapters

Well, we're on the quest, and these poor trolls have no clue what's really in store for them. I can't wait until they meet the mischievous, rebellious fairy who loves to play tricks and use riddles to confuse others!

The snow was an interesting start to the week, but having two delayed starts made for restless students! Tack on five track practices (he made the team!), three children with soccer practices, eye doctor appointments (and yes, our eldest needs glasses now), and trying to get rid of the rest of my troop's Girl Scout can imagine the knots in my neck and shoulder muscles.

On a different note, I am now in touch with a cousin I haven't spoken to in years and my husband spoke to his half sister whom we haven't seen since we got married because of Facebook! I originally got my account because my sister said it would be great to chat back and forth while we were on the computer at night. I've chatted with her a grand total of...TWO times! Ah, the wonders of the Internet.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Ah, to be a troll!

Actually, I wouldn't want to be either of my trolls as they begin their journey! The way these two guys fight, you would think they were truly brothers, not just clan mates! I wish I had more time off from work so I could write more in peace and quiet, but perhaps I can get some done this week.

It's a busy week for all of us. Track try-outs will last all week for our oldest son. He has one hour between track and soccer two nights, and our daughter's soccer starts at the same time track ends one night! Add in Ash Wednesday services on the remaining night and...we'll do a lot of eating in the car, I think. (Of course, Ash Wednesday is a day of fast, so no eating then at all!) All told, I should have 4 hours of writing time in the car at practices. More if I write during the tail end of track tryouts! We'll see how it goes.

For now, I'm off to journey with some trolls. Fortunately for them, I'm invisible as I observe...otherwise I'd appear to be a giant! (And there are no giants in this story. Yet.)

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Progressing with Trolls

Well, the trolls are about to begin their quest! Soccer practice is so good for me (although it'd be better if I was exercising like the team!). I'm working on the rough-rough-rough part of chapter 3, and I'm excited that these two young trolls are on their journey! The fun part of this is that the journey causes them to change their perceptions of themselves and each other. (They don't like or accept each other right now.)

I can't wait for them to meet the fairy and the dwarf! (So long as they don't attack the dwarf when they see him, he'll be a great help to them on the quest.)

Friday, February 13, 2009

Best laid plans of writers...

Well, I had decided to work on the YA novel I drove to school on Tuesday these little trolls (literally) invaded my thoughts and began pushing me to write their story. Once I got to work (Thank goodness we were unbelievably early!), I hastily began to type as fast as I could. I actually got to page nine before the interruptions began. Tuesday night allowed more time during soccer practice now I have chapter one's REALLY REALLY rough draft finished, I'm halfway through chapter two, and the outline for the entire book (plus a two page history preceding the plot so I know my characters' history) are done! WOW!

This is a MG fantasy novel right now, although it might lean a little more to a MG/YA combination. (Think a lower level than Eragon but above Spiderwick). The main characters are two trolls, a dwarf, and a fairy. (And no, fairies don't actually have wings; those who are attuned to the forces of air actually have invented mechanical wings for gliding on the breeze.)

Did you know that trolls love the mud? Well, most do. Unfortunately for his family, Noskaj is not a normal troll. His parents feel a lot of shame everytime he cleans his feet. :-)

Stay tuned! I hope to work more this weekend...the goal? A clean house, Girl Scout cookies delivered, to cheer a soccer team to victory, and to have finished through chapter 3. Your question is probably, "Can she do all that?" In the words of the immortal train..."I think I can, I think I can, I think I can!"

Friday, February 6, 2009


Well, now that I've decided what my next project will be...I just have to start. The MC is a girl, but I'm struggling with the age. She's probably in middle school, but the subject leans towards possibly high school. Unfortunately for this child, her life is not great. She's been through more in her short life than anybody deserves in an entire lifetime, yet she's resilient until...her teacher discovers that she is dying. That the strongest, most level-headed person in her world is sick, scared, and not going to be around throws the MC for a loop. Can she become the strong one? Will this be the straw that breaks the camel's back, so to speak? I don't know yet, either. She hasn't let me in on that part of her psyche at this time; she doesn't trust me yet.

I guess that's one of my weird quirks as a writer. My characters are real in my mind. I get to know them quite well. When I wrote my adult suspense novel, I knew a character was going to die. He wasn't a very nice guy; in fact, he was a jerk, a bully, and a man who was easy to despise. Nevertheless, killing him off was something I felt grief over. Since he was beyond redemption, though, I didn't grieve too much. Do other writers do this with their characters, too?

Wednesday, February 4, 2009


Tonight was going to be a writing night...leave work on time, enjoy dinner with the family, then work on my novel. Ah, the best laid plans of mice, men, and aspiring authors!

Instead I had a meeting after school that lasted for an hour and a half discussing stuff that should have (and would have if I'd been in charge) taken about fifteen minutes. But now, it's later, I'm tired, and the screen is glaring at me...GRRRR!

Monday, February 2, 2009

Thoughts on the day

It's amazing when a great idea makes its way from brain to paper turns out to be a not so great idea. I began writing my latest idea for an adult dark humor book. While it's a very ROUGH draft (it doesn't even deserve the title "first draft"), I began to see a predictability in the sections to the point where it had too much in common. In fact, by the time you finished reading the sixth page, you would have known everything that would be happening in the book! (This was not a story, per se, with plot and characters. It was the day-to-day aggravations for a middle-aged woman.)

Besides seeing too much repetition in theme and emotion, I also realized this was not fun to write. In fact, it became aggravating and depressing simultaneously! I don't know about the rest of the world, but I don't read to get angry. I most definitely do not read in order to feel worse at the end of a story. (That's one reason I stopped reading Nicholas Sparks' books: every one could end happily ever after, but none actually do.)

So, although I've invested in 12 single-spaced typed pages and countless hours that could have been part of one of the other ideas/partially written books rolling around in my mind, this project is getting scrapped. I won't even claim to move it to the back burner...yes, it really is that bad!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

25 Random things about me (from my facebook account)

1. I am officially Irish one day per year (my birthday!).
2. I once went shopping for a large, male mutt and brought home a purebred female runt.
3. I met (Then) Governor Bill Clinton and shook his hand.
4. I then called home and asked if all politicians were fake like used-car salemen.
5. I've finished writing 3 books.
6. If you add the fractions of books I've written together, I've written 6 books.
7. I've entered the Pillsbury Bakoff 14 times.
8. I've made the finals of the Pillsbury times.
9. I sight-read for the piano better than I play after I've practiced.
10. I love to sing.
11. Only my children love to hear me sing.
12. Our beagle is named after a stuffed animal.
13. I bowl better on the Wii than at the alley. (MUCH BETTER)
14. Once, I bowled so badly the bowling pro gave me free lessons.
15. I did worse after the lessons.
16. I survived teaching in an inner-city school.
17. A Kindergarten class scares me more than a room full of seventh graders.
18. I have a poem being published in a North Carolina book.
19. The main thing I miss about teaching middle school are the conversations with my students.
20. Ironically, I have a middle school child who I cannot converse with sometimes.
21. I also miss my drama club.
22. Sunday was spent making 30 Santa hats.
23. I made Santa hats in January. (LONG story!)
24. One day I will have swam in every ocean (3 down already...Atlantic, Pacific, and ARCTIC!)
25. Today we were reunited with two "long-lost" relatives...through Facebook!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Bridges Poem

My life's path takes me across canyons,
Each path turns, twists, travels
Uphill, downhill, and through the darkness.

I rarely find my path to be smooth; it's
Each path divides, divides some more.
My life's journey looks endless and confused.

Then I come to the whitewater.
I must decide if I continue on this path
Or seek calmer eddies.

The bridge juts out across the river,
Jagged metal,
Broken concrete.
Is there a safer place to cross?
Do I risk drowning in my anger?

I travel up mountain paths: steep,
At the top, I see the valley.
My destination? The other side.

The way across swings precariously,
Frayed ropes,
Splintered wood.
Beneath the sharp, jagged points
Stand ready to pierce my fears.

The next bridge causes trembling,
At what point will the logs shift,
Sending me down to the endless depths?

The log shifts and the old tree bends,
Rolls sideways,
Creaks and cracks.
I lose my balance and regain it.
I crawl the remainder of the way.

Each bridge brings new challenges to face,
Without courage and a strong will,
The bridges remain untouched, uncrossed.


Today was not the best of days; understandably so since attending a funeral never makes for a fun morning. The mother of a friend and very special co-worker (technically, she's my assistant, but I see her as my equal) passed away this week.

I'd never been to a funeral officiated by a minister from this particular denomination. Catholic funerals tend to be somber and sometimes upbeat, but quiet. It was a bit of a shock when the minister raised his voice during his eulogy. If it had not been a funeral, I think members of the congregation would have been shouting amen a lot during his sermon on heaven and hell. (Remember Seinfeld? "Not that there's anything wrong with that!" It was just not what I'm used to.)

Instead of writing today, I've been working on making hats. Jester hats to be precise. "Why?" you might be wondering? mother-in-law has handed me three large garbage bags of fleece, fake fur, pompoms, etc. to make hats for crafts fairs. She was making them last year and is unable to continue so...I got them! There's some great fabrics in there, but I couldn't picture a lime green santa hat...hence the jester's hats! If I make a few each week, I'll be more than ready for crafts fair season in the fall. (Usually I sell glass beads and stained glass suncatchers. I'll just be branching out and diversifying this year! :-) )

I did start my adult novel yesterday. It did not go as smoothly as I'd hoped. The biggest problem was that my brain moved faster than my pencil (I couldn't be at a computer. I was supposed to be listening to the workshop presenters on a subject that does not pertain to my job.). Big SIGH! Maybe it will be better tonight and tomorrow.

On the good news: my poem has been selected as one of the winners for the "Forever Young" writing contest for the NC Reading Association, and it will be published this spring in a book!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

To write or not to write...not really the question!

Two extra days off from school and what do I have to show for it? An email to my Scout troop, a clean house (but loads of laundry yet to do), and this blog. Why didn't I write, you might ask? (I know I'm asking myself that!) Hmmmmm......

Three kids, two dogs, mountains of wet clothes/boots/coats/etc., twelve hot chocolate spills, a pot of soup, and interruption after interruption! Oh, and that's not to mention the tree that came down in the snow storm that took out part of our fence. That, at least, got fixed fairly quickly. The house was cleaned this morning with everyone pitching in, and's either blog ;-) write, or mate the huge basket of socks sitting on my bed. (How on earth did the pile get that big?????)

Anyway, I've planned out most of my next project. This one will be different. It's an adult humor novel. (Dry, sarcastic humor...definitely not Adam Sandler material) Right away, that's a difference for me. I'm a third of the way through the third MG novel in a series, have a YA in mind that will be realistic fiction (just have to make sure no one in one branch of the family tree recognize themselves!), and I've written 1-1/2 adult suspense novels.....this one should be interesting. It falls more in line with the dark humor of my short stories.

Thinking of short stories....only about 6 weeks left before I find out about the last writing contest. "Death Dreams" is one of my favorites of the short stories I've written. It would be great if others like it too. Soon I'll be sending out "Missing You", a story that has suspense, grief, and hope all rolled into just a few pages. It's based on a song I wrote years ago, isn't that weird?

Ah, enough procrastination! Write already! Why are we both wasting time on this blog? :-)

Thursday, January 15, 2009


Why do I always seem to get the most ideas when I don't have enough time to write these ideas and work on developing them? I've got an idea that I think would be a lot of fun, but it's hard to actually have time to do it! I'd planned to work during soccer tonight (while I sat in the car), but it's been cancelled and the kids are driving us crazy already! If I try to write, they have a million and one questions and interrupt and I lose my train of thought and AAAAAGGHHH!!!!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Some day...

Imagine being 23 years old and finding out the lump in your neck was cancer. Then imagine you found out while at school, with a class full of 5-6 year olds in front of you. Even worse, the doctor who callously called you at work with the news tells you its already spread to other places.

Today was not a good day for any of us at work. To find out such a vivacious, friendly person is in this situation is very depressing. It makes you look at the world a little differently.

Monday, January 5, 2009

What a long day!

The first day back at work after a holiday is always the longest day of the week. Today was no exception. My first Girl Scout meeting went very well. The only drawback is that I haven't had time to write down more of my idea for the realistic fiction book.

How much is too much? That's my problem. How much of the truth can I incorporate before every family member knows exactly to whom I'm referring? How much fiction should I insert without ruining the realism? I guess I'll know as I write, but I have to be careful. While some family members will never read the books I write, the one person I don't want to hurt, the person whose story I'll be telling, might read it.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Busy days

Today was busy with Scout stuff...both boys had activities, and then I had a lot to do to be ready for my first meeting on Monday.

On the writing front: a family member's situation has inspired me for the idea for a realistic fiction novel for YA. I'm playing with the idea of journal entries morphing into each chapter. It would start with first person as he begins to relate the events happening, and then it would become a more omniscient third person with the action/dialogue etc. One complication is changing it enough that certain family members don't recognize themselves in it. I don't want to start a family feud.