Monday, January 31, 2011

Rewrite Euphoria aka The Writer's High

A lot of writers don't like the rewrite process. It's not as creative as that first draft when everything is flowing, including great little nuggets that seem cool at the time but no sense with the story (how many times have you said to yourself, "I'll come back to that later"??).

You stare down at that HUGE manuscript that seems to have multiplied in pages now that you have to edit the thing and think "now WHAT?"

You do what you do best - avoid. You clean the house. You run every errand you can think of, including ones that have been on the list for two years. Suddenly, that closet in the guest room that you haven't organized in three years seems to bug you so much that you must do it NOW. You go have lunch with the friends you've been putting off for the last few months as you finish your book. You take the dog on all those fun adventures you've been wanting to do but didn't have time.

Then, that feeling sets in - you haven't written in a week or two or five. You start to get antsy. Your chest is tight. You need to create. Briefly, you're tempted to chase that shiny new idea. But you don't. You force yourself to sit down with your colored post-its and your favorite pen. You sit. And you sit. And you sit. And then the phone rings so you have an excuse to get up.

I forgot to bring a book to school last week when I was teaching. Best. Thing. Ever. I had one scrap of paper - my schedule of classes. I flipped it over and did some sketching. Redesigning. I remembered why I love rewriting so much. It's every bit as creative as that first draft. I rolled up my sleeves and got muddy like a five year old in a puddle.

And it worked. Like, really worked. Everything flows now in the story. Scenes have been moved around, forward, deleted. There is nothing hitting that moment where it all comes together. Rewrite euphoria. The Writer's High.

I was going on less than five hours sleep and I could not wait to get home. I was actually irritated that I had to run a real errand on the way (Lily has to eat, you know). When I sat down to my computer, it felt like I had slept ten hours! My fingers flew across the keyboard. They've been flying ever since! Who needs sleep?

Now, the laundry has piled up again. Cupboards are bare. The dog is wondering what happened to all that fun hiking that she got to do with Mom the last few weeks. That five pounds I lost is finding it's way back to me. But I don't care. I'm on that writer's high!

What about you - have you had a dose of that Writer's High? That Rewrite Euphoria?

Friday, January 28, 2011

FUN Friday


With the SuperBowl fast approaching, I'm starting to look forward to the commercials! Yes, I don't just love the game. I love the catchy ads inbetween. Here's my favorite commercial from last year:

Commas Save Lives, peeps. For real.

This would totally be a text conversation between me and my mom.

My nephew turns 5 this weekend. I can't believe it! He is so adorable, so smart and just "full of the dickens" (to use an old grandma saying).

When he was three and would misbehave, I would say to him, "All right, Mister..." I would never get to finish the sentence because he would immediately dissolve into laughter - "Meeeester!" He thought that was so funny.
He's older now and that one doesn't work anymore. Yesterday, I tried this one...
"Okay, you little stinker..."
"Aunt Jen, you can't say stinker!"
"Why not?"
"It's a BAD word!"

He learns all the bad ones from me. Three years ago, we were driving and someone almost ran us off the road. I swerved and shouted, "What the F*$&!" before I could catch myself. I looked in the backseat and Dillon was in his car seat staring out the window, seemingly oblivious. I breathed a sigh of relief. Have you seen the pictures of my brother Drew? Imagine a guy that size getting angry. I dodged a bullet there.

We pulled up in front of their house and I'm getting him out of his car seat when he says, "What the f*#$, Aunt Jen?"


Hey, I taught the kid TOUCHDOWN.

That totally makes up for 'stinker' and the F word, right?


What about you - did you have a favorite commercial this last year? Any big weekend plans?

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Thursday Favorites

These are things that have brightened my week.

R Carlos Nakai

I've been writing to his music all week. Lovin' it.

It's a Grind Winter Blend (sold year round!) coffee. A tantalizing blend of Hazelnuts and Irish Cream, laced with Vanilla and Cinnamon. Ooooh so yummy. You MUST try it if you have one close and are a coffee lover like I am. Coffee - the reason I get out of bed in the morning. I think my next giveaway will involve a pound of this stuff!

I add the first two, then I imagine that I am here:

This is where my book takes place. That's actually on one of the trails my MC has to travel on to retrieve an item. What a view! It's hard to not be happy when I get to spend my days mentally in a place that looks like that!

And when I venture out of my writing space, this is what I have to look forward to:
I love Lily's tongue. This was on a hike we did last week - Lily, The Hubster and I. I got lucky with this shot. I was snapping a ton and got home to find this gem!

Naps in a good patch of sunlight.

And old family photos (this one is for Abby, Melissa and Colene)

Hello 80s. I love how my dad went through the trouble of matching the head band and wrist bands to the shorts...but what happened with those socks, Daddy?!? Wowza!

My grandpa and I when I was little.

My grandpa and I when I was older.

Old pictures are so much fun! I've had a blast looking through some this past week. I'm slowly scanning them in for Facebook and for My Publisher books. I've had some laughs...and some tears. It's been good!

I hate to rub in the weather, but we've been holding steady at 72 degrees this week. Windows wide open, slight cross breeze - it's been heaven. Of course, I wouldn't complain if it was raining either. You know I love some cold, wet weather. I can be very productive!

What about you - what are some of your favorite things this week?

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Wednesday Wishes

This is Wednesday leaning out of her cat tree. She may look like just your average gray tabby cat, but she has many skills. Most of these skills, she uses for The Good. Okay, 'most' might be a slight exaggeration. Wednesday is a good little kitty, though, at heart. She loves her family, loves her sisters, loves annoying those sisters and she also loves to grant wishes. Every Wednesday morning, I will rub the side of the cat house and summon our magic cat!

My Wednesday Wishes for the week:

1) A Magical Door - One that will take me back in time. Not permanently. On a day when I miss my grandma, I can open it and step right into her living room. General Hospital will be on the tv and she'll be making something yummy in the kitchen. Or maybe it's a Saturday morning and we're just rising around 10am. She'll make some yummy coffee. Or maybe it's a playoff game and we're at the stadium in her and grandpa's seats surrounded by their friends that tell us not to yell so loud (before she swats them on the head and tells them to stand up and cheer like a real fan!). It really doesn't matter what day as long as it's a day. It might be nice to step back into production for a day here or there - see old friends (and get paid to hang out with them!) and remember why I got out in the first place. There are even high school and college days I would step back in for a day! Relive the fun here and there. "It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live." Ah, Dumbledore. Always the voice of reason. But I promise not to sneak off in it often. Just every so often.

2) More Time to READ - Wouldn't it be nice to crack open that book you've been dying to dive into, read for as long as you like, then have it be exactly the same time when you closed it that it was when you opened it? I don't think reading should count. It's a GOOD thing. It's good for us, good for our brains. Why should we have to give up so much time to do such a wonderful thing? We shouldn't! Reading should be like hitting a pause button in our lives. Book opens, time stops, book closes and time restarts. I think we could get MORE people to read that way, don't you?

3) Another dog - Kharma Rescue just got a litter in.

Look at her!
So precious!
So precocious - you can see it in her eyes.

And this one!
That nose!
Those ears!

But I swore no more puppy and I'm sticking to. Holding firm. We'll foster puppies in the future - do all the hard work so they go easy into a home.

For now, this is more my speed...

Meet Damon, 7 years young. Enough time left that I don't have to be worrying over, but old enough that he's ready for just a good snuggle all the time! I love a dog with years. There's wisdom there. And so much love to give. They're always grateful for that second chance. Lily's a good girl, don't get me wrong. Fantastic even. But she has no idea how rough it is out there for dogs, especially her breed. Dogs like this know. And they're so happy to get another chance. Give them a bed INSIDE the house and some belly rubs and they are good to go! Man, I love that face.

What about you - what are your wishes for our Magical Kitty this week? Wednesday waiting to grant them...just after her mid-morning nap.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Top Ten Countdown - Music Blogfest

Alex is having one of his GREAT Blogfests again today. They're so much fun! They can also be difficult. As a child of the 80s, I grew up with some great music! It was tough to narrow it all down to 10 songs.

1) Frank DeVol - Teddy Bear's Picnic
This was my favorite childhood song. Listening to it now, I'm not sure why it made me happy instead of giving me nightmares. The idea of Teddy Bears in the forest? And the warning not to go into the woods? But I loved it. Played it over and over and over and over...

2) San Diego Super Chargers Song
I grew up on San Diego football - first game at 2 years old. Here is the extended dance version, I believe. I love it in all disco greatness. They had P.O.D. do a new song in 2009, but this one is old school and my fave.

3) Def Leppard - Photograph
My introduction to "heavy metal" and MTV. Loved the song. Loved the video. Loved Rick Allen.

4) Morris Day and the Time - Jungle Love
I can't explain it. It's the beat? I hear this song and I can't NOT dance.

5) Christina Aguilera - Walk Away
This song is all about BAD ROMANCE. It's such a fantastic display of her vocal range. It just feels naughty. The year it came out, I was in a relationship that needed to be over. But walking away was so hard. This song was my theme song those two years.

6) Mike and the Mechanics - The Living Years
My father and I did not see eye to eye when I was growing up. The only girl, when I hit my teen years I think I completely baffled him. Also, I was the most like him out of all the kids. My theory? My father is full of self-loathing. He didn't want me to be like him for that reason. He loved me too much. So he tried to squash (that's a very gentle way of putting it) the traits we shared. Very sad because I feel those are my strengths. We have healed our relationship in the past decade and are closer than ever. But this song really spoke to me for the longest time. The lyrics are so touching, and true.

7) Kings of Leon - Use Somebody

8) Muse - Uprising
I love the rebellion.

9) Bonnie Tyler - Holding Out for a Hero
Cheesy. 80s. Enough said.

10) Doug E Fresh - The Show
It's fun. It's fresh. It's Doug E Fresh. This one takes me back to my high school years.

This was VERY hard to do!

Coldplay is my all time favorite band. They didn't make the top ten because I love all of their songs and couldn't narrow it down to just one. Yellow and Clocks...almost made the Top Ten. Almost.

What about you - what are some of your favorite songs? Could you narrow it down?

Don't forget to check out the rest of the entries at Alex's blog.

Friday, January 21, 2011

FUN Friday

TGIF! It's time to start our weekend! Okay, maybe not time for a few more hours. In the meantime, enjoy...

I don't think Justin should take this personally. I think it's the haircut. Notice the cat aims for the hair.

For those of you who haven't seen the 3 year old crying over Justin Bieber, click here. They've disabled the Embed so I had to use linkage. The best part is 4:10.

I'm trying ignore the sad part about the baby monkey really needing to be riding on its mom and just enjoy the silly song that I couldn't get out of my head for days...

Have you seen the sneezing panda?

I swear I've had that same expression when Erik has surprised me with a sneeze before.

My friend Dan is an Exec Producer with IFC. Naturally, he's VERY excited about the premiere of Portlandia tomorrow night. Be sure to tune in!

Doesn't it look FUN!?!

Tonight is Date Night! Tomorrow will be spent hiking with Lily, her boyfriend and my bestfriend Mel. Sunday? Um, FOOTBALL! Oh, more video...

Wave to your Mama, she's in the stands!

Hopefully, LT will be moving those hips towards another six a few times on Sunday! Although, he's never been big on personal records and accomplishments so I'm sure he doesn't care who scores as long as they WIN. I have to agree. Go JETS! (Sorry Meredith!)

I will also be spending the weekend trying to pick my Top Ten Songs for Alex's Blogfest on Monday! If you aren't signed up for it yet, click here and do it.

But not before telling me what's up with your weekend? Any big plans? Any small plans? Or a relaxing no plan weekend?

Thursday, January 20, 2011

How Writing is Like the Everglades

We watched a documentary tonight on the Everglades. So gorgeous. But it struck me, all those strands of water moving (slooooooowly) toward one large body.

It takes ten days to make your way via kayak down the waterways to the Florida Bay. You have to map your way out because it's very easy to get lost in there. Once you're lost, it's said to be next to impossible to find your way back out.

I've felt that way writing. I certainly can write without an outline, but it's about as recommended as jumping in the water without a map or any supplies. I can get lost in the story, tangled in the threads that I'm trying so hard to weave together. I could drown. So I plot it out well and set out armed with supplies. The most vital supply in the Everglades - fresh water. The most vital supply in Jennie's writing - fresh post-its.

When I'm weaving a story, all of those strands wander through the pages much like the fingers move through mandrakes, under the raised roots of the cypress, around the pine. I have post-its all over the house - my laptop, my nightstand, The Hubster's computer. If I don't write them down, I could lose some vital part of the story.

The words pour over the limestone foundation, moving faster than the actual water in the Everglades. It takes a month for one gallon of water to flow through it. We can't take that long with our stories or we will lose our readers. My strands move steadily, connect, veer apart and all end up flowing into the same ending - that Florida Bay in my book.

Everytime I rewrite, I'm pushing off and into the waterways again. It's just as important to be prepared the second, third, fourth time around. I don't ever want to get lost out there.

What about you - do you like your stories meaty? Weaving those strands together? Or do you prefer the more direct way - just the one plot line, no veering off but staying the course?

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Wednesday Wishes

This is Wednesday leaning out of her cat tree. She may look like just your average gray tabby cat, but she has many skills. Most of these skills, she uses for The Good. Okay, 'most' might be a slight exaggeration. Wednesday is a good little kitty, though, at heart. She loves her family, loves her sisters, loves annoying those sisters and she also loves to grant wishes. Every Wednesday morning, I will rub the side of the cat house and summon our magic cat!

My Wednesday Wishes for the week:

1) A Jets win! I am not a Jets fan. But I am a HUGE LaDanian Tomlinson fan. I'm sad that he didn't get a ring in San Diego so I would really, really like to see him get one this year with the Jets.

I will always remember him like this, though.

2) Magic Oven - I feel guilty asking for the entire kitchen. If I can open the oven door, announce what I want and have it later, I think I can manage to do the dishes myself. Wouldn't that be a fair trade? For example, I need to make some pumpkin muffins tonight. I've got laundry going. I just finished cleaning the house. It would be nice to have the oven fire up and out come those muffins fifteen minutes later. That gives me more time to blog and write!

3) A week in Cambria (see pictures below). No husband. Maybe my dog. Okay, my dog. My dog, my laptop and the beach. It would be nice to have that time away to focus on writing - only. No laundry, no phones, no dusting, no cleaning, no errands. Nothing but writing! Maybe I should get away with a few writer friends for the week. We could all walk on the beach and hike for motivation, then spend the rest of the time writing, writing, writing.

Those rocks hold a bunch of these:

They scared me the first time I wandered out onto the rocks. I wasn't thinking about seals as I made my way out across them, looking at their little treasures. I knelt down to take a picture of a starfish when I saw movement out of the corner of my eye, turned and found myself face to face with a harbor seal who had hopped its way over to me to see what I was doing. It's cute little face seemed to say, "Whatcha doin'?" But I wasn't expecting this so I backpedaled myself almost into the water.

What about you - what are your wishes for Wednesday?

Tuesday, January 18, 2011


We've all seen the pictures in our neighborhood. LOST DOG. My heart always goes out to the family missing them, to the dog scared and hiding.

I almost had to make those posters on Friday night.

I have to confess that I am extremely overly protective when it comes to Lily. Despite having a fenced in yard, I am ALWAYS checking on her when she is out in it. Not every so often. Like every few minutes. I can't relax. This is because she's a friendly dog who loves children. She is especially obsessed with teenage boys (probably because her therapy work is primarily with teenage at risk boys). She has been known to jump the fence and walk the neighbor kids home from school. After the first phone call from the mom who lives two doors up, I became hypervigilant. Imagine answering the phone to this, "Hi, Jenn. This is (name). Lily walked the boys home. Is it okay if she stays and plays for a bit?"

Um, no. That would be a reward. Which means she would jump the fence every day. Now if they want to play, they have to come over and ask. I was making sure that she either wasn't in the yard when school let out or we were walking when it did so that she could say 'hi' to all the kids and get her petting in.

Problem solved. Most of the time, she is too tired to jump the fence anyway. Does this look like a dog ready to make a run for it?

She gets two walks a day during the week - an hour in the morning, an hour in the evening. On the weekends, she gets at least an hour and a half hike (think biiiiig hills) in the morning and an hour walk in the evening. In between, she resembles the picture.

Friday night, The Hubster worked late. Around 7pm, Lily and I return from an extended walk - an hour and twenty minutes. She lays down on her blanket in the yard while I do some housework. I check on her, then walk into the bedroom. When I return two minutes later, one of our gates is open. This one leads into the neighbor's yard.

I don't panic. She's wandered into the neighbor's yard before. She LOVES them (who are we kidding, she's a "pit bull"...she loves EVERYONE unless they have german shepherd in them) so I figure she is probably sitting on their back porch scratching at their door to be let in.

I poke my head into the yard, but don't see her in the darkness. I call out to her. Nothing.

No big deal. She's wandered through their yard into the front yard before. But never farther. She has done this twice on The Hubster's watch (in four years). And he's had to hear about it both times. For years afterward.

But she isn't in the front yard.

I walk slowly down our dark street. For some reason, our section was skipped over when they put in the streetlights. No yellow bathes the sidewalks here. The night seems darker and the shadows blacker. No sign of her.

I walk up the street, calling her name calmly, followed by her recall word. When I reach the top of the block with no response and no sign of her, the panic starts to rise. You know the feeling - bile in the back of your throat, that sick feeling in the pit of your stomach. But I fight it down.

I run down the street, figuring maybe I missed her in the deep shadows. Perhaps my chipper voice and the pounding of my feet on the pavement will excite her and she will run out to chase me.


By the end of the block, I can't catch my breath. It feels like Hulk Hogan has his hands around my lungs and is squeezing them mercilessly. My brain freezes. I can't think. Now, panic rushes through me and adrenaline kicks in.

I run one street over because it is well lit. Look up the street. No Lily. Down the street. No Lily.

My brain restarts, but this isn't good. I run horrible scenarios in my mind. Now, I'm thinking about her breed and her overly friendly and extremely enthusiastic greetings. This is the dog who failed three parts of the Therapy Dog test the first time she took it for being "overly friendly." I'm not kidding. You are not allowed to greet the tester with kisses. You are not allowed to greet the neutral dog and play bow to engage them. You are not allowed to give walk by kisses when you have to wander through the crowd. She didn't miss a hand. Not one. And anyone who has visited our house can attest to her greetings. Gushing affection. If she could talk, she would YELL
"OHMIGODITSYOUIHAVEN'TSEENYOUINFOREVERI'MSOGLADYOU'REHERE. (gulping breath, then more yelling)ILOVEYOU!ILOVEYOU!ILOVEYOU!" (yes, it would be all run on like that)

Dogs like Liy get shot because they have big heads and rush enthusiastically to greet police officers. I watched it happen to a homeless man's "pit bull." Sweetest dog ever. She came all wiggly butt up to police officers, wanting to greet them like she did everyone else who happened on her path. They shot her. Then they let her bleed out while her owner screamed and begged them to let him go to her side, get her to help. While we yelled and cried and screamed with him. While she whimpered, yipped and died alone and terrified in the middle of the street. All because she was well socialized and used to telling everyone 'hi' every single day of her life.

That could be MY dog because of the same ignorance.

I run faster now barely seeing through the tears that well in my eyes and spill over onto my cheeks. The panic rushes through my body and out my mouth. You can hear it in my cries of "Lily! Lily, QUICK!"

I don't know why I run down the street. If I was really thinking, I would have gone up. There is a house a few streets up that gives Lily cookies on her walks. She loves the Cookie House. She will lay down on the sidewalk across the street from it because she knows that house. She will always try to turn you down that street, up that street, toward that street.

I didn't think of the Cookie House.

It's a good thing that I didn't. She was down the street.

I find her in someone's front yard having the time of her life in their sprinklers. She loves sprinklers almost as much as people and cookies.

Her head tilts quizzically. She bounds toward me, excited that I'm here to share in the fun. She stops at my feet when she hears my sobs. My hands shake so bad that I don't think I'll ever get the leash attached to the collar.

Thirty minutes later, I have found her. My heart. My dog. My furchild.

I cry all the way home. For the first time in her life, she doesn't try to sniff a single lawn. Instead, she walks with me, her wet body pressed close to mine for reassurance. She comes right in the house. I towel her off, then sit on the floor. She crawls into my lap - all 80 pounds of her. I cry into her fur. Tears of joy mingling with tears of what might have been and tears for Princess, the homeless man's "pit bull" who loved to greet everyone just like my dog does. Who isn't alive to do that anymore.

And I promise that there will be no more outside time without supervision.

I can't tell you much it sucked to watch the Jets-Patriots game through the windows.

I am so thankful that she is safe. I think I will be able to use this experience in the future when I write, when one of my characters is in a precarious situation, when he or she is running from something or to something. I will be better for this - a better owner, a better writer.

What about you - are there experiences you have drawn on that you feel have helped make a scene in your work better?

Monday, January 17, 2011

Monday Bling

Mondays can be hard. Let's start this one off with some BLING.

I was given two awards last week!

Thanks to Colene for this award! She has brought many a smile to my face so it made my day to think that I bring smiles to hers!

My second award is the Stylish Award from Angelina!

This one asks that I reveal 7 facts about myself so here it goes:
1) My favorite smell in the world is really rubbing alcohol.

2) We just bought a new couch. It's faux leather, very modern and it folds flat so that guests can sleep on it when they visit. I would sleep on it every night if I could.

3) I still have sleepovers. I don't care that I'm old enough to be a mom. Sometimes everyone piling their sleeping bags onto my living room, watching chick flicks, drinking wine, eating junk and staying up half the night with your friends is just what the doctor ordered.

4) I am the only girl on my mother's side of the family - only daughter, only granddaughter.

5) I'm addicted to Storage Wars. We have a friend who bids on storage lockers for fun sometimes. When this show came on, I had to check it out...and I'm hooked.

6) I've always had naturally long nails. In high school, I would grow them as long as I possibly could. Sometimes I could get them to almost two inches and they would curl.

7) I'm allergic to bees. Seriously allergic. I have to carry an epipen with me everywhere I go. I forget it frequently when we go hiking. I will probably die in the wilderness of a bee sting. There are worse ways to go.

There you have it - 7 more things about me you never knew and didn't want to!

Smile Award to:
Jennifer Hillier

Stylish Award to:
Carol Riggs
Liz (you MUST check out her Haiku Thursday's!)

Thank you to Angelina and Colene for my Awards.

How was everyone's weekend??

Wait until you hear about my heart stopping Friday evening...I'll post about it tomorrow!

Friday, January 14, 2011

FUN Friday

A little baby getting her first taste of grapefruit. Her face is priceless!

If you have cats and boxes, you've seen this before. They think they're hiding, but it's not quite big enough.
funny pictures - a silent a passing
see more Lolcats and funny pictures

I love that the mom acknowledges how mean this is (but I'm so glad she did this, how bad is that?!?). This little boy is SO adorable! And I love his paci.

Kid Stories from the Classroom:
In our 2nd grade Kindness presentation we play a game where the kids pull items out of a bag, hold them up for the class and we have to identify the item, decide whether it's kind or unkind, then place them in the trash or give them to animal that needs them. One of the items is puppy shampoo. The little boy who pulled it out announced triumphantly, "Pamshoo!" I asked, "What?" He said more insistently, "Pamshoo." I bet he also calls spaghetti "pasghetti."

I'm so excited for the weekend. Football and football and more football! Go Jets! Go Falcons! Tomorrow night, we're having friends over for a Game Night. We have Buzz (PlayStation), Clue, Password, an 80s game...I'm thinking of buying Taboo. Any game suggestions?

What about you - any fun plans this weekend?

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Top Ten Thursday

We have Netflix. And Wii. Oh no. I discovered, thanks to The Hubster, something called Instant Queue. This has become more dangerous than our DVR. Possibly more dangerous than my Cough Drop addiction. I have been adding and adding and adding to our Instant Queue. Faster than I can possibly watch. But I am trying so hard to keep up with it. I have discovered old favorites...and have a few new ones. The draw with Netflix Instant Queue - instant satisfaction and it's FREE (well, there's that monthly fee, but I don't have to pay a rental for each one which makes it seem free and did I mention the whole press-the-button-and-it-plays-like-immediately thing?). This means I will watch things that I have never heard of and never would have rented.

I bring you Top Ten Instant Queue Items (and it wasn't easy narrowing these down, friends):

1) Everest. I swear I'm not watching it to see someone get into trouble on the mountain or freeze to death. But I'm not sure my reason for watching is any better than that. No, it is. Embarrassing though. I'm going to say it fast...Ihaveanubercrushonrussellbrice. There, it's out in the open now. Come on. The accent? The way he manages his sherpas and climbers and weather equipment and radio? No one keeps them safe like Russell. Seriously, no one does. He has ZERO fatalities in his ranks. Plus, you really have to admire people who can push past the mental and physical challenge of scaling Everest. It's incredibly inspirational.

2) Spaceballs - There are so many GREAT lines from this movie. "So LoneStar, now you see that evil will always triumph because good is dumb."

3) Xena. I don't have to get up, go to the video cabinet and thumb through. I can stay right on my couch and rediscover favorite old episodes because I have EVERY episode (even the ones that I have worn out) at my fingertips. A Day in the Life, Been There Done That, One Against An Army, When Fates Collide, oh the list goes on and it's so much fun to rediscover them. (Warning about the video: it's simply clips from different episodes to Melissa Etheridge's I've Loved You Before and it captures Xena and Gabrielle's "friendship" perfectly)

4) Fire in the Sky. If you're into UFOs, this movie is worth checking out. Although, I believe the praise for it when it was originally released was "the last ten minutes will keep you on the edge of your seat." Not exactly a ringing endorsement for the rest of the film, but it has some old timers in it that are always fun to watch (Noble Winningham and James Garner). The story is intriguing. It was based on a true story (supposedly). Travis Walton's abduction has been both supported and ripped to shreds. Still like the movie. It gives me the creeps.

5) Dog. Yes, the Bounty Hunter. I just love that cool song at the beginning. And Beth's hair. She rocks big hair. There's something about a woman who can run after a criminal in four inch heels. I watched an episode last night where a guy told Beth to shut up. She told him he had to talk to her husband. Criminal: "Shut your wife up." Dog: "I can't, man." The Hubster and I were at a Chargers/Raiders game two seasons ago and a Raider fan told him that. He had the same response. Also, I can't help but laugh at the fact that Dog's shirt is always unbuttoned halfway down his torso even when they're in Colorado and it's snowing.

6) Firefly. Another uber crush? Joss Whedon. Oh Joss, can you ever do wrong? Not in my life!

7) Raising Arizona. "Son, you got a panty on your head." I think this may be the only movie that I liked Nicholas Cage in.

8) Wrestling in the Shadows. This documentary falls into the "Never Heard of it, Never Would Have Paid Money to Watch it" category. Big time. Not that I don't appreciate a man in tights. Okay, I really don't. I like them in tight football pants, but not tights. This was too good to pass up but I have no idea why.

9) Alice in Wonderland - There is a place. Like no place on Earth. A land full of wonder, mystery, and danger! Some say to survive it: You need to be as mad as a hatter. Which luckily I am!

10) The A Team - It's so much fun to rewatch childhood favorites! This one actually got better with time (unlike Barbara Mandrell and the Mandrell Sisters - don't judge me!). I love it when a plan comes together.

Don't judge me too harshly. This was not a good discovery in the middle of rewrites, but I'm using the Instant Queue as a treat. Get through your rewriting goals for the day and unwind with a few episodes or a movie!

What about you - do you have Netflix? What is your latest obsession on television? Do you have old favorites - tv or movie - that you like to rewatch over and over?

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Wednesday Wishes

This is Wednesday leaning out of her cat tree. She may look like just your average gray tabby cat, but she has many skills. Most of these skills, she uses for The Good. Okay, 'most' might be a slight exaggeration. Wednesday is a good little kitty, though, at heart. She loves her family, loves her sisters, loves annoying those sisters and she also loves to grant wishes. Every Wednesday morning, I will rub the side of the cat house and summon our magic cat!

My Wednesday Wishes for the week:

1) New living room furniture - Or maybe I should just wish for the ability to make up my mind. You see, I'm cheap. Not so much frugal. Just cheap. Let's make that with a capital C. Cheap. But it's time for new living room furniture as this stuff I'm currently sitting on is about a decade old. I inherited the sofa, loveseat, end tables, coffee table and entertainment center from my aunt and uncle (thanks Aunt Robin and Uncle Norm!) for FREE (told you I was Cheap!). Just the right price. It wasn't the right color when we remodeled so I bought paint and PRESTO! It matches. But it's rickety. When I purchase something, it's going to be with us for a long time so I feel that I need to choose wisely. It's hard for me to decide. We've spent hours looking. I really wanted to get the new furniture before our Game Night on Saturday, but it's just not happening. I do want the set (this includes a new flat screen tv!) by the end of February, please! (We went six months before I could decide on our new dining room table)

2) Right always wins - Good triumphs over evil. Always. I got my first taste of it on Sunday when the Eagles lost. As a humane educator (especially one with a pit bull type dog who works with at risk teen boys), I'm so over Vick. I believe in second chances. His dogs got one. Why not him? I'm fine with him playing but I'm tired of hearing what a great human being he has supposedly become, what a hero he is for going through what he did (you know, prison because he broke the law).

Lucky for Michael Vick, his fans won't do to him what he did to his losing dogs - no electrocuting or hanging or beating him with a shovel or slamming his body into the ground until he takes his last breath. He will be spared their fate. So I should be spared having to hear about him, right? (as a side note - the boys don't believe he is sorry but they aren't Eagles fans looking to justify cheering for a psycho).

Right should always win. That could be one of the reasons that I write. As a child, I couldn't stand that life wasn't fair and that bad people "won" or got away with things. My father told me as a small child, "Life isn't fair. The sooner you realize that, the less suffering you're going to cause yourself." Isn't it stinky when our parents are right? Dad, it turns out, was right about a whole lot of things my brothers and I wish he hadn't been! In my writing, I can make it so that right always the end (after some very frustrating moments where it looks like evil/bad is going to win the day, of course).

3) Magic Bed - I love my pillowtop Beautyrest (so do the cats!), but I would love it even more if it made itself every morning. It would lower itself so I could comfortably climb in (at the moment, I have to use the end table to get up into it - yes, I still haven't decided on a new bed frame closer to the floor see Wednesday Wish #1), sound like a river running through a campground or the ocean lapping the shore or a gentle rain, smell like the forest (or eucalyptus on nights when I'm stuffy). When I have a backache, it would heat just that portion that needs it. It would be warm on the cold nights and cool on the warm nights. And I would always, always wake feeling perfectly rested even if I only slept four hours (frequently if you have insomnia like mine). Oh Magic would go perfect with my Magic Bathroom. It would make my life complete...almost.

What about you - what are your wishes for Wednesday?

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

gossip from the girls' room

It's HERE! Rose Coopers' Gossip from the Girls' Room, A BLOGTASTIC Novel, has hit store shelves today!

And Rose is having some FANTASTIC giveaways to go along with it!

So hop on over to her blog here to enter (how cool is that gift basket she put together with the signed copy and the swag?!?).

Then pop over to Sofia's blog (her character). Follow her and enter her giveaway as well!

If you are out and about and near a bookstore, pick yourself up a copy! I'll be running errands later and plan to stop by my Barnes & Noble to grab one.

Gossip From The Girls' Room
A Blogtastic! Novel (hardcover)
Delacorte/Random House
January 11, 2011

If there's anything going on at Middlebrooke Middle School, Sofia has it all right here, in her super-secret notebook...

Sofia Becker "accidentally" overhears gossip in the girls' room. She jots down all the juicy gossip in her notebook so her brain won't forget any super single important detail. Filled with text and hilarious sketches, follow Sofia on her dramatic journey to finding gossipy goodness for her blog while surviving 6th grade, gaining the attention of her crush, taking down the Popular Pretties and staying true to her BFF. Whew, what's next--taking on the world?

Doesn't that sound fantastic?


Please visit Colene's blog as well - she did a great post today for Beth Revis and Across the Universe!

What books are you looking forward to this year?

Monday, January 10, 2011

Bad Romance

What draws us to books? The story? Yes. Story trumps all. We can get over bad writing...for bad romance.

I just finished a book that was tough to get through because the writing drove me nuts, but the story? Oh, that story held me and wouldn't let me go. I'm a sucker for the girl who falls for the guy she shouldn't be with. Big time. There's something in that love, that ache, that obsession.

In Dark Forest, there are a few relationships that constitute as Bad Romance. My heroine is strong. She's the one who has to do the saving in my story. But the boy who is sworn to protect her...such a strong draw there. She doesn't need him, or so she tells herself, but he is so nice to have around. They fall for each other, but there are far more important things than romance. Who has time for longing glances or stolen kisses when there is a forest to heal and all sorts of scary creatures out to kill you?

And don't get me started on who her father falls in love with, further jeopardizing everything.

Bad Romance = Conflict

Conflict drives the stories. It makes us turn those pages. We need that bad romance.

As Lady Gaga sings:
I want your drama, the touch of your hand
I want your leather studded kiss in the sand
I want your love
Love, love, love I want your love

Unless you are ten years old. This review was posted on Amazon for a book:
"It has a lot of romance, but it doesn't mess up the book at all."

So, as long as that Bad Romance doesn't get in the way of the rest of the story for those who just want the action, I guess.

I have to end with this because it's one of my favorites...

What about you - do you want bad romance? Do you write it?

Friday, January 7, 2011

Flashback Friday

That's my friend Tanya and I at MTVs Museum of Unnatural History in high school. And yes, that is a Polaroid.

We're flashing back to my high school days.

Prepare to be dazzled with my teenage angsty poetry!

Remember high school crushes? Oh, the agony! If we couldn't have them, we were just. going. to. die. Seriously. We wrote their names all over our notebooks. Squealed in the bathroom with our friends after they said 'hi' to us in the halls. Those fun days of young love...torture... the ones that fill us with embarrassment now.

I say embrace it! We were who we were. It's part of who we are now. Even if we did crush on that bald wrestling guy with the tongue ring who used to make faces at us during Economics class despite already having a steady boyfriend who happened to be captain of the football team. The bald wrestling guy rode a motorcycle to school and listened to hardcore metal. He was a baaaad boy. The kind Mom warned you about. The kind you thought you could find the soft spot in. Hard to world, but not to you...and the neighbor's dog. That guy.

On to bad poetry...

My cousins had a haunted house every year. The COOLEST, mind you. The talk of not just their own high school, but all the surrounding ones as well. They drew a crowd and made a killing (yes, they were smart enough to charge an entry fee).

This year, the year I wrote this poem, one of their friends caught my eye. I bring you...

Phantom of the Opera
unknowing you steal my breath
with each organ note
of your gentle lullaby.
I remain mesmerized
until you release your fingers,
the last key lingering
with our kiss.

You can totally laugh. I did as I was typing it so I will not hold it against you in the least. I was only 15 or 16 when I wrote that.

He was not as hot without the make-up on. Yes, I had one date with him. Luckily, my high school boyfriend does not read my blog so he won't know this one little indiscretion. Not that it matters because he cheated on me our senior year with one of the other cheerleaders (right before PROM!!) so it wouldn't matter that I did have a date with Phantom of the Opera. (I'll save that whole tale for another flashback post because it just superb - like right out of a movie)

See? Remember high school? All drama and crushes and pain. Sigh. I miss it.

Who wants to share some old writing?

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Where Do You Find Inspiration?

It's been a tough week for me. I've had trouble focusing for my rewrite. I turned things around yesterday at...

Jiffy Lube.

That's right. I wrote at Jiffy Lube. I didn't go there specifically to write, though I might consider doing so in the future because it was so productive. Who knew an oil change could lead to a breakthrough?

I think I just needed a change of scenery. I was stuck in a rut. No matter what room of the house I moved to, I just couldn't concentrate.

There was dust on the t.v. Since I had the duster in hand, I might as well do the entire living room, right? Now there is dust on the floor. I need to vacuum it up before I track it into the clean bedroom.

Sitting at the kitchen table with a lovely view of my yard, I couldn't quite get the dishes in the sink out of my head. Had to get up and put them in the dishwasher...oh wait, the dishwasher is full of clean dishes. Unload. Reload. The washing machine just off to my right in the laundry room. I might as well throw in a load of laundry.

So I moved to the office on my comfortable new couch. But the cat tree was covered in cat hair. It only takes a minute to get it all off. Then you notice the dust on the blinds. Yes, I wiped down the blinds. The screens are filthy after these rains and I'm shocked that I was able to keep myself from going outside, pulling them off and hosing them down.

At Jiffy Lube, I had nothing to do but write. I couldn't help with my oil change. They would have looked at me funny if I started cleaning their waiting room. I took my notebook outside into the sunshine, sat on their bench and wrote. It was very freeing. Incredibly uplifting. Not to mention, the fastest 45 minutes of my life. Last night I was able to go to bed satisfied with all that I accomplished.
All it took was an oil change.

Where is the oddest place you have written? Has inspiration struck in an odd place?

P.S. - Carol is celebrating 100 Followers! She's got a GREAT contest going on that includes books and a critique. Who doesn't love both?!? Click here to enter.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Wednesday Wishes

This is Wednesday leaning out of her cat tree. She may look like just your average gray tabby cat, but she has many skills. Most of these skills, she uses for The Good. Okay, 'most' might be a slight exaggeration. Wednesday is a good little kitty, though, at heart. She loves her family, loves her sisters, loves annoying those sisters and she also loves to grant wishes. Every Wednesday morning, I will rub the side of the cat house and summon our magic cat!

My Wednesday Wishes for the week:

1) A Magical Bathroom! I want to step in, shut the door, turn around, step back out and be beautiful! That means in that short amount of time, my magical bathroom bathes me, shaves me, waxes me, lotions me, make-ups me and styles my hair. Oh, and I would never have roots because every four weeks it would color my hair. How's THAT for a wish?

2) Focus. I need it this week. Two days are already gone. I need to be rewriting and I think I was able to squeeze about an hour of it tonight. Not acceptable. If I would just focus on one task at a time instead of flitting around the house like a fairy (oh, but those wings would be so nice...a wingless fairy) from this to that to something else without ever really finishing anything, I would be able to check things off my list. I need FOCUS.

3) Hikes, hikes and more hikes! We used to hike several times a week. Over the past two years, that has dropped off significantly. I have a list of hikes for the New Year and it's time to start crossing them off our list! Great for our health, great for stimulation and inspiration and great for tuckering out the D-O-G. And every dog owner knows a tired dog is such a good dog!

Lily says 'thank you' to everyone for your wishes last week. She is feeling better indeed! The cats? Not so thankful. They were sure they had knocked that stinky dog off finally.

What about you - what are your wishes for Wednesday?

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Odds and Ends

This blog post is going to be a bit of this and that - odds and ends. Here and there. I have a few things that I want to put into posts but they aren't enough to stand on their own. Hence, the odds and ends and smashing together of things that wouldn't normally go together.

I am so bad at reviews. I really am. So instead of reviewing books, I'm going to recommend a few that I read last month and couldn't put down (without going into long, drawn out reviews which would likely turn you off to very good books):

Perilious by Tamara Hart Heiner - I could not put this one down. I read it in two days. I just wanted to get the girls through their ordeal as quickly as possible. Don't you just hate it when you get to the end of a fast ride and you're disappointed? Me too! I was so worried that was going to be the case with this book because I was so into it, so invested. But it didn't happen. No disappointment here at all. Did NOT feel that way at the end of this book. It left me wanting more. So rush over to Amazon and pick up your copy!

CassaStar by Alex J Cavanaugh - I have to say that a few years ago I had to force myself to read outside of my usual genre because I was missing out. That being said, I would have bought this book even if I hadn't made that vow because I love Alex and his blog. If you haven't been there, go NOW. No, WAIT! Let me finish. I also finished this one in two days. It caught me and pulled me in for the ride. Imagine how excited I was to read that Alex is writing a sequel - super exciting because I didn't want to leave this world. Even when we take a break from the action, we are still interested because the characters are...see, here I go with a pathetic review. Just buy a copy and thank me later!

Matched by Ally Condie - Talk about a page turner. I never in a million thought that I would be interested in Dystopian but the Hunger Games series really opened me up to them. This was excellent. Everything you want from a YA - the teenage girl conflicted over the good, good guy and the equally good but not allowed to be with her guy. It was fast paced and you were scared for the main character the entire time. I had to keep reading to get to the end. Again, I want MORE.

With that out of the way, there are a few contests and exciting happenings that I want to point out:

1) In FIVE days, Rose Cooper's GOSSIP FROM THE GIRLS ROOM is released! I'm so excited, but will remain calm long enough to tell you that she is having a Blog Book Release Party WITH giveaways on the 11th. Hop on over to her blog for all the dets (yes, I'm trying to be cool - dets is pronounced deets and is short for details).

2) The lovely Jen at Unedited is having a For The Love Of Giveaway. Your choice of prizes - book related or bath related. Since some of us get our best ideas lounging in the tub, this appeals to the other side of us. It's also nice to read IN the tub, but you can't win both. Click here to enter.

3) Elena Solodow is having a One Hundred Words for $100 Blogfest. And who doesn't like winning cold, hard cash. You can buy things - like post-its or purple pens or books or bubblegum! Enter here.

4) Amy is racing toward 100 followers - let's help her get there! As a prize, she will be giving away a copy of her unpublished novel, Duty and Death (how cool is that title?!?). Click here to enter.

5) Last minute addition - TRILOGY CONTEST! The prizes!! You must go see for yourself - critiques, books and a gift card up for grabs.

In keeping with the 'odd', I'm going to end with an odd obsession:

About two years ago, I caught a really bad cold that went to my lungs. I lived off of Halls Cough Drops. It's a habit that I haven't been able to kick. Seriously. Do you know how expensive cough drops are? And generic brands are NOT Halls. Not even close. That's wasted money right there.

My addiction is so bad that my pharmacist husband gave me lectures. Many of them. So many that I started hiding the bags from him. I currently have one in each purse (yes, I have purses that match different outfits - don't judge me!), one in the bathroom, one in the dresser, one in the desk drawer (my writing drawer that he never enters), one in the kitchen and one in each of our cars. For serious. Obsession.

I'm such a junkie that I frequently pop TWO at a time in my mouth.

One of the best gifts I got for my birthday this year? A bag of goodies. Maiko fed my habit, but like a true friend also tried to break me of it with these:

Not quite Halls. But I'm really trying to turn to these first. They aren't sugar free so that is one step in the right direction. And they have this really cool center to them.

That's my 'odd' end.

What about you - Any odd habits you have? Odd obsessions or addictions? Any contests I need to know about?

Monday, January 3, 2011

The Best of 2010 Blogfest

Angelina is hosting a Best of 2010 Blogfest. I'm getting my entry in just under the on her name to go to her blog or on the Blogfest to see the other entries (after you're done with MY best anyway!).

So, here is my BEST of 2010:

I participated in a mini-NaNo in March and May!

But I finished.

Then I dove into rewrites. Here's my first round of notes. Aren't they pretty?

The year wasn't just full of writing, though.

There were playdates.

And lots of naps (we have to recharge, you know).



More Cupcakes.

Maybe too many cupcakes, which means lots of dieting and exercise in 2011...but I digress.

There was Jen's fun video contests and the week I had the winner!

And sweet Christmas kitties.

And sweet Christmas presents.

Our non-profit took off. We educated over 20,000 people this year! Not writing related, but we're very proud of that - only two of us teaching and our second year. Pretty impressive considering we took a few months off!

2010 was a GREAT year! I'm looking forward to 2011.

How about you - what was the BEST of 2010 for you?