Monday, December 31, 2007

2008 Looms!

So. It's New Year's Eve, 2007.

I remember when I was a little girl, looking ahead to the Year 2000, I thought--"Oh, I'll probably be dead by then."

Then I did the math. Turned out, I wouldn't even be 50 years old by then, so I probably wouldn't be dead. And boy am I glad I was right. Or wrong, whichever statement you choose to go by. I'm exceedingly glad to be here for the ringing in of 2008.

The Texas grandboys have gone home. The Pennsylvania grandboy will be leaving tomorrow. (With their respective parents.) The house will be (mostly) quiet again. I say "mostly" because our youngest child (and the granddog) are still here--but he sleeps so late, it's Mostly quiet.

The holiday was wonderful, however. Lots of cool presents. Lots of great food. Lots and lots and lots of fun. For instance, the big boys had some puppet fun with their Christmas stockings. We laughed a lot--especially when the fingers came through the holes in the crocheted stocking to make teeth.

The littlest guy fell out of the tree. The middle grandboy poured all his candy out on the floor and went swimming in it. I don't remember what the oldest one did, but I know he was cute. He read some of his books for me. He found the pictures I've been trying to paint of him and his brother--and actually recognized who they were. So, even unfinished, I guess I'm doing okay.

We went to the candlelight Christmas eve service with the whole horde, and the little boys did really good. The middle boy (the autistic one) saw all the candles and made the connection with Jesus' birthday, and started singing "Happy birthday, Jesus" (to his own tune) right at the end of the candlelighting--when it was very quiet--and so the pastor just went with it and had the congregation sing "Happy Birthday" to Jesus, while the boy's parents quietly blushed with embarrassment. Nobody else had a problem with his song, but they were embarrassed. I thought it was cute.

So now, it's the New Year. Back to real life on Wednesday. Sending the last of them home tomorrow. I'll try to get back here before then to update all the other fun stuff we've done, but for now--I have to go get ready for the black-tie party we're fixing to head off to. (Yes, FIXING--I'm a Texan. Deal with it.)

I'll show off the fancy duds and the necklace the daughter made for me as soon as I can get around to it.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Almost Christmas

And my house is FULL!

I have been complained at by the daughter that my blog is old. Never mind that they are HERE at my house and Know what I'm doing. My blog is old.

And now You know what I'm doing too. I have the daughter and s-i-l and their boy, and went to my parents so I could pick up the other two grandboys in Austin on their way back home from the Alamo. That was a fast trip and a long drive there and back, but we made it. Now, when their daddy (our older son) gets here at about 2 a.m., everyone will be here and the mass celebration can begin.

We are going to Make tamales for Christmas eve this year. I'm hoping we can do that tomorrow so we aren't waiting for them to steam on Monday so we can eat them. Usually, I just buy them by the dozen from Rosa's or Taco Cabana or somewhere, but with all these people here as slave labor we can set up an assembly line--AND the stores around here sell the masa already mixed up and ready to go, rather than the dry stuff you have to mix and cook yourself. Can't get the prepared polenta, (which is weird to me because there are a LOT of Italians on the island) but you can get the tamale masa. Oh well. Bought the corn husks and everything.

So, it's going to be a total madhouse for the next few days, and a regular madhouse till January 1, when the folks from the cold northland have to go back home and we have to drive to the other airport a couple of hours away to take them.

Shopping is shopped for--except maybe for a few last minute things, or food stuff--hmm. Not sure I have jalapenos for the carne guisada to go with the tamales...Have to check on that.

It's so nice to have the (youngest) boy's girlfriend visiting...she's got a lot more energy with the little guys and isn't burnt out on playing with them. We are grateful. She even organizes games. It's raining today, so while it's warm enough, it's too wet to play outside. Oh well.

If I don't get back before then (and it's looking really doubtful at this point), y'all have a Merry Christmas and lots to eat of all the things that taste like Christmas to you. :)

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

New Orleans Rises

Actually, New Orleans is still about the same height it always was from everything I remember, but downtown and the French Quarter never did flood, even during the worst of Katrina. Anyway, just got back from a few days there where I had a great time, but pretty much walked my legs right off. Yep, that's right, I'm walking around on nubs now.

They had Katrina tours you could take, right from the hotel where we stayed, downtown, across the street from Harrah's. I didn't take one because I sorta felt like it was battening on somebody else's misery. Maybe it's not, but I felt that way. And after the four hours of walking we did on Saturday, I was afraid any tour might involve more of that, and I wanted to know exactly how much walking I was going to do and where I was going.

The St. Charles Street streetcar is back in operation, but it only goes out to Napoleon Street, about half as far as its normal route. I didn't think the Garden District was under water, which is mostly past Napoleon, but maybe it did get wet. The route out to Napoleon Street had just recently reopened, but Copeland's, a restaurant on that corner we really liked, was all boarded up and didn't look like anybody had any intentions of re-opening it. We did ride the streetcar, if you couldn't tell. Didn't take my camera out that day, though, and when I did, the streetcars were rather elusive.

The hotel where we stayed was maybe half a mile from the French Quarter. It took us about ten minutes to walk down to the Cafe du Monde on Sunday morning. There was a line waiting to get in at the Cafe du Monde, however, and no line at the little Cafe Beignet across the street, so we--the fella, me and one of his co-workers--crossed the street and had our beignets and coffee there. Except I was the only one who had beignets (the fella being allergic to wheat), and I had milk with mine. The pregnant lady had decaf caffe latte, and the fella had ham and eggs. Which you can't get at Cafe du Monde, so really, the alternate was a better choice for us.

I had beignets every morning we were in New Orleans. Frankly, I pigged out the whole time we were there, though pigging out on fish isn't quite as piggy as pigging out on...well, pigs. Or cows. The hotel backed up to the riverfront mall, and there was a little Cafe du Monde branch office on the first floor of the mall, that opened up an hour before the rest of the mall did. So Monday and Tuesday, I walked over to the mall and had my beignets there. Sat outside and watched the river. (That was the view--the cruise ship wasn't always there leaving port, but that's the bridge over to Algiers...)

The rest of this might as well be a list of what I ate too. Saturday night, we took the college folks to dinner at Carmelo's--corner of Toulouse and Decatur, a couple of blocks from Jackson Square. Italian-style fish. The fella and I shared some calamari (the kind with squiggles included), then had redfish with a fresh tomato-caper sauce, and I had my very first cannelloni, believe it or not. Deelish.

Sunday night, we had dinner with an old friend from the fella's doctoral class who's a bigwig in Kentucky now. Went to Ralph and Kakoo's on Toulouse Street, and--after some fried crawdad tails (aka Cajun popcorn) (our friend got his first taste of crawfish) I dined upon the Shrimp Henry, which the Chef Henry apparently made up that night. It was grilled shrimp stuffed with cheesy spinach stuffing over angel hair pasta with Rockefeller sauce on top. Very yummy.

Then Monday night, we went out with the college folks again, to a place called Tommy's in the warehouse district. On Tchoupitoulas (I may have left a few vowels out of that streetname, or moved them around in the wrong places, but that looks really close...) Street. Tommy's had Italian overtones, but wasn't too, too Italian. At Tommy's, I had a Caesar salad, then had Veal Sorrentina, with eggplant and cheese and Marsala mushroom sauce on top. (I can get fish & shrimp here, but veal is harder to come by.) It came with these really neat matchstick sweet potatoes cooked almost dry--really good, and different. Then the pregnant lady and I each had creme brulee and the other lady in the group had strawberries with homemade ice cream.

This doesn't count the fudge I bought that I snacked on way too much. They had it in New Orleans praline flavor, and it tastes JUST like pralines. I told the fella that the chocolate fudge was for me and the praline was for him...but I'm eating too much of the praline flavor too. There are a couple of candy shops downtown here...good thing I don't go downtown too often, huh?

I did finish my Christmas shopping..."best of the best" Louisiana cookbooks and specialty measuring spoons. And I wandered the French Quarter and took lots of pictures at the perfect time of day to get some good shadows and shots.

I also got a little writing done. Not much, but a few pages. Still working on the SF story, though I need to switch to the WWII story long enough to get my pages done for the month. Don't know if the brain is working that way though. I'm writing stuff, but may have to slash the whole of it. Oh well.

Have one more week before the daughter, s-i-l and grandboy come for the holidays. She's supposed to be bringing the tamale recipe. Need to buy a pork roast to cook for the filling...or maybe brisket. Brisket makes good tamales too... but you GOT to have tamales for Christmas Eve, or it's just not Christmas...

Cold front supposed to be moving in today. It's been hot. Hot in New Orleans (okay, it was mostly just humid, but that made ME hot) and hot at home. I'm ready for that cold front to get here.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Dickens, Victorian Christmas and stuff like that

Had a busy weekend, so I'm just now getting here. This past weekend was a big one for the island, because it was the Victorian Christmas festival weekend downtown. This is a huge deal around here, and people come from all over the state to hang out, dress up in costumes and drink glogg. Or wassail. Or whatever. The costumes are supposed to be Victorian, but since she ruled a really long time, the costume-wearer has a wide variety of choices. Everything from hoopskirts to bustles. Some people wear pirate costumes, which are about 50 years too old for Victoria, but hey--they look cool, so nobody cares. There are also Civil War soldiers, cowboys, frontier floozies, beggar urchins, London bobbies, kilted soldiers and pretty much whatever else anyone might want to wear. Lots and lots of top hats.

The fella's college had a booth on Ship's Mechanic Row, so he felt he needed a costume, and went out and rented one. (Though I think he bought the top hat and cane.) But since we left it so late, I decided it would be too hard to find something really "authentic" for me, so I did "Victorian-ish." I found a Victorian-looking top, and already had a long, tiered denim skirt, so I did a variation on the frontier look, I suppose. If I can get my sewing machine down here, though...maybe next year.

So that's what we did pretty much all day Saturday. Wandered around all the old buildings downtown and gawked at all the dressed-up people. There were plenty who didn't dress up, but you'd be amazed just how many did. I would post pictures, but I didn't take my camera, and the fella wants to download the pictures himself, so who knows when that will happen...

I have made it back out to the beach. It was very warm and sunny Friday, and my knees were whining at all the walking on concrete I've made them do lately, so I took them back to walk on the sand again. Tiny little rocks all over everywhere. Lots of the kelp-like seaweed. And some ring-billed gulls have showed up. They seem to be a little more solitary than the local laughing gulls, a little larger too. But the easiest way to tell the difference, since the laughing gulls don't currently have their black heads, is that the ring-bills have yellow beaks (with a black ring) and legs, and the laughers have black beaks and legs. It will be nice when they turn black-headed again... Make it easier for me. The other local black-headed gulls don't have black legs, so that's a help too.

And Monday, we went to the college Christmas concert. The choir is basically a community choir--most of the members are my age or older. I enjoyed their music, though a lot of it was a little esoteric. The other half of the program was the Island Steel Drum Band, which was lots of fun. This is only its second year in existence, but it was totally cool. They ought to perform at the Dickens festival next year, I think... Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree works real well on steel drums...

Plodding away on Time Catch. I've done a few POV/scene changes now. Maybe finished a chapter--though I never really know till I get it typed in. Still, I like the story and it seems to be going well, although slowly. I'm working stuff out as I go, which means a lot of stopping and making notes and re-writing when I think of something that will work better than what I originally came up with. It's the details that can trip you up. I know the general outline of what my hero's going to be doing, but the specifics keep slowing me down.

I was thinking I'd have this "city boy" dress up like a scruffy street tough, to go snooping around out in the outer sectors of the space empire. He is a lot tougher than he looks, but he's pretty ignorant of life in the outer sectors, and he's smart enough to know that. So after I'd already written the scene with him in grubby space-suit clothes, I realized he was indeed smart enough to recognize his ignorance and play it up. So he's dressing like a company bureaucrat from headquarters who doesn't want to be in the outer sectors, (with hair dyed red with hot pink streaks) so he'll at least have the element of surprise on his side if any local tough guys try to rough him up. He's very good at personal violence. So anyway, I had to write that at least twice today.

But the plot is coming clear, and I ought to be able to write the synopsis pretty soon... I've learned a couple of things I didn't realize as I've gotten even a couple of pages in that I think will play a great big part in the story. Not sure how, yet, but I think they will. I've established the hero and heroine's goals. I've established the primary conflict between them, and hinted at some internal conflict--or maybe self-conflict. I hope I've established enough of the universe that people can follow the story. It's coming together, I think.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Time's a-Wastin'

Yep. I did it again. Found yet another time-waster. This one's not on the web.

I was feeling sorry for myself because I can't get the new Sim Societies computer game, since my computer isn't smart enough or fast enough for it (even if it isn't a year old yet). And I saw a different, older video-game that the computer IS fast and smart enough for. And I bought it. THE MOVIES. I get to run a movie studio and make movies and create stars and it's way too much fun and addictive... Anyway, I'm still here, and still working, believe it or not.

Hmm. I haven't posted since Thanksgiving, have I? Well, we had a good holiday. The boy came down from university for the weekend, with his dog. It got cold. It rained. The dog got a bath, and went right back outside and got in the mud. (sigh) She's a sweet dog, though. We ate too much. I did not make a pecan pie, but an apple crisp, besides the cheesecake for the menfolks. I thought the apple thing might be better for me than all that pecan gooey goodness.

The menfolks went fishing. Caught a little sand trout that got thrown back. It rained again. We went to the cell phone people and got new phone numbers to match the new hometown. We went to WalMart and bought me a new phone. We watched a few of the new DVDs I've bought and hadn't got round to watching. We played a lot of videogames. (This was before I bought the new one...)

Yesterday, I mailed White Elk to the agent, and today, I wrote almost 8 pages on Time Catcher. Or Time Catch. I can't decide which title I like best. Catcher, I'm beginning to think. Anyway, I got a bunch of new stuff written. It's about time for me to switch POV to the hero, and I wish I knew what his enneagram type is... I do a lot of Eight-Nine couples. (Eight's the Boss type, and Nine's the Peacemaker--or the sea and the seacliff...) I think probably because I'm in an 8-9 marriage, but also because Eights make really good action hero types, and Nines are strong enough to stand up to them. But then, I'm not sure what the heroine's type is, so... Maybe this will be an Eight-Eight story... That would be a clash for the ages...

Once I get Asker's story to proposal format, I'll go back and work on revising Devil in a Red Dress. But I have a busy weekend ahead of me, first.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Children's Books

Do you know how hard it is to find children's picture books that have pictures of Actual People doing things? People, not animals dressed up like people.

We decided to have a book birthday for our autistic grandboy, and I went looking for books with people in them. He's working on verbs and on gender, so books with pictures of boys and girls doing things like running, swimming, whatever, would really help. But they have to be Real People, because he's very concrete and literal in his thinking and can't relate dressed-up animals to people. And it was Really Hard to find anything.

I found a book of Fischer-Price Little People at the various toy-places you can buy for them--at a farm, the fire station, a gas station, etc. They're cartoon-y, but they look like people. And I found a "going on a picnic" book I thought would work. There were a few other books but the illustrations I thought leaned a little too far to the abstract, and some had just girls or just boys. All the rest were animals.

I couldn't resist the book about how George Gershwin wrote Rhapsody in Blue--yes, there really is a picture book about that, and it comes with a CD of the music. The boy loves that music, from Disney's Fantasia 2000--hums and sings it, makes pianos out of blocks to pretend to play it. And the other day, he asked his mom for Rhapsody in Purple. So of course, I had to get him the book.

They also have a pet guinea pig (more Mom & Dad's pet than the boy's), so I had to get the book about "I love guinea pigs." (I got one of those books for the other two grandboys, too, since they also have a guinea pig.)

But I may write a children's picture book next, with REAL children doing things. Maybe with photos. Surely autistic kids aren't the only ones who'd benefit from that kind of book...

Monday, November 19, 2007

Late Birthday? Or Early Christmas?

So we went to this auction at a bed & breakfast in town that apparently floundered into bankruptcy. They were auctioning off all the furnishings, a couple of classic cars, the house itself, as well as another a couple of blocks away--all sorts of fancy stuff. I may have mentioned before, the fella has discovered a passion for auctions, so we went. Both days.

I intended to go downtown and get me a signed Firefighter's calendar, since we were in the neighborhood, but I just flat forgot, which aggravates me no end. I think maybe I'll see if they have some extras at the bookstore one day this week.

Anyway, if you'd asked me a week or so ago, I'd have told you there was no such thing as a house that's too big for me, but both these houses for sale fit that category. They were just too darn big. Neat, old houses, but way, WAY too big for me.

We did come away with a couple of purchases, one each day. There's a bit of a history to one of these purchases. I've wanted a rug for my side of the bed for a while. I've brought three different rugs home from the store-- the first two didn't look right and the third, the fella didn't like the way it felt when he stepped on it. So I threw a little bit of a hissy fit (what? Me???) and said I'd take this one back too, but he was going to have to help me find a rug we both could live with. Oh, and I wanted a rug for the living room too.

Well, amongst the things for sale were a whole bunch of handmade oriental rugs. Admittedly, we don't know a whole lot about the rugs, but the prices they were getting for these great big, all-wool, or wool-and-silk rugs weren't much more than what you would pay for a rug from Home Depot. And they were a lot prettier. So we bought one. A great big one for the living room. Then we went back the next day, and bought another one for the bedroom. Both the rugs were made in India, the big one in Kashmir, and the little one in Agra. The bedroom one has a lot of silk in it and is very cushy on the toesies.

This first one is the big wool rug in the living room (and a sorta shot of the living room--yes, we are using wood serving trays for end tables--we didn't move all our furniture). And this second picture is my bedroom rug. I think it's very lovely. My toes are happy. :)

I thought about going to the beach today to walk, but it was seriously foggy out pretty much all day today. It sorta, kinda cleared off around noon-ish, but fogged in again by 1:30. And I just didn't feel like walking on the beach in the fog. We have no beach report today.

I have typed in the synopsis for White Elk, and am in the midst of revising chapter 3, switching the point-of-view in the first part of it so it's all in the hero's POV. I think it's working rather nicely.

I am again uncertain about the "time" title. I'm beginning to think something like Time Thief or Time Catcher, or maybe even Time Catch, might work better. Or maybe Time Splice. They don't actually splice time. Other things are spliced, but... I am the sucks-at-titles Queen. Probably a good thing publishers don't often let you keep your titles--though I did come up with all the Rose titles myself...

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Wonderful Words

So, I was in the kitchen this morning, putting together a pot of carne guisada to have for Sunday dinner, and the jalapeno I was cutting up for it seemed to be particularly seedy. This is an important observation when it comes to jalapenos, because the vast majority of their heat happens to be in their seeds.

Then it occurred to me to wonder where, when and why the word seedy came to mean disreputable, disheveled and possibly dishonest. A pepper having many seeds--or any other fruit with lots of seeds--didn't seem to be the proper source.

Then I remembered when I had a vegetable garden years ago, and how if I wasn't careful, (especially in the heat of a Central Texas spring) the lettuce and carrots would "go to seed."

They would send out these lanky, weedy-looking seed shoots, the rest of the plant would take on a bedraggled, shop-worn (or maybe sun-and-heat-worn) appearance, and the leaves (for lettuce) or roots (for carrots) would become bitter. I never did get a decent carrot out of that garden. And I had to step lively--and plant the lettuce practically in January--to get some nice salad greens.

Seedy, meaning bedraggled and disreputable, has been around long enough that it likely came from original English-from-England, but lettuce goes to seed there too. (Just not as fast.) That has to be the original source of the meaning. Aren't words interesting?

Well, they are to me, anyway.

Haven't been walking at the beach lately. The fella went fishing with a friend on one of the jetties yesterday, though, and they each caught a fish. The fish swam up into the rocks, and they had to climb down a little to pull them out, but they caught them. We went over to Mike's house to eat them, because he volunteered to cook them up, and they were really, really good. (One of the fishes was big enough for two.) I do like fresh fish.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Slogging On

Some people march on, but I happen to be slogging. It's a slogging kind of month. Or something. Lots of people are participating in National Novel Writing Month this month, or NaNo. I've sort of attempted this in the past.

Problem is, I do my first-draft writing in longhand, so if I wanted to do an "official" NaNo, and get my words logged on the Official Website, I would have to first write, then type, then do the upload/count-y thing, essentially doing twice the work of anybody else. And I'm too dang lazy for all that work.

My other problem is that I'm a slogger, not a sprinter. I do best at a "slow and steady" sort of pace. Six to eight pages a day, every week day. EVERY weekday. Sometimes, like when I haven't been writing for a while, I don't make it to six pages, but if I really work at it, I can do it. That gives me the 50,000 words NaNo wants in about 6 weeks.

Which brings us to my other other problem. I write long. At least when I'm writing fantasy, I do. Each one of the Rose books came in at just under 150,000 words. (Okay, Eternal Rose came in a fair bit over, but I got it cut!) So did New Blood for that matter. That's THREE books' worth of writing, if you count 50,000 words as a book (and that's how long my Desires were, when I was writing them).

Anyway, I'm still slogging. This week, I finished the synopsis for White Elk, Red Sword.* I also finished the world-building and character development for the science fiction/gene-splicing story, which I am tentatively calling Catching Time. Of course, the world-building will continue to develop as I get into the story and figure out other things I need, but it feels good enough I can work with it. I need to type in the world-building stuff, so I have multiple back-ups. Pen and ink can also be lost/destroyed.

Then I can go back and type in the synopsis, and edit it as I do. Type-in is my 1st edit, giving me a second draft on the computer. Then--maybe this weekend, maybe starting Monday, I can rewrite the opening of Chapter 3 for WERS, putting all of it (at least so far) in the hero's point of view, and it just might be ready to ship out to the agent.

I want to pull together a partial of Catching Time after that, and after that--we may be into the new year, when I think I need to go back and work on Devil in a Red Dress. I also need to write another 25 pages or so on Thunder. I might actually get them done before this month ends. We're not going anywhere for Thanksgiving. It will be a small gathering here on the island, but the weather promises to be gorgeous. It is right now, anyway.

Beach report: I've only gone down to walk on the beach once this week. It was quite warm, and I wish I'd gone in my flipflops so I could have walked in the water. But I didn't, so... Lots of little rocks and broken shells along the high-tide mark. Lots of sea gulls.

I did pick up my Bird Book when we went back to Clarendon. I now know that the larger of the sandpiper-like birds are willets, and the little flocking ones are sanderlings. I'm looking forward to seeing them in their summer plumage.

I walked in my neighborhood one day--the day the cold front came through. I thought about walking the other way, around by the bayou (which is actually more like a big opening to the bay than it is like a bayou, but that's what they call it so...), but the wind was really whipping, and it was cold, and coming off the bayou it would have been even colder, so I stayed on the residential streets.

Today, I walked a little bit over in the historical district--or one of them. This town has a bunch of historical districts. Anyway, I'd gone over there to see someone about getting my fancy black dress altered, and there were some neat looking houses with For Sale signs in front of them, so after I was through trying on the dress for her and had it all pinned up, and went back out to my car, I decided to walk around a little and see what there was to see. Some of the big ol' houses had been divided up into apartments. Some had been restored and some hadn't. But it was fun to walk around and look at them. There was even a brand new house that fit exactly into the neighborhood. The inside layout wouldn't work for us, but it was a neat house. Until we find a place to buy (and hopefully sell the old house), I think my hobby's going to be driving/walking around looking at houses. Maybe afterward. I like looking...

Okay, I've driveled on long enough. Time to stop this and go do something useful. Or play Mah-Jongg... Whatever.

*Title subject to change, if it ever sells/finds a publisher.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Cool Beans

Got some totally cool news today. The Eternal Rose has gone to a second printing.

This is a big deal for Juno. And it is a big deal for me. So, to all you folks who've read The Eternal Rose and told your friends about it--THANK YOU!!! And keep telling all your other friends. :)

Okay, so we drove, like, a bazillion miles this past weekend. When I say--well, actually, it was probably only 1400 miles--you will understand that the distance between 1400 and a bazillion actually isn't that great, especially from the pov of the person actually experiencing driving all that distance in one weekend.

It's not actually that far to drive to Clarendon and back--about 1200 miles. The extra 200 come from discovering that the Broncos were playing Quanah for the district championship for the first time since we moved to town, only they were playing IN Quanah, which is 90 miles away. So--despite the fact that we had already driven through Quanah once that day--we hopped back in the vehicle and drove Back to Quanah to watch a 1A high school football game. I also got to visit with a bunch of friends while we were there, who we wouldn't have been able to see without going to the game. And then the Broncos lost.

Because the new town is so much larger, it's not de rigeur to go to the Friday night football games here--but it still feels weird not going. We spent a LOT of years going to the game every Friday night, because we either had a kid in the band or playing football or both. It was pretty cold. We didn't take our seats, and the metal bleachers were definitely cold. Daytime temps are pretty much the same on the coast or in the Panhandle, but the temp drops a whole lot more at night up north. No moderating influence of the water.

I'm trying to figure out plots now, and I think I want to rewrite Chapters 2 and 3 of White Elk from the opposite point of view. I'm also having to think about bad guys--what they want, what they're doing that the good guys can stop them from doing, and it's tough. I think I'm going to have to do that "think up 20 things to happen here" exercise, because there are just too many possibilities. I have to pick some things--that will need reasons for them to happen--and then the next events will lead from that. I'd rather be writing, but if I don't know what's going to happen, I'll be writing in circles, and I don't fly well into the mist. I need my roadmap, and I'm having trouble deciding where it needs to go.

The bad guys are in New Mexico. This limits some of the things they can do. They have evil witch powers of several varieties and are of several ethnic backgrounds. This expands some of the things they can do. They want power, because they want to do what they want to do without anybody stopping them or crossing them, and they want money because money provides power. Power feels good because it means they can do anything they want to anybody--they're the boss dog. Taking stuff from other people proves their power, and taking a life is the ultimate power trip. So. This is where my bad guys are coming from--and now I have to figure out what steps they're taking to acquire more power. What EXACTLY are they doing? How are they going about acquiring this power? Ugh. What do you think they ought to be doing?

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Bikers at the Beach

So there was this big biker rally in town over the weekend. The population swelled by about 400,000 (a little less than expected), lots of noise, lots of people, but only two people died, and not on the island. Not even many arrests, which was nice. Lots and lots of gorgeous bikes. Lots and lots and lots of bikes.

They blocked off most of downtown, except to motorcycles, and set up all kinds of booths and stuff, and people paraded their bikes up and down the streets. Mostly the Strand. We went out pretty early on Saturday morning, because we wanted to park closer than ten blocks away, so the pictures are before things really started filling up. Lots of interesting people to watch.

That's pretty much what I did over the weekend. We went out a couple of times--they also blocked off a stretch of the seawall, and had events in a couple more places in town, and I'm sure there were folks off on the beaches. There were campers parked all up and down the seawall, with people in their lounge chairs on the sidewalk, cooking in their little hibachis. Read a book or two. Probably more than necessary.

Monday, the fella's cousin came by to visit while he was in town on business. Hadn't seen him in a very long time. So we got to talk, catch up on things, went out to eat seafood, etc. That was nice too.

I think I've managed to get a partial written of my shaman and warrior princess story. Now I need to come up with a synopsis before I can revise and send it off. I sort of know what's going to happen, but not exactly. Guess I ought to figure it out, huh? All these trips out of town are messing up my schedule, and it's not likely to get much better before the end of the year.

I'll probably set the White Elk story aside for a little while, to let it rest, and work on the SF story I've got in mind. Really need a title for that one. Maybe I can find some catchy phrase from the pages (of which I have a grand total of four, so far.)

Beach report: Okay, I went yesterday, rather than today, but yesterday was busy, because of the cousin's visit. Didn't have time to blog. (Today, I need to remember to go vote.)

Anyway, the beach. Lots of little tiny rocks and shells. The half-inch size, mostly. Lots of gulls. I thought I saw a one-footer, but turned out, his other foot was just hiding.

I collected 5 cans (4 beer, one diet soda), three bottles (one beer, one water, one soda), about 10 plastic bags, ranging from ziplock to shopping, a couple of bottle caps, 4 fast-food cups used for shaping sand castles (actually, I think one of them was a yogurt container), and a couple other pieces of sundry junk. I did not pick up the diaper, though I should have. But I didn't have a picker-upper other than my hands. Ick.

I took a plastic shopping bag with me, because I've often intended to, given that I pick up trash anyway, and this way I could pick up more. I emptied it out once, and re-filled it. Then I walked back to my car along the sidewalk, so I could knock most of the sand out of my shoes. And I encountered some people I knew whilst walking on the sidewalk, which was a first. There was actually a lot less trash than I expected.

The weather was gorgeous. We haven't had rain for a week or so. (And I forgot to water my ginger, even though I'd brought it in, and I'm hoping I haven't killed the poor thing. It looks as if it might, sorta kinda, recover.) But we're expecting another cold front today.

I shall close with a picture of the spiderweb & the spider that keeps spinning it over the sidewalk leading to our driveway. We can't walk down the sidewalk these days, without walking into spiderwebs. I think the spider that spins it and sits smack in the middle there is a totally funky looking little critter with his spiky points and his black spots on his yellow exoskeleton, so I thought y'all might like to see him too. (Or her. Who can tell with spiders?) There are two of them now. And they both seem to have a thing about our sidewalk... (The actual spider is a little more than a centimeter across, about 3/8 of an inch.)

I'll try to get back this week, but don't know if I will. The rest of the week looks REALLY busy.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Adventures in October

Busy, busy weekend. And I'm expecting L.K. Hamilton's Lick of Frost on my front porch any time now, and when it comes, I'm pretty much going to drop everything and read (hmm, isn't there a school program called that? DEAR?), so I thought I'd get a blog in while I could.

So, I went to a chapter writing retreat in Valley Mills this past week. As you can see, the little house where we all crowded in isn't much, but it gave us privacy, a place to all squeeze round the same table, and a place to sleep, so we camped out for the weekend and talked writing. I got positively inspired. I'm still working on the Irish/Navajo story, but I brainstormed a plot for a two-page excerpt I wrote who knows how long ago that I always liked and thought could make a good story... and now, I really want to get to work on that one too. (The other picture is the view from the porch at our retreat place.)

Then, I headed to DFW to see the daughter while she was down in our neck of the country at her 10-year-high school reunion. (Good grief--do I have a kid that old?)(Guess so.) Her brothers came from Waco and Dallas and we had a great family visit. I can't get any more pictures to upload, or I'd share some of the pics of the great big lugs riding on the kid's toy tractor. They're pretty hilarious. Oh, and the punkin my littlest grandboy painted for me. It's adorable. And now sitting on top of my TV. (Hopefully, it won't start leaking stuff before Halloween's over.)

Came on home Monday, after taking the girl to the airport to fly home. The fella had to go to Austin with his board members Sunday, and came home on Tuesday just as I was heading out for the post office. It's a lot farther away here than it was in Clarendon. Lot bigger, too. Anyway, last night, we had yet another thing to go to--at a Mexican restaurant this time (yum). Since there's a big biker rally on the island this weekend--they're expecting around 600,000 people to stop in--the "proper attire" for the dinner was Biker Gear. All I could find was a long-sleeved hoodie with a dragon on the front, which made it too hot to wear my leather jacket. Did my best, you know.

I'm told there's an average of one death-from-stupidity per every 100,000 people at this biker fest. Rally. Whatever. Last year, one guy rode straight down 61st Street and right off the seawall without stopping. The fall killed him. He must have missed the ramp down to the pier, and gone off the side with the rocks at the bottom of the wall. Hope they're smarter this year...

Beach report: Slower tides these days. Just one today, in fact--low tide at around 3 this afternoon. Lots of rocks on the beach, lots of gulls. Most of them were waking up for the day--except for one young bird who still had his/her head determinedly under his wing, sleeping late. Saw a one-legged gull again, and a cormorant, and a whole flock of the little skittery sand birds. Mostly I've seen them in ones and twos, but this was a flock. Saw a bunch of seagulls fishing, too. They were flying in a line, like brown pelicans do, but not as big, of course, and not flying nearly so high--maybe 3 feet off the water. Then they'd swoop down and fly along at less than a foot off the water for a stretch, then back up for another 10 or 20 feet, then back down. I think some of them dipped down to catch something every so often. Bigger waves--lots of guys in wetsuits with their surfboards. I even saw one coming out to surf as I was leaving.

While I have to wear actual shoes to walk, while it's colder, I'm going to have to walk on the seawall sidewalk. I get too much sand in my shoes and track in up the steps and into the house, and I hate having to deal with the sand. If I'm in the flipflops and barefoot, I can wash it off on the driveway. Still, it's going to hit 80 F (26C) most of the rest of this week. I could go later in the day and still walk barefoot...

Need to type things into the computer and see how many chapters of White Elk, Red Sword I have, and I can go work on the science fiction-y story... Need to come up with a title for that one.

Friday, October 26, 2007


I'm going to try to get a quick post up before I head to my writer's retreat this weekend. And I thought I'd toss in some general shots of the city on my island.

For instance, this is the church across 25th street from the post office. It's hosting the island's Oktoberfest this weekend (which I won't get to attend).

Got some writing done yesterday. I'm feeling pretty good about it--throwing two separate things at my heroine to be dealt with almost simultaneously--but I realized I forgot to explain the opening statement in her scene, so I have to find a place to squeeze that in, in an already overloaded scene. Today, I'm just packing, cutting up cantaloupe & watermelon to take along, moving plants inside, that sort of thing.

I'm going to leave a few plants outside, that don't seem to be suffering from the cooler weather. Some of them didn't seem to have a problem with the cold, maybe most of them, but the wind's been a problem. I have a lovely rex begonia that had its leaves so blown around that the stems broke (or bent too much and got pinched off), and the angel-wing begonia lost a few leaves that way too. So I just brought everything in, except for the ones that didn't seem to suffer any damage at all.

This picture is the bandstand across the street from the library. I think I took the picture from the library parking lot, or maybe the sidewalk. Anyway, this is where the Tuesday night band concerts take place during the summer. Where the cars are parked, they put up park benches for everybody to sit and enjoy the concerts--lots and lots of fun.

There's always a ton of stuff to do around here. We're missing a lot of things by being out of town this weekend, and of course, there are so many things going on, one person just can't get to it all.

Last night, the Chamber of Commerce hosted an awards banquet and presented awards to all three of the "institutions of higher learning" on the island--there's the fella's community college, a medical school and a branch campus of one of the major state universities. So we had to be there, because the fella had to accept the award. It was a nice dinner, with a very nice presentation. I thought it was a pretty good deal, to be in town just 3-1/2 months and get an award. :) Met a lot of nice people, and one of these days, I'm going to get to talk to some of them for longer than 3 minutes at a time. I'm hoping I can remember some names, next time I see them.

One more picture. I didn't take this one myself, because I completely forgot it was happening. I snitched it from the newspaper. Yesterday was the start of the Harvest Moon Regatta, a 150-mile sailboat race down the Texas coast, with over 200 ships taking part. The one on the front page of the paper showed the Elissa with all its square-rigged sails & multiple masts, but I couldn't find it on the paper's website. Oh well. I hate that I missed seeing the boats start off, but one just can't make everything.

Y'all have a good weekend!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Summer Comes to A Screeching Halt

Let's start with The Beach Report.

Okay, so I mentioned briefly that a cold front blew in on Monday. BOY did it blow in! It got downright cold. And it blew all the water way out from the beach. WAY out. I haven't seen the water so far out since we moved here...almost to the end of the jetties.

If you'll look at last Thursday's blog entry, you'll see a shot of this same beach before the norther got here. Tuesday, when I went out, the water was far enough out, this guy (you can see him. The vertical dot that doesn't have a sign on top...) was walking over there.

This is a shot of the side of a concrete ramp that comes from the street down to beach level. I took the first one last week. This was at low tide, folks. (Don't know why low tide was so high that day. Wind, again, I guess.) And the second picture I took yesterday, from the water's edge.

The second shot was also taken at low tide, but the tide was a WHOLE lot farther out than it was last week. Yeah, the shot is from the opposite angle, but still. It gives you an idea of how different the weather was. Of course, you can't see the cold, or the sharp wind.

Everything looked washed very clean. I walked out close to the water, and saw so little stuff (except for seagulls, who'd found something to chow down on), that I decided to walk back at the high-tide mark, and found some cool stuff there. More pink barnacle shells, and several other cool shells. One was as long as my hand and almost as wide, very thin, and kinda irridescent, but it was sand-brown, so I didn't take its picture. Maybe now that I've washed it off... I did have to wash a whole lot of sand out of the barnacle holes.

The sand was cut into some really cool wave patterns. A lot of it was the usual washboard-looking stuff, with flat tops, but some of it was really different. Diamond-patterned, or... maybe like tucks in fabric. I thought it was cool looking, anyway.

So, there's the "First Blue Norther of the Season" beach report. A bunch of kids went to school in shorts on Monday, and froze. (They had pictures in the paper.) It was cold Tuesday morning, and this morning, but by this afternoon, it was gorgeous. Really nice for my trip to the library. My knees were hurting from walking so far two days in a row, so I skipped the beach this a.m. and walked from the library to the post office downtown, this afternoon. Clear sky, warm & not too hot, nice breeze...perfect. And it's not but 4 or 5 blocks between the two. Had my lunch out at a nice Mexican restaurant over near the medical school.

Got quite a bit written today. New stuff, not just re-treads from the first version (which now that I'm reading it again, I can see the suckage). It's moving along. I'm liking it better. Like the characters better, like the writing better. Wondering when I'll get some of this exposition in, but you know? If it doesn't make it, I don't think it will hurt anything...

I also got a chapter critiqued for the weekend retreat. Now I need to search through magazines for some interesting pictures to pull out for the workshop I'm presenting. One of the original presenters had to cancel. I also need to crit three more chapters. Eep! It always takes me so long to do critiquing. I will be present for the critting, though, so maybe I don't have to write so much stuff...

There's another fancy dress Thing tomorrow night--not as fancy a dress, I don't think. Ought to be able to wear my black lace skirt and pink beaded jacket. Maybe.

I'll try to blog before I drive out Friday, but if I don't...I'll see y'all when I get back.

I'll leave you with a final picture...the shrimp boats have come in close to shore, with the falling temps. I could have taken a picture of several together, except for the sun's glare off the water, and by the time I moved away from the glare, they'd separated. Oh well...

Monday, October 22, 2007

Wild Weekend

The harbor cruise was fun. We took the motor-powered cruise. Big ol' boat that A&M uses for marine research of various kinds. Just six of us on the boat with "Captain Jim. " Basically, we went down the harbor to the ship channel and back, didn't go out in the bay at all. Lots of interesting stuff to look at. (This is the "other" boat, very much like the one we're on. Took the picture while we were pulling out.)

We saw lots of cool stuff. The local cruise ship, getting loaded up for another Caribbean cruise... We saw the "tall ship Elissa," from the water. Elissa is a museum herself, and also a working sailing merchant ship. Locals volunteer to sail her and keep her ship-shape.

There were also cargo ships unloading tractors and shipyards that didn't look like they had any ships to work on. I think one of the shipyard things was still under construction. Besides all the big ships (including Coast Guard cutters and ferries and barges), there were people out fishing. Apparently it's about time for the flounder run to begin and folks were everywhere, on the bank and in boats, catching fish while all these huge ships were pulled up to dock right across the water from them.

But the absolute coolest thing we saw while we were out cruising down the harbor was the bottle-nosed dolphins. A whole pod surfaced right in front of the boat--six or seven of them. I couldn't get but three in the same picture--they were pretty far ahead when the big bunch surfaced, and not all of them came back up close enough for me to take their picture. But they were right there in the harbor along with everything else, swimming around like there were no ships or fishermen. Cool, huh?

And then we went to see Elizabeth: The Golden Age, because I'd been wanting to see it, and it was totally worth going to see. Loved the clothes...

Sunday, we got tickets to the Grand Opera House to a concert, and decided to go to that, since Moody Gardens--which was having "Free Day for locals" will be there next year (or whenever) and the pianist won't be. The music was great, but Sunday afternoon is not a good concert time for this girl. Sunday afternoon is Nap Time, and I kept falling asleep in that dark theater, at least through the Brahms. I did stay awake for the Mussorgsky Pictures in an Exhibition--just because I like that music a lot.

There were a whole bunch of other things going on over the weekend...a bicycle "ride around the bay" benefit thing, I think a breast cancer walk, an art festival, I think there was also a jazz festival...and we just couldn't get to all of it. (A couple of the cyclists got hit crossing the causeway, even though they had two lanes blocked off just for the bicyclists...)

So now, it's Monday. Worked on White Elk this a.m., got the latest version of chapter 1 in the computer and sent off for critiquing. Hopefully I've added in enough emotion that it will work. Hopefully.

Beach Report: Went back out to walk this morning. They've been predicting a cold front for today since last week, but you couldn't tell it by my walk. It was 81F (27C) when I got to the seawall at 8:30 a.m. And there wasn't a lick of breeze anywhere. I have NEVER been on the beach when the air was so absolutely still. It was hot, walking this a.m.

Because it was Monday, and the beaches got groomed for the weekend, most of the seaweed was gone, unless it got washed up right next to the seawall. I saw a couple of chunks of floaty, crinkly kind. (Guess I ought to take a picture of that, too.) A few shells, more rocks, and a whole lot of rocks right next to the fishing pier.

But I saw something I'd never seen before, completely new for me, and totally cool. I guess it washed ashore because it had broken off something else. It was a chunk of hard, clear plastic pipe about 2 inches in diameter, with a metal plug on one end that had been completely covered three-quarters of the way around, and over the end with some kind of little mussels or clams. Each shell was about thumbnail sized, and attached to the pipe by some kind of...neck, or stem. Kind of an icky, fleshy, ribbed, dark brown stem. The shells looked thin, and they were triangular shaped, with rounded points, white with dark orange edges. Looked sorta like mouths with lipstick on, because the shells were all open, some with little critters sticking out.

I thought about bringing it home to take a picture of here, but the critters were still alive, and when they died, they would sure stink. So I tossed them back into the water (they washed back out again) for the seagulls to eat, if they ever figured out they were edible. (Maybe they aren't. I don't know.) The seagulls weren't messing with them when I first saw it. It looked sort of like a rhythm-band instrument--a stick with little castanets stuck all over the outside to rattle together. It did rattle when I picked it up, as the shells clacked into each other...

So, anyway, that was the cool stuff I saw this morning.

Then, sometime later this morning, the wind swooped in out of the north, blew over the rubber tree and the purple ginger (I did pick them back up), and brought in the cold weather. By 2:30 p.m., it was 63F (17C), and blowing like crazy.

I may have to go out and check the beach at low tide tomorrow, see if anything cool can be found. We are told that this is the time to go beach-combing, because the wind pushes the water way out, and all sorts of things turn up on the sand...

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Fancy Dress Party

So we went to the party. This is me in one of my new fancy dresses. I like sparklies, and there are sparklies all the way down the front of this dress.

The invitation wasn't real specific about where the party was--the hotel and convention center is a pretty big place, and we had to hike through the hotel till we found the right ballroom. I actually remembered a few names of people I'd met before, and even recognized who went with who even when they weren't next to each other. I've met a dozen or more women named either Carol, Carolyn, Caroline or Karen... at least it seems that way. Makes it easier to remember names. I can just come out with a Kar--and mumble an ending, and they'll think I remember. I'm so bad at names, I don't mind at all being introduced as Grace.

Grace was actually my nickname in college, because I was so good at tripping over cracks in the sidewalk and getting run over by rampaging Weimeraners and losing my balance and falling into people and stuff. If somebody was going to mix my name up, that was probably a pretty good one to stick on me.

So, here's the fella in his brand new tux. Someone told us at the party that the island is actually a two-tux town. I suspect we're not rich enough for the two-tux level, but his position is a pretty political one, so we may get that many fancy-dress invitations. We'll just have to wait and see. The guys were mostly in tuxes, but the ladies were all over the board--some in cocktail dresses, some in fancy dress pants, some in long dresses. I'm just grateful I didn't drape my sleeves in the food...

And yes, I have to show y'all my shoes. I got really excited about finding a pair of shoes that would actually go onto my feet--and I found them at a Department Store! Usually, department stores don't carry anything that will fit me, (wide feet, high arches) but I could get my feet into these, they didn't hurt any more than any other shoe, and they didn't cost a bazillion bucks. They have sparklies on them too, but the sparkle doesn't seem to show up in the picture.

While we were at the fancy party, before dinner started (beef wellington and a really great red and yellow tomato salad), we got invited to go on a boat excursion this afternoon, and since we had no other commitments, and we like boats, we jumped on the invite. I'll try and get back to let y'all know how it went--and I will take the camera for more pictures. I really need to get back to my painting... (Pictures=stuff to paint, so when I think about pictures, I think about painting.)

It sounds like all I'm doing is running around and going to parties--and I'm doing a lot more of that, for sure. There's lots of stuff to do here. But I am still working on stories and writing. I got quite a bit done yesterday--finished character interviews and re-wrote the opening. Now I need to get it typed in and merged with the rest of chapter one, and ship it off for critique at next weekend's writers' retreat. Except I have to go on this boat ride. And tomorrow afternoon, we have tickets to a concert downtown at the Grand Opera House. (Need to try to take a picture of the inside there...) Anyway, this one is a contemporary urban fantasy romance with the various cultural mythologies merged and mixed together. Tentatively titled White Elk Red Sword, but I'm also considering something like The Shaman and the Warrior Princess... anyway.

Beach report: Went walking with the fella this a.m., and since he has no flip-flops and I like to walk IN the water, we drove down to see if Academy was open (wasn't), and walked from 45th street to about 27th and back, instead of from 61st to 53rd, like I usually do.

Gorgeous weather--not a cloud in the sky, nice breeze, water pretty cool. More shells than rocks on the beach, but not many of either. After we crossed the 3rd jetty, there was a whole lot of seaweed of both kinds (crinkly-leaved floater and big-stemmed with roots). We're waiting for the first big norther to blow in and push all the water way out so we can really go shell-hunting. Seagulls, pigeons, little bitty sandpiper/pipits. Saw a big sandpiper/stilt (I have Really got to go get my bird book.) with only one leg hopping away from us. And just as we were about the climb the stairs back to the car, we saw an egret fishing. Going to have to break out the long-sleeved shirt and hat and sunscreen for the harbor tour this afternoon...

I really am appreciating all the "Book sighting" reports. I had a sighting! I went across the causeway into town for the RWA meeting last Tuesday (listened to Sharon Mignery do a great workshop on Conflict), and stopped off at the Barnes & Noble, and there they were! THREE copies of The Eternal Rose and one of The Barbed Rose. So I signed them. Didn't have any stickers...I'll take some next time I head into town--which might not be until the next meeting, but that's just the way it is. So. Thanks, y'all. :)

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Insecurity Strikes

Thought I'd open with a view of "the seawall as it was"--how I remember it from when I was little, all rocks and no beach (the bit in the foreground's been brought in). This is to the west from where I usually go down to walk. I walk to the east, cause there's no beach this way...

So anyway, I pulled out this old story I'm wanting to re-write, and revised the opening pages, and I'm still not sure they flow. Or rather, I feel like they open too slowly. I do want to open with this particular scene, but it's a slow scene, a slow build, and I'm struck with insecurity that I'm doing it right, or that it's a story worth telling, or... anyway.

I stopped and have been doing characterizaton work. Because my heroine is a completely different person (except for her name, appearance and backstory), with a new personality, and I had to stop and think about a few things about her. What her personality is. Whether she likes change or hates it. Is she adventurous? (She is.) So I did a lot of that today and yesterday. And now I'm working on the hero's character stuff. I know him a lot better than I do her. And I'm still not sure that the opening works. I hope it does, but... Maybe I will e-mail my pages in for the Chocolate critiques my new RWA chapter is doing next month. And my pages for the critiques at the retreat I'm going to next weekend...

Tonight is the first Big Fancy Shindig in our new town. Because of the fella's job heading up the local junior college, we get invited to all sorts of dinners, fundraisers and other community stuff. But I have to tell you that the events here are of a whole other magnitude than where we moved from. You do not need a tux to go to the Saint's Roost Chuckwagon Cook-Off or the cancer society barbecue out at the Bar H. The Prevent Blindness Gala in our new town does. There are lots of people with lots of money on the island, plus the population--the Panhandle town had right at 2000 people. The island town has 60,000. What is that, you math people? a 300% increase? More, probably, right? Anyway, this calls for some serious primping.

The fella went out and bought a tux. He decided the beaded stuff I already had wasn't fancy enough, so we went out and bought me 4 more dresses. (Two are formals, two are cocktail length.) Plus shoes and underwear (yeah, the dresses need special underwear) (which cost more than the shoes, which totally freaked the fella out, because underwear aren't supposed to cost more than shoes)--and I still didn't spend as much as he did for the tuxedo. So I get to buy another dress later. :D I'll try to remember to make him take a picture tonight so I can share. It is a gorgeous dress, and fancy shoes, and all. We'll be classy. I want a nap, but if I go lie down, I'll mess up my hair, so I'm posting my blog instead.

Beach report: Mostly swept clean, but still lots of big rocks near the fishing pier. Not big as in boulders--those are always there, but big as in lots bigger than the shell scruff that was there last week. Saw a little bit of the sargasso-type stuff, but mostly the big seaweed. Some of the big stuff was new--still green. Just seagulls, except for one little pipit (or whatever the little bitty sandpiper-like birds are--I really need to get my bird book moved down here). No cormorants or egrets.

See those pink shells? That's what I picked up off the beach after Humberto. Cool, huh? Pink! I think they're some kind of barnacle... (There are two of them--the two in the back left? Those are separate from the big chunk. I put them in the back to sorta prop the other ones up...)

The tide was really high when I got out there today, though it was on its way out. It had been higher, almost all the way up to the seawall, undercutting some of the dunes. Haven't downloaded that picture yet.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Chugging along

So. I'm going to make myself show up here on the days I go out to walk--at least the days I walk on the beach. We will see how this goes.

I got my revised partial of Thunder in a Cloudless Sky off in the mail yesterday afternoon. And as a reward, I went to the Hastings store on the island and bought the new Karen Chance book, Claimed by Shadow (the title in in dark red on a dark charcoal gray cover, and it's really hard to read--but the author's name is in white, so it's easily visible. The cover is gorgeous, otherwise.) and read it. Good book. I may have to read it again to be sure I followed everything, but I liked it real well.

Today, I pulled out an old book I want to rewrite, and it's really going to be hard going. I think I'm going to have to back off and start from scratch, instead of trying to keep the good stuff from what I had before. My opening scene with my heroine sucks--at least what I have so far, because it's all blithering about the scenery. I need to just jump into the action. I have to open with the hero getting his talisman and having a vision--I think. Yeah. That's really where I want to start. Then I want to jump right into the action...and I've got my heroine strolling across campus thinking about concrete. ACK!!!

So maybe tomorrow I can get my head on straight and write a decent chapter 1. Because I think the vision thing will be a prologue. Even though I will probably call it chapter 1. It's the day that everything changes. But it's not really where the action begins. It's the hero's call to adventure.

Today's the local RWA chapter meeting, so it's my chance to head into town and shop the "big" bookstores. (The Barnes & Noble and the Borders are practically right across the street from each other.) And I'll probably hit the mall too. I want some throw rugs. Then I have to figure out how to get to the restaurant where they're meeting with the speaker for dinner before.

Beach report: Big Rocks are back on the beach, at least between the 61st Street pier and the jetty opposite the grocery store, and some new pieces of the big rooted seaweed. Last time, there were only tiny little shells and rocks, but today, big ones. Surf was up some, sky was gray, but light right at the horizon, where you could see those streamers that mean it's raining.
Cool morning. Didn't really want to get my feet wet. If it gets much cooler, I'll either walk later in the day, or wear shoes. (It's not letting me upload pictures, so I guess I'll show you my cool pink shells and where I walk at the beach next time...)

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Not Goofing Off

At least, not entirely. I didn't make it in last week to blog--partly because my internet service was down for two days (no clue why, just couldn't get anything) which threw everything off, and partly because I was working hard to get some pages written, which kinda distracted me from--well, pretty much everything. I didn't even get out to the beach but twice. (There was lightning on Monday, so I didn't go out.) (Here's a picture of the beach where I usually walk, looking past one of the jetties toward the fishing pier--the blurry spots are due to water spots on the lens--sigh.)

I did get a pretty good set of pages written, though I didn't make 30 because I blew it off on Friday. The boy and his dog and his girlfriend were coming down for a visit and I wanted to finish the cleaning I usually do in the afternoons after I write. Since our visitors were arriving around noon, I wanted to have a clean bathroom before they got here. (I generally clean only when I can't stand it any more (and I have a much higher tolerance for dirt/clutter than the fella) or when company's expected.)

They arrived, we got my car out of the gate, locked the dog in the yard, and went out for shrimp po'boys, and then to buy the boy shoes and sandals. He'd worn out/ripped apart the old ones (the dog did not eat them--I saw them. No tooth marks). Then we came home and ate boiled shrimp (I got unsorted medium to large ones right off the boat--they'd had enough time to de-head them (I hate de-heading shrimp--I always get stabbed) and sort out all the little gumbo-sized shrimps, but not sort the great big ones from the not-so-big ones, so I got some really huge shrimp in my mix for a good price.) and learned that the girlfriend had never in her life peeled a shrimp. This was shocking, because she lives not too very far from us, and the good seafood is very available... So we taught her how to peel the suckers. They were very good. And I made my mushroom/onion/parmesan risotto casserole (you don't have to stand over the stove stirring, but stick it in the oven to bake) to go with, and it was wonderful. :) (The picture is of the house from the yard--which is actually on the side of the house--so you can get an idea of how big the yard is. And my big fabulous deck.) We had ice cream on the deck, and didn't get too many mosquitos.

I have some more pictures of my island I was going to share, but I have to go iron my shirt and put on makeup, so I'll go ahead and post this. I'll try to get back in the next day or so and put up those other pictures. :)

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Beach Watching

Before I start: Big hey to Lindi, and tell your mom to send me your address!

I don't head over to the beach every day, not even every other day, but I try to get there at least once a week. It's my reward for living here. :) And for working, and for getting out and exercising. And every time I go to the beach, there's something new to see.

Some days, it's the cool patterns the waves make as they pull back from the shore when there are little shells and stones in the sand. Some days, it's all the open-but-complete scallop-type shells scattered in just one spot on the beach. Last week, the beach was pretty much swept clean. All the seaweed that had been littering the sand was gone, no shells, no rocks, just sand.

This week, the seaweed was back, except it was a different kind of seaweed. The other stuff I think was sargasso--no roots, crinkly leaves, and tiny grape-looking...grape things. The stuff this week had roots and thick fleshy stems. I think the stems had arrow-head-shaped leaves on the ends--some of the stems still had leaves on them. But mostly, there were just roots and stems and some places where the stems thickened into bulby-looking things. A few of the stems were still green, but mostly, they were brown.

And there were rocks on the beach. Very few shells, but lots and lots of rocks of all sorts, including some concrete chunks. There's a concrete driveway/ramp I walk by between a couple of the jetties that's been undermined a pretty good distance beneath, so maybe the concrete came from there, but who knows? (these jetties are built about every 100 yards, made of huge chunks of pink granite, to break up the waves) Not me. This just seems to be rock week. I haven't seen any more of those pink barnacle shells since Humberto roared by, but we're not even getting many mussel/scallop shells now.

And of course, there are the birds. It's amazing what some of these poor birds survive. Last week, there was a sandpiper (at least I think that's what they were--they were as tall as stilts, or maybe a little taller, and speckled brown with a brown beak instead of being black and white with orange beaks--I left my bird ID book back in the panhandle...) that walked with a funny, kicking-out gait on one side. It had a little trouble keeping up with the other sandpipers, and flew a lot more when trying to get away from me as I walked down the beach. (They always seem to run ahead of me down the beach, instead of going to one side or the other.) I finally decided that it had broken that left leg some time or other, and it hadn't healed right, so he had an odd kick in its gait.

Earlier this week, I saw a couple of one-legged seagulls. Actually, they had two legs, but their feet were messed up. One was missing a foot completely. I know it didn't just have one leg tucked up under it, but was actually missing a foot because it was standing there with two legs dangling down. One leg just stopped before it got to the foot part. And when it walked, it would put its poor little stump down on the sand. (Mostly, it flew, but apparently I didn't disturb it that much.) The other handicapped seagull had both legs too, but one of its feet had been mangled someway. Or maybe it had the seagull version of a club foot. Instead of the webbed triangle shape of its other foot, the bad foot was a kind of wad of web at the end of its leg. Poor baby. But they both looked fat and sassy. They still had their wings, after all.

Today, the footless seagulls were apparently out shopping for breakfast elsewhere, because all the seagulls I saw had both feet. Today, I saw a snowy egret fishing on the beach. The egrets usually fish over on the bayside of the island, because the water's quieter there, and further inland, it's shallower. I thought at first that this one was a bit nervous of the waves, but as I watched, it stood right at the edge of the water, intent on the incoming wave, until it pounced. I wasn't sure it caught anything until I saw it swallow the tiny fish. So apparently egrets will fish in the surf too. It was so cool to watch.

(The picture is of an egret I saw over at Pier 21, near the "pirate ship". It was fishing off the chain--I didn't get a picture after it spread its wings for balance...but that was cool too.)

I have noticed that the younger gulls will fly away from me before the older ones will. Most of the mature gulls just saunter off while the youngsters are flapping out to sea. How can I tell they're young, you ask? (I know you're not asking, but I'm going to tell you anyway.) Because young laughing gulls have brownish feathers and adults have gray ones. The adults lose their black courting caps in the winter when their heads all go more-or-less white, but they'll grow their black heads again in the spring when they have to look spiffy for the opposite sex. Yeah, I'm a geek. My sister got me into bird-watching, and I'm still stuck.

So, back into the writing. Gonna get my 25 pages done on Thunder and start working on...something else. Not sure what yet. Read my first book this month--a Roberta Gellis I'd been looking for, Enchanted Fire, about Orpheus and Eurydice. I have all her other Greek god myth books, but this one... Have it now. Enjoyed it a lot.

Thanks so much for keeping me updated about where you find my books. Y'all are the best.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Dashing In

I MADE myself stop putting edits into the computer so I could come blog and tell all y'all (however many of you there are) what I was doing.

Actually, I made myself stop earlier so I could get to the bank before it closed and cash my birthday check. Yes, my birthday was way back at the first of the month, but first I lost the card, and when I found it, I couldn't drag myself out of the house in time to make it by the bank. I had to do the bank and the library today, cause I had some books that needed re-checking. I decided not to get any new ones. I've got old ones I still need to read--and there's that re-checking thing, since I didn't get some of the old ones read on time. (One research book, and one book(Horse Heaven by Jane Smiley) that I intended to pick up and read a long time ago, but never got around to it. I'm about 7 chapters in and enjoying it so far--and the research book is a really good one. Very atmospheric, very "feel of the situation." )

So anyway, I spent all of last week revising New Blood and this week, I'm putting the revisions into the computer, and going over it one last time as I do so, looking for more places to tighten or clarify. I do revisions on hard copy, because it's too easy to miss stuff on the computer. It's going pretty well. The office looks like a snowstorm hit, because I'm just letting the pages float to the floor, and since the fella's away for a couple of days, I don't feel like I have to pick them up.

In fact, since the fella's away, I had lunch out, between the bank and the library. This was a place on Broadway between the college and downtown that doesn't have a name that I could see, but has "Donuts, Kolaches, Burritos" painted on the outside. It's a very Texas place, apparently, since I'm not sure there's any other state in the nation where that would be a common combination. I was the only customer in there at almost 2 p.m., and had the shrimp poor boy (I'm becoming addicted to those things--I had to pull the shells off the tails on this one) and an apple fritter. Turns out the baker was sitting nearby, and had the counter guy bag me up a couple more fritters to take home, free gratis. How cool is that? I'll definitely be going back there--just because the food was good, prices were good and the owner/baker was really nice. I had intended to go to this place called The Taco House, but it's back toward home from the bank, not toward downtown. Oh well.

Oh, and we got to go hear Don McLean (of "American Pie" fame--the original song, not the movie) in a concert on Saturday. We got to sing along if we wanted. :) It was a lot of fun (though I'm not used to wearing shoes with backs on them and got the beginnings of a blister), but dang, the guy got old. So have the alternative, though.

And when we went to visit a church Sunday morning, a fight broke out in the lobby between two neighborhood guys and a church member, and I got stepped on. Nice church though, but dang, it's way the heck on the other end of the island.

It hasn't taken me long to get into the local island mentality. I don't like to cross the causeway unless I absolutely have to. I'll just stay on the island, thanks--and what happens on the island stays on the island...

Thanks for all the reports of books arriving. Keep 'em coming. I'm especially wanting to know if anybody sees the book on shelves in a bookstore. I mean, even if you ordered your book off the internet, you might go into a bookstore for some Other reason, and you could just wander by the Charles DeLint shelf (I'm usually not too far in front of his books) and see if there's a pretty blue book...

My readers are the very bestest. :D

Friday, September 14, 2007

There for the Grace of God...

I have now survived my first tropical storm.

Humberto blew up very quickly--Wednesday morning, they were talking rain, maybe some thunderstorms. I had trouble finding the newspaper because a big branch had fallen from one of the trees in the front yard. Maybe 3 in. diameter at the base. Very branchy, with lots of dead leaves (so I think it was half-broken before it fell). Not real heavy, though I couldn't drag it off the front sidewalk very easy. So I went on to my planned afternoon of errand-running and library-visiting.

When I reached the post office, the fella called and told me that the thunderstorms offshore had been officially declared a tropical storm. But it wasn't raining very hard, so I went on to the P.O. and the library. Still wasn't raining hard after the library visit--spent a lot of time there, checked out one book. They didn't have any of the others. So it was after 4 p.m. when I left the library.

It started raining harder while I was at the seafood market buying shrimp. (Hey, I was downtown. The fish markets are on the piers downtown. Why not buy shrimp?) And even harder when I went to the grocery store. By the time I got home, it was pouring. And I had groceries to carry into the house. Not much wind, but lots and lots of rain. Exchanged my walking shoes for flip-flops to keep the shoes from getting too soaked. Lost a can out of one of the grocery sacks, and just left it lying there in the rain. I was trying to carry as many sacks as I could at one time so I didn't have to make more trips, and didn't have a hand to spare (didn't even have one for my umbrella--just sorta held it in place with my chin...) to pick it up.

So by the time the fella got home, Humberto was still hovering about 20 to 35 miles offshore and building up steam. The neighbors had come over to tell us that we flood--if not right away, then maybe when the high tide came in. So after our shrimp dinner, we spent the rest of the evening carrying beds, futon mattresses and assorted other things upstairs to the main floor. (I was already nursing a strained finger--now it's really sore...) The electricity went on and off a bunch of times, then went off and stayed off, so we went to bed early.

Humberto skirted us. We didn't even get water in the garage (which will happen in a really hard rain). A few more branches (smaller ones) fell off the trees, lots of leaves on the deck. But at the north end of the county, an older couple had their house moved a foot off its foundation and the roof peeled off. Even though the eye went ashore much farther east. This was maybe 50 miles from us. We are grateful for small mercies.

Yesterday, I was a slug. (Okay, I was writing like a maniac to finish my pages for the BIAY bracelet.) Today, I went out to walk at the beach. The sand is still soaking wet, even up near the seawall where its usually dry. And I found a whole stretch of whole, joined-together scallop shells. (I kinda think the gulls got to them, but maybe not.) Plus some pink barnacle-looking shell things, and a blue crab claw. (The gulls definitely got the rest of the crab.) I didn't touch the claw, but I did bring the pink shells home. (I'll post a picture, when I take one...) So Humberto was a little rough on the under-sea residents too, seems to me.

I'm working on the new synopsis for Thunder. I like it, but it's going slow. I need to decide what I'm going to work on next week...Ought to be getting revisions for New Blood pretty soon. I want to finish my revisions for the proposal of Thunder, get the synopsis written and out, and then...I dunno. Do revisions on New Blood, then maybe start the Irish shaman story over. Or work on my demon slayer story... Hmm.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Birthdays and other stuff

So I had a birthday over the weekend. I am now another mumble older than my previous mumbledy-something age. :)

It was a very nice day. A lazy one. We went to the beach early. The water was still quite cool--actually cool, rather than the bathtub warm water you get later in the day. I think this is why I am so spoiled when it comes to swimming. I spent so much time in the Gulf with its oh-so-warm water, that I think that's the temperature swimming pools (or lakes, or whatever) ought to be. Anyway, besides being on the cool side, the water was practically like glass. The surf's rarely more than a foot or so high, but it will usually start a good fifty yards out from the beach. Not that morning. Ten feet. Maybe twenty. And beyond that, glassy, gently rolling waves. Just the way I love it.

I'm not much of a surf girl. I really don't enjoy being blasted by the whitecaps. I like to go out beyond the breakers where the waves just roll in and float up and down. I don't know that there are many beaches--except on the Gulf coast--where you can get out past the surf and still touch bottom. People complain about the puny surf in the Gulf, but that's exactly what I love about it.

We didn't stay long. Maybe an hour. The seaweed has stopped floating in. I'm told that when the seaweed stops, the jellyfish start coming in. It's going to be hot for another month or so...I hope we don't get too terribly many jellyfish. They're not much fun. I'll have to stock up on meat tenderizer. It's supposed to help with the stings.

After puttering around online while the fella went to get a haircut, we spent most of the afternoon watching a bunch of episodes from the second season of ROME (my birthday present I got myself, donchaknow...). And then we went out to dinner.

In the past, I have made a joint birthday cheesecake or lemon meringue pie for me and the fella, since he's so much older than I am. (Eight whole days.) Usually, though, there's at least one other person around to help us eat it. Since even the boy was away from home, I didn't bake. So, we decided to have dessert with dinner.

I didn't realize that the two places I had chosen as an either/or for my birthday dinner were literally around the corner from each other. The first place was all booked up (that's what I get for having my birthday on a Saturday), so we walked over to the other place, the Saltwater Grill, which just happened to be right in front of where we'd parked the car. They had lots of room, fast, perfect service, fabulous food and we split an order of butterscotch bananas for our birthday cake.

Oh, my, LORD, those bananas were good. It was just a whole, sliced-lengthwise banana (cut in half, so we each got half a banana) drenched in just-made, so-good-it-must-be-a-sin butterscotch sauce. There was ice cream, and some whipped cream, and some strawberries and blueberries on the plate, and they were all the yummier for the butterscotch sauce. We practically licked the plate clean. I'd have licked it, for real, if we hadn't been out in public.

The corn-and-crab chowder was yummy, the seafood pasta had so many shrimp and crawfish tails in it, I couldn't eat them all even when I quit eating the pasta to concentrate on the goodies, the fella's fish just quit swimming that morning...but as good as that was, man, those butterscotch bananas... Who needs cake???

So. Now that my self-indulgence is out of the way, who's got books? If somebody gets a copy of The Eternal Rose from a bookstore, any bookstore that isn't direct from Wildside/Juno, will you let me know? Thanks.

And I'm working away on Thunder still. I got three pages written today. Wrote several pages of synopsis yesterday. And I got hit by a brainstorm for this story... don't know yet if I'm actually going to do it, but it would increase the conflict by a buttload, so I just might. I'll think about it some more.

I also finally repotted the tropical plants I bought--a salmon/yellow hibiscus, a white jasmine, two "blueberry ice" bougainvilleas (I already have a "raspberry ice" one), a rex begonia that seems to love the humidity outside, and a variegated African violet I moved from the panhandle that I'd never got round to re-potting. I ran out of soil in the middle of the job, and had to run back to WalMart to get some more. It's so nice to be able to do that. (Though I could have run down to Smith's Feed and Seed back in the panhandle, if I'd done it there.)