Thursday, May 29, 2008

The Mommy Voice

I love what the daughter posted at her blog, and I just have to share it.

There are many women who claim that there are few forces as powerful on this earth as the mommy voice. This mythic force compels all persons within hearing range to cease all activity, revert to the mental age of 5, and say to themselves, "my god, I hope she doesn't mean me." It is an elusive and hard to describe power. Though God, in all his goodness, bestows this mighty gift on all women who claim young humans as their own.

However, since my child is beyond the scope of normal human children, God has deemed it necessary to provide me with a vocal power that completely transcends the mommy voice. You might call it an obey me or die voice. It is a voice that would put drill sergeants to shame. It is the faintest shadow of the voice that God used to call creation into being. It is even enough to make C stop running away and turn around.

It is a gift I am very grateful to have.

I know all about that voice. Moms generally only bring it out for the "I really mean what I am telling you and you had better pay attention NOW" occasions, because I remember far too many occasions when they would look up and then just go right back to what they were doing.

I did get tickled not too long ago... We had the youngest son in the car--the one who is still in college and has no kids--and the older son's two boys also in the car taking them for a visit to Gigi and Granddaddy's. They were goofing around in the back-back seat (it's an SUV with 3 rows of seats), getting out of their seatbelts and generally misbehaving when "Uncle Bob" turned around in the middle-back seat, pointed at them and roared "Sit your butt DOWN in that seat NOW and put your seatbelt ON your body."

"Uncle Bob" looks and sounds much like their daddy, so we had instant quiet and scrambling for seatbelts. Meanwhile, our son turned around to look at us with this horrified look on his face and said-- "Oh my God--I'm channeling Dad."

So, yeah. Not only does God give us a mommy/daddy voice--it's inherited.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Summer Crazy Season

Yes, it has started. The Summer Crazy Season. It begins with graduations, so for us, it started this past Saturday when we went to watch one of the nephews graduate. That meant a trip to Fort Worth, then sitting outdoors (fortunately, the ceremony was in the morning before it got Really Hot and under a tent, so there was less threat of sunburn) for a couple of hours, then off to a family party and much eating of barbecue and shrimps and cake. This is not particularly crazy, but it did involve driving long distances and sitting outside in the heat (they had little cardboard fans on sticks with a photo of the graduating class to stir the air) and lots of very loud children. We have pictures of the grandboys to post--but I don't think they're uploaded yet.

But no, the craziness does not end there, because the very next day, we had to go load up the boy--who is not so boyish any more--and move his stuff to storage, then move the rest of his stuff, and the granddog, home for the summer. This meant lots of climbing up and down stairs and vacuuming and re-packing of overstuffed boxes. (He didn't inherit the packing gene which his father and sister have...That's my boy...) And then driving again.

We had a party/potluck barbecue Monday night I made a bushel of potato salad for. (Other families don't eat potato salad like mine does. Five pounds of potatoes is only the beginning--and if the other folks at the pot luck don't eat much, all the better. They can have it for breakfast.) (Yes. Breakfast.) Also made the flour-free peanutbutter cookies, AKA the easiest cookies ever.

Much of the rest of the time has been spent trying to get the boy's internet up and running. I have internet. We're just trying to branch it off the main modem for him. The router we used in the Panhandle is refusing to work. You can only buy wireless routers now--though the one we got does have wire hookups for four computers, plus the wireless thing. But it's extremely slow when it does work. So I think he's taking it back and picking up another one. (Things are beginning to feel expensive.)

I did use the trip to the mainland to pick up the router as an excuse to stop off at the mall Waldenbooks and snabble up a copy of Blood Noir. I read it too. I'll wait a day or two before I go through it again and make sure I caught everything. I also bought a bunch of new romances because, hey--Waldenbooks has a "buy 4 get 5th free" thing, and I'd already picked up 3 of them. So I got 5 in all. The new Quinn, the new Layton, the new Chase, an Elizabeth Bevarly and ... one other I can't remember right now.

Let's see--this coming weekend, we have company coming. Tomorrow. The next weekend, a niece is graduating and we're going up for that. Then there's stuff during the week. Oh, and it's time to get ready for hurricane season on top of everything else. We live on a Gulf coast barrier island, so this is not something to ignore. So we have to put together a couple of hurricane kits--one for evacuation and one for riding it out in place (for the Category 1-2 size hurricanes).

Then I think we're here for a weekend, and then it starts again. Ack!

All of this makes it very hard to get much writing done. I'm creeping along this week at about 3 pages a day--on the days I get there. Friday will be hopeless this week. I just have to keep plugging.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Beach reads and Bookstores

The daughter was being snide and sarcastic in the comments below, saying "Like you need an excuse to hang out at a bookstore." But I DO! I need excuses.

Thing is, excuses are extremely easy for me to come by. For instance, "I NEED New books" is a valid excuse. Or "The new Slither Grimblethorpe book is coming out, and I NEED it!" That's a valid excuse too. (Not that Slither Grimblethorpe is a real author. I just made that up for an example.)

Of course, there is always the "I'm going to be in the area anyway, so..." excuse. That's the one that gets me off the island to the Big Bookstores where they actually have more of the books I want. The Hastings bookstore is closing down. It's still in the process, which means it still has a lot of old books nobody wants to buy, and it's not shelving any of the new books being released. Then there's the independent store downtown, which leans Heavily toward lit'rachure and very little commercial, mass-market fiction. Or even commercial, mass-market hardbacks. There's a used books place semi-downtown. And then there's Wal-Mart and Target. See, it's not the "hanging out in the bookstore" excuse I need.

It's the Driving 30 miles to the Bookstore to get the Books I Want NOW excuse I really need. Because the new L.K. Hamilton book comes out next week. (I know bazillions of you hate what LKH has done with Anita Blake. I don't care. I need the book. I will read the book. Probably three times before I put it down. Maybe only twice. Deal with it.)

Also, the new Julia Quinn novel comes out next week. And I think there's also an Edith Layton. And maybe the new Jack Campbell Lost Fleet book. The Quinn and the Layton might be available at Target. But they might not be. I doubt the LKH book will be there--though it might. And I KNOW the Campbell book won't be stocked. And there may be others I want and crave and NEED like Whoa and Darn. (I know. But I'm old. I can't curse with impunity.) (Unless it's necessary for a character in a book. Or I've worked my way up from Dagnabbit, because I'm really mad...)

Yes, I know I can order them from Amazon, or Borders or Books-a-Million online. But see, then I would have to WAIT. I am not good at waiting. I used to order the LKH books from the science fiction book club. But they would take a week to 10 days to arrive. Meanwhile, I'd go to the bookstore and sit and read chapter after chapter in the not-so-comfy chairs. I would make myself crazy with the waiting and the wanting. So I don't order any more. I'm just going to have to come up with a reason to drive into town. Or something. So there it is. Excuses and addictions and books I want to read this summer.

While I live at the beach (sort of--it's about 2 blocks away), I don't read there. I sunburn in about 10 minutes flat. Or in an hour or so, if I have good sunscreen. And anyway, if I'm actually on the beach, I'd rather be in the water (which is not good for books) or walking (which usually winds up being in the water, this time of year). And if I'm walking, I need to watch where I'm going, what with the sharp shells and baby jellyfish and stuff on the beach, since I walk barefoot...

If I'm going to be reading, I'll sit on the glider under the big magnolia in the back yard, or at the table under the covered porch, in the shade. :)

What books do you want to read this summer? Where is your favorite summer reading place?

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The Tuesday Blog

It's Tuesday and I'm blogging again. I seem to post a lot of blogs on Tuesday. Mostly because Monday tends to be really crazy and I never manage to make it by here but I Really want to post at least one blog a week so y'all won't think I've forgotten you, and Tuesday seems to be when I can make myself get over here and do it.

The problem is that many times, by the time Tuesday gets here, I can't think of anything to blog about. I've forgotten whatever it was I did over the weekend. Maybe because the weekend seems so far behind me. Anyway, it's Tuesday again, and I'm blogging.

About what? Um--we went to see Iron Man a week ago Sunday, and out to dinner for Mother's Day. This past weekend, I overdid it a little on the flower beds and pretty much slept the rest of the weekend--though we did buy some "previously viewed" movies and watched American Gangster Sunday night. I want to go see Prince Caspian, but haven't found the time yet, and since we're moving into Graduation Season, I'm not sure when we will. Maybe we can go on a Wednesday, or something.

I did walk on the beach yesterday morning. Still haven't looked up those silly plover birds, because I can't find where I put my bird book. I think it's in my office, but where??? No special observations yesterday--seagulls, shells, sand, water--the beach is always great, and before 8 a.m. on Monday, I pretty much have it to myself.

The writing is moving ahead. Only 3 pages yesterday, but I got 6 today, and now I need to think about my book's theology before I can forge ahead. Since this book is about spirits, and demons have cropped up already, and ghosts and "ascending"--I have to think about that sort of thing. I know how it works--I just have to figure out how to explain it, and decide how much explaining I want to do at this point.

A fantasy novel requires a lot of explaining, and I've set it up so that the explaining makes sense--one of my characters doesn't know much about the magic and has to be told. But I do sometimes feel as if the story's getting bogged down in all the explanations. Today, though, it went well. I didn't expect this particular scene at this point, but it works well, does what I need it to go and sets up one of the major complications that will come into play later. So yeah. I'm feeling good about the writing.

RWA chapter meeting today. I'm totally not interested in this program, but I'm going anyway, because hanging out with other writers and talking writing gets my writerly juices flowing, and I need as much flow as I can get. I also get to hang out at the book store. Yay!

Friday, May 16, 2008

My first Art Contest

Okay, here's the painting that made the cut, that will be in the show. In this light, you can see some of the brush strokes that don't show in artificial light (I took it outside to photograph), but this is the painting. (Didn't win a prize, but it's in the show! Not bad for my first try ever.)

You can't see the one that didn't make it, because I haven't taken its picture yet. Sorry. It's a painting of three little boys playing at the beach. With sucky hands and feet. I could stick it on an easel and try to fix the hands and feet, and the arm that's ... just wrong. But I don't think I will. It will just have to be wrong. (sigh) I still like it anyway.

Um. I've signed the contract, so it's official. I have definitely sold three books to Tor. There. That's my news of the day.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Thursday Thirteen

I stumbled across this recently and thought I'd participate, even though I don't quite know what it is. I'm guessing 13 random things I want to put on my website. So here's mine:

The last 13 new books I read (I am not counting re-reads or the book I just skimmed)
They are, in the order in which they are stacked up on my desk:
1. THE SPYMASTER'S LADY by Joanna Bourne (Excellent!)
2. A DANGEROUS LOVE by Brenda Joyce (Good)
3. YOU'VE GOT MALE by Elizabeth Bevarly (fun)
4. PERSONAL DEMON by Kelley Armstrong (Good)
5. HEROES ADRIFT by Moira Moore (Good)
6. MYSTIC HORSEMAN by Kathleen Eagle (Good)
7. THE TYCOON'S ONE NIGHT REVENGE by Bronwyn Jameson (Also good)
8. THE DUKE NEXT DOOR by Celeste Bradley (fun and good)
9. PRIVATE ARRANGEMENTS by Sherry Thomas (pretty good)
10. THE STOLEN PRINCESS by Anne Gracie (Don't remember, but I usually like Gracie)
11. FORGOTTEN MARRIAGE by Paula Roe (forgot this one too, but ...)
12. VOWS OF A VENGEFUL GROOM by Bronwyn Jameson (another Australian goodie)
13. SIMPLY PERFECT by Mary Balogh (Excellent)

Some of the others may deserve excellents, but I'll have to look at them again. Enjoyed reading all of them--I skipped a fair portion of the Thomas book, but that's because of all the flashbacks. Not because they were flashbacks, per se, but because it was looking back at previous misery. Or maybe because it was looking back at previous happiness which I knew became misery.

I skimmed most of THE VANISHING VISCOUNTESS by Diane Gaston, and I really can't pinpoint why--it just didn't grab me like the Balogh and Bourne books did. I've liked the other Gaston's I've read, but this one--maybe because it was a traveling story. Don't know. And my re-read was KINSMAN'S OATH by Susan Krinard. I even bought a new secondhand copy to re-read it...

Now to get these all up on Shelfari and GoodReads, and in my computer log, and on the Romance Readers Anonymous loop...

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Pelicans, and other thoughts

The thing about living at the beach is that you have to LIVE at the beach. All that regular, everyday stuff still has to be done, even though the beach is only two blocks away. Cooking, laundry, scrubbing bathrooms, going to work--all that stuff takes up going-to-the-beach time. So you just have to go anyway, and still, somehow get everything done.

I was thinking about this as I walked on the beach today. Tide was in-ish. (Didn't look for the times in the paper this a.m.) I could walk around the boulders, but the waves still came up--just not too high. I was thinking about how I still had to go home and do stuff, but wasn't it great that I could spend this little amount of time out communing with nature.

The sargasso seaweed is starting to come in. In places it looks like a crinkly, crocheted blanket, it's so thick. I'm not sure if the birds eat something on the seaweed, or if they eat the stuff that's tangled up in/hiding in the seaweed, but the birds--seagulls and sanderlings and plovers and willets--seem to hang out near it and hung through it.

Today, I found the biggest shell yet. Most shells that wash up on our Gulf coast are small. Mostly they're scallop-type shells in white or black or yellow-stripes, an inch, or maybe two across. The vast majority are much smaller, some smaller than my tiniest toenail. But this one is at least 4 inches across. Maybe 5. Bigger than the palm of my hand, and deep, and almost black. Part of the rim was broken off, but it's pretty much whole. I also found what I think is a piece of coral. I think it might be brain coral, from my minimal research. No picture of it yet...

I only saw one pelican flying today. Monday, row after row flapped by overhead. Usually I see at least one line of pelicans heading east--maybe it was a wind thing. Yesterday and Monday were very windy, today was less so. Anyway, Monday, I decided to count the numbers of pelicans flying in their lines.

When I was growing up not far from my beach, and would come down to swim and ride the ferry and such--I never saw a single brown pelican, much less a white one. They were quite endangered. One reason I decided to count how many I saw on Monday. I think I've also mentioned here that pelicans like to fly single file. I assume this cuts down on the headwind issue, like the wild goose V, but I've never seen pelicans fly in an actual V, just single file.

Anyway, I counted two lines of eleven pelicans each. Then one of thirteen. Then one of seventeen pelicans. That's a lot of pelicans. I was beginning to think that pelicans had a thing for odd numbers--but then I saw two separate lines, flying somewhat close together, of eight pelicans each. One had seven at first, but there was a singleton flying really hard to catch up and fall in at the end of the line. Now I shall do math.

I had to get out a pen and write on the bottom of a cutline page. I saw in one thirty-minute walk sixty-eight (68) brown pelicans. (If I added wrong, please correct my arithmetic in the comments. thank you.) That's a LOT of pelicans. They were all flying the same direction, so I'm reasonably certain it was 68 different pelicans, not the same ones flying in circles. Which to me is absolutely totally cool, since it was my own childhood when pelicans were so endangered you just did not see them on the island. At all. Oh, and I didn't count the single pelican I saw flying in to land beside one of the jetties. So that makes 69.

The beach belongs to the birds from dawn to about 10 or 11 a.m. I may go out walking at 8-ish, but the beach is still theirs. They tolerate me grudgingly.

I got started writing a little late. The plumber guy came and fixed the toilet from its intermittent running (which can be shocking while in the shower, since it would run every five minutes and alternately scald/freeze you while it ran) and I took my sweet time cleaning up after the walk. But I still got 3.5 pages written. Did 6 yesterday. I'm not sure I'll keep what I wrote today--or that I'll keep it in this location, but it's written.

Oh. I just remembered. I entered my very first juried art show Saturday. The very first one where I took paintings in and let other people (who are neither relatives or friends) Look at them and decide whether they were worthy of hanging in a show. They were judged in the non-professional category, of course, which probably helped, but there are some very good non-pros. Anyway, one of the two paintings I entered made the cut. (I suck at painting/drawing hands and feet. And arms. Some arms, anyway.) I didn't win a prize, but I made the cut.

So my painting of Robert is going to be hung in this art show. (It's in the blog archive if the other link doesn't work. I can't figure out how to post it on the blog with this work Mac. Just scroll down till you see the painting of the person near the bottom...)(If you want to see it.)

I'll take a picture at the show, so you can see it hanging with other people looking at it. ;)

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

High Tide

First things first, here. I'm donating the prize to be given away at the 2 B Read blog this week. This is the blog of the published authors chapter of RWA, and I'm blogging over there on Thursday. (I'll remind you again on Thursday. ) If you comment at the blog, you will be eligible to win the contest. So go read the blog posts, and comment!

High tide was at 7:12 a.m. today. I went out to walk on the beach at 7:50 (approximately). So the sea was very, very close to the seawall when I climbed down the stairs. I drove past the seawall parks (wide areas with benches and picnic tables and big piles of pink granite boulders extending way out into the water) to a place where I could walk more than two jetties without having to walk waist-deep in the water to get around the big piles of rocks--and the water came right up to the bottom of the stairway. I stepped of the concrete step into water.

I tried at first to walk around the rocks--because the sand did not cover those right at the base of the seawall. But the water was just too deep. Up to my knees. And I couldn't see the sand, so I couldn't see the places where the water had washed it away. It wasn't safe walking there. But I could carefully work my way up right next to the seawall and walk through the maze of rocks pushing up through the sand. High tide was really high...

But after I got through the rocks and to a section of beach where the waves didn't wash quite so close to the wall, I was able to notice all the giant rows of giant pelicans flying down the island, ten and twelve in line one behind the other, and the sanderlings and another type of sandpiper-like bird picking at the seaweed. I thought the other birds were kildeer, but I just looked up images of kildeer, and what I saw was different, so I'm going to have to go home and hit the bird book to figure out what they are. I think the birds were probably selecting little bits of the crinkly seaweed to use for nest building, but I'm not sure.

Had a busy weekend. I had hoped to stay home, but ended up not getting to. Wound up having three softball games to watch on Saturday, since the college team -- well, they lost their very first game, but won the second Friday game, which meant they got/had to play Saturday morning at 11:30. They won that one, which meant they had/got to play at 2:00. Then they won that one, which meant they had to play again at 4:30... We didn't stay for the third game. By that time, the team was so exhausted, they didn't win again. But they had a good run in the regional championship tournament. I enjoyed watching the two games we did watch.

And somehow, even though I stayed under the awnings and shade all morning and afternoon, I somehow managed to get enough sun to burn. My face and neck turned bright red, enough to show through the makeup, which at least toned it down a little. I wasn't in the sun! Okay, maybe 10 or 15 minutes, because it was cool enough that the sharp wind made it downright cold. And I burned in that 10 or 15 minutes. Good grief. Okay, so no more going anywhere without sunscreen. Especially at midday.

I've been able to get back into the writing this week. Except I had to get into my file cabinet to dig out some research. (I am pretty sure I have some more somewhere, but couldn't find it yesterday.) Which meant I had to get down on the floor to look through that bottom file cabinet drawer. Which meant I had to get back up. Which is a huge production, given the state of my knees and the rest of myself. And since the file cabinet is behind my desk, creating the walkway between desk and closet, I brushed against the lampshade of the lamp on the desk and sent it slowly crashing over to dangle from its electrical cord in front of the desk chair. The lamp knocked over the Coke Zero I'd been drinking, which dampened the page I'd been writing on, which fluttered to the floor. The Coke dribbled across the desk and onto the floor... Big mess.

So today, I re-copied the page that got all wet, because the ink ran on it, and I revised it, and I went on with the scene...and then I couldn't decide where to go next.

I kind of think I need to summarize a bunch of stuff here and move back to the main mystery, but I keep getting bogged down in logistics. My heroine has no girl clothes. She needs girl clothes before she can really do many of the things she needs to do. She's rooming with the girl wizard. Do I need a scene to set up how that's working? How would that contribute to the furthering of the story? Maybe if later the heroine stops showing up at the rooms...? Bleah. Hopefully I can figure all this out by the time I need to start working in the morning.

And I need to come up with a profound--or at least profound-ish--topic for a blog on Thursday, at 2 B Read. I want lots of comments, so I can give away a book. To YOU, perchance--

Friday, May 02, 2008

Street Dunes

Beach Report: Since I did go out and ride this morning--squeezed the bicycle out between all the boxes and old dressers and stuff in the garage--I thought I'd begin here, because there was quite a wind last night.

This is not unusual. The wind blows a lot on our little island, and not always from the sea. In the winter, it comes from the north, which is landward. More northwest-ish, but still, north. Last night, this fierce wind came out of the south. And it blew the sand up over the seawall.

I had to ride through a little drift of sand to get up on the sidewalk by the Rainforest Cafe, and there was sand dusted all over their grass and flowers. The petunias in the streetside bed were more tan than pink, from all the sand on them.

On the beach, a pair of bulldozers were pushing the sand, which had been piled up to a foot below the top of the seawall (when it's usually 5 to 6 feet below), back into the water. And later, when I was driving back from the Radio Shack (Radio Shack has a waterfront store!) from picking up a new cable for my portable hard drive, the whole right-turn lane at our turn, by the Rainforest, was covered over with sand. And the big plastic garbage cans down on the beach (they're plastic because metal rusts overnight) had not only been turned over, but one of them had been turned completely upside down. That's some fierce wind.

So. That's the report from the water front. I didn't ride very far at all on my bicycle, because I hadn't ridden in over a week, and had become all feeble again, and because the wind was still pretty stiff. I'm going to have to keep up the bike riding, as well as get back out to walk in the warm water. My knees will thank me.

Oh, and the website is under construction. Not under redesign. It's still going to have the same self-made design as before because I do not have time to fool around with programs I barely know how to use. What I have done is switch my web server account to a different plan, which will ultimately be easier for me to use, but in the meantime requires me to re-upload everything, including the fiddly little bits like the roll-over sidebar buttons and such. Yes, I have an old-fashioned website. Because I did it myself and I don't have time to learn how to do the dropdown menu linky things... does it work? I think so, but then I'm the one who put it together. Maybe when I get paid for this new contract, I'll pay somebody else to design one for me...

The writing feels stalled out. Probably because it is. I spent last week revising and re-writing a whole big chunk of the story, and this week, I went back to New Blood and hunted up all the places where I'd explained the function of magic and marked them with those cute little flag Post-Its, because I got a set of them in the gift basket from the RWA chapter where I spoke a couple of weeks ago. So now I can go look up what I said about what in the previous book. I do wish that I hadn't said wizards could have animal familiars, but I did, and I don't think I can change that much of the story now. I didn't give out many of them, so maybe I can set it up that it's difficult to acquire a familiar... Conjurers have spirit familiars, sorcerers have human familiars, alchemists don't have familiars at all, and wizards have animal familiars, but it's tough to acquire one.

After all the marking of the magic, I typed in all the revised chunks so it would all be in the computer and I wouldn't have to do the jumping from insert to original and back again when it was cold. I wanted everything smooth and flowing and at least semi-organized before I went on. So now I have to start writing brand new, original stuff on Monday. I should have been doing it this past week, but I didn't, and I think it's good that I did what I did, but... I'm feeling very behind again. Ah well. I am up to page 92. That's not bad, actually... Okay, I don't feel so bad, now.

And I won't be able to do what I thought I could do this weekend. We've got to hit the road again, but it might not be as bad/busy as I thought. The college softball team is in the regional playoffs, and it all depends on how many games they win and/or lose as to whether we have to go to a game on Saturday or not. If there's a Saturday game, we'll leave straight from the ball game. If there isn't...I'm not sure when we'll leave town. But it ties up my weekend with a bunch of stuff I hadn't planned to do (like upload all the image files to the new web server). Oh well. You gotta do what you gotta do...