Archive for April, 2010

June Bugs

I hate June bugs, really I do. That’s not a random statement, trust me. June bugs are those nasty beetle-like creatures that fly into your screens in early summer. Not only that, they lay eggs in the ground that produce these really gross, really creepy, white grubs that eat the roots of your plants. Brown spots on your lawn? Probably these damn bugs….but I digress

 Suffice it to say, June bugs are not on my list of cute and cuddly or even beneficial-leave-that-preying-mantis-alone insects.

 So after a hellish week, and it was only Wednesday, when my sister said let’s go out for drinks after work, and I said hell yes, I was as surprised as anyone when I ordered a drink called a June Bug. Honestly, I couldn’t resist. Check out these ingredients:

1 oz Midori® melon liqueur
3/4 oz Malibu® coconut rum
3/4 oz banana liqueur
1 oz sweet and sour mix
1 oz pineapple juice

Coconut rum… sigh. Okay, even after reading these ingredients, when I saw the drink, I almost didn’t try it. I mean, its lime green. Not a pretty lime green, kinda bug juice lime green. If you know me, I’ll all about pretty drinks. I know its silly, I have few indulgences so bear with me.

But I tried it. Liquid heaven. I’d finished half the first glass when I remembered there was alcohol in the drink. After the second one, I was feeling pleasantly relaxed, my sister and I joked about…. Well, I’m not going to tell you what we were joking about; suffice it to say we were having fun, and I have a new favorite drink…

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Last week I attended an on-line plotting  workshop. I did it for many reasons, one if which, I suspect, was as an excuse to not get my BIC.

But maybe that’s not quite fair. At any rate, the workshop helped me get all my ducks in a row. I haven’t finished a quarter of the book and I have a synopsis… and don’t faint! A blurb! I have a clearer focus on my protag’s motivation, weaknesses and strengths. And today, today I had a breakthrough about the bad guy. I also sent the first two chapters, per the workshop instructor, to several readers and recieved varying levels of positive feedback.

I know where I’m going… now I just need to put the car in drive and get going.

So what did I do today? Put together the sound track of course.

Before I joined the writing community, that was my little secret I didn’t tell anyone. Every book I’ve ever written (good and bad) has a sound track. Songs that remind me of a scene, a character, an emotion. Playing the soundtrack will bring those things into focus almost immediately. I was so relieved to realize I’m am hardly alone it this habit.

 Even now, years later, if I listen to anything by Chasing Furies, I’m back in Anatar with Ilythra. And no, you haven’t heard the last of her. Now that I know how to write, that world building is not going to waste. But I’m veering off subject.

WIP has a sound track. A good one. Oddly enough, some of the songs remind me of the female and the male protag. I’m interested to see how that plays out later. I also just finished the excel to track characters and scene POV, etc.

Now… Now I’m ready to start writing. Gulp.

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After taking a sip of water from a plastic glass, she looks to me and says: “Mom, this is the way humans drink.”

“ME: “Mmhmm.” (Don’t judge me, I was reading a Lara Adrian book)

She sips again. “Yup, humans drink like this. But not aliens.”

(Now she has my attention.)

C “Aliens take their jaw off and fill it up and then… (she mimes unhooking her jaw and using it to pour water down her throat.)

ME: “I see.”

C “Yeah, but if they don’t like it, they dump it out.”


This kid has all the makings of a writer.

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Weekend Gardener

This is my smaller azalea. Believe it or not, I did thin out the callas last fall.

The pond does need to be cleaned up a lot. The cats have pushed the border rocks into the water when they bat at the fish. It’s a mess, but every time I wander outside, I hear the plop, plop of little frogs jumping into the water. I love it.

One of my favorite things to do in the garden is plant living bouquets, combinations of flowers that I would totally bring inside and put in a vase. These last two pictures are some examples of that.
Roses and Irises.

Irises, calla lilies and azaleas.

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Every once in a while, you stumble across a blog that makes you chuckle, causes you to nod your head in agreement and somehow, you feel connected to the writer through these joint feelings. This one such blog. It’s alot of fun *grin*

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This weekend, I didn’t write a word. Oh, I critiqued a few chapters, but write one of my own? No. Instead, I cleaned my house in the hopes that next week, I wouldn’t be so distracted and I’d be able to write more than I did last week.

That’s the theory any way.

Time to fess up. I love this project. I love the characters, the possibilities… the premise. So what’s the problem? Why aren’t the words flowing? Why am I not running to the computer every spare five minutes I have to add to the word count?

I’ve thought a lot about that this weekend and I think it comes down to  a unpalatable fact: It’s been so long since I’ve written anything new, I’m out of practice. Writing is like any skill. You stop—even if you’re stopping to edit, and edit, and edit—and you get out of shape. The muscles get weak; it’s harder to get started. One week in and I have 5 thousand words. It wouldn’t be so bad except I’d already had 3 thousand written. That’s weak.

So what to do? Mind over matter. Get in there and write, even if it hurts, even if I’m not feeling like it, even if I feel like I’m wading through hip-depth mud. I write and eventually, the ease will come, the story will flow.

I’ll let you know how it’s going.

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Weekend Gardener

Although I’ve been doing a lot in the garden lately, I thought you might like to see the effects of an unexpected storm we had last week.

This is the front yard. You can see the hail bouncing on the ground. And across the street, the lawn is almost white.

This is the backyard. If you look carefully, you can see the hail in air as it comes down.

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I don’t think it could get much more a Monday if it tried…. really.

I hurt my ankle last night.. how is a mystery. One moment it felt fine, the next: twinge, step, pain. So I’m hobbling around today, my son informed me he no longer wears underwear. !?! my daughter is picking her clothes for school out of the laundry basket and getting completely frustrated when I won’t let her wear them; when my kids unloaded the groceries yesterday, they must have let one of my cats in the van… and left it there to predictable results… and I won’t go on. Yes, folks it’s a Monday.

I’m not going to leave you on that note, though. Since I shared my angst, I’ll share my giggles with today’s Claireism.

When I went in to wake up the munchkin this morning, she was sleeping on her tummy, face  buried in a pillow. (Something that still disturbs me, btw)

“Good morning, Claire, it’s time to get up so you can go to school and see your friends.”


“Claire, time to get dressed.”

“It’s not me,” the muffled voice issued through the pillow.


“It’s not me.”

“Then who is it?”

“It’s a box.”

“A box?”

“Yes, a box?”

“A Claire-shaped box?”

Still without moving, and without inflection. “Yes.”

Of course I had to tickled her, and wouldn’t you know, Claire-shaped boxes giggle beautifully.

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Not Weekend Gardener

But it was going to  be… that is before I took my camera and stepped into a glorious morning, prepared to capture the beauty of my irises blooming above the azalea and the camera wouldn’t turn on. The kids had stolen the batteries for their Wii remotes… Skip ahead (you don’t want to hear the diatribe). The batteries are already too weak to power the damn camera. Yes, I will be investing in rechargeable batteries and charging stations and you’ll just have to trust me on the merit of irises and azaleas. 

It’s not all flowers and bees in the garden though… In fact, haven’t seen a true bumble bee yet, but it’s still early. The sooty mold has grown to a point where I must take action. I’ve hesitated until now because… ah, sooty mold. Just in case you don’t know, it’s a darky greasy, substance that covers the leaf. Left too long, it will suffocate your plant but other than that it’s ugly but doesn’t harm anything. This fungus is caused when aphids pierce the leaf and secrete a substance called honeydew. The honeydew is collected by ants, who farm the aphids (just in case you’re interested) The honeydew is also a favorite breeding ground for the fungus responsible for sooty mold. To rid the trees of this growth means at least an insecticidal soap, which I hesitate to use. I could wash each leaf, but as it’s (5) 25 foot trees, well, lets just say that’s not my first option. I haven’t used the insecticidal soap on the aphids because it doesn’t identify good insect from harmful as it wears away the exoskeleton of the hapless creature.

But I had a secret weapon. Every year, I have ladybugs that breed in my plum tree. Thousands of ladybugs lay small yellow clusters of eggs that turn black before they mature into rather ugly grub-like larva, build cocoons and become lady bugs. All in the space of a few weeks.  Ladybugs eat aphids. We look for them every year. This year, they didn’t return.

I could speculate on why and quite frankly, I think there is a really good science fiction book in there somewhere, but the fact is they’re not on the plum tree. The aphid population has escalated. Standing under the citrus trees will provide you with a honeydew shower–not fun. It’s time to do something.

LOL I just reread this. In the mood for a  lesson in entomology today? I’d meant to write an update, my ITS NOT A VAMPIRE BOOK DAMN IT,  is submitted again, as well as another novella for my supersecret pen name–which you probably all know, huh? But more on that later.

Today, after I finished the non-fiction (bills must be paid) I will be going to the store to buy Ivory soap, cayenne pepper and a large spray bottle. Bye, bye aphids.

By the way, the citrus trees are blooming, my garden smells like paradise. : )

Here is a picture I took a few weeks ago of my dark purple Anemones and the pale yellow daffodils before I realized DD had chanced the camera settings to black and white. Yes, she has her own camera. : )

Have a wonderful weekend all!!!


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People like me.

The buzz of conversation in the crowded hallway surrounded me like the babble of a brook. I blinked my eyes against the flashes of color as people wove around me and sipped my latte in an attempt to activate the still-sleeping brain cells.

Sidestepping a pirate, I deftly maneuvered the latte so as to not spill a drop and only barely managed not to run into a goggled man steaming by.

Traffic thinned and the corridor seemed to still. I looked up, coffee halfway to my lips. My heart sped, waking the brain cells more efficiently than caffeine ever could. Walking toward me, black robes swirling around impossible long black clad legs, was a giant of a man. A black mask covered his face and his gloved hands clenched at his sides.

Darth Vader.

My tired brain struggled to remember if I’d seen anyone with a light saber nearby but came up blank. The world narrowed and my heart skipped as the once Jedi walked past me without a glance in my direction.

With a sigh, I continued to my appointment with the cupcake queen of the fairies.

By the way, the above account is true. I spent the last weekend at Norwescon 33 and loved every minute of it. I asked someone later about the extremely authentic looking Darth Vader and was told that the man was a volunteer and yes, he was really that tall—I could have walked under his arm without bending.

The cupcake queen was no other than Lisa Mantchev and while there was no cupcakes—or glitter either, girl, you’re slipping—she did have bottles of Coca-Cola and candy for all. She is as wonderful in person as she is on Twitter by the way. I also have just finished reading the ARC for Perchance to Dream, the next book in the series after Eyes Like Stars, and I can tell you, you’re in for a treat.

 The best thing about Norwescon wasn’t the costumes, it was the people. The organizers of Norwescon bring a community of people together who love fantasy and science fiction—people like me.

Talking to strangers isn’t one of my favorite things to do, but everyone I met was friendly and welcoming. In a room full of editors, agents and writers who love the world of writing as much as I do, I felt like I’d found home.

I hope the seeds that were planted this weekend bear fruit—I’ll let you know, but one thing for certain, I’ve become a convention convert.

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