Saturday, February 28, 2009

Life at the Keyboard- My Surroundings

My desk is a mess- truly. I keep a glass of sweet tea nearby at all times, chapstick, lotion (Bodycology Vanilla Buttercream- something I found at Wal-Mart that makes you smell like a giant sugary cupcake), my digital camera, my video camera, notebooks, binders, pocket calendars, post-it notepads, and a cup full of pens and pencils, a pair of scissors and a letter opener I received when I won an autographed book from an author.

I have a picture of me and my best friend sitting atop the computer tower, a constant reminder of how important friendship is. I have a calendar of kittens on the wall, as well as my children's school pictures and a family photo directly in front of me- the importance of time and family.

On the desk I have a bead bracelet I made with my name on it several months ago when my mom and daughter were making bracelets during Fall Break. It hangs from my computer mike- as well as a fuzzy fairy bear I won from a contest on Coffeetime Romance quite a while back. I've got a small carved stone cat (handcrafted in Kenya) my MIL bought me when we went to the Indianapolis Zoo in 2002 while I was pregnant with my daughter. Being a cat person- I count it as a writing totem. Silly as it sounds, I scratch it between the ears when I'm needing inspiration. (and I talk to it- shhh...It's really not much different than talking to my characters hehe)

I also have a small 2 inch tall (if that) orange T-Rex my daughter "bought" with her classroom money at the "school store" that she insisted she had to give me to keep me company at the computer while I work. LOL

I have a fortune cookie slip taped to the top of my monitor-

"You are a lover of words, someday you will write a book."

LOL Too bad I didn't find that fortune YEARS ago! I got it after I'd already written a few manuscripts! But it still struck a chord, so it got stuck to my monitor to remind me of what I AM doing.

Beside it is a cartoon from NaNoWriMo 2007. It has a man and background quite similar to The Scream, by Edvard Munch. The man is sitting at the kitchen table with his laptop- in the screaming pose- and his wife is at the stove with a frying pan.

The quote- "For heaven's sake, Howard, so you didn't reach your NaNoWriMo wordcount goal today. You'll make up for it tomorrow. Now will you quit with the drama and set the table?!?"

That cracks me up, even when I have a regular word count goal that has nothing to do with NaNo. LOL

And that would be the tour of my little non-cave-middle-of-the-living-room writer's cave.

I'm contemplating a weekly blog on Saturdays called Life at the Keyboard. I'd like to find a way to incorporate some normal "pattern" into the randomness of my blog. We'll see. ;o)

Friday, February 27, 2009

Flames of Love

Thought I would do things a little different today- I did add about 2,500 to my revisions yesterday, but it's been a long week with little to say. I think my brain has zoned out on me this week.

So today I'll entertain you with a little poetry on the fly, a little something I just made up to try to get the juices flowing again so I can get back to revisions.

Have a wonderful weekend everyone!

Flames of Love

Born from a spark, it grew outward
Cast light into the ebony darkness
And found me
Friendship blossomed much deeper
~Into Love~
Hold tight, little flame
The winds of time shall attempt to alter
The emotion kindled deep within
So shimmer and dance and grow
And shiver at Love's sweet caress
And the intimacy of a yearning kiss
Illuminate the distant shadows
So that I shall follow where you lead
Remind me of all that is good
And temper my soul with your softness
Lift me up on wings of joy
Bathe me in the light and warmth
Of kindness and passion
Embrace me in the flames of Love
Where the heart knows no boundaries
Where Love exists forever after
It has no dying embers
But flickers with Love's eternal glow

~taryn raye

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Look Deeper

I started the run through on manuscript #3 yesterday. Added a few words/sentences here and there, but I've yet to find a good jumping off point to actually add a lot more.

It's time to look deeper.

Originally I had a hard time getting my heroine to open up because I put her in a nasty situation and she hated me for it. She fought me tooth and nail and though it was a hard novel to write because of her stubborness, she eventually came around, let her guard down and opened up. A little. But again- it's time to look deeper.

Deeper into her psyche and her life. Deeper into the pain and recovery. It's time to peel back more layers of the character because she didn't open up completely and I know that. I gave her space- perhaps too much space- but now it's time to make her show me the rest of what she wouldn't before.

Just a matter of buttering her up. ;o)

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Chapter Whatchacallit...

Yesterday I spent the majority of the day knee-deep realigning my chapters, other than a brief time to stop and chat on IM with my best friend. I did hear from my other friend I was worried about. He's fine and still in touch- just not through facebook.

Today I'm going to make one more pass through the last few chapters of the revisions I was working on, just to double-check what I got done last night. I got the chapters lined out and the right amount of pages and the word count is just about 1K different from the previous novel, so not too shabby. There's some relief in that knowledge, but I do believe I will move on to working the revisions on the 3rd book in that series and getting it lined out now. The other needs to simmer and settle before I can come back with fresh eyes again.

The other night hubby and I had a funny little conversation. We were watching something that got us into the realm of men doing romantic things for no reason. I think it was something on Good Morning America or Dr. Phil- can't remember, but it had to do with keeping the romance alive in a relationship.

I told him he rarely does that sort of thing for me and that usually it's only for special occasions- sometimes. He got me roses and a card for my birthday. For Valentine's he took me to see a movie, but there were no flowers or even a card. That didn't bother me. I enjoyed the movie and the day out with him. That was a really nice break from the norm. Then he pointed out this blown glass frosted pink rose on my trinket shelf and said, "I got you that for no reason."

I reminded him that he got me that glass rose almost 8 years ago, when we first got together and I asked him what he had gotten me in more RECENT years- even something small- for no reason. He couldn't think of anything and neither could I! LOL

I told him I attribute it to the fact that girls are raised on fairytales and boys aren't. We girls set high standards based on the happily ever afters we grew up on and then we're disappointed when the man doesn't continue to lavish us with flowers, trinkets and expressions of love. Men don't realize we expect those things to continue, because they didn't grow up on fairytales and have a lower expectation of what life will be like after they win their lady love.

Women think- "Yay! I got my Prince Charming and it's going to be lovely because he will always ride in on that white steed and sweep me off my feet!"

Men think don't think that way. They don't see "Princess Charming" and they don't expect us to be more than we are. In all honesty- men are more realistic and we tend to expect the fantasy to go on and on.

So, yesterday I was thinking about this song we heard on Sunday while we were watching country videos. It's by Jamie O'Neal and it's called "Like A Woman." I'm sure there are plenty of times in a woman's life she's felt that way. The song brings me to tears.

I thought how sweet it would be if hubby remembered that conversation and the song and did, for once, bring me a little something to make me feel like he still sees me "like a woman." It wouldn't have had to be much, just something to let me know he was thinking of me in a "romantic" way- not just as the wife and mother, but as the woman in his life. He had emailed me early on to tell me he picked up the laundry detergent. Real romantic, right?

Well, he had to stay over at work, so the kids and I ate supper and got it out of the way after he called and let me know he'd be a bit longer, but the best part was when he came in and gave me these-
He said he had looked for purple roses, but only found the purple tulips. (Purple being one of my favorite colors)

I don't think anyone has ever given me tulips and I asked him why- what they were for?

He said "No reason- just because."


I teased him that he'd thought about that conversation we'd had, but hey! He was listening when I said it! haha!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Lone Flight

This morning I'm feeling like a lone bird in flight. Last night a friend, a dear sweet friend who had recently gotten back in touch with me, dropped off the radar. I don't know why, but it leaves me feeling lost and baffled by the behavior.

It's not like I'm not used to it. This friend has been in and out of my life since the summer I was sixteen. I was a "Goody-Two Shoes" because I was a good kid, didn't sneak out, didn't get in trouble, or do anything bad. Heaven forbid! LOL

But a friendship still grew between us. I attribute the fact that I came out of my shy shell to this friend. I stepped outside my comfort zone and this friendship altered and transformed me into who I am today. I'm not sure my friend knows or understands what an impact he has been on my life.

And though we only recently got back in touch- he found ME on facebook- it appears he is gone yet again, flighty little booger. :) All the times before I had little reason to worry about him, but now, I just feel he needs a friend and he started to turn to me, but for some reason, he pulled away and decided to close the door behind him again. I probably won't hear from him for a while.

Probably a great long while and I'll miss him and I'll think of him and keep him in my prayers, as I have always done, but his path is much different than mine. In the last message I sent him, I told him I was here for him- just a phone call away if he ever needed to talk and I hope he doesn't forget that. (sigh)

Friendships are such a funny thing. We take them for granted so often and I suppose I should be thankful I did hear from him, even if only for a little while. I'm going to take my lone little self and concentrate on my revisions that I need to get back to today and hopefully not think too much about my friend and his sudden withdrawal from my life again.

Hope everyone else has a wonderful Monday. (Can you believe this month is almost over already?)

Saturday, February 21, 2009

A Nice Day Out and About

Had a nice day out and about. We had to get the oil changed in the car, so we headed out well before lunch and afterward we hit Wally World to get a few things our grocery doesn't carry. Oddly enough, it seems they're phasing out my type of laundry detergent and they didn't have the perfume free/dye free Downy I need. Hubby said he'd check at the Wal-Mart in the county where he works.

I got a few things I needed- more ink for the printer, a new sink stopper for the kitchen (the water kept draining even when plugged.), some shampoo and other particulars, plus a few grocery items.

Today was both my mother-in-law and my father-in-law's birthdays- she older by 1 year, so Hubby got both a card. After Wally World, we ran by Long John's and got a late lunch and took a different route home to drop off MIL's card at her house and then bypassed our house to drop off FIL's, as well.

The barn above is one I took a snapshot of on our way to MIL's. I was playing with my new camera and the barn was actually far off the road, but I zoomed and I used the "sport" focus to catch it in motion as we drove by. I love my new little camera.

This is the view out my kitchen door this evening. We actually have snow. I've got a lot of shots of it and well, again, my new little camera amazes me. It CATCHES snowflakes- something my old one couldn't seem to do. Hehehe!

Normally I don't get excited about snow anymore, but it thrilled my 6 year old to no end to see snow, especially since I was chatting with a friend of mine from back home and she was getting snow at that moment. Daughter was whining we weren't getting any and then a little while later I looked out and sure enough, it was coming down. :D

Nearly Baby Girl's bedtime. Time to read. The reader and writer in me has created something special there for my kids, though sometimes it can be hard to fit in reading time when bedtime rolls around, especially when 6 y/o drags her behind, but I try my best to keep it going because I know how much of an influence it has already had on her.

When she was barely able to talk (a year old or so), she knew some of the stories I read to her at bedtime so well, she could tell me what the next word was before I even said it. I don't think she SAW the words so much as memorized them, though. Bless her heart. She was so jealous when her older brother learned to read because she couldn't, but she's really endeavoring to learn for herself. She's already doing great on the basic words she's studying for school and she tries very hard to read books with me, though sometimes the books are a bit too advanced for her age range.

Have a wonderful Saturday night!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Light At the End of the Tunnel...

I think I'm starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel. (Dang, my fingers are moving swiftly this morning. Where'd that come from?!?! LOL)

Isn't this a beautiful little archway path? Oh, If only everything here were so green and alive. I think I'm heading in the right direction though.

See the sunlight up ahead? Yes..that's lovely, isn't it?

For me it's because the past couple of days I added a few more scenes and a chapter and now I'm readjusting the chapters(again) to break them up a little more evenly to get the chapter count I want- to match the previous story in the series.

Things around here have calmed down drastically since all the hullabaloo we dealt with for a couple of weeks with the kid issues. Probably the reason I'm making some progress with this manuscript.

Though I know I still have more to do on the revisions, I'm really enjoying doing the read through and feel like I know my characters even better than I did when I originally wrote the first draft. I'm working with one of my favorite heroines, as it is. She is the one who wouldn't shut up when I was working on her sister's story. The one who wanted to talk to me so desperately, she had a tendency to keep me up at night with tidbits about her life- her story.

Doesn't hurt that, in my mind- her hero kind of favors Tim McGraw. Yummy!

So, anyway...I'm going to take a nice little stroll down the lane and finish up the work I need to do. Have a wonderful Friday!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

How Annoying is THAT?

I got to "The End" on the edits last night and I'm still shy on page count and word count...I need about 20 more pages, so today's journey is leading me back to the beginning with the purpose of traveling the road again, figuring out how to break up chapters that ended up WAY too long, therefore cutting my chapters down as well. I'm also trying to figure out HOW to fit an extra chapter in there. Woohoo! How annoying is THAT?

Actually it's not- I'm just glad I made it through the first round of edits and have a clearer idea of where I'm heading now. I didn't get much added yesterday, but that's okay.
I'm off to get in gear and knock this one out of the way.
Oh- The sweet ice tea with lemon?? I was playing around with Paint Shop Pro this morning and I guess I had tea on my mind- I've been trying to create my own clipart to use because I have no idea what's out there that I can or cannot use on my blog, so if I mouse-draw it myself, I suppose I have every right to use it, right? It'll take a while for me to get used to drawing on the far the few I've made are just kind of sloppy and not all that great, but they'll serve their purpose. Hehe!
I raise my glass to you. May everyone have a wonderful day!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Peace and Quiet

I may finally have some peace and quiet today. We had a long weekend- 3 days and even though I mostly only did housework, revisions/edits and watched movies, it still seemed like a LONG 3 days.

Now is the time to close eyes and take a deep breath.

Ahh.....that feels better...Can you see how relaxed I am?

Since Friday I added around 6,300 words to the current edits of LBC.
That's a great feeling and my word counter on here makes me smile- only about 10% more to go. Of course, if I hit 400 pages, I'll probably find a good stopping point there unless there's more to add to the story. The next round of edits will take care of the excess, fingers crossed.

The television is off, my writing playlist is up and it's quiet....just wonderful. I'm ready to dig into more edits this morning.

May everyone have a peaceful morning, whether you're writing or not.

Another deep breath and I'm out!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Tyler Perry Doesn't Disappoint

This might seem slightly off the topic of writing and romance, but in all honesty, it isn't. It's about the heart.

Tyler Perry has a wonderful way with storytelling that inspires me to write my novels the way he writes his movies. They aren't just romance- no- not really- but they are truly about family, friends and love- in all its glorious forms. They are about hope and faith and finding the strength to go on, even when life seems to be dishing it out in the worst possible way. He weaves beauty and clarity into each story that rouses all emotions. I find myself laughing and crying, feeling the built up anger when the cards are stacked against the characters who don't deserve the hell they have to deal with, the betrayal and hardships. I feel the desire to see justice and love prevail. They aren't just randomly thrown together ideas- they have plot and direction and climax and conclusion. And they leave me anticipating what other stories he has to tell.

My introduction to his movies was Diary of a Mad Black Woman and it stirred so much anger and resent- I wanted to see the husband get his just deserves, but I also wanted to see the young woman grow and learn and let go of the anger and find a love that TRULY saw her heart- and she did. It finally clicked. I laughed and bawled through the entire movie and well, his character of Madea had a lot to do with that. I don't see Tyler when he's Madea...No- I see MADEA. And she don't take nothing off no one. She embodies strength and good common sense as the family matriarch.

Of course, Madea's not always in all the movies. She was in Madea's Family Reunion, of course, but the main story centered around one of her nieces' impending marriage to a very eligible bachelor who is abusive and the possibility of her finding love that would treat her right. Big pot of grits! I just love that!

But then there was Daddy's Little Girls, Why Did I Get Married, Meet the Browns and most recent that I watched last night- The Family That Preys. All are amazing and well told.

I'm looking forward to Madea Goes To Jail which comes to theaters soon. I'm sure it won't disappoint either.
So where am I going with this? Why do I just love Tyler Perry's movies/stories so much?

Because of his storytelling genius and though I don't watch the television shows based on his plays, I do enjoy his movies thoroughly. He hasn't disappointed me yet and his stories really stick. They are filled with so much emotion and truth and love. That's something I want my novels to do. I want them to "stick" with the reader and inspire them the way I am inspired by his work, though they aren't necessarily straight romances or even novels. They still move me and make me long to write like that.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Moon Magic

I needed some moon magic this morning. So I captured it right out of the sky. I didn't know my new camera could zoom in that far, but it did. Wow!

I caught the moon "between the lines"- albeit- electric lines, but I'm hoping that the magic will be between the lines on the page today, too.

Since posting about needing to get back to work on my revisions, I haven't been able to concentrate on it at all, had a near breakdown a couple posts back and now my daughter is home today with pink eye.

Yes. It was pink eye. Doing the drops in her eyes every 3 hours (I think they seriously meant EVERY 3 hours- but I'm not doing it at night cause I tried to stay on track with it but at midnight last night she wasn't having it with me waking her up to put it in, so I figure during the daytime hours will have to do). She can go back to school tomorrow, but she's still home today.

My mom joked with me yesterday that I really got my New Year off to a good start. First my daughter had strep throat and they missed a couple of days for snow/weather and then all the problems we've dealt with over my stepson and now darling lil' bit has pink eye. Maybe I'm just getting it all out of the way so the rest of the year will be nice and calm! LOL

If only it were that simple.

Daughter is occupied at the moment, so I'm going to get gone and work on my revisions, Finally.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

A Touch of Beauty in a Gray Gloomy Day....

I needed a touch of beauty today. A moment to pause and go- Ahhh...isn't that pretty? (This is a faux Faberge egg trinket music box my grandmother got for me years ago- it plays "The Rose." Purty, ain't it?)

It's gloomy outside. Gray skies. Wind gusts and the impending feel of a storm heading this way. I feel it deep to the bone. Just like with the changing of the seasons, I "feel" the weather, too.

My tizzy yesterday has calmed down. I think I'm going to stick with my method of getting my novels fluffed, edited and polished for the time being. It's not worth the twitching and spasms I put myself through yesterday. Ha Ha!

I'm going to try to get some work done now. Keep myself occupied while hubby has to run to the school to get our daughter. Got a call a little while ago that her right eye is really red (she was complaining about it when she first got up but I figured it was just from sleep). Could be pink eye...will have to wait and see after hubby takes her to the doctor and that could be a while since they're booked up and will have to fit her in as a walk-in.

If it ain't one thing.....

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Worked Myself Into A Tizzy For Nothing

Twitchy eye syndrome set in a few minutes ago when I started to write this blog. I was in a tizzy, worrying about my word count...trying hard to understand if I'm doing something wrong in how I'm counting them...

In a way, I have...I've relied on my computer to tell me what my word count is for as long as I've been doing this...(the past 2 1/2 years! LOL)

Yes, I'm guilty of allowing my computer tell me what to do (shhh...)

Then it strikes me- what about that 250 wpp x page count thing I had nearly forgotten from years ago when researching about writing and publishing and submissions, etc...

Oh, yeah...Times your total pages by 250 (approximate words per page) and you'll have your word count. The one you should probably rely on when submitting. I also remembered I have the link in my favorites for The Passionate Pen site and guess what- Jenna Petersen recommends going by the 250 by page count.

Here I've been thinking that my manuscripts are WAY too short because they are only around 55K-70K when I type "The End." I've already revised one novel and brought the word count up into the 80k range only to discover I have 400 pages and guess what??? 400 X 250= 100,000 words by that count. A bit TOO long, don't you think?

Man I feel like an idiot!!!

I went back and looked over the ones I haven't revised or added more to and guess what? They actually come close to being in a proper range already! Ha! I've been stressing and adding so much more to bring up that computer generated word count. I'm glad I caught myself before I revised my little brains out and THEN came to this realization! Lord help me, I would have spent weeks and months making possible unnecessary changes or additions that I might not need to. Doesn't hurt that I copied the original file so I've still got my original first draft to fall back to if I screwed up royally during revisions and need to back track to what I had originally.

Time to take the amount of pages into account, too!

Which means now I can start revisions and polishing, editing and checking grammar and deciding if any of the "new scenes" I added are worth keeping or tossing. If I find something that doesn't suit the story, I can take it out or add something in, but also KNOW my correct range and not only that, but perhaps if I don't spend the next few months struggling to fluff the stories, I'll be able to start writing and sending out query letters that much sooner.

And start writing my next novel sooner, too. (and maybe with a bit of a better head on my shoulders! LOL)

Come on- laugh with me or at me...take your pick! LOL

I'll leave on this note tonight after my gaffe for the day- a cute story-

"Jack who?"

I was sitting here at the computer this evening and my daughter was bouncing a ball to my left. I glanced over and saw one of those huge jumping brown spiders. You know the kind that run fast and sometimes "jump" and they have toothpicks for legs? Well, it was crawling on the recliner and I gasped and told my daughter to get back, away from the chair. My husband asks what it was and I pointed to the spider and tried to spit the word out (I hate hate hate spiders- especially those kind). He grabbed a tennis shoe and came toward it and it moved away from him just as he was about to squash it and gets up on the arm of the chair. My daughter's squealing "Daddy, get it! It's going to get on you!"

I'm panicking and about to come up out of my chair if it gets on our dark burgundy carpet because I know it will blend in and get away. He brings the shoe down on it and says. "It's not going to get on jack now."

It was dead and he was looking for a tissue or something to get it off the chair and our daughter goes- "Who's Jack?"

Ahhhh....the mentality of a 6 year old!

Good night- hopefully I'll be thinking more clearly tomorrow.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Settle the Dust...Time's A 'Wastin'

Time is getting away from me lately....

Family issues aside (long talk tonight with 10 y/o about his behavior recently as well as a strict punishment for a few things we found out about today from his teacher), I'm ready to put my head BACK into my revisions. I've had about all the "reality" I can take in one heaping serving the past week. I need some fantasy and I need it now! LOL

Tomorrow I put my writer's hat back on.

It's been almost a week and I've done nothing. It's driving me batty. I enjoy time away from writing, but by tonight I feel like I might suffocate if I don't get some work done soon. That feeling of not being able to breath and a sigh of melancholy to fight back tears. Gosh I miss it!

It's nearly too late to open a file tonight. Today drained me emotionally and I stayed busy washing load after load of laundry... I feel zapped.

But tomorrow- no more running in one place or chasing my tail worrying about things that I can't fix. No, tomorrow will be about getting back in the game and ready to dive in with all intents and purposes.

I've been thinking a lot about query letters and synopsises since reading Devon Matthews' blog about them. I know I need to be thinking about writing the ones for each of my novels, on top of my revisions. I love butterflies, but right now they are spinning a vortex of turbulent nausea in my gut just thinking about writing them. I'm not sure the writing them part is what freaks me out so much as the idea of sealing the envelope and mailing them out for submissions.

{Clutches chest and takes deep cleansing breath before exhaling.}

Are those tears in my eyes? Anxiety in my heart? Sweaty palms? Excitement mixed with apprehension?

I feel like I'm standing at the edge of a cliff, looking out at a huge canyon of possibilities and I'm afraid to free-fall into it even though I know I'm going to have to eventually, though the sooner the better. Sure I'm liable to bounce off the rough, jagged cliffside a few times and I hope my parachute of friendship, family and support will work when I pull the ripcord, because I HAVE to get down there- land on my feet and follow the rest of the path that's led me this far. I know that path is down there. It's where I have to go to get to my destination, but Lord help me, it's scary.

The journey so far has been fabulous. I've grown with leaps and bounds over the past 2 1/2 years, learning so much about myself and what I'm capable of, but I guess I hadn't really contemplated the moment I'd have to take that leap of faith.

It's coming- I feel it.

It's getting closer and when it gets here, I have to answer the call of it.

The dust is settling and time's a'wastin'. I've got to get busy!

Have a good evening everyone and here's to a great day fill with lots of writing and revisions and fingers flying swiftly over the keys!


Sunday, February 8, 2009

More Kid Trouble and the Productive "Living" Day

Wednesday's bus incident wasn't the end of the trouble. Thursday afternoon the children get off the bus looking down in the dumps. I asked what was with the long faces and 10 y/o said a 5 year old preschooler hit him and 6 y/o for "no reason"- punched him in the stomach and her in the chest. She corrected him and said the kid hit her in the jaw. I checked her jaw and sure enough, it was a bit splotchy and she had a few tiny capillaries busted on the surface. Not that noticeable, but still major reason for concern.

So I asked what they were doing and so forth. I finally get out of 10 y/o that the bus driver seated the little boy with them because there wasn't anywhere else for him to sit and they were playing a shapes game and 10 y/o was ARGUING back and forth with the 5 y/o about one of the shapes. Then the 5 y/o swung at him "for no reason." My daughter, who can sometimes be far too honest for her own good, tells me that the boy punched her brother and then swung at him again, but hit her in the face instead. (seated behind bus driver I'm assuming 5 y/o was next to the window, 10 y/o center of the seat and 6 y/o next to the aisle cause she got hit on the left side of her face and 10 y/o said he would let her sit next to the window from now on.)

I asked whether they told the bus driver and 10 y/o says yes, but that the driver didn't do anything about even though 6 y/o was crying after being punched. I was furious. When 10 y/o explained how he "ducked" back, I understood how 6 y/o got hit. He darted out of the way of the other kid and put his sister right in the path of the kid's rage. Had to have to talk with him AGAIN about arguing with kids younger than him and that he should have just let it go. He said he was about to when the kid hit him and my daughter. I told him there's no arguing with a 5 y/o- they think they know everything, just like a 10 y/o who gets a hold of something like a dog with a bone and doesn't want to let it go. I've seen him in action...he'll argue something till he's blue in the face, even if it's over something trivial.

I told him that he's got to learn to control himself and let stuff go because it's his job to protect his sister and stay out of trouble, not drag her into the crossfire when she didn't have a dog in the fight and yet she got HIT in the FACE because he wouldn't drop the argument before he pushed the little kid to the point of anger. Hubby and I sided on the fact that 10 y/o brought it on himself and his sister. He's working his way toward losing things he wants to do- like going to camp this summer and keeping his video games, etc.

I had asked him the day before if there was anything bothering him or on his, at his mom's, at school, but he said no. Friday afternoon, I went through his backpack for graded papers and any notes or letters from school and found the letter for the Valentine's party for this coming week and at the top, the teacher had written that he was 2 marks away from NOT getting to attend the Valentine's party. Apparently there is something going on at school too, but he's not mentioned it to us and he was already gone to his mom's before I discovered this. I sent his teacher an email and hoping to hear from her tomorrow about whether he's acting out at school as well as on the bus. The joys of being a parent! LOL

So...since Wednesday I haven't done any revisions because I've had so much else on my plate to think about.

The bright spot was spending yesterday with my husband. It had been a long time since he and I had a day out, just the two of us. Stepson was gone to his mother's and daughter was at grandma's, so we spent the day together, away from the house.

After dropping off daughter at the grandparents' we headed out and went to Wal-Mart for some shopping. I did get myself a new Kodak EasyShare digital camera with money I'd received for my birthday from family.

It's a C813 with 8.2 megapixels (my last one was a 2.0). It's also a pretty metallic pink and it's so tiny. LOL I got it, a 4GB memory card and a rechargable battery charger with 4 batteries. It doesn't have a optical viewing window so you have to use the LCD screen everytime you take pics, but I guess I can get used to it. It has more options than my prior camera. I'd had that one for 5 years though and it was good while it lasted. This one I can set to take pictures in black and white or sepia, so that's pretty cool. I know I'm going to have lots of fun taking pics with it.

I also stocked all of us up on socks and got the kids their cards for the Valentine's parties at school and got the teachers a small box of chocolates. We got the kids a little something for Valentine's Day from us. I'll probably print up cards from us sometime this week and set them out on the table Friday morning before they go to school since my stepson will be gone to his mom's on Saturday.

After the shopping we went to the theater and watched "New In Town." I think hubby might have been 1 of 3 men in the theater watching it! LOL It's the movie with Renee Zellweger and Harry Connick, Jr. and I know the movie wasn't well received by critics, but it was my kind of romantic comedy. It was funny and I really enjoyed it. (I think hubby did too, though I know he wouldn't admit it. His brother called last night and he was telling him about taking me to see it and I heard him say, "It was all right." LOL Heaven forbid he enjoy a chick flick! haha!

We did see the preview for another movie I think might be right up my alley. Matthew McConaughey and Jennifer Garner in "Ghosts of Girlfriends Past."

It's one I will definitely be looking forward to. A womanizer learns the error of his ways in relationships with the help of the ghosts of girlfriends past, present and future- a la Charles Dicken's A Christmas Carol. I loved the part where the Ghost of Girlfriends Past shows him his ex-girlfriends and it's this huge hallway jammed full of women who rat off how long they dated him... 2 days, an hour, 48 seconds. LOL (The preview itself brought me to tears, so I have a feeling I'm really going to enjoy it.)

After the movie, we went and got our taxes filed and then picked up little bit. While we were gone, her and Grandma baked me a birthday cake (because hubby didn't get me one and I had made my own cupcakes! LOL She said I shouldn't have had to do that!)

All in all it was a great day and today I'm going to get the laundry and dishes out of the way, and just chill out. Tomorrow it's back to work- unless I find a way to fit in some work today on revisions. :D Have a wonderful Sunday and enjoy this weather!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Birthday Ups and Downs

My birthday ended up being quiet most of the day. I added just over 2K to the current revisions which means that I've only got about 20% more to go to beef this one up.

My children get home from school and the bus driver calls me over and tells my that my 10 y/o 4th grader was shoving a 1st grader around on the bus and wrestling him. 10 y/o says "But he was calling me names."
I said, "That no reason to start shoving someone around. You don't pick on kids younger than you- or anyone for that matter." Told the bus driver we would have a talk with him.

(I swear on the few and rare occasions 10 y/o had gotten in trouble over the past 5 years on the bus, the bus driver always looks at me like he thinks I should just spank him right then and there as though public humilation would make him straighten up...Grrrr!)

We come in and I give lecture- "You don't pick on kids smaller than you and just because he called you names doesn't give you the right to get into a fight or physical dispute with him. Sticks and stones, etc. We've talked about this before...."

I asked what the boy called him. He gave me three specifics, but I won't get into them, but needless to say we had to discuss them. Both of my children also claimed the other boy was a 2nd grader(not 1st) and that he told my 6 y/o daughter "Shut your mouth."

I hope I was able to get through to 10 y/o (and 6 y/o) that the name calling was one thing- yes- that's a form of bullying, but him wrestling the other kid is worse because he has no right to lay a hand on any other kid and that in the end- HE was the one that got in trouble, not the other way around, so it made him look like the bully and troublemaker. I don't imagine the bus driver said a thing to the other boy's parent(s) when he dropped him off.

The second shoe dropped after the dust settled over that incident. My 6 y/o thinks that because her brother has a little girlfriend she can give our OUR phone number to anyone she wants, too, and has already had a little girl call here after school earlier in the week. She wanted to call her yesterday and I wouldn't let her cause I was still talking to 10 y/o and trying to sort out exactly what happened.

Well, then I find out that she gave our number to a 13 y/o boy on the bus who happens to be one of the mean kids who has to sit in an assigned seat. That boy wrote it down and told 10 y/o he was going to call to talk to ME (not them) and that he was going to tell me what a bad kid 10 y/o is and then he was going to cuss me out. 10 y/o says he also teases him constantly that he's a Momma's Boy. (It's not nice, but kind of true, but I had to explain to him what that meant as well.)

So anyway---- EXCUSE ME? First off, 6 y/o gave our number out AGAIN after she'd been told NOT to, but then to top it off, she gave it to some strange 13 y/o troublemaker that we don't me that's no different than "Never give out your personal information on the Net"...a 6 y/o girl has NO BUSINESS giving out her home phone number to a 13 y/o boy, or ANYONE for that matter. Panic flew all over me. The thought of one of a mother's worst nightmares clogged my heart with fear. 6 y/o burst into tears and ran to her room sobbing before I barely knew what was going on.

Time for damage control....- get as much truth about the situation from 10 year old and calm my daughter and try to get her to understand that, though I was really upset with her, I still loved her, but she was NOT to do anything like that again because that's dangerous and she's not to be sitting with kids like that, cause you just don't know about people and what they're liable to do.

So, my decent birthday was starting to look like it had gone in the crapper and would stay there. We had to have a family round table to explain several things to the kids- the bullying, the not giving info to strangers, etc. I told them to sit together today so at least I know they are together until this blows over so maybe it won't get worse. Told 10 y/o to ignore the name calling, but not to tell them "I'm ignoring you" cause that will just make matters worse and all these kids are doing are trying to push his buttons and provoke him into an argument. There are always going to be kids who are going to be mean and hateful and say and do things like that, but they need to keep their heads and not let it get to them or get THEM in trouble.

I don't really know what to do about it. It was the first time I'd heard about any of this, though 10 y/o said the name calling had been going on for a while. I told him he needs to start telling us about it so that if it escalates, WE can handle it by talking to the bus driver or someone in the school system.

I know I can't protect them from everything, but I had hoped I'd been doing a good job as a parent and had raised them to know right from wrong. Apparently 10 y/o had taken all he could of the name calling, but that was still no excuse for his bad behavior. The bus driver saw HIM misbehaving but didn't see/hear what the other kid was doing and I can only go based on what my children told me.

So I was ready to crawl in the bed and hide under the covers after that. Joked that I should have stayed in bed yesterday morning and really pretended it wasn't my birthday at all. But then wonderful, sweet hubby comes home and gives me a beautiful card and three peachy roses for my birthday (No presents cause he's planning to take me to see New In Town Saturday and offered to take me to Barnes and Noble to spend my b-day money from family on books. Today though I'm thinking if I have enough I might skip books- SHOCKER!- and get a new digital camera. Mine is just about shot.)

What a birthday! Too much excitement!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Birthday Blahs...

I was going to wax poetic about my birthday, but then I realized just how boring and depressing it would be.

I'm not that old, really. I'm not.... Honest.

I'm in my prime, but inching so much closer to that dreaded hill, that it does weigh on my mind- the large black cloud of middle-age looming nearer and nearer. Do I want to go over the hill? No way. I'd like to backpedal into my mid-twenties, but that's not likely to happen.

Of course, it could have a lot to do with looking at my 10 y/o stepson and my 6 y/o daughter and seeing how grown up they're getting and how quickly time is slipping through my fingers.

It also might have a little something to do with my dear sweet husband who proclaimed on his 29th birthday that he wasn't going have anymore birthdays and that he would stay 29 the rest of his life. He's just a few months older than I am.

Was it Benny Hill who said he was going to stop growing old at 39? I can't remember, but that's what it makes me think of.

I told hubby, that in all fairness, if I have to get older, so does he. LOL

In the meantime- I'm going to spend this day deep in the trenches of revisions.

Shhhhh....let's just pretend that I'm not having a birthday.

Hey, if hubby can do it, maybe I should, too!

Monday, February 2, 2009

Moving Along

Last night I started edits/revisions and fluffing to LBC, the 2nd of 7 that needs work. I got 1400 some odd words added. This story was woven a bit tighter than the previous one, so I spent a lot of time last night just reading, adding some description to scenes to further the "visual" of the story. I did eventually stumble onto a section where the scene went from one day until a week later with little mention of what went on in between. I also stayed in one character's POV during that switch in scenes, so I figured I needed to give the other a little voice, a little more insight.

So that's where I am today- delving into creating more to the story and diving between the scenes to tie things together better.

I think I enjoy the writing of a manuscript better than I do the revisions and fluffing of the story. When writing I can easily let thoughts flow across the keyboard and onto the screen. I feel like I'm actually "getting" somewhere.

Going through edits is like trying to find a needle in a haystack while I'm trying to squeeze another scene or even just another word here and there while making sure it's not an unnecessary addition. Of course, it never fails that in the process I add a scene or a word or two, but end up subtracting the same amount when I realize I've repeated myself or see a sentence I know could be better structured and read more smoothly if I phrase it differently.

I do edit through as I write. I'll go back to the beginning and read through until I get to the scene I'm working on. I catch all kinds of mistakes and grammatical errors while I'm writing, but it seems I still find more when I go back through a finished manuscript.

Writers are their own worst critic and I believe it. I never fail to see the flaws and wonder- "Just what am I doing? Where did that even come from? How stupid does that sound?"

But I continue to move along. It's almost like creating a town with words.

I search out the plot holes in the road and fill them in. I build better sentences and paragraphs with good foundations and believe that my next journey through the story finds less eyesores and irritable word syndromes, hoping instead to have a smooth ride through and beautiful scenery and a pleasant visit with those who live within the pages.

One of these days I'll travel through and not have my own personal complaints that the town is too crowded or not crowded enough. Someday I'll see that the people are genuine and nice and that Polished Manuscript, U.S.A. is worthy of a mark on the map. :D

Ramble, ramble, ramble...I need to get to work.

Have a great day and thanks for stopping by!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Homemade Brown Sugar Icing

The other day I mentioned the Butter cake with Brown Sugar Icing.

The butter cake was from a mix, so any butter cake would do- This icing recipe though goes well with a lot of different types of cakes and such, not just Butter- i.e. Applesauce Cake, Prune Cake, Carrot Cake- etc.

Brown Sugar Icing
1 stick of butter
1 Cup packed Brown Sugar
1/4 Cup Milk
2 Cups Powdered Sugar
1 teaspoon Vanilla

Melt butter in saucepan
Add Brown Sugar and boil for 2 minutes
Stir in milk and bring back to boil
Remove from heat and cool until lukewarm
Beat in Powdered Sugar and Vanilla
Poke holes in cake and drizzle over

You may wish to refrigerate any uneaten cake so it does not sour.

82,250 Words Fluffy and Migraines

Last night I made it to the end of my first round of edits on the first manuscript I dug into- topped out at 82,250 words instead of 66,461 when I started work on it a couple of weeks ago.

Out of my 9 finished manuscripts there's about 7 that really needed "fluffing" so I've knocked one out of the way, though I know I'll go back and do a read through for more edits and revisions, etc. Knowing myself so well, I'll probably read through more than just one more time, though I've gone through all my stories several times already.

No sooner than I got to "The End" last night than the headache I'd been nurturing all day hit me and hit me hard. I thought it was a simple PMS headache, which have a tendency to localize around my left eye every time, but escalated into a full blown migraine in a matter of minutes.

I sought refuge in the bedroom where it was dark, quiet and cooler...I grabbed a cold wet washcloth and it seemed to be helping, but migraines have always been a major problem for me and once it's full blown- I'm done for. I've suffered them since I was 10 or 11. Usually associated with eye strain or the length of my thick hair. (I personally think my hair's gotten too long). I haven't had a migraine in- well, I honestly can't remember the last time I had one this bad. Seems it's been years.

The pain kept coming in waves and I knew there was only one solution. After a little sleep I thought I was all right, but no- my feet flew me to the bathroom and I had to do what I had to do, though I didn't want to. Nausea rolled through my body. Eventually I felt much better, though my throat is still sore today because of it.

I feel okay today, but I'm sluggish and kind of zoned out and my head still hurts just the slightest. Migraines take their toll on me. Hopefully that will be the last one I have for another long while.

Now on to the next set of revisions- LBC. The word count stands at 61,540- so I have a little more work to do on this one than the last.