Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween

So, this is one of the pumpkins we carved last night.  We thought that middle ridge looked so much like a nose, we decided to leave it alone and carve around it.  Daughter says it looks like Squidword (from Spongebob?). This one looks better in the light.  When it's lit, the nose disappears and the effect is just weird.

This is the other pumpkin.  He was my first foray into creative pumpin carving (sans creative carving tools, btw).  He looks like hell in the light, but once the candle inside is lit, he looks pretty good. 

Anyway, I hope everyone else's pumpkins turned out, or if you didn't carve a pumpkin, I hope the holiday is a good one for you.  And remember, there's usually discount candy at the stores tomorrow.  Yay!

Have a safe and happy Halloween everyone.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Funny Stuff and Funnier Stuff

Well, it's snowing again.  Third time this month.  =op  I've heard reports of 2-4 inches and 8-12 inches by tomorrow morning.  Here's hoping the total is more like the former than the latter.  So, to keep that sense of humor in the face of the falling white stuff, here are a couple things that cracked me up lately.

In other news, if you haven't been by Jennifer Lyon's blog, check it out.  She and her commenters are a hoot, plus she writes some awesome paranormal romance.  (Her latest - Soul Magic - just hit stores.  Go forth and purchase.)  I love her Wing Slayer Worthy posts, and her Hunk Fail Friday posts kill me.  I almost spewed coffee all over my desk over the picture and comments from yesterday's post.

Speaking of amusements...  Daughter and I were screwing around on YouTube yesterday and came across this favorite of mine.  It's from Tiny Toon adventures.  Baby Plucky is learning about potty training...  It's classic.  "Water go down the hole!"

If that doesn't have you rolling, I must be loonier than I thought. 

Have a great day, everyone! 

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Picture Pause

Isn't it wonderful how we shower our pets with love, and then they look at us like we're interrupting their lives?  I think she was channeling W.C. Fields when I took this picture.  Her whole attitude just screams: "Go away kid. Ya bother me."

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Good Enough

A while back, I read a blog about a trend that seems to be happening in the writing community.  (I can't remember where and can't find it right now, so you'll have to trust me on this one.)  There seem to be a profusion of queriers who think their manuscripts aren't great, but they're 'good enough' and they should be published.  Like they can't be bothered to hammer their manuscript into something great. 

Now, I'm not saying everything should be perfect.  Perfect is damn hard, if not impossible.  But shouldn't a writer at least aim for perfect?  Aim for perfection and you'll hit somewhere close.  Right? 

I do understand that sometimes you've looked at a manuscript so many times, you can't stand to look at it anymore.  That's not the time to query.  Really it isn't.  That's the time to put the manuscript aside and let it simmer while you work on something else.  After a while, you'll be able to look at it with fresh eyes.

I also understand that sometimes you've looked at the same words so many times, a manuscript seems like it's as good as you can get.  That's not the time to query either.  That's the time to have someone else look at it, and let them tell you if you can make it better.  After you have people look at it, and you can't improve it any more, then query.

My problem is, I have a tough time feeling like I'm even up to 'good enough'.  I work a manuscript to death, send it to as many people as I can rope into looking at it, work the manuscript some more, and then - if I think it's my best work - I query.  Some manuscripts haven't even made it that far.  I can't send work out if I don't think it's the best I can do.  (And sometimes even when I'm sure it's the best I can do, I wonder whether my best is good enough.)

See how I have a problem understanding those people who query with 'good enough' work? 

Maybe those people have a better self-image than I do.  Maybe theirs is just over-inflated and mine is underinflated.  Maybe I'm just harder on myself. 

What do you think?  When is 'good enough' good enough?

Monday, October 26, 2009

November Ahead

In a few short days, November will be here, and you know what that means?  National Novel Writing Month!  Or as it's more affectionately know, NaNoWriMo - Nano for short.  Because of this, all sorts of things will be hopping in the writing world.  Thousands (hundreds of?) will be pounding away at their keyboards in hopes of hitting the goal of writing a 50K word novel in thirty days.  Others, like me, will be using this month to hunker down and get at least that many words down on the novel they've already got going.

Personally, I've never even been to the NaNoWriMo site, or participated in any of the actual festivities planned for this month-long event.  I just toddle on my merry way, using this month to inspire me to greater heights and larger word counts.  In 2008, I whipped out a large portion of RTL during November.  In 2007, I wrote the majority of Blink.  If memory serves, I worked on AWJ during Nano in 2006.  Everything before that is a blur.

Anyway, this seems to be an appropriate month to get our collective writing buns in gear - as flat or as wide as they may be.  So... I'm pledging to write 50K words next month.  (Which means I'm going to have to get off the paper and onto the keyboard, but that's life.)

Who's with me?  I mean, besides the cat.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Blog Awards

Thursday I was given two really nifty awards by blog pal and regular commenter, Natalie Murphy over at The Sound of Rain.  The first was the Kreativ Blogger award, and the other was the Heartfelt Award.

First the Kreativ Blogger award: 

1. Copy the Kreativ Blogger picture and post it on your page.
2. Thank the person that gave the award to you and link back to their blog.
3. Write 7 things about you that we don't know.
4. Choose 7 other bloggers that you would like to give the award to.
5. Link to the bloggers that you chose.
6. Let your winners know that they have the lovely award!

The picture's up...  Thank you, Natalie.  You're a peach.  Now for the seven things:

1.  My left leg is shorter than my right.  Not by much and it's not noticeable.  The only reason I know is...
2.  I broke my left thigh so bad they had to take out the shards and then transplant bone from my hip in the gap.  (Sorry if I grossed anyone out.)
3.  My favorite color is Hunter Green.
4. I love the Silverdome.  It was the halfway point between my house and my grandmother's, so we always knew when we were 'almost there'.  I'm still upset they moved the Detriot Lions to that other stadium.  =o/
5. My paternal grandfather was the first police chief ever in the suburban Detroit town of Melvindale, so I have a warm fluffy place in my heart for law enforcement - beyond the appreciation I have for them already for the work they do.
6. I spent a summer working for the City of Marquette Animal Control.  Technically I was employed by the Michigan Youth Corps to supervise workers for the city's first annual (and last annual) Animal Census.  We made national news and even took a shot from Jay Leno on the Tonight Show. 
7.My first cat was a mostly feral kitten I saved from euthanasia at the above shelter.  Jinx was a beautiful black and white shorthair who reminded me of a cat my family had when I was small. Eventually, she came to accept me, but she was wicked with the claws on everyone else. 

Okay, that's the fun part.  As for rules #4-6, I won't do those.  It's too hard choosing just seven out of the bunch of blogs I visit.  Suffice it to say, you're all creative bloggers and you all deserve an award.  If you choose to accept it, let me know in the comments so I can check out your answers.

As for the Heartfelt Award, the rules are simpler...

 Do you reach for a cup of cocoa or tea when you're relaxing, seeking comfort, sharing a plate of cookies with family and friends? You know the feeling you get when you drink a yummy cup of cocoa, tea, or a hot toddy? That is what the Heartfelt Award is all about, feeling warm inside. Rules:Put the logo on your blog/post. Nominate up to to 9 blogs which make you feel comfy or warm inside. Be sure to link your nominees within your post. Let them know that they have been nominated by commenting on their blog. Remember to link to the person from whom you received your award.

...but the actual award is harder.  I don't know that any blogs make me feel warm inside and comfy.  Usually if I get that comfortable, I end up saying something stupid and embarassing myself.  Knowing this about myself, I try to keep it reined in.  Still, if I had to pick a place, I'd say I feel welcome at Natalie's blog, so I give the award back to her.  Thanks for thinking of so kindly of my blog, Natalie, and I'm glad you feel comfy here.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Weekly Update

First off, this is the 200th post at this new blog.  It seems like only yesterday I switched from one to the other.  (And I still haven't formally shifted from the old one...  Lazy lazy me.)

This week has seen some good words hit the paper.  I closed out my 5 subject notebook, and started with a 70 pager (cuz that's all I had in the house).  My epiphany still hasn't made it into the story, but it's not due up for quite a while yet.  I'm thinking it's perfect for somewhere in the last third of the book.  We'll see. 

As for typing, I only hammered 3648 words into the computer this week.  With another 25+ pages left hand-written, I'd better get a move on.  Nightmares are made of flammable, irrecoverable words.  :shudder: 

Oh, and in the middle of those untyped pages is an idea for a new book.  (Seriously.  I scribbled a line under where I stopped in the story, wrote the idea out and scribbled another line to keep it separate from the rest of the story.)  I love it when that happens, but it's definitely distracting.

In other news, I'm liking the shift to Firefox.  Except for one thing.  I have to go back to IE to comment on some of my favorite blogs.  Silly programs.  I'll live with it.  Everything is so much prettier now that I upgraded to a compatible program.  Even blogger has new functions I could never get to with IE6.  Of course, Hubby came home while I was in the middle of wrestling with Firefox and told me to order a new computer.  Ummm, love to, but I'm not spending money on myself right now.  (Long story.)  I'll limp along with this old bird until it dies or until it's at least not functioning the way I need it to.  I can still blog and surf - albeit slowly - and I can still write.  It's all good.

Your turn:  What's up in your world this week?  Any epiphanies?  Any nightmares about losing your work? 

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Five Inches?

I woke this morning to five inches of wet, heavy snow.  Needless to say, I'll be spending the morning digging out.  Maybe I'll take pics and post them later.  Right now, I'm too cold and tired from Round One of Snow Battle '09.

BTW, it's perfect snowman snow.  I just wish I had the energy I had when I was seven.

How's the weather where you're at?

ETA: Pictures!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Foot in Mouth Disease

Lately I've been thinking about the things people say without thinking.  (Okay, so it isn't just lately and it isn't just things 'said'.)  For instance, last spring I came across an agent saying if an author's already been rejected by their agency for more than two different manuscripts, the person just shouldn't bother sending them anything more.  Or this morning when I was reading blogs I haven't been to in a while and saw someone making fun of people who've written more than a couple books without being published. 

Umm, ouch.

The agent blog sent me into a gloom that took a while to come out of.  (Which I'm apparently still not out of, since the comment is still bothering me all this time later.)  This morning's comment just ticked me off.  Needless to say, I won't be dropping by that blog any time soon - if ever.

Then I wondered if I make comments on occasion which I think are funny or useful or cute, and whether they hurt other people.  Now, I do realize we live in offend-sensitive world.  Some people are just going to get upset by just about anything.  Those people aside, I do want to let my readers know that I would never intentionally say anything with the intent of causing pain.  Hell, even my occasional swipe at Ohio State or the BoSox is meant in good fun - because for me, rivalry adds to the enjoyment of competitive sports.

Having said that, though, please understand that I occasionally have Foot in Mouth Disease - we all do, I think.  In the spirit of that, I'll cut this morning's blogger some slack.  The writer probably thought he/she was being funny.  The agent blog wasn't trying to be funny, but I don't think they were trying to be hurtful either.  I think they were just being honest.  Honesty I can deal with, even if it stings.

So, in the words of Puck:

"If we shadows have offended,
Think but this, and all is mended,
That you have but slumber'd here
While these visions did appear.
And this weak and idle theme,
No more yielding but a dream,
Gentles, do not reprehend:
if you pardon, we will mend:
And, as I am an honest Puck,
If we have unearned luck
Now to 'scape the serpent's tongue,
We will make amends ere long;
Else the Puck a liar call;
So, good night unto you all.
Give me your hands, if we be friends,
And Robin shall restore amends."

Or, in my own way, forgive me my occasional outbreaks of Foot in Mouth Disease.  

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


"Unwritten" by Natasha Bedingfield

I am unwritten, can't read my mind, I'm undefined
I'm just beginning, the pen's in my hand, ending unplanned

Staring at the blank page before you
Open up the dirty window
Let the sun illuminate the words that you could not find

Reaching for something in the distance
So close you can almost taste it
Release your inhibitions
Feel the rain on your skin
No one else can feel it for you
Only you can let it in
No one else, no one else
Can speak the words on your lips
Drench yourself in words unspoken
Live your life with arms wide open
Today is where your book begins
The rest is still unwritten

Oh, oh, oh

I break tradition, sometimes my tries, are outside the lines
We've been conditioned to not make mistakes, but I can't live that way

Staring at the blank page before you
Open up the dirty window
Let the sun illuminate the words that you could not find

Reaching for something in the distance
So close you can almost taste it
Release your inhibitions
Feel the rain on your skin
No one else can feel it for you
Only you can let it in
No one else, no one else
Can speak the words on your lips
Drench yourself in words unspoken
Live your life with arms wide open
Today is where your book begins

Feel the rain on your skin
No one else can feel it for you
Only you can let it in
No one else, no one else
Can speak the words on your lips
Drench yourself in words unspoken
Live your life with arms wide open
Today is where your book begins
The rest is still unwritten

Staring at the blank page before you
Open up the dirty window
Let the sun illuminate the words that you could not find

Reaching for something in the distance
So close you can almost taste it
Release your inhibitions
Feel the rain on your skin
No one else can feel it for you
Only you can let it in
No one else, no one else
Can speak the words on your lips
Drench yourself in words unspoken
Live your life with arms wide open
Today is where your book begins

Feel the rain on your skin
No one else can feel it for you
Only you can let it in
No one else, no one else
Can speak the words on your lips
Drench yourself in words unspoken
Live your life with arms wide open
Today is where your book begins
The rest is still unwritten

Go forth.  Watch the video.  The song was always poignant until I saw the video, and now it's even more so.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Shifting to Firefox

As much as I hate change, and this one's a doozy for me, I'm leaving IE. This old beast can't be taught new tricks anymore (i.e. Microsoft won't allow me to update IE and no one likes version 6 anymore), so I'm throwing out MS in favor of Mozilla. Firefox still likes Windows 2000. So there. =op

:kvetch: This wouldn't have been necessary if IE hadn't stopped 'seeing' my bookstore. :grumble:

Anyway, I'm still working the bugs out. For instance, Firefox isn't playing nice with Blogger at the moment. If I can't make everything work like I want it, I may have to use IE for blogging and Firefox for everything else.

Time saving devices? Well, most of the time. Today, this computer is a huge time suck.

How are things in your world?

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Sunday Book Review

Man, it's been a while. Since I started this WIP, I haven't really been in the mood to read. Wrapped up in my own stories isn't such a bad thing, is it?

I wasn't planning on reading this week either, but then my librarian was showing me the new books that came in, and huzzah, Rampant by Diane Peterfreund was in there. Talk about a lucky break. She asked me if I wanted her to reserve it for me. Who me? GIMME GIMME!

As the grown-up incarnation of a little girl who collected all things unicorn, how could I not want to read a story that sets the entire mythology on its ear? I mean, blood-thirsty un-cute unicorns? Of course, I had to read it.

So what we've got here is a teenage girl who grew up with a mom she always thought was nuts. Seriously, if your mom spent all of your formative years telling horror stories involving unicorns, wouldn't you want to order her a padded room? Except Astrid's mother isn't nuts and the stories are true. When a little goat looking unicorn tries to kill her boyfriend, Astrid kinda has to admit her mom was right all along.

Next thing she knows, she's being packed off to Rome enrolled in some kind of unicorn hunter training camp. All she wants is to be a normal teen, but when a girl's got skills, she's got to use them. And these girls all have skills. They aren't a normal group of teens - not by a long shot - but without them, mankind is screwed.

Anyway, I really enjoyed Rampant. I'm not sure if it's for every teenager - and as always I recommend that the parent read first and judge for themselves whether their kid is up for it. There are sexual situations - even if the main players in the book are all virgins. There's also blood and gore. For my own part, I finished Rampant and handed it to my 16-yr old with the 'it's really good' recommendation.

Now for the FTC crap: I did not receive this book for free from Ms. Peterfreund, and I am not getting any goodies from her for posting this review. (Although if she wants to send me some, I wouldn't say no. LOL) As always, I post good reviews because I want to share the reading experience with my blog buddies and any others who may wander across this page. What I do have is a profound respect for Ms. Peterfreund as a writer and a person - a nice thing to have but not a reason to write a good review. The only reason for a good review here at The Writing Spectacle is that the book was good. Nuff said.

If you have some extra fundage, or a library with a generous staff, pick up a copy of Rampant. Enjoy the thrill of killer unicorns and the virgins who hunt them.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Weekly Update Belated

I haven't done a weekly update in a while because frankly, I haven't been up to a whole lot that anyone would find terribly interesting. I've been slogging along with my handwritten WIP. Since I'm writing it by hand, stats are harder to come by. I did manage to get a chunk of it typed into Word this week, so that's something anyway.

So, after typing at additional 5700 words since October 9th, I'm up to a whopping total of almost 18000 words. Yay me. Of course, I have another dozen or so pages to type in, and I'm trying to write a couple pages at a time. (Hand cramps make writing too much at once problematic.) Eventually the typed words will catch up with the written words, but I'm not sweating it too much. Unless we have some kind of natural disaster, the hand-written pages are safe.

In other news with this WIP, I had an epiphany while we were out having driving lessons. (I was driving at the time. I can't muse while she's driving yet.) I saw exactly what I needed to do to add a new twist. It will totally mess with the MC's head. I discussed with my new clerk-typist - aka Darling Daugher - and she's on board. Weeeee.

On the life side, Daughter is making progress with her driving lessons. She's hoping to be able to drive on our quarterly trip out of town next month. Since she's only gone over 55 once, I'm thinking no. She's also doing well in her regular classes, which is awesome. Although, her walking around talking to me in Spanish isn't exactly thrilling, since I have no idea what she's saying. Lucky for me, she's a good kid.

That's it for me lately, how are things with you?

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Accident Scene Kitty

The stuffed reindeer hit me... on his rocking horse... stop him before he gets away...

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Biggest Loser's Biggest Mistake

If you had a choice between eliminating frustration and stress, or eliminating a potential weakness, which would you choose?

Tonight on Biggest Loser, they chose to eliminate a potential weakness. Needless to say, I think they made the biggest mistake. Weaknesses, once identified, can be overcome. I don't think an outside stressor can be overcome as long as one chooses to allow it to remain in one's life.

Bye Coach Mo. I think you could've done great things for your team, but you threw yourself on the sword needlessly. Ultimate I think the stress Tracy creates will do more harm than the good you thought you were creating with your absence.

What do you think?

BTW, I'm rooting for Abby (the gal from green team, so if I've got her name wrong, let me know). I'm also cheering for Liz. That lady's got spunk.

Monday, October 12, 2009

That's Commitment

Yesterday during the Yankees/Twins baseball game - the final game of the ALDS - one of the Twins players showed incredible commitment to the game and to his team.

Left fielder Delmon Young stepped up to the plate and promptly fouled a ball off the ground into his own... twig and berries, so to speak. I swear thousands of men around the world groaned in sympathy. Hell, I don't have that kind of equipment and I still felt sympathy pains. (Personally, I don't get where groin pain is a laughing matter, but that's for another day.) Thank goodness he was wearing a cup. Ugh.

Anyway, after a few minutes on the ground, and another few gingerly walking around, Young once again stepped up to the plate. If it'd been me, I'd have taken the opportunity to sit somewhere with a bag of ice. Not Delmon Young. He shook off the pain, got ready to do his job again, and WHAM! The first pitch after his unfortunate foul ended up sailing to the outfield.

What does Young do? He runs like hell, with his bits surely in pain, and ends up with a double. It was an awesome thing to watch. I mean, I'm a die-hard Yankee fan, but I still can admire the fortitude it took for Young to do what he did.

Of course, the Twins still lost, but not because of Young. Because he had commitment few people in the world are willing to show for their work, or anything else these days. He showed the kind of commitment that keeps writers at keyboards long after their asses are numb and their hands are killing them. The same commitment that keeps writers sending out queries long after their hearts have been stomped on by rejection after rejection.

Because when the world kicks you in the tender places, you have two choices. You can sit the next few pitches out, or you can get back in there. Your level of commitment is shown by which choice you make.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Jury Duty - a Recap

Running on little sleep isn't the best way to start a drive, nor is it the best way to approach the idea of sitting in court all day. Like any event, however, the prospect of jury duty had my mind racing Thursday night. What would it be like? Would I see anybody there I knew? Would I know the defendent or the victim or the witnesses? What would happen if I thought one way and the rest of the jurors thought another? And just what does one wear to jury duty in a rural community?

What can I say, once my mind latches onto something, it's damn the torpedos and full steam ahead.

Anyway, I threw on some clothes, climbed into the car and headed out. After getting some much needed fuel (gas for the car and coffee for me), I hit the open road. Other than having to drive into the sun, it was a nice trip. No real jerksticks on the highway, and thankfully, no snow. (Last night we got snow, but that's best left to another post.)

I arrived at the courthouse with about ten minutes to spare. I thought I got there early. Early enough to at least get a parking space, that is, but after driving around the lot with no luck, I parked up the street and around the corner. Good thing I decided to wear sneakers and not my high-heel boots. I wasn't chic, but I was comfortable.

After locating where I was supposed to be (What is it with people not giving clear instructions?), I got into line with the rest of the jurors for the trip through the metal detectors. No big deal unless you happen to be standing next to a guy who makes a joke about all the guns he had to leave in his pick-up. You should've seen the look on the officer's face.

"I don't know this guy," I said, with a half-smile on my face. (Okay, yes, I did know him, but if it's a choice between denying my acquaintance and getting frisked, I'm disavowing all knowledge.)

I made it through the metal detector without further incident, only to have them take away my coffee. How's a gal supposed to sit through jury duty without a hot cup of French Vanilla cappucino?? And it was at the perfect sipping temperature, too. I really think that they should've warned us not to bring beverages. The notice said no cell phones and no pocket knives, so why not say 'no beverages', too? I wasn't the only one who lost out, but I should take comfort in the fact that my coffee had company on the lonely table where we were forced to say goodbye.

By the time I got into the courtroom, it was packed. Lucky for me the people of this community seem to have an aversion to the front row - like it was a classroom and sitting in front would get them picked sooner. Feh. I slide onto my own personal bench and commenced reading before the big show began. I made it through the acknowledgements before three large farmers pushed past me and lowered their bulk onto the seat. (And the wood wasn't the only thing groaning in protest, let me tell you. I tried to make myself thinner, but positive thoughts and exhaling only get a gal so far.)

With the jurors uncomfortably ensconced in our judiciary pews, a man looking like Santa Claus after a hard night of drinking took center stage - right in front of me. He began explaining the video we would have to watch about the process, and I was overcome by a wave of halitosis the likes of which would curl the hair on a skunk's butt. I started chewing gum just to convince my nose it wasn's so bad.

So here I am, squeezed between Clem the farmer and a hard oak bench, with Pepe the Baliff hitting every breathy consonant he can manage. Thank goodness the video started before I lost consciousness. Most of what was given in the video could've been gleaned by watching one episode of Law & Order, but I did learn a couple things. 1) If during the jury selection process, you're asked a question you don't feel comfortable answering in public, you can ask to answer it in private. 2) If you have a question for any of the witnesses, you can write it on a piece of paper and hand it in to the judge, who will ask the question for you.

Half an hour later, and the video is over. (And they didn't even hand out popcorn.) At this point I'm starting to be glad they took my coffee away because I have to use the bathroom, and I don't know when they're going to give jurors a potty break. The baliff tells us to relax for a few minutes while the officers of the court finish preparing. Fine by me. I break out the book - hoping in the back of my head that after the defense attorney sees the title, he'll veto me for the trial. (I really didn't think about what a book called Make Her Pay would mean when I took it. It was just next up in my TBR pile.)

Two paragraphs later, the judge arrives and the sheepish look on her face was enough to tell me something wasn't quite right. Then the lawyers arrive, and they all look embarassed. The only person up there who looked at all happy was this skinny guy in a denim shirt and blue jeans. Once the judge proceeds to tell us we're being dismissed, and the prosecutor explains that the victim decided not to testify - locked herself in her house, in fact - I realize why the jeans guy is so smug. He's the defendant.

Objectivity went right out the window after that. Thank goodness I didn't actually have to decide the fate of that guy. His whole attitude seemed to exude 'Neener, neener, neener... you can't catch me'.

Of course, my take on the situation could be wrong, but on the drive home, I concocted the whole scenario of a date rape wherein the woman is too ashamed to testify against her rapist, and the asshole gets away with it. Wouldn't be the first time something like that has happened. On the other hand, he could've looked smug because he was in the right all along and his accuser couldn't face up to the lies she told. After looking at his attitude, though, I'm more inclined to think the former is true.

The best thing about the whole experience was I got some first hand knowledge of what the process is like, and I got some good character studies that may be useful in future stories. The baliff could definitely find his way into a book, and the defendent may work as part of an amalgam to give depth to a villain. Even the prosecutor - who couldn't have been older than 25 - would make a great secondary somewhere along the way.

With names and faces changed to protect the innocent and the not-so-innocent, of course.


Friday, October 9, 2009


I don't have a whole lot of time this morning. Well, not the amount of time I usually have, since I have to be in court by nine. I did want to address a couple things this morning while I do have some time, though, and both have to do with objectivity.

A couple of days ago I posted a link to this whole FTC business. I didn't say much about it, but it's definitely a concerning little piece of government. Read what Janet Reid has to say about it, and then check out the Wired article on the issue. And if you've got a couple hours and a lot of aspirin, read the Official FTC PDF on the rules. Apparently if you receive anything for free and then review it on your private 'citizen' blog, and don't mention that you received it for free, you could be subject to FTC scrutiny and fines.

Like getting a book from an author, which you then read and love and want to tell your blog buddies about. As if the only reason you would be giving the author a good review is because they gave you that book. As if objectivity were impossible in the face of such an extravagant gift.

Umm... yeah.

Of course, according to what I understand of the rules, remuneration doesn't have to be in the form of a freebie. If you're associated or have some type of relationship with the person who wrote the book, and you give them a good review, you have to disclose that, too. Good will and friendship is payment, too, doncha know. Problem is, when I read a book by a person I've got a relationship with - however minimal - it doesn't necessarily mean I'm going to give that person a good review. More often that not, I do, but it's not because I like the person. It's because I like their books.

Anyway, the FTC has stepped in it. Not to mention the government taking just one more little piece of American freedom in the name of protecting it's rube-like citizens. One commenter at Janet Reid's post said something about complying with the rules is no big deal. Of course it isn't a big deal to say where you got the product you reviewed. That isn't the point. It's the principle of the thing.

I admit to not always being the most objective person on the planet. I try, but sometimes I fail. Which brings us around to the second thing I wanted to talk about: Jury duty.

I thought about this off and on since I made the call that told me the court case was actually going to happen and that my presence was needed there this morning. I live in a small town inside a county with a small populous. Everyone knows everyone else in one way or another. (Think 'Six Degress of Kevin Bacon' but more rural.) While I don't get out much and don't circulate amongst the who's who of this place, I know who they are, and frankly, I don't always like the things they do. We have some petty and small minded people in this town. We have drunkards and druggies and petty criminals. What I'm going to have to steel myself against today is Guilt By Association.

Part of being a juror is holding fast to objectivity. Regardless of how I may feel about Barney Assinine and his brood, I can't let myself feel anything regarding anyone with the last name of Assinine. (Because frankly, I think everyone is related to everyone else here - unless they're like me and were raised out of state.) Each person is an individual, and what one person may or may not have done to me and mine isn't cause for damning the whole lot of them.

I'll let you know how I make out.

Have a great day and wish me luck. I think I might need it.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Fall Fell on Me

What is it about this time of year that makes it so busy and yet makes me want to write so much? Traditionally, Fall has been the most productive part of the year for my writing. Yay. But why couldn't Summer be the season? I'm fairly free during the summer. School's slowed down, the days are longer, all my favorite shows are in rerun... I should be writing.

But no. My creativity wakes up when the days grow shorter, and my schedule fills up.

Right now my WIP is just about bursting out of my pores. Last night I was writing in between hits during the Yankees game and the Dodgers game. Then I was writing during commercial breaks for Criminal Minds. (During which I came up with an awesome new curve to throw at my MC, btw, and now the next couple scenes will practically write themselves.)

Right now I'm also overseeing six hours of homeschool a day, though. And driving lessons every morning. I write during Spanish class - because it's online and everything I know about Spanish I learned on Sesame Street - but I'm getting a tad pooped. A vacation would be nice, but who's got time for that?

And to top the season off? I got a notice for jury duty. Tomorrow. Like I need that. Keep your fingers crossed that the trial will be canceled. (This is my third notice and both of the others were cancelled. Three strikes and you're out?) I don't need to drive a half-hour to court every morning for however many days this lasts. Not that I don't think it will be interesting. I could use a little first hand trial experience to make my books richer.

I'm just wondering why they couldn't have called me up during Summer.

Is Autumn a busy season for you, too? If not, which season trips you up?

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The Non-Rant

Since it was pointed out that I might rant too much, I've been trying not to rant. Not that there aren't things that totally tick me off, but in the interest of maintaining a more calm presence on the net, I've been keeping these things to myself.

For instance, here's a list of things that have gotten my undies in a bunch lately:

The FTC's position on bloggers who review books

This Washington Times article called "Children's books lack moral lessons".

Brett Favre.


Mean people.

The Nanny State.

Bad drivers. (Especially on my mind since I started giving Darling Daughter driving lessons*.)

The growing lack of respect for individual rights and private property.

And last, but nowhere near least, the Chicago honor student who was beaten to death.

What's been sticking in your craw lately? Feel free to let it out.

*since last Tuesday - and she's doing very well. Yay!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Still Here

Sorry for the silence. I could blame football. I do love me some football. But that's not entirely true. You see, I couldn't think of a damn thing to blog about. Maybe all my creativity has been funneled into my WIP. Not a bad thing, and probably the best reason anyone can have for not blogging.

I'm still handwriting the book. It's working for me, and hey, why fix what ain't broken? I have about 12K typed into Word as of Saturday, and another dozen+ pages waiting to be input. Yesterday I wrote so much I kept having to stop and shake out the writer's cramp. It's really moving along. On paper, that is. Create from the keyboard? Not so much.

The things we do for our writing. Heh.

So, what was on tap for your weekend? Anyone catch the Steelers game last night? That Mendenhall plays like a clone for the Bus (Jerome Betis), and I keep noticing something about the Steelers' coach. Is it just me or does he look like he could be Omar Epps's long lost brother?

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Notable, if not New

If you weren't already aware, it's Banned Books Week. Or as Ray Bradbury said: "You don't have to burn books to destroy a culture. Just get people to stop reading them."

Also, thanks to Jessica Faust, I've learned that it's National Adopt a Shelter Dog month. Go read her post on the subject. She says it so much better than I can this morning (even if I did comment). And remember, there are no bad dogs, just bad training.

It's also National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. If you're not doing your self exams, find a friend to do them for you. All joking aside, though, breast cancer isn't something you want to mess with. Get yourself checked out.

Aside from that, the Guide to Literaty Agents blog is running a contest. Their second annual Worst Storyline Ever Contest will be open to entries until 11:59pm on October 5th. It has some neat prizes, so get working on a truly terrible story idea.

Other notable, if not new, things this month (Courtesy of the Cultural Calendar) are:

National Mushroom Month*
National Cookie Month
National Caramel Month
German-American Heritage Month (as well as Polish-American Heritage Month - so they got most of my ancestry covered in October)
National Dessert Month

The list goes on... But I'll stop now. Any notable things you'd like the world to be aware of this month?

*I wonder what they mean by that. I used to be what I called The Executive Mushroom (you know... keep me in the dark and feed me sh*t). Do you think that counts?