Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011 - A Year in Meh

Yeah.  It's 3AM.  I can't sleep.  Seems like a perfect time to reflect on this past year...

But for me, 2011 was pretty much meh. 

K.D. got accepted to college.  That was exciting.  But that was in late 2010.  Everything we went through this year can be summed up like this: angst and prep and more angst and a great deal of shelling out large sums of money.  Her going off to college was more barfy than Yippee! followed by 4 months of worrying.

I didn't really write anything new in 2011.  Well, not for the first 11 months.  Instead I worked on re-writing Djinnocide for the kajillionth time and when I wasn't busy doing that, I was trying to re-write a couple other ignored works.  One suspense.  One speculative. 

This past December was spent hammering out an entirely new book.  Well, sort of new.  New words in a familiar world as I worked on the sequel to Djinnocide.  Once again, I'm back with Jo and the gang trying to figure out why immortality just got so damn complicated.  I mean, you'd think living forever with phenomenal power would be easy peasy.  But between following the Rules and navigating the secrets, life is anything but simple.

I did do some querying.  You can probably tell from the lack of new words and the focus on re-writes that once again, they didn't pan out. 

I turned 41 in 2011.  After the whoop-te-doo over 40, hitting the next year is anti-climactic.  There won't be another big milestone for 9 more years.  (Or 8.5 really.)  I'm a little older.  A little grayer.  And there's a little more of me around to love.

2011 was the year of plodding along.  Nothing really awesome happened.  On the other hand, nothing really horrible happened either.  We're all still alive and kicking.  Any family members we had at the beginning of the year, we got to keep.  (Cross your fingers until midnight that someone doesn't make a liar out of me.)  Hubs, Daughter, the Cats and I are all well.  I guess that's what important - even if it is a bit unexciting.

Soooo...  How was your 2011?  Anything to jump up and down about?  Have a good news to share for the new year?  Or was your 2011 meh, too?

And if 2011 brought you heartache or grief, I apologize from the deepest well of my heart.  I'll keep a happy thought for you to have a better 2012. 

Thursday, December 29, 2011


As I said yesterday, I have this photography hobby.  I don't much care what I'm taking pictures of.  Anything that catches my eye, really.

When I was a kid with that first old 110 camera, I took pictures of clouds.  I'd lay on the grass, snapping pictures upward of any cloud I thought was interesting.  I still have some of those shots.  They're pretty boring.  (Clouds, btw, make poor subject matter unless you have something in the foreground.)

When the old 110 died, I went for years not taking pics of anything.  Of course, I was also in college and didn't really have the time for hobbies.  Looking through the old albums, I really wish I'd saved up enough money to buy a new camera.  There are memories I wish I'd saved.

My next camera wasn't purchased until I was pregnant.  It was a cheap-ass 25mm, but it worked for all the shots I wanted of my bundle of joy.  (Okay, bundle of squalling, pooping, vomiting - most days.)  I took tons of pics.  K.D. laying in her bouncy chair.  K.D. screaming.  Plenty of shots of her sleeping.  During those days, it wasn't so much about the art of a shot, but capturing memories.  Her first steps.  Her first birthday.  Those important first holidays.

It was probably long about 2000 when I snagged a sweet job working as a web designer / trainer / consultant.  Along with that came the need for a digital camera.  Can't design a good company site without a few pics of the offices, the facilities and the employees.  That damn HP cost me almost $500.  And some of my best work came off that old thing.  (Unfortunately, my best work is also low res and when I try to blow it up to frame, the quality blows.  With that thing, it was either low res or be satisfied with like 10 pics before I had to download.)

I had that camera for a good long time.  It went with me through Arches, Yellowstone and Dinosaur National Park.  It catalogued the journey from Florida to Utah.  It still works as far as I know.  I just can't get the cable to plug into the port anymore so I can't download anything.

Enter HP #2.  The little camera that could.  I bought it and I hated it (but since I got it half-off on clearance, I couldn't return it.)  It didn't have the little view window.  Everything I took I had to look at on the little screen.  Have you ever tried to take a pic using that damn screen when it's a bright, sunny day?  Holy crap.  Still, I got used to it and eventually took some killer shots.  But it wasn't enough.

Last year, my darling husband got me a Nikon for my 40th b-day.  He da man.  The zoom alone on this thing is worth every penny.  All those years I spent trying to get that critter way the hell over in those trees?  Now I can get right up on the damn thing without having to worry about scaring the bugger away.  Hell, I even used it to do my daughter's senior pictures.  Pay a professional?  Oh hell no.  Not when I got this baby.  Woohoo.

So now, it's a year and then some later.  I have the camera.  I've mostly learned how to use it.  (Manual?  We don't need no stinkin' manual.)  Now I can finally go back to taking the artsy shots again.  The clouds, if you will, but with the knowledge to make those shots turn out right.  And with the present my husband gave me this x-mas of new memory chips, I can actually take more than 19 pics before I have to download.  (You don't want to know the acrobatics we had to do when we went to Estes Park.  All I can say is thank the gods for Daughter's laptop.)

Now, I can stand outside with the flock of robins who arrived yesterday and get stuff like this:

Someday I'd like to be good enough with this thing that people will actually pay me for my pics.  Who knows?  Stranger things have happened.  Until then, though, this is a lovely way to take a break from writing.

And yeah, that first pic up there is me at the ripe old age of 14 when we spent a week in the Les Cheneaux Islands.  The fish?  Mostly my dad's handiwork, but my sister and I caught a couple.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011


I've never really been what I would consider a hobbyist.  Sure, when I was younger, I painted die-cast figures of D&D characters.  (I still have a couple around here somewhere.)  I also did the whole hook rug thing for a while and paint by numbers sets.  Those were hobbies.  I did them for a while because they were interesting, and once they weren't interesting anymore, I let them go.

I'd also consider my brief frenetic dance with genealogy this past spring as a hobby.  I got all the way back to the 1500s and it only took me a month of constant digging.  It was a wild ride, but it's pretty much done.

If you've been here a while, you probably already know about my crocheting.  I attack that in fits and spurts.  In the five or so years I've been at this, I've made 6 blankets, with the 7th about 80% done.  It's not hard and the monotony of back and forth, back and forth suits me.  (Umm, if you know anything about crocheting, I only know how to do single chain, so back and forth is about as exciting as it gets.)

I've also gotten more serious about my longtime love affair with photography.  I got my first camera when I was like 12 and over the years I've taken some awesome shots with whatever device I had available.  Last year, the Hubs got me an awesome Nikon for my birthday.  This Christmas, he got me memory chips so I can take pics to my heart's content, as well as frames so I can showcase my work.

Those are my hobbies.  The writing?  Well, I've heard people compare writing to a hobby.  Let me go on record as saying anything that takes this much time, effort, heart-wrenching and hair pulling without anything solid to show for it ain't no hobby.  Cuz if it was a hobby, I'd stop.

Thinking about it now, that's probably why I've never follow through with my former art classes.  If I'm going to do that, I'm going to do it all the way.  Just like writing.

What about you?  Do you have any hobbies you do now or that you did in the past?  Do we have any hobbies in common?

And just in case you were wondering how the photography is going, here's an artsy shot I took a couple days ago and then tweaked with Microsoft Office Picture Manager...

I call it Teens in Winter.  Something about using black and white in this case just turned me on.

Monday, December 26, 2011

The Day After

No, not that horrific mini-series from the '80s.  I still have nightmares about that.

Nope, I'm talking about the day after Christmas.  Now that all the presents have been opened and the gifts have been enjoyed.  Now that everything has been tried on and played with and set back under the tree so the living room doesn't look like a disaster area.  Now that our stomachs are all reminding us that we ate waaaaay too much food yesterday.  (I don't know about all y'all, but I'm waddling around the house this morning wondering if my pajama bottoms shrunk overnight.)

Today is kind of still a holiday around here.  The Hubs has the day off because Christmas fell on Sunday.  I'm glad he's home.  He needs a day off to decompress.  It's been a hellacious few weeks.  And the kid's home, too, so we're one small happy family again.

Of course, it isn't really a day off for me.  I took the whole weekend off already, putting me a nifty 7200 words behind my goal of 50K this month.  That means I have to work today.  In fact, according to my nifty spreadsheet, I have to put in 2500 words a day for the next 6 days.  :shudder:

But enough about that.  We had an awesome Christmas here at the Sanderson household.  Every one of us enjoyed ourselves and time with each other.  It was a quiet Christmas for the most part.  Sure, I totally forgot my mother said the family was celebrating on Saturday this year and then she was spending the rest of the weekend at my sister's - which made for some worried phone calls to her home yesterday.  And yeah, Max disappeared until late last night when he came running at me, meowing for all the world like I was the one who neglected him all day.

Still, it was a nice holiday.  The ham was perfection - even if I accidentally turned off the oven and didn't notice for an hour.  (Who knows, maybe that helped it be awesome.)  Hubs got me a box of Godivas.  The kid got me a knew set of knives.  Even the cats got me something I really wanted.

Yeah, despite the little bobbles of the day, life is good.

How are you feeling on this day after?  Did everything go smoothly for you this weekend or did you have bobbles of your own?  Are bobbles part of what makes a holiday memorable?

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Happy Holidays!

Christmas 2012 at the Sandersons

From our house to yours - Wishes for all the happiest of holidays this year and many wonderful holidays to come.

(And in case you missed it, here's yesterday's poem: Twas the Morn Before Christmas.)

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Twas the Morn Before Christmas

Twas the morn before Christmas
by B.E. Sanderson

Twas the morn before Christmas, when all through the house
Everyone still lay sleeping.  Yes, even the mouse.
The stocking are hung on the bookshelf, with care
In hopes that some presents will soon join them there.

Like I said, they are nestled all snug in their bed
While visions of new words dance in my head
Hubs lays in his blankets.  The kid's in her room.
Kira sleeps on the luggage.  Max waits in his tomb.

Up here at the keyboard, I make such a clatter
I'm shocked no one awakens to ask 'what's the matter?'
Away on my WIP, my fingers fly with a flash
I'm tearing through pages like a bookworm on hash.

Outside doesn't beckon--cuz of all that damn snow.
And well, the house is all cozy from the furnace below.
I'm writing and what to my wandering muse does appear?
A genie with memory loss and a dog with a beer.

Now I really am driven - writing's lively and quick
And I hope my self-doubt won't attack with a stick.
More rapid than gophers that old bitch undermines
She whistles and catcalls and bitches and whines

"You're stupid!  You're lame!  You're a pathetic sight!
You're boring!  You're useless!  And I hate what you write!"
"You should tear up those pages.  Throw your keyboard away!
You should find a new job 'stead of typing all day!"

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly
My muse blows away and I just want to die.
So into the kitchen I limp with one shoe
To look for some candy and some alcohol, too.

And then in a twinkle I knew just what to say
"I'm not listenin' to you, witch, now just go away!"
Then I sucked in my stomach, turned my back on the treats
Waddled my butt to the chair, disregarded the sweets.

I spoke not a word, but went straight to my work
Left Selt Doubt in the dust, since she's only a jerk.
Laying my fingers on A, S and L, K
I began writing and plan to all day

There's a spring in my step, and my heart wants to whistle
Doubt's a thorn for my butt, and for my fingers a thistle.
So you'll hear me exclaim as I type til the night
Merry Christmas to all and to all a good WRITE.

Okay, that isn't the best poem ever, but I had fun writing it this morning.  I hope you all enjoyed it and that you manage to find some time to write over the holidays.  And even if you don't, that's it fun and family keeping your fingers off the keys and not that little snit Self Doubt.

Merry Christmas and Happy Writing

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Recipes for the Holidays

You know, in case you don't already have enough goodies for this time of year...

By request from Janet, over at Janet's Journal:

Coconut Rum Cookies
(makes about 36 cookies)

1/2 cup butter (softened)
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 cup unsweetened flake coconut
1/2 t rum extract
1 cup flour (sifted)
1 t baking powder

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Lightly grease baking sheets.  In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light.  Beat in egg.  Add coconut and rum extract.  Mix well.  In a separate bowl, soft together flour, and baking powder.  Gradually add dry mixture to wet mixture, stirring until well combined.  Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto prepared baking sheets, spacing about 2 inches apart.  Bake for 9-14 minutes or until edges of cookies are golden brown.  Remove from oven and allow to cool briefly on baking sheets before removing to cool completely.

And because this one turned out so frickin' awesome again this year, I had to share it:

Peanut Butter Fudge

2 cups packed light brown sugar
2 cups white sugar
4 T butter
1 cup evaporated milk
1 ½  cups peanut butter
2 t vanilla
2 cups mini-marshmallows

Butter pan (8 x 10”, or larger depending on the thickness you want.  8 x 10” pans produce thick fudge.)  In a medium saucepan, combine both sugars, evaporated milk and butter.  To start, place pan on medium heat until butter is melted and all ingredients have combined.  Turn heat up to medium-high until mixture is at a rolling boil.  Boil for approximately 5 minutes, or until the mixture reaches soft ball stage (234 degrees F).  Remove from heat and immediately stir in remaining ingredients.  Stir quickly but thoroughly until all ingredients are combined (taking care not to slop hot sugar mixture over the sides of the pan).  Once peanut butter and marshmallows are completely melted and combined with sugar mixture, pour into pre-buttered pan to cool.  

And now, because someone out there apparently dreamed of a white Thursday before Christmas, I have to go back to shoveling.  Blech.  
Enjoy the treats, Everyone, and I hope you're all having an awesome holiday season.

Ho Ho Ho.  And all that jazz.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Christmas Music

Over at Janet's Journal, Janet asked about favorite Christmas songs and reminded me of a couple I love that I hadn't heard in a while.  Modern Christmas classics, if you will.

Like Last Christmas by Wham! and, of course, Mariah Carey's All I Want for Christmas.

Which led me to Google and looking for other modern Christmas songs I love...

OMG, how could I have forgotten I Believe in Santa Claus by Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton.  I own that whole Once Upon a Christmas album.

While I'm listing holiday favorites, how could I not give a nod to Da Yoopers and their wonderful twisted 'Jingle Bells' - Rusty Chevrolet?

And since this isn't the only holiday going on this time of year, there's Adam Sandler's Original Hanukkah Song.

One last one just for the Daughter.  I never heard this one before but it's called Peppermint Winter and it's by one of her favorite bands - Owl City.

I hope you enjoy these and have a great holiday - whichever one you celebrate.  =o)

Monday, December 19, 2011

Picture Pause

"I don't know about you, but I'm feeling a little squirrelly lately."

Sunday, December 18, 2011

HoHoNoWriMo Update

As you can tell by the word meter over there on the right, I'm moving along.  I just thought I'd provide some data on the journey for this 18th day of HoHoNoWriMo.

Words written: 24461

Avg per day: 1359

Should be at: 30006

Difference: 5545

# of words needed per day to catch up and meet my goal of 50K in December: 2128

Right now, I'm creeping up on the end of chapter 8.

If you follow me on Twitter, then you'll already know that this morning I wrote myself into a fetid hot mess that I'm struggling to climb out of.  It's pretty stinky here in chapter 8.  Jo is up to her ass in alligators.  Strange things are happening that even I wasn't expecting.  And the people she depends on are either disappeared or losing their minds. 

Neither of us knows who's behind all this crap.  We have our suspicions, but all of the conjecture in this world is unconfirmed. 

Like I said: Fetid Hot Mess.

Yes, folks, I've painted myself into a corner.  And not just any corner - one filled with rancid garbage even the rats are afraid to nest in.  Somebody needs to open a window because I either need a place to climb out or I just need a fresh breeze to survive the smell.

How are things in your world today?

Saturday, December 17, 2011


The kid's home for semester break.  I have a ton of baking to do.  Christmas is :gasp: eight days away.  I haven't started wrapping.  I've only just finished shopping.  (Well, present shopping - I still have to get most of the stuff for Christmas dinner.)  I totally forgot about the blanket I was crocheting that I told myself I'd have in my sister's hands by her birthday - in October.  My TBR pile has books in it from like February.  I'm about 5K words behind on my novel - not counting today.  The house is a mess.  I don't even want to think about the leaves I never raked...  OMG, I forgot to get my mother-in-law a gift and it's too late to ship anything to FL.


So, as you can see, I'm scattered.  The holidays and end of the year totally snuck* up on me.  I think it's because I was stalling on doing some things until after Daughter came home, and didn't consider how late in the month she'd actually be here.  It threw off my whole schedule.  At least, that's my story and I'm sticking to it.

What's got you scattered right now?

*the squiggly line is telling me 'snuck' isn't a word.  Well, if that's not a word, what's the past tense of sneak?  Sneaked?   

Thursday, December 15, 2011

On the Road

I'm out and about today.  Have an awesome Thursday and just so you don't feel totally ripped off for coming here, I'll leave Max to keep you company...

Enjoy the day!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

The Fun of Making it Up As I Go Along

When last I left my intrepid heroine, she was running on fumes as she edged her way into the storeroom to save the pirate, while trying not to get shot by said pirate along the way.  And I dropped a bombshell (figuratively) I didn't see coming and wasn't quite prepared for.  Of course, now that I dropped it, I'm a little unsure how to proceed, but that's half the fun of writing.  (Or at least my style of writing - which is to say a bizarre mix of plotting, planning and pantsing.)

I can't wait to find out what happens next.

Do you plot or do you let your writing surprise you?  Or does your writing surprise you even when you plot?  Or if you'd rather, what's the most fun part of writing for you?

Saturday, December 10, 2011


I'm standing at a crossroads with my WIP.  And frankly, I don't know which path to take.  I guess it's better than standing at a deadend with nowhere to go.  Or painting myself into a corner wondering how the hell I'm going to get my characters out of this fine mess.

Actually, I think I'd prefer to be painted into a corner.  Some of my best ideas come from having nowhere else to go.  Right now, I have too many places I could go with this thing and not one of them is jumping out at me as the best direction.

And off in the distance, I can see where I need to be.  The Emerald City is waiting for me and I don't even have a damn field of poppies leading the way.  Nope, I've got brambles thicker than Sleeping Beauty.

It's totally frustrating.

I know you'll all be itching to offer suggestions, but I'm just venting.  Commiserate.  Offer sympathy or hugs.  Suggestions at this point will probably just stymie me even further.

Basically what I need to do is poo or get off the pot (as my father always said - in a much less PC way).  Pick a frickin' direction and jump.  If it's the wrong direction, I can always backtrack later.

And so, here goes nuthin'.  Wish me luck.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Writing Toad

Where did the week go?  I can't believe it's already Friday.  Hell, I can't believe it's already the 9th of December.  I want my year back.

I know where part of this month went.  I've been writing.  New words, even.  Since the start of HoHoNoWriMo, I've managed to get out 11547 words on Djinn II.  I'm behind, but I'm making progress (even if the word meter doesn't always reflect it).  In this bastardized NaNo, I'm running at an average of 1443 words per day.  Which, while about 200 words short, is still an accomplishment.  If I can keep this up, even if I don't hit 50K by 1/1/12, I'll still be a winner.

The rest of the month?  Well, let's just say I've been a toad and leave it at that.

How are things going in your world?

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Public Service Message

I know the readers of my blog probably don't need to see a message like this - because you're all much smarter than the average bear - but for the sake of anyone who might be wandering by...

When it gets cold and there's water on the road in the form of snow or ice, chances are the roads are slippery.  Please slow down and give yourself plenty of time to stop.  I so don't want to watch you slide through an intersection in front of a school bus, killing yourself and injuring children.

Thank you.

(This message was prompted by the moron I just saw roar up to a stop sign, slam on her brakes and slide into the busy road I live on.  She was just very lucky the road was empty at that particular moment, because this road is rarely bereft of cars at this time of day, and shortly after she left, a school bus went by.)

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Writing When I Don't Wanna

I so didn't want to write yesterday.  It wasn't that I didn't like the story.  I wasn't even against the work.  It was just that I didn't want to sit here and bang on the keyboard. 

But here I was chatting on FB with Daughter.  (Which in retrospect makes not writing seem silly.)

I told her I should be writing.  And she said 'Yes, you should."  In that guilt-inducing tone all FB chat text can take.  At that point, though, it was after 9 and I'd already checked in with my lack of progress in LoNoWriMo...  Or HoHoNoWriMo*, as the Daughter called it.  Still, if I want to be the PITA mom she knows I can be about her course work, then I really need to back that up with my own work. 


So, I sat down and cranked out 545 words.  Not a huge amount, but it was something.  And you know what?  I'm pretty proud of those words because if I hadn't let the kid guilt me, I would be 545 words short this morning.

Your turn...  What gets you writing when you don't wanna write?  Is guilt your motivator or do you have a better tool I could try?

*HoHoNoWriMo = HouseHold Novel Writing Month... plus it's kinda Christmassy.  She such a smart kid.  =o)

Thursday, December 1, 2011


Every journey begins with a single step.  I don't recall who said that and I'm too lazy to go look it up.  All I have to say to that person today is...

Well, duh.

Actually, every journey begins with the thought that you want to go somewhere, to take one step and then another and another.  The thought forms and the willpower carries you through.  I have the thought.  I think I have the willpower.  Taking that first tentative step?  Well, now, that's what I'm faced with this morning.  I even have the first couple sentences laying in my head, waiting to be birthed onto the page.  Where I'll go after those steps is anyone's guess at this point.

Wish me luck.

(And if you missed last night's post about LoNoWriMo, click the link.)