Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Fugue Macabre: GHOST DANCER

YAY! This has been a LOOONG journey for my dear friend Char--and now I'm thrilled to announce the long-awaited release of her debut novel, FUGUE MACABRE: GHOST DANCE:

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BOOK DESCRIPTION: "Mix: One reluctant necromancer pursuing peace One burnt out homicide detective hunting a killer. One shapeshifter seeking forgiveness. One firestarter searching for truth. One paid assassin seeking their deaths. Add liberal amounts of: Family secrets, lies, and treachery. Stir constantly until boiling begins. Serve with murder, suspense, and a dash of romance on the side."

A paranormal thriller guaranteed to keep you awake at night!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, TABATHA! And congratulations to C.J. PARKER!

UNIVITED: Amanda Marrone

Introducing UNIVITED, a new YA novel by AMANDA MARRONE from Simon Pulse

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Book Description:

When rejection comes back to bite you...

Jordan's life sucks.
Her boyfriend, Michael, dumped her, slept his way through half the student body, and then killed himself.
But now, somehow, he appears at her window every night, begging her to let him in.
Jordan can't understand why he wants her, but she feels her resistance wearing down.
After all, her life -- once a broken record of boring parties, meaningless hookups, and friends she couldn't relate to -- now consists of her drinking alone in her room as she waits for the sun to go down.

Michael needs to be invited in before he can enter.

All Jordan has to do is say the words....

What a perfect time of year for a book like this! CONGRATS, AMANDA! xox

Saturday, October 27, 2007


Is it my imagination, or does Oprah seem to picking up a foreign accent???

Friday, October 26, 2007

Friday 5

*Big Sigh of Relief*

Back to normal!

Friday 5:

1. Authorpalooza! Here I got to:

See fellow 2k7er Marlane Kennedy, author of ME AND THE PUMPKIN QUEEN:

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Sign books, talk to teachers, librarians, and fans, and give a short reading:

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And yes, yes, YES! Meet John Green!

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A perfect ending!

I also:

2. I sent the revisions off to my agent.

3. Actaully sat down and wrote out a (sucky) synopsis for a sequel.

4. Went back to work ('nuff said about that! I've officially reached my limit of body function posts).

5. Wrote 8,000 words in one day.

I am utterly blogged out. See you guys next week and have a great weekend. And for all of you out there in CA--PLEASE STAY SAFE! You are all in my prayers. xox

Little Writers in the Big Woods: The End

My revisions are finished (YAY!).
Zokutou word meter
442 / 442

Pam wrote thousands of words (YAY!). Now it's time to pack up and drive to Dayton for the Authorpalooza event at the OELMA conference.

Mr. ATV never shows up, so we load everything in the wheelbarrow and make 2 trips in the pouring rain. We are precisely on schedule, anticipating a 2 hr drive, time out for lunch, hotel check in, and thank God--A SHOWER!

Soaking wet, we settle back in the car. I start the engine and head up the trail--bordered on one side by the seemingly endless cow pasture and on the other side by a treacherous drop into nowhere--and toward the road.

Guess what?

I can't get the car up the dogdamned trail!

I drive an eight-year-old mom-mobile Saturn with 140K miles on it. If it were any closer to the ground I'd be driving a dog sled. The wheels spin. I back up and gun the motor. The wheels only spin more. Steam shoots from my engine

I pull off the trail and try to drive up the grass. The wheels spin, spin, spin...hell, the whole freaking car spins!

This is so not good. Where the hell is my AAA card? Oh, wait. Heh, silly me. Kinda hard to call AAA without any phone service.

Pam gets out and pushes. The tires splatter her with mud and grass, and I'm convinced I'll back up and roll right over her. I beat my phone over my head. Where the hell is Lassie when you need her? We are alone, alone, aloooooooooooooone in the wilderness...and doomed.

"I'll run to the house," Pam shouts, "and find someone to pull us out!"

She takes off across the pasture. I stare in astonishment. Damn, look at her go! In the pouring rain, no less. I watch with fading hope as her figure grows tinier and tinier and eventually disappears over the foggy horizon.

I am alone.

And I wait. And wait. And waitwaitwait.

Should I try again to pull out of here? Chain-smoking by now, I study the muddy, rutted trail. If I lose control of the car and fly over the edge, and Pam comes back to find me gone, she might think I managed to get out and that I'm waiting for her on the road. Would it occur to her to peer down into the gulley? Will she be able to spy the smoking, twisted remains of my mom-mobile?

Tick, tock, tick, tock. No Pam, no Pam, no Pam, no Pam. For all I know, she could've been murdered by a psychopath on her way over the ridge. I gaze over at the dark rainy woods, waiting for that same psychopath to creep up on me...

I'm gonna miss Authorpalooza. I'm gonna miss fricking John Green!!! Well, at least I'll get my name in the headlines, right? Might be good for book sales. Or, possibly, a posthumous award since I'm sure as hell not in the running for any of them alive.

By the time I finish cursing myself for blowing my advance on bills instead of using it for a down payment on a Hummer, The Swamp Thing stumbles up alongside my car. ARRRGHHHH! No, wait: it's Pam, practically unrecognizable. Of course nobody was at the house, but she found another way out. "All" I need to do is drive across the pasture to the other side, and it's all downhill from there.

Downhill is right, I think bleakly. Drive across the pasture? So far I've spinned in circles every time I attempted it. If I blow a fan belt, we will die old age in this pasture if the guys from the Texas Chainsaw Massacre don't find us first.

I gun, and spin, and gun, and spin...a miracle of miracles, the car rumbles up the slope and across the pasture (with Pam screaming behind me, "GO-GO-GO-GO-GO-GO-GO-O-O-O!"). On the other side, yes, there is a tiny downhill road. Pam catches up, jumps in, and we are off to Dayton, flush toilets, Starbucks, and civilization!

Little Writers in the Big Woods: Part 6

Day 3 proves to be Marathon Day. Pam, writing in Notepad because the laptop she's using doesn't have Word (funny how we writers assume, or expect, that every computer comes loaded with Word) doesn't let a crummy little detail like NO FORMATTING stop her. We hammer away, face to face across enormous plank table. Munching Snickers bars and Skittles. Guzzling caffiene. Breaking frequently for nicotine and conversation.

Danger signals set in, so we make hopeful trip to the "better" outhouse up the hill only to discover the second cabin now had a light in the window and fresh firewood stacked on the porch.

We consider stealing some wood, since we have none, and everything's wet from the rain. Nah, that wouldn't be nice.

Pam notices the light on at the bath house and knocks on the door, only to be chased away by an unexpected male voice.

OMIGOD! We are no longer alone! Does this mean no more peeing in a bucket by the back door? Hell, no! We still have no plans to use that disease-riddled if peeing outside means mooning our new unseen neighbor, well, so be it. He'll get an eyeful, that's for sure.

Later--yes, while "mooning"--I notice a smell (and no, it's not me). You know how a male cat smells when he's either being frisky or else has been rolling around in his cat box for a while? That's the smell. Only this cat seems to weigh about 200 pounds.

The odor grows stronger. And stronger. The darker it gets outside, the stronger the smell. We cook ribs on the grill, and every now and then we get a whiff of that deep, funky, wild animal fragrance.

Then just after dark, while rocking on the porch, minding our own business, we hear a sound that I've heard before, but only on TV. Not a growl, exactly. More like a deep, throaty moan.

And yeah-, now we REALLY smell it. And I'm pretty sure it ain't no cat.

Pam: "Um, we did leave that barbecue sauce bottle out..."

Kill ourselves rushing back inside. Slam and barricade the front door. Lock the back door with some dinky little latch a two-year-old kid could break with a flick of a finger. Out with the screens and down with the windows. We sit and discuss the facts:

Bears are timid.

Bears can be easily scared away by loud noises (as I sit there with a skillet and ladle in hand)

Bears rarely, rarely, rarely attack humans. Except, ya know, for on "When Animals Attack!"

The cabin is stuffy as hell with everything closed. We hover at the windows with a flashlight but we can't see a thing. Every now and then we'll venture outside only to be chased back in by the smell and an occasional "groooooaaaaannnnnn."

We never do see it. But yeah, we know it's there.

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In the morning Pam finds the barbecue sauce bottle on the other side of the camp.

Little Writers in the Big Woods: Part 5


Me: No drinkable coffe.

Pam: Not enough sugar for her iced tea. And homemade ice cubes are really getting tiresome.


1. We want POP. What's weird about this is that neither of us are huge pop drinkers. But we're suddenly dying for somethng brown, sweet, cold, and fizzy--and we're willing to drive the 30 mile round trip in order to get it.

2. Delaying a Major Bodily Function for 3 days may not be the wisest idea.

3. We really should let our families know we are still alive.

We write all morning, then pile into the car, roar out of the cow pasture, and drive in the general direction of the nearest town, searching for a phone signal along the way. My cell phone bleeps in and out of service. Whenever I do get a signal, there's no place to pull over (seriously, these are country roads with no shoulders and certainly very few driveways). Whenever I do manage to pull off the road, I immediately lose the signal.

We finally stop at a "house"--quotes used because, seriously, this is exactly like a scene out of Texas Chainsaw! Tiny beat-up house, clothes hanging in the front yard, chickens scrambling around, junk cars piled up on one side of the property and a trailer with smashed-out windows on the other. Tires. Oil cans. Broken fence. Toys. VERY. SCARY. After making brief calls to our families, Pam snaps a picture of the house as we roar away. Hopefully it turns out and she'll send me a copy to post (hint, hint).

We find the town (after asking directions from a guy who I promise will one day show up in another one of my books--scraggly beard, missing teeth, glasses held together by a bandaid...oh, wait, I think I already used him, haha--and omigod! A Dollar Tree AND a Krogers right next to each other! Quite possibly the only two stores in town.

Most Significant Purchases:

1. Three jugs of BOTTLED WATER
2. A one cup coffee maker
3. Sugar
4. Ice
5. A white plastic pail to replace our makeshift peebucket
6. Two ice cold Cokes

Squealing with delight, we grab our Cokes, fly back to the car, pop 'em open, pour 'em down our throats and then sit there enjoying our simultaneous oral orgasms.

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Then we drive back to the cabin (before dark, thank Dog) to make coffee and iced tea We place the new pail on the back porch. Just in case.

And then we write. And brainstorm. And write some more. Because it's (naturally) raining by then, so much for a campfire or cooking out over the grill. Pam heats up some delicious goulash on that sinister gas stove, we eat dinner, write some more, then sit on the porch listening to the owls and coyotes, and one damn cow somewhere in the distance that just will not shut up. She sounds so sad. We talk about everything. About everyone. About books we've read. Stories we've written. So many stories we still hope to write

What I learn: I can sit in the same room with another person and write, as long as that person is Pamela. Yes, I'm easily distracted. But it's fun! Not annoying. And if we get stuck on a part of our stories, we put our heads together and bounce ideas. Khyr needed to kill someone. Shawna needed closure. Khyr needed A Reason. Shawna needed one crummy line to make everything okay.

We work it out.

P.S. # 1: Although we've asked each other several times Hey! Can you smell me? and the answer is always no, we decide to risk the snake and hit the bath house.

No snake. It's relatively clean. I wear flipflops to ward off plantars warts. I take advantage of ther drain and running water to, well, you know...

However, we do lock ourselves in. It takes Pam five minutes to figure out how to pry open the door while I hover and moan and wring my hands. Honest to God it's the longest five minutes of my life.

But my hair is clean. This makes me happy.

And my revisions are nearly finished. This makes me even happier.

P.S. # 2: We also discover a second cabin on the other side of the bathhouse. We let ourselves in and discover it's much, MUCH cleaner. Obviously we were put in the wrong one by Mr. ATV who had admitted he didn't know which cabin was ours.

But we are already settled in. We've grown attached to our Little House in the Big Woods. The second outhouse, however, is nowhere NEAR as nasty as ours, i.e. you can't see the $hit from six feet away. So we make plans to use it if, ya know, "push" comes to shove...

Little Writers in the Big Woods: Part 4

So Day 1 ends with us...

1. Enjoying our surroundings:

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2. Feeding the fish:

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3. Learning how to successfully build a (small) fire:

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4. Learning how to successfully pee in a drinking cup:

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(and figuring we won't do MORE than pee for the next 96 hours)

5. Learning you can't cook hamburgers fast enough when you are really, really hungry and that two hours later they might still be bleeding over the (broken) grill...but that's okay, cuz we DID have this:

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6. And getting some actual WRITING done. Which, after all, is The Reason We Are Here:

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Of course, by nighttime our "citiness" gets the better of us (even Pam, haha). Here we are in the middle of nowhere, in a teeny cabin surrounded by miles of forest. Owls hooting. Crickets chirping. COYOTES yowling. Oh, yeah, and a constant barrage of gunfire that thankfully ends as the sun goes down.

But when the sun does go down--man, it is freaking dark! We hang towels over the (curtainless) windows so we don't feel quite so helpless and exposed. Like fish in a bowl. Or, more accurately, like fresh bait in a trap:

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(Of course if that towel had landed on that heater, I wouldn't be blogging at all)

Oh, and did I happen to mention UNFORTUNATE INCONVENIENCE #5???


No cell phone. No land line. N-o-t-h-i-n-g.

Who cares? We're pioneers! With laptops.

Little Writers in the Big Woods: Part 3

Unfortunate Inconvenience #4: OK, I guess a microwave was a bit much to expect. So much for all the popcorn we brought along. But, silly us, we figured the oven would work. Maybe it did. We never found out. The door was broken, and held together with a plastic tie. Luckily. the stove worked. We had to light it by hand, which mean risking our sleeves going up in flames every time.

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But who needs a stinkin' oven?

We have a grill! We have lighter fluid! Charcoal! Matches!

Or we can channel Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket and build us a campfire!

After all, we are not here to eat popcorn--we are here to write! Pam needs to do some serious work on Khyr. I need to finish revising Shawna. Eating is incidental. Besides, it might be a bit difficult to enjoy a nice slab of meat when you have this old guy gazing down over the dinner table:

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Pam, an iced tea addict, has a mild meltdown over the fact there were no ice cube trays. She creatively figures out how to make a few of her own by putting a plate of water in the freezer. Yes, there is a freezer.

Me, I'm still freaking out over the No Coffee business. When the so-called "percolator" (yuckyuckyuck) fails to produce anything resembling coffee, I boil bottled water and dribble into a cup over a scoop of Seattle's Best placed a paper towel.

O-kaaay, this doesn't work, either. It's drinkable, but deadly. Also, these dishes are grungy! It occurs to us this cabin hasn't, um, actually been "cleaned" since the last campers. Not that it's filthy. For instance, once you get up these treacherous stairs that were evidently designed by a munchkin--

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--the upstairs is clean, and cute:

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Downstairs, however, we're talking seriously dirty dishes, pots, pans, and silverware.

1. Gather water.
2. Prime the pump.
3. Pump the water.
4. Boil the water.
5. Dump boiled water into the sink.
6. Scrape other people's crap off the dishes with a knife.
7. Wash the dishes.
8. Pretend not to care that there are zillions of amoeba floating through this same pump, possibly a tadpole that may have escaped notice, and God knows what else.
9. Rinse with bottled water.
10. Lose the prime. Start over.

Here I worried I'd be in INTERNET withdrawal. Instead I am dreaming about my nifty Kitchen Maid dishwasher and a hefty box of lemony-fresh Cascade.

Pam thinks we're in the wrong cabin. I tend to agree.And we haven't even checked out the "bath house" yet.

"Be sure y'all keep the bath house door shut," the owner had warned us. "Thar's a big ole black snake likes to hang out there."

I kind of like snakes, believe it or not. But hell, after this bit of homey advice I may not shower for a week.

Pam, another snake lover, agrees.

We do an awful lot of agreeing, thank God.

Little Writers in the Big Woods: Part 2

The camp owner--whom, I might add, we never laid eyes on again, ever--piled our stuff on an ATV and drove it up to the cabin. Well, most of the stuff. The rest we schlepped in a wheelbarrow.

Correction: Pam schlepped the wheelbarrow. I lugged bags. If someone offered me a significant amount of money I could probably push a wheelbarrow maybe fifty feet. On dry, level concrete. Pam's muscles rippled as she barreled toward the cabin, trudging firmly through grass, trenches, and slippery clay. I followed, whimpering.

After dumping our stuff off and giving us a brief tour, the dude disappeared...and then we discovered

Unfortunate Inconvenience #1: No running water.

Funny how I assumed an "equipped kitchen" meant we'd be able to twist a faucet and have, well, water. No, we had a water pump which involved--YUCK--which involved walking down to the lake, filling empty milk jugs with amoeba-laced water, lugging them back, pouring them into the pump, and then, well...pumping and pumping till we acquired enough suction to draw water from the well.

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Pamela and her "jugs"

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Pamela pumping water

Notice it's Pam pumping the water, not me. One-handed, no less.

Unfortunate Inconvenience #2: Where the hell is the coffee maker???

Oh, wait. Here it is:

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I think I saw one of these back in 1975.

Guess what? It didn't work.

I cannot. Live. Without. Coffee!

And then, ah yes, we found Unfortunate Inconvenience #3. The worst and most astonishing one of all--and if you're even remotely squeamish, do not read any further:

An outhouse.

Yes, we expected an outhouse.

What we did NOT expect was to see something like this:

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The first words out of my mouth were:

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"OMIGOD! I am SO not going back to Cleveland with f***ing hepatitis!"

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Note: This is NOT a "smile" on Pamela's face.

Pam eyed her leftover gas station tea cup. I eyed her leftover gas station tea cup.

Yep, you guess it. Unfortunate Inconvenience #3 temporarily solved:

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Little Writers in the Big Woods

We're ba-a-a-ack! And I will have to write this in increments since I still can't figure out how to do an LJ cut.

Yes, Pam () and I survived the wilderness. Back seat and hatch filled to the brim with bedding, food, and what we *thought* were essentials, and off we headed for the hills last Monday.

We stopped to immortalize ourselves over iced tea and coffee in some little town...well, it couldn't have been that little since it had a Starbuck's:

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I had my coffee. If I'd know it would have been my last decent cup for the week, I might have enjoyed it more. Or bought a damn dozen:

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Pam, NOT a coffee drinker, ran across the street for some gas station iced tea. NOTE: Look at the cup in her hand. Remember this cup. This cup plays a Highly Significant Role in our outing.

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On the way, Pam made a friend: a yellow-tailed mix, possibly Golden Retriever and Lab. I stayed far away. He had a killer bark. Pam, I learned, isn't scared of anything unlike wimpy old city-girl me:

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Yellow-Tail lived in the camp owner's house about a half mile from our cabin. They also had a little art cottage that would make a PERFECT writing studio. Which one of us wouldn't kill for something like this?:

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From there we drove a what seemed like a "short" distance to park the car in a COW PASTURE (which also plays a significant role in our adventure). And then walked down a scenic trail...

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket our cabin, which came with what had been described on the web site as an "equipped" kitchen.

Front view:

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Side view:

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Equipped? EQUIPPED!?!?!? "Equipped" if you're frickin' Laura Ingalls Wilder!

More on this later...

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

2k7 Release: NO CASTLES HERE

This is to announce the release of NO CASTLES HERE, a MG debut novel by fellow 2k7-er A.C.E. Bauer:

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"AUGIE BORETSKI KNOWS how to get by. If you're a skinny white kid in the destitute city of Camden, New Jersey, you keep your head down, avoid the drug dealers and thugs, and try your best to be invisible. Augie used to be good at that, but suddenly his life is changing. . . . First, Augie accidentally steals a strange book of fairy tales. Then his mom makes him join the Big Brothers program and the chorus. And two bullies try to beat him up every day because of it. Just when it seems like things can't get any worse, an ice storm wrecks Augie's school. The city plans to close the school, abandoning one more building to the drug addicts. But Augie has a plan. For the first time in his life, Augie Boretski is not going down without a fight."


PS Starred review from KIRKUS! You go, girl!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Bye for Now!

Tomorrow is the day that Pam and I head for the hills! I'm kind of sorry now I watched all those stories on "When Animals Attack..." Oohing and ahhing over the bears climbing in through kitchen windows, mountain lions leaping on unsuspecting joggers, rabid raccoons...

(Stop it!)

...and "Forensic Files..." Body found in woods. Serial killer on the loose. Prison breaks. Stray gunfire from a clueless hunter--but was it an accident or was it murder?

(I said STOP IT!)

Seriously. I'm very excited, it will be a fun and productive 3 days! Pam's taking Khyr. I'm taking Shawna. Shawna will whine. Khyr will slice her head off.

Hmm. I seem to be obsessed with blood and guts today.

Have you picked up on the fact that I'm a total city girl? To me, communing with nature means pulling out pachysandra and swatting at mosquitos.

I ran over a raccoon once. It was a dark country road. Does that count? The sucker stood there on its hind legs and watched me hit him. Then it took 2 weeks for someone to clean up the body. I had to drive past his corpse every day for two weeks.

Anywa-a-ay...Pam and I will eat thousands of calories and write thousands of words, a thousand miles away from civilization. YAY! And then we get to meet--ta-DAH!--John Green! We will definitely shower first. :)


P.S. I am SERIOUSLY excited!!!!

Friday, October 12, 2007

Friday 5

1. Revisions:
Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
279 / 442

I love the way these are going. I. Seriously. Love. It. How is this possible?

2. I bought John Green's Looking for Alaska for *18 cents* because I found the remains of an old gift cert tucked in a pocket of my wallet. I will be meeting him next week at the OELMA Authorpalooza. TI started it this morning and I'm already halfway through it. Fellow 2k7-er Marlane Kennedy--Me and the Pumpkin Queen--will also be there. :)

3. I got rid of the highlights in my hair. Verrry weird. I don't look like "me" anymore.

4. Pam and I are leaving for our "writing" retreat on MONDAY! Flashlights, check. Bedding, check. Food, check. Chamber pot, check. Etc., etc. We are sooooo PSYCHED!!!

5. Another school shooting, this one only a few blocks from where I work. All the signs were there! I'd also like to add that, from all I've read and heard, this fourteen-year-old shooter was doomed from birth. How very, very sad for everyone involved. When will the leaders of our school districts finally wake up? When will the people in our communities wake up? The school had metal detectors. Oh, I guess they weren't working. The school had security guards. Oh, but not at the door. The boy told a friend he planned to do this. Oh! The friend "thought he was joking."

What is happening to our children? I don't understand.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007


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Baby No Name

From AOL News: "It's a baby girl for Nick Nolte and his longtime partner, Clytie Lane. The baby, who hasn't been named yet, was born Oct. 3 in Los Angeles. She weighed 7 pounds, 13 ounces, the actor's spokesman, Paul Bloch, said Tuesday in a statement."


"Congratulations on your new baby girl, Mr. Nolte."

"Thank you. We're very excited!"

"I'm sure you are! What did you name her?"

"We didn't."

"...didn't what?"

"Didn't name her."

Cough. "You mean, you're rather not release her name at this time--"

"No. We didn't name her. Can't you read?"

"What do you mean you didn't name her? The kid's a fricking week old! What the hell are you calling her all this time?"

"The Baby. You, 'Honey, it's your turn to change The Baby' and..."

"How can you not name your own baby? It's not like you haven't had nine months to come up with one! This is L.A., for crying out loud. Just pick a name out of the produce department or something!"

" Security!"

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Revisions Update

This is page count, not word count:

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
190 / 442

Yesterday I slept for almost 5 hours. Yes, during the day. My first full day off after working I always end up in a groggy stupor, too exhausted to think, let alone write. Naps do me no good, they only make me feel worse. I did manage to finish a very difficult scene before I slipped into a coma and later woke up in the dark. Fast food last night, needless to say.

Today I managed to get a lot more done. ONE MORE WEEK before PAM and I take off for our adventure. What I don't get done here, I can take with me: 3 days of pure, uninterrupted writing bliss. Then when we leave the cabin on Thursday, we're heading down to the Dayton for the Authorpalooza at the OELMA conference. I have no idea what I'm going to read, let alone say, but I'll think of something. Probably about 30 seconds before I hit that podium. :)

Tonight: Off to see The Brave One with Beth and Ruthy. More fast food! Oh, well.

Belated birthday gifts from sister Karen: One More Day by Mitch Albom and The Voice of the Sparrow: the Very Best of Edith Piaf. Yay!!!

Horoscope: Someone with a powerful spiritual vision has recently entered your life and now the message becomes even clearer. Although you are open to what is being said, you have sense enough to accept the teaching or to reject it if it doesn't jive with your outlook. Don't be afraid to trust your instincts, for it's possible that you might already know what you need.