Thursday, June 30, 2011


After spending an afternoon scrubbing grit and mildew out that whole freezer (so I'd have some place to stash my WW dinners), I plugged it in and discovered...

It's totally dead.

Three hours of my life I'll never get back.

My fridge is also on its very last leg. That, however, I'm almost happy about. It's a side-by-side and I've HATED it for the whole 22 years I've had it. Skinny little freezer, skinny little fridge, with neither side good for anything. DO NOT EVER, EVER BUY A STUPID SIDE-BY-SIDE! It's the dumbest thing I ever bought besides this basement-less house. Forget throwing a pizza box or a sheet cake inside. Forget having adequate space to even stash a significant amount of leftovers. Forget freezing a TURKEY.

Now that it's leaking from the bottom and freezing my lettuce, I guess it's time for a shopping trip. Lovely. Let me run out to my backyard and grab some bills off a branch. BRB.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

25 Pounds Come Hell or High Water

Last year hubby decided we don't stock enough food in the garage freezer to justify it use. So he turned it off. I agreed at the time.

Then this spring--as I try to avoid the garage at all costs, which is used for JUNK, not cars--I noticed the freezer door was standing open. The shelves are loaded with dirt.


Hubby: I didn't want it to get musty.

Me: ??? *%#* ??? *$%# ??? %$&*!!!!!!!!!!!!!

So my job today is to clean out that freezer so Beth and I can load it up with Weight Watchers dinners. Five of us at work, plus Beth, and another friend, plan to lose 25 pounds by Thanksgiving. That's 5 pounds a month. I've even started walking (around the hospital, through the ghetto on my break, which means it's a pretty fast walk, pepper spray in hand). Plus I'm sure the 17 bags of mulch I hauled across the yard yesterday afternoon must have knocked off a couple hundred calories.

I will call this challenge...BlubberMo! :) Anyone care to join in? :)

Monday, June 27, 2011

Current Addictions

1. Nicorette gum

2. The Casey Anthony trial

3., plants

4. Multi-colored Twizzlers

5. The Casey Anthony trial. Oh wait.I already said that.

6. Arizona raspberry iced tea

7. Roseanne reruns

8. Buying new underwear

9. A certain message board that shall not be named

10. Casey Anthony...

Friday, June 24, 2011

Friday 5

1. Decided to trim my own hair. Decided, after the fact, that that was a very bad idea. Situation rectified thanks to a very resourceful hairdresser.

2. 5 of us at work made a pact to lose 25 pounds by Thanksgiving. Anyone wanna join in?

3. We're to the point now where if one of us just starts singing "Bennie and the Jets", Eli jumps right in and howls his head off. We don't even have to play the video for him.

4. Don't you love it when people try to make you change the way you've been doing something for years, and then you later find out you were doing it right all along and they don't know wtf they're talking about?

5. Are you happy tonight? I am. I am VERY HAPPY. It's been a happy, happy day.

Have a great weekend! xox

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Writers Write About Writing: Deal With It

I love Besty Lerner’s book on writing and publishing, The Forest Through the Trees. I like it so much, I recommend it to other writers every chance I get. It's brilliant, and gives us an editor's eye-view of the whole business of publishing (and writing).

As for her blog--The Forest Through the Trees (OK, we get it) I am not so sure because I’ve only just discovered it. On first inspection it looked funny and intriguing. Chances are I'll find it to be exactly that--after my rant.

THIS WAS THE FIRST post I read, which started out with: "Why do I get so grossed out when writers talk about their craft, their process, or worst of all: their art. In part, it sounds phoney to me, as if you could qualify, quantify, codify how you work. You’re a lucky bastard if you’re any good at all and that’s all you need to know.”

And I thought, well, okay, that last part is true. You ARE a lucky bastard if you’re any good at all. You’re even luckier if you suck, and, by some miracle, you hit the literary jackpot with your 700 pages of dreck and end up with a 10-book series published in 47 languages, plus a movie franchise and a talk-show tour.

In fact, you can consider yourself lucky if you manage to complete a single manuscript. You’re lucky if anyone ever sees it who isn’t related by blood or marriage, unless it’s someone out to scam you for every dime you’re worth. You’re lucky if get a request for a partial in 212 area code, never mind the full manuscript. Then you’re lucky as hell if anyone says yes.

“It’s not luck: it’s skill.” How many times have you heard this? Hello, if it’s strictly skill, then explain why someone who writes and sells a first novel maybe never get another “yes”? What, you write one well-crafted, commercially viable novel that sells, and then nothing else you produce even garners a nibble?

Or maybe you can’t even produce? Is that even possible? Of course it is. If that’s not a butt-load of bad luck, I don’t know you'd call it.

So that part I agree with 110%. I also agree with this, which kind of goes along with what I just said: “I also think that writing is completely mysterious; you never know when the hell you’re going to make a break-through or when the words will dry up and float away like new year’s paper.”

No argument from me there.

Now read the whole piece if you haven’t already. Maybe working on a psych floor has ignited a new-found sense of paranoia in me, but why do I detect a sense of ridicule for writers (like many of us here on LJ) who choose to discuss the craft? It may not be intentional; after all, Lerner’s a writer herself. But—and maybe it’s just me, and the fact that I ran out of Zoloft three days ago—to say a writer still has her “training wheels on” because she needs to produce multiple drafts of a project to get it right…well, I found that insulting and condescending, to say nothing of...well, stupid. How many of you write a perfect first or second draft? Hands up! Anyone?

Then, speaking of insults, I found this in her comment section: “The thing that irritates me most is that they think they actually have something interesting to say about writing when they have one YA novel under their belts.”

WHOA! Stop the train. Now someone really pissed on my Pop-Tart.

Because I’m not a full-time writer who’s really “in” the business, maybe I’m safely insulated in the sense that I’ve never experienced, firsthand, that kind of contempt toward YA authors. Though I’ve heard that it happens, I’ve never been asked, “When are you going to write a real book now?” And it’s a damn good thing because I’m not sure how I’d react. To have such contempt for authors who write anything but mainstream adult fiction…well, it’s mind-boggling to me. It would never occur to me to ask, say, a picture book writer, “Hey, when ya gonna break down and write something for grown-ups?” I tried writing a picture book once. Anyone who thinks that’s easy obviously hasn't a clue in the world.

I think most authors, with a few amazing exceptions (Jane Yolan, for example) find their own niche in writing and then stick to it for the life of their careers. You’re not “less” of a writer because you write for children, More importantly, writing for adults doesn’t make you this incredible entity worthy of any more respect. It certainly doesn’t give you the right to turn your nose up at rest of us. Anyone's mother would slap you upside the head for that.

So, yes, we writers write, and we enjoy discussing the craft. How is that different from any other profession? Nurses discuss nursing, often in hideous, gut-wrenching detail. Lawyers discuss cases, and, if they lost, they analyze what went wrong and how to prevent it in the future. Don’t doctors, artists, teachers, shopkeepers, dog walkers, hairdressers, peanut vendors—any profession you can think of—all sit around and yammer about their jobs? Of course they do. It’s a part of life.

We writers do precisely the same thing. The difference is, because we are writers, we also write these things down on our blogs. No, this isn’t the way to attract readers who’ll then want to rush out and buy our books. That's not why we do it. We write these things for ourselves, and we write them for other writers.

If you don't want to read it? Don’t click on our links.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Tuesday Teaser from THE UNQUIET

It's been a while. I may have posted this before, but I'm really grasping with this one-post-a-day-thing. :-)

~ ~ ~

If Annaliese were alive, she’d be Mom’s age now. Maybe she’d still be living here, sleeping in that canopy bed.

Maybe she and her grandmother would plant flowers together. Play checkers. Laugh at TV shows. Count fireflies on a summer night. All the things Nana and I used to do.

I hear them now: Annaliese, saying, “Grandma, I love you the best.”

Mrs. Gibbons: “No, you don’t. You love your mother the best.”

Annaliese: “If my mother loved me she wouldn’t have sent me away.”

Mrs. Gibbons: “She only wants to keep you safe.”

Annaliese: “I don’t care. I love you best, more than anyone else.”

Mrs. Gibbons: “I think she might be sad if she knew you felt that way.”

Annaliese, slyly: “Then we’d better not tell her, right?”

But maybe Annaliese’s love for her grandmother won’t be enough. She’ll come home one day, call for her grandmother, and no one will answer. She’ll wander from room to room, searching, confused. She’ll reach the attic stairs and walk up them, one by one, still calling for the person she loves more than her own mother—

—only to discover a tipped chair.

A discarded slipper.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

I'm Feeling MUCH Better About My Weight Today...




The 5 Best Things I Inherited from My Dad:


1. My sense of humor

2. My eyes

3. Courage

4. Patriotism

5. A love for music

Happy Father's Day, Daddy. I hope you're watching.

Saturday, June 18, 2011


Some "Freak" on WN called me a bigot yesterday. I had to chew my fingers down to the knuckles to refrain from a response much nastier than the one I posted. I'm not alone in believing this guy (or girl, or whatever) is a semi-literate nutcase who gets his jollies from instigating fights--in fact, I'd say it's pretty unanimous--but still.

I'd be pretty ticked off if it weren't so ludicrous. HAHAHAHA! Get off my planet.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Next Time I'll Just Park in Front

Warning: if you pull around to the very-remote-completely-deserted-middle-of-nowhere back of a garden center, and no one waiting there to load your mulch, or your top soil, or whatever you just blew a couple hundred bucks on ($211.80 to be precise) it's probably not a good idea to park your car behind the mile-high pile of 2.0 cubic feet bags and then start wandering around, looking for dusk.

I thought that first building back there might lead to the main store, so I wandered inside, noting with distaste the plant corpses strewn about. The building led into an adjoining building, kind of a half-greenhouse, half-barn, all musty and gross with more dead/dying plants, piles of junk everywhere--and NOBODY AROUND. Not a person, not a sound--

Till something CRASHED ten feet away from me, and a giant RAT (or more likely a possum) leaped into the air and then scrabbled out of sight, knocking stuff out its way. Not particularly bothered by massive rodents, I continued, less enthusiastically, into the next building, not much more than a large shed with empty shelves and the pervasive stench of rotting plants. Oh--and manure.

No main store in this direction, obviously. Well, hell. Where was I?

I heard a distant buzz. Possibly a...chainsaw?

Then it occurred to me that my car was parked waaay our of sight from the road, and that for all I know some homicidal lunatic could've followed me here, and who would hear my screams? No one but the possum and I doubt he'd been trained to run and bark for help. Now I pictured my face plastered all over Nancy Grace (yeah, middle-class, professional white woman--a shoo-in, right?) and my husband bleating miserably into the camera: "B-but she just drove off to pick up the rest of the mulch. She had to make two trips because she was too cheap--" (notice how he's already speaking of me in the past tense?) "--to pay the twenty-five bucks for delivery. I haven't seen her since!"

And Nancy's arch-browed smirk, which of course you know means: yeah, right, buddy! Tell it to the judge.

I whirled around and raced--well, stumbled; I was wearing flip-flops--back the way I came and made the five-minute trek all the way around to the road, to the main entrance of the garden center, and grabbed the nearest clerk who then tracked down the kid who was supposed to be waiting for me.

"Oh," he said blankly. "I didn't see you pull in."

I tipped him anyway.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011


Hubby read my books!

It only took him 4 years.


Love ya, babe. :)

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Nicotine DTs

1. Drive to Borders with lap top, excited that you finally have a chance to work on Current Project.

2. Grab a medium Mint Chocolate Javakula, make yourself comfortable, rev up your computer, and settle into place.

3. Try not to think about the fact that this is the first time you've attempted to write without taking a cigarette break every 30 15 minutes.

4. Open documents. Whoops! Where's the Current Project? It's true you haven't worked on it in, oh, three months or so. But it has to be there, right?

5. Wrong Current project is not there. You never downloaded it from your old computer. Well, at least it's on the flash drive...

6. Except you didn't bring your flash drive.

7. Don't you wish you had a cigarette right now?

8. Open another file, the Dreaded Synopsis which needs serious work. At least it's something.

9. Work, work, work....then it's time for a cigarette--WAIT! NO! You quit over a month ago.

10. Whiny voice: "But--but I don't know how to write without smoking. I do my very best work under the influence of nicotine, tar, and a variety of proven carcinogens."

11. Mean voice: "ARE YOU STOOOOPID? This is nothing but an excuse for you not to write."

12. "Yes, but--"

13. "No buts! You're no better than a junkie. Just WRITE, for God's sake,"

14. Okay. I do. Write, write, write, I just need a break.

15. Walk around store. Look at books. You were smoking those e-cigs up until yesterday. You chomped on a couple of "borrowed" pieces of nicorette gum. Methadone for smokers. It doesn't kick you out of the habit. It just keeps you from killing anyone.

16. Like now: yes, you really want to kill someone now. That twit yammering loudly on the cell phone at the next table. That screaming kid who wants the chocolate-covered espresso beans her mom won't buy for her. Look, lady--BUY HER THE DAMN BEANS AND GET HER THE HELL OUT OF HER BEFORE SOMEONE GETS HURT!

17. Pant, pant. You're okay. Really.

18. Write, write, write. Another break, and you play on Writers Net--such fun! Seriously. Your new best friends.

19. Write, write, write...

20. Write.....wriiite.........wriiiiiite... Oh, you seriously, desperately NEED THAT CIGARETTE. Your hands are shaking. Can't be the coffee you ordered as soon as you gulped down the Javakula, right?

21. Get up and walk. Pee. Circle the bookstore again. Sarah Dessen has an entire table devoted to her books. You have no such table. You probably never will. Does this piss you off? Not if you had a cigarette right now...

22. Back to table. Write, write, write. You are getting nowhere. Every word is stupid. You start to hallucinate, believing that pen in your purse is a stray, stale, long-forgotten cigarette. You refrain from lighting it up. You take deep breaths and count to 10. You visualize yourself as a tobacco-free person who will live to be a hundred, write ten bestsellers...ohmm...ohm, ohm, ohhhmmmmm....

23. Then you stare at your computer screen. You've done absolutely nothing of any significance.


25. Abandoning your stuff (not the lap top, of course) you race out to your car, gun the engine, zoom across the street to Big Bird, grab what you need, pay for it ($50), zoom back to Borders, and fall back down at your table.

26. You rip open the package and pop the gum into your mouth. Minty fresh. It tingles! You gradually relax. You actually smile. People wonder why that glassy-eyed woman in the corner is smiling around a mouthful of gum, gazing into space.

27: Mean Voice: "You just had to do it, didn't you? No self-control what-so-ever."

28. "Oh, just...bite me."

29. You spend the rest of the time in creative bliss, hammering away at the keys, lost in The Zone, not thinking about the ditz with the cell phone, or even Sarah Dessen, because you are now calm and self-confident and loaded with minty nicotine,

It turns out to be a pretty productive day after all.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Brother and Sisters Together Again

Yes, it was a wonderful (and overdue) family reunion at my brother Tommy's wedding last week, to the beautiful Erin Mahon.


This is my brother Milan, who, as I wrote in the acknowledgments of Before/After, was the first person in the world to hear my stories. :)



My brother Tommy, the groom, and sister Mary (whom many of you already know from here and from Facebook)


And my sister Karen, aka SISSY--my best friend in the world!

I love all you guys and I AM SO HAPPY we were together in one place!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Eli's (latest) Boo-Boo


It's blurry, but look at his right eyebrow. It's bald, right? Two days ago he came home from camp with a bump and what looked like an abrasion. He plays rough, and is somewhat clumsy, so it wouldn't surprise me to learn he'd bashed into something. Beth cleaned it with peroxide. Yesterday it looked better. Then, today, he woke up with his eye half-closed.

So back to the vet for the 330th time this year. A bee sting? A spider bite? The vet's not sure, but it's likely something chomped down on his eyebrow, and probably not another dog. The vet said he'll probably lose more hair, but it'll grow back.

Oh, and to apply warm compresses. Yeah, THAT was fun.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

MyTwo Cents

Posting a link a day without much (or any) commentary on my part probably shouldn't count for my "one-post-a-day-for-the-month-of-June" vow. But work's got me down and it's been difficult to muster up enough energy to be both witty and interesting, and consistent.

Anyway. I've been following this WSJ controversy fairly closely, and I'm having regrets that I'm not on Twitter to participate more fully. Do I think the Megan Cox Gurdon is totally off the wall? Well, I realize the point she was trying to make--that YA lit has gotten so dark and so gritty, parents may be concerned about the effect these books have on their children. Point taken, Megan, I'd be lying if I said I haven't read any recent YA books that I'd be very leery of handing over to, say, a 12-year-old.

That said, my own reading material, back in the sixties and seventies, was never monitored by my parents. Nor did I ever restrict my own children's reading material. Yes, I knew what they were reading, and, in most cases I was okay with it. If I wasn't (Stephen King comes to mind) we discussed it. But I never snatched a book our of their hands and screamed why are you reading this trash? I trusted my children to make the right decisions. They read what they were interested in. I was just thrilled they were reading..

One thing that annoyed me about the article was Gurdon's not-so-subtle book bashing, e.g. referring to Cheryl Rainfield's SCARS as "dreadfully clunky." Seriously, even if she'd found the novel flawlessly and exquisitely written, would she have admitted that in print? I doubt it. After all, I think she'd avoid saying anything positive about the book. What if a positive review tempted a child to read the book and then later decide to slice herself up? I highly doubt Gurdon would want that on her conscience.

What REALLY ticked me off was her baseless assumption that "it is also possible—indeed, likely—that books focusing on pathologies help normalize them and, in the case of self-harm, may even spread their plausibility and likelihood to young people who might otherwise never have imagined such extreme measures."

Okay, Meg--show me the scientific study that says that children who read books about "pathologies"--particularly kids who might otherwise never have imagined these things--decide to try these pathologies out.What? No study? No scientific evidence. You mean it's just your opinion? Perhaps you should say so.

FYI: Funny, I've been reading murder mysteries, thrillers, and true crime stories since the age of 12 and not once have I toyed with the idea of shooting, stabbing, or dismembering anyone. Neither have my children, who grew up with the dark YA novel denigrated in the article, not to mention reality TV and video games. Neither have the children of anyone I know. And, trust me, I know a heckuva lot of people.

I've heard many, many YA authors say, and I've said it myself, that we write the kind of stories we wish had been available to us as teens. We "older" authors understand that completely. Younger authors are fortunate to have been able to experience these new and challenging stories from the get-go. For the rest of us, there's still a passion for the newer, grittier, identifiable literature that stems from our being deprived it while growing up.

And by the way, you younger authors--how are you faring after being so inconsiderately exposed to all that "damage, brutality and losses of the most horrendous kinds"? From what I've seen, you seem to be doing just fine--and writing brilliantly. :)

As Laurie Halse Anderson reminds us: "YA literature saves lives. Every. Single. Day."

Never forget it.

ETA: I mistakenly named Lauren Myracle as the author of SCARS instead of Cheryl Rainfield, which amazes me after I made a point to read Rainfield's response to the WSJ article (and BLOGGED about her, no less). Thanks to those of you who pointed out the error.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011


...isn't there a way to upload photos here without messing with Photobucket? Cuz I am waaay too tired to do this right now.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011


What sucks is that I can't "lock" any posts here to sure that only certain people can read them. Therefore, my juiciest posts remain over at LJ. Sorry, folks.

Rinn Wordled

Wordle: Rinn

Monday, June 6, 2011

SCARS Author Speaks Out

Cheryl Rainfield's response to the WSJ article about "dark" YA which specifically mentioned her novel: "...SCARS, a dreadfully clunky 2010 exercise by Cheryl Rainfield that School Library Journal inexplicably called 'one heck of a good book,' ran into difficulties earlier this year at the Boone County Library in Kentucky, but not because of its contents. A patron complained that the book's depiction of cutting—the cover shows a horribly scarred forearm might trigger a sufferer's relapse..."

Though it was a patron who was concerned about the possibility relapse--and she may very well have simply been making conversation--the personal opinion of the article's author did not go unnoticed.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

The Dark Reality of YA Fiction

DARKNESS TOO VISIBLE (from the Wall Street Journal)

"How dark is contemporary fiction for teens? Darker than when you were a child, my dear: So dark that kidnapping and pederasty and incest and brutal beatings are now just part of the run of things in novels directed, broadly speaking, at children from the ages of 12 to 18.

"Pathologies that went undescribed in print 40 years ago, that were still only sparingly outlined a generation ago, are now spelled out in stomach-clenching detail. Profanity that would get a song or movie branded with a parental warning is, in young-adult novels, so commonplace that most reviewers do not even remark upon it..."

I was going to comment. But, frankly, I think I need time to absorb it.

Full article


Friday, June 3, 2011


1. I'm currently addicted to the Casey Anthony trial. Those who know me will not be shocked by this.

2. Eli will have his fence next month. I got several estimates from various companies, all the estimates were basically in the same range, so I picked the company who had the nicest salesman. :)

3. My younger brother Tommy and his fiancee Erin will be married tomorrow, so I have a wedding to go to! Now the trick is finding something to wear. Something that, er, fits, and doesn't look like it was designed by Omar the Tent Maker.

4. Also this weekend, I have a retirement party: Norm Solomon--who makes an appearance in The Unquiet--is retiring and moving to Israel. He will so be missed!

5. I haven't smoked in a month. Yeah, really. :D

Maybe Not?

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Abducted by Facebook

Yes, it's true.

So my goal this month is to write something here every day.

This is my first post. Are you riveted with excitement?