May 29, 2007

Memorial Day Weekend

We went camping, of course! What else do you do on Memorial Weekend?

We went to Covenant Campground, which is a whole 3 miles from home. I know that sounds lame, but at least we weren't hanging around the house with a five-mile-long to-do list! Instead, we were trapped for half of the time inside the camper with restless children. Michigan + Memorial Day Weekend = Rain.

Still, we had a great time. Camping is fun when it's just the four of us, but it's also very enjoyable when we go with friends and family. Our group had 5 campers and 10 children between us this time.

Here's the hubby making breakfast...


The boys playing with their cars...

The little ones at the playground..

May 24, 2007

The End of a Season

Well, the boys had their last soccer game tonight. This is a huge relief. While I love watching them play, it becomes a bit hectic when two different sports overlap. Finishing up soccer means I only have to worry about baseball/t-ball now.

My oldest boy had a great time at his last game of the spring season. The coaches agreed to play "just for fun". Each coach played goalie and every kid played at all times. There were two balls on the field, too, which made it even more interesting. As you can imagine, they had a blast!

My little fella's team lost for the first time this season. While this might sound sad, it was actually quite funny. Let me give you the setup:

My nephew is on my son's team, so on the sideline you have me and my sister hooting and hollering for our little people.

On the field was my sister's significant other and his son, who happened to be on the other team. Now, my sister's man has been scoping out our team for weeks, worrying about our little tagteam. Not to brag, but my kid is fast!


The real competition wasn't so much on the field between the little people, but between my sister and her man. Apparently there was some kind of bet between them. I didn't get any details, which is probably a GOOD thing. But my sister did tell me not to talk to the enemy and mentioned she wouldn't be answering her phone tonight. Please keep in mind this was all done with good humor and lots of teasing.

After his son scored several goals on our little men, my sister's man retracted his protest. My sister ignored him. I could only laugh.

Eventually we got our kidlets home, where I decided to take some pictures of my boys in their medals. I'll post them later when I'm feeling more enthusiastic.

WIP Progressing

I've been feeling rather motivated lately when it comes to my writing. I've actually been working on it a little each day. Of course when I say "a little", I really mean a little.

Our nights are tied up with tutoring, baseball, soccer, and t-ball right now. Every night this week = running the roads. Oh, and running the roads = lots of gas, which = no money!

Of course, we all know those record-breaking oil profits are a TOTAL coincidence! (wink, wink)

But I digress. As usual.

I was going to post about my progress on the WIP. I've been reading the (incomplete) rough draft for continuity and unnecessary repetitive info. So far, so good. Of course, I've discovered some ghastly word choices and thunky scenes. What I find truly amazing is how easily some of those cleaned right up. A few words here, a half-dozen deletions there, and things just worked. If only all the corrections needed went half so well!

I started re-reading because I felt as if the story had lost its "umph". It felt drawn out and conflict-lite. This feeling usually has me doing something insane like killing off a character or two just to keep things interesting. But...killing someone off wasn't in the plans just yet! So, needing reassurance, I decided to do a complete re-read of the story.

I know. This is against all the writerly wisdom out there. Don't read until the draft is done, that's the mantra. If only I could work that way. I'd probably be a lot quicker turning out the stories!

I have two more chapters to read and then I'll be back to where I left off. I'm hoping I'll be able to do this over the weekend as I'm taking the laptop camping and it's supposed to rain. (What would Memorial Day Weekend be without some rain clouds hovering over the campground? An anomaly, that's what!) Of course, I'd be delighted to have nothing but sunshine and forgo writing.

Probably another reason I'm not moving any closer to the ole publication goal. I lack discipline. Maybe that'll change after the kids are grown and I'm able to retire? I don't know, but I totally plan on writing every day then.

May 21, 2007

Monday Update

Another weekend come and gone. I hardly remember Friday night. I know I went shopping for my nephew's birthday the next day. Of course, that was after I picked up the munchkins from daycare. The hubby...was..helping Phil with his truck. Okay, so it's starting to come back to me now.

Geesh. It was only a few days ago!

Saturday I had - as you might have guessed - a birthday party to attend. We arrived almost on time, which is a miracle and totally worthy of mentioning. After we did the birthday thing, I brought the kids home for some dinner. I thought we'd wait for the hubby to show up at home, too, but he decided to meet us back at the site of the birthday party instead. So, back to my brother's house we went for a few hours next to the bonfire (my sister-in-law's birthday was Sunday, so the bonfire was an early birthday celebration for her sans gifts. Cheap, aren't we?)

That brings us to Sunday. I have to admit I was laaazzy. Other than laundry, I did nothing productive. Well, not as far as housework or flower beds go. However, I did manage to read 1.5 books. I spent a few hours in the bathtub with the first one, which was already half read by the time I got in the tub, and then a lot of time curled up in the recliner with the second one. Finished them both. And it felt great. I can't tell you when I last read a book.

Oh, shush. I was more than a week ago. I know it was.

My weekend closer was watching America's Next Top Model. Then it was lights out.

Today...just the EDJ, to borrow from Joely. Oh, and making sure the little man got off to the tutor.

Speaking of which, I really love my time at the library while he's working with her. I managed to do some work on the WIP! Laptops rule!

May 16, 2007

Dancing Debut

My four-year-old niece had her dancing debut tonight. And let me just say she was beyond precious! She was a duck with little yellow feathers ruffled around her behind and gracing the little orange-billed cap on her head. So cute!

(Yes, you're going to need to forgive some gushing.)

When my sister called to confirm that I still wanted my ticket--as if I'd suddenly change my mind!--she warned me that our princess had suffered an acute attack of stage fright at dress rehearsal last night. This meant there was a very real possiblity that she wouldn't perform tonight. My sister was just hoping she wouldn't stand up there crying again.

Now, I would have watched her sob in her little ballet shoes if that's what would have happened, but it wasn't! Princess danced. And sang. She wiggled her little yellow feathers and looked so darn adorable it brought tears to my eyes.

(Of course I cried. My one and only niece in her dancing debut, overcoming her fears to perform...you would have cried a little bit, too. Unless you're my hubby. He wouldn't have cried, but he's not prone to sappiness.)

The only downside to the whole night was the "No pictures" rule. The only snapshots I got of my girl were at the house just before we left. They're not the best. Certainly not professional.


May 12, 2007

It's Saturday...but I'm at work.

Yep, that's right. I'm at work today. Mother's Day weekend and I'm sitting in a computer lab proctoring a TOEFL exam for 14 students. On the brighter side, I'm getting paid overtime for three hours and I was able to work on the budget.

But there's only so much I can do away from my desk, so now I'm browsing websites and thinking about working on the WIP.

May 11, 2007

Snippet - Vampire Romance

NOTICE: This material is copyrighted, first draft, full of typos, and possibly not even going to be in the final draft. Do not quote or repost anywhere or in any format. Thanks.

Gabe stretched, yawned, and relaxed into the mattress without bothering to open his eyes. His movements had stirred a soft, womanly scent from the blanket and sheets. He inhaled and held his breath, savoring the subtle fragrance. Coffee and vanilla. He remembered then that he had spent the night in Makenna's bed. By himself.

His stomach growled, encouraging him to roll out of bed. He had left the bathroom light on last night before crawling into king-sized bed, which was a good thing because he never would have found his way across the bedroom now without the sliver of light to lead him. The windowless room shrouded the room in complete darkness. It also robbed him of all sense of time. He had no way to know how long he had slept. It felt like hours but might have been only minutes.

He brushed his teeth, grabbed a towel and turned on the shower. Within minutes he had shampooed, washed down, and turned off the water. He knew now the vanilla scent she carried came from both her shampoo and body wash.

After toweling himself dry, Gabe walked out of the bathroom with the towel around his waist and rummaged through his duffel bag for some clean clothes. Finding something suitable, he dressed and finished his morning routine, folding his clothes and placing them on the end of the bed. He'd have to talk to his hostess about the laundering service. He assumed she had a washing machine and dryer stashed away somewhere inside her apartment; she didn't strike him as the type to run to the laundry mat with a roll of quarters.

Standing behind the bedroom door, one hand on the doorknob and the other gripping his laptop case, Gabe hesitated. Despite the hunger gnawing at his stomach, he wondered if he really wanted to open the door and reenter the surreal situation he had found himself in last night. The moment he stepped across the threshold, he entered her world again, a world where demons walked.

He opened the door.

As he stood at the top of the stairwell leading to the main floor of the apartment suite, he could hear the soft murmur of activity below and knew she had awakened as well. The thought sent a surge of energy through him and he realized he was actually looking forward to seeing her. Strange. He hadn't been so sure just minutes before.

He found her in the kitchen, chopping vegetables. She glanced up as he entered the room. "How does an omelet sound?"

"Sounds great," he said as he dropped his laptop onto the small, sturdy table. "I didn't expect you to cook for me. Thanks."

"Well, it would be rude to cook for just for myself," she said, leaving the onion and green pepper on the cutting board while she rummaged in a cupboard for a skillet. Sausage sizzled in a nearby pan.

"I didn't know vampires could eat."

She muttered an obscenity as a pile of dishes threatened to spill out of the cupboard. When she resurfaced, her hair pulled back in a ponytail and her face glowing like she had just scrubbed it clean, she flashed him a grin. "Most of us enjoy food. Even if it doesn't do much for us."

"Digestive problems?"

She shook her head. "Not really. But regular food doesn't really stop the cravings. We can't substitute food for blood. It doesn't work that way."

"So you feel hunger?" he asked, marveling at how easy this peculiar conversation tripped off his tongue.

She shook her head. "No, not really. My stomach never growls." She glanced at his midsection and grinned when it grumbled, almost as if on cue. "But I like the taste and texture of food, so I eat whenever I happen to think about it." She shrugged. "Having you here made me think about it."

Although he wasn't much of a cook, Gabe felt obligated to offer some assistance. When she turned him down, waving him away with a careless flick of her hand, he retreated to the table. He pulled out his laptop and powered it up. As the system booted up he realized he didn't know if he would be able to do half of what he needed to accomplish. "Do you have wireless in here? I told a few of my student's I'd have their papers back to them today."

"Yeah, you should be able to connect without a problem," she said as she cracked an egg on the side of the pan. "Do you want orange juice or coffee? The juice has pulp."

"Coffee, please."

She motioned toward the far end of the counter with a greasy spatula. "Help yourself. The pot's over there. Cups are in the overhead cupboard."

It took her fifteen minutes or more to finish preparing their breakfast. While she moved around the kitchen, Gabe logged in to the University email system. After responding to a few students and downing two cups of coffee, he checked his author's web site. He scrolled through the message boards, replying to various posts.

"Here you go," Makenna said, sliding a plate onto the table near his elbow. The omelet she had promised him took up most of its surface, while the sausage links appeared little more than an afterthought. The combination of egg, cheese, sausage, and green peppers made his mouth water.

She sat down across from him with a plate of her own and began to eat, although she seemed more interested in what he was doing than what she was eating. Her eyes shifted between him and his computer.

"Thank you," he said, surprised at just how healthy an appetite he had. Obviously learning he was a marked man had very little impact on his dietary habits. "It looks great."

"Don't thank me until you've tried it. Just because I like to eat, that doesn't mean I know how to cook."

Gabe smiled and speared the nearest link. He took a bite. Pungent spices filled his mouth. Heaven. "Good enough for me."

She narrowed her eyes at him in mock outrage. "Gee. Thanks."

He laughed. "No, it's really good. Thank you."

May 3, 2007

The Beginning of Baseball

If I haven't mentioned it before, the hubby is coaching the our oldest son's baseball team again this year. He got the roster last week and set up practices for this Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. Each night the kids are supposed to practice for one and a half hours. He wasn't this aggressive last year in practice, but last year the kids weren't pitching to each other, able to steal bases, or any of that other "real baseball" jazz.

I probably shouldn't say anything, but this is my blog and I'll say it if I want! When the hubby got the roster last week he wasn't real happy. Although the teams are supposed to be randomly selected, it's very clear there's very little randomness involved in roster selection. The teams are stacked. In this age bracket we have two teams in our little town. 95% of the best players end up on the same team; the remaining 5% end up on the hubby's roster.

Yet, the Athletic Association representatives will tell you it's totally coincidental that we got the exact same roster as last year. Well, almost the exact same roster. The hubby did get two new kids (due to age restrictions). But the other 10 or 11 were on the hubby's team last year.

Coincidental, my ass. If they wanted random selection, they'd let the coaches be there when the name's are "drawn" to ensure it's done fairly and without prejudice. Regardless of they tell us, it's evident there's someone controlling the outcome of these rosters. I'd blame it on the parents but then that would make liars out of the athletic organization representatives who tell the parents they can't request coaches or teammates, unless the child in question has a relative on the team or their parent is coaching.

But I'm ranting. Not my intention. Well, maybe it was a little bit...

What I really wanted to tell you was how darn cold it was last night at practice. That wind definitely delivered a chill. Of course, my six-year-old insisted he was "hot" and refused to wear a jacket. I guess when you're running around the playground equipment you work up a sweat. Whereas sitting on your rump talking to the other parents doesn't heat up the blood all that much.

I guess it could be worse, though. It could be the end of football season and snow could be falling.

May 1, 2007

Bits of trivia

So, the hubby started a blog! I'm surprised and curious. I wonder what he's going to post over there...better not be complaining about his perfect, sweet little wifey poo. But why would he? It's hard to grump about perfection. (~wink~) Nah, I'm sure there will be pictures of brew pots and grain and beer bottling systems. Maybe a picture of two of the latest hunt or catch.

I also thought I'd mention that I finished my final exam today. The studying is done! Yay. I doubt I'll get a 100% on this one, but I think I did well enough to get at least a B in the class. Had I done better on my first paper (don't ask), I might have even guesstimated a low A. Oh, well.

This means I can now focus my energy on more enjoyable tasks. I plan on working on the collab again. Just waiting on my sister (hint, hint) to finish the prologue and the second chapter. In the meantime, though, I can work on my vampire story.

I've got a bit of work to do with that particular story. My mom has given me some Bible references I plan on reading to help gain some inspiration. There are many elements in this book that are tied to God, Satan, angels and demons. I like to think I'm putting a unique twist on it. It's so hard to tell with all the vampire books out there I haven't read. Be assured, though, that I believe in Good over Evil, that love triumphs.

I also plan on breaking out my brand new deck of Tarot cards. Now, don't freak out on me. This is something I'm going to try in order to help with character development. It has nothing to do with telling the future or messing with anything Satanic. Of course I realize this will not relieve those of you who see them as an instrument of the devil, so let me try to explain why I've purchased these cards and how I plan on using them.

I first heard about using Tarot cards as a source of visual inspiration from Holly Lisle. She recommends buying a deck if you plan on using her Create a Plot book. Now I haven't purchased this book yet, but that's only because I'm waiting to make sure the book is fully edited.

Basically, if understand the little bit that has been mentioned on the subject, the Tarot cards are used to help the writer break away from their first instincts in plotting. By using the surprise selection of a few decorative cards the writer must figure out how to make the meaning, symbology, or elements of the artwork work for their story. Want to see how it works? Joely posted her results from her initial attempt. Check them out.