Winter's Tale: A Book Reveiw

Winter's Tale Winter's Tale by Mark Helprin

My rating: 2 of 5 stars
Wasn't nearly as impressed with this book as I had hoped to be. While the premise was promising, the story didn't pull me in as it should have. I really had to struggle to get through the long blocks of description, but, more importantly, I failed to connect with the characters, which means I didn't really care what happened to them or why. Therefore, the story lacked tension.

I will not be adding this one to my keeper shelf.

View all my reviews >>

The Camping Season Begins

It's official. Camping season has started! I can't tell you how happy that makes me. While it may take some work to get the camper ready to go, the reward is worth the effort. And it doesn't matter if we camp alone, just the four of us, or if we're camping with friends or family, we always have a great time.

Last weekend we took a short trip to Covenant Campground. There were four campers in our little group: ours, my brother and SIL's, my Dad's, and my Dad's new SIL.

Among these four campers, there were 6 children and 4 dogs.

Brittney and Sam meet for the first time.

Cash and Sam: For the love of God, human, throw the ball!

Happy hubby.

Papa and the Littlest Princess

Dad, Hubby, and my SIL sitting in the shade.

Free wagon rides!

My Little guy, his friend, and my nephew.

Bike rides. Really, when you're a little boy, is there anything better?

Playing with Daddy (my brother)

The Poops

And, here's the fourth dog. Isn't he adorable?

Some of the polish made it on the toes.

Cooling off at the beach!

Twirling the Littlest Princess.

As you can see, it was a fun-filled weekend with plenty of time for both play and relaxation. Although, I must admit there were a few less than pleasant moments, too. We had to take one of my nephews to the after-hours clinic to get his head stapled after a thrown rock left a sizable hole in his scalp. The next day...our new step-brother had to go the ER because his uvula was abscessed, which was causing him no small amount of distress.

Hopefully our next camping trip will a little less eventful!

Have to Share...

This post by The Oatmeal...

I think I want to print it out and tape it above my kids' monitors....


Making slow progress. This could be because I'm spending way too much time on character development. Not that I think this is a bad thing. The more well-defined my character is, the more connected I will be while writing him or her.

On the down side, I've not touched the actual Word doc. All of my efforts are in the OneNote story bible.

Mother's Day 2010

It was wonderful. First, they let me sleep in. And when I finally forced myself out of bed, I had hardly wiped the sleep from my eyes when they presented me with gift bags full of goodies. In the first was a hummingbird feeder and a bottle of bubble bath. In the second, the hummingbird feeder food and another bottle of bubble bath.

Since I had been pretty vocal in my need for bubble bath, this was awesome.

And who doesn't love hummingbirds?

After gifts and breakfast, Hubby went into the bedroom to watch TV. This left me with control of the Living Room. You have to know I spent a good hour or so playing my game. I'm sure I would have played longer, but we were expecting my in-laws, so I decided it was time to give the bubble bath a trial run.

I made it through a chapter and a half of my book. It was lovely.

After lunch at Bob Evans (no line, good food, and the right price), we made a trip to Menard's. Hubby wanted to check out supplies for the basement remodeling job we keep talking about and I wanted to get a Shepard's Hook for the flower bed. After wandering around there for way too long looking at anything and everything, we went home and put up the hummingbird feeder.

I kid you not, about twenty minutes after the feeder went onto the Hook, we had a small visitor. I'm still surprised by how quickly the little critter found the feeder!

Now if I can just get a picture of him...

Looking Back

In 2002 I started this blog with the intention of talking about my writing.

At the time I was working on Dragonborn: The Beginning. It was my first attempt at writing fantasy. Things I remember about that first attempt:
  1. I really wanted to tell the child's story, but because I didn't know enough about the world she lived in, I decided I'd better tell her parents' stories first. That way, when I finally got around to writing the story I really wanted to tell, I'd know the political landscape and how she came by her unique magic.
  2. It was fun to write.
  3. It seemed to write itself.
  4. My first online critique partner loved it. In fact, he raved.
  5. I sent it to Tor with hardly any polishing and still managed to get a couple of hand-written notes on the rejection letter.
I learned a lot from that first fantasy novel.

But after that rejection - the only one I ever risked - I put it away and moved on to something else. Most of what came after that first fantasy novel were more along the lines of character or plot sketches, but a couple actually grew into full stories.

But during the blog's first few years, my topics broadened to include my family.

Dad and his boys

Look how little they are! Based on the date stamp there, the little man had just turned three, which would put the oldest at 6.

Look at them now!

First Pair of Glasses
The Little Man

2nd Place - Birch Run
The Big Guy

But it's not just my two boys that have grown. The kids in my family have not only grown older, they've also grown in number. In 2005 there were 10 kids total on my side of the family. Of those ten, only one was a girl. (She's there...back row, next to my oldest boy.)

10 Little Cousins

The years brought us a couple more babies, one of which was another girl! You can find her on her big brother's lap.

The First Shot

The years also brought our family a new pet, a new camper, and at least two new (used) vehicles.

Tired Puppy
Cash (a.k.a. Cassius, Poops, Poopie-Puppy)

Camping (oh, how many pictures I have of us camping...)

I'm not sure if I have pictures of the truck and car...but really, who cares about them, right?

Back to more important things. Things like vacations! Since 2002 we've gone to....

Picture 063
Las Vegas

Maine Trip 3 074

Munising, MI

At the Kingdom Gates
Magical Kingdom

Practicing with our Snorkels
Typhoon Lagoon

Rockin' Rollercoaster
Hollywood Studios

Animal Kingdom

Team Gaming
Disney Quest

Blizzard Beach

And those were just a couple of the things we did while visiting Disney World!

Taquamenon, MI (Not pictured: Indian Lake, MI)

This year..we're going to Chicago! Woot!

Of course, the years have also been filled with more than vacations, new people and creatures, and my writing misadventures. More than anything else, I think we do this...


Throw In

On the Move

Scrimmage Day

Before practice.



Our lives are filled with the kid's activities. They keep us busy. Insanely busy.

Good thing we love them so much. Otherwise, they'd be sitting at home turning into couch potatoes like their mother.

What? I own it.

I am a nerd.
I am a little bit geeky.
And I could be happy as a couch potato.

Of course, that's not really an option with these kids. I mentioned they keep us busy, didn't I?
Well, they do.

But they also give Mom and Dad lots of space to do their own things, too. Dad gets to play softball, bowl, hunt and fish. Mom gets to read, scrapbook, play video games, play with her camera and write.

Because despite all that we do as individuals or as a family, I've still managed to keep the writing a part of my life. Perhaps I'm not spitting out a novel every year, but I'm always working on something because I rarely leave home without something to write on. So, while many things have changed over the last 8 years, the writing is still here and really is meant to be the focus of this blog.

I just needed a reminder.

Apparently, I'm a 9.

Type 9 on the Enneagram, that is!

What does this mean? And how do I know I'm a 9? Well, to answer the last question first, I took a simple self-assessment for a professional development workshop. The focus of the workshop was how to identify your personality type and what this means for you in the workplace. And while self-discovery is always fun (or terrifying), it was a lot of fun to guess where my coworkers would fall in the Enneagram, too.

But, back to me. I'm a 9. This type is often known as the Mediator or Peacemaker. Here's what one website as to say about this personality type:


Type Nine in Brief

Nines are accepting, trusting, and stable. They are usually creative, optimistic, and supportive, but can also be too willing to go along with others to keep the peace. They want everything to go smoothly and be without conflict, but they can also tend to be complacent, simplifying problems and minimizing anything upsetting. They typically have problems with inertia and stubbornness. At their Best: indomitable and all-embracing, they are able to bring people together and heal conflicts.

  • Basic Fear: Of loss and separation
  • Basic Desire: To have inner stability "peace of mind"
  • Enneagram Nine with an Eight-Wing: "The Referee"
  • Enneagram Nine with a One-Wing: "The Dreamer"

Key Motivations: Want to create harmony in their environment, to avoid conflicts and tension, to preserve things as they are, to resist whatever would upset or disturb them.


This sounds fairly good. Keep reading, though, and you'll find lovely little tidbits like this:


"To compensate for being out of touch with their instinctual energies, Nines also retreat into their minds and their emotional fantasies."

"Furthermore, when their instinctive energies are out of balance, Nines use these very energies against themselves, damming up their own power so that everything in their psyches becomes static and inert."

"More than any other type, Nines demonstrate the tendency to run away from the paradoxes and tensions of life by attempting to transcend them or be seeking find simple and painless solutions to their problems."

Taken from


I bet this is way more information than you wanted or cared to know about my Type. But stick with me for another minute or two! I really have a purpose in sharing this info with you, especially if you're a writer.

As I thought about the character attributes and the fundamental fears associated with each type, I realized the Enneagram could be an awesome tool for character-building. It provides key characteristics- both positive and negative - that can be used as a jumping board for enriching a character's, well, character.

Acting on this thought, I went in search of a free online Enneagram test. Then, posing as my main character, I took the test again. Answering the questions forced me to put myself into the character's point-of-view. Yet, I didn't allow msyelf to over-think the answers.

When I got the results back, my MC was a Type 6: The Loyalist. Reading through the description, acknowledging the fundamental fear and desire, allowed me to ask and answer the question "Why?". Why is her basic fear that of being without support or guidance? (Especially when I expected her basic fear to focus on matters of self-worth and self-identity?) Why is she so desperate to achieve a sense of security and support, especially when from the outside looking in, she should appear to have both in spades?

These questions and others like them helped me revamp my character's profile. It's given me insight into her childhood (after all, these feelings must originate from somewhere!) and provided a means of developing even stronger personal stakes for her. Knowing her deepest, most elemental desires, I can now exploit them. Same with her fears.

And I haven't even taken into account how her wing, her disintegration or growth patterns can effect her overall character development. I'm still scratching the surface. This leaves me feeling pretty confident that by exploring her psychological development - and consequent backstory - that I'll have a more well-developed character, one that readers will find engaging and real.