Category Archives: Musings

A young scientist’s work is never done

A few days ago, Kyra commandeered my desk to write her application for the Young Scientists Club at school. We do have other writing surfaces and she routinely does her spelling and math on them. Apparently, my desk is the spot reserved for serious writing.

The Young Scientists Club is very serious.

That being the case, I had her write a draft before writing her final answer on the application form. Then, I edited that draft for her, which needed some punctuation.

Kyra on punctuation:

Sometimes when I’m writing, I just get going and going with the words and I forget to stop to put in the periods.

And yes, her essay was one long compound sentence (and … and … and).

In the end, she decided that she wants to be part of the club because she wants to be a scientist and invent helpful gadgets for the world. Also, robots.

Kyra on robots:

Mama, wouldn’t it be cool if I invented a robot and it followed me home from the club?

I–for one–plan on welcoming our new Kyra-designed robot overlords.

I suggest you do the same.

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Filed under Kids, Musings, Writing

Why ideas aren’t the same as books

On February 6th, I wrote the following as my Facebook status:

Last night’s dream: I was selected to write a modern retelling of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. And that’s just what the world needs right now.

From today’s Publishers Marketplace:

Frank Cottrell Boyce’s CHITTY CHITTY BANG BANG FLIES AGAIN, with black and white illustrations by illustrator and animator Joe Berger, featuring the Tooting family, who discover an old race-car engine and fit it to their VW Samba Bus; soon they are hurtling across the world rebuilding the original Chitty – with a sinister character on their tail, based on the original by Ian Fleming, to Hilary Van Dusen at Candlewick Press, in a six-figure deal, at auction, in a three-book deal, for publication in Spring 2012, by Zoe Pagnamenta of the Zoe Pagnamenta Agency on behalf of Simon Trewin at United Agents.

Apparently, it is what the world needs right now, to the tune of six figures, no less. So. Yeah. It kinds of leaves you wondering. Where’s my six-figure deal?

Not in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang’s trunk, that’s for sure.

Here’s the thing: I do this all the time. I once wondered if anyone bothered to write a retelling of Anna Karenina. Why did I wonder this? I don’t know.

A week later, a deal came through on Publishers Marketplace for … wait for it … a retelling of Anna Karenina.

That novel about a modern US civil war? Yep, had that idea–twice (two different versions). Same for a bunch of others that I’m too depressed to enumerate here.

I’m either really tied into the collective unconscious or I should start writing these things down.

That’s the key. Everybody has ideas; writing 50,000 – 100,000 words in a row so they make sense is what separates the idea from a book. And honestly, I never wanted to write a retelling of Anna Karenina, or Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, for that matter, not even to the tune of six-figures.

Still. It kind of leaves you wondering.


Filed under Musings, Reading & Writing, Writing

Twenty years ago today

wallTwenty years ago this week, the Berlin Wall fell. And back in the day (this would be way back in the day), I worked in V Corps Intelligence in Frankfurt, Germany. It was my first job in the Army and in addition to being the assistant officer in charge of my section (a weighty responsibility), I worked as an intelligence analyst.

I was the main analyst for the First Guards Tank Army (those pesky Soviets) and Soviet Command, Control, and Communication.

Now, C3 covers what you might think it covers. It was also the catchall for what can only be described as “miscellaneous stuff” – the sort of thing no one knew how to categorize.

And … you guessed it. This is where all the intelligence traffic about what was happening in East Germany ended up: in my inbox.

So, before the world knew, I knew. Well, me and many other intelligence organizations, including the three-letter ones.

November was always so dark in Germany. I went to work before the sun came up and I left work after it went down. I worked in a secured facility, no windows, so if I wanted to see the sun, I had to check out, go through a series of doors, and so on.

I grew so pale, my friends accused me of being a vampire (and, dude, this was way before Twilight).

wall2But I remember that November. I remember how I couldn’t wait to get into work so I could see what had come in over the wire over night. I’d grab a German coffee from the snack bar, the stack from my inbox, and read. And I remember thinking:

Wow. Something is happening in East Germany.

A few months later, I had the opportunity to venture into East Germany. But that’s a post for another day.

For today, it’s good to be reminded that people can come together, and the seemingly impossible can happen. And I’m reminded that, in the long run, it’s more rewarding to be an idealist than a cynic.

Know hope. And listen:


Filed under Misc, Musings, Video

Suburban angst

So, I did a Target run last night. I do these at the last possible moment. When I start wondering whether they’re serious about the whole “do not reuse contact solution” or if that’s merely a suggestion, I know it’s time to go to Target.

And only today, in America, can you go somewhere that has so much stuff and not find what you actually need. Fortunately, the good people at Target realize that their “target” (oh, ho, ho, I slay me) demographic may want plain tuna fish, rather than tuna fish infused with lemon and pepper or sun-dried tomatoes.

Sometimes, there are simply too many choices. They recently remodeled our local Target, so I spend a lot of time wandering down aisles because I don’t know where anything is anymore. At one point, I got sucked into sparkly packaging clearly aimed at the teen girl demographic. I give you the new:

Secret deodorant — Scent Expressions.

(Click through at your own risk, graphic intensive, music, and purple prose.)

Because you’re no one if you don’t have your signature deodorant, no? So, I’m looking at the choices: kuku coco butter, arctic apple, brazilian cherry (I was going to make a waxing joke here, but I’ll refrain). But my favorite?

Vanilla chai.

I’m still trying to figure out why someone would want their underarms to smell like vanilla chai. Can’t you just see it? The back of mommy or daddy’s SUV, a passionate moment, the boy looks deeply into his girlfriend’s eyes and says:

“Wow. Your armpits are making me thirsty … wanna go to Starbucks?”*

I bought plain tuna fish (four pack), some contact solution, and the toilet paper with the puppy on it, because Kyra loves the puppy.

I passed on the vanilla chai deodorant.

*I’m calling dibs on the armpit line. I may want to use it someday. Just remember, you read it here first.


Filed under Misc, Musings

Excuse me, have you seen my words?

Seriously? The blog entry topic choices are lacking these days. I have a word deficit, it would seem.

For instance, last night, we turned in Andrew’s football equipment (season 4 -3). Since, previously, The Season is On!!! I told him that now, The Season is Off!!! He disagreed, stating, that it’s the off season. If the season was off, that would mean it was canceled.

Touché, football boy.

Then there’s my partial ode, partial investigation into the Vanilla Bean Blended Crème at Starbucks. This drink contains no caffeine. And yet. My mood improves dramatically after I drink one. And it’s not a sugar rush/crash later deal either. I stay happy. I know it just can’t be the whipped cream, either.

So, you see my dilemma, of course. Does ignorance = bliss? Or do I dig deeper into this possibly unsavory phenomenon? I’m thinking this might require several trips to Starbucks in the near future.

In actual writing news:

The comments and entries are going strong over on the Wet Noodle Posse blog. Friday is question and answer day, so if you have a burning question about the Golden Heart (and who doesn’t), then stop. Also, each entry this week has an email link if you wish to submit a question.

I’ve been remiss in mentioning my article in this month’s posse ezine. The Before and After of Online Writing Classes is all about … wait for it … online writing classes. Let it never be said I didn’t do any promotion.


Filed under Kids, Musings, Noodlers, Writing

What’s the USDA recommended daily allowance for that?

So the other night, we were talking about what to cook along with some (not so great) steaks we had on hand, and Bob asked:

“Do we have any veggies?”

Kyra popped her head up and said, “No! I don’t like wedgies!”

Wedgies–it’s what’s for dinner. Someone has been spending too much time around her brother.

And from the spam filter:

The Author, you – super hero!
Wow! Good resources here, Enjoyed the visit!
Very good web forum, great work and thank you for your service.
Very good forum! Good info!
I is pleasantly amazed! Thank!!!
What beautiful text and visitors!
There was merrily!

In between each line (ha, you have to read between the lines, nice) were URLs for payday loans, discount airline tickets, and lots and lots of discount drugs. I is pleasantly amazed! Because when you’re looking for drugs, it’s always best to go with the cut rate, Internet ones. There really would be merrily then.

Mr. Spam-A-Lot (AKA your-IP-is-now-banned) was right about one thing. I do have beautiful visitors.

It’s Friday! Let there be merrily!


Filed under Kids, Musings

George Clooney doesn’t live here anymore

It’s amazing what one little post will bring to your blog. For instance: my story TP-ing Casa de Clooney, a (relatively) harmless piece of fluff. Somehow, this brings people searching for George Clooney’s house (and well, who hasn’t). Strange as it may seem, George Clooney doesn’t live in my blog.

He lives here:


This, apparently, is an eight bedroom Tudor house. I bet the real estate description includes the phrase: Location, Location, Location!

Sometimes, he lives here:


This is Villa Oleandra (previously owned by the Heinz family — think John Kerry). It’s in Italy. This is not so much Location, Location, Location as Location, if you know what I mean.

So, as you can see, research for fiction–invaluable. Just imagine what I could do with my brain if it wasn’t filled with George Clooney trivia.

Still, in case it isn’t clear, let’s review. George Clooney does not live in my blog:

  1. Clearly, it’s not chi-chi enough.
  2. It doesn’t have eight bedrooms
  3. It’s not in Italy

Any questions?


Filed under Famous people, Musings

Tales from the inbox

So, I finished judging a bunch of contest entries right at the moment Darcy sent me the revised version of Geek Girl’s Guide (breathe, breathe, no pressure) for my turn to edit. And I do mean, right at that exact moment. It was like we synchronized our atomic watches.

Because I’m all about making the most productive use of my time, I turned immediately to cleaning out my overflowing inbox. I found subject lines such as:

  • Whoa
  • Yawn
  • Word

These are all from Darcy. In one email, I respond to her with:

I don’t really have a jones for the industrial revolution.

But then, who does?

We also chatted on topics such as:

  • The Six Million Dollar YA
  • The Art of War

No Borg. Odd, that.

So this coming week, I’ll be playing my part in the collaboration and using my Borg skills to edit (I’m not sure if we’ve decided who’s 7 and who’s 9).

Now all I have to do is remember to breathe.

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Filed under Musings, Writing


I did the insane the other day. I entered The Fine Art of Holding Your Breath(MacKenna’s story) in the Golden Heart. I only have ~17,000 words in the first person version so far. The receive-by deadline is December 3rd.

So. Yeah. External pressure. Insanity. Same thing.

I’m also contemplating my “education” plan for next year. Last year was all about regrouping (can you regroup if you’re just one?). I worked through Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook. I tore apart and put Geek Girl’s Guide back together. I think that helped me prepare for this round of revisions. But I did a lot of this on my own.

This year was the opposite. I needed outside opinions. I partnered up with Darcy. I needed to understand what people weren’t seeing. And I think/hope I have a better grasp on that too.

So, I’m thinking of next year (yes, already). This year is pretty much booked with writing, revising, editing (Darcy’s getting ready to send me Geek Girl’s Guide for an edit). What do I want to learn next year?

That’s the great thing about writing–the possibilities are endless.


Filed under Musings, Writing


Overhead: the backseat

After much tearing of trading card wrapper:

Kyra: Oh! So beautiful! Mama loves you!

Insert big wet kissing sound.

What, you may ask, can inspire such devotion? I give you Brisi, from Bella Sara:


Bella Sara = My Little Pony on steroids

Overheard: Perkins

Customer: Could we get some cutlery?
Waitress: What?
Customer: Cutlery.
Waitress (shaking head): What?
Customer (mimicking cutting with knife and fork): Cutlery. 
Waitress: Oh! You want silverware.

Waitress (returning a few moments later): Here you go. What was that word again?
Customer: Cutlery.
Waitress: I’ve never heard anyone use that word around here before.
Customer: Oh, we’re from Canada.
Waitress: Well, that probably explains it.

Moral: Watch out for those linguistically tricky Canadians.


Filed under Kids, Musings