He's Here!!

The little Mystery Man himself has joined the world!!

Thanks for hanging in there with me and all my whiney pregnancy posts. :) It's all worth it and he's beautiful, of course. He has light red hair (fulfilling my belief that he'll look like Roy Hobbes from The Natural) - and he's my tinyest baby yet - just 7lbs 9 ounces!

We're all recovering well after a crazy, harried night. I'll spare you the details except to say that the second time we were sent home by triage, DH said "um, no" and checked us into the Holiday Inn 5 minutes away. I had another brief thought about "what if there's no room!" and my empathy for Mary continued. Fortunately there was room, and a hot bath, and not a sheep in sight, but I'll tell you that with each child my respect increases for women who have done this alone. It's scary, scary thing - and of course, the most rewarding thing imaginable!

Here's to babies everywhere!

Merry Christmas to all!

"Give thanks for all you've been blessed with

And hold your loved ones tight

For you know the Lord's been good to you

On a snowy, Christmas night."*

Yes, we had a white Christmas here in Seattle! The paper called for rain, but around 1 it started snowing and snowed most of the day. So beautiful!!!

I hope everyone celebrating had a wonderful Christmas day. We kept things to a much smaller scale this year, but it was every bit as magical with all of our family around and the kids singing carols around the tree and trying to out-recite each other!

We were kind of hoping for a baby Christmas night, but it was not to be. Soon though - very, very soon.

Merry Christmas, everyone!

*I don't know who wrote it, but that is the chorus of a song from one of my very favorite Elvis Presely Christmas tapes - back when I was young enough to own cassette tapes. ;)
And the picture is of Woodland Park Zoo all dusted in snow.

D-13, random bits, and a funny story

Just one more day till Christmas Eve. WOO!!!! That means one more day to get through till I can start wishing in earnest that the baby arrives. And of course, I just need to wish really hard -right?!

I'm pausing to reflect right now that the above paragraph sounds really happy and enthusiastic, at great contast with my actual, physical mopey self.

Isn't the internet great. :)

All I have left to do is to wrap two presents that I can't find (2 year old alert) and rewrap two presents that I previously wrapped (2 year olds are so much fun.)

I'm still on Christmas break from writing, but am jotting down notes and adding agents to my agent spreadsheet. Just curious - does anyone here use Litmatch.net or Querytracker.com? I'm wondering if it's easier than my handy dandy Excel spreadsheet.

Also, I'll leave you with a humerous conversation I had with my 7 year old, who is still trying to face her fear of zombies. All credit for the "zombie defeating device" idea goes to my wonderful blog buddy, Anissa.

To set the scene - it's midnight. I'm in bed but not asleep, as usual these days. The door opens... in comes a little red head, with a miners light strapped to her head, glowing red - it's what she reads by. The whole room lights up.

Red head: I'm afraid of zombies.

Me: Oh really.

Red head: I know, I know they're not real, but I just can't stop my imagination!

I see a cardboard tube that formerly held wrapping paper propped up by the side of the bed. Great! I don't have to move! I grab the tube and hand it to her.

Me: Here, take this - it's a zombie defeating device.

Red head: It's a cardboard tube.

Me: It changes the undead to real living creatures. They can't turn you into zombies if they're living. We'll just calmly escort them from the house after you hit them on the head with the tube.

Red head: MOM!!!! It's a tube!

Me: Are zombies real?

Red head: No

Me: Then the tube is as real as the zombies.

She leaves in disgust, closing the door behind her. Thirty seconds later the door opens again - hand reaches through the open door

Red head: I'll take the tube.

D-14 and other musings

Thank you for the anniversary congratulations! It was a fun night. :)

It's now 2:43 am and I'm blogging. That's never a good sign. Welcome to the final two weeks of pregnancy, self. I actually don't mind the quiet house in the middle of the night. It's an added perk to not being able to sleep. That and unfettered access to the chocolate covered cherries without the cries of "Mommy, what are you eating?!" ... "oh, nothing..."

The only trouble spot, is that the little ones don't accomodate my nocturnal wanderings. They have the nerve of waking up on time!

At this point, I'm hoping and praying to NOT have the baby till after presents are opened Christmas morning. If I had him now, I'd miss all the fun and excitement. If I can just hang on a couple more days, I'm good! I'd even be fine with a baby born late Christmas day. I never know what to do after all the presents are opened, anyway. ;) Another birthday celebration would be tons of fun!

I will say, that rather than gripe about "missing" out on the fun of Christmas shopping (I can't walk that far - it's hazardous at this point!) and baking (can't stand up that long) and generally being in good spirits replete with Christmas joy (I'm missing that, for sure!), I'm thinking that the story of Christmas was about a young girl, pregnant, and probably miserable, riding on a donkey far from home and without the benefit of prenatal care and epidurals.

I'm sure that her back was killing her, too, and that her feet were swollen from hanging over the edge of that donkey, and Joseph was probably driving her out of her mind. And yet, she kept going. She made it to that stable and she bravely had that little boy, virtually by herself.

I'm sure she felt all alone, anyway. She didn't know she'd be setting the stage for beautiful carved creches for centuries to come. She just knew she was in a dirty, cold, stable with animals, and pain, and a baby she couldn't possibly understand. And I'm grateful - for that little extra bit of understanding that I have this year.

Next year - I'll happily enjoy my ability to walk and sleep and bake and laugh again, but I hope I remember this glimpse into Mary and this, albeit distant and small, feeling of kinship.

Happy Anniversary to Me!

OK, I'm a day late - but I was out celebrating last night. ;) November and December are really busy for us around here! We had lots of fun out at a new Indian restaraunt (I love going out for Indian food, 'cause I can't cook it!) and really just did a lot of deep breathing and catching our breath. It's been a hectic time!

But, I've got all but three presents wrapped - two because I can't find them (oops) and one because the intrepid two year old unwrapped it and handed it to me proudly - little scamp that she is!

Now, if I just get my Christmas cards out tomorrow, and buy that one last present, I'm all good. I can just sit back, drink my eggnog, and wish the baby would show up! It's really a daily battle between me and all manners of self-inducing. Just say no. Just say no. SO HARD!

Also, I got a particularly painful rejection yesterday - more painful because it said a lot that was encouraging, so I can't just say she doesn't know what she's talking about! HA! Also, I have a lot of respect for this agent. But, no matter, I've still got other lines in the water and I'll pick up the querying in earnest again after the new year. I'll also start working hard on Lamplight (working title) with a goal of finishing the first draft by Easter.

That all might be a bit ambitious with a newborn and more importantly with a two year old scamp, but I may as well aim high and then see what happens!

Off to bed blog buds - it's D-16 for anyone counting!

D - 18

Yep, just 18 days to go. A veritable eternity unto itself when taken moment by moment. But I tell myself it's like jogging around the track -- that mile marker seems a long way off till you look behind you and realize how far you've come. Eighteen days *ago* doesn't seem like that long.

So. Theoretically, I'll make it. Dh has ordered me to surrender all castor oil or castor oil like substances till after Christmas. We'll see...

In the meantime, I distract myself. If you all aren't reading Meg Cabot's blog, go check out her latest post. She's posting while on Percocet, and while she's normally funny, she's really hilarious now. I'll just say she's referring to her one remaining ovary as Lefty. It's funny enough to make me overlook the fact that she's dissing my tv boyfriend Steve Carell and my new favorite movie Dan in Real Life. I mean, sure, they do aerobics as a family in the movie and have crossword wars and when I came home from the film and suggested both of those activities I was met with blank stares of horror - still, it works in the film - and it's hilarious. And it's Steve Carell. Need I say more.

OK, just one little picture.
So, that's probably enough for one post. Check in tomorrow to see if I made it through day 17. ;)

Querying, pregnancy, and whatnot

I'm really having fun with querying. Once I got over the initial sting of rejections, the requests are so much fun!! I've got a few out there now, and the anticipation is so fun!! It's kind of crazy that it's coupled with the anticipation of a new little baby and Christmas, all rolled into one rollicking month!

I'm officially taking a Christmas break, now, from sending out queries or working too hard on the next book. I can't put it down entirely, but there will be no daily word count goals from here till Christmas. I need a little bit of a mental break to focus on getting Christmas done (any other mom's out there know what I'm talking about) and just surviving till the baby arrives.

BTW - I highly recommend keeping track of actual numbers/stats while querying. My mind definately amplified the rejections and downplayed the requests. Hard numbers help!

Those same hard numbers tell me I have just three weeks till the baby arrives. Everyone around me seems to concur that I can't actually be pregnant forever, but it never fails that right around this time, I'm pretty sure I will be. I mean, honestly, in my heart, I'm pretty sure this could actually last forever if I don't do something about it. Someone should do a study on that particular breed of insanity. ;) I volunteer!

And on it goes...

Thank you all for the encouragement in this home stretch of the pregnancy. Yes, these next few weeks are going to c-r-a-w-l by. Each day is its own little eternity. But things are getting more fun in query land, so that's distracting me from counting new stretch marks. ;)

I'm editing away, polishing up my manuscript till I can see my reflection in it. And you know what, it's painful. It's like that scene in Harry Potter where Dumbledore pulls the memories out of Harry's head - I feel like I'm pulling the words out one by one. But it's also really satisfying because I see it getting so much better! I just hope the agents agree with me!

We've had a little more snow here in Seattle - this has been a really weird weather week. First we had the dumping of snow last weekend, then the flooding, and now more snow. The kids are loving it!! We've got a lovely little flocked tree up now, too, so the winter wonderland has moved inside.

OK, enough procrastinating, back to shining things up...


Yes, the baby countdown has begun in earnest. Just one more month to go! Unless, of course, I completely freak out and it's really d-15 till I scramble some eggs in castor oil...

Yay for the home stretch!

Rain, rain, go away!

It's not really unusual to get rain in Seattle, but it IS unusual for it to come down like this. That pictures is pretty darn close to where I live. The water was spewing out of manhole covers like geysers - and I can only assume that's not terribly clean water...
Today the rain has stopped, but the wind is blowing something crazy! What's next? Locusts?!

Happy, Happy Birthday!

A big happy birthday to my seven year old today. :) She had the best birthday present ever - it snowed! All yesterday and this morning it was a winter wonderland. She got to play outside with her little sister, have a cake made to her specifications, and then get showered with presents. AND her grandparents and aunt were visiting from out of town - so there were late nights of chatter and laughter and rummy. What more could a little seven year old ask for. ;)

This birthday stood out for me, because I remember well the day I had her (what mother doesn't). I was in labor so long that there was more than one shift change - and as my doctor left, she apologized saying she needed to get to her son's 7th birthday party. I couldn't even imagine having a child that old. ;) Funny how life just keeps marching forward!

So, happy birthday my little red head!

It's snowing!

Lots of little tiny flakes all swirling around - I'm living in a snowglobe. So, so fun!!!

Random Bits

1) Every once in a while, the blank stare that is my looking at lists of agents and their submission guidelines breaks into hilarity - e.g. a particular agent has stated that she won't represent anything with the word "unicorn" in the title. That's just funny!

2) Less funny is my missing flash drive. It had my latest edits on it. *sigh* I suppose they'll be better the second time around. I knew that it's doubling as a "blue necklace" to a two year old wouldn't end anywhere good. I just can't imagine where I haven't looked that she could have stashed that thing! She suggested I check Target...

3) Try not to burn with envy, but I, Robin, will be attending the So You Think You Can Dance tour performance TOMORROW NIGHT! Yes, I'll be there with all the quick stepping and hip hopping you can imagine. So. Much. Fun. I'll post a full report.

4) On a similar note, I'm a big fan of Sixwire from The Next Great American Band. Didn't they do a great job on Friday! WOO! If you, like me, can't get enough, my DH found their myspace site with songs you can listen to right there. No need to wait till Friday! http://www.myspace.com/sixwire

Also, a shout out to the Clark Brothers who are pretty amazing themselves.

5) Since I seem to be on a reality show roll, let me just say that season 4 of Project Runway isn't gelling for me yet. Don't they all seem a little odd to you? I'm having trouble finding someone to relate to - which, as we writers know, is key in being able to cheer someone on to the finish! I think, maybe, I like Sweet P and Kit Pistol, but I cringe just as I type their names. We'll see. It might be like Season 3 of Top Chef - no standouts.

OK, that's all, signing off, gotta get my rest to re-tackle those edits!

Happy Monday!

What a way to start a Monday - with another request for a partial!

Querying *can* be fun!!! WOOO!!!

Sunday night...

I'm polishing the full manuscript - again. One of my oh so wonderful beta readers has pointed out a couple of things that need to be fixed. And she's right. So here I am, procrastinating, before I shine it up just a little more. :)

I'm hoping this is the last big push so I can move onto the next project while I'm having all of my query fun. I'm really anxious to write something new!

I hope everyone had wonderful Thanksgiving. I certainly did! Much fun was had - many games were played - much food was eaten - a wonderful day!!!

Tuesday Update

I hope everyone is enjoying their Thanksgiving week! Things are still trucking along here - I continue to get rejections, some personalized which is nice, and some requests, which are even nicer! WOO!!!! I seem to be split between obsessivly checking my e-mail and wearing out the mouse by clicking refresh every thirty seconds - and feeling physically sick just at the site of the browser. Oh, the internal conflict.

I now have a complete synopsis, too! Thank you for all the great links and advice. In my big synopsis research project it seems that every piece of advice contradicts every other, except "make it fun to read." So, I tried to take a length and formatting approach somewhere in the middle of what was suggested. I'm hoping that if I'm not too far afield of anything out there, I won't look like the dreaded nitwit.

That's it from me - I hope the flurry of cooking is going well!!

Real Life Horror

I grabbed this link from Michelle Moran's History Buff blog.
I don't even really know how to comment, except that I'll be following the story to see if the world can bring some sort of pressure about to help this poor girl.

It's a very short story about a 19 year old rape victim who's being ordered to undergo 200 lashes for being in the car with the boys in the first place, and then for taking the story to the media after her first sentence of 90 lashes.

Stuff like this makes me feel angry and helpless. We all know monsters are out there doing horrible things to people, but we don't expect this sort of horror to be handed out at the hand of the government. Ugh.

Happy Birthday to Me!!!

Yes, it's my birthday!!! WOO!!! As a present to myself, I'm working on edits instead of laundry. YAY! ;) Dear, Dear DH said he'd be more than happy to help me with that other stuff....

Last night we got a precious night out and went to dinner and saw Dan in Real Life. It's possible I have a little crush on Steve Carrell. The little ones were in heaven as my parents set up "stadium seating" on their counter, turned on Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer and made mac 'n' cheese. It's a good place to be a grandkid. ;)

Tonight is a celebration with munchkins and birthday cake and kid movies galore! (after the editing of course...)

Missives from query land...

Still sending queries, still getting responses, still editing furiously, still working on my synopsis. Oh, the dreaded synopsis!

Also, just wanted to see if anyone's been watching The Office the last couple of weeks in particular. The last two episodes are the sort of thing that make me want to write - to keep going - keep editing, creating characters, giving them life and depth and humanity. I know, it's nowhere near my genre, but real characters are what it's always about for me.

The last two weeks the show has ended on just that perfect note of poignancy that makes you wish you could reach through the tv set. Last week it was Michael and Jim's exchange at the birthday party. Michael seemed like a real guy- vulnerable - having maybe been even *more* of a real person once upon a time before 10 years at Dunder Mifflin made him what he is now. And we saw Jim blanche - saw him see himself in 10 years. This week we saw that glimmer of vulnerability again when he told the guy that had interviewed him that he was a nice person, too. It was just the perfect amount to keep the characters real, so the laughs are even more funny.

OK - enough anaylsis. Back to editing and the synopsis!

Oh how the mighty are fallen!

I've been querying pretty consistantly - starting with e-queries - and let me tell you, those agents can get back to you pretty darn fast! It's funny to me that heading into the query process, armed with volumes of Miss Snark and 50 industry blogs in my bloglines, I knew "query widely", "don't take rejection personally", etc, etc, but already I'm sympathizing with those writers who've sent off firy missives after being rejected and those who feel like after 10 agents, maybe there *IS* something dreadfully wrong with their query letter.


And I'm not even up to 10.

Must I admit that I'm thinner skinned than I thought? I could put on an uber-confident front here in blogland, because that's what I know, intellectually, is called for. But honestly, it's already getting to me!

I comfort myself knowing that Meg Cabot received a rejection A DAY for FOUR YEARS before selling her first book - and so many other similar stories. Still - it's surprising how daunting it is.

OK, off to thicken up my skin a little bit. I'm thinking chocolate will help...


I sent my first e-query off today. Gulp.

The Hook - Murder on a Moonlit Sea

Here is the hook! This post may get edited along the way. ;) And big kudos to my CP for help with this...

Anya Swanson knows broken—whether bodies or hearts. As an insurance adjustor for the perilous fishing industry, she's seen her share of hurt.

But when she probes too deep into one suspicious claim, the casualties hit closer to home than she ever imagined. It appears to be just a tragic accident—an inexperienced deckhand washed overboard in the Bering Sea.

But when another deckhand on another boat goes over in a similar manner—and dragging a woman along with him—Anya takes it personally. She had dinner plans with this one. But before she can file the death claim, Anya discovers he may not be dead at all. In fact, he may be behind both deaths. And wouldn't you know…he intends to keep that date.


She stumbles across the finish line, crashing through the tape. Water. Water!!!

I'm done. DONE!!!! The edits are entered. It is complete! YAAAAAAAAAYYYYYY!!!!!!!

Tomorrow - off to the beta readers.

I'm in query land!

Woo hoo!!!!!

Mommy Dearest...

Tonight at dinner, my six year old made this declaration:

Her: I will be writing a book about my childhood.

Me: Oh, the dreaded tell all!

Her: I'm writing a book of stories about all the little things that happen to me.

Dad: Why are you writing a book about your childhood?

Her: Because I often say things that are hilarious, without even knowing it

Me: *much laughter*

Her: Right there, was I hilarious?

Dad: Yes

Her: See! That's exactly what I'm talking about!

Another editing update

I'm on Chapter 28. I'm moving along, not as fast as I'd like, but still moving. Somehow I'm still operating under the idea that I'll *never* get done. I'm not sure why, since I've only got 9 chapters or so to go, but nevertheless, it's daunting. Crazy, I know.

BTW - I just listened to an interview with Meg Cabot who once wrote TWELVE books in one year under deadline. Wow. That's a lot. And under four different names. She said she nearly went crazy. I can't even imagine.

I hope you all are headed into a wonderful weekend - we kicked ours off here with family Christmas movie night and Christmas cookies. It was tons of fun (we watched the old Miracle on 34th Street). I think it's a new Friday tradition between now and Christmas. Woo!

Also, a little good news - Lost is not delayed! So far, it will be starting in January. Another Woo!!!

Hm... I thought I heard my little one crying upstairs, but now, it was my cat 'talking' in her sleep. That's just weird!

Happy weekend, everyone!

And now it hits home...

The strike, that is. I assume you all know which strike I'm talking about.

After waiting an INTERMINABLE length of time for Jack Bauer to come save the day... we have to wait a little longer. And who knows how long?!

OK! I cave! Enough already! You've broken me! I'll pay anything for DVD's. Anything! Just give the writers what they want and bring back Jack!!!

I can only imagine that this will affect my dear Lost as well, and if the Office goes into reruns, well, I *suppose* it will give me more writing time... *sigh*

Two Books to Pass On!

I loooove writing books. I do. I used to never read them, thinking I just had to *know* how to write. Pshaw. There's plenty they can teach you. In fact, one of the books (the Elizabeth George book) makes a point in the beginning that there are two elements to writing: art and craft. Art cannot be taught, but craft can and should. Amen.

So, first up, we have Reading Like a Writer by Francine Prose. This book feels like sitting in a class taught by your favorite literature and creative writing teacher. She talks about "close reading" - reading for words, for sentences, for paragraphs, and she has an ode to diagraming sentences that made my heart flutter. I'm such a grammar nerd!

One thing she says that I love is that it's wonderful to read the bestselling authors today, but keep in mind that they are just the period at the end of a very long sentence that is hundreds of years old. (I'm paraphrasing). I'm sure I'll be sharing insights from both of these books in more detail in posts to come.
The other, is Write Away by Elizabeth George. She, of course, writes in the mystery genre, so this book is even more applicable for me. She manages to talk about her proces and about her craft in a way that's very helpful, without putting writing in a box. And also without reducing the mystery to a formula. She contends that books are first and foremost about character, and that the unique characters you create should then be put into conflice that elucidates who they are. It's a very interesting approach.
So, if you're looking for a new book on writing - I highly suggest both of these!!

Editing Update

Four more chapters done last night, bringing me up to chapter 22. YAY! I'm still working tonight so we'll see how far I get. Sleep may win out over editing, though...

Halfway Baby!

I crossed the halfway point in the edits yesterday - 18 chapters down, 18 to go!


And by such a close friend, no less. It seems, that in these final two months of pregnancy, my one joy, my saving grace, my coffee, has turned it's back on me. Yes, that's right. For the first time in my life I find that I can no longer drink coffee.

I drank it through horrible, intense morning sickness. It was the first thing I ordered after delivering my babies. I drink it hot on chily fall days and iced on warm summer days. But now, it seems that even half a cup makes my heart race so horribly that even I must admit defeat. Must turn to another beverage.

And so, reluctantly, I lift a glass of tea in cheers on this bleak day....

Synopsis, anyone?

So, I've been reading through the archives of Janet Reid's blog (she has a Miss Snark-ish feel, for anyone else still in withdrawl, though it seems her beverage of choice is whiskey, not gin...) Anyway... she lists a few things that you, author and prospective client, should have at the ready when you are querying. One of these is a synopsis.

I've done lots of research on writing queries, but advice on synopses seems to elude me. Can anyone point me toward some great tips? It seems like synopsis length requirements vary widely by agent. And I'm still not sure if they just want a couple of pages saying: First this happens, then this, blah blah blah... or if it should be more of a table along the lines of:

Chapter One: two sentences summarizing chapter one
Chapter Two: ditto

I know some of you have written these!! Any words of wisdom?!


A new way to procrastinate

As if Library Thing and Frugal Reader weren't enough, I've know discovered Goodreads. You can list the books you've read, write reviews, connect with other readers and authors - so much fun when you've read all your e-mail, your bloglines, and you STILL need some way to put off rewriting that really tough sentence. ;)

Editing Update

I'm about 1/3 of the way through the edits now. I wanted to push hard last night, but the consensus among those who love me is that I need more sleep. Which doesn't speak well of my sunny attitude. ;)

So, hopefully I'll be working on my book during daylight hours in the days to come with a little help from my friends. I bet the book will even benefit from my increased wakefulness!

It's week 31 now of the pregnancy - 63 days to go. The kid's packing on the pounds. This is when I typically fall apart... so I'm basically right on schedule!

And Happy Halloween to you, too!

Well, it's over. The marathon Hallowe'en session is over.

I got the little red headed princess off to her Reformation Day celebration. The archery comepetion was a big hit - bobbing for apples not so much "I'd have to get my face wet! I mean there were towels, but c'mon." That's my girl. ;) Also, apparently the feast of chicken legs et al was not a complete success either. She's never had a drumstick because I can't stand them. And neither can she it seems - "Mom, did you know the meat is slithery?!" Ewwww.... fortunately they had lots of candy. ;)

The little monkey went with me to volunteer that morning, take the princess to tennis (and yes, inc ase you're wondering, you *can* play tennis dressed as a Renaissance princess) then we scarffed down some pizza and headed to the masquerade party at church.

This is where the little monkey and I were separated. Yes. I left her in the church nursery. She likes the nursery. She plays ring around the rosy and kitchen and trains and loves it. Except last night. She did not love it. When I picked her up, this is the conversation we had the ENTIRE ride home:

her - I played with kids!
me - you did?
her - then I called "mama?! mama?!" (this is done as a reanactment with her putting her little hands to her mouth and calling all around the car)
me - you called for me?
her - yes but mama all gone. I cry. Tears fall on my face. Tears fall off my face. I call "Mama?! Mama?!" But mama all gone.
me - I'm sorry honey.
her - I hold mama now. I hold mama's neck. Daddy!!! Stop the car!
me - Why is daddy stopping the car?
her - So I hold mama's neck!
me - Just wait, we'll be home soon.

This played on a constant loop for about 20 minutes, with a brief interlude where she reminisced about her other recent horror, getting carsick with Daddy and throwing up in the car.
her - I throw up!
me - yes, you threw up
her - I go like this "cough" "cough" "cough" (again with the reenactment)
me - I know, I'm so sorry.
her - I threw up on my car seat.
me - yes, it was terrible
her - I threw up on my WIGGLES SHIRT!
me - yes, I'm sorry, we're washing the shirt
her - mama all gone

and so we went back to the previous loop...

and I am very happy that today is the first of November. ;)

Go Go Go!

A big shout out to all the Nano-ers this month. I hope your first day is off to a great start!!!!

4 more chapters!

I got 4 more chapters typed in. It would have been more had I not become obsessed with fixing my blog layout. Ah well! I am now officially 1/4 of the way through typing in the edits.

It's midnight and I'm off to bed before all the craziness that is Hallowe'en/Reformation Day begins.

My little Renaissance princess needs gussying up in the morning. ;)

Also - what is your take on a female (let's say... me) writing a male POV character. I've been hashing out an idea for the next book, and I think the protagonist needs to be male - it's just more interesting to switch things around to his POV. Anyone have examples of that being done well or poorly in contemporary literature?

Crazy layout

I apologize for the crazy spacing - I'm trying to figure out how to make the posts not overlap each other. I finally got *that* to happen, but sadly now have these awful gaps. Stay tuned as I hone my css skills!

Also - made the switch to Arial. It's less atmospheric, but easier on the eyes, I think. ;) Let me know if you disagree or have any advice on what value to change to the the spacing on track. Muchas Gracias!


Editing update

OK, for some reason I can't figure out how to get the word count meter to display properly in my sidebar. I've done it successfully in other templates, but not this one.

So... you'll just have to put up with my boring text based updates. ;)

I got three more chapters typed in tonight. Did I mention this was going slooooowly. How is it that it took me less time to edit them than it does to type them? I'm thinking it has to do with having to actually get on the computer and thus wait till little monkeys are sleeping.

Alright - off to bed - I'm going to be miserably tired in the morning!

Tales from typing in edits...

Here's a tip.

If you do a find/replace and say, hypothetically, change every instance of "Vince" to "Vance" because you're a dork and couldn't keep the name straight the first time through... you'll end up coming across words such as "conVance" in your manuscript.

It's Halloween week...

And my friend Brian is doing some themed photos. I love this one! Aren't the colors beautiful? I used to have an apartment that overlooked a graveyard on a hill, and as much as I don't like graveyard's (yes, I'm a mystery writer, but thoughts of death really freak me out), they can certainly be stunning.

I'm gearing up for the big day Wednesday. It's my busy day anyway (volunteering in the classroom, tennis for the red head, church for everyone - ack!) and on Wed each activity has it's own Halloween party. The one at school is technically a celebration of Reformation Day - so the kids go to school in Medeival costumes (which really means the girls are princesses and the boys are knights) and they're going to play at bobbing for apples, archery, sword fights and "pin the theses on the Wittenberg door". I kid you not.

I'm not even sure we'll have time to trick or treat at the end of all the festivities (oh shoot!).

In other news... I got two - yes, only TWO chapters typed in last night. This is going wayyyyy too slow. Must come up with a way to speed things up. ;)

typing typing click click click....

I'm typing in edits. Wow. This is tedious. This might make me rethink the whole "editing on paper" thing next time, as fun as it was.

I think I'll be posting an excerpt from the book - either chapter one, or the beginning of chapter one, and hard link to it from the sidebar. I'd like to have it up here for agents to look at if they want to (those that don't request pages) and of course, for all of you wonderful people! I really liked reading Sherry Thomas's excerpt when she put it up, so I think it's a fun idea.

Plus, motivation to keep typing. Clearly I'm procrastinating right here. Of course, now, when I WANT to procrastinate, none of the 46 blogs in my bloglines roll have updates and I have no e-mails. It's as if you people WANT me to get my edit's done!!!

OK... back to work...

I'm done!!!!

I did it! I'm done! Woo hoo!!! The paper edits have been completed, and only one day behind schedule! YAY!!!!!

My wonderful two year old went to sleep at 7:30 tonight and I've been working non-stop ever since with the World Series on in the background (Tivoed). And now I'm done!!!

I'm giving myself until Tuesday to type in the edits, because I want this out the door to the beta readers in October, and the 31st will be crazy busy.

This is such a good feeling!!!

OK, now not to rain on my own parade, but I will say that I did a touch more cutting and I'm worried about the word count. I have a couple of scenes waiting in the wings that I'll probably polish up and insert while typing in the edits - gotta keep the word count reasonable. That's the only thing really concerning me right now.

November will be all about querying. QUERYING! WOOO!!!!


My goal was to be done with the paper edits yesterday. I'm not. I'm on chapter 30 out of 35, though, so within striking range. Just like writing the draft, it gets harder at the end, making sure every loose end is properly tied up and that I didn't leave any subplots hanging.

I'm close though, so close!

And I've had a blissful day with two - count them TWO periods of kid free time. Yes, it's true. DH took them BOTH to the donut shop for our Saturday morning tradition. (Usually the little monkey stays with me while they fetch the donuts, but today she had her clothes in her hand and wanted to go. Who was I to say no?) I can't even tell you how much fun it was to get myself ready in the morning ALL BY MYSELF! Now I know why it's the little monkey's favorite phrase. ;)

Then - he took the little one on some errands while the red head worked with her Grandpa for a while - I went to the library ALL BY MYSELF! I even got to use the catalog! I picked up a new mystery called Blue Moon (my favorite song, and something of a theme for me). The sleuth is a band leader and I can't wait to read it. I also determined that the next project won't involve a lot of research. I'm just not up to it. Now, where does that leave me... still thinking about it. I'll let you know!

Stay tuned for the I'm Finished post, coming in the next few days. ;)

Blog Spotlight

I love visual art and find tremendous inspiration in pictures and photographs, but I readily admit that I have ZERO talent whatsoever in this field. This is one of the reasons that I'm so impressed with those who do. ;)

Today I have a blog to share with you by a brilliant up and coming artist who talks about things like color theory (literary theory I get, color theory BLOWS MY MIND!) and shares her artwork, and even has a little store with handmade prints.

This is a watercolor painting inspired by A.S. Byatt's "The Thing in the Forest".

This has all of my favorite elements - retro women, a forest scene, and based on a piece by one of my favorite authors!

So, go check out Blaze's blog, and I'll permalink to her from the sidebar!


Editing update - Tuesday night

Sadly, I only made it halfway to my goal today - largely because Knucklehead wouldn't fall asleep. (seriously, it's 11, and she just stopped fleeing her bed). I got the 2 1/2 chapters done during her naptime earlier today.

That's ok, though, I'm confident I'll make them up over the week and still finish Friday night. And I am still pretty excited to be more than halfway done this final pass. WOO! It's going much more easily than I thought.

OK, it's late, signing off.

Top Ten List

These are the top ten most frequently said lines by my two year old.

10) I run super fast!
9) This is fun! (usually said while doing something she isn't supposed to do - ie escaping from her car seat or scaling the refrigerator.)
8) I come too.
7) Catch me if you can!
6) See you later, alligator
5) Mama all gone. I cry.
4) No daddy - Mama!
3) I go to Starbucks. Strawberry Creme!
2) Popsicle!

and the most frequently line said by Little Miss Trouble:

1) I do it all by myself!

This could be why I'm tired.

Editing Update - Monday Night

Yesterday I didn't quite make my goal - I only got through 3 1/2 chapters, but today I made up for it and got halfway through chapter 16, so I'm 1/2 a chapter ahead! YAY! I'd have finished, but I'm at a sticky point and think I need to sleep on it.

So, all is going according to plan. The edits should be done by Friday night, giving me the weekend to type them in. I can hardly wait to start working on my query letter!!

Thank you for all the encouragement, everyone!!!

In other news - I really appreciate all the suggestions for books - I'm definately picking up the Ramona books, that's brilliant! Narnia is my all time favorite series, too, but I read those to her last year, so I don't know if they'd count. But it does make me wonder if she's ready for The Hobbit. I'll have to try that. I think she'd like Amelia Bedelia, too. She's also supposed to be reading *to me*, so those would be perfect for that part of it.

I'm feeling less victorious in my quest to identify the Bon Jovi song that Garth is singing with different words. ;) After listening to a bunch of them on You Tube, I've concluded that:

A) It's possible that a lot of Bon Jovi songs sound the same - shocking! I know!!
B) I remember how much I love Bon Jovi. I know, he's cheesey, but so cute.
C) I think it might be These Days - but I'm not 100% sure and now I can't really separate any of them out in my head, or remember the Garth Brooks song very well. So I'm gonna have to dig out my cd's and play the songs side by side the GB song.
D) I clearly have obsessive compulsive tendencies.

Editing Update and other business

I've got a goal of five chapters per day - that will take me exactly a week to do. (Hmm, was I so smart while writing it that I purposely decided on 35 chapters in order to make my editing week go so smoothly?! Probably not...)

So, I'll be updating my progress daily. Yesterday I did SIX chapters! WOOO!!!

Today I'm currently at zero, but DH is on the road, and Little Miss Trouble didn't nap (so should sleep at a decent time) and I'm confident I'll knock them out tonight. This is all very exciting!!!

I have two more orders of business for the blog world:

1) My six year old is in a 100 day reading challenge for school: read 100 books in 100 days. Longer books count as more than one. I'm to the point where I'm randomly grabbing things off the library shelf. Any ideas? So far, her favorites have been: The Babysitters Club Mysteries, Goosebumps, Nate the Great, Geronimo Stilton, and Nancy Drew. I'd like to steer her away from only reading series, though. I picked up Neil Gaiman's Coraline (big hit!) and she loves it. She's also managed the first two Harry Potter's, but the third was a little scary for her still.

Anything kinda spooky, but not too spooky, or about Egypt would be a huge hit. She's got 60 books to go, folks!

2) So, you all know I'm now a country music fan... one of my new favorite songs is the Garth Brooks song, More than a Memory. BUT, it's so nearly identical to a Bon Jovi song I used to listen to, that sometimes I even mix the words up if I'm singing along (I know, by now, you all think I'm sooo cool that you're dying to be me - Bon Jovi, country, and singing with the radio, but I digress).

All my Bon Jovi cd's (see, I keep getting cooler, I have a collection) are in storage and I can't figure out what the song is and it's DRIVING ME CRAZY!!!! I think it's off the These Days cd, but it could be from Keep the Faith or Crossroads. If anyone comes up with it, I'll send you a prize, I promise. Maybe a book. Maybe chocolate. You tell me. But I must figure this out!!

The Next American Band

Is my new show. YAY! I so needed one!!!!

My favorites, so far, are The Clark Brothers and Six Wire - because I'm a country fan, now. ;) But Six Wire is gonna have to give Sawyer back when Lost starts up in January. ;)

I love the spirit of the girl band, but I just didn't think they were that good.

Also, I think the 12 year olds need to put shirts on.

Mutating Gene Meme

OK, what does it say about me that I had to read the instructions three times and I'm STILL not sure if I got them right. ;)

Here goes nothing!

There are a set of questions below that are all of the form, "The best [subgenre] [medium] in [genre] is…". Copy the questions, and before answering them, you may modify them in a limited way, carrying out no more than two of these operations:

— You can leave them exactly as is.
— You can delete any one question.
— You can mutate either the genre, medium, or subgenre of any one question. [For instance, you could change "The best time travel novel in SF/Fantasy is…" to "The best time travel novel in Westerns is…", or "The best time travel movie in SF/Fantasy is…", or "The best romance novel in SF/Fantasy is…".]
— You can add a completely new question of your choice to the end of the list, as long as it is still in the form "The best [subgenre] [medium] in [genre] is…".

You must have at least one question in your set, or you've gone extinct, and you must be able to answer it yourself, or you're not viable.
Then answer your possibly mutant set of questions. Please do include a link back to the blog you got them from, to simplify tracing the ancestry, and include these instructions.

Finally, pass it along to any number of your fellow bloggers. Remember, though, your success as a Darwinian replicator is going to be measured by the propagation of your variants, which is going to be a function of both the interest your well-honed questions generate and the number of successful attempts at reproducing them.

My origins:
My great-great-great-great-great-great-great grandparent is Pharyngula.
My great-great-great-great-great-great-grandparent is Metamagician and the Hellfire Club.
My great-great-great-great-great-grandparent is Flying Trilobite.
My great-great-great-great-grandparent is A Blog Around the Clock.
My great-great-great-grandparent is Shakespeare's Sister.
My great-great-
grandparent is Excuse This Mess....
My great-grand parent is Jennifer.
My grandparent is Snag.
My parent is Dilettante

Here I go!!!

1. The best comedy in classic Hollywood is: My Favorite Wife with Cary Grant and Irene Dunn.
2. The best sexy song in rock is: You Owe Me Some Kind of Love by Chris Isaak.
3. The best use of ground meat in American cooking is: a nachos with everything! (I'm guessing I won't really find these in a South American country - so I'm calling them American).
4. The best caper movie in American film is: Ocean's Eleven.
5. The best mystery novel in a series is The Last Lion Died at Noon by Elizabeth Peters.

Now, I tag Anissa and Faking It. Have fun!

It's printing now!!!

All 273 pages!! This is the first time I've printed the entire finished manuscript! It's so exciting. :)

I was planning to print it at Kinko's so they could hole punch it for me and not tax my poor little printer. But, well, that was going to cost $150. I figured I could handle the hole punching myself for that! Geez!

So now I get to listen to it print in joyful anticipation of my week of editing while the maple leaves gust by the window. :) What a wonderful October day!


If your husband buys face paint for Halloween - the top shelf in the bathroom is not high enough to keep it out of the hands of a a two year old who clearly has monkey DNA.

Also, soap and water is not enough to get it off.

Also, it will turn your sink and wall purple.

Also, two year olds get tired of being scrubbed after half an hour and you are left with a slightly purple child for the rest of the day.

And I wonder why I don't get anything done...

I'll have my coffee any flippin' way I want it!

I don't usually (ever?) blog about femininist issues and I don't really consider myself a hard core femininist, but this reallllly bothered me, and I thought I'd share it here, with all of you, so you could be bothered too. ;)

So here I am, trapped at the doctor's lab for AN HOUR waiting to take my glucose intolerance test, which explains why I'm watching local news at all. I was trying to concentrate on Detection by Gaslight - but couldn't quite manage it.

The story - news story - on the news - with real anchorpersons and everything - was this: Can the way a woman orders her coffee at Starbucks tell you if she's high maintenance. Cue eyeroll.

OK, first of all, it's not like it's the first time I've heard this. Secondly, even if it were, how is this in any way shape or form news?

They actually had a female reporter out at Starbucks asking women how they ordered their coffee. (And for the record, I take a 5 pump vanilla latte, but my husband orders a grande soy no whip mocha). And THEN, they bring in this "dating expert" to say that women should order their coffee in as complicated a way as they want to so that their date can decide there won't be a second date. ARGH!!!!!!

My thesis boils down to this: It's a FOUR DOLLAR drink. If a man walks into a bar, and orders a four dollar mixed drink to his specifications, he's debonair. If a woman orders her coffee to *her* specifications then the NEWS STATION says that she's high maintenance and men should beware.

Of course, no mention was made of how men order their coffee and this is the northwest, after all, where men drink it in just as high quantities as women. I'm still appalled - STILL APPALLED!

I'll vacuum in high heels and pearls before I order my coffee any old way so as not to send the wrong message to the opposite sex, thank you very much!

My little detective

My 6 year old just walked into the den and dropped off several notes saying, "I found these around the house."

One says "Rob, you will be sorry. Wa ha ha. Mr. X."

Another says, "Rob, Safty is histry. Mr. X"

And "Rob, I am on your trail. Mr. X."

Perhaps I shouldn't have bought her that boxed set of Babysitters Club Mysteries...

Um, she just came back in and took the notes and said,

"Excuse me, I need to check these for DNA."

Oh boy!!!

The End

Yes, I typed it. Yes, I'm done. WOOOO!!!!! OK, so this is several days past Sunday, but I *did* come down with that fluver, as did everyone else in the house, so that set me back a ways. Each time I'd get a kid asleep and start to type, one would wake up crying. That's not good on many levels, but really makes trying to eek out an ending difficult. ;)

I'm still not 100% thrilled with the last two paragraphs, so I'm going to give them another look today before sending them off to my brilliant and patient CP. Then, the massive printing (probably Kinkos - I'm not sure my poor little ink cartridge can take it!) and a read through before sending it off to the beta readers. I know I have a couple of consistency issues with character names that I need to address. But still....


And dear sweet DH is so inspired that he wants to buy me a new computer, so I don't have to use my funky keyboard attached to my decrepit laptop anymore. YAY!

Thank you for the encouragement, oh blogging community, I couldn't have made it to the end without you all!

But first a plea...

Before the fun schedule post - I've got a favor to ask.

It's October, and therefore CHRISTMAS season begins in my house!!! No detractors, please. It's not my fault Halloween and Thanksgiving are stuck right in the middle of the Christmas season. ;)

So, please, I'm looking for some good Christmas fiction. I love reading books set at Christmastime, but a lot of them are really hokey which takes all the fun out of it. I usually end up rereading The Christmas Carol, but I need more! Any suggestions? Pretty Please?!

Also, let me know if you have any favorite Christmas movies. My must-watch-every-season films so far are:

Meet John Doe (Barbara Stanwyck and Gary Cooper)
Christmas in Connecticut (Barbara again!)
When Harry Met Sally
White Christmas
The Bishop's Wife (the Cary Grant film, not Denzel, though I usually love him)

Thank you in advance!

The end is near

First of all - I'm having Tivo issues and have yet to see the Top Chef finale. ARGH! Fortunately, The Office has not been affected by issue, whew!

Just wanted to let you all know that I'm almost done - almost so very, very close to being done -so close! Did you all get that!! Sadly, I have two little girls with the flu and fevers (fluvers), but because it's finally so real in my mind, I'm finding time in the middle of the night (or during Go Diego Go) to get it done. Goal = Sunday night. Then I'll do one more quick pass (max time, one week) before handing it over to beta readers. That makes BRG (beta reader goal) next Sunday night. Wish me luck and pray *I* don't catch this fluver!

Because it deserves it's own post, I will now share with the world my morning schedule. I've been working really hard to get a good working schedule during the day. But the first hour and a half of my day really cracks me up when I step back and look at it. Especially considering I'm not at all a morning person. I used to wonder why anyone even bothered trying to talk to me when I had my morning cereal. Now that I've discovered coffee, I'm a little more verbal!

Top Chef Finale - pregame show

After all my rantings about Top Chef last season, I feel obliged to say *something* since the finale is tonight.

BTW - my friend Dilettante linked to this: http://www.avclub.com/content/hater/what_your_top_chef_favorite
which is hilarious.

So, we're down to Casey, Hung, and Dale. I'm routing for Casey. She's nice, and she can cook. Wow, that is soooo milquetoast after my last season endless blogging in favor of Sam, or in defense of Marcel, etc. I have to say that Season 3 just didn't really connect with me the same way. Possibly due to no tall, dark and handsome contestants? Could I be that shallow? Possibly, I could. ;) Sam was awfully cute.

Also, several of my favorites were eliminated way before the finale - Sara, CJ, Sarah, Lia... I really think a final three of Casey, Sara and CJ would be much more interesting. And sure, Hung is the anti-hero this season, but his "I'm here to win" lines and speeding around with a knife can't top Marcel *rapping* about his woes as the odd man out, or his use of foam. Neither can the top Stephen from season 1 and all his silliness - nor, to segue to Project Runway, can they compare to the Jeffrey - Angela feud and Jeffrey making her mom cry. It's just all a little bland this season.

But, I look forward with much anticipation to Project Runway and hope that they get a group together that's as much fun as Jeffrey, Laura, Angela, Vincent and the like!


Photography is something that's always interested me, but I claim to have no special talent - just an appreciation. I did take a photography class in high school and loved the darkroom, but, well, it's been awhile since then!

Fortunately I have friend's like Brian, who rocks at photography and is sharing his pictures via his blog as he travels the world with his incredibly intelligent and accomplished wife. She's in the foreign service, 'nuff said!

Today I'm linking to this picture of his view while making coffee. I know all of you writers are drooling like I am over how inspiring this view would be! Just think of what we could write with a cup of joe and a view like this!!


My mood - real time

Because that's what you want - more info about ME! LOL!

I love widgets - if you're reading in bloglines, click over to the blog to see my latest widget fine!

Babe's ok!

Just had the big ultrasound today and all is well! The cyst on baby's brain is totally gone and there are no other markers for anything worrisome. In fact, my risk factors for some things were as low as the perinatologist had every seen. YAY!!!!! Of course, things go wrong that aren't screened for, I know, but I'm just glad to have this particular thing behind me. I was really telling myself that it was totally fine, nothing to worry about, but found myself crying all night at sheer relief (I think - or at just being pregnant - fortunately two hohos made me feel much better).

Also, no more placenta previa - double woo!!!! No worries about hospital bed rest and other scary complications from that.

And the eye is healing nicely. I haven't seen my whole world go purple in a few days, so hopefully the danger of laser eye surgery is behind me as well. And really, I think contemplating surgery with my EYE OPEN was really wigging me out.

Ahhhhh... back to my regularly scheduled life, which is of course still turned upside down as we're selling the house, selling the car, buying a new car (suddenly I want a Suburban instead of a minivan - I drove one and felt a sly smile creep across my face as I realized I could do ANYTHING in this car!), and tennis lessons and church activities start this week.

I can't even contemplate typing anything about my word count right now except to say I'm steadily making progress, just veeeerrrryyyy slooowwwllllyyyyy. My poor critique partner is going to forget the beginning of the book by the time I give her the end.

Oh, and the baby kicks just like his oldest sister, more evidence that he's going to be a red head!


My mother swears I'm alone in my abhorrance of socks. Does anyone else out there hate wearing, storing, keeping track of socks? I absolutely refuse to wear them (hence my feet are always cold, hence the new Chalet Shoes from Land's End that just arrived today!)

Because I needed a kick in the head...

I've been meaning to get a post up about the FABULOUS reading I went to for Pat Wood's Lottery. (Post coming soon!)

However... I was putting my two year old to bed that night...
and she tends to thrash...
and she kicked me in the eye...
and I saw a bright flash of light...
and then for two days everything looked like I'd uploaded it to my Photoshop program and clicked "negative".

Finally, I called a doctor and apparently you can dislodge the insides of your eyeball, thus tugging on your retina, and making the whole world purple and gold. (Great if you're a UW Husky - not so great if you're trying to type).

Fortunately, I don't need laser surgery. You can all breathe a collective sigh of relief for me! I'd much rather go through labor (which I'm of course going to do soon) than have surgery on my eye. I can't even put in a contact lens! But I have to watch it for the next little while. Any jolt to the head could tear the retina. Sadly, this is going to have to limit the aggressive vacuuming I've been doing. So sad....

Excitement is brewing!

I get to meet the wonderful Pat Wood tonight!!! WOOO!!!! Are you all brimming over with jealousy?!

I might even bring the little red headed monkey (er, daughter) with me. She loves going to author events... especially when it means she gets to stay up past her bedtime... and when she gets a treat from the cafe.

BTW - in another proof that my daughters are true Northwesterners, when I told the big one she'd get a treat, the two year old said, "Coffee?" Yes! That's my girl!!!! But, um, probably a cookie, instead.

Yet another update

Hello blog buddies!

I feel like every day so much is happening - many things that deserve their own post, but you'll have to endure these update posts every few days till things settle down a little.

So... here are a few things going on in Mystery Robin Land:

1) The two year old is miraculously using the potty all by herself. Sadly, she is also using quite a bit of TP and I've already had two toilets, shall we say, cough at the contents. Still - no complaints. I can't believe she's doing it all on her own at barely two years old. Go Girl!!!

2) I've been creating my "home handbook" for organizing my *entire* life thanks to the great Kimber and her post on creating her dump book. Mine is of course a little different, but I was able to indulge my passion for school supplies today - and already I'm feeling more empowered and organized. It's so great to have a place to put ideas! As I get the hang of it, I'll devote a post entirely to the new organization.

3) Fall activities - I usually err on the side of fewer activities, but... we're getting bored! So, guitar lessons start for the 6 year old this week (she rocks at Guitar Hero, so I'm sure she'll do great - LOL). Midweek church starts this week, also, and swim for the little one and tennis for the big one, start next week. It's all part of my strategy to make them more tired! Again - I promise a post soon about the two year old and the "water snake" and why she's starting swimming so young. :)

4) Baby news - I just had an appointment that was a little troubling. Apparently the last ultrasound not only showed possible placenta previa (ugh - I so don't need bed rest in my life right now) but also a small cyst on the baby's brain. I won't know what that means till I get another ultrasound, hopefully this coming week. It could be completely benign - it could be an issue for the developing brain - it could be an indicator of trisomy (Down's or Edward's Syndromes) - I just don't know. I tend to be a person who thinks everything is absolutely fine till I'm greeted with incontravertable evidence to the contrary - but it is a little sobering. I'll post an update when I know more!

5) The house went on the market today. Hip Hip Hooray!!!! Now we're praying for a quick sale - PLEASE!!!! Then I can buy my minivan. ;) I've so given up on cool...

6) And last, but not least, I've decided to become a country music fan. Yes, that's right, you heard it here first. I who have rejected that genre my entire life have decided that I'm embracing it wholly! I've listened to the country station now for all of 2 days. I'll let you know how it takes. Not that anyone or any album will replace my love of everything Chris Isaak - but hey - he's a little bit country. ;) This, by the way, is in my search for happy music. I'm tired of all the whining rockers. I need music that's happy. I used to loooove alt rock in college, but I was at a private school, 5 minutes from the Santa Barbara beach. I could deal with the imagined issues of the troubled guitar player. Now I just want to tell them to shut up and get over it. ;)

Still trucking along

I'm having to mostly write these last bits by hand, and then type them in. I'm trying to write whenever I have a spare minute (and, um, I'm not blogging!) So I'm jotting things down while I'm in the carpool lane to pick up my daughter, or lying in bed trying to sleep, etc. Slowly but surely it's coming along!!

In other news - the little one is potty training this week. That takes a little concentration, too! And the house goes on the market on Saturday if all goes well. WOO!!!! I'll be so glad to sell that house.

I've got a post coming soon on "life lessons learned" about things like where I want to live. ;) I'll just say for now that a 102 year old house is much better in theory than in practice for me.

And I'm shopping for *gulp* a minivan!

Two more to go...

Chapters that is. I finally know exactly how I want to end the book, but I'm c..r..a..w..l..i..n..g... toward the end. It's driving me crazy!!!

I know it's a busy time (the house goes on the market this week, if all goes well - hubby got snipped - went out of town - nearly stranded in West Virginia - back out of town tomorrow - school started - baby turned two - and the laptop is quietly falling apart - all in one week!) but I will not stand for any more dawdling!!

I'm holding myself to finishing these two chapters by the end of next weekend. Then I'll assemble, incorporate edits, send to beta readers, and look blissfully forward to query land. :) I might also buy myself a new computer. ;)

And I'm signing the kids up for sports. I've decided they need to RUN more so that they sleep peacefully at night. ;)

The importance of car tabs

My husband had a business trip in West Virginia today. I typically hear from him on landing, but I couldn't connect with him and was mildly concerned by 6 pm - so, naturally, I hacked into his e-mail to get the reservation confirmation of his hotel and gave his room a call.

Here's how the trip went:

A 5:30 am sojourn to the airport was interrupted by the lovely flashing red lights of a cop car. He was pulled over for expired tabs. He's been a little distracted by some other things going on (ahem, see previous posts on the big SNIP) and apparently didn't get that done. After handing over license and registration, the cop let him go without a ticket. WHEW!! (my heart is pounding at this point, because I'm fairly certain there's a yet to be paid traffic ticket in his desk - curses on those photo enforced intersections!!)

Now he's used Master Park and shuttled to the airport and is in the crazy, crazy security line where they practically strip search you to let you on the plane. I just went though this line a couple of weeks ago and was paranoid that they would confiscate my Pediasure -it was a close call! So, here he is, about to go through the line... "Driver's License, sir?" Hm... that would be on the passenger seat of his car, where he'd tossed it after the whole cop incident. Oops!

Fearing that he'd miss the plane, he talked them into letting him on without it. How, I'll never know. He is in sales. ;)

Ok, whew, he's arrived in Pittsburgh! Now he just has an hour drive into the depths of West Virginia... he just needs to pick up his rental car - "Driver's License, sir?" Darn, that's an important piece of ID, he's learning! Of course, there is no subway or commuter train to rural WV, so he gets a cab.

The cabby was apparently quite an experience himself, and pretty pricey, but after a few wrong turns they find his hotel. The cabby was even nice enough to charge his phone. Except, now that he's arrived and tries to call me, it didn't actually charge and it loses power. Ugh.

But, by the time I talked to him, he was safe and sound in his hotel and about to call me from the hotel phone and settle in for the night.

He just has to get a ride back to Pittsburgh tomorrow, and convince the security guys to let him on the plane a SECOND time, without proper ID. I'm ready for a trip to the airport with a Fed Ex envelope in hand!

So you all might say a prayer that I get my husband back tomorrow. He has to fly out to New Jersey on Sunday, and I can promise you, there will be tabs on his car by then!

Big Week!!

It's kind of a funny paradox that when I have things to blog about, those things are making me so busy that I don't have time to blog. ;)

First off - my baby girl turned TWO this weekend. I know it's a cliche but she really did come home from the hospital yesterday - so sweet, so quiet, so disguising the little tornado that she is today. ;) At two, some of her favorite phrases are "I NEED it!" and "I do too (fill in the blank whatever her 6 year old sister is doing)". She also has a cheeky little streak that gets me, just when I'm trying to be a good mom and discipline some sense into her. For instance, the other day after touching the tv screen that she is not, under any circumstances, supposed to touch, I came toward her to give her a time out. Just as I was announcing what I was doing, she looked at me, did her impish little grin, and made her tummy into some wacky wave maching - a new trick she'd been practicing for just the right moment. It's weird, and hilarious, and she totally got me. Moment gone. *sigh*

I have some work to do to make sure she ends up on the path for good rather than evil. ;)

Then - my big girl started first grade. This is real school now! I mean, kindergarten was intense, but only three days a week. This is five days a week, with homework, and PE and everything! And, in a cruel trick of fate, though she's the chattiest little girl you'd want to meet, she doesn't like to discuss things that have already happened. So I've got very little idea how her first two days went, except that she's thrilled to go every day.

In an attempt to find out *anything* today, I asked her to tell me one thing, anything, that she did today.

"Well, Mom" (long suffering voice), "I went to the bathroom!" *sigh*.... I mentioned this to my dad and he said "Hm, I wonder where she got that smart mouth?!" Great. Life coming back to bite me.

I did manage to pry out of her that she's studying: "Literature, Math, Bibliography, and Geographically" Could that be Biology and Geography?! Bingo! Hopefully I learn more on curriculum night.

And the little scamps have become "bunk mates" and are sleeping in bunk beds for the second night in a row. Guess which one thinks she should sleep up top? So for now, they're both cuddling on the top bunk and sharing a reading light. ;)

I'm baaack!

I took off for California there without a word - sorry Blogworld!! I thought I'd have time for a farewell post, but apparently getting two little girls and my pregnant self on a plane was a wee bit more work than I thought. ;)

We had a fabulous trip, though! The flight was survived by all with the help of Max and Ruby on a laptop and my big girl learned to swim with her very patient aunts (who happened to be champion swimmers and teachers). YAY! I can't say that either of the girls are too thrilled to be back in the Pacific Northwest.

In other news... DH went in for the big SNIP today. That was fun. Really. I laughed so hard I thought I was going to hyperventilate in the little support person chair. Let's just say he was a tiny bit stressed about the whole thing. (But very willing to do it, bless his heart). At one point he nearly broke my hand. Mind you, this is a ten minute procedure. He then asked the doctor, "Hey, you've seen a lot of these (I belive the doc has done TEN THOUSAND of them), how'm I doing?"

Doctor "Eh, a little over the top."

That's when I lost it. That could be my husband's life slogan: Eh, a little over the top.

Lest you think I'm truly evil for falling on the floor in hysterics during his pain, he said that my laughing took his mind off of things and made the whole thing more lighthearted. So, just doing my job! (and he did give me permission to blog about it!)

Of course, if he laughs during labor I'll chuck something at his head, but that's another thing entirely!

Why I know their my kids...

The not quite two year old, on passing a building with green awnings:

"Starbucks? YUM!"

On pulling up to the mall:

"Starbucks? I do drink! I do food!"

On pulling into an actual Starbucks:

"Strawberry and Cream!"

The six year old:

"Green umbrellas, stop immediately!"

"Ah, this is the perfect night, dinner out, and a walk that ends up at the bookstore."

Yes, I think they've picked up a thing or two from their mom...

The Next Generation

My six year old just came into the living room, proudly announcing that she had finished Harry Potter... in two days. I hadn't seen her all day, and now I know why! (This is the first Harry Potter, not the 7th, she's just now getting started.) I'd intended to read it to her, but apparently I wasn't fast enough.

I've been fielding random questions this afternoon about how certain ghosts became ghosts and what happens to so and so... and invariably I tell her she has to READ to find out. It's more fun that way. :)

I read the book for the first time when I was pregnant with her so it was something of a moment for me. ;)

And the spell of Harry Potter continues. YAY!!!

Public Service Announcement

Hitting "word count" under the tools menu in Word over and over and over does not actualy increase your word count.

I just thought the rest of you might like to know...

Yes, he can dance, actually!

Is anyone else out there watching So You Think You Can Dance? (Spoiler alert if you haven't seen Monday's results show - you've been warned).

My fave, Pasha, was voted off this week. Yes, yes, get out your hankies, it was a hard night for me! But, it was really a great moment as the judges wished him well. Nigel Lithgoe summed up my thoughts as he said that Pasha is a very rare breed, a gentleman through and through., and he'd been a pleasure to have on the show.

Nice guys are famous for finishing last and this one finished far from it! So here's to Pasha!!

PS - yes I DO have tickets for the tour!! Thanks to my nimble-fingered sister and her quick ticket buying ways!

Fresh Perspective

I recently talked to my sister and ran a bunch of my potential "girl baby" names by her. Most of the names recieved responses like this:

Hooker, Mail Order Bride, Russian Hooker, Stripper...

I go for kind of a 20's Retro Glam style that apparently doesn't translate to everyone in exactly the way I'd hoped.

In a desperate attempt to like one of my names she asked for an other possibilities:

Me: I've been liking Harriet?
Her: No.
Me: What are you talking about? Ever since Studio 60 I've loved that name!
Her: Well sure, but the other little kids on the playground won't think she had a brilliant reparte with Matthew Perry, they'll just call her Harry Toes.

At this point I didn't think it worthwhile to mention Harriet Vane.

And so, I've learned to value my sister's quite different perspective. She's definately one of my beta readers!!

Fortunately the baby is a BOY so, the quest for the perfect girl's name can be set aside. ;)

I won! YAY!!!

It may only be out in the UK (so far) but I have a copy - a signed copy no less!!

I've just started reading Souvenier by Therese Fowler and let me tell you, it's fantastic!!

She was kind enough to run a contest on her blog, distributing a few of these rare gems and I have one in my hot little hands, or really on the nightstand next to my bed.

Just wanted to gloat, I mean, um well, something nicer than that, for a moment.

You can order yourselves a copy at Amazon UK here!

Why I love Noah Lukeman

It's not just because of the The First Five Pages, although that's a really helpful book and I recommend it to you all. And not just because he's written a book on one of my first loves, punctuation. No, there's more! I just heard him interviewed by Barbara de Marco Barrett on her show and podcast, Writers on Writing (link to interview here - scroll down to June 26). I've heard many, many agents and authors speak at this point and I'm not sure I've heard anyone as articulate, well thought out, and genuinely helpful. It's well worth a listen!

And, if that weren't enough, he's written a 100 page e-book that you can download for free as a PDF on how to write a query letter. Link here. It breaks it down into such a clear structure, that even though this is my worst, WORST bit of the writing process, even I feel like I can do it now.

I will caution you, that if any of you were part of the Devotion of Snarklings, you'll note a few places where his advice differs from the Great Miss Snark. In all cases, I of course defer to the Snark Files. I fear her stillettoed wrath even now... ;)

The Meez site *is* addictive!

This is my detective, detecting. She's a little too smiley, but it was the best I could do. ;)

I couldn't say it better myself...

The Emmy nominations have been made. This year, I can't really rant about Lauren Graham getting passed over, yet again, because I wasn't really feeling Gilmore this season (till the last few). But I will just say for old times sake that she's been robbed, year after year!

However, the nominations still leave much to be desired. The most obvious miss is Matthew Fox. Did none of the voters see Through the Looking Glass?

But, rather than rehash everything here, I'll link you to my favorite Lost blog, where Brian goes through each category and basically says exactly what I'm thinking - like why is Grey's Anatomy all over the nominations when this was arguably their least successful season?

Here's the link: Lost and Gone Forever

I also share his love for Top Chef!! Although I'm not sure I see Chef Tom as quite the champion of the contestants that he does. Tom always has that humorous gleam in his eye, like he's just waiting for everything to fall apart. He's definately not (the beloved) Tim Gunn, but I do love Tom in his own right. ;)

WIP update

Up to approximately 54K words of 80K! YAY! Also, I'm nearing the point where I've written diverging endings. Three to be exact. I'm going to have to choose one, and go, or - the more likely choice - write a fourth.

I'm having committment issues with how to end this thing! Hopefully it just makes for a more surprising ending, having written the three more obvious ones.

Happy Harry Eve!!

You know it's Harry's Eve when you see girls in plaid skirts and capes walking up and down the street. ;)

We've stopped by our local Harry Potter party and done all the crafts and had our picture taken. The munchkins aren't old enough to hang out till the clock strikes twelve, so we'll have to wait till tomorrow to start reading, but that's ok. I know I'm going to strrrrrretch this one out, so I don't have to say good bye. I do admire Rowling for setting a limit and keeping the series solid, but it doesn't mean I'm at all excited about getting to the last book. I remember I started reading the series when I was pregnant with my first baby, and I'll finish while pregnant with my last. It's fitting!

I hope you all enjoy Book Seven and Movie Four this weekend!!

Rebecca gets her due

I first read Daphne du Maurier's Rebecca when I was 14.

Ever since, I've signed my name with an oversized, flourishing R.

I wanted to name my daughter Rebecca. I was entranced by the character, by Manderley, by the entire book. I tried to remind myself that Rebecca wasn't the heroine, if anything she was the antagonist. But I never quite believed it.

And now that I've finished reading Rebecca's Tale, by Sally Beauman, Rebecca de Winter has received her vindication! Beauman wrote her Rebecca in a way that held surprises on every page, but was also every bit the Rebecca I knew lurked beneath the surface of du Maurier's pages. It was an amazing feat. My only complaint was that it was too long for me to stay up and finish in one night - but also that it was over entirely too soon. So I suppose there was no winning, there.

This is the sort of literary mystery I hope to master one day!

WIP Update

Edited word count is at 49,451/80,000. I'm getting there!!!

I've been stuck on one chapter for 2 weeks and am finally moving on. It's not perfect, but I've got to keep going and will look at it again once I get to the end. This revising thing is a whole lot harder than I thought it would be. Once again, I renew my committment to actually *planning* the next book.

Also, I can't type a post without saying that it's ridiculously hot here. OK, you desert dwellers may not think 96 is that hot, but here in the temperate NW we eschew things like air conditioning and our fans always break around September when we shove them into some storage area - which is usually the last time we saw our sunglasses, too.

Again with the schedule

I have to admit that I'm having trouble with the balancing act this summer. I used to work, and have plenty of time during lunch and breaks to blog, peak at my chapters, etc. Now, I'm not only home, but pregnant, and it's summer, and finding those moments is harder and harder!

Time to reinvent a schedule, I think, now that I'm beginning to feel like part of the human race again. ;)

Book Trailers

Marta Acosta is hosting a Book Trailer contest (details here). I have to admit, as much as I love techie stuff, I'm really out of the You Tube loop. I'm not much of an online video guru. So I'm curious, have any of you watched a book trailer? Do you have a favorite? Will you do a book trailer for your book? Let me know!!

What makes a mystery pt 1 - The hidden plot

When I decided to get serious about writing *and finishing* a novel, I knew it would be a mystery. Partly, because I read so many, partly because I liked that the story had a built in engine - solve the crime.

What I didn't realize when I started was the "hidden plot" that goes into mysteries. Not a secondary plot, or a subplot, but a plot I kept guarded in shadows.

I'd analyzed all sorts of things about books - I was a lit major for heaven's sake - I could squeeze more meaning out of a book than the author ever intended. But structure was new to me.

So I just started writing. Then, about 20 pages in, I realized that I needed to figure out the hidden plot. I needed to know who the killer was (always helpful!), what his motivations were, how he pulled off what he did, where he was at all times - then I had to not tell the reader. Instead, I had to lay it underneath the obvious plot of the book and let it show through.

It reminded me of when I made my Christmas cards and had one image peeking out from behind the vellum on top. I needed to show bits of the hidden plot to the readers all the way through the book, and then reveal it in the end in a way that will make them say "Ah, I see! It was there all along!"

That has been my big push during this second draft of the book, making sure that plot was solid, and seen but not seen too much. Like hiding easter eggs in the living room - or in Lost. ;)


Welcome to my new Mystery blog! I hope we have lots of fun here discussing life, writing, and mysteries.

First, an explanation - the working title of my novel is Murder on a Moonlit Sea, hence the name of the blog. As I write more, I'll probably change the blog title to something more overarching. But for now, it inspires me to keep working!!

Current status update is that I'm about 45,086 words into the edits, with a total of 80,000 to edit. I've actually edited more words than that, but have cut a lot, so the word count keeps shrinking!! I'm still aiming to be done by the end of July.

That's all for now!! In the next few days I'll stop updating the old blog to focus on this one, so you'll probably want to update your links. :)

That's all for now!