I won!

I love winning things. :) I especially love winning things not yet released to the general public. Bwa ha ha!!!

I've won Crimes of Paris from the lovely Samantha at Sam's Book Blog. She has fantastic reviews over there and giveaways, clearly, so go check it out. ;)

The book is a true crime story about the theft of the Mona Lisa from the Louvre. Check out this description:

Turn-of-the-century Paris was the beating heart of a rapidly changing world. Painters, scientists, revolutionaries, poets--all were there. But so, too, were the shadows: Paris was a violent, criminal place, its sinister alleyways the haunts of Apache gangsters and its cafes the gathering places of murderous anarchists. In 1911, it fell victim to perhaps the greatest theft of all time--the taking of the Mona Lisa from the Louvre. Immediately, Alphonse Bertillon, a detective world-renowned for pioneering crime-scene investigation techniques, was called upon to solve the crime. And quickly the Paris police had a suspect: a young Spanish artist named Pablo Picasso....

Should be good times. If I can bring myself to part with it, I'll hold my own giveaway for it here when I'm all done.

And now... off to whip chapter 8 of Lamplight into shape. It's this looming black hole in the middle of my manuscript. I've written way past it, but just can't connect the dots in this one area. I hate that. And I'm not a note carder or story boarder. The oh so wise Kimber An was just talking about how she thinks in pictures and I've wondered if that's an easier way to hold a novel in your head. I think in words (which I suppose makes some sense for a writer) - and emotions. I can feel a scene, I can hear the words, but I sometimes have no idea what anyone looks like and any sort of graphical means of organizing scenes just drives me crazy.

And so I plod on.

No, no, no, no

Betty Boop, listening to Black Horse and the Cherry Tree (Megan's version, not KT's of course)...

"I like this song cause you get to say 'no, no, no, no him not the one for me!' I like dat. Dat's better than the Wiggles."


She''s safe!


Not even in the bottom three. That's the power of shlove... I mean love.

Also, you should all be happy to know that Huey has his power cord back so I've got more blogging, writing, and Amazon.comming ability. The world has returned to it's axis. You know if the power cord hadn't broken Sione and Filipe would not have escaped my scathing wrath as I sat here on the sofa watching their hissy fits on The Biggest Loser. (Seriously, he yelled at Jillian. Jillian! I love Jillian!)

And you'd be hearing all about my new Heroes addiction (I'm so behind the times - even with Greg Grunberg. I feel my tv crush on Greg Grunberg isn't nearly well documented enough). So, maybe you're not so sad the cord was down and out.

Now I've got to reread 85 pages or so of manuscript and get back in the groove. Between kids coughing fits and stumbling out of bed because they dreamt about a giant man-eating worm. Wish me luck!

And Megan - pick a good song next week, hon! The Mystery Man cannot stand this kind of stress. He starts doing crazy stuff like putting his pacifier in his mouth backwards and playing Don't Break The Ice obsessively. He couldn't even eat his goldfish crackers tonight! It should be an easy week with the theme, which I hear is "Top 100 iTunes Downloads" - I have some suggestions if you want to give me a call. Mystery Man thinks the theme song for Handy Manny would do nicely. It's gotta be in the top 100, right?!

Love vs. Shlove

My 11th grade English teacher told us once to think about what the theme of a particular book might be, saying, "people don't write books just to write them, they have something to say."

I'm not 100% sure that is always the case, but I know one theme that is close to my heart is the sacrificial, enduring quality of love. And I don't mean taking a bullet for someone. That's the easy stuff. I mean the day in, day out, negotiating the remote, the chores, who's gonna carry the crying baby to the bathroom tonight and get thrown up on in the hall. That kind of stuff!

I love happily ever after, and I don't like to write about angst, but I do believe that without committment, love is nothing. It's not even really love. It's something else -- let's call it shlove. And shlove is talked about everywhere. It's ubiquitious. It's worse than Google.

I try to write characters that count the cost and do the work, because the best stories are ones that inspire and encourage, not make you wonder if you picked the right person because your happily ever after isn't looking so shiny today - When Harry Met Sally, Pride and Prejudice, The Philadelphia Story, Luke and Lorelai (on the good seasons).

So, yeah, it wasn't her best song, but The Mystery Man and I voted for Megan about a hundred times, because that's what you do. My texting bill is gonna hate me.


Betty Boop, watching The Mystery Man watch Megan, "Does him love her? Is him her boyfriend?"

MM took a super long nap right before dinner so he can wait up to watch Megan tonight.

T - 67 minutes and counting...

Please, Megan, please!

Tomorrow, American Idol is on. I'm trying to not be snarky about The President booting Idol to Wednesday. I'm sure he had important things to say. I'm sure he did. But does he realize HOW MANY TIMES I've had to listen to "Walkin' After Midnight"???? To say I've played it 100 times would be a conservative number. Mystery Man comes to me, remote in hand, pointing at the tv and going "Gah!"

"Gah" means "Mystery Mom, would you please put on the new love of my life, Megan Joy? Thank you, dearly." and "GAH!" means, "I might DIE if I don't hear Megan again!"

He always sits transfixed while she's on. He claps like a proud boyfiend at the end of the song, just as she's winding down, actually, and then grabs the Tivo, goes "bloop, bloop, bloop" and she's on again.

Now, I could end the madness and stop playing her, but he's sick. And when he's standing there looking pathetic and crying because I won't vacuum, again, I can just flip on Megan and he quiets down. I'd say I've possibly abused this tendency.

I've downloaded all of her songs to my iTunes, but I can't get them on the big screen and that's really where I need options.

Mr. Obama, I've born with great patience this one extra night of Walkin' After Midnight, but really, I had to dig deep. It probably cost me another 20 viewings. I know every vocal lick, every half smile, every hand motion, and it plays in my head constantly. Any time my thoughts go still, cue the soundtrack... "out in the moonlight, just like we used to do.." I used to think she had kind of a quirky voice. Now I'm not sure there IS another voice. Anywhere.

So please, Megan, please sing a great song tomorrow. You have no idea how much I'll be listening to it. And if the rest of you could throw her some extra votes, the House of Mystery would really appreciate it.

Bent Objects and Framed Stories

I have a new widget - check out my Bent Objects widget, and you can go visit the blog, too, if you like. It makes me laugh, and I thought I'd share the fun with you all. This is one that an agent, Sorche Fairbanks, came across and now there's a book coming out! I love stories like that. I also notice that agents are now sort of like celebrity names to me, or maybe at least sports figures. I know many, many of them. I can tell you what they rep, who they work for, and who they represent. If there were such a thing as Agent Jeopardy, I'd win it all! I'm not sure if that is a good, or pathetic fact.

So, right now, I'm working on writing Lamplight (stalled slightly by the whole power cord debacle, but Asus assures me a new one is on it's way right now). I've discovered that my process is to be writing one book while planning the next. If I don't do that, the ideas bump around in my brain and make me want to rush the book I'm writing to get to the next one, but there's always a next one! So, each project has it's own mini-molskine cahier while I'm working on it. The one after Lamplight is a historical fiction book set in 1905 Seattle.

Here's my dilemma, blog buds... do I do a straight historical fiction? Or write it with a modern frame. My favorite kind of book has a modern frame, but it feels artificial every time I try to stick one on this story. Plus, there are a series of linked standalone books I'd like to write, that begin with this one. Do I have a modern frame that continues as well? Do you think historical fiction sells as well as the combo storyline? Throw your thoughts at me - all you writers and readers!!

And enjoy a chuckle over there on my sidebar. :)

The Mystery Man has a Crush

On Megan Joy from American Idol. There I was, trying to watch American Idol - I usually watch it during the day the following day - and he was not happy. He wanted to watch Handy Manny. I know this because he brings me the Tivo remote and does this little head bob dance and stomps his feet. It's the same dance he does when the theme music plays. But I just wanted to get through the songs.

Finally, in frustration, I said "Will you just look at the pretty girl on the screen?" And he did, look at the screen. Then Megan came on and he was enrapt. He watched. He pointed. He said "Ga... Ga ga... Ga!" and when she finished he clapped and grinned.

I thought it might be a fluke, but no. I showed it to his dad and he did the same thing and when they did the wrap up at the end of the show, where they do a clip from each performance he was minding his own business, playing with his truck, till Megan came on and he stopped and watched and clapped.

So, he seems to have a thing for quirky blondes with a bluesy-rock edge. I'd been wondering what his type would be. ;)

Still sad

I'm still reeling a bit from the news of Natasha Richardson's death. I'm sorry you'll have to bear with me a little longer, before I can write about word count and quirky kids.

I'm reminded of Princess Diana's death 11 years ago. As I was promising myself I'd pray for the two boys left behind, I remembered doing the same for Diana's two boys. The women strike a similar chord with me, and the deaths both seem tragic and senseless. This one less evil, to be sure, but still the same pang of just wrongness.

My three year old is afraid of dying all the time now. She comes downstairs and tells us "I'm afwaid for my life." Afraid the house will fill with smoke and self destruct, or that there's a nightmare lurking in her closet, or a creepy noise outside means danger. She's old enough to understand that she could die, and too young to live with that knowledge.

But I wonder if we ever live with it well. I think we feel, deep down, that death is not beautiful, or peaceful, but achingly, jarringly wrong. We feel it even when our dog dies.

C.S. Lewis said "Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket -- safe, dark, motionless, airless -- it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. The alternative to tragedy, or at least the risk of tragedy, is damnation. The only place outside Heaven where you can be safe from all the dangers and perturbations of love is Hell."

So, I'm still sad, for Liam Neeson and those two boys and the rest of us who open our hearts up at all to the tragedy that is loving another person, fragile in their mortality.


We live in a world filled with images of people, projections of people, personalities that we don't really know talking to us, singing to us, playing parts. And sometimes, even though we know we don't really know them, we connect. We feel like they're one of ours, part of our extended family, somebody we'd have over for dinner, whose stories we'd like to listen to, whose opinions we'd care about.

Natasha Richardson was one of those people for me. I felt like I knew her, I always loved seeing her, I nearly named two girls Natasha. She had a grace and elegance on screen that were more common to another era. She'll be missed.

Impulse Purchase and Simon Says

I bought myself a present for having a hurt toe and an ulcer about taking care of the Mystery May - The Rosetti Letter. Of course I couldn't think of anything actually ON my TBR list at the time. I'm a sucker for any book that weaves storylines from the present with the past. I'll admit, I can see more "bones" in this story than I'd like. I think that's part of the curse of being a writer and reading. CURSES! But it's definately compelling so far and now I want to visit Venice.

And now a tidbit from games of Simon Says at our house.

We were teaching Betty Boop how to play - or rather DH was while I played Bejewled2 in an adjoining room - so addictive!

First he ran through a sample game, he tripped her up with the "Oh, I didn't say Simon Says" thing (I used to hate that as a kid!) So then she got to be Simon.

BB: Simon Says touch your head.
DH touches his head.
BB: Simon Says stand on one foot.
DH stand on one foot.
BB: Simon Says touch your whole body.
DH touches his whole body really fast
BB: Simon Says...

DH: You know, you should try to trick me sometime and not say Simon Says.

Betty Boop looks quizzically at him then says, "I just like telling you what to do."

Telling, very telling.

Then we get her sister, the Red Head, in on the game.

BB: Simon Says stand on one foot.
They stand on one foot.
BB: Simon Says hop up and down.
They hop up and down.
BB: Simon Says... anyone who has to go potty GO POTTY RIGHT NOW!

Betty Boop took off for the bathroom.

ME: Is she really going potty?!

DH: (doubled over in laughter) Yeah, and it sounds like she had to go really bad!

She is so gonna hate me for blogging this when she's 16, but it was pretty funny.

It's been a harrowing week

Today, the Mystery Man, who still is a little sore around the nose and mouth area from his last fall, climbed a chair. I saw it and was heading toward him to pluck him off... when I saw the chair start to tip.

Sometimes we get a split second that contains more information than seems possible. Sometimes a split second swells to grasp, process, and act on information that would take many, many moments otherwise. In less than the time I had to scream I knew he'd tip over. I knew he'd fall flat on his face - his hands were tucked under the chair back. I knew he might hit the glass kitchen door, as well. I knew there was at the very least a bar stool between us, but that I could still get to him if I didn't care how bad it hurt. And I didn't. I just ran. And I plucked him from the chair as it crashed on my feet and we both stumbled and fell a little but he's fine.

The chairs are all gone now. I'm thinking of a Moroccan style dining experience - big cushy pillows - no pokey utensils. I think they're on to something.

And my toe might be broken, which is totally fine. Every time it hurts I'm so, so glad it's my toe and not his face.

Ok, I still sometimes have a crappy attitude when I'm going upstairs for the third time to tell my daughter that no one pushed a self destruct button and the house isn't going up in smoke and my stupid foot is throbbing.

But mostly, I'm just grateful for that split second.

Sad Mama

My day started at 5 something with Miss Boop having such a horrible nightmare that I had to physically restrain her from rushing out of the house for a good hour... till the terror made her throw up and she finally calmed down and fell asleep... for about 15 minutes till we all got up for school.

I've babysat kids with night terrors and truly never seen a kid that scared. I think she's ok now. We talked about the dream and what she thought would happen and I think she believes me that we do not have a self destruct button in the house, but really, she was on a mission to get herself and me (if she could) out the front door.

It ended with The Mystery Man colliding with a dresser while I was sauteeing the chicken for dinner. It was a terror of a bloody nose. My heart broke with every single drop. He was miserable. And we'd left his blankey (which is a manly shade of brown edged in satin) at church on Sunday. Thankfully, my mom had brought an identical replacement minutes before it happened.

And of course, DH is out of town. Of course he is.

Here's hoping for a better day tomorrow, blog buds.

** The pic is a book cover that translated reads "Mama bird feels sad, too." It seemed appropriate for a Mama Robin.

Books and other things

I've had trouble blogging this week. Partially because of the whole broken power cord thing. I usually combine my internet time with sitting on the sofa and Tivo time. And if I must choose, well, Tivo won this week!

So, a few things I have for you. I'm going out to get Shadow of the Wind right now, by Carlos Ruiz Zafon, based on the review on Good Reads by my friend Amy. Amy has the BEST Good Reads reviews ever. I have found countless books thanks to her. Here's a snippet of what she has to say about this one (um, Amy, hope you don't mind a little cut and paste action here...)

It's full of spooky houses, foggy european streets at night, strangers in trenchcoats, beautiful mysterious women, and dangerous family secrets.

Sold!!! What's better than foggy streets and trenchcoats, I ask you?

Only a mysterious woman and family secrets!

Also, I've read a few books recently myself and am not nearly as good as Amy is about getting reviews up on GR, but, I will tell you here.. run, don't walk, to go buy Dog On It, a Chet and Bernie mystery, by Spencer Quinn. It's told from the dog's point of view. Yes, it sounds gimmicky, but it's hilarious. The dog's always getting distracted by she-dogs or donuts or cats and running off so you miss bits of dialogue. It's a great device and the characters are really likable. It's very, very low on the violence scale and has a sweet romance, but is low on heat level too. It is the dog narrating, after all.

And I read my first Jack Reacher novel. Where have I been, indeed. It's the best thriller I've ever read by a mile. I've heard he can be violent, but I thought this one, Echo Burning, was very low on violence for a thriller, no bad language, and still felt gritty and tense. Nicely done, Lee Child.

Huey Broke his Tail

In Robinspeak, that means my netbook's poweradapter broke. I suspect the Mystery Man, but he is being evasive, as is his nature.

This seriously hampers my writing till Asus deigns to send me a new cord. I'll keep you updated. I managed an entire 100 words today before that happened.

Ghost town stories and serendipity

Apparently, I was unduly influenced by all the beach wear at Old Navy and forgot that it's still (or was still) February in Seattle. I was a touch on the freezing side.

In other, more serendipitous news, when I... ahem... borrowed that picture for my post yesterday, I noticed that it was on an author web site. Good networker that I am, I went back to the site and found out that she (Jan Pierson) is a children's book writer with a series set in a western ghost town! How fun!! I know have her first one all snuggled down in my Amazon cart waiting for my next order.