Merry Christmas Eve!

We're off to the Christmas Eve service tonight to hear our Dickens Carolers and then spend some time with family. The kids are rearranging all the presents under the tree and counting down till Christmas morning.

I hope you are having a lovely day, whether you're wrapping presents, finishing up work, last minute shopping, or visiting the pyramids in Giza like a friend of mine.

Merry Christmas!

Christmas Time Is Here*

This is not an official "you won't hear from me till the new year" post, but more of a "it's entirely possible you wont here from me till the new year" post. ;) Something may jump out at me that I just have to tell you about. But *probably* I'll be wrapping presents, finishing knitting, taking pictures, mailing cards and all that.

And here is where I confess that no, I do not feel one little tiny smidge of Christmas spirit right now, despite the tree being up, the music being on, and downloading the Christmas version of Zombie Farm. (Haven't you??) I know a lot of people are saying that, blogging that, writing about that, and I know a lot of people will tell you to slow down and enjoy Christmas, but here is where I zig where the other's zag.

Don't worry about. I'm not. I have three kids. They come with lots of work, lots of stuff, lots of activities, despite my efforts to keep it simple. There's just A LOT! I've got presents under the tree, I've made cider, organized their parties, attended their concerts, Daddy is reading them A Christmas Carol, and I'm ok with being tired and a little stressed. Someday the Mystery Man won't throw a fit when I start the dishwasher without his help (or the dryer or the vacuum). Someday Boop won't beg me to paint her nails and Red won't walk around with her nose in Harry Potter bumping into walls because she can't see where she's going and I'll have more time to think, and more time to appreciate the season.

Right now, I'm appreciating the chaos.

So merry Christmas to all and to all a good night! I hope you get more sleep than I will. ;)

*Mystery Man has watched so much Charlie Brown around here, sometimes I only speak in Charlie Brown.

If Santa wore brass goggles...

What to my wondering eyes should appear today on Twitter, but a shopping list for the steampunk among us. Thank you, Tor/Forge, thank you! So I'm passing on my absolute favorites to you.

Some favorites... and you know, these things are hard to come by. You can't just buy a zeppelin cookie cutter at the mall. But...

You can buy it here!

Or perhaps steampunk alphabet blocks? The Mystery Man does have a birthday coming up...

Or a parasol?

But I think I went the most crazy over all of these little parts: clock faces, buttons, dragonfly charms, brass butterflies, clock arms...

Just, ah, don't buy *all* the paris clock face buttons, ok? Thanks! ;)

Word Count and Counting My Marbles

My blogging time has been a little hard to come by lately as my little Mystery Man is taking forbidden naps and staying up till midnight. I'm blogging during a nap right now. And it's 5:30pm my time. That is not good. So I'm not only tired, but fraying a little around the edges as I have had zero kid free time in... oh way too many hours to count.

But, I did want to pass on this fun tool for you in the meantime. It doesn't take too much mental acuity to post a link (or does it - we'll soon find out).

This little guy tells you the word count of any published book. That's right! No more googling "how many words is Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone?" (77,325)

It's a little confusing looking. Just click on "Quiz Store" then type in your book, and select it from the list, and voila!

Editing and Outlining

I'm on page 100 of edits tonight - with 163 looming out ahead of me. The hard 163. ;) I think I said I was going to take a break, and I'm sure I'll look at it again after a break, but I'm jumping in with the things I know need fixing.

I'm also sketching out the next book. I love having a next book. A new idea makes the whole world seem more hopeful. I don't plan to talk much about it here, because I'm keeping most of my focus on my steampunk story, but I did want to share with you one of the photos I'm using as inspiration. Enjoy!

Steampunk art

Some pictures make me want to just jump inside. This is one of those pictures. Marisa Erven is a concept artist that makes art for games and cinema, and I've had the pleasure of chatting with her about what goes into her art. I'm always amazed at how similar the creative process is, no matter what the medium. We discussed giving and receiving critiques with almost exactly the same language- including words like "character" and "story".

I hope you enjoy looking through her site as I have!

In which she types, THE END

I've managed to fill in all the blanks, connect all the dots, move seamlessly from the first scene in the book to the last scene in the book which means that, yes, I'M DONE!

I will need to edit. I've done a lot of editing, but I have more to do, but still, I'm basking in the wonder that is a *finished* draft. WHEW!

Everybody needs a theme song

1) I think you all know I adore Jack Reacher. If you don't, then I've been remiss, and it's entirely possible that I've only discussed my devotion to all things Lee Child on Facebook.

2) Let's assume you *now* know that I love Jack Reacher. Moving on. I just heard the Zac Brown Band sing their new song, Colder Weather, with Amos Lee.

3) If you happened to miss the Country Music Award follow up show honoring the people that won, and really, how could you... I offer up this link.

4) You may swoon now.

Also on that show was Darius Rucker (you know how he hates to be called Hootie) and Adele singing that song by Lady Antebellum that I can't stand. Oh wait - you don't know about that either... I tend not to vent about about annoying country songs on my blog. It's called Need You Now, and it's about a girl who gets drunk, calls up her ex and tells him she misses him. Inspiring. I can't stand it.

Except when Darius Rucker and Adele sing it, and then suddenly it's fraught with meaning and emotional depth.

The lesson? It's all in the execution. A thought that scares me as a writer, because I've got lots of bright, shiny ideas, but they need to be done right. I think that's why artists go a little crazy sometimes, because they can see the gulf between the vision and the reality.

Unless you're Lady Antebellum and somehow go on to sell tons and tons of records, and maybe then you're fine with it. Or maybe not. Maybe it drives them crazy that Adele sings it better. But I don't mean pick on them. It's not really fair in a world that offers up Ke$ha... it's just that Adele hasn't sung any of her songs.


I tucked my big ten year old in a few hours ago and settled in with a cup of licorice tea (thank you, DH), a big cozy Mariner's blanket, and the Tivo remote on the sofa. I'm tired. Birthdays are tiring. Lots of baking, and shopping, and wrapping, and cleaning, and cooking again, and cleaning again, and keeping very excited little people as calm as can be expected from event to event.

I sat down thinking I was as tired as I could remember in a while... and then my mind flicked to the day ten years ago when my beautiful daughter was born. And I thought - there are deeper levels of tired. It was a long day - 21 hours of labor, an epidural that didn't work, back labor, and a sweet little baby that only whimpered when she finally saw the light of the OR room. I was afraid to hold her because I was so exhausted I was sure I'd drop her and I made them take her back - I still remember the look on the nurse's face. I know she thought I was a terrible excuse for a mother - already.

Later I heard a nurse whisper to my husband, asking if I was always this pale. I'm pale, he said, but not this pale. I heard whispers of losing too much blood. I stayed an extra day in the hospital and it probably should have been an extra week, and when I say I felt like I might die I'm not being facetious, I really thought my body would just give up. It was tired with a tinge of fear.

But, of course, I got better. It took weeks - years really, but I managed to do it again, two more times and get here, ten years later, sitting on the sofa with my tea and my Tivo and a basically whole body thinking that I'm tired because I stood on my feet all day and managed munchkins.

Which is fine. I'm not about guilt-tripping myself or anyone else. Tired is tired and I know I'll have more tiring days, and I'll need more tea and cozy blankets, but it made me wonder about the contrast. If I hadn't known that day giving birth (to the cutest red head on the planet) I wouldn't have a point of reference for today. This might be as tired as I thought people got. I would be at the pinnacle of being run down. And it made me think about who in the world, at this very moment, is exponentially more tired than I am, or even than I was.

It made me wonder when I'm hungry and I'm feeling a little light headed because I forgot to eat lunch or the gluten free bread was so awful I just gave up, I wonder who's really hungry right now. Or really scared and out of control -- more scared than I was ten years ago, and more out of control. Because you know on this globe someone somewhere is truly tired, and truly hungry, and truly scared. And I just said a prayer for them, and for myself to remember, not in a "oh you have it so good quit complaining" sort of way, because I'm a big fan of venting, but just to remember to use how I'm feeling as a trigger to think about the other people out there - like the me from ten years ago that would have given anything to be only this tired.

Happy Birthday, Red!!

Today my Red Head turns ten!

This is one of those days I'm sorely tempted to break the "I don't post pictures of my kids on my blog" rules, but then I'd need to repent of something or other because I'd be doing it so you could all oo and ah over what a beauty she is and I'm sure that's a slippery slope to gluing false eyelashes on her (not that she needs them, truly) and buying her sequins and being on a reality show about what a horrible stage mom I am. So I'll just say that I've been incredibly blessed with all of my children in many, many ways. One of them being the copper-gold hair I get to look at every day on my little Red. ;) And I've already bragged about her poetry...

I'm having a bit of trouble with the hi hat cupcakes - largely owing to not being able to find a hand mixer. I might go with the Barefoot Contessa's chocolate cupcakes with peanut butter icing for today. That wouldn't be such a horrible switch, would it?

**She loves steampunk, too, hence the steampunk birthday cake that can be found here. Please note that I did not bake her a steampunk cake... but the red velvet is bound to be delicious!

December Madness Begins

The frenzy that is December in my household has begun. It's my favorite month, and so I've subconsciously worked to squeeze nearly every important event into that month. I've got an anniversary (ok, I chose that one, but originally it was supposed to be September) and two kids birthdays. One of those was supposed to be January, but I involuntarily scrambled some eggs in a magic potion and now he's a December baby...

Anyway - I've got presents bought and wrapped for Red's birthday tomorrow. I ordered a cake, but somehow committed to baking treats for school tomorrow. I'm still not sure how that happened. The next couple of weeks will be a blur of Christmas concerts, holiday hula shows (because everyone does that, right?), Christmas parties, baking, shopping, wrapping, and trying to remember the real reason I'm celebrating *all* of it.

Here's a preview of the cupcakes I'm hoping to pull off for tomorrow*

Also, here's a fun link to the underground caves, dungeon, and apparently bowling alley found under Nottingham. Red really couldn't ask for a better birthday present than that. She's in love with both Robin Hood and archeology. And I'm pretty happy too, because now maybe she won't move to Egypt.

*Compliments of my friend Katrina, the brilliant baker, who inspires me with her recipes.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving, blog buddies!

I woke up this morning to Mystery Man saying, "You need it open your eyes! You need it stop sleeping! I need it play your ipod!" Well, of course, first things first. I went downstairs to fetch the prince my ipod and found Boop bounding down the stairs in her blue velvet dress.

"What? I got ready early!" She said racing through the house, and Red was already up, though not clad in velvet, and playing the new Zelda game her dad bought her for lo these many snow days we've had.

So I'm off to my aunt's house, through the snow, with a gluten free pumpkin pie in tow, and three enthusiastic little eaters. I'm hoping to round out the day with a Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders: Making the Team marathon and midnight shopping at Old Navy. (My first Black Friday outing ever.)

Sometimes holidays are the times I'm the least thankful, because I'm trying to live up to a vision that I just can't achieve, and I'm exhausted and mildly depressed by the time I give up. But today, I'm trying to embrace my quirky holiday and be thankful for what I have, not what I'm hoping to have. I hope you all enjoy whatever today brings you.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Steampunk flavors and other steamy news

Did you know Seattle is the Steampunk epicenter? No, neither did I! We've always done goth and grunge particularly well, and we do have an unusual amount of menacing looking crows, but I suppose it's one of those things I've taken for granted along with good coffee and Amazon being my local bookstore.

But, these guys say it's so, and who am I to argue?

In other steampunk news (yes, I'm abusing the word - is it a noun? and adjective? a verb? I'm really not sure) we now have a Steampunk Wiki to answer all of your genre related questions. I just stumbled upon this today and thought I'd pass it on.

I haven't read every page on the site and don't know what the rating level is, so be warned. I'm finding there are many flavors of steampunk. It can lean toward fantasy or goth, it can be set in both Victorian and Edwardian times, or the Old West - and then there's Dieselpunk and Cyberpunk. I'm personally writing a straight Victorian low-tech high-tech sort of steampunk. No Diesel, no goth, and no paranormal overtones, much more in keeping with Jules Verne. It's a re-imagining of Victorian London with a very mechanical nature - I do dabble a bit in alchemy - but everything should be well within the confines of our own laws of physics and such. And I really mean that, not in a JJ Abrams sort of way, either. (Did he think we forgot he said that back in season 2? Really?)

Do any of you have a favorite flavor of steampunk? Or is the whole genre still kind of new to you?

Three P's for Tuesday

Problem: Boop only wears sleeveless dresses or tank tops and shorts. It is November in Seattle. I basically live in Gotham. One can hardly get away with sleeveless in Seattle in the summertime, let alone November. Every morning she changes her clothes five times till she finally puts on something with sleeves and by then every piece of clothing she owns is all over her floor.

Proclamation: Boop, you need to change your clothes before we leave and it needs to have long sleeves. If you don't come downstairs in long sleeves I am putting every sleeveless dress you own in a box until summer! (cue evil mom music)

Product (yeah, I'm stretching for the final p): Boop is wearing sleeves. Sure, it's a velvet princess costume and they just come past her elbows, but we're calling it good. And yes, I will be going to dance class and running errands with her in tow dressed like a princess from the 1700's.


Hypothetically speaking, you might have a 2 year old son who doesn't eat well...
So you might prepare peanut butter toast at all hours of the day because it's one of the things he will eat...
And you might leave the toast sitting on the counter because when he wanders into the kitchen he'll take another bite...
And you might forget about it, and leave it out until bedtime...
And, hypothetically speaking, you might have a two year old son who doesn't go to bed on time when he takes a nap...
and stays up till *your* bedtime...
and obsesses about turning off all the lights...
So you might be standing in the kitchen, gathering your things, when the lights go off, and you're moving blind and then you might, in you tired state, rub your eye, only to realize, too late, that your finger is covered in peanut butter, and now it's on the wrong side of your eyelid.
And of course you bought crunchy.
Hypothetically speaking.

This evening...

I told Boop to do some crazy thing like, you know, get down off the kitchen table. And then I told her again, and then I might of gone into intense crazy mom voice till she got down.

Red: Sometimes you just can't fathom moms.
Me: What can't you fathom?
Red: I mean you just can't get around moms' decrees.
Me: Then I think the word you want is circumvent. It means get around. Fathom means understand or comprehend.
Red: Well then you can't fathom moms either.

Sometimes it's just too much information

Fact: If you watch Dr. G: Medical Examiner, you will at some point come across a case where someone thinks they have a spider bite, when in reality it's Merca - a deadly staph infection that is also a flesh eating virus - and it goes into their bloodstream and kills them while they sleep.

Fact: You will at some point in your life, most probably right after watching this show, get some sort of insect bite.

You see where this is going, right? Let's just say fearing for my life sounds perfectly reasonable right now. But am I going to stop watching? No, much like the "Law and Order Years" when I had to make sure the doors were locked 15 times before bed, I feel like if I stop watching it's like telling the evil virus "Fine, you win!" And of course, I can't do that...

What to be, what to be...

Boop: Do you have to dress up for the whole day on Halloween?

Me: Well, you have to wear your Renaissance Princess costume all day at school on Friday, but then you can take it off. And on Halloween, you just dress up for trick or treating.

Boop: Oh good. I'm still deciding what to be on Halloween.

Me: Be a princess like you will be for school. (Mom's love costumes to do double duty)

Boop: (sounding concerned) But I really want to wear my vampire teeth.

Me: You can be a vampire princess.
Boop: That's just silly. Who ever heard of a vampire princess! I think I should be a mouse
Me: So you have heard of a vampire mouse...
Boop: Of course.

I'm bragging

I know, I know, I'm one of *those* mom's. But I'm so, so proud of my little Red. She had to write a poem for school about an emotional event in the book they were reading, Rolf and the Viking Bow. And she chose to write about the tree where a heart wrenching, unjust murder took place. (I am reprinting with the author's permission).

So I share with you her poem: The Tree.

The Tree

A tree of weeping, death, and sorrow
Yet lives to see a morrow.
Where Hiriandi died, and Frodi cried,
Of which Thurid warned and Einar replied
“Be quiet,” and went to bed.

Rolf shot, revenge to make,
Einar’s happiness to take.
A tree of enemies and foes,
A tree of weeping and woes.

To the patch!

We're taking the kids to the pumpkin patch today, which is really a fall festival extravaganza with rides and hay mazes and haunted houses and trains and food. I might be more excited than they are.

Boop came downstairs all ready to go in her red and white polka dotted satin sundress. I sent her back up to change. This is October in Seattle, after all. It's nice and sunny at the moment, but let's just say that if Noah had built his ark in Seattle, I don't think he'd have gotten any funny stares.

The kids have been scouring the house for my camera (as I think about how brilliant it was to buy the shiny red one - easier to spot in sofa cushions) because Mystery Man likes to wander the house taking pictures of his feet.

Boop just came back down... in her glittered tank dress. I sent her back upstairs.

Mystery Man is walking around muttering because I got him a new pair of boots yesterday and all he can think about is all those boots left at the store. He went to bed dreaming about trying on the rest of them and woke up saying he needs to go back to the store and get more boots. I'm hoping he can set aside the footwear obsession to play at the pumpkin patch.

We found the camera tucked inside my knitting bag. I'm formally blaming the kids for this one, but, it's at least possible that I slipped it in there to stop the photo documentary going on. I'm keeping that to myself, however, well - and the blogosphere.

Boop just came down again. She's wearing turquoise blue leggings, a pink sequin shirt that says "Birthday girl" from her sister's 7th birthday and gold satin opera gloves, but I think we're gonna go ahead and let this look stand. Her legs are covered, after all.

Wish us luck at the patch! Sometimes it's getting ready for the event that's the adventure...

A picture to share

I found this on The Traveler's Steampunk Blog tonight. Isn't it fabulous. It's not doctored - it's of a German battleship in 1917 with a Zeppelin in the background. Ah.... beautiful.

In other news, my zombie* hot air balloon scene has finally met it's match. And I've moved on to other fun things like pneumatic tubes and silver stallions. I'm about 2500 words from typing The End and meaning it this time. But, they're a tough 2500. Kind of like there's a minute, and then there's a football minute. But I've got good reason to believe I'll be all done while it's still October.

*zombie's not included

Hengrave Hall

A friend of mine just posted a bunch of pictures from a trip I took in college. I was blessed with a truly wonderful college experience, culminating in a semester abroad with several other English majors. Two professors and their spouses went with us and taught us while we traveled through the English countryside, London, Edinburgh, and Ireland - with a bonus two weeks in Israel at the very end.

And while we were there we had a home away from home called Hengrave Hall. We'd stay for a week or two, then take a trip to London and see 3 shows in 4 days, or go off to Bath and study Jane Austen. But we were always thrilled to return to Hengrave.

I had a room in the second floor that I shared with 3 other girls. The bathroom was in a turret that might have been colder than my refrigerator today, and we had to walk down the hall to find an actual bath. Every radiator typically had a student sitting on top of it to get warm. But it was magical.

At the foot of the grand stairs we had tea every day around 11 - black tea with cream and sugar and digestive biscuits. (I'm gonna have to find a way to make those gluten free, now that I'm remembering this). And although I'm the opposite of a homebody, I could stay there for days without leaving, because it was a community unto itself. We ate there, had class there, walked the grounds, talked to the nuns who lived there year round. And every Friday we all huddled around the one television in a back bedroom to watch Homicide: Life on the Streets together.

I find that Hengrave works it's way into my writing frequently. I'm enchanted with the idea of a big manor house that creates a community within it's own (more than) four walls. I'm also mindful of how life buzzed with excitement, but the pace was so much slower. This was before cell phones were common and the only way we managed email was by me taking my shoddy laptop down to the phone booth in the basement, hooking up my acoustic coupler to the receiver, and huddling on the floor until I heard the beeps stop coming. I did this once at a pay phone booth on a street corner in Ireland. I was dedicated.

But even without all the texting fever we have today, Hengrave was noticeably slower and more peaceful than life outside of it.

I felt quite a bit of culture shock when I landed in LAX after 4 months of that. I've readjusted, clearly, but I'm always mindful of how much I enjoyed life there, and how I loved the closeness of my friends, and the slowness of our days together.

Zombie Hot Air Balloons

I'm writing the scene that won't die. I thought about putting up a picture of a zombie, but hot air balloons are nicer and it is my hot air balloon scene that I'm working on... perhaps a zombie hot air balloon would be better, but this will have to do.

It's made worse because I know that I only have 3 more scenes to go before I'm done writing. I will need to revise, but I'm way past first draft, so I won't have tons and tons of revising to do - just the smoothing in of these new scenes.

And this thought haunts me. Tugs at my brain. Whispers to me from agent blogs. Allllllmooooost Dooooone! Like Jacob Marley and his chains taunting Scrooge.

I've felt this before when I'm nearly done with something. It's why my dear husband hid the castor oil whenever I got close to my due date and refused to buy me 5 star Thai take out. It's also why my memories of the night before my kids were all born is of me raiding the cabinets to find said castor oil while muttering incoherently to myself. The sane part of my brain knew that if I just waited, I'd have the baby - ok, that's not entirely true, because part of me still thinks they'd have ended up 15 pounds and 4 weeks overdue. But, let's just pretend I was that sane. Am that sane.

Anyway, I'm trying my very hardest to stay sane about finishing the book and not do anything crazy. (You know, like send a query while I'm still working on the ending. Noo......)

I'm thinking there's a life lesson here about patience. And I've got a little ways to go before I fully embrace it. But, here's to trying.

Angry Birds for Breakfast

This would be super cute all by itself, but it's even cuter because this Angry Bird breakfast was made by a husband for his pregnant wife who is on bedrest and can only eat certain foods. So he started making her food art. :)

* If you don't know what Angry Birds are, type it into your app store when you've got a few hours to waste being addicted to a $0.99 ipod app.
** Photo found at the The Unofficial Apple Weblog

Lessons Learned

No, not about writing. Though I might be able to reach and come up with some corollary, this is a concrete, practical sort of post about glitter. Because you've all been needing one, right?

Lesson 1) Spilling glitter on a recently mopped floor (Friday) while frustrating, is actually much better than spilling glitter on a yet to be mopped floor (Monday)

Lesson 2) If you (or one of your minions) spills glitter on a sticky floor, the glitter will, not surprisingly, stick to the sticky places.

Lesson 3) If you scrub at these sticky places, you will think you are scrubbing the glitter off, but what you are really doing is scrubbing the sticky stuff off while redistributing the glitter elsewhere on the floor.

Lesson 4) Glitter has excellent survival skills.

Lesson 5) No matter how big the pile, and how much you think it would it would be so much faster to sweep up the pile rather than carry bit by bit of it to the garbage can in wet paper towels... DO NOT REACH FOR THE BROOM. Brooms get up a lot of glitter, but just like that movie where the bad guy's been shot so the hero relaxes and you're shouting "NO, don't put down the gun!" because you can see the bad guy's hand reaching ever so slowly up... glitter sticks to the broom. And will redistribute itself around the kitchen floor (see Lesson number 4).

Lesson 6) If you think you've thrown away all the glitter, check again, and again, and in the bottoms of the art bin, because maybe you just threw away an empty container and it's all hiding at the bottom of the bin waiting for some rushed child to stuff it into a cupboard where it will without a doubt fall on your feet as soon as you open the cupboard.

Lesson 7) Gold glitter actually looks really cool going down a sink because the gold kind of floats on top of the water.

I hope I've helped someone.

This Just In!

For all of you mourning the loss of Lost, a new J.J. Abrams show has just been picked up starring Terry O'Quinn (Locke) and (Ben Linus). Yes, I was planning to Tivo Undercovers (the J.J. show airing this fall) and I probably still will, but it wasn't exactly looking like my sort of show. True Confessions: I never saw Mr. and Mrs. Smith. Or if I did, I've forgotten, which is pretty much the same thing.

This one is a dramedy about two ex-black ops agents called Odd Jobs. Seems kind of fitting to have the two big baddies from Lost as leads. So, you've been warned. Set your Tivos!

Boop on Old Folks

Boop is very nervous whenever she hears a siren. She's afraid someone called the fire department to tell them our house is on fire and she just doesn't know it yet. So I started pointing out that sometimes it's a police siren, and sometimes an ambulance. We live near a couple of retirement homes, so ambulances cruise by a lot. And I have to tell her, it's not coming for you (she fears perhaps she's sick and doesn't know it), it's probably going to the Old Folks' Home.

Which gives Boop something new to worry about - how the Old Folks are doing. So the other day she told me,

"I think about the Old Folks a lot. More than you think. Like all the time. Just because I can't talk about Old Folks doesn't mean I'm not thinking about them. I mean, it would be rude to say, 'Hey, you, you're gonna die soon,' which is what you mean when you say someone's an old folk. But they're always in my head and I pray for them. I pray that they will have a long, long life."

We might just need to move somewhere with fewer sirens...

Clockwork bike

I'm working on the epic motorbike race in my WIP right now and thought I'd share these pictures of bikes made from watches. At first, I thought they were full-sized bikes, then I looked closer and saw the little numbers. ;) Aren't they fun? I thought I might need one myself, but then realized that what I really want is a really good scene. So, back to the WIP I go, and I'll just click over to these for inspiration if need be. :)

For the Win!

Yes, I won something! And I'm really not gloating (maybe just a little) but mostly want to send you over to a really fun blog about being a teenager in the Nineteenth Century, called Nineteen Teen

I am, of course, linking you to the post that announces that I WON something. Again, not to gloat, but so that you'll find out what beau-nasty means. I promise you'll start incorporating it into your everyday language. I think chick lit authors everywhere should be messaged and told about this fabulous old word that's ready for a dusting off.

Also, I'd like to point out that the blog is run by Marissa Doyle and Regina Scott. Just go ahead and click on Marissa's name and look at the beautiful gaslamp lit street. Ooooo, ahhhh...

Back to school colds

Getting sick when you go back to school is as much a tradition, it seems, as picking out a new binder and sharpening pencils. Right now, Red is down for the count, with Mystery Man looking a little punky. Boop is holding strong out of sheer will, but we'll see how long she lasts.

I thought I'd share the note Red sent down last night when she was wondering if enough time had passed to have some more Tylenol for her poor, sore throat:

Has it been an hour yet?
It sure feels like it's been one.
A MISERABLE one at that!
Help, somehow, please!

-From a Fed-Up Red

My children are all so understated.

Detectives and Dickensian Mice

I thought I'd give you a preview of my latest knitting project. Isn't he adorable? This isn't mine, this is Jen29 from Ravelry but I just bought the pattern and should have my very own soon. I'm also planning to do some Dickensian Mice and a little Chimney Sweep. They help me stay in the right head space for my book when I can't actually be writing.

Right now I'm about 10,000 words and one particularly sticky decision away from finishing. I should be able to knock that out in a week - or rather, one week from when I figure out my plot point. It's kind of like getting a knot in your knitting. Or, you know, when your 2 year old pulls all the stitches off your needles. Not that I'd know what that feels like...

Steampunk Inspiration

I just want to share some of my Steampunk inspiration today. Some of these images inspire scenes in the book or just help me get into my steampunk mindset so that I can write Johnny Steam, my WIP.

Tunnels: Yes, poor Johnny spends a little time underground

And I always love a good rainy picture with an umbrella (it's so fortunate I live in Seattle)

Steampunk Coffee: of course! Also, this picture is from The Steampunk Tribune. I've just discovered it and am adding it to my steampunk links to the right. --->

And who knew you could buy Steampunk perfume?!


Milk Woes

I got the milk order form today and was suddenly really happy I only had one kid in school over lunch time. You know, milk really adds up over the course of a school year. So, I'm asking my 4th grader if she wants white or chocolate when Boop pipes up that she'd like chocolate.

Me: Honey, you don't get milk at school because you don't stay for lunch, but I'd be happy to give you chocolate milk at home.

*long pause while Boop processes this unfortunate scenario*

Boop: I really want you to kick me up to Kindergarten.
Me: I'm not kicking you up to Kindergarten so you can have milk at school.
Boop: No, really, I want the challenge.

Other than the horribly unfair milk situation, school is off to a great start. Red, the 4th grader, is studying the middle ages so she has a suit of armor in her classroom named Bob that gives the instructions for the day by way of the white board. And Boop had a fire drill today. She's very concerned about fire safety, so this was huge for her.

I know better

Sometimes when I'm writing I'll hit a tough spot and click over to a web page - facebook, email, it happens. I shouldn't, but I do. I can live with that. But sometimes, in a particularly weak moment (like five minutes ago) when none of my friends are updating with anything clever, I'll click on and look for my dream dog. This is dangerous, because I inevitably find my dream dog. And sometimes he's an adorable standard poodle/Irish Wolfhound mix named Starbucks.

Don't you all agree he should be mine?!


As I'm catching up on my blog roll I'm reading lots of posts about 9/11. Especially about remembering. I've read lots of lovely and some chilling posts, but there's one thing I wanted to add to the chorus.

I don't know anyone who really believes we're at war with Islam. We've all got Muslim friends who were just as grieved as we were when those towers went down. But that doesn't make the evil of that day go away, because that's what it was really about, just plain good and evil. And we saw evil in sharp relief when the smoke rose out of those twin towers.

But we also saw an awful lot of good, really heart-wrenching, heroes of old kind of good, and I think when we remember, we need to remember those heroes. Remember that there was a 4th plane that didn't reach it's target because of some brave people on board, including a kid from Wheaton with a young wife who became a widow. That there was a 60-something year old man who stepped off the last elevator going down from the towers because there wasn't room for a young woman. So he got off, saying he'd had his chance to live and she should have hers. That the firefighters went up the stairs while everyone else went down.

At least, that's what I mean when I say I'll always remember.

Back to school

School started this week. That picture over there is my happy face. And this year, Boop starts Pre-K. So far she's been so excited each morning she can't eat breakfast, and has lots of ideas about her uniform.

It's always a little bumpy getting back into the school routine. For instance, the girls have to go to bed and actually turn off their light instead of staying up all hours reading. So last night, when I went up to check on them, Boop bounced out of her room and flipped on the hall light saying, "What do you think we are - nocturnal?" I believe she was trying to tell me she couldn't see in the dark, which is of course the point of sleeping, as I explained to her, I hope patiently, but probably not.

The Mystery Man and I are getting our exercise in the morning, having coffee together, and then we each have our computer time. I'm writing the final chapters of my Steampunk book and MM favors his Thomas the Tank Engine online games, and this very strange massively multiplayer game for toddlers featuring a kid on a skateboard as an avatar. I think it's Danish. At least the robot that walks you through it has a European accent that I can't quite place. I should be working in some more regular blog posts during our three free mornings a week, too.

Steak and TV

My husband and I were fortunate enough to be treated to dinner at the Metropolitan Bar and Grill the other night. It's a fabulous steak house in Seattle and I'd never been. It was a warm summer night, which is a fabulous time to be walking around Seattle, the restaurant was beautiful - all deep woods and shiny brass and little green bankers lamps, and the steak was amazing. I mean, after the first bite, I felt like it was a crime against nature for beef to ever be prepared any other way. Every other good bite of beef I'd ever had paled in comparison. I might as well eat chicken. Or fish. And I don't even like fish. If I'm not having steak at the Met.

Which is also why television is dead to me. I'm a big fan of good television. Big. I love tv. I actually prefer it to film, usually, because it's there for you every week, ready to hang out, not flitting in and out of your life for a brief two hours with everyone else in the theatre. And yes, I despaired some for the fall lineup after losing lost and 24, but I had some things I still watched - Bones, The Mentalist, Lie to Me, a smattering of "reality" television.

And then, on a whim (and at the prodding of my mother and sister) I turned on The Good Wife. And much like the steak at the Met, I can't watch anything else. I didn't even watch the finale of SYTYCD, and for those of you reading this blog last summer, you know I love SYTYCD. I tried to watch Lie to Me. Nope, still like Tim Roth, but I was bored. Tried to watch Top Chef. Eh. It's gone the way of Red Robin hamburgers. It's just bleh.

So now I need something new to do with all my time. Something besides staring at my Tivo menu willing a new episode of The Good Wife to spontaneously appear. That doesn't work, by the way, but now I have an honest answer to the "what would your super power be" question.
(You can keep your vampires and werewolves, thank you very much)

Closets and Carousels

Have you ever set out to clean your closet, then ended up with all the clothes (and other odd items that always seem to end up in closets like broken fans, Nordstrom bags, and books on HTML) strewn all over your floor in your attempt to make things better? At this point I'm really hoping you have, or not only will this whole analogy fail but I'll have to reexamine my life if I'm the only one to have ever done this.

Assuming I'm not.. I'll continue and share that this is pretty much what's happened to my book this summer. I thought the middle needed tweaking. Then I thought I'd just take it out and rework a few things. Then I rewrote certain chapters again and again, with all sorts of different directions until I had a big tangled mess all over my bedroom floor, er, computer screen. (though my floor could actually use some work, too.)

Fortunately, I went to the zoo this week, with the kids, and they rode the historic carousel and I started to see a way through the mire. Did you know some carousels, wooden carousels no less, were steam powered? I won't detail too much here, but suffice it to say the carousel is my equivalent of going to Storeables and loading up on plastic bins.

The photo above is from a new favorite place on the web called Curious Expeditions and details this still operating steam powered carousel in the Netherlands with horses that face perpendicular to the circle, and are mounted on springs, so you're constantly rocking out toward the edge as the ride goes in circle - and puffs steam. Yes, the Netherlands has just sky-rocketed on my list of places I must visit!

Wash and wear

You know when you go get your hair cut, and you say you really need a style that you can just wash and wear, and, sure, your stylist will work with you, but you get that little look from them like, "Geez, you can't take the time to dry your hair. Haven't you seen Oprah? You're not supposed to let yourself go. But sure, wash and wear..."

To which I offer this morning's events. I took a shower. Boop, Red, and the Mystery Man (who is also a cowboy, I'm not sure I've mentioned that here. He has a real, authentic cowboy hat, cowboy boots that he wears everywhere including the beach, and most recently, a cap gun), they were all downstairs basically content.

Then they aren't. I stick my head out of the bathroom and shout down to them. Then realize that while I've made a strict rule not to point the cap gun (rifle, really, and about as tall as Mystery Man) at any living thing, including siblings, I had neglected to forbid anyone from holding the rifle by the butt, then running at their siblings till they shrieked and whacking them on, well, the butt. I'd left out this particular instruction and Mystery Man was taking full advantage of the loophole. So, I put a stop to it.

Then I return to the bathroom and begin drying my hair. After about thirty seconds, Red pokes her head in and says,

"The level of urgency of this matter has greatly increased."

And there went my hair.

Children of crime writers aren't normal


DH and I took the troops to the Arboretum this weekend - my little adventurers love trekking through the woods with "rations" (as Red calls them) in their packs and walking sticks in hand. I, of course, carried a latte.

As we were passing a particularly wooded area (or as Mystery Man calls it "the Deep, DARK, WOOOODDDS!"), the following conversation ensued,

DH: I've matured so much as a father
Me: Really?
DH: Yes, because in the past, I'd have told a scary story about what lurked in these woods. But now, I know better.
Kids in unison: AWWWW, why won't you tell us a story!
DH: Because it's better to have your last moments be happy and just go quickly if you're gonna get eaten.
Boop: I'm gonna live a long time, longer than you, probably even longer than Red.
DH: Why?
Boop: Because I'm younger.
Red: Yeah, but someone could take an ax...

** this is the little lake where we stopped to let Red sketch and Boop and Mystery Man fight over sitting on a rock.

Link Roundup

Imagine my delight when my cousin posted this link on my facebook page: Dark Roasted Blend. What could be more fun than lattes *and* steampunk? I've been checking out the motorcycles today.

Also, one of my blueboarder friends posted this link. Sourcebooks is hosting a contest where you can go vote on the cover for her next book. I love covers!

It's a sunny day in Seattle, so I'm going to try to take my little mysteries outside so we don't turn into little urban vampires. I've got one kid that loves splash parks, one that claims to be too old for parks, but likes to explore the trails, and one little cowboy who won't take off his boots or hat - which makes splashing a little difficult. So I'll need a little magic to keep them all happy. Which of course means I'm headed to Starbucks first.

Steampunk needles and bluefaced sheep

So, I'm still knitting. I found some great square copper needles that feel very steampunk to me. I can't tell you how much fun it is to click copper needles together while you knit with something yummy like baby alpaca yarn and think about what tragedy is going to befall your poor character next on the road to redemption. And as I type that, I'm not exactly sure what that says about me, but so be it.

As you may have already picked up on - I can't seem to just go to Michael's, pick up some yarn, and knit a scarf. Nooo... I have to research and research and fall in love with a yarn in some super squishy merino wool that moves from midnight to prussian blue in the same skein. And it's always spun by some lady in a little stone cottage in Scotland that sells it at a farmer's market. Or Australia. A lot of my new favorites come Australia.

So I was drooling over Bluefaced Leicester wool - called the poor man's cashmere, but really by "poor" they mean upper middle class with lots of discretionary funds - and Boop walked up and saw the cute little sheep it comes from.

Boop: Oh, I wish we could get one! I think we could get a sheep. We'd just need to go to a special store. We had one once.
Me: No we didn't.
Boop: Yeah we did, you know it ate everything.
Me: That's a goat, and no, we never had one.
Boop: Red said we did. When she was little.
Me: We had a German Shepherd.
Boop: Yeah, that's what I meant.

But I don't think you can make yarn from a German Shepherd.

It's up!

Mystery Robin has gone steampunk. ;) I've been having so much fun researching steampunk for my work in progress, that I wanted to change the feel around here. I'd love to know what you think!

Stay tuned...

Just a heads up that the blog is undergoing a mini-makeover. I get lots of good feedback about the design and I promise it won't change too much. But I decided it's time for a little more of a steampunk feel. :) So hold onto your parasol and stay tuned!

A little Boop

Boop is eying the drapes that separate the eating nook from the kitchen:

Boop: Mom, if we untied those drapes, we could make the bench a stage, and the table could be for the audience... do you think we could get 55 people around the table?

Later, that same day... I hear a lot of bouncing and commotion on the back patio.

Me: Red! Is everything ok out there?
Red: *sigh* Yes, I was just teaching Boop how to play basketball. But now she's calling it baseball and she's teaching me.

Steampink story up!

For a sneak peak into my steampunk WIP - go take a look!

Steampink Week

The lovely Velvet Van Buren, book blogger extraordinaire, is hosting Steampink week on her blog.

In her words, steampink is: female heroine stories with romance, adventure or mystery in a steampunk world.

All week (and I'm a little late in posting this) she has a virtual trip in a steam car complete with fiction from steampunk authors, recipes, and an all around atmosphere of Victoriana.

It's lots of fun, and I have a story going up (an excerpt from my work in progress) on the 11th. I hope you'll stop by and take a ride with me. ;)

Knitting again

Every once in a while, I feel overwhelmed by words. I love words. I love reading. I love writing, but sometimes I need my hands to do something other than vacuum and clean the kitchen. I used to knit but took a break with babies always on my lap.

But lately, I've felt my fingers itching to hold some needles. Last night I searched for the perfect pattern.

Perhaps it's my love of crime fiction that makes me want to knit this:

How fabulous is that! But, sadly, I'm not really good at following charts, so I'm making a little newsboy cap in a luscious midnight blue alpaca with strains of copper on square copper needles. If it turns out, I'll post a pic while I'm done.

At the very least, it'll keep me company while I'm watching the Vegas callbacks on SYTYCD tonight. ;)

The Apron Campaign

This woman adopted a dog from a shelter, a beautiful cocker spaniel, and now he needs surgery. So she's making custom aprons so she can pay for it. I'd been planning on getting an apron from Anthropology, but then along came these... at The Apron Campaign.

And you'll love the story of her cocker spaniel, Jake.

Now I've got Red and Boop debating fabric choices with me. :)