Mother’s Day Surprise!!

Oh my–

UPS delivered a package–

it’s not something >>I<< ordered–

Oh, a gift card–;


Could be–

it’s a box big enough for flowers–

Hmmm…The USP label says DEPT. OF AGRICULTURE – OK TO OPEN Fresh Cut Flowers and/or Foliage Product of Columbia and/or Ecuador, Tulips, Lilies and Irises product of California and/or Holland–

Hmmm…Columbia? Drugs? Horrors! Surely not that!…Tulips, Lilies, and Irises…those sound great!–

Description: Mom’s Rose Delights – Good–

But roses weren’t mentioned above. ??? and the box doesn’t look long/tall enough for usual florists’ roses–

Ah, the excitement grows.–

Slit the tape carefully (at the bottom to preserve the FTD sticker on the top of the box)–

Hmmm…a round pink cardboard with a broad pink ribbon–

Pull gently–

My, my, a five-tiered cardboard “cake” of graduated little hat boxes. Each one is papered with red and pink roses; each one with a soft pink top; the ribbon binding them all together in a stack, with a pink silk rose on the very top along with the wide pink ribbon tied in a pretty bow–

Loosen the ribbon at the top by sliding it off the stem of the flower–Open the top 3.25″ box–

3 cellophaned frosted cookies…2 white, 1 chocolate–

Pull the 1st off it’s little dab of sticky stuff and see what box #2 (4″) hides…Oh my! 10 Ghirardelli Chocolate Squares…Dark Chocolate with Raspberry Filling!–

#3 (5″) has, hiding under white tissue, a 2oz. box of Godiva Chocolatier Milk Chocolate Cashews–

#4 (6″) has, also under tissue…a cellophane bag of bite-sized Pecan Shortbread cookies–

Oh Lordy! Any diet I thought about keeping just vanished!!–

What could possibly be left in box #5 (7″)?–

Pull down the taped ribbon…Open…lift the tissue…OHHH…Godiva Chocolatier Milk Chocolate Truffles (Milk chocolate with a creamy milk chocolate filling (4oz.))

I think I just died and went to chocolate heaven!! But who sent this bouquet of deliciousness?

Oh wait–there’s a card behind the shipping label envelope–

“I know Mother’s Day is supposed to be chocolate and flowers, figured this covered both. Enjoy! Love, Autumn

Hey Autumn!! You sure do have this Mother’s Day all figured out!! Thank you baby girl!

Wouldn’t this bundle of goodies have lit up your Dad’s eyes!! He would have been more deserving, but I’m totally happy to serve as mother now that all the hard work is done.

Love, Mom


Happy 2012! Writing in the Dark

Happy 2012!! A whole new year stands before us, undented, unbattered, unspent. Will this year, as the Mayan’s so kindly provided information about, be the last year? I’ve enjoyed the various “Life after Humans” and such on NatGeo that shows how quickly the globe can undo the destruction of humans; just how many different ways the world can end; and how many of the biblical signs of Revelation are being noted. It’s an exciting time to be alive–even if it’s just the remainder of this year!

Many moons ago, before I was able to reside in solitary splendor in my perfect house, I was a mother, a wife, and an office manager. If I wanted to buy out the time to write, I discovered that the early hours (before the sun rose to declare a new day) were the optimum time to create. And the least time in the day to receive phone calls.
I admire those writers who can labor long into the night. When I try that, the result is just gibberish. That may, in itself, explain why the due-the-next-morning papers produced in the all-night sessions in high school and college were always less than sterling quality. If I had realized then that writing in the dark at the START of the day was so much more productive . . . well, no telling what I would have achieved.
But now that I’m wiser, and have, perhaps, better understanding of my own quirks, I relish climbing out of bed while the world still sleeps and greet my characters to discuss their plans, dilemmas, and dreams.
A dear friend of mine gave me a mug that defines Writer’s Block as when your imaginary friends stop talking to you. So true. But it’s only through that wonderful written conversation with a character that I begin to know just what’s going on with him. I love when one of them discloses that the reason a particular scene isn’t working is because, “I just wouldn’t DO that!” It’s so much easier when you hear from the person herself. I would appreciate if that character would be a little more forthcoming about just what she WOULD do . . . but sometimes the scolding is all I’ll get. The situation becomes even more interesting when we continue the conversation aloud–and, of course, why I shelter two cats just in case anyone happens to hear me talking to myself. That doesn’t explain the various voices, but . . .
I do love my perfect house, set back from the quiet little road, nestled in the tall, tall trees, and virtually neighborless (at least in the summer when the nearby neighbors are hidden by all the greenery.) My light on at 3, 4, or 5 in the morning doesn’t have to be explained to anyone, nor does the darkness at nightfall or shortly after that. The sun goes down, so do I. Works for me!
Is there a method or time that works better for you? I’d love to hear what you find the best time to create.

Blogging or Whatever while Sleeping

It was one of Those nights.  I climbed into bed ready to surrender to the embrace of Morpheus and my mind squirreled into a thousand directions rather than shutting down.

I tried my old tried and true counting backward technique, but blogging kept interfering.  Not that I got up and finally entered a new blog.  No, this was all mental.  Something like this:

79, 78 [I usually start at a random, but high, number] — How ’bout that nagging “you forgot something” moment — 77, 76, 75 — Getting ready for super-special visitors at Christmas? — 75, 74 — Did I turn off the light in the bathroom? — 73, 72, 71 — Should I spell Dianne’s [protagonist in current manuscript] name with one ‘n’ or two?  After all, my sister’s name has only one ‘n’. — 71, 70, 69 — Should I relate all the machinations of turning the deflating over night Aero bed my guest used last visit into a solid King using two thick foam mattresses? — 68, 66 [so math isn’t my strongest suit–I have other great attributes!], 65 — Would anyone even believe how I built the “box springs” literally from still-full-of-books (and taped) file boxes not yet dealt with from the move from CA to NC that were stacked to the ‘cathedral’ ceiling in what should be the living room? — 64, 63, 62 — And would anyone reading my blog understand the actual ironing of the prettiest, but not permanent-pressed bedding set my sister handed down to me?  — 61, 60, 49 — Well, there IS, after all, my OCD motto:  Anything worth doing is worth Over Doing! — 48, 47, 46, 45 — And stuffing [read: forcing] each huge hunk of foam mattress into zippered mattress covers?  By my lone self?  — 44 — Or the delight in finding the matching bedskirt fit over the boxes very nicely, with only about an inch or so on the carpet? — 44, 43, 42 — But wrestling the not-so-heavy, but unwieldy mattresses into their designated places resulted in serious displacing of said bedskirt? Oooph! — 44, 43, 42 — It only took four King mattress covers, ‘donated’ from my parents’ estate or my sister’s generosity, to almost obliterate the crack between the mattresses. — 42, 43, 44 — oops — 43, 42, 41 — The absolute beauty of the crisply ironed fitted bottom sheet–in its mint green with stemmed soft lilac and white flowers, carefully  placed so the stems ran vertically– HEY!  King fitted sheets are SQUARE! — 41, 40, whatever — Finding the wide top hem and snapping the top sheet (so NOT wrinkled anymore!!) into place . . . only to discover the design in the flower stems ran horizontally!  Rats!  Did I REALLY care enough to redo the bottom sheet?  No, I was Assembling, not DISassembling, and REassembling! — 38, 37, 33 — Spreading the duvet cover, so smooth, such a perfect finish!, over the gorgeous creation — 32 — Except that the comforter I wanted to stuff the duvet cover with was not big enough–by a foot on all sides!  — 31 — And the only other comforter that would fit was an incredibly beautiful green and blue wavy design that I was going to fold elegantly on the ‘luggage racks’ (which will, some time in the future, be assembled into the shelving they’re supposed to be).  Maybe. — 31, 30, 29 — I’ll do my Scarlett thing and face all this down another day. — 29, 28 — Maybe I can write about my perfect Eden tucked into the towering trees. — 27 — With the squirrels and birds. — 26, 25, 24, I’m getting low on numbers.  Turn over, relax all the facial muscles, SLEEP!  23, 22 — Did Dianne ever take the cinnamon buns out of the over? — 21 — I need to wrap that neighbors’ gift and get it over to them.  Is that poison ivy still active on the overgrown path between our houses?  Is the ground still wet.  Maybe I’ll drive over.  Next door?  Comeon! — 20, 19, 18, 17 — I should start another countdown. — 98, 97, 96 — Have I overdone the towels in the guest bathroom?  I just couldn’t pass up those luxurious bath sheets–but four of them for two people?  Hmmm . . . I’ll put one in the linen cupboard. — 99, 100 — nope — 99, 98 — Relax the cheeks — 97, 96, 95 — I have GOT to get the dishwasher emptied before the sink stacks up with a full load to go! — 94, 93, 92 — HEY!  That comforter on my writing chair is big!  Into the washer with it first thing tomorrow! — 92, 91, 90 — Should I write that down?  Can I trust my memory? Nah, but too bad about that. — 89, 88, 87 — Is the DVR full?  How can I get the auto-record programs to stop auto-recording?  Surely I’ve seen every Murder She Wrote and NCIS and Criminal Minds by now.  No, there was that one from Friday that was new . . . 87, 86, 84 — I love the How Done Its!  Forensics is fascinating!  Maybe I’ll write about . . . nah, the experts are better with that stuff. — 83, 82 . . .

Enough already!  [See motto above!]  So why is it when I even think to update my blog, unlike Minta Hall, who’s thrice as busy as I’ll ever be, and who manages entirely too regularly to entertain me with her blog , that I can sit in my glider and stare at the laptop screen and not a single thought–Did I remember to feed the cats?  Was that the mail just delivered?


So how do YOU get to sleep?  Obviously my method needs, on occasion, a bit of improving.

That really WAS the mail–with my binoculars I can see a box sitting on top.  Later!!

Language–always growing–backward?

My father was, to say the least, a word freak.  One clue?  His favorite book was an unabridged dictionary.  Can you even imagine his reaction to my coming home from college with a new word: “Bitchin’.”  A hint:  It wasn’t pretty.  Guess which word I never used in his presence again.

So what would he think of the new response to “thank you?”  “No problem” just doesn’t work for me.  I wasn’t intending to give them a problem when I thanked them.

And have you asked anyone, “How are you?” recently?  “I’m good” has fairly much replaced “I’m well.”  Puts a whole other meaning to the answer, doesn’t it?  Does the occasional person respond with “I’m feeling poorly?”  Makes me want to ask, “What’s happened to your fingers that you aren’t able to feel well with them?”

How does “absolutely” sound as a replacement for “yes?”  Believe me, you’ll be happier if you don’t get me started on “whatever.”

I loved when one of my favorite authors wrote that character “literally walked on air.”  Gee, how far above the ground was she walking?  Confusion between “virtually” and “literally” is far too common.

During one discussion with my father I dared to suggest that “whom” was being phased out of everyday English.  Not one of the wisest arguments I ever started, but rest assured that I’ve seldom missed an opportunity to use “whom” since that incident.

So what words or phrases thump against your eardrums?  I really would like to know.


Mouse. Mouses? Mice?

Mice stink!  Literally for the pesky, destructive little rodents; figuratively for electronic mice!

When you have more than one of the mouse devices for your computer are the called mouses?  Or mice?

Perhaps I should point out that I really do use my laptop on my lap–on a lap desk, of course.  Since my favorite place to create is in a glider chair, with a companion glider foot stool, this is ideal for me.  However, the only logical place for the mouse is on the lower right corner of the laptop itself.  This can present its own tangle of problems, the major one being lack of room for the mouse to function properly.  And I don’t even want to go into trying to use the built-in laptop mouse, so please don’t bother to suggest that.

I have, in too short a time, acquired a whole nest of the electronic sort.  What a shame my cats won’t thin the population of those out.  I have had to buy new ones to replace somewhat new ones, which just fries my bacon!  So I have large-hand and small-hand models, some with cords (which do come in handy when the mouse mysteriously disappears), most now without.  But it doesn’t seem to matter which type it is–the wretched thing fails to work properly.

One, for example, worked fine for three weeks, then decided it would rather stay in the upper left corner of the screen.  ???  First time I’ve ever had THAT problem.  No matter what I did–and I did plenty you’re definitly not supposed to do to the little monsters–it wouldn’t leave that corner.  This nasty little habit made it somewhat difficult to continue my novel writing, or anything else we’ve come to depend on with computers.  Arrrgggg!  I even had to resort to untangling a really old, very slow, huge hand type, corded model and struggle with that one until I could figure out just what to do.

Well, along came Cyber Monday.  >> GRIN <<  Of all the holidays, I do think that one’s the very best!!

So I now have a totally different electronic creature.  This one arches its back for me to use, then collapses flat when I’m done–a bit like my cats except I don’t have to feed or clean up after it.  It even has the teensiest little USB plug–about the size of thumbnail that magnetically adheres to the underside for storage.  Whether I should be worried that using a magnetic devise atop my computer will remain to be determined.  Since it’s been designed and marketed by the same company that created Windows, with all the accompanying headaches that has caused, the vote could go either way.  But, so far, I’m pleased.  It’s fast, doesn’t have to move all over the place, and once I really get the hang of it’s particular personality, I think we’re going to be great friends.  So far the major drawback is that it’s a PC only model–not unexpected considering the manufacturer–but a pain since I also use a Mac.

So tell me–in my nest of retired mouse models, are they mouses?  Or mice? Continue reading

Holidays! Why wait?

As I observe all the shoppers laden with cheery packages, I have to wonder why we don’t spread all that joyous celebration out over the year.  Rather than just starting Christmas shopping about, say, July, why not create gift exchanging every month?  We could set it somewhere around the optimum income time each month to maximize our ability to give the best stuff to everyone on our list.

Hey!  More than that, why don’t we just agree that we will buy just what we want for ourselves, and our previous recipients will buy just what they want for themselves.  We can have lovely meetings where we all decide just how much were going to treat ourselves.

Just think how much fun we can have every month.  We can create special symbols for each month just as we do with trees and lights now, or rabbits and eggs for Easter, or Turkeys and Pilgrims for Thanksgiving.  And fun Halloween where we can all be witches and wabbits.  See, we already have four months settled, so we just have to work on the other eight months.

Me?  I want a new Mac Pro, or even, SIGH, a PC if necessary, (both would be fine); an iPad, Nook, or whatever stores and gives me books to read; and all the computer gizmos and gadgets I can garner!

So which month would you suggest for which theme?  Let me know and we can plan our campaigns.

Writing Blogs–a whole new world to explore

I was recently shoved into this new world of blogging by a knowledgeable writing chum.  Now, while she’s ever-willing to help me struggle with some of the bazillion questions that have raised their ugly heads, I’m determined to learn enough to stand on my own knowledge.

So what would like you to chat about?

  • Writing basics?
  • Writing specifics?
  • The American Civil War and how to research it?
  • Renaissance faires from an insider’s POV?
  • My “new” house (to me!) and the various dimensions of ownership, including the dementia of such a step?
  • The joys of moving to North Carolina from San Diego?  (And I DO mean JOYS!  NC has so much more to offer–at least to me.)
  • Being owned by two Siamese mischief makers?

I await your responses with baited breath–which certainly explains why I live alone.

Critique Group: Goals

A friend recently undertook to start a critique group.  She stated the guidelines and we started out with bringing either the first 5 pages (i.e., first scene) or first chapter of our current work-in-progress (WIP) for the other members.  Then, having exchanged email addresses, we decided to transmit our next meeting’s submission ahead of time so everyone would have a chance to review it before the meeting.

We are to print out the material to be critiqued, mark it up, and then bring it to the meeting. After the critique session, the markups will be given to the writer for him or her to take home with a record of everyone’s suggestions.

(Yeah, we kill a few trees in this group, but the physical markup is important.)

For the new members, a few rules:

  • EVERYONE critiques at every meeting.
  • EVERYONE receives critiques at every meeting.  This is why we limit the size of the group.
  • We expect everyone to make progress on their book at every meeting.  If you’re in the planning stage, that’s fine, we’ll help you brainstorm and plan your story; if you’re writing, we generally want to see the next chapter, not the same one over and over again.  We want to encourage every member to keep pushing forward to finish their books!!
  • Yes, there are exceptions to the every-meeting-submission thing. Life happens and is sometimes out of our control. But if you’re not contributing and attending on a regular basis, re-think whether this is the group for you.  With a small group we can also be flexible about times and dates to meet the majority’s needs so if there’s a conflict, let me know and we’ll see if we can adjust it.
  • We’re here to help at whatever stage you are in your writing: help with planning, plotting story structure, brainstorming, and, of course, detailed critiquing.
  • We are here to improve our craft, which means we are NOT here to sit around and tell each other that our stuff is “just wonderful” when it’s not.
  • With that said, your critiques should point out what the writer is doing well.  If you particularly liked or were impressed by something, by all means let the writer know.  Writers get too few ego-strokes and far too many rejections as it is!
  • If you find something wrong, you’re expected to also suggest ways to fix it. If you can’t think of any fixes, the group will brainstorm a solution for the writer.
  • We are here to improve our WRITING, which means we critique the words on the page, not the person.  Any personal attacks on another member will result in being ousted from the group.
  • We have no limits on type of book being critiqued, other than it must be for popular fiction rather than literary fiction, but bear in mind that not everyone is equally knowledgeable about all genres.  Make an effort to read at least a book or two in everyone’s genre if you’re completely unfamiliar with it.  Yes, guys, that means we’ll expect you to read a romance or two.  Trust me…you might learn something!
  • Generally, we meet every other Saturday at 2 PM here in Advance.

Basically the goals of this group are two-fold: To prod each other to KEEP WRITING and provide group support and encouragement when writing gets hard.

# # #

Guess I’ll just have to look forward to:
  • Each meeting
  • Each person’s submissions as her/his story grows
  • The breathless anticipation for how to improve my story
  • Subjecting myself to the discipline [agony?] of nailing my delicate butt [Are you buying this?] to my chair and actually progressing in my novel
Some people will do anything to be mentioned in the credits.
Are you in a critique group?
Would this guideline work for your critique group too?
What would you change in this by addition or subtraction?

Getting Started

Hey there!

Just getting started, but I’m hoping to figure all this out.

I’ve recently moved from the frenzy of San Diego to the wonderful solitude of my “new” house in the outback of the boonies in North Carolina.  It’s hard to leave all the unpacking to tend to the ‘business’ of writing again, but there’s pleasure to be found in that as well.

I’ll be sharing my thoughts on writing and general enjoyment of living in the perfect (for me) house.

So, what about you?  What kinds of experiences have you had unpacking after a major move?