Monday, July 30, 2012


Image taken from this cafepress site. There are other posters as well.

I don't prowl around the internet looking for insults, but somehow I came across Shakespearean insults and I am hooked.

You can be insulted here and even generate your own insults.

I must use a couple of these in my manuscript and I think I know just the place for them.


Monday, July 23, 2012

Funny Videos

I've always enjoyed the funny cat videos but these church signs crack me up every time. Different people have sent them to me over the past few years, so it's time to share them with you. If only the music was as good as in funny cats ... still, enjoy!

Church Wars

Funny Church Signs

And I love this Rossini duet for cats. Must get music.

As you can tell, I have wa-a-a-y too much time on my hands.

Saturday, July 21, 2012


Critiques are trickling in ... and I am shocked and surprised that my husband and children have been able to read my manuscript within a week. So there's been some lively discussion around the dinner table about hooks and endings, why something had to be a certain way, and names! My kids are fascinated how much care I take with choosing names.

I think it's time to practice writing acknowledgments. So here goes:

To my beloved cats, one who sat on my manuscript pages as I tried to edit them, and the other, who chewed on the ends of pages, I owe you everything. Your purring gave voice to my characters. You helped me take naps, during which time seemingly intractable plotting problems were solved. You minded the children, giving me more writing time. I don't know how I could've ever finished this story without your constant encouragement. I could never get tired of your meows. Thank you! Tuna for everyone!

To Sunny, who has been my praying and thinking companion for four years, I owe you my good health and good ideas. You warmed my feet and kept me active when I'd rather not have taken a walk. You sat beside me and listened to every word I read from the manuscript with rapt attention. You kept the kids and cats in line. Tuna for you as well!

To my family and friends, you know how much you've done. Thank you! Tuna all around!


Monday, July 16, 2012

Movie Marathon

My husband took the kids to see BRAVE at the theatres. I'll watch it with them when it comes out on Neflix. I'm not a fan of animated films and find the animation distracting from the story. That said, I loved The Secret Life of Arrietty (adapted from The Borrowers) but when I think back, the first animated movie I loved was Grave of the Fireflies. I was so wrapped up in the story, a WWII tragedy, that I wept.

We watched Finding Neverland. Great film about Barry and his friendship with a woman whose four boys inspired Peter Pan. I immediately wanted to see the Beatrix Potter movie, but I'll have to put that on our queue.

Let's see. We watched an interesting movie called Conflict. Both my son and I scoffed at the title. What next? Character? Plot? This is a family where these words are bandied about on a regular basis. Yes, conflict is essential. It was a futuristic movie, but looked like it happened in the 1970s given the cars and bellbottoms. A low-budget film. But at the heart of it was a thoughtful movie about what the Mass is. Set sometime in the future where there's been a Vatican 4, a group of Irish monks are being made to stop offering the Latin Mass. Beliefs are being distorted in the name of getting along ...  This quiet movie was rich in the questions it asks.

Speaking of Irish things, we all enjoyed The Secret of Roan Inish -- it is a must see for the whole family. It's got stories within stories and the ending is soooo perfect. Everything comes together. I loved that all the tales are told with a certain seriousness.

We also watched Milo and Otis -- the little cat Milo reminds me so much of my first cat Moje. Oh, how I miss that ornery old cat. I had a vivid dream about him, and waking up was painful. No purring cat kneading my stomach. Sigh. I just love Schumann's Strange Lands and People ... I believe it was used in another film: My Brilliant Career.

As you can see, I have many more movies to stick in our queue. I'm in the mood for movie adaptions of writers' lives. Little Women is already on the top of the queue now. And we have the biography of Ayn Rand, which we have to watch together since my son just finished Atlas Shrugged. He was wowed by the story, the whole concept, and the philosophy.

What else can you all recommend? I'm still celebrating :)

Thursday, July 12, 2012

I Finished a Book!

Okay, after that last post I wouldn't blame you if you wondered what kind of book and so what? But I have finally finished writing a novel to the best of my abilities and have asked for readers. This is a first folks -- a novel. Not a short book. We're talking to the tune of sixty-five thousand words, and the right ones, I hope! My daughter has first dibs on the copy I've printed for myself. She said she'll put it on her summer reading chart and list it as: to be published! I've also received offers from my writing friends and I am so grateful for their time and effort. I've critiqued several novels now, so it is a strange feeling to give your book baby to someone else. It's just not the same when it's your heart that is exposed on the page.

But I wouldn't be at this stage without my writing partner Jen Heger, who literally waited for the next chapter, and because she was waiting, I would write. Some days the writing was very hard, but I did it for her. And Nancy Butts, my ICL instructor, was beyond compare. I sent her first drafts with the greatest trepidation because I knew they weren't good enough, but she not only guided me but said that it was a "luminous story." I know I should not quote private correspondence, so to balance luminous I give you: "Huh?" "Cut," "Show me!" But that word 'luminous' buoyed me. 

This is how I feel like now. Free. Euphoric.

And sleepy! I'm going to catch up on some zzzz's.

Thanks be to God for everything! And to my family and friends, who have each, in their own way, given me a boost.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

I Sold a Book Today!


"Oh yeah? Just what kind of a book?" asks this feline.






Okay, it's not a book that I wrote, but a textbook from last year that my son was using. A very nice lady called and we had a great visit talking about schools and camping and summer programs for kids at the community college. I might have to check out their continuing education series because this is how I fell into writing. A writing class always stretches me.

Lest you think I jest too much, I have new books coming out. I'm not at liberty to say much right now, but these will be my first fiction books. There's also nonfiction in the mix. It's been a very interesting experience because I've had to write stories to match the pictures. I didn't think I could do it, but I've done it a few times now and enjoyed it very much. I also like doing layout and design and have loved doing the photo research. I've also had the chance to write some original stories and I can't wait to see these in print. And my fifth grade history teacher would be proud. I finally *know* some Indian history. I had to learn it to write the book! I don't know why I was always day-dreaming, but every time a fact was tossed out about some war or the other, I wondered about the common people. What did they do? How did they survive? What did they eat? This is why I love historical fiction. It brings the common, the mundane to life.

I am so close to finishing my book, I can't hardly stand it. I can almost taste victory. I don't really want to rewrite any more scenes, but send it off to my readers, but that would be premature. In my heart and my mind, I've already sold this book. Is it strange to think like this when I don't even have an agent, and only three people have read it (one being my son)? We were talking about making book trailers today ... I showed him Lori Mortensen's and Maggie Stiefvater's trailers for their books, and his head of full of ideas! Of course, my daughter has asked me when she can read my book, and she is waiting patiently for me to finish "Mommy's book."

So I'd best finish. So that I don't have to cry wolf again ... and this is really a street in our neighborhood. I think someone ought to set up shop, printing chapbooks or something.

Adios my friends.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

On Writing with Family

I've not had days to myself at home for a long time. I think the last time was a couple of years ago when the rest of the family went camping at Glacier, but I was too sick to go. So I took care of the pets and wrote, and missed my family and watched old movies ...

This weekend, my husband helped drive the Boy Scouts for their annual summer camp, and he took our daughter along for a little fun and games on the way home. I thought surely I'd have the second half of my novel ship-shape. Ummmm. Nope. I did the laundry, cleaned house,
 tidied the kids' drawers -- does a girl really need to have an *entire* drawer full of socks? I took long walks with the dog. I watched the hamsters play, and petted the cat. I savored the quietness. I frittered away time on the net -- I watched funny cats, Argentine tango, listened to some old Marathi songs my mom used to sing, read blogs, commented on many, drank iced tea, looked through photo albums. It was procrastination at its very best.  

I did eventually get to revising my novel. And I made progress (about 50 pages). I did big picture stuff and left notes for myself to rewrite scenes. I rewrote some. Cleaned up others. But I'm sure happy to have my husband and daughter at home again. And I can't wait until this weekend when my son will be back from camp ... and I'll have to do several loads of laundry, and tell the kids to stop bickering, and clean up their rooms, but when I have everybody under this roof at night, I am content.

I tell you, no matter how much I might whine about juggling too many things, one thing is for sure -- my family routines are integral to my writing routine. Take away my family and I waste time. A lot of time. They also keep me on the straight and narrow path, the right path. I think without my family, I'd sink again into a den of iniquity, becoming self-absorbed and selfish.

Family life and writing go well together. For all the young mothers who struggle to carve out precious time to write while taking care of the myriad needs of their children, take heart. Write when you can. The children grow up too fast, so savor and enjoy them. There will be time enough for the books you want to write. When I look back at the little stories I wrote in 15-20 minutes of stolen time at the kitchen counter, and the revisions we did together at the dinner table (they'd draw cars in the margins or write their name on the papers), I feel a sense of accomplishment. Now that the children are older and go to school, the rhythm of the day is different, but it pretty much revolves around the family, and I do get my work done.

Sometimes I am envious of the writers who seem to write fast and well, who jet set and go off to amazing retreats where all they have to do is write and take care of personal hygiene. Even meals come prepared ... but I think I'll take my family and all the tumble and chaos they bring with it. Katherine Paterson said it best in her wonderful book The Gates of Excellence: "The very persons who took away my time and space," she says, "are the ones who have given me something to say."

Have a safe and happy 4th of July. God bless America. Let freedom ring. And when you fold your flag, think of these things. I learned about it on Flag Day, which we celebrated on the Yorktown with the Boy Scouts. Below are some pictures I took then. Enjoy.