Friday five

Friday Five – the office edition

1. I’ve been cleaning my office this week and have succeeded, at last, (probably for the first time in YEARS) in having no miscellaneous paper pile. But I don’t think it will last for long unless I can figure out better homes for things I touch a lot in the office area. I tossed a multitude of PR material for books that are no longer in print. That felt odd.

2. Like my current WIP folders. I have, in no particular order, Plant Kid, the sisters book, Max the dog book, the dog essay book, another MG verse novel and a whole bunch of loose poems. I do a lot of my writing by hand and all my editing off the paper so I need to keep lots of papery things around. I have three baskets on a shelf behind my desk but paper has to go in it vertically. That’s okay for file folders but I have little snippets of paper or pictures and things that fall out. There’s no room on my desk for the folders.

3. I have two empty drawers in the file cabinet in my office so yes, I could put the folders in there but there’s something weird about me (okay more than just one something weird about me but here’s ONE weird thing) I like to have all my stuff out where I can touch it, see it, not hidden away.

4. I have three drawers of nothing but potential books and articles. Some started and then abandoned. Some just filled with ramblings and research. These go back 15 years at least. I’m thinking I should go through them and if the idea no longer appeals to me, I should toss them. But that feels really weird to do.

5. I also have giant stacks of papers from books that have gone through various versions and have editorial marks on them. I’m not famous enough to think they should be donated somewhere. I’m about ready to toss them but it feels weird to think about doing that too.

*** Okay, this is not office related but LiveJournal related. Why can I no longer choose html formatting??? Also my tags no longer auto fill??? And when I look at this in the preview, it shows no date at all.

Friday, July 1, 2011|Categories: Writing Life|Tags: , |6 Comments

Friday Five – The Gary Schmidt edition

1. I’m reading Gary Schmidt’s new book, OKAY FOR NOW. In three pages I was completely sucked into the story, rooting for the main character. I would have read it in one sitting except that it was nearly 1am and I knew I should get some sleep.

2. Reading Gary Schmidt’s books makes me excited about writing middle grade and motivates me to get back to work on my two. Of course the flip side to that is if I play the compare game (hey, I know I shouldn’t do it but that doesn’t make it easy to stop.) and I realize how utter brilliant he is which makes me feel utterly ordinary.

3. Reading OKAY FOR NOW, I got a sinking feeling in my stomach very early in the book. That feeling you get when you realize another author has done something kinda sorta not exactly but somewhat similar to something you were going to do in your own book. It’s not like it was a super odd-ball character or unusual happening, the sort of thing that you could peg from book to book. No one else will give it a second thought. But I will at times. Sigh. And then I will remember the teeter totter of brilliance versus ordinary. And then I will just have to knuckle down and find my own brilliance.

4. In 2010 Gary Schmidt spoke at our local SCBWI conference at Asilomar. I was memorized. His talk about working with incarcerated students reminded me of my own work in similar situations. He made me laugh. He made me cry. I wanted him to adopt me. Okay, maybe not adopt me but I wanted to be one of his students. I know he teaches in some distance education programs but I can’t afford to sign on for a long term program. But I could afford some one-on-one time. I wish he would consider taking on a private student. Namely, me. (I have a similar writer crush on Beth Kephart and the same desire to somehow be a student in one of her classes some day.)

5. The first Gary Schmidt book I ever read was The Sin Eater, maybe 10 year ago. I remember being somewhat in awe, that you could write this kind of story, with this kind of emotion and so many layers for middle grade. I felt like it handed me a get-out-of-writing-jail free card and encouraged me to write my kind of books, the not-so-funny, probably going to hurt your heart kind of books.

If you haven’t read any of Gary’s books yet, you owe it to yourself to pick one up. Thanks Gary, for lighting the path.

Friday, June 3, 2011|Categories: Books|Tags: , , |2 Comments

Friday Five – the things happy-making edition

1. I opened a file in my working folder that was called one thing but had something else in it instead. It had a rough summary of my story about Max the dog and his boy. Some of it I remembered and some of it took me by surprise. I liked it. I wanted more. I wanted to write more.

2. I got lucky with the newspaper again. Went to put it in the recycling and right on the only page I could see there was another story that tied to the story about Max. This one wasn’t about a dog but about a boy and when I read the entire article I got a couple of plot ideas. I love it when the Universe brings me some serendipitous ideas.

3. I’ve been crunching numbers on and off for a couple of days. I hate it but I love it because with the knowledge of the numbers there is power. I like having power.

4. I’ve always had a big, fat idea file of stories I wanted to write. Now I’m finding that the artsy ideas are piling up so fast that I need a file for them too. I love being surrounded by so many creative ideas.

5. I look around my house and think of all the hard work we put into it last year and it makes me happy, all of it, the colors of the paint, the wood floor, the room swapping, it just feels like "us" like we’ve finally, after fours years, claimed out home. I can sit in my library and write, surrounded by books. I can sit in my office and work on art. Right now all the blinds area all open, the yard is a beautiful green, and so many birds are singing.

Life is good. I’m a lucky girl.

Happy weekend, everyone.

Friday, May 27, 2011|Categories: Random|Tags: |1 Comment

Friday Five – the Bliss edition

Bliss #1
I’ve embarked on a journey of looking back at high school, pulling back as many memories as I can. I’m trying to remember more of that conflicted teen that I was so I can carry that into one of the current WIP novels. What I find in my memories is a mix of bittersweet. The bliss is in being able to notice this and move on.

Bliss #2
I’ve had so much fun working on this little art project. It’s made me happy to paint and glue and doodle. Here’s just one page.

If you haven’t seen them on FB you can click over to Flickr to see some more. I decided this small size will be perfect for a new journal of my favorite positive words. For someone who never did art as a child, someone who never even liked to color, this new art adventure feels like I woke up in the morning learning how to talk to animals. It is so wonderfully strangely perfectly me.

Bliss #3
Having so many books in my home library that I can choose to read and reread again and again. Each night I grab a couple to take upstairs, devour them, fill them with little Post-it flags and think how lucky I am to have them at my disposal for any time day or night. I can choose from writing books or art books or history or fiction or so much more. Lucky, blissful me.

Bliss #4
I rarely read the newspaper except for things that catch my eye as I pick it up to put in the recycling. Today I actually turned a page and right there was an article that totally fits into the major plot point of another WIP (Max’s story.) I had had a feeling I was on the right track and boom, there was the anger-making, very sad, proof. Bliss!

Bliss #5
When we yanked out the lawns a few years ago and put in the native garden I saw an immediate increase in bugs and bees and birds. But what I didn’t see were butterflies. Today there has been a pair of Swallowtails flitting around the yard, from verbena to verbena. The blossoms aren’t the typical landing pads that butterflies prefer but it doesn’t seem to slow these two down. Sitting at my art desk, painting pages in a new journal, Cassie at my feet, birds playing in water at the bubbling rock, and Swallowtails dancing across the yard. Pure and utter bliss for me.

Here’s to a blissful weekend all around.

Friday, May 20, 2011|Categories: Life With Dogs|Tags: , |16 Comments

Friday Five

Continuing with my idea to use the Friday Five as a way to look back at my week. . .

1. Loved hosting my weekly CAPS (Creative Action Planning Support) group at my house on Monday. Hubby and I are introverted homebodies so actually USING the house to entertain and enjoying every minute of it, is great progress for me. The Monday session overflowed into an art lesson for a couple of the members and that meant that the house was filled with that much more creative energy. What I love is that ever after people have gone, some of their creative energy remains.

2. I had lunch with a friend, a great Skype chat with my Wednesday Women group, and a nice day at the art studio with friends, all reminding me that connection with other people is very important to me. I’m not super good at it, but I am trying.

3. Hubby and I are doing a pretty good job of maintaining an uncluttered house in the main living space. Every time we do this for a while, I’m amazed at how much it affects my mood.

4. I came up with the idea for a new weekly poetry feature for my blog (to launch next week) and I was able to put together all the pieces to get it up and running ASAP. Considering that I’m often big on ideas and less big on follow-through, this felt good.

5. K, one of the main characters in my WIP, came to life the other night. B is still a bit out of focus but K, as soon as I heard her cry, I knew her. I mean I knew her the kind of way I know I would recognize her walking down the street. I had a feeling she would be the one to come to life first but I hope B isn’t too much farther behind her. This book, being written in two voices (and maybe 3 more to be added) actually has me considering Scrivener for PC. Perhaps when I am ready for the next draft.

Friday, January 28, 2011|Categories: Random|Tags: |2 Comments

Friday Five

I've been dealing with some health stuff this week so it has been an unproductive week which makes the Friday Five a bit more difficult. But I'm going to give it a shot.

1. I am hit and miss with my 2 poems a day. More hit than miss so that's good.

2. I hit Zero In-Box with my emails. This was huge because while all the house stuff was going on and my hard drive was dying I wasn't using my Outlook mail. I just left everything in Gmail which really got to be a pain because I'm addicted to sorting my mail into folders. When I was finally able to download all my old mails and then added them to what had been in Outlook before, well I had 12,000 of them to process. I still have about 100 in my "follow-up" folder but hitting zero felt great!

3. I have confirmed in my head that my office needs to be painted green. It might be a year before I get to it and I have no idea which green because the green I used in the rest of the house reads brown in my office, but just picking the color family felt pretty darn good.

4. Our family lost a childhood friend this week, a young man, only a few years older than my son. He lived across the street from us, the oldest of three sisters and he played big brother to my son through-out his childhood. I remember him best with a skateboard under his arm. My son wrote a moving post about it here.

5.I added a new habit to nightly routine – reading a poem a night and recording what I read. I chose index cards to record the name of the poem, the book it was from, what I liked it about, any favorite parts and how it makes me feel. I haven't read enough poetry and I want to read and try to understand more of it. I keep thinking of some kind of blogging poetry community, something apart from Poetry Friday, where we could discuss poems we read because there is just so much I don't understand. I began with Billy Collins and the second poem of his I read was called Monday and spoke to the vision of the poet who is always looking out the window because there is always something there to see. I loved it until the last two stanzas but then it lost me and I wish I could talk about the poem with someone and understand what I have missed.

If you're looking for the Poetry Friday round-up, please visit A Teaching Life.

Friday, January 21, 2011|Categories: Random|Tags: , , |12 Comments

Friday Five

I haven’t done a Friday Five for a while and I’ve decided to really try and use it as a way to look back at my week so that at the end of the month/year, I can do a retrospective.

1. After the Dell Tech came out on Tuesday and replaced the hard drive and keyboard and touchpad, my laptop feels like a brand-new computer. I now have the programs I use daily reinstalled and mostly set up properly. There’s still some tweaking to be done. The rest of the programs and the files will come over in bits and pieces. Instead of racing to dump it all on this machine, I’ll go slowly and try and set up a system. This feels right.

2. I’m not doing so well on cultivating my new habits of the observation journal and getting back to my morning pages – so far. I’m not giving up and I’m not beating myself up for what I haven’t done.

3. I did get back to work on SS, the YA verse novel inspired by my father poems of last year. I set the goal of 2 poems a day with the hope of a rough draft by the end of March. (That would be March of this year.)

4. While the house renovations are done I am still struggling to get my office and studio put back into order. I hope to spend time on it this weekend. I realized, once again, that I need to have a clean nest before I can burrow into it. And some things still need to find the right home. I tried putting all my notebooks behind closed doors because that was where there was space. (They’ve always been on a bookshelf before.) I hate them behind closed doors. It’s more effort to get to them and they can be too easily forgotten. So there is some rearranging in my future.

5. I am feeling less full of stress and wish I knew what I could attribute it too so that I could do more of it.

Happy Friday!

Friday, January 14, 2011|Categories: Random|Tags: |2 Comments

Friday Five – The Electricial Home Edition

I have been MIA from the online world for a while while we have had so many workers taking care of things around the house. While it’s nice to get things done, it’s very hard for this introvert to deal with having people here all the time. Hopefully the electrician only has a few more days of work, then it will be just me and the handyman and the painters I have yet to hire.

So for this Friday five, here are my favorite electrical things that have been done around the house these past few weeks.

1. All the lighting work in my office. Track lighting where there once was none has eliminated three lamps. The new ceiling fan does a great job moving the air around. And then there’s the rope lighting on the ledge in my office that delicately lights the word “IMAGINE.” Everything totally ups the  “makes me happy to be in my office” factor, .

2. Additional track lighting in the library (got rid of yet another lamp) and another new ceiling fan.

3. Motion detector light in the laundry room/pantry that actually works with updated light fixtures that give off actual light.

4. The elimination/combination of way too many switches and dimmers into single switches. We used to have to turn on 3 switches to turn on each light in the living room. Now one light turns/dims them all. In the entry hall alone there were 9 switches in 3 different faceplate, each with 2/3 switches. Now there is a single 4 plate line of switches to take care of everything. On the other side of the room there were light switches behind the columns that have been moved and combined with the more easily accessible light switch at the end of the wall. So much cleaner. Well, except for the fact that there are holes in the sheetrock all over the place for the fishing/moving of wires.

5. The new lights in the kitchen. While I’m not a fan of the design of the lights, the function is superb. We have several slanted ceilings in the kitchen which look nice but the previous owners installed the recessed lighting on the angle effecting lighting the walls and not the actual kitchen. We installed new lights that telescope at a bit of an angle so the light actually points down, where it should. Loverly!

Friday, July 30, 2010|Categories: Home & Garden|Tags: , |5 Comments

Friday Five – What I've been learning about me lately

As I once again climb back on the blogwagon I am trying not to kick myself too hard in the backside. I’ve been sorting out some things in my head that meant staying away from the blog reading and blog writing because while I believe in emotional honesty and transparency in my work and in my blog, there are things going in my life the rest of the world doesn’t need or want to hear about.

But I think I figured out a couple of important things and the rest, well I hope to figure it out as I go. We’ll see. This Friday Five is inspired by things I’ve learned, or relearned, about myself recently.

1.  All the social media opportunities surrounding us today make it easy to reach out and connect with other people but the fact is, (IMHO) you never really totally change your core personality. If you’re an introvert (like me) jumping in and out of the cocktail party chatter on Twitter is probably never going to feel completely comfortable, you will probably edit and reedit your Facebook status update a few times before actually posting and you will continue to occasionally stick your foot in your mouth, even if the conversation is virtual. I love social media. Love the idea of what it represents in global sharing and connecting. But what I am learning about myself is that social media conversations, whether on Facebook, blogs, Twitter, wherever – they all make me feel like I am back at school trying to prove that I belong somewhere. God I had so hoped I was past that but evidently not. In another lifetime perhaps, I hope to master the art of casual conversation. In this lifetime, I’d just like to accept that I am who I am.

2. You have to sow before you can reap. Seems pretty basic but I needed to be reminded of this. I think it’s a class that ought to be taught in elementary school so it becomes an ingrained habit. Apply it to just about anything that isn’t working in your life and see if it rings true. There are some fields I can’t revisit and that makes me sad.

3. No one cares how much you beat yourself up because they’re too busy beating themselves up so why not stop it already?

4. Thinking doesn’t make it so. Work makes it so. Again, apply it to something that’s not working in your life and see what you think.

5. Build a support system long before you need one so when you need one, they’re there. Otherwise you’re going to spend a lot alone wishing you had someone to talk to about stuff that was going on in your life.

Friday, July 9, 2010|Categories: Random|Tags: , |12 Comments

Five for Friday – A whole lot of pondering going on

Five things I’m pondering today:

1. Friends. I’m still thinking about the many sides of friendships and especially how they have changed with the advent of email, Facebook, Twitter, etc.  Why it is easier for some people to make and keep friends, what makes a friendship stick for the long term, how you outgrow some friends and not others.

2. Paint. I’m taking an online class with Julie Pritchard on painting layered backgrounds for my collage projects. I’ve checked all the local stores for Golden paints but none of them come close in price to what I can get them for at DickBlick so now I am waiting for them to come in. (Impatiently waiting.) I am also eyeing the wall you first see when you come in the house (long wall from living room to dining room for those who have been here) and thinking about painting it red. But the library is red which means you’d see red and then red and I can’t decide if that is good or if it will lessen the impact of the red library. So I’m pondering.

3. Heat. I’m wondering how long I will last before I turn on the AC. I’m thinking it might be this weekend. I SO don’t do heat.

4. Water. I’m addicted to water features in the yard and I’m trying to decide where I could put in "just one more".

5. My office. Wondering if this would be the weekend that it is finally clean. Note, clean is not the same as done as I am still looking for new bookcases and a few other things.

What are you pondering today?

Friday, June 4, 2010|Categories: Random|Tags: |12 Comments

5 things I'm thinking about today

#1   What it means to be a friend.
#2   What it means to be a caretaker of the earth.
#3   What it means to be a poet.
#4   What it means to be a success.
#5   What it means to be me.

How about you? Pick one or all of the above and tell me what it means to YOU!

Friday, May 28, 2010|Categories: Random|Tags: |3 Comments

Five for Friday

1 – I am still processing all the emotions that have been stirred up as a result of writing my father poems last month and meeting so much new family. It’s all good, I mean even the bad is good because it’s real. But it’s also very intense which is exhausting.

2 – My father’s widow asked me a question that made me mad and I think that’s a good thing too. I don’t want to be the whiny, poor me kid of those poems forever so getting mad is the next step in healing. I think.

3 – I’m frustrated about a couple of things in my writing life but I don’t feel like I can blog about it because, well, who needs that kind of stuff out there forever and ever? So I’m biting my tongue but it’s hard. Maybe I should set up a small list of Livejournal friends who don’t mind listening to that kind of stuff  where I can lock all the posts?

4- I am writing essays in my head that I really need to get down on paper, or actually on the screen, about creativity and art and writing.

5 – Alas, said essays, like the Cassie posts about dogs and writing, are not likely to be marketable except to a select audience. Now I understand why many people are attracted by self and POD publishing.

Happy weekend everyone.

Friday, May 14, 2010|Categories: Random|Tags: |18 Comments

Friday Five – A Random Edition

Okay, I haven’t done a Friday 5 for a while so let’s give this a shot.

1. Today is the next to the last session with my group of incarcerated teen poets. I’m sorry I haven’t managed daily updates with the visits but I will do a few posts about them soon. Monday is the last day and there is so much to do (like typing in all their work so I have copies for the  exhibit)) before then. But today we paint. They collaged some canvases last week as backgrounds for the display and today we’ll do another layer with paint and textures. Fingers crossed that it’s another good art day. I have hot Cheetos in my backpack as a bribe reward.

2. I fell off the blogging wagon. I think part of it is the intensity of this teaching I am doing lately. It’s a lot of prep and a lot of recovery time for me. And part of it is adding new things to my life without letting go of any old things and come to find out, there really are only 24 hours in a day.

3. I haven’t even been reading blogs, just a quick scan of the feeds on Facebook which means I haven’t been commenting and I feel bad about that because so many people have been so supportive of my blog over the years. There are some exciting things going on with various people and I do cheer them on, I just don’t seem to be able to pause long enough to make an insightful comments.

4. I think about blogging a lot more than I have actually done it this month. I think, oh, I have ten minutes I could whip out a little blog post and then I think that everything I have to write about at that moment feels either too slight or too personal so I stare at the page for too long and finally decide that it is conceited of me to think that people want to read all that kind of stuff so I don’t post. What I think is happening is that I am having a shift of identity which is all good but it fits me differently and I need to figure out how it fits into the rest of my world. I did catch a great post by  that deals with this a little bit.

5. I’ve committed to writing an original poem a day (and blogging it) every day in April for National Poetry Month. Last year I posted a new haiku a day based on my native plant garden. I’m not sure what form or topic I will use this year but I do promise one new poem a day.

Happy Friday, all. I’m off to see my young poets.

Friday, March 19, 2010|Categories: Random|Tags: , |11 Comments

Friday Five – A Flyboy Edition

1. I am on page 47 of Flyboy’s story.

2. I have written all week.

3. I made it over a mini hump in the story.

4. I did some clean-up, some deleting.

5. I am still on page 47 of Flyboy’s story.

Friday, August 7, 2009|Categories: Writing Process|Tags: , , |13 Comments

Five on Friday – It's all about me

1. I am surrounded by deadlines and none of them have to do with fiction, well, unless you count the class I am taking starting Monday in which it appears the teacher is actually expecting a lot of hard work from us. This will be good for me even as deadlines close in one me like those walls in a bad sci-fi movie that threaten to squish me.

2. I met a new plant friend today, from the local native plant listserve. She came over to see what plants in my garden looked like in the dead heat of a California summer and we ended up talking for two lovely hours. It was wonderful to see my garden through her eyes, mistakes and all, and just to talk about native plants. What pleased me especially is that we walked from the front courtyard, down dogwood ally, to the glider in the backyard and it felt like a natural stopping point. Then we wandered the path the rest of the way until we reach the corner of the patio, my favorite spot. And it felt right, like the seating areas were in the right places.

3. The more I work on Flyboy the less I feel like I know what I am doing. Every sentence sounds boring and trite and the plot sounds too convoluted or maybe just way too busy and all my people feel the same. I hate this part of the writing business. I know to just plod on through and that’s what I’m doing and I need to remember that I go through this phase with every book but it doesn’t make it any easier.

4. I remember in my 20s when my kids were young and I could balance a multitude of projects at the same time. In my 50s now I realize I can’t do that anymore. It makes me crazy and then nothing gets done. It’s hard sometimes with all the internet noise, hearing what so many people are doing, especially the younger ones, but I need to let that go and recognize in this stage of my life less really is more.

5. I am still planning on starting a local writer’s meet-up. Really.

Friday, July 31, 2009|Categories: Random|Tags: |15 Comments

Five on Friday – A random edition

1. I continue to see bits and pieces of Cassie’s personality returning as we taper her off the steroids however she seems to be in the 2% group that suffers from lethargy as a side-effect from the Atopica. She sleeps all day long and on walks she just lays down and doesn’t want to go any further. Not sure what the solution is going to be since Atopica is the drug of choice for life long treatment.

2. It is supposed to be raining but instead the clouds are spitting down on us every now and then but not much else. Come on, rain.

3. LitChat today on Twitter was tons of fun. Thank you to all who came out.

4. Oliver has been invited to Illinois! I’m so excited because he hasn’t been anywhere for a very long time. I need to go get his backpack ready to go. Is your school a must-see school? 
5.I was really hoping this was going to be a wise and witty list so that anyone newly discovering my blog would be impressed with my wise and witty self. Guess I need to practice channeling my inner  and  .

Friday, May 1, 2009|Categories: Life With Dogs|Tags: , |4 Comments

five random Friday thoughts

This are inspired by the random swirls going on in my brain at the moment. It’s not necessarily a pretty sight.

1. I haven’t written in two weeks. I don’t know if I have reasons or excuses. Probably both. This makes me grumpy.

2. The dog is in the doghouse for doing something rotten in my garden. No plants were ruined but I am not a happy camper at the moment. That makes me grumpy too.

3. I ordered two cases of my favorite chai from Santa Cruz and this batch is "off" in that the balance of ingredients is wrong and it is overwhelmingly too much ginger. The trouble with buying from a small company. That makes me, you guessed it, a little bit grumpy.

4. Tomorrow I’ll be in Walnut Creek at a local SCBWI event with Lynn Hazen teaching about the various online social media options and how to use them. That makes me happy. Lynn is a wonderful author and teacher and we’ve had such fun preparing our material. I’m really looking forward to spending time with her and sharing what I know. This makes me very happy.

5.  I will soon be teaching an online class on the various online presence and social media options, how authors could and should be using them with ways to participate and yet still have time to write. Leave me a comment if you want to be notified when the class is being offered. I’ve been wanting to offer an online class for quite some time and I’m excited about bringing this one forward. This makes me very happy.

Friday, March 20, 2009|Categories: Random|Tags: , |8 Comments

Friday Five – possible future blog posts

Being away from home for a few days for the conference last weekend has made it difficult for me to get back to my blog. Not good. So my Friday Five is potential blog posts for me to think about writing. If you want to hear about something in particular, let me know.

1. Things to post about – the Asilomar conference and what I learned about myself while I was there.

2. Branding and blogs and the super smart Lee Wind and what he taught me about branding and blogs.

3. My contemplations around the idea of starting another blog (insane, I know) to focus more on #2 and leaving my LiveJournal as my daily life….that seems wrong somehow and yet I can’t figure out how to integrate everything.

4. Cassie.

5. The garden

And a bonus. . .

6. Conversations about how authors who are not debut authors and not bestselling household names can band together and get some promotional attention.

Friday, March 6, 2009|Categories: Random|Tags: |11 Comments

Friday Five – The Flyboy edition

So I am plodding along on grapemo courtesy of [info]onegrapeshy  and believe me, I do mean PLODDING. Argh. I know why this particular writing project is so painful but I don’t know why I was so insistent  to make it my current WIP. Oh, probably most marketable idea of the moment. Sigh. In any event, here are Five things about Flyboy.

1 – He just got put in jail, only for a few hours but still, jail.

2 – He is a total klutz around girls.

3 – He is afraid of dogs.

4 – He is getting really good at lying.

5 – He likes Spencer more than she thinks he does.

Friday, February 13, 2009|Categories: Random|Tags: , |4 Comments

Friday Five – The Random Writing Edition

A few of the irons in my writing fires:

1. Working on Flyboy, the YA novel, with a personal deadline of 2/28 to get the next two 2 chapters written, the first 5 chapters revised and the synopsis done.

2. Looking around for more work-for-hire projects. I’m basically searching online because it feels awkward to ask friends about it when I know they are scrambling for their work.

3. Working on short stories for magazines. Actually recycling and revising old stuff that I am now writer enough to improve.

4. Playing around with essays which is where much of my writing starting way back when writing essays for the parenting market.

5. Exploring the possibilities of teaching an online class which means exploring the various topics I might teach. Nothing definite in my head yet but I’m open to suggestions.

Friday, January 30, 2009|Categories: Random|Tags: , |4 Comments

Friday Five

1. Thank you to [info]mountainmist   (Kerry Madden) and [info]jeannineatkins   for awarding me the the Premio Dardos award. I am touched and, as often happens in the blogosphere, amazed at the time of such gifts. Just when I needed a kick in the pants. I will have to ponder some on who to pass it onto next. Thank you.

edited to add –
I shouldn’t have posted after coming home from the poetry workshop as I was tired and left a few things out – like the reason I needed the kick in the pants was because I was feeling down on myself and you kicked me to remember that one of my goals for 2009 was to try and see the me that other people see because I don’t think we’re very intimately acquainted.

2. It was lovely to attend the NYMBC event at Books Inc yesterday to launch Mitali Perkins’s new book, THE SECRET KEEPER. I drove over with[info]beckylevine and we had every intention of being there in plenty of time. Alas we were talking so much we missed the turn off and had to backtrack. Mitali, sorry for being late. But it was lovely to see[info]literaticat , [info]d_michiko_f  , [info]seaheidi, Lynn Hazen, Sharon Levin, Jen Robinson, Jim Averbeck, Emily Jiang, and Diane Davis. I hope I didn’t leave anyone out. Alas, Lynn and I were so busy catching up that didn’t get to do much chatting with anyone else. And when I looked up again Mitali had already left and I had neglected to say goodbye. Must learn to control talking.

3. Speaking of control, Mitali did a writing exercise to get us to work on showing a vivid setting. I knew that I had misplaced my ability to write away from home but I hadn’t realized how lost it was until I tried to do the exercise. I simply could not write. Oh, I wrote, the same sentence over and over again, but no scene. Which made me sad when I listened to all the wonderfully vivid scenes read outloud.

4. In order to improve #3, I am trying to make some writing dates away from home. I think if I start with when I know what has to be written next, I might have a better chance of success. We’ll see. I just know that until I can learn how to write away from home again I will not be able to indulge in things like writing retreats.

5. Tomorrow I start installing all the programs on my new computer (purchased a couple of months ago, lost by DHL, replaced, etc.) I am not looking forward to the transfer process, especially iTunes which I expect to be a pain.

And a bonus – some of you already know that [info]beckylevine  has a second blog that is more focused on writing. It’s called Moving Forward on the ‘Writing Path. I added a LJ feed for that blog so you can view it on your friends list and not miss a single post. You can add it here:[info]writingpath

Poetry session update to follow in a bit.

Friday, January 16, 2009|Categories: Random|Tags: |5 Comments

Friday Five – my brain is full

1. My brain is full. It is too crowded for me. I miss the time (when I was much younger) and able to balance so many things in my head. Now it becomes too much, too noisy inside my head, and hard to concentrate.

2, My brain is full with ideas for teaching, for how to reach the teen boys I’ll be working with on Monday. I have stacks of books, pages of ideas, and all of it disorganized. Today I will try to block out the first week’s lessons on index cards.

3. My brain is full of ideas for Flyboy, my fingers itching to get back to work on him. But this balancing thing, like I said, I don’t do it so well. I don’t know how to shut off the poetry workshop stuff and work on Flyboy. Maybe after the first week it will get easier.

4. My brain is full of ideas for an old verse novel that I had started after I finished Hugging the Rock, a novel based on my last experience teaching at an alternative school. But it is the same as with Flyboy, the balancing thing. I seem to have become an all or nothing sort of girl. Sigh.

5. My brain is full of writing and teaching and words, wonderful words.

Life is good.

Friday, January 9, 2009|Categories: Random|Tags: , |9 Comments

Friday Five

1. I’m writing.
2. I’m writing.
3. I’m writing.
4. I’m writing.
5. I’m writing.

That’s a big enough deal that I figure it deserves all 5 slots.

I’ll come back later with a more interesting Friday Five.

Friday, December 12, 2008|Categories: Random|Tags: , |6 Comments

Friday five – a random edition

1. This is the new tree bench we got for the backyard. On clearance no less! Now if I could only find some chairs I liked on clearance too.
(I’m debating removing the rock path. It feels a bit overwhelming with all that rock right now.)

2. I had a few pieces of slate from our old house that I had moved over to this house then decided I didn’t need it. For the heck of it I put it up on craigslist and someone came to buy it from me. He kept canceling when he was going to come over but something told me to stick with him. He came today and picked up the slate which means now I have a bunch of extra space on the sideyard.

3. Same guy saw all the empty black nursery pots – lots and lots of them – and asked if I wanted to get rid of them. I said yes and he took most of them. I kept some for as I try to propagate plants.

4. Same guy took the single aggregate stepping stone and two cement piers.

5. Turns out the guy used to be a contractor. One of his new sidelines is building custom raised planter boxes. He’s going to build me a 7 foot long box for the courtyard for our herbs. His price for the one big one, raised, which will work better and look nicer is cheaper than the 4 I would have had to buy elsewhere.

A bonus item not yard related. I had a bunch of clothes all bought and ready to wrap for my husband who comes out and shows me his list for Macy’s that he is just getting ready to order because he needs clothes. So I had to give him his Christmas stuff early. Tell me other people’s husbands do the same thing?

And a second bonus item not yard related. I trained Cassie to ring the bells to go outside but today it has been too much of a good thing. I think she rang the darn bells 25 times and only two of those times was because she actually had to go to the bathroom.


Friday, December 5, 2008|Categories: Life With Dogs|Tags: , |11 Comments

Friday Five – The late money edition

I’ve been laid off for 3 weeks now and the money freakout has begun.

1. Today I got my first severence check. The company has it all screwed up which means I get to spend a bunch of time on Monday, on the phone, trying to get things straightened out. This is to add to the mess they made with the benefits stuff. I hate that place.

2.  I wasn’t going to go to the Asilomar conference because it is so expensive and I’m not writing and it is so expensive and I don’t feel like a writer and I would feel guilty if I went because it is so expensive.

3. Paula called and convinced me to go to the conference. I asked husband who said yes, you should do this. You love this. This is your career.

4. So I signed up. Paid my money. Tried not to freak out. Tried to trust the Universe.

5. Husband just comes to tell me that by the way, the company he is working for (he’s a contractor) is shutting down for a week. What that means is no paycheck.

I can hear the Universe laughing.

Friday, November 21, 2008|Categories: Random|Tags: |19 Comments

Friday Five – The thinking about writing edition

I know I am starting to wake up my writer self when I miss my turnoff on the way home because a character popped into my head. Okay, it was prompted by Janni (yes, it was Max and Frankie), but still it took me 10 minutes longer to get home because I was spaced out and kept forgetting to turn.

So here are my thoughts (in no particular order) about what I should think about working on next:

1. The middle grade one about California native plants and a boy and an old man. Plant kid’s story. I’m working on the native plant garden so of course Plant Kid is right there with me. But I still have no plot and more importantly, I have no big want for plant kid. If he doesn’t want anything it’s kinda hard to write his story.

2. The middle grade one about a dog. Max’s story. I’ve got a new dog so I’m doing a lot of work with dogs and reading about dogs and training dogs so this seems like a possibility. I kinda have a plot. I kinda have a big want. But it is a gritty, hard to read therefore hard to write kind of story and I don’t know if I am ready to go to that place.

3. The YA about a boy and his dead dad and his live dad and a plane. Flyboy’s story. I either have to finish this or give it up. I have a plot. I have characters. What I don’t seem to be able to do easily is throw off the gazillion other versions I have written. In all those other versions the MC is too nice, too perfect and WAY too introspective. But 25 years of working on a book? Come on already!

4. The middle grade verse novel about a kid at an alternative school. I just got accepted to do a poetry workshop at an alternative school. I’ve done this before and been very inspired. I’ve also been terrified and exhausted. And I’m worried about writing in verse again for a variety of reasons. So I dunno. I might just try recording poetic thoughts about it and see what happens next.

5. The middle grade one about the girl and the piano and the dead mom.

There’s also the MG about the walnut trees and grandparents. The YA dealing with perfection. The NF adult photo essay book. The NF adult collection of essays. The Civil War stories, both PB and MG. Oh, and the MG Italian history one.

Today I will be grateful that I have so many potential projects and hope that now that I have named them, one will burble to the surface and demand to be heard.

Friday, November 14, 2008|Categories: Writing Process|Tags: , |11 Comments

Friday Five

1 – I am done with the dayjob. I don’t think it will sink in for a few weeks because I am used to being on shutdown for 2 weeks every year. I’m guessing along about December something will click in me. I had a lovely goodbye lunch with about 20 of my co-workers. Several of them commented that I already looked more relaxed. I think they were finally seeing the real me.

2 – My bonus check was for more than I figured. I love it when that happens. I always underestimate how much money I will get from something so I can be surprised. And I got paid for my big Korea job. So it was a nice money week.

3 – The Universe has a sense of balance that is sometimes frustrating. My husband had the catalytic converter stolen off his four-runner. Who knew they were made of platinum and so popular for stealing? Sigh. And in broad daylight in the Cisco parking lot. Grrr. The deductible is $1K (the repairs are almost $3K) so there goes some of that excess bonus.

4 – The only plan I am making is to not make plans. Not right now.  I am going to spend some time thinking and resting and thinking some more. Working in the garden, playing with the dog. Reading. Writing if I feel like it. Cleaning my house. Organizing things so I can be disorganized.

5. Okay, I’m changing my #5. Life is still good but I knew there was something else I wanted to post. That Dell computer I ordered back in Sept? the one that DHL lost? Well it was reordered and should have shipped on Monday but as of now, Dell doesn’t know where this one is either. Grrr….

Friday, October 31, 2008|Categories: Random|Tags: , |13 Comments

Friday Five – the rocky late night edition

1 –  We bought rocks yesterday, two of them column like for water features. Some small boulders. As much weight as the four-runner could carry. $400. Yikes.

2. We bought rocks today. Medium cobbles and large cobbles and pebbles and drain rock. And mulch. And flagstone stepping stones for next to the driveway. Only for the front yard. Another $700. To be delivered between 7am and 9am tomorrow. Wanna guess who isn’t going to be sleeping in tomorrow?

3. I am pretty sure the flagstone is too orange. Hubby things it works with the charcoal and brown driveway pavers but I’m not so sure. Either way it is what we have for now because I don’t think they are returnable. That would be $130 of the $700 in #2. I anticipate replacing them down the road.

4. There is a fair probability that there are too many medium cobbles for main part of the creek bed. I followed the guidelines and asked the guys at the rockyard but I seem to have a habit of ordering way too much rock. And there is a fair probability that the bottom half of the creek bed has not been tapered enough at the top (hubby and I disagree about this) and we won’t find out until we start working tomorrow and I have to ask him to do the pick axe thing some more. Sigh. We’ll see. I’m guess the creekbed will not be done tomorrow. Maybe Sunday. I’m not much good moving rock with my bum arm. Mulch I can do so while hubby is doing the creek I’ll be sheet mulching and then adding the regular mulch.

5. The water features both need pumps. Solar pumps. Good ones. I’d prefer to run a battery too so they could run longer but I don’t know. $500 for one pump and solar panel and solar safe for battery back-up. Sigh. $1000 for the water features. Ouch.

Friday, October 24, 2008|Categories: Random|Tags: |2 Comments

Friday 5, the random edition

1. It’s my anniversary today. 9 years. Every day I wake up next to my very best friend in the whole world and I just can’t believe my good fortune. He gave me the most beautiful long, gold earrings, hard to describe but absolutely gorgeous, from our favorite jewelry store in Santa Cruz, The Vault. He said I needed something that would stand out when I was on stage speaking as I would be doing more of that in the coming future.

2. Dell has finally agreed with DHL that DHL has lost my new computer. Never mind that DHL admitting this 4 days ago. Dell is shipping out a new computer in the next, oh, 2 weeks or so. Grrr.

3. I went to open the duet blinds in the kitchen nook. Only about 14 months old. They have one of those continuous loops. The loop broke. Now they don’t go up and they don’t go down. This would be on the patio door that we use ALL THE TIME to go out to barbecue, go out on the courtyard, etc. Called the guy who sold them/installed them and I think he is out of business. Sigh.

4. My daughter called last night and now I am turned inside out with fear and worry and not a damn thing I can do about it.

5. I am waiting on a query that has only been out for a week and I had forgotten how hard that waiting thing is.

Friday, October 17, 2008|Categories: Random|Tags: |26 Comments

Friday Five – the employment edition

1 – Being let go from my day job really is a good thing. I have been unhappy there for a long time (years) and have felt underused and undervalued. Being out of that kind of an environment can only do good things for my health, mental and physical. To say nothing of no longer getting up at 5am!

2 – The worst thing about leaving the day job is that I will miss a handful of friends that I enjoyed seeing every day. We plan to do a monthly lunch. I hope we do. I am on a delayed departure in order to help them with the transition. My last day is 10/31. Since I only work 4 days a week that means I only have 28 working days left. Woohoo!

3 – There are all those changes that are to come that have necessitated a lot of budget crunching. How far will the severance package go? When will unemployment kick in and how much will I get? How much more expensive is it going to be to switch to my husband’s health insurance (a lot – but at least it is an option.) In the end there is a certain confidence in seeing the numbers match up in a good way on the page. Money in the bank is no guarantee of anything but it does buy you a few choices. I’ve had an idea that I would be let go ever since the "merger" became a real deal. Much of what I do is already automated for the other company. So I crunched the numbers some more and put forth the idea that perhaps I didn’t need to try and bring as much money into the household which would allow me to try and make what money I did need to make from freelancing/speaking/teaching, etc. And because I am lucky enough to be married to a wonderfully supportive husband, the answer was okay.

4 – Best things about working from home? No 5am alarm. No commute. No expensive gas. Comfy clothes only!

5 – Worst thing about working from home? Learning to be more disciplined. The adjustment that is inevitable between me and my husband since he works from home much of the time too!

Friday, September 12, 2008|Categories: Random|Tags: , |30 Comments