Saturday, September 29, 2007

AW Blogchain #11

I was part of the Absolute Write Blogchain #10 a few weeks back, and I just found out I get to kick off #11. The last post in #10 was by Virginia Lee, AW Blogchain #10 -- The End is the Beginning. In that post she talked about re-evaluating and new beginnings.

It is with a feeling of coincidence that I start this chain. I took a break from cleaning and re-organizing kitchen cabinets to check email and sat down to blog. You see, I've been cleaning and organizing, and re-organizing my home this past week. My husband has been on vacation, and while the kids have been at school, we've been taking care of things that need to be done.

I always feel better when my living space is uncluttered. I can find things more quickly, put things away faster and waking up to a clean, open space is a fantastic way to begin each morning.

We have made a list of projects to accomplish before Thanksgiving. A couple of ceiling fans will be installed(kitchen and bedroom), a power strip will be mounted in the kitchen(much needed source of electricity near the largest countertop), a shoe rack will be built and cubbies installed in our stairwell. We've packed, pitched and/or given away anything that takes up space, but was found to be lacking function.

Autumn is when I typically celebrate my New Year. The kids go back to school and things slow down. I have time to think about my goals, our goals and things that need to be done or changed. My husband and I set goals for the coming year now.

So, even though nature is beginning to ready itself for rest, I am readying myself for my busy season. The time when I have time - to write, to think, to be.

Let's see what the next blogger has to add.

Virtual Wordsmith

(The Blog Formerly Known as) Taosbound

Virginia Lee: I Ain't Dead Yet!

Kappa No He

Playing With Words

A Thoughtful Life

Mad About Kites

Confessions of a Fat Chick

The Death Wizard Chronicles

Food History

A View From The Waterfront

Thursday, September 27, 2007

The writing life...


This week has not been at all how I had pictured it. My husband is on vacation, and I thought we'd be spending some much needed time alone. Alas, 'twas not meant to be.

Strep throat has hit 4 out of the 6 people who reside in this household. Husband and 3 of the 4 kids. Yesterday was the first day all of the kids went to school.

Needless to say, blogging has suffered a bit and potential queries have suffered a lot. Sick people, little focus.

I also haven't had any new books to review for the last couple of weeks. I'm expecting 2 in the mail, soon. Hopefully I'll be back to posting a review and interview a week starting on Monday.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Yankee or Dixie

Take The Yankee or Dixie Quiz.

I scored...

47% (Yankee). Barely into the Yankee category.

I'd love to know what y'all scored.

And on a related note, when you read dialogue spelled coloquially, do you hear it in your head, or do you translate to your own dialect?

Southern Drawl, Dixie Sprawl?

I left the North East when I was 22. I've lived in the Mid West for 16 years now. When I arrived in Minnesota, I had a terrible time making friends. The moment I said more than two sentences, I got a funny look and people would say "You're from back East, aren't you?", usually with a curl to their lip and a wrinkled nose.

I expediently adopted a generic southern accent, what one of my friends refers to as "military south". For some unknown reason, a southern accent was much more acceptable than an eastern one. Luckily I was raised by an Illinois mom and a Maine dad, so shifting dialects was fairly simple for me.

Imagine my delight to read this article, Hey Y'all, Is Southern Drawl Spreading? I have always been intrigued with accents and dialects. I tend to slip into whatever accent I'm hearing from the people around me, and I thought everyone else could do it, too. Evidently, there is a name for people like me, bidialectal. (Read the article, it explains everything.)

I chalk up the fact that people are tending toward a southern drawl way of speaking to the huge fan base Country music has acquired in the last 17 or so years. You can't listen to Country music and interviews with the people who sing Country songs without thinking "aw shucks, ma'am".

The Southern Drawl is one of the gentlest, most un-assuming dialects in America. It brings to mind Sweet Tea, Mint Juleps and a slower paced way of life. I picked it up as a method of self preservation, but I'm not sure it's such a bad thing.

Monday, September 24, 2007

...of mice and men.

Strep throat has hit our family. Hubby and 5th grade son are on anti-biotics. I'm not feeling so well myself, but that could be not sleeping so well the last couple of nights.

Seems I will be on nurse duty for the next couple of days. I'll try to find some fun things to post. We'll see. Family first.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Spelling Bee

100% Free Personals from JustSayHi

Friday, September 21, 2007

And...we're back.

The last couple of days have made a circus look calm and organized. My ex-husband, who is also still one of my good friends, has been having some issues, one of which is the house he is living in has no electricity. So, he stopped by to grab a hot shower at our place. I'm good with this, it's not a weird thing.

Unemployment is another issue he's facing right now. He was layed off from a really good job in the construction business. He's been job shopping using our computer (reference no electricity above).

My neighbor and good friend also lost her job a month or so ago. She's been waiting to hear yeah or nay about a contract position. The more days that go by without an answer, the more stir crazy she gets. I've been trying to be a supportive friend by sharing my coffee and my ear and my shoulder.

I woke up with a headache the last two mornings. Usually I can deal, but these were "someone slamming a brick into the back of my head repeatedly" headaches. Each throb made my vision blur and made the possibility of spending much of my morning kneeling in front of the porcelain a welcome prospect.

So, needless to say, I've been a wee bit distracted.

I started feeling better around noon today. I could actually look at the computer screen without the words melting down the screen. I made some applesauce cookies and apple scones (1/2 a bushel of Haralson's to process, can you tell?). I just finished cooking a double batch of applesauce (1/4 bushel down, 1/4 to go). I also added another recipe to the Crockpot Recipes page.

Tomorrow should be a much better day.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Guest Blogger - Eileen Parker

Eileen is in the process of submitting her book to agents. She has graciously offered an inside glimpse of her process.

And here she is....

Eileen here, Eileen Parker. I'm a real-life friend of Lynn's for these past 15 or more years. I'm here to ask if you would you like to watch? Eavesdrop? I'll tell you about how you become an author, by telling you what I am experiencing. I'll skip sage advice, because I haven't any! I'm new at this and I'll let you in on what happens in baby steps.

I have taken some steps already:

I compiled what the book will contain: what chapters, what will be in them, what won't be in them.
Many conversations (that should've had wine) with friends and other loved ones about the focus and scope of the book.
I have the outline and marketing plan written and ready to send for that glorious day when an agent asks for them.

Originally, I wasn't going to use an agent because I have a non-fiction topic that is straight-forward and I would be able to keep the 15% commission that most agents charge. I have been getting rejected. (This I am used to since high school.) When I get a rejection letter, I go through a range of emotions in a second and am left feeling emotionless. This is probably a mental defense mechanism so I keep sending book proposals to publishers. BTW, the editors at the publishers were all kind enough to write a note about what other publishers to try, which was awfully decent of them to take the time.

I know the book will sell, so now I am contacting agents. I am hunting through the 2005 Guide to Literary Agents as a start. I am damned nervous about committing to someone without knowing them first. (This I learned the hard way at my divorce hearing.) I'm going to be metaphorically climbing into bed with someone and letting them hold my baby. I want to send a pre-relationship questionnaire, but what do I ask? I would be thrilled if you gave me some suggestions as a comment or to Lynn's email.

I am doing my version of a background check on them by finding all articles and mentions on Google. I have been checking on the writers' boards, Absolute Write and Backspace for what other writers have to say about the agents.

And I have been checking up on their authors' activities. For example, I found one agent who had published authors, but the authors weren't really promoted, almost next to nothing. This means something wasn't thought through when choosing the author and the publisher, because both have to have a marketing plan in place and have to work the plan. But hey, the sale got made, right? I'm not impressed. I want people to actually read my book, not just sign a publishing contract, do a couple of media interviews, then sell signed remainder copies on Amazon.

I sent a query yesterday to agent, Sheree Bykofsky, and the day before to agent, Betsy Amster. I'll keep hunting through the book. I'll also take your suggestions of who to approach and who to avoid.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Chasing down ideas...

I've got a few ideas for queries spinning in my head today. I'm trying to get them to gel, so I'm not posting anything heavy today.

My favorite word for today...

ser·en·dip·i·ty /ˌsɛrənˈdɪpɪti/ Pronunciation Key - Show Spelled Pronunciation[ser-uhn-dip-i-tee] Pronunciation Key - Show IPA Pronunciation
–noun 1. an aptitude for making desirable discoveries by accident.
2. good fortune; luck: the serendipity of getting the first job she applied for.


[Origin: 1754; Serendip + -ity; Horace Walpole so named a faculty possessed by the heroes of a fairy tale called The Three Princes of Serendip]

—Related forms
ser·en·dip·it·er, ser·en·dip·i·tist, ser·en·dip·per, noun Unabridged (v 1.1)
Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2006.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Robert Jordan October 17, 1948 – September 16, 2007

A friend of mine got me hooked on The Wheel of Time series of books by Robert Jordan. Imagine my sadness and disappointment when I found out today that he passed away this weekend. You can read the details here.

If you haven't read the books, try them, they are fabulous. If you have and you love them as much as I do, leave a comment on his blog.


My 5 year old said "What the fu...?" to me a few days ago. No "ck" pronunciation was heard. I asked him not to say that and he asked me why. I explained to him that "fu" was just another way of saying fuck, and that's not a word most people expect to hear out of a little kid's mouth. Again, he asked, "Why?" and I found myself repeating what mothers everywhere have always said. "Because it's a bad word."

Cameron wanted to know why it's a bad word and what fuck means. Well, that got me to thinking, what exactly is the definition of this highly charged word, and is a word ever truly "bad" unto itself, or is it the particular usage that gives a word an "ugly" connotation? I typed "fuck" into an online dictionary and found this and then googled the word and found this. Neither link leads to obscene stories or pictures.

As I understand it, the simplest definition is "to have intercourse with", but the word fuck has been considered an ugly word for a very long time. People typically use it when they have run out of patience and other words to make their point. It is one of those "catch all" words that means nothing and everything, depending on usage, context and inflection.

I don't believe there are any bad words. I do, however, think that words have power. I have lost friends by using the wrong words at the wrong time. I have hurt people deeply by throwing words at them. Most people who know me recognize that I am terribly angry if I don't use any "swear" words at all in a confrontation. Words have the power of influence, to cause wars, prevent wars, tear people down or lift them up.

I'm still not sure what to tell my son regarding why fuck is a bad word. I certainly don't want to tell him that for all intents and purposes it means sex. I consider sex to be something sacred and amazing. I do not want to have him associate something negative with something that someday will be incredibly positive.

If (WHEN!) I have to talk with him about this again, I think I'll try to focus more on choosing different words for self-expression. There are so many words to choose from, why limit ourselves to the easy ones?

Monday, September 17, 2007

Which book are you?

I don't usually do meme's or anything like that, but this one was too good to pass up. I really want to know which book you are.

You're Watership Down!

by Richard Adams

Though many think of you as a bit young, even childish, you're actually incredibly deep and complex. You show people the need to rethink their assumptions, and confront them on everything from how they think to where they build their houses. You might be one of the greatest people of all time. You'd be recognized as such if you weren't always talking about talking rabbits.

Take the Book Quiz
at the Blue Pyramid.

Virtual Book Tour

Book signings have long been a way to promote your book and connect with your fans. The time and travel involved in a book tour can drain your reserves, though, both monetarily and physically.

If you want to get out there and market your latest work, connect with your fans and get immediate feedback, maybe a Virtual Book Tour is for you. Over at Dorothy Thompson's blog, Book Marketing Buzz, you can find some great information about how a Virtual Book Tour works.

In a nut shell, a Virtual Book Tour involves bloggers reading and reviewing your book, you making yourself available for interview questions, and you stopping by to comment or answer questions from the blogger's readers. It's also nice if you link from your blog (if you have one) to the blogger who reviewed your book or interviewed you.

A Virtual Book Tour connects you with many more readers, who feel like they know more about you and who will talk about you and your book.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Interview - Jane Wenham Jones, author of Wannabe A Writer?

Today's "5 Q&A" is with Jane Wenham-Jones, author of Wannabe A Writer?

1.) Who are you?

I am an author, journalist, occasional broadcaster, after-dinner speaker and agony aunt to Writing Magazine.

2.) What books are on your bedside table?

Anybody Out There? by Marian Keyes. Murder Most Fab by Julian Clary (I am interviewing him on stage in October and I can't wait!), Second Honeymoon by Joanna Trollope, Wild Abandon by Penny Vincenzi, Broken by Martina Cole and The Conjuror's Bird by Martin Davies.

3.) Why did you decide to write this particular book?

I was getting really great feedback on my Writing Magazine column - which I enjoy hugely - and I realised there was a real call for advice on writing that was accessible and readable and made a few jokes! I have got into the habit of quoting an "expert" or two in each column - another author or a publisher or agent and I thought it would be great to have a book peppered with the words of wisdom of a whole heap of professionals from the book world. Also it was high time someone broached the subject of Writers' Bottom.

4.) Will you be coming to the United States to promote Wanna Be a Writer?

I would absolutely love to. American Publishers/Publicists/the great American public - are you reading this??

5.) What's next?

I am currently working on a novel and after that I plan a "sequel" to Wannabe a Writer?

Thanks so much, Jane!

Wannabe a Writer? is available for pre-order at For more information, check out Jane's website at

Thursday, September 13, 2007


So it seems that Laurell K. Hamilton and I have something in common. I was reading her blog this morning and she has a mouse in her house. Well, much to my chagrin, I discovered (at 3:30 this morning) a mouse in my house, as well.

I was using the bathroom, heard something, and looked over to see a mouse skittering out the door. Keep in mind, please, that we live in a century old farmhouse sorely in need of some updating. It's not unusual to see mice or evidence of mice at this time of year. But, there's a difference between sorta-kinda knowing there is probably a mouse around somewhere and actually seeing one not 2 feet from my bare feet.

The difference between LKH and I (barring her bestselling author status, of course) is I have a cat and she doesn't. She is a self-proclaimed "dog person". The cat will take care of the mouse (mice?) and I probably won't see one again until next September.

Still, it's good to know that no matter how old, or new, a house is, the mice will still find a way in.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Book Review - Wannabe a Writer? by Jane Wenham-Jones

Wannabe a Writer?
Jane Wenham-Jones
Accent Books
ISBN # 978-1905170814

When you sit down to read Wannabe a Writer? make sure you have a highlighter and some sticky notes, time to really read and, just for good measure, a spot of tea. There are things here you'll want to refer back to, such as what BICHOK stands for and how to avoid "Writer's Bottom". Chock full of insider information from authors, agents and publishers, you'll find yourself highlighting anecdotes and quotations, and bookmarking pages as you go.

This book is informative, but it's also funny. I laughed out loud at the chapter titled "A Room of One's Own" and ended up reading it to my husband, mostly so he'd know I'm not really insane. My husband is not a writer, and even he chuckled at what I'd read to him.

Reading Wannabe a Writer? is like sitting down with one of your best friends - who happens to be a bestselling author - and picking his/her brain about how he/she did it. All of the frustrations and foibles, secrets and strokes of good luck, and what worked and what didn't. You'll be inspired, entertained and you'll find yourself smirking or maybe even laughing right out loud!
(October 15, 2007, pp 320, $17.99)

Wannabe a Writer? is available for pre-order at For more information, check out Jane's website at

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

There just are no words...

I thought about writing a deep, profound post as to where I was and what I was doing 6 years ago today. But you know, it's all been said. My circumstances may have been different than everybody else's in those horrific moments that morning, but I know I felt what every other person in the world felt - terror, disillusionment, frustration - a multitude of overwhelming emotions.

My husband and I had coffee with friends a week later, and we stated up front there was to be no discussion about Tuesday, September 11th, 2001. We talked about jobs, kids and cooking, but it was real work to keep the pervading sense of evil at bay.

I'm not the same person I was that day. Explaining to my children that a "bully" decided to raise its ugly fist and attack our country changed me. Discovering years later that the entire event could have been avoided had our government really paid attention changed me. Knowing that my daughter could very well have been on one of those planes changed me. The eerie silence in the skies for weeks on end changed me.

The lesson I am left with today is no different than anyone else's. Live your life, love your family and die with as few regrets as possible.

Monday, September 10, 2007

PSA - and weather

I interrupt my fairly consistent, regularly scheduled blogging to say there will be no book review this morning. I spent an entirely lovely weekend with my family, and therefore did not get as far in the book as I had hoped. It's a terrific book, and I don't want to give it short shrift by rushing the reading of it.

That having been said, the weather was ABSOLUTELY gorgeous here this past weekend. High's in the lower 60's, light breeze and sunshine. It was the opening act of an early Autumn. We will most likely have our first frost by Saturday.

We broke out the "winter" quilt last night, and were very glad of it. I refuse to turn on the furnace until absolutely necessary, and even with the windows closed, there was a definite chill in the air when I rolled out of bed this morning.

I'll be reading and baking today. The book review is tentatively re-scheduled for Wednesday morning. It'll be worth the wait.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Friday Bedside Table

There's a new book on my bedside table. Wanna Be a Writer? by Jane Wenham-Jones. I'll be reviewing it here on Monday.

I made it through From the Ashes and Demons Are Forever. I'm still working on the other books I listed last time.

What are you reading?

What I did this week

All summer I dreamed about the week of September 3rd through the 7th. The plans changed a billion times, but the one constant was those days would be mine. Alone, no kids, no husband.

It's been a fabulous week. I've cleaned (and things have stayed where I put them), read (without interruption), visited with friends (without a child sitting on my lap or hanging on my leg) and written (without having to think "Now where was I?"). I even had my lunch brought to me one day.

This weekend, I'll be shopping with my daughter, spending time with my husband and actually listening to my boys. I've had a chance to hear myself think and a chance to miss my family.

For awhile this summer, I felt like a total shrew for anticipating time by myself. What kind of horrible mother was I? After four days, 7 hours of quiet each day, I've come to realize that even mothers need time to themselves - to breathe, to think and to hear their inner voice.

Cooking and Writing

Over there on the left, under the heading "Writer Resources" is a link to Crockpot Recipes. My Crockpot is my saving grace some days. I thought I'd share the link to the page with my recipes, because I'm sure some of you, like me, are busy work at home moms, and sometimes, a new recipe that doesn't require much time is just what the doctor ordered.

The page is kind of blah right now, but I'll be sprucing it up and adding more recipes over the next few weeks. Feel free to add or subtract ingredients to your taste. Recipes are not directions, only guidelines.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

I'm a guest blogger!

I received an email today to let me know a blog submission I sent a couple weeks ago is published at As We Are Magazine. If you'd like to see it, click the linked text.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Marketing your book? Try a blog tour.

If you're an author promoting your book, you might want to amble on over to this article in the New York Times. It's eye-opening to see what a versatile tool blogging has become. Enjoy.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

First Day of School!

The whole gang

My "officially a big kid" Kindergartener

Waving goodbye

Today is a banner day! ALL of my babies are in school!

It's been a very long time since I've had a full day that was all mine. You would have thought that I would have been dancing a jig. But, as I watched my youngest step onto the bus, my eyes filled up with tears, and I continued to cry off and on for about 20 minutes. Tears of sadness and elation at exactly the same time.

Then, I got into the shower and reveled in the fact that no one was knocking on the door, or peeing, or arguing. I got out, got dressed, poured myself a cup of coffee and put a classical music CD in the stereo. And, I can actually hear it.

It's probably going to take me a week to get used to this, but is it ever weird to hear myself think.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Book Review - Demons Are Forever by Julie Kenner

Berkley Trade
ISBN # 978-0425215388

Kate is your average, happily married mother of two suburbanite, if you totally ignore her calling to hunt and destroy demons. She's come out of retirement and slammed headlong into a showdown with the biggest baddest demon around. She's also come face to face with her former husband - but he's wearing a new costume - someone else's body. Elated to find him alive, she's also conflicted as she is raising a family with her new husband. When it rains it pours.

I loved Demons Are Forever! I grinned and giggled all the way through. It's kind of Buffy meets Desperate Housewives illustrated with much tongue in cheek humor.

Julie Kenner has written a full color, fast paced, keep you on the edge of your seat story. The characters jump off the pages - most likely wielding a stiletto or a crossbow.
(July 3, 2007, pp 304, $14.00)

Sunday, September 2, 2007


Dear Kitchen Goddess,

How do I get my dishes to stop breeding in my sink? They are worse than bunnies!

Dishpan Hands

Dear Dishpan Hands,

I have a few suggestions for you.

  • Eat less food. Less meals = less dishes to wash.
  • Eat foods that require no utensils and no stonewear. Apples, oranges, plums, pears, carrots, cucumbers, tomatoes - in other words, foods that come with an edible wrapper that you can eat with your hands.
  • Live alone. Less people = less dishes.

Of course, these options would set you back about 1000 years and turn you into a lonely, yet extremely healthy, nomad type person.

Hope I helped.

Kitchen Goddess