About this Blog

Here you will find information and writings by Carrie Dalby, both fiction and nonfiction, as well as the ups and downs of life.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Christmas Apologies

I hear the song “Christmas Time is Here” several times a week—almost daily—during the month of December. My special needs son is a Peanuts head. He has perfect pitch and a great talent for mimicking voices. Next time you want to hear Charlie Brown music, just ask. He serenaded my friend thing morning…
No, the singing isn’t what I want to apologize for. (Unless, uh… it really hurts your ears.)
I would like to confess a prior judgmental attitude. I’ve freed myself of it and wish to publicly say I’m sorry. I came to the realization of the errors of my thinking a couple years ago, but still held on to that “it won’t be me” attitude.
It’s out.
I judged.
And now I am guilty of the same offense—even worse!
This year I handed out/mailed a pre-printed Kodak Christmas card (with my kidlets picture on it, of course) to 98% of the people on my list. I didn’t even have to sign my name on it—I only addressed the envelopes! And I didn’t do a year-in-review family letter to go with it.
Yes, it’s been sneaking up on me. Here’s my sad tale:
Once upon a time, I mulled over a personalized paragraph for each recipient of a Christmas card.
After one child, the cards just had a couple lines—and a wallet-sized photo of the darling kidlet.
Two kids = bigger photo and maybe a sentence in greeting/closing.
Three kids = a half-way decent picture of the three of them or all separate on a collage picture card if they weren’t cooperative… and about half the people on the list got an actual paper card as well. Here’s a sample from 2009, doctored to protect the innocent:

This year is the year of the photo card, with few exceptions.
Maybe it’s the wordsmith in me, but I used to think that if someone didn’t care enough to at least write me a little note, why bother to give me the card. I showed them love and appreciation by writing them a few words of reflection or hope—wasn’t I worth that effort on their part?
So, yeah…
Life happens.
My daily list of tasks to accomplish swells.
As I mature, my ability to love grows and my circle of family and friends expands with that love.
In closing I want your thoughts. Is it better to keep a circle small in order to pad a Christmas card with words or share a short greeting (or three smiling faces) with a wider group of people?

Monday, December 5, 2011

Accounted For

Yes—I’m still here.

Seems like lots of people took a blog break but hopefully their reasons were productive ones, like National Novel Writing Month. Mine, not so glamorous. My computer froze/died. Rest in peace laptop motherboard… rest in peace.

While waiting almost 30 days (thanks to delayed shipping and then issues in customs) for my built-to-order computer to arrive, I had the not so lovely experience of using my son’s computer. Now, I’ve never had a brand new, factory sealed computer before (this new one is my very first!) but there is something entirely unbecoming about sharing a computer with my 13 year old.

For one thing, I felt guilty asking my son to stop working so I could check my e-mail (or Facebook or Twitter or fill-in-the-blank) so I didn’t disturb him while he was drawing on the paint program—which was often.

And that hand-me-down-hand-me-down-possibly-hand-me-down computer has no sound, which I take full responsibility for. When trying to speed up the computer by trashing “unused” programs a few months ago, I deleted the sound drive/card/whatever. Oops! The fact that my favorite singer, Mitch Malloy, was on tour in Europe last month and posting videos nearly every day was irritating since I couldn’t listen to them. Grrrr.
The desktop computer my kids’ use sits about a foot away from the parakeet cage. Nick, Charlotte and I bonded more than I thought possible. Now, whenever I walk into the room, they fuss at me. I suppose they miss our quality time.

I couldn’t upload pictures from my camera or look out my window from the seat.

Syncing iTunes was impossible.

And did I mention I couldn’t listen to the new videos Mitch Malloy posted?
Yeah, here’s one for your viewing/listening pleasure:


I’m back—and faster than ever! And thanks to the help from my IT friend, I didn’t lose any documents or information in the transferring of files from the old hard drive to the new.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

It's been another whirlwind month. Mobile Writers Guild events and planning meetings, field trips and social outings for the kidlets, plus my own milestones.

Last week I sent the complete Corroded manuscript to Laurie Halse Anderson. It arrived at her address Saturday the 15th. So the waiting game is on to hear her critique.

In an attempt to keep from thinking about my story being in the hands of one of my writing heroes, I treated myself to a free concert at the National Shrimp Festival in Gulf Shores Saturday evening.
And, of course, I had another experience!
I was able to meet the members of Firehouse before and after the show. The other guys signed the “vintage” flier that C.J. Snare signed at the show on October 12, 1991 (the last time I saw them—20 years ago!) as well as a CD booklet I brought along and the new CD I bought at the show. C.J. still has his voice, Bill wailed on the guitar, Michael hammered the drums, and Allen played a mean bass. They rocked harder than ever!

Love music, love great people! Hang with me if you want to catch Fantabutitus!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

September Madness

"The Month of Madness" is what September 2011 shall be known as in my life.
The month when this homebody was away as often as home during regular hours.
The month that forced this shy lady into several public speaking events.
The month my kids cried because I left them so often.
The month the grandparents were taken advantage of for free childcare. (Thanks, Nana and Grandpa!)

And right in the middle of the month the little princess celebrated her third birthday with a yard full of friends for an “Easter” party. Egg hunt, duckies, butterflies... and frilly dresses, too! I'd post pictures here, but, yeah, you know. I don't do that at this point.

Reading has been a lifesaver, once again. You can tell how crazy my life is by how much reading I'm doing. The only way to escape and unwind. I have to read myself to sleep, otherwise I'd just think myself into a frenzy every night. Anxiety sucks but it is good for increasing my reading progress.

A Need so Beautiful was a loaner book from a good friend. It took me a while to get into the character/voice, which isn't unusual for me—it just took over half the book instead of a few chapters this time. Loved the ending.

I reread Summer of the Swans, a classic Newbery winner. Loved it, once again. Most of my favorite novels are “middle readers”, usually the 10-14 age range.

And because I wanted to read more Joan Bauer books (see last post) I checked out Squashed and Close to Famous (her newest—still reading this one) from the local library.

I've also been reading Homeschool Your Child for Free (great purchase) and The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin (thank you Mobile Public Library) during the daytime, when I'm not running the roads. Which has been next to nothing this past week.

September 24 is the start of Banned Books Week. Search my blog for previous posts on this topic.

If you're on Facebook, you can find a public fan page for me and my writing. http://www.facebook.com/home.php?ref=home#!/pages/Carrie-Cox/182006808539156 But if you know me personally, I'll accept you as a friend on my “private” page. And feel free to link to my blog whenever. I appreciate all 20 of the listed followers here!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

A Month, Revisited

The past few weeks have been filled with home, family, friends, and literary adventures. Just like Mary Weber, the main character of Corroded, I've been expanding my comfort zone by participating in new experiences. And with each new merit badge of life I earn, the anxiety over the unknown lessens.

Examples—aren't you curious to see what I consider adventurous? Probably second hand to most people, but for this anxiety-prone wallflower these things are a big deal:

My first belly flop!
A diving board was NOT part of it, but it counts, right?
And the fact that I was standing in an above-ground pool... but it was a big one...
Hey, this is from the girl that could never do a Slip-N-Slide because I couldn't make myself fall down!

Taking all three kids downtown for a field trip.
Yes, I did meet a friend and her three kids at the museum, but I had to park and walk the block to the entrance alone with my kids. We even crossed streets twice—one of them Government Blvd—to look at cannons and read their historical markers.

Creating a public “fan” page on Facebook for me/my writing.
Might be premature, but some of you out there care enough to “like” me. :)

Conducting my first public meeting for the Mobile Writers Guild.
Me. Public. Speaking.
Those that know me from church have witnessed my teaching and speaking engagements before. Get me in front of a group of kids and I'm fine. Add more than half a dozen adults to the mix and I turn blotchy red. I pace, wring my hands, and my nose sweats. But this went better than I expected. Yes, I fumbled over words, my eye-contact could have been better, and my nose still sweated. But I wasn't red (or purple or splotchy) and no one ran from the room screaming. Not even me.

Sharing Corroded with family members.
Yes, I'm finished! Just waiting for two more critique group sessions for the group to finish it before sending it off to Laurie Halse Anderson for a critique.
I first offered the manuscript to my sister-in-law, then my eldest sister, and finally my mother. They are all avid readers. I've heard back form my s-i-l that the first two chapters already had her sucked in. And, of course my mother thought it was “really good” (she read it all yesterday afternoon) but she immediately wanted to know how much of it was true. Yes, it was inspired heavily by my own junior year in high school, but it is not an autobiography.

And, of course, I've been reading. This is my list from the past month:

A Joan Bauer kick. I read Hope was Here about a year ago and loved it. Found these books on the bargain tables at Books-A-Million over the past several months and decided to read them all back-to-back. Her books are thoughtful, beautifully simple coming of age novels. Everything I hope my own stories can be.

Then I moved on to a new writer friend's debut novel. I met Israel through a neighbor of his who I'm friends with when she sent him in the direction of the Mobile Writers Guild. The Anne Marie is a great story for readers, especially dog-lovers, ages ten and up.

Yesterday I finished another MWG member's book. It's out of my normal reading genre—adult romantic comedy—but the characters were multidimensional and the information about trichotillomania was interesting. Joyce and I have been in critique groups together the past two years, so I've read her WIPs as well as one of her other published novels. Write on, Comma Queen!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Corroded Soundtrack

The thing for authors—especially young adult ones—to do these days is to create PLAYLISTS for their novels. I've written song lists for SOUNDTRACKS (because I see my stories as movies in my head) for all my writing, beginning twenty years ago.

Yes, with the first novel-length story I began at the age of fourteen, I had an inspiring soundtrack of hair bands. Ever visit me in my teens? My walls were filled with photos from Metal Edge magazine and posters bought at the local Sam Goody's or Spencer Gifts.
I was the renegade rocker—the walking oxymoron. I had a “Youth Gone Wild” Skid Row t-shirt but never skipped school or done anything worthy of arrest. I spent my money on cassettes/CDs, magazines, posters, concert tickets, t-shirts... my teen idols were long haired crooners, beat thumping bass players, and those glorious keyboarders.

But I'd always had a wide range of musical taste. I bought J.S. Bach albums while wearing my denim-and-leather jacket (I was told by the sales associate “you don't look like the powdered wig type.)
It isn't Christmas until The Beach Boys album is on the stereo.
And I still love a little “Motownphilly”, “The One and Only”, “Forever Your Girl”, and “Electric Youth.” Can you name the artists who sing those songs?

To bring my old school soundtrack to the new century, I'm including YouTube links to the BEST videos I found for my odd assortment of songs that express the themes and emotions of Corroded, in chronological order. Yes, there is a heavy dose of Rick Nelson. I adore him—the original teen idol.

Take a few minutes and watch—but more importantly LISTEN—to the songs you aren't familiar with. Enjoy!

Hello Mary Lou (Main character's name, with a groovy 70s vibe.)

Young Emotions (Ricky was so smooth and dreamy...)

Weird (Now this is a WEIRD video! First time seeing it.)

The Very Thought of You (He's so much better than Elvis.)

String Along (Never enough Rick!)

Burning Down Inside (Peppy live version with a bonus song on the end, because Tyketto rocks.)

You Are a Tourist (Song I heard on the local independent radio station last month. It struck me.)

Anybody Listening? (A profound sound with amazing vocals--Geoff Tate of Queensryche is the bomb.)

Tears of the Dragon (I could listen to this song over and over again—and have.)

Dying to Be Alive (Yes, two Hanson songs. They both fit.)

Somewhere I Belong (About as heavy as I get...)

Start from the Dark (By my FAVORITE band. Long live Europe!)

Spirit of the Underdog (They rock and had two songs to fit the mood, back-to-back.)

Right Before Your Eyes
(Rick Nelson's sons.)

Life (Amazing what you can find on YouTube!)

And as a tribute, because I just found this and the hair is awesomely 80s.

Are you ready to read Corroded now? Let me know your comments—either here or on Twitter or FaceBook. Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, August 1, 2011

They Speak--I Listen

On my July 6th blog I coined the term “fantabutitus” and spoke of my always pleasant encounters with those I admire. Amid the telling I said:

I'm a dedicated fan, loyal to those who speak to me
even when the spotlight has moved on to newer faces.
(Speak to me? Yes, speak to me. I shall blog about that next time.)

And the next blog happened weeks later, recapping my month spent hiding among literature while the house was over-run with nephews and nieces. Of which I need to add:


And then I posted a blog tag question game. Fluffy fun.

If you haven't before, take a look at my profile and see the listing of my favorite authors/books, musicians, actors/movies, etc. Not the standard answers!

So, without further ado, I shall describe the Wonderlonian philosophy of what creates the fantabulous connection to the brilliant artists I esteem.

It's my belief that each individual was born as a spirit child of a Heavenly Father and Mother before being born on earth. As such, we had a pre-mortal life, which is how I believe memories of “past lives” occur. If we were angels, for lack of a better term, watching over those already on Earth, then we might recall glimpses of events that occurred before we were born. Maybe we were even assigned people to watch over—only time will tell.

But as spirits waiting around in heaven to be born to Earthly parents, wouldn't we have had friendships? We had to pass the time somehow. Maybe there were cloud bands and theater guilds and painting-by-star clubs or something. Suppose some of us were sent down to whisper muse-like into the ears of philosophers and writers. The possibilities are endless.

When I see a piece of art, hear a song, read something, or see a performance it either speaks to me or it doesn't. Some voices and melodies are so familiar, I know I've heard them before. Some paintings I feel like I've lived in the landscapes of, in some other-worldly time.

There isn't much in this world that I will say I “hate” or even “dislike”. My favorite response is “it's okay, but it doesn't speak to me.” I can't say “it's not my style” because my style (some will swear I have none) is all over the place musically, literary, artistically.

What better way to describe a connection to another soul than by feeling that you were friends before? The ultimate kindred spirits.

What's your philosophy?

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Pass-A-Long Tag

I was tagged (FIRST) yesterday by the fantabulous Lėna Roy for a “bloggy game”. You have to answered these questions, after being tagged by someone else, and then pass the tag on to eight more bloggers.
This will be the first blog attempt at embedding a link under someone's name, so bear with me if it doesn't go as planned.

What do you think of when you the hear the word tag?
A gaggle of jeering kids laughing at me for being slow.

Do you think you're hot?
It's summer in the south, so yeah, I'm hot!

Upload a picture or wallpaper that you're using at the moment.

When was the last time you ate chicken?
Sometime this past week...

The song(s) you listened to recently.
I actually heard a new(?) song on the radio Saturday that made me think of Corroded's main character. Now I need to track it down and add it to my iTunes wish list. Death Cab for Cutie “You're a Tourist”. (At least I think that's what the DJ said.) It almost fits my WIP perfectly, except the character is not in her hometown--but she's lived there a couple years.

What were you thinking as you were doing this?
Seriously, she tagged me first?! And she remembers me as being one of the first responders to her blog many moons ago. Wow—can't wait to meet her in March.

Do you have nicknames? What are they?
The most widely used is Care/Care Bear. My self-labeled name is Wonderwegian, obviously.

Tag 8 blogger friends:
Stephanie Lawton
Joyce Sterling Scarborough
Abbi Glines
Auntie M
Beautiful Wreck

Who's listed as No. 1?
Stephanie. Local writer buddy and hook-up for all things YA. Me thinks she needs a fluffy blog to soften her recent angst.

Say something about No. 5
My brilliantly funny cousin, who will probably curse me for tagging her. Want blogs with $5 words and deep questions while you laugh—go read her!

How did you get to know No. 3?
Mobile Writer's Guild and QuillMasters critique group. Dee is the real deal—she doesn't hold back and lays her life bare.

How about No. 4.
Abbi found me on Twitter—never heard how. She's a local (across Mobile Bay) YA writer and does oodles of blogging and Twitter and Facebook. We are suppose to meet soon... Write Club?

Leave a message for No. 6.
Laura, your blogs are LOL funny. I follow yours and read them, so please do the same for me. :) Do you even remember me? You were only about ten when I moved away, but your house was like a second home to me. I mean, did any of Staci's other friends stick it out through Super Saturdays (with all those chores) more than once?

Leave a lovey dovey message for No. 2.
Joyce, you are the heart and soul of zombie chicks. The world needs you to blog more often. You do creeps the best so finish that book, please!

Do No. 7 and No. 8 have any similarities?
Actually, they do! Though one lives the California dream, and the other is living life in the natural wonders of South Alabama, both do blogs that have "content warnings". They are each smart, sassy, and not afraid to speak their minds. When either are in a room, they are most likely entertaining others--through conversation or talents.
Auntie M hasn't blogged in months and Beautiful Wreck is on hiatus, so I'm not sure if either will get around to this.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Escape into Reading

This month has been filled with family and home. I've been surrounded by a few nieces and many more nephews, and all the things that accompany them. Laundry, food, messes, and noise. And of course fun, laughter, love, and adventure. But I've had to cope with lack of quiet and thinking time. So I went into literary hibernation.

I escaped what was going on around me by snuggling into books. Forget the army battle sounds coming from down the hall and the trail of toys stretched from the sofa to the bedroom--I'd rather be in Kosovo or playing middle school soccer.

So, as you can see from my list of books in the past two weeks, I've been hibernating a lot! A couple of these books were read in less than 24 hours.

A great closing to The Hunger Games series. A kindred spirit gave me the first book for my birthday and immediately loaned me the other two books so I could read the series straight through. Loved how it ended, though about ten pages before I was about to scream at Katniss for one of her decissions.

Katherine Paterson has been one of my favorite writers since I read Bridge to Terabithia circa 1989. This book came out about two years ago but I finally purchased the hardcover (thank you Books-A-Million bargain tables, for this and two other books on the list) last month. I had no clue about the wars in the Kosovo area during the past two decades, other than people were dying. This book made me want to learn more about recent history I've been blind to.

Nice summer romance with a HEAVY dose of southern spice. This is the most southern sounding book I've read in recent years, if not ever.

I was able to meet the gracious author, Crickett Rumley, at a local book signing last week. Fun read--laughed out loud many times.

Wow! This is the best contemporary middle reader book I've read in a LONG time. Amazingly deep. Will be looking for more by Edward Bloor!

Does this make half of my books this time southern? Even Tangerine
was set in Florida, with scenes in TX and AL. This was one of my 24 or less books. Adventure with heart. Enjoyed it enough to want to purchase my own copy to have for my kids to read.

So, what have you been feeding your mind this month?

Wednesday, July 6, 2011


I suffer from fantabutitus (fan-tab-you-tie-tus). That's Wonderlonian (One-der-lone-e-an) for being a fan of fabulous people!
As of today, I have not had a bad encounter with someone I'm a fan of who I've been able to meet in person or have contact with online. My eldest sister pointed out, over a decade ago, that I was blessed with great experiences. Apparently she's heard horror stories about egos and rudeness.

Me? I always expected awesomeness from those I like, so I didn't think it was anything out of the ordinary. I'm a dedicated fan, loyal to those who speak to me even when the spotlight has moved on to newer faces. (Speak to me? Yes, speak to me. I shall blog about that next time.)

True, none of the celebrities I've met were athletes or “Hollywood” actors—mine are all music and literary related. I'm not big on starlets and such, though I wouldn't mind running into Ethan Hawke or Brendan Fraser...
But the rock and country musicians/singers and authors—they've all been friendly, approachable and even humble at times. Some have even gone out of their way to give back. I'll keep to three varied examples.

Exhibit A: C.J. Snare
Lead singer of Firehouse (Don't Treat Me Bad, Love of a Lifetime, etc) opening act for Warrant/Trixter/Firehouse concert hosted by Pauly Shore (remember him?!) at the Great America theme park in Santa Clara, CA.
My friends and I made a day of it and enjoyed the rides before the concert. A few hours before the show I noticed C.J. out in the park with his date. I apologized for bothering him, but asked if he'd mind signing a concert flier (had the flier and my own Sharpie—always prepared!) He graciously autographed it and told me he hoped I'd enjoy the show.
Then, he was surrounded by dozens more people wanting the same thing, but not being as polite about it, before he could get behind the safety of the backstage fence. (Yes, I stood back and watched the mini-mob. People can be real jerks at times, like the guy yelling “Hey, dude! Sign my girlfriend's chest, will ya?” Classy.)
A few months ago, I saw a comment by C.J. on a mutual friend's status on Facebook and shared the story of my encounter with him almost twenty years before. He replied back thanking me for the good memory. Awe...

Exhibit B: Terry Brooks
NYT bestselling author for two decades (now more than three) was on a book tour to promote The First King of Shannara in La Jolla, CA.
The friend who got me reading Terry Brooks—a HUGE fan, all first edition hardcovers—lived less than two hours away but couldn't make it to the event. My friend's birthday was the following week and I told Mr. Brooks about him. I even gave him a slip of paper with my friend's name and address on it, asked if he could send a birthday note. (Can't say I didn't try, though the people in line behind me rolled their eyes and huffed.)
Of course, when my friend received a birthday postcard from someone signing himself as Terry Brooks he thought it was a joke. Nope, just the best birthday greeting ever!

Exhibit C: Matthew and Gunnar Nelson
Yes, those blond twins—sons of the late, great Rick Nelson. After a sound check before a show in Biloxi, MS about a dozen years ago, they stopped to talk to my husband and I and signed the old school Nelson poster I'd brought along (which Bobby Rock had already signed a couple years previous—another pleasant meet and greet.) Gunnar sat at our table and talked with us for a while before heading out. Even my husband was impressed with that—but maybe it was because of Gunnar's skydiving and bungee jumping stories.

I could keep going—have a cache of autographs and stories but I'll spare you the geeky details.
And never get me started on Mitch Malloy or Laurie Halse Anderson unless you want to hear me gush over their talents and genuine greatness. Sigh...

Now, I want to hear your fantabutitus (and not-so-nice) stories!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

What was I thinking?!

Yes, I used two, count them, TWO, punctuation marks because my situation is a question and an exclamatory. Read onto find out why.

If you're a reader of this blog, know me personally, or even just hear about me from someone else, you probably know I'm a writer. People have paid me for my words, though not as often as I'd like, and my words have been read by possibly hundreds of thousands of people. (One of my articles appeared in a magazine with a circulation of over 500,000.)

And if you've been in contact with me in recent years, you've probably heard I'm working on a novel. My WIP. Corroded. My first long-term project in over a decade. It's been slow, more often than not unsteady, progress.

Sure, I've got a list of prime excuses for being too busy to write, but the fact is, I could write a lot more than I do. I'm a procrastinator when it comes to things that make me nervous. Nervous energy and me are first cousins. I pace, which can be good because when I sit down, there are kids crawling on me within seconds. Typing with a kid hanging on your shoulders is difficult. Hand writing impossible. It makes me want Nathaniel Hawthorne's desk in the third story writing tower he had built over his home in Concord. Besides being a floor above the noise of his household, he had a custom standing height desk. (Which is the perfect height for me—had a lovely daydream while standing at his desk and looking out on the forested hillside when I visited Wayside.) He stood while writing, so I'm thinking he was a pacer, too.

This past week I've been procrastinating my writing because I received an answer to my prayers—a literary dream come true. And that dream turned reality has caused anxiety.

A month ago there was a terrible tornado in Joplin, Mo. As with the response from the deadly tornadoes in northern Alabama not long before, several authors stepped up to personally donate money as well as hold fundraisers for relief efforts. One of my literary heroes, Laurie Halse Anderson, decided to give of herself to help the Joplin area.

Laurie Halse Anderson! If her name sounds familiar it's because she's one of the biggest young adult authors of the last decade (though she writers for younger readers, too.) Heard a bunch of smack talked about YA books in the press lately or about books being banned in school libraries? Read any blogs/articles where YA readers/authors of all ages defend teen books? More than half of those articles mention Laurie Halse Anderson's books or quote her directly, both the pro and con. Tweet much? Try #YASAVES.

Several of my blogs over the past few years mention LHA. I've done her Write Fifteen Minute a Day (WFMAD) online writing boosts, taken her Blog Free February (BFF) to the highest level of commitment—no social media all month, and have traveled to New Orleans to meet her while she's been on book tours—even made HER blog for that!

Back to the relief efforts... Laurie decided to auction/raffle a full manuscript critique in order to help raise money for the Joplin/Ozark area Red Cross. The requirements were for every $10 you donate, you get one entry into the raffle. I begged around to family and friends and a few people donated in my behalf to up the odds. And I prayed, as did others. And I won!

I need to get Corroded as polished as possible within the next few months in able to not waste LHA's time and get the most help out of the critique. But that dream come true is looming like a thunderstorm over an outdoor graduation ceremony!

When I'm not pacing—or caring for kids or doing church work or planning writers guild events or any other number of worthy causes—I'm hiding within the pages of other people's books.


I was loaned this interesting adventure by one friend (who I let know not to loan me another book in a series until the WHOLE series is out. Must wait for the rest of the story...):

And then I FINALLY started reading The Hunger Games trilogy. I'm now on this borrowed copy from another friend:

I'm up into the wee hours of the morning reading. Too tired to wake up before the kids to exercise first thing. Without the physical conditioning my creativity and motivation is slumping. My brain is fried from the summer heat by the end of the day so all I want to do is lay in bed at night and read. Which leads to late nights with my book light and groggy mornings. Rinse and repeat.

Now, I'm breaking my silence and the cycle.

I will do some form of exercise daily, beginning today.

I will NOT open Catching Fire, or any other novel, until I have written at least 30 minutes.

I will set my alarm each morning and get out of bed in a timely fashion no matter how late I am up.

And I want you to hold me accountable. Send an e-mail, tweet, comment, or actually in person ask if I'm any closer to sending Corroded to Laurie Halse Anderson. Because that action now freaks me out.

Do I really want to know what a NYT best selling author thinks about my work?

Do I really want one of my literary heroes to tell me what is wrong with it? (And what's good, but the negative always shouts louder in my head.)

Won't rejection feel worse from someone I admire than a faceless agent or editor?

What was I thinking?!

That it would be an excellent opportunity to be read by someone whose work I admire.

That learning the strengths—and weaknesses—in the story will help me hone my writing/editing skills.

That a possible blurb from a NYT best selling author will be a great foot in the door to the publishing industry.
And the bragging rights aren't bad either.

There's a motivational poster slogan that reads:
You cannot fulfill your dreams unless you dare to risk it all.

So, please, dare me to write. Dare me to finish Corroded and send it to Laurie Halse Anderson for critique. And then dare me to accept the advice and write on.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Reading by the Numbers

This morning I went out with the kidlets and friends on an alligator hunt and spied three gators.
It's always fun to see animals in their natural habitat—especially from a safe vantage point.

This was our first week of summer break. Although I'm not officially starting back to homeschooling until mid-July, I've started the middle child on learning to read and the eldest with typing skills. It's been a little slack these first few days, but I think we all needed some off time to refuel.

On a literary note, I've done next to nothing in the past three weeks on my WIP. My goal for this weekend is to get back on track. I need to finish the last tidbit of the first draft so I can better home into the poignant scenes in the beginning.

My reading the past few weeks:

Very insightful!

Fluffy fun--already passed on to a friend.

Still digesting this one. Full of GREAT information and advice. (Thanks for the loan, Joyce!)

Lately, I've been analyzing my reading habits and book collection. Though I'm not huge on numbers, I do love a good pie graph. Thanks to mathwarehouse.com for the pie making abilities.

These are my firm TOP TEN contemporary writers—authors who I've read five or more books by that have had new books out within the past decade. Otherwise I'd add in Beatrix Potter, C.S. Lewis, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Louisa May Alcott, Jane Austen, Beverly Cleary... you get the picture!

Middle Readers: Richard Peck (he might have some “teen”, but nearly all are middle readers that I know of), Gail Carson Levine (?), Susan Cooper (?), Katherine Paterson (but not exclusively—she's written early readers and picture books, too...)

Young Adult: Laurie Halse Anderson (no, she does picture books and middle readers also...), Shannon Hale (NOPE- sometimes she's found in middle readers—hello, Newbery Honor—and she has two adult books which I adore), Sarah Dessen (might be the only single genre writer on my list)

Adult: Terry Brooks (though many teens read his fantasy books), Beverly Lewis (no, wait... she does picture books, middle readers, and teen, too!)

Cross-overs: Madeleine L'Engle is all over the literary map—in a good way—but then again... it looks like 90% of my favorites are!

What would your pie graph look like?

To gather my thoughts in a parting gesture, I'd like to use a quote the lovely Léna Roy used on her own blog today, which was spoken by her grandmother:

“You have to write the book that wants to be written. And if the book will be too difficult for grown-ups, then you write it for children.” -Madeleine L'Engle

Sunday, May 8, 2011


It's been a week of healing and transitions.

I was elected president of the local writer's guild this week so I'm busy networking with the new board members. I'm excited to try to give back some of what I've been given in the past two years I've been member of the group.

While recovering from surgery, I've had the pleasure to lay around and read so my list of books is larger than normal for this short of a time period.

I actually got an ARC for this—rare that I get one for a book/author I REALLY want to read. A fun tale that I'll be passing on to a couple daughters of a friend of mine. Gail Carson Levine is a fantastic storyteller.

What drew me to this book at the store was the price—bargain bin at Books-A-Million—but also the slim size of it, 153 pages. I'll be surprised if my WIP breaks 200 pages when it's done. Jan M. Czech does a great job of painting the characters well in so few words.

This was a loner from a local friend. It was fascinating to see how Ann Turner wove fact and fiction into the Salem witch trials. Totally believable, and the ending was surprising.

Another slim bargain book choice. Brenda Woods shares a fabulous, emotional journey of a group of students reacting to tragedy in this contemporary YA novel. Enjoyed the mental trip back to California, even if it was L.A.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Spring n Things

I hope everyone has enjoyed the celebration of rebirth. Oh, to be able to experience pure forgiveness and mercy—such a blessing in trying times!

Life's been, well—life, so my blogging is lacking. Some things are too personal (or boring) to post about. But I have passed a few sharable milestones this past month—breaking over 45,000 words on Corroded and completing 165 days of official homeschooling. Only fifteen more days to go for this “school year”. Woohoo!

There's a bit of a writing shake-up happening for me, too. After I finish this draft of Corroded, I'll be dropping my current critique group to be in a new group just for writers of young adults. (I might need to stretch them to middle reader level for future projects—so be warned, W.C.)

But I'm straddling the two groups for the time being. I've been with the established group for a year and a half so I won't drop them when I'm within sight of the ending. All the members have added to my knowledge and growth and I wouldn't trade the experience for anything. They've stuck with me through Corroded (and several small projects) over the time we've shared at Panera and the hours we've spent reading/writing/editing before the meetings. I'll miss the ladies, but hopefully we'll still get to visit at the Mobile Writers Guild events.

It does make more work for the weeks I'm doing double duty. I'll be reading the submissions from two groups as well as rewriting/editing the beginning of my own WIP before I'm at the end. It'll be worth it to have a new eyes reading who are focused on the YA market, though.

On that remark, I best close so I can get back to writing/editing.

Oh, and here's the visual for my good reads since the last blog:

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Yellow-coated Fluff

Spring is great—for the most part.

I dread what spring means—summer is coming. During spring, I typically mope around mourning the loss of whatever tidbit of winter we were blessed to have been given over the past few months. Autumn, on the other hand, is a rebirth. Returning to nature after being trapped inside because the mosquitoes and humidity are too much to bear—especially when children are in your care.

But this month I've been focusing on the event of spring itself—not the dreaded summer lurking around the next calendar pages. We've been doing tons of outdoor activities from gardening to nature hikes to enjoy the moderate temperatures and the flowering abundance.

Go seize your pollen-covered day!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Past Due

Yep, still here.

I was blessed to be able to help watch over and care for the matriarch of our family, my great-aunt—who was the eldest of our four generation household—during her last weeks on earth. We took a week off from homeschooling so we could spend more time with family. Overall, it's been peaceful, even during the peak of the bustle. Still lingering sadness. We all miss her.
(Taken at the princess's first birthday.)

My personal duties have been neglected but my brain's been running full-throttle. It's difficult to remember what I've been doing—probably be easier to tell you what I haven't accomplished, of which writing would be at the top of the list.

I've read several books—always a good escape—but I can only remember Moon Over Manifest (this year's Newbery winner) which I loved.
It incorporates two things I enjoy: historical fiction and story within a story.

And The Summer of Skinny Dipping by Amanda Howells, which I just finished two nights ago and will return to my friend who was kind enough to loan it to me. The ending surprised me, which is rare.

Now I'm reading the final book in The Luxe series by Anna Godbersen.

I started the first one around Christmas and just have to know how it all ends.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Of Books, Movies and Music

Haven't done much writing lately, but my WIP, Corroded, is over 38000 words now—131 double spaced pages. It only took a couple years to get to where I am, but I'm here! To think I used to push out complete drafts of novels (200-300 pages) in less than a year—but that was B.C.
Before Children.
That's still slow to some people's standards, but I will say that I was a full time student at the time. Now I'm a mommy working over-time, every day.

The books I've been reading the past few weeks:

The Tower, The Zoo, and The Tortoise by Julia Stuart

Very funny, with a few vavoom moments. I received an ARC of it last year, and have loaned it out, but finally got to reading it myself. Enjoyed it. Makes me want to venture into more “adult books”, but oh, I'm missing my kid/YA lit.
Especially since my next read was another adult book. (I'm almost finished!)

All Over But the Shoutin' by Rick Bragg

Rick Bragg spoke at one of the local library branches the beginning of the month. I usually don't seek out writer events when I'm not familiar with their works, but everyone in my critique group raved about him. So glad I went! And, obviously, his wit and charm made me want to read one of his books.

Two books in as many weeks: you can tell I'm reading out of my comfort zone!
To compensate, I've been watching more movies than usual—thanks to my parents' Netflix account and a stash of movies I'm borrowing from my oldest sister.

Enjoyed it more than I expected to. Very witty dialog.

The Last Song
I've never seen more than a minute or so of Miss Cyrus in action before this movie. I was slightly impressed. The thing that bothered me the most was her speaking voice. Sounds like an older DJ's voice--bit on the smoker's side. Odd.

Alex and Emma

I enjoy plots with a story within a story, and when writers are involved it's an added bonus. My favorite example of this is the book/movie Holes--brilliant.

And while I was on the classic name kick, I tried out the newest BBC version of


I do love the Paltrow version—much more glorious to the eyes than the old BBC version—but this one stole my heart. Or was it Mr. Knightly? No, it was Emma! The actress looked so familiar, and her mannerisms reminded me of Drew Barrymore in Ever After (LOVE IT!) I waited until after seeing the whole mini-series to check what other movies she's been in, and by golly, she's been in several movies I adore.

Viewing Emma in all her glory led me to want to watch this modernized version.


I forgot how funny this movie is. And "my bad" is used. I wonder if that is the earliest use of it in the media... The dialog is hilarious and the clothing snazzy.

And as if my brain wasn't fed—all though most might be considered junk food—enough, I've been listening to my iPod as much as possible, which isn't a whole lot. Mainly it's in the car since I can't plug my ears while watching the kids, though it does sound like a lovely idea. I'm borrowing one of those cassette tape adapters, with the tape that goes into the car stereo that has a wire hanging out of it to plug into the iPod.
Yes, my car as a cassette player! It's a 1996, a year older than our original car which we had to replace last summer. But it only has 60K miles on it and has leather seats and power windows, a big step up from the ol' Neon.

Back to the iPod... I love listening to it on shuffle. From the time I was a teenager, I used to want a jukebox so I could put all my CDs into it and let them play randomly. So, I'm loving the portable jukebox. The 8GB doesn't hold all my music, but a decent percentage of it. My musical taste is eclectic. I know what I like and it's spans to genres.

Example of what pops up if you are fortunate enough to ride in my vehicle: Chesney Hawkes, Midlake, Israel Kamakawiwo'ole, Tyketto, Tchaikovsky, Ottmar Liebert, Firehouse, Patsy Cline, Joey Tempest, Diamond Rio, Mitch Malloy, Martina McBride, Rainbow, Dee-Lite, Alice in Wonderland (animated soundtrack), Sibelius, and REO Speedwagon.

Can you beat that?
Do you even know who half those singers/groups/composers are?