Tuesday, April 28, 2009


Here's a stump in my father's backyard in PA. It was a huge tree that loomed over us as we played basketball as kids, or provided a hiding place if you hunkered behind it. Once it was chopped down, I wonder how many books were printed from it?
As a writer, you dream of seeing your name in print on the cover of a book. Even better, your book is featured in the window of the local bookstore. Kudo reviews are written. Fans flock to your book signings. Dreams.
To make a dream a reality is hard work. First you actually have to write the book. Then you have to re-write your original drivel. Then you edit, edit, receive critiques, and re-write some more. Then perhaps you peek out from behind a tree and query agents on your book. Basically, you write a letter (the query) that projects a hint of your genius and hope that a professional chooses to then read a page or two of your book...and then ask to read more.
Another outlet is to pitch an agent at a writing conference. I shall be attending the DFW Writer's Conference this coming weekend in Grapevine, TX. I have ten minutes to tap dance, toss flaming batons, and condense my memoir into coherent sentences that project a winning publication. Nope, no vampires, no zombies, no drug abuse, no economic downfall (yet - yikes!), no medical emergencies (thank goodness), and no political rants.
Humor, animals, and me. Is that a winning combination? I hope when she asks, "And what do you write?" that I'm not stumped.
Wish me luck

Friday, April 24, 2009

Frenetic Friday

These rose pictures are courtesy of my neighbors across the street. Pat and Barbara do all the hard gardening work and I get to enjoy the lovely colors from afar. I savor the view as I leave for work - a moment of calm.
Today was a frenetic Friday. People drove manaically, weaving in and out, disrupting the normal ebb and flow pattern. The roiling clouds in the sky spit a few half-hearted raindrops. Not worthy of wipers, but annoying. Humidity smothered us all and the wind exceeded blustery.
A frazzled forty-five minutes later, I pulled into work. We are not usually crazy with phone calls, but today every customer decided to check on their samples, or call repeatedly with questions, or frankly be rather disorganized and annoying in their requests. I had the feeling that the whole United States awoke to a frantic Friday, and frustration built throughout the day. The drive home took an hour. Enough said.
This was not a day for haiku. I was unable to achieve serenity. No, this was a day to come home and veg out with a trashy magazine. Some days are not writing days.
Best to stop and smell the roses and perhaps just think.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Spell check at the Auto Lube

Nestled amidst a row of green shrubs, this little azalea surprises us each spring with a burst of color. Often in literature, we read and are delighted by a treat - a turn of phrase, a clear image, or even something that makes us laugh out loud. On other occasions, we are stopped in our tracks by bad grammar, horrible phrasing, or the need for spell check.

I stood in the office of the local auto lube while my Pontiac received its oil change. The guys do a great job and are very helpful and knowledgeable. However, they had a sign up - No customers allowed on shop floor when inspection is preformed. Oops, I couldn't keep my mouth shut. Please print a new sign with perform.

While in PA over Easter, I perused the local paper The Reporter, notorious for gaffes and mis-spellings. Sure enough. I opened the paper, admired a lovely flower/park picture and shook my head at the headline "Sping Arrives". Arrrgghhh. This was in bold print on the second page.

We word nerds must remain vigilant and ask that the world demand correct spelling. And we can have fun with it too. I put a note in my husband's lunchbag last week - Please bing home sping flowers.


Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Home - a writer's dilemma

They say you can't go home again, but that's far from the truth for me. I'm lucky - I don't have angst from my childhood. Perhaps my writing suffers, but while I live in Texas, this is still "home". I grew up here. My Dad putters (sadly my mother is gone) and while he's modernized his decor, the place is a step back in time. There's still a rotary phone hanging on the kitchen wall. We sit at the kitchen table for hours, laugh, do the NY Times crossword puzzle, and move from meal to meal. It's awesome! (Yes, I'm using an exclamation mark)
Huge oak trees guard the neighborhood. They tower over the two story homes, reign down acorns, and are squirrel paradise. No leaves yet. It's been a late spring and a darn cold Easter - awoke to 37 degrees. Brr. However, once the leaves arrive, there's plenty to rake in the fall.

Crazy rhododendron forest. When these bloom, it's fabulous. I've got a friend here in Texas (Linda T.) who's berserk for this flower. She's researched it and it just won't happen in this climate. Be content with your azaleas in Flower Mound, TX, Linda.

No fences. Merely a forsythia bower separates property. Truly glorious. How can you not smile at the splash of yellow?

Finally, this picture does not do justice to history. Old stone bridge. Old historic mill. I grew up amidst Revolutionary era buildings - we're talking late 1700s here. There's a Quaker meeting house nearby. No doubt George Washington slept somewhere in the vicinity. Look up the William Penn Inn, folks. Anyway, I've lived more than half my life in Texas (how can that be?), but I've got Philly (suburb) soul. (Cue an old Hall & Oates album - yes, I love them. Oates graduated from my high school.) No wonder my writing is skewed.

Easter break (corrected 4/8 version)

Easter break -rejuvenation. I grew up in a Catholic neighborhood and Easter Weekend seeped into my soul. Oh, I loved the Easter bunny, Easter egg hunts, and the whole commercial aspect of the "holiday". But I understood the underlying spirit and while I don't formally attend church - the religious Easter registers an amen.
I am not an animal person but bunnies love to live under our shed. If they venture too far, the hawks in the field nab them. Ray tried to plant strawberries one year...that didn't work. The bunnies beat him to the berries.
Here's the Easter spirit. Eight month old Makyla with father Kevin seeks chocolate. The heck with toys. Her bow is bigger than she is - now that's Easter fashion. I remember wearing the Mary Janes, the white gloves, the hat, a pretty dress - and then having to slap the hideous winter coat over the whole outfit. Yikes! Oops - Easter haiku is breaking out (after all this is a writing blog)

snow covered Easter eggs
encrusted they shine
dyed colored surprise
When in doubt, just start chewing. The big egg contains M&Ms for Kevin and Maria. Makyla was happy to stuff the whole thing in her mouth. What the heck! I hope she gets to nibble the ears of the chocolate bunny in her basket. Happy Easter to all. I'm headed to Philly to be with family. (Yo - Pudge's cheesesteak and I learn to talk again).


Monday, April 6, 2009

Science Fiction or Fantasy?

Rangers are officially in first place. Yes, it was opening day at the Ballpark in Arlington. A brisk morning temperature of 38 degrees warmed up to mid 50s for the afternoon. Clear blue skies and wacky winds blew balloons everywhere. This blog has not turned into a sports column. Never fear. However, this is one heck of a sports week in Texas, so might as well tune in and enjoy some fresh material. My favorite quote from the crowd - "Hey Coke guy...where's the beer guy?" Surely there's a haiku hiding in my notes.
Perky patriotic music provided by the 4th Infantry Military Band and all of these flag handlers were from an Army unit based in Killeen - back from a 15th month tour in Iraq. Their families basked in a warm welcome and hearty huzzahs from the crowd.

Nothing like a flyover. Yes, huge amounts of tax payer money at work...but it is still damn cool to see. These planes were from Dyess AFB, San Antonio. Former President George W.Bush threw out the first pitch - a strike, and the game was ON.

Forget NASCAR vampires (previous blog entry). How about Aliens Abduct the Texas Rangers and turn them into a winning team?
Final score 9-1. Kevin Millwood was the winning pitcher of note. Guess he didn't get the memo that he's on Ray's fantasy baseball team - the Stray Bats. Truly, that has to be a title of one of my books someday.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Tempted to Write to the Audience

It's NASCAR weekend at Texas Motor Speedway. Actually I'm working at home today because the traffic is way too crazy and my current job is not far from the center of attention. Back in 2005, I was employed for a company, TDE, located at the Speedway. Thanks to that, Ray and I participated in the morning parade - a pretty darn cool experience.
It's hard to tell from these pictures, but ultimately 250,000 fans crammed into the speedway to see cars zooming very fast, around and around a huge banked oval.

Campers and RVs arrived a week before to park at the perfect slot. As I drove to work yesterday, I pondered what these folks were reading (perhaps I should pose the question - are they reading anything?) as they camped for a week in Justin, Texas, a good twenty minute drive to any other worthwhile entertainment (i.e. movies, shopping) venue. I wanted to walk around and take a poll. Surely, one couldn't drink beer non-stop for a week and watch the wind whip Dale Earnhardt, Jr. flags.

I'm aware that one should write for oneself. They say to write what you know. I know nothing about NASCAR. I don't care for the noise and the crowds. But, 250,000 people (less this year due to economic conditions). That's a lot of darn potential readers - even 10% is 25,000. Surely a booth, a booksigning on site would generate something. It's tempting - NASCAR romance, thriller, or mystery.
I know - NASCAR vampires!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

April Fool

April Fool's Day, 2005. I embarked on my new career as a writer. I deemed it an appropriate date to begin this adventure. Was I crazy for attempting to fulfill a dream? Was my husband absolutely nuts for suggesting I quit a perfectly good full-time job with matching 401k? He was weary from my job complaints ( he knew the guys I worked for were slightly berserk and they added a third musketeer to their team), but it took me a year to get the nerve. Since then we've still been able to eat, travel some, and enjoy life. I'm happier. Ray's happier because I'm happier. And since I do like money - I have an excellent part-time job in documentation for a lab. I type up a storm.
It's good I do live in the age of computers. See this lefthanded smeary mess. Back in Jane Austen's day, my manuscript would have been rejected as illegible. Go further back in time, and I would have failed if I had to chisel my words in stone. I'm generally not allowed to use tools. So, here in 2009, with the click, click, click of keyboard keys, I pursue my dream. I am a published writer - see links on the side. I'm even a paid writer - thank you Chicken Soup (that check's long been spent). Thank you, Ray, for pushing me and supporting me and cheering for me and consoling me...and...for putting up with your April Fool.