Friday, November 29, 2013

Friday Five, Why I'm Not in the Kitchen Today

Yesterday I was in the kitchen. Today I’m steering clear because my children are cooking. Keep in mind that these are adult children. This is what I’m hearing.

1. “Uh, Mom, I was supposed to separate the eggs and whip the whites. But I’ve already mixed the eggs in. What do I do?”

2. “What does soft peaks mean?”

3. “Can I immerse the wafflemaker into the sink to wash it?”

4. “Hey, I can fix a measuring mistake by using modular arithmetic. Cool.” 
   (FYI: I use math when I alter a recipe too, but I call it “addition and subtraction.”)

5. “Uh, Mom, I was making crepes, and, well, looked at the wrong recipe. I’ve got a bowl full of flour tortilla dough.”

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Preparing for the Holidays with a Seventeen Year Old Son

Here’s how you know (as if you could possibly be confused) that you’re preparing for the holidays with a seventeen year old son as your helper.

1. He surfs the wood floors with the new chair pads that he’s supposed to be putting on the chairs.

2. He makes the cranberry sauce with fresh cranberries because when you cook them, they explode.

3. You ask him to refill all the bathroom soap containers and he says, “That seems pretty menial.” Then, you casually mention that toilets need to be cleaned.

4. He’s eager to help because he’s gotten off school a day early to help.

5. He asks if he can choose music to listen to while you clean. You cringe and nod. Until Silent Night fills the air. Maybe Christmas music before Thanksgiving isn’t so bad. 

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

A Visit From the Editing Fairy Godmother

A week from today, my kids come home for Thanksgiving (woot) and the two at grad school are bringing their significant others (double woot). And my grandmother and parents are coming. It’s going to be great, but I have a ton of stuff to do. Cooking, cleaning, etc. But that’s okay because I still have a whole week.

And then, the editing fairy godmother decided to visit. This is also a great thing. I’ve been struggling with edits—forcing myself to do them. So I’m thrilled that all of a sudden the edits are flowing through my fingers tips like magic. And I’ve been writing long enough to know that you have to write when the magic strikes.

The problem is that I haven’t been able to figure out how to use my magic to do cook, clean, and edit all at the same time.  Next time my editing fairy godmother visits, I’m asking her to give me a time turner as well. I think that should be a standard issue item when the editing FG visits at holiday times.

I love this fairy painting. But I suspect my fairy godmother is a bit more sinister.
File:Fairfacefairy 2.jpg
Art by Sophie Anderson courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Monday, November 18, 2013

Christmas Muzak

I’ve admitted to being a little anti-holiday. But I do like Christmas. I like remembering Christ’s birth, drinking spiked cider, and watching my kids decorate the Christmas tree (a great reason for having teenagers). But I really don’t want to start Christmas early. December 1 is early enough.

Do Christmas trees in all their faux, spangled gaudiness have to arrive in stores even before Halloween? Aren’t American consumers spending enough on costumes and candy?

But the worst thing about the Pre-December Christmas celebration is the holiday music. When I’m shopping for turkey and cranberries, I really don’t want to hear the store’s PA systems blasting “Santa Baby” and “Jingle Bell Rock.” I mean, there’s nothing that makes me less cheery than knowing for the next month and one half I’ll be hearing the Chipmunks squeak out “Frosty the Snowman” whenever I visit a store. I don’t know about you, but nothing drives me out of a store faster than Alvin and his buddies.

There are about six weeks left of the pre-Christmas madness. I’m reminding myself that I can get through them because, aside from the trips to WalMart for food, I can pretty much avoid hearing about Rudolph’s shiny nose by shopping at Amazon. Hmm. Maybe that’s why Amazon has become so popular. Everyone thinks it’s because you can buy Christmas presents on the couch while wearing your pajamas and get free shipping so you don’t have to wait in line at the post office. But the truth is, everyone shops Amazon to avoid the Christmas muzak. 

Monday, November 11, 2013

Author Interview with Crystal Collier

Today, I want to welcome Crystal Collier popular blogger and brand new author to the blog. (Congratulations, Crystal!) Her book Moonless will be available November 13.

1. Writers get lots of ideas for stories, but not all of them become books. How did this book start, i.e. why did you fall in love with these characters and this story?

It was 2002, I had just come off a Dickens reading binge and was in the process of querying my first book when I had a dream. One week and a hundred pages later, I stared at the first draft of the easiest story I’d ever written. I tried to ignore it over the ensuing years, but sweet Alexia, freaky Bellezza and he-who-will-steal-your-soul with his blue-blue eyes… Have you met these characters?

2. How did you come up with the title?

Originally the book was “Faery Moon: Dark Night.” The next title was Dark Moon. During Pitch Wars 2012, my amazing coach, Sharon Johnston, went through a brainstorming session with me to find a one word title. She tossed out MOONLESS, and what can I say? She’s brilliant.

3. What kind of research did you do for your novel? Anything weird or strange?

It’s a darn good thing no one is monitoring my web searches. I think one of them was most creative ways to kill someone. Yeah… Tons of research went into this book—years worth. (Like 8.) I now fancy myself somewhat of an expert on the time period, although I won’t claim to be a historian.

4. In your novel the Soulless play a significant role. Can you tell us more about them?

These are beings who’ve been around for centuries. While their bodies decay, their minds never do, and the longer they’ve been around, the hungrier they become. They feed off people—not blood, but a life essence all the same, seeking to satiate a hunger that will never be satisfied.

5. How do you plan to celebrate the book’s release?

I will be eating cheese and consciously ignoring my sales.

6. Are you working on a sequel to your novel?

Soulless, book 2, is in editing with an anticipated release of spring, 2014.

7. Can you share one thing about yourself that might surprise us?

I answer to the name of Chicken, and it’s not even a derogatory thing. In fact, it was my “cool” nickname in high school.

Here's the blurb, and check out that gorgeous cover!

In the English society of 1768 where women are bred to marry, unattractive Alexia, just sixteen, believes she will end up alone. But on the county doorstep of a neighbor’s estate, she meets a man straight out of her nightmares, one whose blue eyes threaten to consume her whole world—especially later when she discovers him standing over her murdered host in the middle of the night. 

Among the many things to change for her that evening are: her physical appearance—from ghastly to breathtaking, an epidemic of night terrors predicting the future, and the blue-eyed man’s unexpected infusion into her life. Not only do his appearances precede tragedies, but they’re echoed by the arrival of ravenous, black-robed wraiths on moonless nights. 

Unable to decide whether he is one of these monsters or protecting her from them, she uncovers what her father has been concealing: truths about her own identity, about the blue-eyed man, and about love. After an attack close to home, Alexia realizes she cannot keep one foot in her old life and one in this new world. To protect her family she must either be sold into a loveless marriage, or escape with the man of her dreams and risk becoming one of the Soulless. 

Add Moonless to your Goodreads list.

Friday, November 8, 2013

You Know You're a Mother of Teenagers When...

1. You know you own a car, but you haven’t actually driven it in months because someone else really, really needs it.

2. When you do get your car back and turn the key, you nearly have a heart attack because the radio is set to some station that plays noise really loudly. Of course, there is the teenage rebel who listens only to Rachmaninoff, which is not bad. But also too loud.

3. There are several people in the house way more hormonal than you are. And they aren’t necessarily daughters.

4. Your child only has two pairs of jeans—one to wear and one in the laundry. And you’re not going to buy more because he’s going to outgrow them next month anyway.

5. Someone tries to convince you that earbuds are a study necessity. 

6. You went grocery shopping in the morning and the food is all gone by the evening. This is closely associated with finding a teenager gnawing on a stick of butter because he/she couldn’t find anything else to eat.

7. There are three food groups for boys. Protein, protein, and more protein.

8. You discover that pure, unadulterated terror is waving good-bye to your licensed teenage driver who is taking all of his/her siblings somewhere and traveling on the interstate.

9. As a corollary, you think you learned to pray when your children were little. When they’re teenagers, you really learn what prayer is all about.

10. The good news is that as they approach the end of the teens, they’ll actually say stuff like “Thanks for everything you’ve done for me.” Or, “I’ll pay for that.” Or my favorite, “I love you.”

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Only A Little Bit Crazy

Isn't freshly cut grass beautiful? (Image from Wikimedia Commons)
The other day, I asked my husband Cal to edge the yard.

Cal said: “You know it’s November, right? The grass isn’t growing anymore.”

I said: “I know, but the edges are rough and I’ll have to look at uneven edges all winter.”

Cal: “Right.”

Me: “And, uh, you know, the grass could be mowed one last time too.”

Cal: “It’s dormant.”

Me: “But it’s messy looking. I could do it.”

Cal: “I’ll do it. But just so we’re clear, I’m only doing this because I love you.”

Me: “That works for me.”

Thankfully, I’m not the only one in our neighbor who’s obsessed with the final trim of the year. Our next-door neighbor had her grass cut yesterday. And the neighbor behind us was mowing his lawn late last night. Weird thing though…he was mowing in the dark. Pitch dark, without a flashlight, outside light, or even a street light.

But he was running his power mower all over the lawn. I’m wondering if he was doing it in the dark as a silent protest. As in, “The crazy wife wants me to mow even though the grass isn’t growing anymore. I’ll show that obsessive lunatic and mow in the dark. Ha, ha.” I’m looking forward to seeing their yard this morning. I can’t imagine how it will look. It’s got to be a completely random trim with patches of cut and uncut grass. I wonder if it will get left that way all winter. If so, I’m going to smile every time I see it. 

Friday, November 1, 2013

Driver's Education and Me

Our last child is learning to drive. Actually, he’s learned. We just haven’t given him the okay to get his license because…teenage boys and insurance, that’s a wallet shocker. So he has to wait until we need him to drive.

I don’t teach the kids how to drive, Cal does. (In our state, parents are responsible to teach their kids to drive.) I started out teaching the kids, but then during one outing, I screamed. I guess there’s nothing more freaky than having your mom scream. (Nearly driving into a large ditch will do that to me.)

I’ve been known to reach over and honk at some other car. (Yes, I believe in punitive honking, but only when my kids are driving.)

I also stomp the floorboards of the car, slamming an imaginary brake. I still do this even to my fully-licensed, driving-for-years kids. But now I pretend I’m stretching my legs. Sadly, they are not fooled.

And there are all the times that I’ve done backseat driving. Cal is the official teacher, so I sit in the back. I really try to be quiet. But, well, no one in our family believes in braking. So I tell them when to brake. And I do it forcefully. I’m just trying to protect our health and well-being. But no one else sees it that way. So I get glares and heavy sighs. Now I just grab the seat in front of me and tighten my knuckles. And the driver says, “Mom, chill!”