Category Archives: musing

Toddler Troubles and Treasures #4: Time for a little fun.

If I were to rip off my shirt,

stick my finger in my bellybutton,

and strut around dancing to my favorite fun. song,

my husband would be the only enthusiastic audience member.


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Toddler Troubles and Treasures #3: Pooping in My Pantry

No one would find it cute, humorous, or rational if I hid in the pantry, shoving handfuls of Goldfish crackers in my mouth while pooping my pants. They call that being drunk.

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Suck this, Stoker!

Did that title grab your attention? Did you see what I did there?

Now, on to this post.

So, I’m reading Dracula–not for the first time. In fact, can’t remember how many times I have read the novel, but it’s been a while. Can I just admit right now, right here, that I want to open-palm slap Bram Stoker and every other man from that century? I mean, I love Dracula, but I can’t tolerate the sexism of the late 1800s. I don’t know who is more fortunate, myself or everyone else, that I was not born in that time period.

Here is a sampling… with emphasis added…

“I am truly thankful that she is to be left out of our future work, and even of our deliberations.  It is too great a strain for a woman to bear.  I did not think so at first but I know better now.” –because women can only bear children.

“I want to keep up with Jonathan’s studies, and I have been practicing shorthand very assiduously. When we are married I will be able to be useful to Jonathan” — because, apparently, being the woman she is simply isn’t enough.

I think I am going to persuade my seniors to write a feminist critique. There is so much evidence to use. 


Now that I got that off of my delicate chest, here are some of my other favorite quotes…

“All men are mad in some way or the other, and inasmuch as you deal discreetly with your madmen, so deal with God’s madmen too, the rest of the world.”

“No man knows till he has suffered from the night how sweet and dear to his heart and eye the morning can be.”

“But a stranger in a strange land, he is no one. Men know him not, and to know not is to care not for.” – especially love, considering I just read Heinlein’s Stranger in a Strange Land.

“We learn from failure, not from success!” – can’t remember which character said this. It may have been Van Helsing.

“Ah, it is the fault of our science that it wants to explain all, and if it explain not, then it says there is nothing to explain. But yet we see around us every day the growth of new beliefs, which think themselves new, and which are yet but the old, which pretend to be young, like the fine ladies at the opera.” — this makes me consider the current trend of technology in education.

“And yet, unless my senses deceive me, the old centuries had, and have, powers of their own which mere ‘modernity’ cannot kill.”

“Up to now I never quite knew what Shakespeare meant when he made Hamlet say, ‘My tablets! Quick, my tablets! ’tis meet that I put it down,’ etc., For now, feeling as though my own brain were unhinged or as if the shock had come which must end in its undoing, I turn to my diary for repose.” — Hey! That’s how I feel about writing! How sweet.


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Value of the Written Word

My husband and I were in bed the other night, watching another enthralling episode of Storage Wars–yes, I watch such reality tv once in a while, and I happen to agree with someone else who said they watched it and could not figure out why they liked it so much–when one of the buyers came across some old books. I was busy chuckling as the appraiser to whom he took the books started pulling out old textbooks from the early 1900s and telling the guy they were worthless. Duh, was my first response. I don’t think there is much of a market for outdated college Biology books, but maybe that’s just me. I suppose if someone wanted to decorate an office with books they have never read and never intend to read, then that would work, but people like that annoy me.

As the appraiser continues through the box, he’s totalled about $14 worth of books. Then he comes across a book identical to one which I picked up at a Nampa used book store for $9.99. A First Edition A Farewell to Arms. No sleeve or signature, but still a first edition. The value? About $200. This was kind of like an Antiques Roadshow moment for me, so I turned to my husband–who hates when I “collect” things–and said, “See? That’s the same exact book I have!” Without even batting an eye he replied, “Then why don’t you go sell it?” I’d only thought of selling the book back when I first bought it a few years ago, but how could I give up such a find, especially when it’s one of my favorite books from one of my favorite authors?

So this had me thinking of the real price we put on books–those meant to educate, entertain, or question the status quo. There is such power in words that cannot be fully explained unless you have truly experienced reading or writing something which has changed a bit of your self. That is the true value of the written word.

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Well, it is that time of year, and I am not talking about department stores playing Christmas music before the Thanksgiving holiday. It’s National Novel Writing Month (aka NANO)! I have participated in NANO during previous years, but last year I took a break to work on editing and rewriting Sidhe’s Call. It was a much-needed break from the craziness that is the month of furious writing.

With book two in the Keening Trilogy, Hidden Sidhe, out for editing with my best editors, I decided that it would be an excellent year to jump back into the mayhem. Besides, my writing group gals are highly competitive and made me want to kick their butts (or at least write a ton while trying).

So, for NANO 2011, I am working on the third book in the Keening Trilogy, momentarily titled Rising Sidhe. By the end, I will most likely rename the third and final book in the Sidhe tales, but it works for now to have a working title.

This year has been much easier to write than previous years. I believe this has to be due to my investment in the series, previously built characters and world, and the drive to finish the trilogy. While I am not currently writing any pages that use the old characters, the world and ideas are so familiar and exciting that I find myself writing whole chapters with ease. I know this is a bit braggadocious, but I have to express how pleased I am with the process!

In my other years when I have participated, I did not finish the books which I started with NANO. I may have reached the 50k word mark, but I left the books on my flash drive, waiting for another day and another time of inspiration. I have not given up on those pieces. In fact, some of them still nag at me to get back to them, but it is great to have a year where I know where I am going and have an end goal in mind. This year will not be a throw away book!

My hope is that all of my loyal fans are excited to hear the news about book three! Book two will be released in December, so be on the look for a preview of the cover art and an excerpt prior to release.

Happy writing! Happy Thanksgiving! I am truly grateful for all of my many blessings.

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It’s That Time of Year… when the ghouls come to call

Ever since I was a little girl, digging through old dress-ups to try to create a new costume masterpiece, I’ve loved Halloween. It was a time to run through the neighborhood with my dirty pillowcase and squeal with delight when the “Awesome House” handed out full-sized candy bars.

How many times did my sister and I use our mom’s old silky, see-through curtains to make ourselves into gypsies? Several. And the roller skating girl in the red corduroy skirt (which was the same skirt used for a country girl on a previous year)? More than I like to admit. But even though my parents did not buy us costumes, my sister and I had to be supremely creative with our costumes. We didn’t have much to work with during the time when my dad lost his job–and those seem to be the Halloweens I remember the most.

Going back to my childhood, I suppose it makes sense that I love seeing well-planned costumes that show the wearer’s creative spirit. I love the cute little kids who have no idea what they are even wearing and can barely walk up to the door. And I especially love being a bit creepy and scary for one night out of the year (my students may disagree with that and say every day is like that).

I am not one who is easily frightened, and I love a good horror movie… especially ones with zombies. But I can recall one of the few times that I would be scared on Halloween was when my troupe of friends and I would come across a group of much older and much more frightening kids. I would swear to myself that the boy in the skeleton mask was hiding a knife, waiting to cut open the bag of my pillowcase full of candy so he could steal my loot for himself.

Did it ever happen in the years I wandered parentless on Halloween night? Nope. And, miracle of miracles, we were never maimed, attacked, enticed into a scary van, or given candy with razor blades or poison.

In fact, my friends and I loved stopping at one particular lady’s house. She was older and lived alone, but she would hand out her homemade caramel popcorn balls wrapped in Saran Wrap. The popcorn balls were delectable, and we would try to save them until we made it home to sort them with the rest of our treasure. Once home, my sister and I would dump out our candy, carefully sorting the candy into piles–same candy bars together, and then to my left would be chocolatey candies and on my right would be fruity ones.

That candy would last us weeks. We would wolf down several pieces on Halloween night, but then we would keep the rest squirreled away for our sweet tooths.

Some people I know don’t like Halloween, and I have to wonder if they just had horrific experiences as a kid or if they never had the type of experiences I had with the holiday.

So, here’s my new Hallow’s Eve challenge: let loose. Have a little fun. Scare a kid who comes to your door. Be the crazy lady who hands out pennies or boxes of raisins. Put a fake knife on your head when you answer the door. Splurge on full-sized candy bars for the ten kids in your neighborhood who still go around on Halloween. Whatever it is, help make that memory come true for someone else.

Have a creeptastic Halloween!

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On Garlic and Prego

There cannot be anything worse than puking bright yellow bile for two hours and then being accosted by the overwhelming stench of garlic wafting from the pantry door. Yes, welcome to my morning. Maybe it’s time to ditch garlic for the next six months.

As I finish up the first trimester of my second pregnancy–yes, this time I am a bit older and tubbier–I long for the days when I was pregnant with my daughter. I don’t remember it being this bad, and that is not the it’s-been-so-long-I’ve-forgotten-how-bad-it-can-be brain lapse. In fact, I kept a journal of my pregnancy with Reagan, and I was able to go to college full-time as a senior and work thirty-five hours per week. How the hell did I do that? Oh. Wait. I was only twenty-four.

I thought I was supposed to be glowing. I recall people saying that pregnancy is beautiful. But at thirty-two (yes, I know that is not TOO old), I’m feeling my age. And then some.

Don’t get me wrong–I’m excited to add another member to the Thomas family, but I have the feeling that this kid is going to be a handful! Between the sickness and its acrobatics in my tummy at the ultrasound, I’m a little worried.

I always heard women say that every pregnancy is different. Well. Add one more believer to that sentiment.

That being said, when I saw the baby’s little legs and twirling body on the ultrasound, I was in love. Call me a bit of a cliché writer, but it clicked for me. Sure, I loved my daughter at those moments during my first pregnancy, but I think now that I have grown up a bit, I really appreciate the beauty of life. Perhaps that is also due to my post-childbirth experiences.

But either way, the garlic has to go.

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Where eBooks Fail with Consumers

Now, considering I publish my own work via electronic means, this post may come off as a bit contradictory at first. How can a writer who publishes on Kindle and Nook critique eBook purchasing? Simple. There are two types of books in the market for eReaders. No, I’m not talking about the devices on which they are read. The two types really come down to publisher-supported and self-published.
I have owned my Kindle since December of 2010, and I must admit that I still read books in print. A lot. Probably more than half the time.
I know, gasp. Shock. Oh, the horror. But there is something about a paper book that I cannot let go. I’m a strong enough reader and writer to admit that.
Also, I have only purchased about six eBook titles from traditional publishers, while I’ve purchased eBooks from self-published writers or received copyright-free eBooks for free in excess of at least three times the number of traditionally published titles.

I guess that part of the hard part of my transition into a completely eBook realm is that I am so used to buying second-hand novels. I love browsing a high-quality used book store. In fact, I usually have to avoid them so that I can still afford to feed my family.
But look at it from a consumer’s point of view. A typical used book will cost about 40-60% of the cover price of new. If you calculate using the higher percentage of cost, a paperback which usually retails for $9.99 would only cost me $5.99 used. I can then resell the book when finished and recoup a small percentage of my expense.

With an eBook, most books are protected from copying files and transferring to multiple users, a practice in which I am in agreement. Authors’ works should be protected, and writers should be justly compensated for their hard work.
I guess I have to assume that authors have always embraced the idea of used books. I don’t know if anyone has done a poll on Goodreads or asked publishers to quiz their clients about the issue, but it just makes marketing sense to allow sharing of books for a limited amount of use. After all, a paperback book usually only lasts through five reads at best.
But how can we apply the same principle of selling used books to eBooks?
Compound the inability to “pass-on” eBooks with the $9.99 sticker-price most publishers are placing on eBooks, and it simply doesn’t make sense to purchase the eBook over the used paperback.
Now, I understand that new release hardbacks are cheaper when purchased in eBook format and that some publishers are dropping below the $9.99 price, but the more I use my Kindle, the more I tend to agree with the English teacher, book lover, and consumer inside of me.
Nothing beats the smell of a good book

. . . or a 99 cent eBook.

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Back to School

Well, I was at work until 6:00 tonight–photocopying, organizing, and triple-checking I have everything ready for school to begin again. I suppose the extra time put in will help me sleep tonight and hopefully ward off the First-Day-of-School-Nightmares. I can’t wait to meet the kids, but it’s the prep stuff that bogs me down. However, Spock is in place and dust-free, new pictures are in my family frames, new laminated signs adorn the walls, and I have an awesome new LCD Projector on my ceiling! Even though I have so much more work to do in the next few weeks, I feel this is a good start to a great year.
I hope.


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One Day Left. . .

Well, today is my last day where I can sleep in, work on my blog, write more chapters for book two, and sit around in my comfy pants. On to teaching next week!

Six chapters left to write in book two. Hopefully I can tackle another chapter or two today and finish my first draft by next weekend. This would be an earlier finish day than previously anticipated.

Then on to editing! And editing some more. And throwing out chunks of writing that suck. And finally roping in some other people to edit.

Jerel is coaching soccer and his season is in full swing. Luckily two-a-days are complete, but their first game is on Monday.

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