Friday, July 24, 2015

Cherished Blogfest

Today I'm joining the Cherished Blogfest hosted by Paul Ruddock, Peter Nena, Sharukh Bamboat, Tom Benson, Damyanti Gosh, and Dan Antion. The directive is to blog about a single cherished object in 500 words or less. But how do I choose just one? This house is chockfull of cherishables.

There's pretty things:

Kitty things:

A slot machine from my dad over a hundred years old (the machine, not my dad):

A crèche from Peru (or was it Chili?) from a cherished student:

There's books to read. How could I pick my most cherished of those? There's soft things like the contoured pillow that keeps my neck from cramping and the king-sized blue fleece blanket I sleep in every night (Linus has nothing on me!) There are useful things like the bike that I ride along the shores on Lake Ontario, and, wow, can't forget my kids, although they can stretch my limits of cherishability. And there are two of them, which means, like Lays chips, I can't possibly pick just one. 

So here's the thing, the most cherished thing. The object that lets me marvel at the blue in the peacock's tail, pet the softest part of the cat until it purrs, hope for the jackpot when I insert a nickel and pull the lever, celebrate Christmas and remember friends from the past and hope they're well, mourn the loss of Ruth May in The Poisonwood Bible, dream each night in crazy comfort, fly down a hill by the lake, and hug my children tight is . . . 

my mind. Frequently lost, sometimes less than sane, but I do cherish it.

Special thanks to Sedona, for taking all these pictures for me last moment. I also cherish her technical skills.

Monday, July 20, 2015

This Is How I Work Blogathon

Hello blogoverse. Today I am participating in a blogathon hosted by MsMariah at A Space Blogyssey. This is a blog hop, so feel free to join in.

Photo by the fantabulous Sedona Narayan, without whose technical knowledge, this photo would not be possible. Two gold stars. Warning: objects in image are messier than they appear.

What apps can you not live without?

MS Word. Of course, I'm lucky. I got a special Premium version that hides important buttons when I really, really need them (like all those pesky formatting thingamajiggies), a grammar checker that messes with my head (no comma? are you sure?), and a spell-checker that refuses to acknowledge that certain, actual real words do exist. Dude, if it's in Webster's dictionary, why hasn't PMS Word heard of it? (Just kidding, I love my MS Word. Now please don't eat my manuscript.)

What is your favorite blogging app? How do you blog?

I'm on Blogger here. Never tried anything else, so I'm sticking with it. Things would probably go very wrong, very quickly if I tried.

What gadgets (besides your phone) can't you live without?

I have a flip phone (it goes well with my cave drawings). I can live without it and have tried to destroy it, but even running that sucker through the washing machine hasn't done the job. It's indestructible. I bet your iphone can't handle that business, so HA.

So what gadgets do I need to live? Does my laptop count? If I had to go back to a typewriter and correction tape/fluid, I'd probably shoot myself.

What lifehacks make your life easier?

Books: the ultimate escape hatch. If I couldn't hide inside a good story, I'd probably be in a straight jacket. Which wouldn't be a complete disaster. If the men in white coats would allow me my Kindle, I could totally see myself swiping through the pages with my nose.

Where do you get your news? or husband. I'm not sure if either is completely reliable, but when they report the same story on the same day, it makes it more believable. Don't tell him I wrote that. He will use that information for evil.

What are your favorite social media apps?

This is as good as it gets. I haven't ventured into Facebook yet. I've got accounts for Twitter and Goodreads, but I've forgotten my passwords. I know, it's pathetic. At least I'm not using tin cans attached with a wire for a phone (because my flip phone is so ding-dang awesome!) No it's not.

What is your day job?

Napping. Oh wait. I think I'm supposed to say free-range author or something more respectable. I'm also an extremely grumpy waitress, short-order cook, maid, washer-woman, finder of lost objects, master operator of the DVD player, homework guru, cat whisperer, nurse, and able to answer over 50 inane questions in under a minute. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I am a Stay-At-Home MONSTER! Uh, mother. Here is a picture of me hard at work:

Photo credit: Sedona, again. And no, I'm not strangling the cat, I'm scratching his chin. This incredibly fluffy creature, named Writer's Block (not his real name, but definitely his job description), has claws to put a velociraptor to shame. Don't believe me? Check out the couch's arm next to his head.

Check ya later!

Monday, July 6, 2015

Michael G D'Agostino's Question of the Month

Here's the big question:

"What are three things that you'd do tomorrow if you weren't blocked by fear?"

Wow! That's a good one.

First off, I'd be honest even if it got me into trouble. I think there's a movie based on this idea. Remember Jim Carrey's "Liar Liar"? Hmmm. Maybe that would be a dangerous idea, but it's strange how much I edit what comes out of my mouth so I don't ruffle any feathers. That's what happens when you're a people pleaser. 

Second, I would have to zip back to yesterday in my handy-dandy time travel machine and ride the Boomerang at Darien Lake with my eight-year-old daughter. Miss Fearless really wanted to go on this thing even though it flips riders upside down 6 times in one minute, 3 of which backwards. I admit it. I chickened out. 

Boomerang Coast To Coaster
Image courtesy: Patrick McGarvey

Can you blame me?

Third, I'd think of a way to be more social off line. Since my local writing group disbanded, I haven't been around people outside my immediate family much. Between kids, house, writing, and whatnot, I hardly even notice most of the time, but it would be good to talk to somebody about something other than what's for dinner once in a while.

All righty then. Can't wait to see what other people are afraid of. This is a blog hop, so please join the fun! You can find the linked list at A LIfe Examined. Thank you Michael for hosting this monthly event.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Insecure Writers Support Group

Hello. It's that time of the month again. Hang on. That doesn't sound quite right. It's the first Wednesday of the month again, which means it's IWSG time! It also means my kids are sick. Yes, even in summer, they managed to find a virus. Way to go, team! I'm sure it wasn't deliberate, but these summer programs are non-refundable, so buck up campers.

June has been a bit weird. It started off fabulous. The family spent a week body surfing off the SC coast, doing flips in the pool, and dodging deer on our bikes along the golf course. Then we got back home and quickly realized my daughter's 5th grade class would not be the only ones bidding a fond farewell to the elementary school.

Not one of my daughter's three teachers will be staying to teach her younger sister. The Yankees' fan who cracked delightfully sarcastic jokes? Moving down to first grade. The amazing math teacher who not only directed the 5th grade play but also single-handedly made nearly all the costumes? Off to middle school. Ditto the third. Even the principal, who donned sunglasses to jam out with the band to "Uptown Funk" on his sax has left the building. For good. Le sigh. Le pout.

Young Foxes 1
Image courtesy: Tony Hisgett

But I'm complaining. Let's talk about writing. Do I still do that anymore? Maybe in bits and pieces. My husband (a math prof.) dragged me to a fancy dinner at the President of RIT's house to recognize faculty who've brought in the big bucks with grants. Best part? When the festivities were halted (right smack dab in the middle of my husband's introduction btw) by a pair of foxes bouncing through the yard and past the pool. Second best part? Meeting the fellow in charge of grants. For my husband's first major grant, I wrote the introduction and apparently, this piece of writing is trotted out at grant writing seminars as a how-to piece. Cool! I may not be cashing in on my writing, but somebody else is.

In the fiction arena, the ongoing edits for the historical novel are big in the sense that they are changing what the novel is about, but not so big because the actual numbers of words added and deleted are around 2K each--so far. (I'd love to shorten this sucker, but I'll have to be content on not letting it bloat.)

This book's becoming a story about boundaries: the ones you keep, the ones you choose to cross, and the upheaval that comes when circumstances put you on a side you never thought possible. That last one is the biggie. When the climactic scene comes, I don't want to slow the pace expounding on the importance of the moment. If I set the groundwork properly throughout the novel, the impact will be implicit. Easier said than done, if this makes any sense at all.

Enough vagaries! I'm a co-host this month and need to be out visiting. Does that last paragraph strike a chord with something you've either read or written?