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Saturday, March 21, 2015

I Return to the Blogging World

           It’s been a while since the last post. Let me be more honest. It’s been a long while. It’s been so long I wasn’t sure I could still remember my password to generate a new post. Obviously that worked out, or you wouldn’t be reading this.
            What have I been up to? I’ve been reading and writing. I learned to slash as many gerunds and adverbs as I could. Or at least recognize them. I won a few contests, wrote a few book reviews, and, horror of horrors, played Candy Crush.

           Yes, it’s true. I’m on level 221. A few times I’ve been stuck on a level for months and months. I could have purchased boosters and escaped candy level jail, but refused to. The stubbornness of my childhood will always be with me.
            While the clock ticked, I scuffled with myself about the genre best suited for my voice and my interests. Interests besides Candy Crush.
            I came up with a few things. The young adult and middle grade niche remained on the list. Humor popped out as something consistent in my stories. Then a surprise waltzed onto the list. For those of you who know me well, you may want to sit down for the big reveal.
            Are you sitting down?
            Chick lit.
            There. I’ve said it. I’ve written it. And announced it to my small world.
            Let me qualify. I’m not as keen on the romance of a Nora Roberts. I prefer the outlandish caricature chick lit of a Sophie Kinsella. It’s all her fault anyway.
            There I was, innocently scrolling through audible for something of interest. I wanted something fresh. I came across Confessions of a Shopaholic. I don’t know how I got there. Perhaps my Muse mysteriously stepped in while I was in a trance. I clicked to the book’s description and was intrigued. In a few more clicks it downloaded to my “device,” and I listened. Becky Bloomwood and I bonded.
            So here I am with an entire college degree in English literature where I learned to deconstruct classics and write dissertations on them hooked on chick lit.
            Perhaps I could write a novel entitled Confessions of a Lit Major and give Kinsella a run for her money.

Friday, October 26, 2012


It's nearly Halloween. It makes me think back to one childhood picture of my sister, little brother and I. We were standing in the front yard and I was dressed in a red satin band uniform, complete with tall hat and black boots. A ruler-length daisy yellow plume was stuck in the front of the hat and the buttons of the costume matched. I have no idea where my mother found it. My sister was an alien that year. My brother was GI Joe or something similar. The Halloween picture was an annual event and this one was was taken on a Sunday afternoon during the time when Trick or Treat happened during the day instead of the evening. For some reason the city decided there was less tricking when the sun was shining. I don't recall when it switched back to night.

When we got home with our sugary treasures, Mom would comb through our bags checking for opened candy or homemade stuff in case rat poison was inside. I think all moms did that, and still do today. The rest of it went into a bowl which was put on top of the refrigerator. My mom didn't want it to be easily accessible in case we ate so much it would rot out our teeth. But my sister and I could pull kitchen chairs over and climb up to get it any time Mom wasn't paying attention. We could do it in twenty seconds flat and have the chair back under the table as if we'd been perfect angels. If she ever noticed our bulging pockets, she didn't say anything.

My favorite costume of all time was a green sequined roaring 20's dress with black fringe swinging along the bottom. My favorite candy was a Tootsie Roll. I still have a weakness for that chewy chocolate calorie-adder.

What was your favorite costume and candy?

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Monday, September 10, 2012

The Happiness Project

Did you know that most people consider themselves very happy or at least pretty happy? Did you know that on a scale of 1-5, most people would rate their level of happiness around 4? I know statistics can lie, but I happen to believe these.

That leads to today's mystical question. Can a person be happier with some kind of intention? Can it be done through behavior modification? How about through changing thought patterns? I absolutely believe it. I know where I am now. I know where I was twenty years ago; ten years ago; five and so on.

I didn't plan a happiness project, although given my natural inclination to learn everything about something before I do it, I would have. I just didn't think of it.

One of my character flaws is to blame myself for nearly everything. My boss is in a bad mood, so it must be my fault. My kid isn't happy today, so it must be my fault. A bird died in China, so it must be my fault. The next step in this pattern is to determine how it's my fault and to fix it. It's a miserable existence born out of some misguided ethic.

So I changed the pattern to something more truthful. When my boss is in a bad mood it has nothing to do with me. He's in a bad mood because he burnt his toast; got into traffic on the way in to work; had a fight with his wife; forgot his lunch; lost his house key; got yelled at by his boss. There are at least one hundred other reasons for his mood in which I'm not the central character.

Changing that auto-response was intentional and painful. And it took a lot of time, but I did it. Is it all the way gone? No. But I recognize when its creepy tendrils grab at me.

That was my biggest "happiness project" although I had, and continue to have others. I've been successful at most of them. I can create my own mood and reality if I want to.

If you don't have twenty years to work on being happier, then there's this book. I always have a book. My brother will tell you I always have a song. That's true, too.

The book is The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. She has a blog on it. Her newest book, entitled Happier at Home was just released last week. Both talk about ways to get happier in a more systematic way than I've gone about it. But they'll work, too.

Here's a book trailer on The Happiness Project. But don't buy the book unless you're going to do it because your project will be different from mine and hers because you're you.

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Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Fallout Alley Youth Zone - a FAYZ

When I was in college, one of my literature professors said all books and movies were Westerns regardless of the genre. In other words, all plots are good versus evil no matter who the characters are. Through the years I've learned this is true. Every writing course I've taken confirms it.

Today my blog introduces you to a young adult dystopian series of novels. GONE, by Michael Grant, is a contemporary twist on Lord of the Flies by William Golding. Add in some science fiction, a tad of fantasy and an autistic little boy and you have yourself a unique plot.

The premise of the story is simple. One day everyone aged fifteen and older disappears. A barrier goes up around Perdido Beach, California and the remaining kids have to figure out how to recreate society. Some of the children possess special powers. Others kids remain normal. Two brothers, separated at birth, square off. Then there's the gaiaphage, or "world eater" that wants to take over, which triangulates the conflict.

The new world is called the FAYZ (Fallout Alley Youth Zone).

I have tried to put down this series of six books, but I can't. It's fascinating to see how Michael Grant takes these kids through the reestablishment of some kind of order while also trying to survive. What defines leadership? Does capitalism reoccur? Does government? Will people work for free if starving is the alternative? Who takes care of the babies?

The books do need to be read in order since one serves as the foundation for the next. The order is: Gone, Hunger, Lies, Plague and Fear. Light, the last, won't be released until April 2013.

If you like dystopian literature, I think you'll like these books.

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Sunday, August 19, 2012


I frequently watch Chopped on the Food Network. I'm amazed at how many times they don't want red onions used. I'm also totally confused about why competitors use them. Don't they watch the show? I've also learned chefs can't recover from over-salting food or leaving bones in fish.

What the judges expect the most is that contestants repurpose whatever food is in the basket. For example, if pita bread is one of the items, it better not be pita bread by the time the chef presents the meal to them. I suppose they want it to be pesto. Perhaps some knowledge of alchemy would come in handy.

I could never be on that show. I'd be chopped the minute beets showed up. How do you think you'd repurpose beets? Or anything else?

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Friday, August 3, 2012

Miss Harry Potter? Meet Skulduggery Pleasant

If you haven't met Skulduggery Pleasant, I'll introduce you to him in today's blog. Skulduggery is a skeleton detective. Stephanie Edgley, aka Valkyrie Cain, is his twelve-year old apprentice. Their mission is to prevent arch villian Nefarian Serpine from exposing the world to a weapon of unfathomable power. This series of stunning, yet charming fantasy mysteries are written by Derek Landy. Naturally they get into all kinds of scrapes from which they escape. Yet Serpine continues to elude them. I'd say more, but Mr. Pleasant's interview is below.

A friend of mine (actually a friend of Chuck's) recommended the books to me and specifically encouraged me to listen to them because he said the production is incredible. I risked the first two and Chuck didn't see me for days because I couldn't stop listening. Rupert Degas, the narrator, is the Mel Blanc of audio book reading. I've never heard anyone do more voices, more cleverly, than Degas.

Don't let the idea of a skeleton being the hero prevent you from listening (or reading) these books. They've won awards that include the Red House Children's Book Award, the Bolton Children's Book Award and the Staffordshire Young Teen Fiction Award. In 2010, Skulduggery Pleasant was awarded the title of Irish Book of the Decade. Landy, who plays video games, reads comic books and watches movies, doesn't like to brag about his achievements and prefers to live quietly in Ireland with his cats and dogs.

The first book in the series is Sceptre of the Ancients. Each book can be read as a stand alone novel, but it's much more fun to read them in order.

I recommend these unique books for you or your kids. They have everything in them to keep you turning pages.

In the meantime, meet Mr. Skulduggery Pleasant. I have to dash and get started on the fourth novel. Valkyrie and I have lost Skulduggery somewhere along the line.

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Sunday, July 29, 2012

How Superstitions Get Started

It's been a while and I apologize for that. But I'm catching up and today's post is a short freestyle poem I wrote back in 2000.  I pulled it out because my husband and I were talking about superstitions and the conversation reminded me I'd written it.  It could be entitled Flossing Your Teeth.  Enjoy.

I have a friend whose life, once,
played in metronomic timing.
One day she announced,
I think I'll start to floss my teeth.
Yes, there is time even for that.
A curse of a cascade of chaos.
That very day her son got caught in the rain,
causing him to catch a cold,
forcing him to miss school,
pulling her away from work,
overextending her paid time off,
creating a partial paycheck,
exacerbating the delayed child support,
making the rent late
generating a visit from the landlord,
who tripped over the secret cat,
causing the man to fall,
knocking over a pile of laundry,
exposing a fledgling wall mural,
strictly violating the lease, and,
Her well structured life toppled like a Junga game.
Picking up the pieces to begin again she warned,

Don't ever floss your teeth.  It's bad luck.

Here's to good luck for all of you!

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