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Thursday, August 31, 2006

Bum Deal

The first book I ever started to write, or at least had envisioned as a great big book rather than what really was a short story, was a book called Bum Deal, that I started back in high school. My teachers thought it was brilliant. Funny how all the writing teachers I ever had though I was such a brilliant writer. Anyway, my classmates thought it sucked.

For some reason, the comments made by one of them keep coming back to me today. She asked if anything good ever happened to my character. See Bum Deal was about a girl who'd been dealt a lot of crap in her life. And as much as she wished good things would come her way, life just kept crapping on her. My plan was that in the last 1/4 of the book or so, it was all going to change, and life would finally no longer be a Bum Deal. I know, groundbreaking stuff. LOL. But you know, I don't know that I ever really had a plan for how her life was going to change-just that it would. Magically-since that pretty much would have been the only way it would have.

I never finished the book. I'd completed enough to get my "A", and frankly, since everyone kept whining about how nothing good happened to her, I didn't see much point in it. I think the next story I wrote, a short story that won a few contests, the kid ended up dying.

I'm having sort of a bizarre day, and I wonder if Bum Deal is the reason I'm not writing like I should. I read romance and happy endings because deep in my heart, it's how I wish life could be. But in my head, I don't think I truly believe that happy endings exist. I was writing some stuff today that somehow fits into The Book, and I think the reason why I'm struggling with it is the same trouble I struggled with on Bum Deal. Life sucks. Humanity sucks. And I don't know how to fix it. Only by some miracle of God.

Interestingly enough, I think it's why I'm struggling with getting readers to like this women's fiction that I still have not sent. I pile all this crap on her from the get-go, because my goal is to transform this incredibly miserable human being into someone truly beautiful. I'm succeeding at the misery.

Why can't I make the beauty happen?

It's so easy as human beings to wallow in misery. It's funny-I think a lot of my friends are wallowers. At times, I get overwhelmed with it, like why are you so freaking miserable, and why aren't you doing anything about it? And then I think, am I any different?

My hope, in writing The Book, even in writing Bum Deal and my women's fiction, is I wanted to help people-people who are miserable. People who could read my words and relate to the misery of the characters, then journey through my story and realize that there is light at the end of the tunnel. I thought that it would be enough for me, a miserable human being trying desperately to claw my way out of the pit, to be real in the journey, to show people that yes, it is a dark and horrible place, but that they can get out of it.

But a funny thing happened on the way to the forum. Some of the preconceived notions I had weren't so great. If I'm still in the pit, I can't pull anyone out, now can I? It wasn't the people still in the cave in The Republic getting folks out, but the ones who'd braved it alone, marked the path, and then came back. And they weren't able to save everyone. So much for my grand plans, eh?

I think I'm happier when I'm just threatening to blow stuff up. Too bad I'm not as passionate about that as I am about helping others. Now that would be a sight to see.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Finally! Funnies!

Of course, telling the story is now anticlimactic to me, and you all probably won't find it as funny as I do, but hey, them's the breaks. I do have an additional funny/rant, so maybe it'll make up for it.

The Funny
That Man and I engage in competitive brainwashing of our children. Early on, I taught B to say, "Mom rules." That Man, of couse, could not have that, so he decided to get her to say "Dad rules." Being the smart child that she is, she tries to please us both and say we both rule.

Anyway, we were sitting on the couch the other night, and That Man is trying to get the baby, who has an incredibly powerful vocabulary for a two year old, to say, "Dad rules.". (She woke me up the other morning, and in a perfectly clear sentence said, "Mom, please make me pancakes for breakfast.") Well, after several tries, and the baby repeatedly saying no to his request, he gave it one last shot. "Come on, say Dad rules." She gave him a dirty look and said, "No. *I* rule." (Okay, she actually used her name, but trying not to use their names as often) Yep. That there's the reason that anyone who prays for a smart kid is just plain dumb.

Rant about That Man/Kid Funny
Tonight we dined al fresco, primarily because I'm supposed to be paying bills and they're spread out all over the kitchen table and I was too lazy to either get it done before dinner or move it. I forgot to bring out something to drink, and B asks for some milk. I ask her if she can wait, but she got all pouty and said she could do it herself. That Man suggested that she go get the milk, chocolate syrup, and some cups and he'd help her. Okay. Fine. I didn't have to get up off my butt, so I was pleased. She brings out the milk, kiddos get chocolate milk, all is good, right?

I finish eating first, and, as we always do, I cleared my plate and left them with their plates and the food, since they were all still eating. I pick up the kitchen, putter around the house a bit, go into the living room, and see That Man. I figure, he's done what he always does and brought in his stuff. Um, no. Apparently, like with the children, if I'm not on his butt making him pick up after himself, it doesn't get done. Actually, he did bring in his plate (but didn't put it in the dishwasher), so he gets a half a point for that.

I ask where the baby is. He shrugs. I go outside to make sure my kid isn't sprawled out on the grass, dead. She is very much alive. Standing on the picnic table, emptying the half gallon of milk into a glass. Not bad. Except that she doesn't stop when the glass is full. No, she poured it ALL out. And, when I got there, she was mixing it between cups-probably with other mystery fluid and the remains of her dinner. I turned on my heel, walked into the house, and informed That Man he had a situation to deal with.

He thought it was funny. I'm hoping that the glass of mystery beverage that she handed him and he praised her for (and I think drank) had something really gross in it. He was supposed to clean it up. Now that I think about it, I was so disgusted by the mess, I never checked to see if it got done. It might be worthwhile to inspect the damage before packing his lunch tonight, in case I need to get even, but he reads my blog every morning before work so now he'll be looking for gross things like rat guts.

Oh, and on a related note (but also happening today), if you spill strawberry milk on hot cement, make sure you clean it up right away. Otherwise, it will stain the cement and take forever to get clean. I know because I dropped the baby's milk cup on the way to take B to school today, and thought I could get away with cleaning it when I got home. Uh, no. It was not a fun project. But at least it helped me learn that my front door needs new weather stripping. My entryway was full of water from hosing down the front porch.

Birth control, anyone? I should hand out pills as party favors to my guests.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Planned funny pre-empted... again.

One day you'll get the list of funny things my kids say.

However, tonight, I ended up with a really cool thing to share. We had our MOPS leadership meeting, and it was cool. One of the things that really hit my heart was how this is something we need to look at as our ministry. Okay. Got it. Ministry.

Then, I got to meet my mentor mom. Each group has a leader (me) and a mentor mom (someone who has grown kids). My mentor mom is a woman I've been in groups before and I have to say, I dearly love her. I could not have been given a better mentor mom. When I went to tell her she was my mentor mom, she hugged me so tight, and was so excited. It was awesome. We started talking and planning things, discussed our vision for the group.

And then I had a lightbulb moment. All of this stuff I'm dealing with-it's all part of the refining process for the bigger picture. The Book. The other stuff He keeps saying I'm going to be doing. See, I almost turned down this leadership position. Frankly, I'm going to have to do a lot of things outside my comfort zone. And as my mentor mom and I talked, I realized that for our vision to become reality, I was going to have to step up to the plate and outside my comfort zone.

See, the funny thing is, I have a love/hate relationship with MOPS. I love the concept, I love the teaching, but I've never really felt like I fit in. Mostly because everyone seems to be friends with everyone else, and even though they're nice enough to me when I'm there, I don't exist outside that room. And I hate that. And I think there's probably a lot of folks who feel that way. You know, the whole clique thing. Because yes, it's there, too. As my mentor mom and I talked, I realized that I don't have to follow that pattern. Between the two of us, we can set the stage for real friendships and inclusiveness, at least within our group. And maybe that'll inspire other groups to do the same. And yeah, it means that I, little miss hermit comfort zone, I'm going to have to be an example.

Can we all have a collective, "CRAP!" here?

The funny thing is, I've been setting myself up for it without realizing it. I, Queen of Hermitdom and Antisociality, am actually having a BBQ, to which I invited a large number of people, at MY HOUSE, on Labor Day. Granted, I did so knowing that most people already have plans for Labor Day, but we've still got about 15-20 people coming. As I talked to my mentor mom about our plans for the year, I realized planning this party is going to set me up for the things we'll be doing in our group. It's up to me to set things up and be intentional about our gatherings.

The other thing is, I've accepted a teaching position. WHAT? I know, I am really pushing the comfort boundaries. Basically, I was asked to teach one of our tax classes. Honestly, it's REALLY going to be a stretch, even though my district manager and our training manager are psyched, and think I'm going to be awesome at it. (Can I puke now?) The good news (and ONLY reason I ended up saying yes) is that I can teach in lieu of some of my clases, so I will end up with no additional time commitment-basically, I'll be teaching two nights a week and in class one night a week, and the cool thing is that I was planning on class three nights a week, and one of my class nights was a night I had a lot going on-and would have to miss. This schedule change means the night I needed freed up will be free again. Plus, I'll be getting PAID! At this point, it's not so much that we need the money, with DH's new job, however, it will help us save up for the new house. And I am all about my new house. :)

So here's where this all ties in. If I look back at the vision of things I see happening in my life, things I want to accomplish, and more importantly, things I see God moving me toward, I feel like this is all setting me up to succeed at it-giving me the experience I need so that I am more comfortable doing what I have to get done. And so maybe, all of the crap that's been thrown at me over the past few weeks, somehow that too ties into it all. It's probably one of those things that makes me break out in hives like having to learn to love these jerks and show them grace in their trials, knowing they will never give me the satisfaction of an apology or anything resembling one. ICK.

It's funny, I look at some people, and I don't understand how they can be happy living as who and what they are, never wanting to grow and be better. But at the moment, with all the stuff bubbling around me, and yes, the need for me to step outside of who I am, I can understand why. It's hard. Really hard. And I am so weary-I hate that it's this constant motion of forcing all this growth. I want to rest. But I guess what differentiates me from those who quit or those who never try is that I don't think I could ever be content, wondering if I could have been more.

And maybe I just am a psychopath.

Funky Stuff

It's been an odd few days, so bear with me here. Sorry about the blog lapse, I'm trying to get better. And I'm trying to get better at getting out there and seeing people, but I don't know... there's just this funky thing in my head right now. I want to be social, and yet I can't bring myself to be social. It was funny, because I was talking to Heather the other day, and she commented that I'm never on yahoo anymore. The truth is, I haven't been on any messengers lately.

I think mostly, there's so much behind the scenes drama for me right now. Not in my life personally, Thank God, but in so many lives that touch mine that I'm having a hard time dealing. I've always said that the one thing about me that I hope to give to others is that I'm always real. Sometimes that ends up being TMI, and others, it's something that I hope lends itself to lifting up others. Anyway, my point is that I don't know how to do that right now-how do I talk about issues that others are dealing with and thrusting on my plate that I am being forced to deal with? How can I not say, such and such is being a royal toad and I'm pissed about it? Because see, as much as I want to be real, I also don't want to be the person badmouthing the universe on her blog.

So that's my current funk-everyone else's lives vomiting into my lap. I think the thing that sucks about it is that I'm a problem solver. Which means I want to "fix" it. Sadly, none of it is something I can "fix". I pray, and while I suppose that's supposed to give me some satisfaction, frankly, it doesn't. Just because I pray about something doesn't mean I'm going to see an answer in a satisfying time frame. And what's the use of that? Coincidentally (yes, I know, there's no such thing as coincidence), I'm doing a Bible study on prayer called Live a Praying Life . Now before you get all excited, you should know I'm still on week one. :) The good news is that it's given me some hope in what is a long and frustrating quest. She cites Ezekiel 22:30 "I looked for a man among them who would build up the wall and stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land so I would not have to destroy it, but I found none." If I am not praying for these things, who will? And if no one else is, what then, will be the result?

Trust me, for someone who already feels a huge burden of responsibility toward the universe, this is not completely a good thing, except that it does give me comfort in knowing that even though I feel as though so many of my ongoing prayers are fruitless in my eyes, I am somehow standing in the gap where perhaps there is no one else to fill it.

Weird. Was not thinking to blog on that, I'd meant to go with a whole funny thing of some hillarious conversations with the baby lately, but I knew that some folks were feeling my absence a bit, and thought I at least should say, "hey, I know. And I'm trying."

I think, too, what all of these dramas unfolding around me are showing are some of my own weaknesses as a human. For example, a couple of the dramas involve failing marriages of people we know. And yes, that was a plural. And in some ways, we are being put in the middle-ICK. The sad thing is, I knew the marriages were in for it when they first got together. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to know that if you marry a gun-toting pyschopath who won't get help, eventually your marriage will deteriorate. Which makes me wonder, if That Man and I ever split up (NO, we are not there-we're doing really good, actually), would people also say, "Yeah, we knew it was doomed from day one." Are people surprised that we've lasted this long? Weird questions, I know, but sometimes having this drama makes you look harder at your own relationships, and yes, seeing where others are going wrong and making sure that you're not doing those things, and doing what you can to strengthen what you have.

But the other half of that, and maybe the part I've been hiding from, is that I've realized how much bitterness is being revealed in me. I hate it. I want to gouge it out with my fingernails and fling it as far from me as I can. I know it is wrong, and I know it serves no useful purpose in my life, but it's like a boomerang.

When the one girl called me and asked for my help in her divorce, part of me wanted to scream at her and say, "You have not spoken to me in seven years, and even when we were part of the same social circle, you treated me as though I were excrement you'd stepped in." I have so much anger and bitterness at this person-and as I look back, and I see all the ways in which she completely dishonored me while we were in the same social circle, I know that still impacts the way some people view me. Granted, they are not people who have ever had a conversation with me, but I'm still bitter about it.

What really gets me is this-when we were talking, she said, "I've done everything I can to be a good Christian here and I'm still being a good Christian, but since he lied to me about money and now says he doesn't share my faith, I can't stay married to him." Dear moronic hypocrite, could you please show me where in the Bible that gives you the right to a.) divorce him, b.) file false charges against him in a court of law, and c.) take him to the cleaners for as much money as you can squeeze out of him.

Why do I hate telling people I'm a Christian? Because she's the "good Christian" and I'm the bad person.

You know what? I am a bad person. I am full of sin. I am painfully aware of how full of sin my life is. But I also don't go around pretending otherwise, calling myself a "good Christian".

I would love to say that this is the only garbage I'm dealing with-but it's not. The current theme is that Danica has been doing her very best to walk the high road, to behave honorably, and while the people who've totally been jerks to her are having bad stuff happen in their lives, Danica is being dragged through it. Worse, the areas in which Danica has been honorable and these people have been jerks are not having the expected "Danica get rewarded and jerk get punished" outcome. Nope. It's status quo. And all I can do about it is pray, and cling to the Psalms. Psalm 73 is a good one, which also happens to be a song by Barlow girl (featuring my beloved Todd, whom I have not blogged about lately, but rest assured, I am still listening often. You should too, he rocks. Did I mention he has a new album coming soon? Look for a blog on that when the time gets closer.).

And I guess this where I feel like a scum sucking pig-I sit here and so proudly boast of how I have been doing the right thing, but am I really? Am I really being as honorable as I could? Since I'm sitting here wallowing in my bitterness, I'd have to say no. Am I really any better than those I think God should smite off the face of the earth so that I can feel satisfaction in the misery I have suffered at their hands? And how much is it that they have caused the misery, or is it that I have allowed it to influence me in a miserable way?

So that's my latest funk. Truly, I am just so high and low right now... I don't know what to do with most of it, except that I've been praying and studying and just hoping that at some point this will all make enough sense that I can deal with it and move on.

Either that, or I'll just find something to blow up and feel so much better. ;)
(Note to Homeland Security: that was a joke. It was supposed to be funny. Laugh. It'll make your job easier.)

Friday, August 25, 2006

Theme? Wot's that?

Okay, first, I want to thank Margery for giving me this topic. She asked a question about it in a group we belong to, and I ran with it. Poor gal, she has to wade through my response to her question, and really, this post will probably be much more coherent and informative than the one I sent. Which leads to point number one:

1. While some people are brilliant geniuses who nail it on the first go around, I am not one of them. In fact, most people who do theme well also do not do it perfectly on the first draft. Why comes out in point #2:

2. Good theme takes a lot of digging. You have to know your characters inside and out-what makes them tick, why that makes them tick, and how it all relates to how they relate to the other characters and to the story. Somewhere, buried in all that muck, you will find the theme. It also means that you may have to some rewriting in places where the theme is murky at best. Taking the time to do that, though, will make the book work better for the reader.

3. How I find my theme (I feel like I'm writing a school paper):

I write the book first. I do have a theme in mind when I begin. Almost always, that does not end up being the theme of the book, but it does give me a starting point of reference for the. For example, my current book. The theme was believing in miracles. While it is still a strong element in the book, it's not the theme. Why? Because I realized that there was something deeper to the question of believing in miracles. I decided to dig deeper and find what that was. In digging deeper, I realized that I had something more emotionally powerful than the miracle aspect of the story. I decided to go with the emotional power punch-which both the hero and heroine share, but manifests in different ways, giving me more room to explore the theme.

Maggie Osborne, who first introduced me to the idea of making theme important, once said that she will start a book without first having the theme. Something which Lori Wilde also uses and talks about in this eHarleqin Q&A, Proving your theme in every scene . If you are at all confused about theme, I highly recommend this as a resource. In fact, I think I'm going to go back and print it for my own reference. :)

I think it is absolutely CRITICAL that every scene has to explore the theme. Which is why I changed mine. I realized that I didn't do that, and more importantly, I seemed to be spending a longer time on the theme that I ended up going with. And as I continue talking about theme, I'm realizing how poor of a job I do at writing it. Huh. Ya think that might be my problem? (insert stupid face here)

The other thing I'd like to point out about theme is that while I'm not busom buddies with any NYT Bestselling authors, I can say that every single one of them that I've had the opportunity to listen to talk about writing has emphasized the importance of theme. IMO, if you wanna be one of them, you'd better be listening to them when they're doling out advice.

So... off I go... to the wild blue theme (it just doesn't work right instead of yonder, does it? But at least I'm no longer singing cartoon songs)

I've got a lovely bunch of coconuts...

I've moved from singing Animaniacs to singing Lion King. I definitely live in a state of perpetual mommyhood. I did this online survey yesterday about my daytime TV viewing habits. Sadly, I realized that the only daytime TV I watch is PBS kids. Which is fine, because most of what's on during the day is garbage anyway. I was forced to watch one of those "Who's my daddy" talk shows for about five minutes while a video rewinded and I had to fight the urge to slit my wrists longways up the arm because it was just so... freakishly bad. So no, for those of you who care, I do not watch daytime TV.

I tried to post last night, but alas, Blogger wouldn't let me sign on. Which was good, because it saves me from a super long update. Long story short, Shelly called last night with an opportunity to go to Oregon that we needed a miracle to accomplish. Did I mention we REALLY want to get out there? It's been two years. I am pleased to report that in two weeks' time, we will be spending the weekend in Oregon. Plane tickets are purchased, and because of Shelly's connections, we have a place to stay AND transport, AND we're planning a short jaunt to the coast. Oh, and we have childcare for the kiddos arranged. Tasks completed in less than twelve hours, when initially, we thought there was NO WAY we could do it.

Life doesn't get any better than that.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

School... school.... school... schooo-oool!!

On the first day of school, we're eager little learners....

Had to quote my beloved Animaniacs.

Anyway, the event that NO ONE guessed (should I take offense at that, or do you guys have just as many books as I), was in fact, the first day of school. Not my birthday, which it also was (Thanks for the card, Heather!). My plan was to have a most adorable photo of my child on her way to her very first day of school, however...

I lost my camera.

Somewhere in the melee of the end of school, I set my camera down and I can't remember where I put it. I told you we'd be back to shallow Danica in no time.

See, I'd had it all planned. I was going to drop off B, take some pics, try not to cry, go home, relax, pick B up from the bus stop, take her picture getting off the bus for the first time, and post it all with my very clever Animaniacs title. However, what happened was this:

Dropped off B, took pictures, did NOT cry, went home, put K down for a nap, had some blissful, amazing "ME" time for a couple hours, got K up, walked to the bus stop, got camera ready, and then the kiddos got off the bus. My child was not on the bus.

However, I knew the bus driver. That Man's ex wife's sister in law. I kid you not. For a big city, it certainly is incestuous. However, she is a very sweet lady, and I know her, so I asked, "Have you seen my kid?" And she says, "OH! I didn't know she was supposed to ride my bus." Lovely. Then I notice the number on the bus. NOT the number I was given at registration for my kid. I go home, call the school, and they say, "Oh, we have a lot of busses that drop kids off in your area. Wait and see if your kid is on one of them." Great advice, since it's not THEIR kid.

I head back to the stop, and run into another mother who has lost her child. She tells me, "yeah, my other kids told me that their bus number changed, but not all the kids were told, so I'm missing one." Like, can I just ask, how do you LOSE a bunch of kids? I told her what the school told me and we walked to the bus stop together-getting there just as another bus stops there, and lo and behold, MY kid gets off. I was so glad they hadn't dropped her in Timbuktu that I forgot to take a picture. I let the kiddos hang out for a bit, when later on, about a block away, ANOTHER bus comes and drops off a slew of kids. Neighbor lady's kid was on that bus.

So today, we marched into the office and I was prepared to give the office lady the what-for, but she is also a very nice lady, and when we perused the bus schedule, she showed me how they marked the stops. Several busses DO go in my area, but only one stops at my particular stop. AKA the WRONG bus. AKA the bus my child did NOT get on. AKA the reason my child's anxiety over riding a bus all by herself was not for nothing. AKA the reason that the photo of her very first bus ride, which can never be taken again, does not exist.

And somewhere, in all that mess, I set my camera down.

While I have yet to discern the location of my camera, I am most overjoyed to report that I DO know the correct bus for my child, she did get on it today, and I am quite confident that she will be continue to ride that bus in the future. So long as she doesn't violate the Code of Conduct she brought home today-which would usually be an easy task, however, she has informed me of all the ways her best friend, the world's most obnoxious second-grader, violated those same rules today.

Why do I think that having a child embarking on this beautiful journey will not be the peaceful existence I thought I was looking forward to?

Speaking of not-so-peaceful peaceful existences, here's a fun photo I want to share of our very own Knob. He's the second one from the left, standing next to the kid with crutches. *sigh* I remember the drama of trying to get HIM on the right bus. Of course, he was a little older at the time, but still...

Monday, August 21, 2006

Nothing you write is ever wasted

I promise, soon, we'll get back to the shallow Danica I know and love... after all, tomorrow is an important milestone day. Just to have fun, I'm going to have a little contest. I keep finding duplicate books, so I'll send you one of my duplicates if you guess correctly the milestone we're celebrating tomorrow. :)

Back to my title... I sent off my first set of goals to my change coach today, and I'm pleased to report that I'm halfway there. Although my blue highlighter has run out of ink. :( I'm totally jazzed about this story again, and I see places where I can, if I choose, insert an inspirational thread. Considering my hero has lost his faith in everything, it wouldn't be too hard to have that everything be explicitly about God, now would it? However, that isn't the round of edits I'm on, so that will have to just jell over in the corner of my brain.

As I was highlighting, I needed some background noise, plus I'm feeling guilty that I have all these writing CDs from conferences that I haven't listened to. However, since I was too lazy to get up and get my CDs, I pulled out one so dear that I have it burned on my hard drive. Just clicked a few buttons and I was listening to my beloved JSB and his talk entitled "Breathe Your Song".

I get something different out of it every time, but the main thing from tonight was the thought that nothind you write is ever wasted. I'll be honest, I am incredibly depressed that I have ten books written and none sold. (And okay, yes, I admit, more than a couple of them are unsubmitted) One of my topics of obsession is often that I feel like I've wasted so much on books that will never see the light of day. But you know, to very much twist JSB's words to suit my own purposes, everything I write serves a purpose. Maybe it's to keep me from murdering That Man. Maybe it's to keep me from duct taping my children to a cactus. Maybe it's part of learning the craft of writing. Maybe it's to learn persistence. And maybe, because my ego demands I say such a thing, it's because the rest of the world fails to recognize what a genius I am. It's okay, you can vomit now.

The point is, it's all woven together to help me become the writer God intends me to be. Bell quoted Romans 8:28, which says, "And we know that in ALL THINGS God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." I added the emphasis on all things. I wish you could see my Bible-when I looked up the verse (I'm a scripture skeptic-if you quote it, I have to see it for myself) in my Bible, I have the whole verse underlined, and all things super circled. That means, in Danica-speak, that it's super important to me. Funny how I'd forgotten it in my moments of despair.

It's so easy to get mad at a scene that isn't working right, or a book that just doesn't feel like it's ever going to be good enough. Whether it sells or not, there was a reason for writing it. Maybe it was because, even though we think we are the most brilliant human beings since the Aztecs, there's still a lot of work that needs to be done before we're ready. And maybe it's because the world isn't quite ready for us. And maybe there's a few more lessons tucked in the pages upon pages that will be written over the course of our lifetimes. Some will see the light of day, and others will remain behind the scenes, having served a purpose that perhaps only God will ever know.

You can count on the fact that I will be adding this to the list of "Things I will be grilling God on when I finally see Him face to face."

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Romance Writers and Nudes????

Margie's class yesterday was phenomenal. Truly, folks, if you haven't followed my advice and taken one, you are missing out.

Anyway, she arrived at my house at the crack of dawn, and we set off, stopping to pick up an angel bearing Sausage McMuffins. YUM! Imagine our surprise when we arrived at the classroom to find we were in a room of naked ladies. Yes, it was at an art school, and the current lesson/display was on nudes. You have to admit, it's a bit strange for a group of romance writers to be gathered in that setting. But hey, it'll make a great scene in a book.

I could tell you all about what I learned, but well, that would negate the reason for you all taking her class yourselves. ;) I did, however, get some really good things personally that I will share.

The best thing that came of it is that Margie (who is a psychologist-scary that I needed a shrink to tell me what I needed) told me I just needed to commit to something and forget about all the other stuff floating in my brain until I completed it. More specifically, I needed to commit to editing ONE book. And then, just because she's mean that way, she connected me with a friend in need of a change coach to yes, be my change coach. So, twice a week, I have a friend to make me be accountable to some goals. Why does the thought make me want to vomit?

The good news is that I am feeling like this is progress. It's weird, because I feel like I had a connection with those nudes I was surrounded with all day yesterday. It's like being naked-commiting to just doing it-not whining about making sure I'm doing the right thing-just putting myself out there and letting the chips fall where they land and adjusting accordingly. I don't know how those women were able to sit naked in a room as a group of artists sat there and painted all of their vulnerabilities. But do we do any less as authors, baring our souls to anyone who would venture to read our books?

At least-in terms of the author I want to be-I will be showing my stretch marks, the belly that never seems to lay flat, the gray hairs that pop out with greater regularity, and even that slight insanity that comes out when I least expect it. It's funny, in that room of naked women, I realized that they comforted me-while they were definitely the artist's view of the woman, they weren't the stylzed, perfect Hollywood creation. They were real women. And as I was reminded today in our small group, what I have to offer to the world as a writer is the real me, a reminder to others that you don't have to be perfect or have it all together.

Our topic of discussion in our small group was Calling-and what you feel called to do. I know I've been called to be a writer. It's silly for me to waste even a second worrying about how the specifics are going to work out. I need to just dive in and do it. God's not going to just toss me out there with nothing, right? But more importantly, and just as I was reminded of tonight, you can't steer a parked ship. To elaborate, if I'm parked in New York and want to hit England, but don't know how to get there, if I never leave New York, I'll never get there. But if I leave, it's the right direction, and I can always adjust my course.

All that is my long-winded way of saying that I have committed myself to editing AND submitting TMB. I will probably send it the agent route first, and perhaps even before that, send it out on the contest circuit just to see where it lands. I'm toying with entering it both in Inspy and Short Contemp to see where it gets the best response, but I have some editing to do first.


Friday, August 18, 2006

Because I can

Have you ever done anything just because you could? I love that feeling... no other reason than just because you can. Like walking around the house naked. I love it when no one's about and I just... can.

I was reading Laura Marie Altom's blog and she talked about how this tree fell in her backyard and how much it was going to cost to remove it. And I thought, how fun would that be, instead, to have a big bonfire, invite your friends, and make S'mores? That would be one fun party. Especially if it was at Laura's house. She's totally fun.

I'm still angsting, and it's really irritating me. I think one of the reasons I'm going so crazy is that back when I was writing because I could, writing whatever I wanted, there was no accountability, no pressure to perform, no reason to do the right thing. And now that it matters...

Why blow up a character on page six? Because I can.
Why set a bottle of prozac on the desk to scare off people? Because I can.
Why sit here at night with one hand on the keyboard and the other holding an ice cream cone? Because I can.
Why threaten my kids with duct tape and boarding school? Because I can.
Why threaten That Man's life on a daily basis? Because I can.

But the real question, underlying all the things I CAN do, including things I didn't list, is whether or not I SHOULD do them.

And frankly, that's what's really scaring the bejeebies out of me.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

The Weird Lull...

Now, the first thing I must say is that I am NOT procrastinating. Really. I am, however, in a weird lull.

Here's the deal: I was given the name of an agent (who is a very good agent, BTW) to submit to. This particular agent is especially looking to rep people writing for one of the lines I'm targetting. This happened in Atlanta, BTW, I'm only admitting it now. I really really really want this agent. She's amazing. But, while I do have a couple of books for this line, I'm not certain it's my strongest work. Yeah, I know, you all want my problem, so many books, so little whatever. I'm half tempted to query her and say, "here's the deal: I have all this crap on my plate, I can't commit, so I want YOU to pick what you think I'll be most successful in." Yes, I know, ain't gonna fly. But a girl can dream, right?

She basically represents everything I write, although I can't find anything that says she reps nonfiction. I can live with that, I think. Anyone know of a good nonfiction agent? You know, for when I figure out The Book?

And I'm still tossing around the idea that people keep jostling me with the idea that I should be writing Inspy. I SWEAR, I have nothing against it, it's just that... could I point out that this book that everyone THINKS is an inspirational has the married couple having sex in chapter one? And that one of the themes is mistaking sexual desire for real love? I LOVE this story, and if I could just nail these characters, I know I can sell it. Which is why, despite my aversion to early mornings, I am leaving at (wait for it, you're gonna think I'm nuts) 6:45 am with my good friend Margie Lawson to head to Colorado Springs Saturday morning to attend one of her all day workshops on editing and characterization. Wahoo me. But hey, since those are the areas I need to work on, it'll be worth it, right? I've been ordered to bring my book and my highlighters. I'd say it had better be worth it, but as a longtime taker of Margie's classes, I can say that yes, it will. 6:45 am. I am so freaking nuts.

Which leads me to the nuttiest thing. After all this angsting about my writing, what do I get, but another story idea. When I was younger, I read a ton of Robert Fulghum books. Love his stuff. What if I wrote a book that was a cross between that and Erma Bombeck. Basically, all of my "birth control for non parents" stories about my children. Could I pull it off? Would anyone buy it?

The one thing I come back to is the idea of voice... my nutty voice on my blog and telling stories about my terrorists, er kids, that seems to be my true voice-me at my finest. Er, maybe I shouldn't say that... that might scare folks. I am sane. Really. Well, at least sort of. Anyway, my books don't sound like that. And maybe they should.

Which leads me to this weird lull I'm having in my writing right now. I'm so torn about my direction that I can't even open something to work on. I want to write, I just am paralyzed by my anxiety over doing the right thing, of making sure I head in the right direction. Back when I had God completely out of the equation, it was easy enough to sling mud at the wall. Now, not only do I have to worry about a career, but I have to worry about honoring God with it. And truthfully, even though I want to honor God, I know that a lot of my desires in getting published right now are all about me. Let's face it-I want the glory, I want the ego affirmation of my name on the cover of a book.

So I'm in this lull. I'm not writing because I want to do the right thing in terms of my writing, and I honestly don't know what it is at this point. I'm not editing, because I'm waiting for Margie's class on Saturday. I am committed to submitting this book-I just can't get it out of my head. I also know that WTW, which dang it, I really had committed myself to subbing prior to Atlanta, but realized the problems with it and have been sitting on it since, needs a major overhaul. I have a new vision for it, but frankly, I can't find the strength to go there.

I've also made another decision, which I actually can't act on for a while. Even though I CANNOT go to ACFW (sorry, family obligations-trust me, I'd rather be at ACFW), I AM going to join. (I don't think I need to tell certain people to STFU, do I?) However, despite our good change in finances with That Man's job, the family drama of last month has set us back significantly, so I'm still trying to make sure we can pay bills like electricity this month before I commit to paying for a membership that I've avoided for years. I still don't know how I'm going to handle the whole time thing, since I don't believe in joining an organization and not giving back, but I'll figure something out.

Which goes to another decision I've made-I was asked to join the leadership team of our MOPS group, which I've accepted. It was weird, because I almost instantly accepted since it's an ego thing, and then I pulled back, saying I needed to pray and think about it. Well, prayer showed me that if I allow it, it'll be a good tempering of my ego and force me to humble myself in a few ways I've been fighting. So, I agreed. Which ended up being an ego affirming thing, because the gal got all excited and went on and on about it, so I felt pretty good. I just know there will be challenges ahead for me.

So I guess, even though I say it's a lull, there's a lot going on. I just hate this place of inaction on the part of my writing. I want to write so bad, but I'm really getting sick of writing stuff that I do nothing with. TEN BOOKS.

Oh, and my sister called today. I heard the baby in the background. I WANT TO HOLD THAT BABY!!!

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Just a quick "I'm not dead" post

Let's see here... nothing inspirational, nothing funny, nothing disgusting, nothing even remotely interesting has happened to me lately.

Last night, we went camping with my FIL at a local lake. The kiddos were enthralled. Personally, I was just glad to have a mattress. Thus far, my children have yet to experience the joy of tent camping and peeing in the forest, and I thank God for that. There is nothing worse than getting bits of nature caught in your bits of nature, IMO. Which is why, when I read a book and the happy couple is going at it someplace like the beach or the woods, I think, "Gross."

This morning, we rode the bikes 3 miles into town for breakfast. Which would have been mildly enjoyable except for the fact that out of the gagillion gears my bike has, only two worked. Yes, picture out of shape mommy heaving it up the hills on a high gear. It was not pretty. But dangit, I rode the whole way, thank you very much.

Had a very nice breakfast, that I don't remember much of, since I was still getting the feeling back in my butt, and headed back to camp. Mostly downhill, except for one hill I'm going to call "the behemoth." It sucked. Especially since my FIL decided to help me out and get my bike into a really super low gear for the trip back. Which was awesome for conquering "the behemoth", let me tell you. I rode down that thing, thinking, "there is no way I'm getting back up this hill." I did. No getting off and walking for me. I did it.

Packed up camp, headed home, and because I come from a family with known mental problems, I decided to pull weeds. I spent an hour pulling weeds, filled one of those big trash cans, and I'm not sure you can see any difference.

However, given all my activity of late, I have to say that my butt still hurts, other parts of my body hurt, and now, I'm dealing with allergy issues.

But you want to know the really sick thing? I keep thinking that I need to do it more often.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Welcome Alexa Rose!

Yep, I'm an auntie again!!

Congrats to my baby sister, Danielle! I'm feeling extremely old right about now, since I remember when SHE was born-feeding her, changing her diapers, cuddling her, etc. Who'd have thought that the cute little baby I remember would have one of her own?

I'm actually slightly peeved, since she's so far away-I don't know when I'll get to see them and hold that baby. I would make threats and demands for pictures, but since I've been rather bad about that myself, I guess I'll just beg and look really pathetic in hopes that they'll take pity on me. I imagine Alexa is gorgeous-she's a mixed race baby, and I swear, those are the cutest babies on the planet. If I ever decide to kill off That Man (still need a lot more life insurance, though), I think I'll find myself a black man so we can have cute babies together. Not that mine aren't cute. Mine are pretty dang cute, if I do say so myself.

Anyway, if I get pics soon, I'll post some. Or, since I just realized she has a My Space, maybe I'll point you thataways and you can see her that way.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Getting what is due

Today's been sort of an interesting day-I've found that a couple of people who I've been waiting to see get their due are in fact, getting their due. Now, I have to say, it isn't that I wish them ill. I don't sit around plotting for people's lives to fall apart. In fact, unless I'm actively angry with someone, I can pretty well forget they even exist as an irritant in my life.

And so, it's a weird deal when I find that someone I know is reaping what they've sown. I get pretty angry (and am in a snit over a couple of situations in this regard right now) when I watch people who consistently do bad or mean things continually have good things happen in their lives. I just don't understand how, in my life, for example, I feel like I'm always trying to do the right thing, and to be acting in accordance with God's will, and yet I feel like I'm always struggling, and the good things that fall into the laps of others seem to miss mine. I know, there isn't a direct correlation between me doing right and God handing out blessings. And truly, I don't follow Him for the blessing I seek. But I still get frustrated. Don't get me wrong, I have many blessings for which I am very thankful. It's just that other things I seek to have in my life aren't here yet. And people who are the biggest jerks in the world seem to be getting it. Which irritates the piss out of me. Seriously.

But then I hear things like I heard today, and realize that even though it's taken years for this to happen, people do show their true colors. And the ugly things in their nature come out. Their lives do end up suffering for their wrong actions. While there is a satisfied part of me that says, "FINALLY!", there is an equally sad part of me that wishes the person could have learned and grown instead.

It's funny, I'm such a believer in grace, and yet I am just as strong a believer in justice. There is no justice in grace. Because in grace, we are given what we don't deserve. Which is a contradiction of the emotions I express above. I am angry that these other people are getting what they don't deserve, things I feel that I do deserve. I am glad when people finally do get what they deserve.

And it makes me wonder if I'm not nearly as good as I think I am, and that maybe, as deserving as I think I might be, I'm really not. Deep down, I'm still a selfish jerk having a really hard time seeing things through God's eyes. And I feel extremely grateful that there is such a thing as grace, because without it, I would be lost indeed.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

I am now officially in heaven

Did you know that there is such a thing as book tv?

My mom has dish tv, and as I was flipping through the channel guide, I saw an amazing thing... CNBC has Book TV. It's authors talking about their books.

I need to be on book tv.

Not that I aspire to be a TV star, because that's really not my gig. But come on, how cool would it be to have a tv show about books. Like Reading Rainbow for grownups. I dig Reading Rainbow.

Sadly, the book show is over. I'm going to bed.

Friday, August 11, 2006


Aka why farm life is not for me.

Yes, I'm at my mom's. I took the kiddos for the weekend. I'm not sure what possessed me to do such a thing, it probably had something to do with the invite to my cousin's bridal shower, and the fact that the kiddos hadn't gotten their usual "grandma time", and I sorta feel bad that my last forays into farm central have been all about dropping off kiddos and not actually visiting the fam.

Whatever the reason, I've been here for seven hours and am ready to head back to the smog filled air I like to call home. I just can't breathe in this place. Waiting for drugs to kick in so I can go to bed. How did I survive growing up here? My kiddos, however, love it. And so far, I haven't had to drag out allergy meds for them.

I will say one thing for farm life. Since we are still on dial up, I don't get as much of a chance to be online. Plus, since it's not MY house, I don't have any work to tie me down (you know, like catching up on laundry). So, tonight, rather than doing my usual, and because Mom ordered pizza, I sat on the swing in the backyard and taught my 2 year old how to swing. There's something super cool about playing on the swings and not having to worry about getting home in time to start supper, or to get home to get some real work done, or to get to the next place in the long line of place we must stop at by the end of the day (what? You guys don't bribe your kids with a trip to the park if they will only stop whining so you can get through the line at the post office?). I also allowed her to lead me around and show me all the things a two year would think cool on a farm.

For example:
1. The horse peeing. It's a fascinating sight to someone who's potty training. Which leads to great conversation-"Horsie go pee." "Yes, honey, the horse is peeing." "Horsie go potty." "Yes, the horsie is going potty." "Horsie needs to go inside and use big girl potty." Uh, no. "Let's go see what the dogs are doing."
2. The dogs humping. "What doggies doing?" "Boys, stop it! Bad Dogs!" (Yes, they are two males-could someone please tell me why it's only the male animals that feel the need to copulate like mad?) "Bad Doggies!" "Come on, let's go find Poppa."
3. Poppa's tractor. "Baby go ride tractor." Baby runs in direction of running tractor. "Wait! Stay out of Poppa's way." "Baby go ride tractor." Tractor makes loud noise as the back thingy that they're messing with finally drops. "Tractor loud, Mommy. Go Play." So we went and played on the swings.

And then of course, there's the time we've spent snuggling on the couch. I do love those girls. For whatever reason, when we're here, they seem to snuggle a lot more. It reminds me how much I love being their mom. They may be little terrorists, but I'll tell you, there is nothing sweeter than my girls.

So even though my sinuses are revolting, even though my eyes feel like sandpaper, and I think my lungs have ceased to operate, I'm having a good time. Tomorrow, it's off to see the rest of the fam, drink some punch, and see what other fun can be had. I imagine I'll be doing some laundry, because well, it just wouldn't be my life without it. Thus far today I've been peed on, had a messy butt wiped on, spilled BBQ sauce on, and probably a few other nasty encounters. Add in a child with a fire ant encounter that led to dumping her fully clothed into a pool, and my clean clothes bag is suddenly running a bit short.

Life on the farm is never, ever, dull.

Marriage advice from a five year old

And it's good, so pay attention.

I was tucking B in tonight, and she was stalling, as usual. We got into this discussion of how much I love her.

"Mom, do you love me a hundred times?"
"I love you a hundred million times."
"No, you're supposed to love your husband a hundred million times."
"I do love him a hundred million times. But I also love you guys a hundred million times."
"No, you have to love your husband more."
Brilliant Point number One
"Honey, I do."
"You also shouldn't get angry with your husband." (I SWEAR, we have not been fighting lately. We're actually doing quite well.)
Brilliant Point number Two
"I try not to. But sometimes grownups get angry. You just have to work it out."
"And apolo... what's that word?"
"Yes. Apologize. You should always apologize for getting angry with your husband."
Brilliant Point number Three
"I apologize to my husband." (And why, exactly, am I justifying my marriage to my five year old?)
"And you should kiss your husband a lot."
Brilliant Point number Four
"I kiss my husband a lot."
"You should kiss him more."
Brilliant Point number Five.

So, in case you're having marital troubles, or just want to know how to have a happy marriage when your turn comes, there it is. Five easy steps to having a good marriage. I have no idea where she got all of this, but it's brilliant stuff.

And just in case I didn't tickle your funny bone enough, here's something that I wish I was daring enough to try. I'm back in tax classes, upping my certification levels for another year. One of my classmates, to put it nicely, is a royal pain. I noticed the other day a fun little quirk she has. When she gets to class and sets her things on her desk in preparation, one of the things she sets out is...

I'm almost tempted to leave you hanging, it's so hillarious.

Okay, I won't. Because then, you'll miss my funny point.

She sets her bottle of Prozac on her desk.

No, I am not kidding.

So here's the funny thing I want to try... what if I did that? Who is going to mess with a chick who's got her meds proudly displayed on her desk? Sadly, I'm not on any meds because for the most part, I don't believe in them (but check with your doctor, okay-don't go off meds because I said I don't believe in them for the most part). But wouldn't that be hillarious? I could line up a bunch of pill bottles for being a psychopath and then no one would mess with me. They'd be too scared I'd go off on them or something.

Hey, maybe that is marriage advice point number six: When you can't beat 'em, make 'em think you're so freaking nuts, they leave you alone.

Our house must be so hard to live in with all this brilliance floating about...

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Back to Faith in a roundabout way

Yes I know, I'm a bad, bad blogger. Partially, I have nothing to say. Partially, I get tired of whining about myself. Mostly, I'm still in my funk and have been doing a lot of reading. I'd thought, until I ended up with another headache tonight, that I was doing much better as a result of my catching up on reading. Sometimes, all I need is a few good books to get me out of a funk.

Books I've read in the past couple of days:
Body Work by Fiona Brand: serial killer story-fun, fun, fun
Dead Silence by Brenda Novak: great suspense-can't wait for the next one
Here Comes Trouble by Leslie Kelly: I about wet my pants, it was so funny
My So-Called Love Life by Allie Pleiter: I don't want to discuss it.

Okay, fine. I will discuss Allie's book. Partially because she's the sweetest woman on earth, partially because she actually made knitting sound interesting, and partially because if I praise her enough and she somehow stumbles on my blog, she won't kill me. Because right now, she's on my "die, scoundrel" list. Eventually, I will get over it and be happy, however, I am still reeling from the last five lines on page 215. Sadly, it's making me wonder if maybe I don't have my own priorities mixed up. And I'm not entirely sure what to do about it. Hence, my murderous threats. I know that when I figure things out, I'll be glad of it all, but really... there's only so much messing with my head that I can stand.

Since I'm ranting, I may as well just come out with it all and say that I want people to read my books and do the same thing-to find a line or two that just gets them and does something to their hearts. Is that egotistical of me? But seriously. What is the point of writing if it doesn't change lives?

One of the few workshops I went to at RWA was the PRO Retreat, where Bob Mayer and Jenny Crusie talked about blogs and websites. They said that for your blog or website to be most effective, it needed to have a purpose. Even though I go on my weird bunny trails, I've always had one important purpose-to impact lives. And maybe it's a little ambitious to say that people reading my ramblings are somehow improved and uplifted by it.

That's always been my goal for my books-starting with when I first set the goal to write a book ten years ago. I didn't think, back then, that I had anything worth telling, that a kid like me would be able to inspire others to greatness. I waited five years to even begin writing, and then, because I didn't think I was ready or able to write anything serious, I wrote stuff that had nothing to do with my original aims. I still think I'm falling short of those aims.

Is it that I still lack faith? Um, yeah. Let's be honest. Oh wait, I always am. I hope, that if anyone gets anything from any of this is that I'm doing what I can to be real. I'm pretty sick of the lack of authenticity in this world. I'm sick of watching people try to be something they're not in order to well... what? Seriously. What is the point? Why are we all trying to be whatever it is we're trying to be?

Going back to my rant about Allie's book. What is it that we're chasing after and why? Are those our priorities or God's priorities? What's first? As much as I say I want God to be first, frankly, I'm not doing such a good job of it.

So why am I stalling on all of this? Why am I fighting what is so clearly in my heart that I need to be doing? Because as much as I hunger for God, as much as I want it to be all about God, it's still all about me. As long as *I* am in the center, it's simply not going to happen.

Explosives, anyone?

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Life without diarrhea

I don't know why I wrote that... I'll be popping up in all the search results for folks who are looking to solve their bowel issues. Ah well, it's better to pop up for talking about poop than it is for talking about terrorists, right?

Anyway... what would my most loyal readers wish to hear about tonight?

Headache status... mostly gone.

Yesterday, we had a surprise farewell party for DSS, who leaves Wed for college. Then, I headed up to the mountains to my writer friend (of Defeating Self Defeating Behaviors fame) Margie's house, for a writer BBQ. No, we didn't BBQ writers. Actually, I was late and full from the other party, so I didn't eat. But we did talk writing. One of her guests was a NYT bestseller who is amazing, generous, and very free with advice on the business end of writing. Learned a lot of cool stuff, so that was good.

Once she left, however, I had a moment on the hotseat where I had to talk about what I was working on. And so finally, kicking and screaming, I might have a confession to make.

I think I'm supposed to be writing inspirational.

Peanut gallery, STFU.

I'm laughing at myself here, because some of you know what STFU means. Very uninspirational, I can assure you. But here's the funny part. I had a conversation with a SH editor, just shooting the breeze, and I made a comment about how I've been targeting a particular line, and my crits came back saying, "this sounds like an inspirational." And my response was, "sh*t". The editor laughed, and said, "well that's not inspirational." Yes, I know.

See, this is why I fight inspirational. I'm just me. Messed up, trying as hard as I can to figure it all out, but frankly, rather than sitting in my little choir group singing kumbayah praise songs, I'm plotting the rather violent deaths of all the people who piss me off. Those of you who know me well know I'm serious. Crap. Now I've probably got more cops watching me. Oh well. They'll eventually figure out that I'm a crazy lady with more bark than bite.

Back to the whole inspirational thing... when God asked me to write a nonfiction book about being a Christian, I said no because I never felt like I was qualified. I still don't feel qualified. Who am I to write some book about God-even on a fiction level-when I am so totally screwed up? When I was at RWA, I barely cracked open my Bible, and I think that was to prove a point about something I was arguing. Prayer-a couple of muttered things before a couple of meals, maybe when I was in the throes of migraine-dom, and definitely while Dana and I were braving the savage creatures who roam the streets of Atlanta at night. For all my blustering about God, I can't even keep it together for a week while I'm out of my normal routine.

The truth is, my life, and my view of the world, is diarrhea. It's messy, it's gross, and at the end of the day, some poor sucker has to clean it up. I can't imagine that anyone, save a few sick souls who, like me, happen to think diarrhea is hillarious, would want to read about it. I can't imagine not writing diarrhea. My books are full of it. And the thing is-a lot of the things you find in diarrhea are the sorts of things you just can't write about under the "Christian" umbrella. Not that I'm knocking those guidelines. I very much understand and appreciate why they're in place. But if what I'm supposed to write is all diarrhea, which has no place in the Christianity the publishing world is allowed to portray, and also has no place in the mainstream world because I dare talk about God and Jesus, then where exactly does it belong?

I'm potty training the two year old. She regressed while I was gone, and so today, as she stood pooping on the back porch (in her diaper, I just know the "I'm pooping look" she gets), I had to tell her to stop, carry her to the toilet, and remind her how to properly do her business. I guess maybe it's time I figured out how to do mine.

Toilet paper, anyone?

Friday, August 04, 2006

Crappy Day

Literally I'm afraid.

I pretty much spent the day cleaning up crap in one form or another. Allow me to enumerate:

1. Woke up to child smelling of spray stain remover for clothes-the petrochemical sort.
2. Get kiddo to shower and realize that my bed is covered in dog vomit.
3. Take shower, clean up kid, clean up dog vomit.
4. Realize that we're late to take B to school, rush off to school, get a phone call on the way to school-we were supposed to pick up another kid. Get other kid, show up late to school.
5. Return home to realize that child had sprayed stain remover all over kitchen.
6. Open cupboard to find scrub brush, realize sink is leaking and has been leaking for some time, given the mess under the sink.
7. Clean up mess under sink, petrochemical mess, and realize that the dog has made diarrhea all over the bedroom floor.
8. Clean up dog diarrhea and begin regular housework-realizing that it is now nearly noon, and almost time to get kiddo and friend from school.
9. Get laundry folded and bring into bedroom to hang up. Realize that dog has made diarrhea all over the "to be dry cleaned" pile. AKA my favorite "dry clean only" clothes.
10. Pick up said clothing and throw it in washer on delicate, praying that it will get diarrhea out and not ruin the clothes.
11. Pick up kiddos from school. Send them and dog out back. Go out and supervise because meter reader is here to download my meter on to his computer, and I don't want the kids or dog to terrorize the poor man, but neither do I want them terrorizing my house.
12. 2:30 PM-FINALLY get to my project of the day: picking up the family room. Between kiddo interruptions, finally get that done at 4.
13. DH returns home and I head to 4:30 chiro appointment to see if we can finally get rid of this headache. Yes, I still have migraine that began Saturday night. Today, we tried adjustment, acupuncture (yes, I got needles in my face. It felt good), and finally, drugs. It's down to a dull ache.
14. Returned home to find kid that was supposed to be picked up at 3 is still there-change dinner plans. Which goes back to the problem from last night-my oven stopped working last night. So tonight, I had to cook on the grill.

And so, I'm sure you'll all understand why I am very much looking forward to going to bed tonight. Tomorrow HAS to be a better day.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Blah blah blah

Still trying to dig out my house. Still have to get the downstairs in order, but you know, I did go grocery shopping. I was so proud of myself, I planned our menus for the next week, made a great dinner (new recipe-thanks to the Gal Pal recipe book), and then I realized-on the first day cool enough to use it-my oven is broken. Had my first tax class of the off season (sort of-I forgot to go on Tues), so I had to rush off. So much for being organized. See, this is why I don't bother.

Still fighting headaches. Went to the chiro yesterday and I was way out, so I'm back tomorrow. It's just this constant dull ache. Ugh.

Also, I finished the new beginning to TMB. I've decided to stick to my original plan and NOT go inspy with it, but we'll see what happens. It's printed, so now I have to do the read through and paper edits, then I'll ship it off to the UK.

I'm hoping to buckle down and get more on The Book done. I keep changing focus. Er, maybe I just can't get focused. I don't know. Frankly, when my head is like this, I can't think of much of anything. I just don't know where to go. Guess it's time to dig back into the Bible, see what God decides to tell me. I'm probably making it more complicated than I need to.

I should probably say something interesting, so here goes:
Books I'm currently reading and/or planning on reading soon.
1. A renegade's guide to God by David Foster (it's an ARC, not out until Nov)-FANTASTIC book. You want to know where I'm at in my faith, this is it. And makes me wonder why I'm writing MY book, when Foster nails it for me.
2. Georgia on her Mind by Rachel Hauck-it's the monthly SH read, so read it.
3. Dead Silence by Brenda Novak-it's the monthly MM read, so read that one too. Plus, I've never read a Brenda Novak book I didn't like. :)

And with that, I'm going to bed. Did I mention my head hurts?

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Dear Stupid Head Self

One of the things Dana nudged me about at the conference was that I need to pick something and stick to it. Okay, fine. So I have taken a few works out of the game and am focusing on my sweet romance. Done. However, given that I keep getting comments that I should be writing inspirational, I am still in the debate of mainstream versus inspirational.

What do I write today?

A freaking love scene.

No, it isn't graphic, or anything like that. However, I seriously doubt that my saying "They made love in the meadow" is going to be something that will make Krista or Joan read, jump up and down, and say, "what a perfect inspirational story".

And yet, it's vital to the story, adds that extra emotional punch, is between a married couple, and now that I've written it, I know what's been missing from this story all along.

Please shoot me.

On the plus side, this is the story I was whining about needing a subplot. I have almost thirty new pages in it since Sunday. I took Joanne Rock's advice and re-wrote the beginning from scratch and realized I didn't start early enough in their story. And since I've also realized that my heroine is not as well developed, I can use the extra room for her. I think I may just end up going over rather than being short.

My advice for today: Go ahead and spend some time just writing crap that you aren't sure will end up in the final product or not. Take the time to figure out things tha need to be figured, and the story will open up in ways you never expected.

However, if you're like my stupid head self, I would recommend ignoring my advice, because invariably, stupid head self will rear up, and in the fear of having to actually commit to one genre, do something absolutely stupid like have a couple make love in the middle of a meadow when you'd been thinking they might be inspirational.


However, in the interest of being positive, let's think that this is the nudge I needed to decide to stick with my original game plan of Harlequin Romance. At least there I can say those three dreaded words, "they made love."

Amazing how three little words can change a person's direction, even if you still aren't sure that's the direction you want.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Monday: Goodbye Atlanta-Don't call me Sweetie

We woke up, finished packing, and went to breakfast. Then Dana had to leave, so we hugged, and I was on my own. I took a little nap, gathered my stuff, and checked out. I ran into Wayne in the lobby, so we chatted a bit, and then he had to go, too. After Wayne left, I wrote a bit more, and then packed up to head to the airport. Ran into Ola at the Concierge, so we traveled to the airport together. It was fitting-we came and left together, and never planned it.

In the airport, I got a book read, then it was time to board. I will just say that we had the world’s worst flight attendants. You have to understand, I’ve been flying since I was a little kid-at least 25 years-thanks to having divorced parents living on opposite sides of the country. So when I got a lecture on seat belt usage because *gasp* I had the nerve to unbuckle just long enough to turn off the air so I could feel my arms again, I was slightly annoyed.

However, the part which has earned this idiotic woman a death role in my next book is that she had to spend the entire flight speaking to me in a condescending manner and calling me, “Sweetie.” Just because you call me Sweetie doesn’t make you any less rude. In fact, it just annoys me more. I hate hate hate hate hate it when people think they can temper nastiness with adding an endearment. It does not work. Call a spade a spade, and don’t add to my dislike of you by being fake.

I could list all of the rude, condescending things this woman did, but frankly, she’s not worth wasting my time on. She’s dead now anyway. ;) She did go overboard on the whole safety thing, and I don’t think I’ve ever dealt with someone so intent on following the rules. My seatmate and I were clearly trying to put our laptops away (which we began as soon as the captain made his announcement), and she made a point of coming up to us and lecturing us about safety and how it was supposed to be stowed. Yes, we know. If you’d stop yapping at us, we’d have it finished. But, because the poor guy next to me was having trouble getting it done, she decided to make an announcement, singling him out, which was just slightly over the top.

We finally landed, and I finally got to see my honey and my kiddos. Even though I didn’t miss them in all the activity, I was sure glad to be back with them. I absolutely love being a writer, I absolutely love my job, but I really really love being a wife and mother.

Sunday: Goodbye to my friends

Pretty much everyone left Sunday-so it was just Dana and I, and a few stragglers. We spent the morning organizing stuff and getting our bags mostly packed. Then we went to drop our books to get shipped. After that, we went to the Margaret Mitchell house to learn about the genius behind Gone with the Wind. I was slightly disappointed there wasn’t more stuff, but we still learned a lot, and I got a really cool story idea.

We returned to the hotel, got in our bathing suits, grabbed our writing gear, and hit the pool to do some work. One thing I did get out of my pitch was some great advice (combined with amazing advice from Joanne Rock, who has a similar writing process to mine), so I was eager to start working on/adding to the book I pitched. I don’t think I need a subplot-I’ve got some character development to work on.

We sat in the pool and brainstormed with a couple of authors we ran into. It was a lot of fun, and I really got a good jumpstart. I ended up writing 8 pages.

When my laptop gave me the “your battery is going to die” warning, we packed up and headed to the room. We decided to have a girls night in, order pizza, and watch movies. So we did. I wrote a couple more pages, and stayed up way too late, because there were some good movies on.

Saturday: My Steam is Gone

I slept in until 8 on Saturday. Got my pitch ready, and hung out until it was time to do it at ten. Frankly, it was all a blur, and a bit on the odd side. I didn’t know it then, but it was the beginning of the end for me. I got through the pitch, I’m not entirely certain I got a request, but Dana says it was, so I guess it was. LOL. My mind was in such a fog. I popped into the Inspirational Spotlight, which was good, and then hit some more signings.

After that, we went to the luncheon, and I kept fogging out, although I did FINALLY get to see my beloved Cathie Linz, who is one of the sweetest women you’ll ever meet. I was so funked out that we left, and I went to check boards and hang out. We hit a couple more signings, and then my PA and I went to the world of Coca Cola, and it was amazing. They had a place to try coke from all around the world, and we decided that we rather liked all of it, particularly the New Guinea one, which has passion fruit in it. YUM!

We walked through the underground and then took the subway back. I felt a headache coming on, but assumed it was the heat and a need to eat. Got to the room, where Dana and Jo were eating room service (the rats), so my PA and I went to the sports bar and got dinner. They were so disorganized. They ended up losing our check, so we didn’t have to pay. We got back to our room, and I just felt funny. I tried to get ready, but my head really hurt, and I started losing my mental acuity. Yep, it was a migraine. Had I realized it when I felt odd at the pitch, I’d have been able to take some meds and feel better, but I just thought I was tired. D’OH!

I ended up missing the RITAs. I scared poor Dana, who thought I was having a stroke, because I couldn’t put a sentence together. Nope, just a migraine. I rested, took lots of drugs, and then decided to get dressed and at least make an appearance at the after party. My PA followed me around and helped me, so I was able to say goodbye to folks. I tried doing an after party trip to the bar, but I started fogging out again, so we went back to the room. I think we chatted a bit, but I don’t remember.

Friday: We have a reputation to uphold

Friday I actually slept in until like 9. Which really, is not so late, considering it was 7 my time, and I’d been going to bed at my usual bedtime-my time. People who get up this early regularly have to be on something. Thought about the Harlequin Spotlight, which is where I was supposed to be, but I wasn’t feeling well, and frankly, there’s something people need to know about me and conference. I am exhausted. I know, everyone thinks I’m all bubbly and full of energy. It’s a front. The second I’m forced to sit still, I fall asleep. I was also having mega cramps, and the only way for me to deal with that is to either keep moving or take drugs, knock myself out, and sleep. I chose to keep moving.

So, I decided to introduce Joanne to one of the best parts of conference. Free books. We went to signings. The good thing about that is that I get to keep moving. Plus, I did mention free books, right? Mother ship, I commune with thee. I was also good here, though, only getting the books I really needed, and if I thought I might have it, or didn’t know the author, I passed. I only ended up with half of the books I did last year.

The crew and I (minus our PA, who actually had business of her own-the nerve!) went to lunch at Gibney’s Pub, and for the first time, I had Shepherd’s Pie. Yummy stuff. Another rule about when I travel-it’s all about the food. I go to places I wouldn’t ordinarily see or eat at and always try to eat something regional. Definitely the grits of the day before qualify there.

After lunch, it was more signings, more socializing, more promotion of the site. My PA says I’m very good at what I do-and I didn’t even pay her to say it. Tee Hee.

Went to the Blaze anniversary party, which was a lot of fun, and oh MY! The cake was delicious.

Then, the hosty crew and our PA met for dinner. Mine was recommended to me by one of our author friends known for her good taste in food, but I have to say I was less than enthralled with it. I ate it, though, because I was hungry. Left room for the dessert extravaganza at the Harlequin party.

Took a bath, read part of a book, and then got ready for the party at the Ritz. Fun, fun, fun. We took a cab, even though it was only a couple of blocks. The party was nice, did the usual dancing until our feet hurt so much we thought we were going to die. It’s funny, the first songs they play are always the same. But fun, so who cares?

As I informed Joanne in the elevator to meet up with folks, we have a reputation to uphold. The Steeple Hill and eHarlequin folk are known for being the most fun, hands down. We’re the first on the dance floor, and the last to leave. That’s just how it is. While we had a couple of gimpys with us (Dee and Jeanette), I am pleased to say that we did our part to uphold our reputation. The party was supposed to end at Midnight, and they finally kicked us out at 1. We did walk home, but there was a whole pack of us (around 20), and I ended up plotting a rather cool continuity series with a few authors. We decided it should go across all lines. It would be totally fun.

We were all hyped up from the party, so we tried to see who was in the hotel bar, but by the time we got there, they were kicking everyone out. Party poopers. And for those of you who don’t go, I should point out that it’s not about the drinking. Yes, some folks go and get drunk, but most of us go to chat and have a good time. Anyway, since there was no action to be found, the crew and I went to bed.

Thursday: Our new Personal Assistant

What can I say about Thursday? Had to wake up way too early, because genius self that I am, I scheduled a breakfast with the Steeple Hill crew. So, at seven in the morning, I was up and at ‘em, meeting Brenda Coulter, Abby Gaines, Margaret Daley, Debbieleen, and Camy Tang. (Dana was with me too) Anyway, had a lovely breakfast, then I went to the Pro Retreat, which was good, except I was so tired, all I heard was, “blah blah blah”. I did get my Pro booklet, so that was a good thing. I ended up going back to the room, and we did something, but I don’t remember what. OH! The American signing. Then, we got ready for the eHQ lunch. That was way cool, at a really nice restaurant. One of the cabs got lost, but since I wasn’t on it, it’s not my tale to tell. Joannneee…

Lunch was delicious. I had shrimp and grits. I didn’t know if I’d like it, since I always thought grits was breakfast food, but um, no. It was amazing. It was like eating garlic mashed potatoes, only with more texture. YUM! Sadly, due to the taxi mix up, some of our guests had to leave early, but we still had fun. Let’s see if I remember who was there: Jayne, Jeanette, Wayne, Tanya, Me, Sapphire, Julie Cohen, Margaret Daley, Dana, Holly Jacobs, Jennifer LaBreque, Gail Dayton, Marta Perry, Julie Miller, Beth Cornelison, Bronwyn Jameson, and a couple others, I just don’t remember who. Sorry! The memory is not what it used to be.

After lunch, I went to have a little rest in the room, Ang and Jo were there and we chatted for a bit. Well, while I was chatting, I literally dozed off. Eeek! Anyway, Angela saw me dozing, kicked Jo off the bed, and covered me with a blanket. She also ran errands for us in the morning, so we dubbed her our personal assistant. And she’s a very good one at that. So hereafter, any references to our PA, we’re talking about Angela.

Then, I stopped by the bar to find folks to chat with, ended up chatting with a few of our bigwig types, then went to the Everlasting cocktail party. Everlasting is a new line they’re launching, so I went and chatted with the authors, drummed up business for the boards, even found a few folks who needed the scoop on what we do. I love educating people about my job. I also got to meet the editor I was going to be pitching to, and she gave me some tips. She’s a very nice woman. I have to say, because I know how many folks are intimidated by editors, that every one I’ve met has just been absolutely a dream. Seriously. They’re all very nice, very down to earth people. Don’t be afraid of them, because they really do want to help people succeed.

After that was the Steeple Hill Meet and Greet, where I got to connect with all of our author and a couple of our editors. Very fun. Got to hear the latest scoop, and of course, remind folks that I’m here. Ran by the Moonlight Madness, didn’t find what I was looking for (KOD Cookbook), and then up to my room to change for the PJ party.

Now I must say that our party is THE social event of the conference, and we have a super fun time. This year, we gave out fun pillows, although I’m going to rant here, because I’m STILL irritated. It amazed me at how greedy some folks were over a stupid pillow. I’d set aside a few in my bag for our late coming authors, and when I went to get them to hand out, people had TAKEN them OUT of my bag. So, if you went to the party, didn’t get a pillow, and wanted one, I am sorry. I tried to save some. I’m coming up with a new plan for next year. That aside, if you really did like them, and really did want one, you can get one in our bonus bucks catalog. AND, if you really were there, and email me, I’ll send you some of my bonus bucks to get one, since I collect the things but never seem to spend them.

Anywhoo, we had a really wonderful time, and hung out afterward to chat. No, not going to list who all was there, because I KNOW I’ll forget someone. We had a bigger room than usual, and it was STILL packed. Check out my pictures and you’ll get to see at least some of them. After the party, we actually *gasp* went to bed.

Wednesday: It Begins

You would think I would know by now NOT to schedule early morning breakfasts. But I did-for both Wednesday and Thursday. Wednesday was at IKEA. I’d never been, but I’d heard of it, and when my buddies C.J. Lyons and Staci Wallace emailed me to see if we could do IKEA, I said, sure. Laura also wanted to go when I mentioned I was going, so we met up in the lobby. The only trouble-I’d never met C.J. (Staci was meeting us there), so I really had no idea what she looked like, and people never look like their website pics. Finally, we found her-got in the car, and headed off. We got there shortly before opening, and wow… tons of people were already eager to get in. We got there, had breakfast (yummy stuff, only 99 cents), then hit the store.

Um… what to say… they had tons of way cool stuff. I seriously could have bought an entire houseful, it was so cool. I did find some good buys, picked up a few trinkets, and when it came time to take a group shot, realized the memory card on my camera was shot. Thankfully someone (Laura, maybe? Please?) had a camera and took one of us. Which was good, because other than passing C.J. in the hallway, I never saw them again.

Got back to the hotel, had every intention of taking a nap, but ended up checking the boards (see, I DO work when out of town), and then I needed to get a new memory card, so Dana and I headed out for the mall. Dana needed candy to hand out at the lit signing, so we hit the candy store, I bought my girlies gifts. Then we went to the camera store, I got my memory card, and my phone rang. It was Sapphire! Aka our other roomie and her friend.

We headed back to the hotel, got the girls checked in, and headed to the room. Sapphire (aka Joanne) is another host, and her friend Angela was there for the ride. I knew Jo, but I’d never met Angela before. Angela is a hoot. We had a ton of fun. Truly, if you’re going to stick four women in a hotel room together, the four of us could not have been a better match.

Then it was off to our hosty dinner, where we met up with Jayne, Jeanette (one of the bookstore people), Dee, and Tanya. My meal sounded yummy, but it was rather spicy, so I didn’t end up eating much of it.

Afterwards, we went to the booksigning. Now, some of you know how we refer to Barnes and Noble as my mothership. However, let me just say that um, no. It is not even close to the blissful high I get being in a room with five hundred authors signing books. *satisfied sigh* But, because I’m broke and trying to be a good girl, I only spent about $75. World record for me, since I always spend about twice that. I’m not even going to attempt to list everyone I saw at the lit signing, because were too many. I think I stopped every two feet for a hug.

After, I met up with my crew (Dana, Jo, and Ang), chatted a bit, met up with Latesha from the boards, and she and I went to a gathering Jane Porter was having with folks from her list at Trader Vic’s. Again, had a very nice time, got to chat with folks. Had my first Mai Tai. Actually, it was only a couple of sips, because it was so strong, I thought I was going to die. That dinner was also very spicy, but I did eat most of it, because once the spice wore off, it was really tasty. After dinner, I went up to hang out with Catherine Mann, Joanne Rock, and Dianna Love Snell. The crew called and joined us, which was fun. Cathy and Joanne are probably two of my favorite people, so I was sad I didn’t get to spend more time with them.

Went back to our room, tried to go to bed, but sadly, it was like being at a slumber party, we up way too late giggling over silly stuff.

Tuesday in Atlanta: The Arrival

When I was a kid, visiting my dad necessitated a stopover in Atlanta to change planes. My memory of the airport was that it was a lot of fun. Looking back, I think it must’ve been the fact that they had a train and we did not. I’d like to stick my neck out and say that Atlanta is the most horrific airport in the universe to try to find your way around. While my personal assistant (more on that later) would argue O’Hare, I’m sticking with Atlanta, and O’Hare as a close second.

I got in to Atlanta with a fierce need to empty my bladder. I was in a window seat, and the people next to me slept the whole time, so I didn’t get to use the one on the plane. Got off the plane, no bathroom to be found. Walked down the twenty-mile long hallway, saw one bathroom with an out of order sign. Ugh. Got on “fun” train that was so crowded that not having a handhold was an okay thing-the people squished next to me held me up. After being told three different baggage carousels, I finally found the one with my luggage. Apparently, it’s too expensive for them to invest in a “FRONTIER” sign.

I spotted a restroom, so I went to use it before my luggage came out. Used the restroom, and twenty minutes later, my luggage arrived. I will NEVER again gripe about DIA. On the way back from the restroom, I spotted my beloved Anna DeStefano, hugged for a bit, and then went back to the great luggage search. Luggage came in, and went off in search of my fellow host and author, Wayne Jordan. Now, in order to fully appreciate this story, you need to realize that I’ve met him once-in Reno. My recollection of him is that he’s a good-looking black man. I started looking around for a good-looking black man. Um, we’re in Atlanta. They’re ALL good-looking black men. But hey, I have his flight info, so I’ll just go to his baggage claim. After traveling the entire airport, and having a number of good looking black men thinking that I’m stalking them, I find out that to get to THAT baggage claim, I need to go down a long hallway, down a floor, and then down another long hallway. I get there, and there are no good looking black men to be found. Just my luck. However, my phone rings, and it’s Michelle, Wayne’s friend we’re also meeting, whom I’ve never met. She and Wayne are at the taxi stand. Great. I trek all the way back to the taxi stand (down the long hallway, up the elevator, down another long hallway, you get the picture). I look around. Every good looking black man appears to be with folks who definitely aren’t our people. I call Michelle to see where she’s at. She tells me the taxi stand. I’m at the taxi stand. I start looking around. We realize that we’re standing next to each other. Wayne joins us and we realize that Wayne and I passed each other twice. *shaking head* Also at the taxi stand is another good friend, Olivia Gates, aka Ola. She’s from Egypt. So we all grab a cab together and head to the hotel. I also realize why the city is called HotLanta-I’m not the sweating type, however, my shirt was soaked by the time we got to the hotel.

At the hotel, my roomie, Dana Corbit, is waiting for me. We check in, and go up to the room, which she’s already gotten organized for us because we’re expecting two new roomies the next day. We unpack and decide to find dinner and explore. Dinner was at Benihana, which I love. We shared our table with a lovely couple we thought were on a date. After talking with them, however, we found out they were coaches on a recruiting trip. Nice folks. Had a good chat, and Dana gave them some promo items. We get back to the hotel and decide to walk around, check out who’s there, and all that.

Go up to the first bar, which was tiny. Ran into some old friends, chatted, hugs all around. I’d list them, but I can’t remember who all was there, and besides, we were good, so there’s no story to tell. Oh! Wait! I do have one thing… our hotel was enormous, and the elevator was a glass elevator, so even if you were on the 42nd floor, you went all the way up in a glass elevator. So… our buddy Laura Marie Altom had a key to go up there, and she took us up to catch the view. WOW!

Then all the party poopers went to bed, and Dana and I decided to head to the other bar to see folks. And who should we run into, but our coach friend. He immediately recognizes us and says he googled us, and even told Dana she didn’t look like her picture. (And in the spirit of paying back the Google, his name is Mike Neighbors.) Anyway, we chatted, he picked our brains on romance, we had fun horrifying him by pointing out all the little old ladies who wrote erotica, and then we ran into another author. Sadly, I can’t say who this author is, because it was a rather embarrassing night for her and she would prefer we not speak of it. Basically, she was pretty drunk. We ended up escorting her to another bar a block away, because she wanted to go, and we were afraid for her being alone. All the “Atlanta is scary stories”-well, I can tell you why. The homeless people were SO aggressive, it was scary for the four of us. I was really glad Mike was with us, and I think he enjoyed playing knight in shining armor. We got to the bar, I was the only one who got carded *doing happy dance of joy*, and they promptly said that our friend couldn’t be there because she was too drunk. We made our way back through the throng of aggressive homeless people (seriously, it was scary-they kept grabbing at us) and returned to the hotel. Put our friend to bed, said goodbye to our knight, and went to bed ourselves. Thus endeth my first night in Atlanta.

Atlanta Recap

Despite my best efforts, I failed to blog during the Atlanta trip. What can I say, I was having a fabulous time. Sooo… we’ll go in a series of blog posts, and I’ll try to catch you all up on the highlights.

Also, you will be able to find photos here: Atlanta Pics

I do not have everything labeled yet, so you can either wait for it, or look now and figure out who it is on your own.