Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Movie Review - Pirates

Arrrrgh! Love Johnny Depp - he always does a great job as "Captain" Jack Sparrow. So what's not to love about an entertaining couple hours of piratesque adventure?

My favorite line of the movie was, "It's a Pirate's Life for Me".

I didn't think I'd like the mermaids but I did. They weren't too Disney for me. It was a great way to spend a holiday with the family--watching a movie that had great special effects and fun sword fights.

How 'bout you? Did you see the movie this weekend? If not, how did you enjoy your time?

Monday, May 30, 2011

Happy Decoration Day!

Well that's what it used to be called. Today it's known as Memorial Day and we celebrate it on the last Monday of May. Really "celebrate" is a strange word because the day is meant to remember fallen military personnel. A time to stop and think of men and women who have died while in military service to the US.

It's really a somber celebration - but it also marks the start of the summer vacation season!!! With BBQs and picnics - I can only hope the weather will cooperate here in the PacNW.

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend and maybe stop for a moment to remember. . .

Friday, May 27, 2011

Earth-Friendly Friday

So, what do you do with extra embroidery floss? You can use it to make gifts. Just check out this pen Fatina made for me.

Sometimes you just need to think outside the . . . spool.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Love Languages

Everyone has their own way of showing love. There are five languages of love:

1) Words of Affirmation, 2) Quality Time, 3) Receiving Gifts, 4) Acts of Service, and 5) Physical Touch.

This week, I've had more than my share of love shown in the form of #3. My hubby and I got one large gift, a 42" gift as a matter of fact.

It all started out so innocently. My son and his gfriend asked if we could puppy sit while they went out on a Date Night. "Sure," we said. So, they brought over their little puggle-wuggle of love and we spent a couple hours playing with the little guy.

But when Jake and Jovan came back, they showed us that their date night was really spent shopping for a new t.v. for us when they gave us this giant flat screen t.v. I told them, "this isn't going to help my diet." And, not because I'll sit on the couch instead of going outside running. Nope, the problem is I see all that food on the Food Network in giant "enhanced" portion sizes. Now, it's going to be hard for me to eat my fist-sized meals instead of supersized 42" of yummiliciousness.

Watch out cupcake wars, you're going to look like an Extreme Cake Challenge on this screen ;)

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Word for Wednesday - a game for Writers

Guess what the word Sanguine means.

Take a guess

Come on play the game

Scroll down

Scroll down

Here's the answer: cheerfully optimistic, hopeful, or confident

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Tip for Tuesday - Save the Cat

Do you ever forget to finish up a thread in your story? I do.

Do you ever get confused about aspects of your characters? I do.

Do you ever get sidelined in your story? I do.

Well here's help. Check out this link to tools for writers. Save the Cat offers a quick outline to use for your story. It's directed toward script writers but it can work for any kind of story.

If you try it, let me know what you think of it.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Exer...cuse - what's yours

I love to bake and I love to eat maybe that's why I have the worst time losing weight and maybe why it always seems to wait ;) It seems I've made exercuses for years.

What's your exercuse?

In the past mine has always been, "I don't have the time." And, I know everyone has 24 hours but working moms pack a whole lot of priorities into those meager hours. I didn't start working out seriously until my kids went off to college. Now, I've taken back up running. I used to love to run--when I was young but for about 20 years it was all about the kids.

When my hubby and I started running again, almost one year ago, we'd run a block--walk a block. Now, I've been training for a half-marathon for about 8 months. I was really thinking I was getting in shape. Yeah, right.

Friday I took the day off from work and went and played tennis with my hubby. In fact, our first date back in 1979 was playing tennis at UofO. I even taught tennis back in college to help pay my tuition. So, I could play all day long and never get tired...at least that's the way I remember it ;)

BUT, after playing 5 games (not five sets--a big difference) with my hubby on Friday, I was worn out. I'm still sore a couple of days later. I thought I was getting in good shape... I was wrong. I'm getting to be a decent runner but I obviously need to mix things up a whole lot more to work out other areas of my body. In fact, I didn't run Friday or Saturday...(here's my new exercuse) I was just too sore.

So, what's your exercuse? Are you training for anything or making excuses not to go out and 'just do it'?

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Trivia Test Thanks to Vickie


Every day worldwide, over 500 million people travel on very short rides, in what type of moving vehicle?

No fair checking the web either? What is your guess?

Scroll Down

Scroll Down

Scroll Down

Answer: Elevator

Friday, May 20, 2011

Earth-Friendly Friday

I love to garden but hate garden pests, which makes life difficult for an organic gardener.

So, is there any way to reduce garden pests without resorting to toxic pesticides?

Yes! And here are a couple tips to help you.

1) Build healthy garden soil rich in organic matter.
2) Start with healthy plants.
3) Ladybugs can help. Purchase some at your local nursery. These pretty predators of garden pests will eat some of those vicious villains destroying your garden.
4) Read up on Good Bugs - Bad Bugs. If you know the enemy (and don't mistake the good guy for the bad guy) you'll be miles (or blooms) a head.

:) happy trails (and not slug ones)

Thursday, May 19, 2011


My kids can all sculpt. Unfortunately, it's not one of my talents. But one night when my husband was on a business trip, my daughter and I sat down with some clay. She was trying to teach me how to sculpt. First we started with wax paper. Then we rolled the clay around in our hands to warm it up.
Then she showed me how to make a penguin.
Of course, mine didn't turn out like hers but it was fun. So, if you have a few free hours you might want to try sculpting ;)

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Flower Frenzy

I love flowers and Irises are one of my favs. This weekend I went to the store and when I came back, the flowers were blooming.

So pretty, so suddenly.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

SCBWI - Spring 2011 Writer's Conference

Saturday I spent the day at the SCBWI writer's conference.

It was an inspirational day. I had a great time and saw some old friends and made some new ones too.

It all began with Diane Muldrow from Little Golden Books giving one of the keynote speeches. She talked about her imprint and how she works and what she acquires but the thing I enjoyed the most was the blast from the past that she shared with all of us. It was a smorgasbord of stories she shared with us. One cover after another flashed up on the screen. These were some of the great stories LGB has published during the last 70 years. It brought my childhood swimming back before me in a whoosh of digital cinematography. Those stories colored my life like a kaleidoscope when I was growing up. I loved Little Golden Books then, and I still do.

We took a short break and then it was time for another wonderful key note address by another leader in the publishing industry. We sat down to hear the words of wisdom that Bonnie Bader's talk would impart to us on Writing for the Masses.

This was another educational keynote speech. Bonnie talked about her imprint, the process of acquiring manuscripts and what it takes to get a manuscript picked up by her company. But, that wasn't all. She not only talked to the writers in the room, she also talked to the artists. She said that copy artists (which I think of as a 'sort of' form of fan art) are always in demand. I thought that was very encouraging since I have two artist sons.

Then I went to a workshop put on by Sandy Asher. It was "a different way at looking at revision of scenes, chapters, and entire stories..."

Since I'm currently working on revising a MG manuscript, I thought I could use the help from a pro. She talked about the emotional aspects of a story and did a few exercises with us to help get the point across. I came away with some new insights.

Then it was time for lunch.

Right after lunch it was time for another workshop. I chose to go to Pamela Smith Hill's presentation on Plot, Setting and Character.

I really loved Pamela's presentation and the examples she used. She even gave me another blast from my past by pulling out some examples from classic writers. She read a couple passages that reminded me of times I read those stories to my kids. I'd forgotten how wonderful the classics can be.

Then it was time for a break, a brownie and a cup of coffee for me.

After my snack, it was time for Martha Mihalick to talk about what goes on behind the scenes of publishing. I'm always curious about this "business" of writing. And, it was fun to hear a perspective from one of the people who sees the "man behind the curtain". She had a bubbling personality and lots of energy, which kicked the atmosphere into high gear--even at the end of the day, which is nothing short of amazing.

Then it was time for a faculty panel question and answer session followed by door prizes and book sales.

I left feeling inspired but exhausted. It was great fun but with so much energy floating around the room and so much information swimming around inside my head...I was ready to curl up on the couch with a good book. So I did. That's when I read Elsewhere.

Hope you all had a fun-filled weekend, learned a little something, and were inspired by someone along the way :)

Monday, May 16, 2011

Book Review Monday

Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin

My daughter got me this book for Mother's Day. I told her it really sounded interesting because it's about a girl on a journey to heaven or hell...or Elsewhere.

She said, "I thought you'd like it." And, I did--overall.

This is a story about a 15 (almost 16) year-old girl who gets hit by a taxi and wakes up dead. She's on a cruise ship taking a journey to . . . somewhere. That's part of the mystery...where will she end up?

It's a fun, entertaining story with a twist that's similar to Benjamin Button.

I really enjoyed Liz's adventure until I got to page 224. That's when Liz took a turn on her journey that was hard for me to follow. It went a little too fantasy for me.

I know, I know, a girl wakes up dead and that's no problem for me but mix in a little fantasy and you lose me. But she didn't lose me entirely; I kept reading.

So, like I said, overall I really enjoyed the story--all 276 pages. Plus at the end there's a section called "Gofish" which includes questions and answers from the author. I really enjoyed that section.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Earth-Friendly Friday

You don't have to use up the natural resources of the world to have pretty things. Just look at this recycled cotton gift box...

So, the next time you're out looking for a gift or a trinket for your house, look for recycled goods because they can be just as pretty and also be sustainable at the same time.

Happy Shopping.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

10 Tips to Enjoy a Writer's Conference

I know, attending conferences can be overwhelming. There's so much you hope to get out of it: information, networking opportunities and tools for your craft. But if you expect too much, you're bound to be disappointed. So don't set your expectations too high. If you do, you'll get your attitude all out of whack. Go hoping to learn a little, while making some new friends along the way, and you'll be bound to get your money's worth.

I'm not saying I know it all--that would be crazy--but I've gone to a few writer's conferences and I remember my first. I was nervous. So, I thought it couldn't hurt if I shared a couple ideas that might help you.

1) Wear comfortable shoes.
You'll be walking from one session to another and wanting to check out the book sales so don't make it hard on yourself.

2) Just like number 1 above, wear comfortable clothing.
Nothing too formal. Of course that doesn't mean sloppy either. The perfect thing would be business casual.

3) Join a table with others. You'll have more fun if you share the experience with others.

4) Speak up. Don't be afraid to comment or share ideas, if you're asked.

5) Bring a business card to hand out.
It doesn't have to have more than basic information: your name, number, email address. That way, if you make a connection, you can provide your contact information easily.

6) Have a positive attitude
. Even if the conference doesn't turn out to be everything you'd hoped, you can still get something out of the event. Sometimes the end result will come much later.

Bring a couple first pages of your manuscript. You might not need them but you never know and if an opportunity presents itself, you'll be prepared.

8) Don't forget to bring the tools of your trade: paper, pencils and a pen.
You might want to take notes - even if you aren't a note-taker you might hear something that inspires you and, if you don't write it down, you might forget.

9) Introduce yourself.
If you're standing in an elevator, in line at lunch or waiting to buy a cup of coffee, say 'hello' and you might make a new friend who has similar interests.

10) Relax.
This is supposed to be fun.

If anyone else has an idea or two - please add them to the "comments" section.

Answer to Word for Wednesday

The word Scofflaw means a person who ignores the law, rules or procedures.

If you don't believe me, check it out here.

Answer to Word for Wednesday

The word Scofflaw means a person who ignores the law, rules or procedures.

If you don't believe me, check it out here.

Word for Wednesday - Game for Writers

Guess what the word scofflaw means. Come on and play, simply put your answer in the comments section then come back around 3:00 p.m. to see if you were write or wrong ;)

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Tip for Tuesday - if you ever send an Email, here's a trick

If you send emails, you might want to know that you can prepare an email and then delay the "send" so that you can think it over, maybe edit the draft, or simply send it when you want.

You could use this option to prepare an email saying "Happy Birthday"! and then delay the send until the appropriate date. That way you will never "forget" a friend's birthday again--well, almost. At least it won't look like you forgot, even if you did.

Delay sending an e-mail message

• From within the e-mail, click on the Options ribbon / More Options section / Delay Deliveries.

• Select the Do not deliver before and select date and time.

WAH-LAH You're a genius on Outlook or at least you'll look like one :)

Monday, May 9, 2011

Barbie Cake

What little girl, or BIG girl, wouldn't love a Barbie cake? What a wonderful way to celebrate almost any occasion. At least that's what I think. How 'bout you? Wouldn't you love to have an icon of your childhood help you celebrate?

And, I thought Barbie was IT when I was a little girl. I loved her and Ken and played with my Barbie every day. But, Mom and Dad didn't have the money to even buy clothes for my doll (they had enough trouble buying them for the nine of us kids). I crocheted Barbie's clothes out of Grandma's left over yarn. So, I never had a Barbie cake growing up. To tell the truth, I don't even know if they were around back in those "olden" days. And, when Fatina invited us to her graduation and BBQ, I wanted to make one for her. So, I did. And it was super simple. Believe me, if I can do it, anyone can.

Here's how I did it.

First I started with a Barbie Cake Kit.
It came with a special "hill-shaped" pan I assembled by screwing in the stand and the core.
Then I sprayed the inside of the pan with "no-stick" spray.
I sprinkled flour all over the inside of the pan so that it would slide out easily after it was baked.
With the pan ready, I poured my cake mixture inside and baked it for about one hour (testing the cake with a wooden shishkabob skewer) to make sure it was done. I let it cool then it slid out easily.

Then I frosted the base of the cake with my first coat (or the crumb coating). You do this so that no crumbs will be mixed in with the final layer of frosting. I also cut out a shirt for her (making it out of blue fondant). I pinned the graduation cap to her head so it would stay on.
Now, it was time for the fun part. Decorating. I wanted to use the school colors. That made the choice of colors easy. So, I started decorating the dress with little yellow polka dots, that I cut out of fondant. I tied a little piece of rolled up paper (the diploma) in her hand with black thread.
The cake-kit came with a Barbie but I wanted one that actually looked like the graduate so I ran back to the store and bought one that I thought looked like Fatina.

It was so fun and I enjoyed giving it to the Graduate.

So, there are lots of ways you could use a Barbie Cake to celebrate a special occasion - can you think of a few? Please share any of your ideas in the comments section.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Ode to Moms Everywhere

It's Mother's Day and time to remember Moms everywhere.

My Mom, pictured above, passed away a few years ago and it's still hard for me on Mother's Day. I miss her. But today, I'm trying to be positive.

So, I'm going to focus on all the 'other' Moms in my life. My sisters are Moms, my neighbors are Moms, even the women who don't have children but nurture and encourage others - are Moms in my mind.

So, lets all remember to honor the Moms in our lives and if you are lucky enough to still have yours around, why don't you call her up today and honor her?

And to all you Moms out there in cyberspace - HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY!!!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Marathon Training

Today I signed up for the a Half Marathon in June. It's official - I'm committed, or maybe I should be. But I've been training, which is more than I usually do. In the past I've just gone out and run but you might be able to do that for a 3 or 6 mile run but not for 13 miles. You have to be in some sort of shape to run 13 miles straight. And I've been using the Adidas micoach technology to train.

So, how is training for a half-marathon like writing? Well, to be able to write you have to educate yourself (train yourself) on grammar, voice, and - yes - even pacing. Sort of like running.

I took the stride sensor and put it in my new shoe (which I just bought to break in before the marathon).
then I strapped on my heart rate sensor

and I put my earbuds in my ears so I could listen to micoach telling me what to do: speed up, slow down, maintain blue/green/yellow and even red zone then I was ready for my run.

Kind of like being in a critique group and having your peers give you advice, tips and feedback.

Using technology is also what writers need to do. You have to have (or at least should have) a decent computer with decent software. That's not to say you can't run without this technology, you can. And you can write with a piece of paper and a pencil but...having the proper equipment helps to achieve your goals faster, easier and maybe even with a little more fun. Yes, fun. It can be fun to write and to run.

When I got home I synced up my pacer with my computer. The program tells me how many miles I ran, what my pace was, my heart rate, and how many calories I burnt during my workout. It even graphs all the data for me and saves it.

Syncing up is like sending out your first manuscript. You can get feedback that lets you know if you are on track or way behind in the race.

Micoach is a great program and it has helped me (I hope) get ready for the half-marathon.

And, when a writer uses the right equipment, sets goals and works hard, he, or she, will be ready to send out his/her manuscript and have the best possible chance of publication. At least that's what I'm hoping ;)

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Happy Cinco de Mayo!

I celebrate the Fifth of May by eating some spicy Mexican food and raising a toast (usually a margarita) to the land down under (I know, it's not Australia but it's the land down under where I live ;)

I wonder how many of us know what it is we're celebrating.

It's not like the 4th of July, this isn't Mexico's Independence Day, that's on September 16.

Instead Cinco de Mayo marks a victory in battle. It's really a celebration of a David and Goliath story. Specifically the Battle of Puebla when the Mexican army had an unlikely victory over French forces on May 5, 1862.

Mexico actually gives it limited significance sort of like St. Paddy's Day in Ireland but we Americans like to celebrate diversity and different cultures whenever we can. We use the day to celebrate Mexican heritage and pride.

So, how do you celebrate the Fifth of May?

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Answer to Word for Wednesday

The word vamoose means to leave quickly. If you want to double-check, look here.

Word for Wednesday - Game for Writers

Guess what the word Vamoose means.

Put your guess in the comments section then come back around 3:00 to see if you were write or wrong ;)

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Tip for Tuesday

Sometimes writers need a little inspiration and I got some this past weekend from a friend. She said that, when she's trying to imagine a home for her characters, she goes out and drives around different neighborhoods looking at houses. She finds one she can imagine her character living in and then takes a few notes to help her when she's plotting out her pages.

I thought this was a great idea. I might even use it the next time I'm trying to create a setting for my character.

Do you have any ideas like this that you use when you write? Please share your inspiration in the comments section.

Monday, May 2, 2011

First Page Love with Lisa Schroeder

Writers all know how important that first page can be. It can hook an agent/editor but it can also make them stop reading. . . and none of us want them to move on to another manuscript in their never-ending pile.

So making that first impression right is critical. That's one reason the SCBWI sponsored a lesson on the craft of writing that ever-important first page with Lisa Schroeder. She gave up a morning (when the sun was out--which is rare in Portland, Oregon) to help us wannabe writers learn from her experiences.

She very graciously shared a few hints on what we writers can do to make sure our first page is strong enough to get our reader to go on to page 2...3, and hopefully even page 4.

I took notes and here are a few tidbits of wisdom that I captured from Lisa Schroeder (author of I Heart You - You Haunt Me, Far From You, Sprinkles and Secrets, Chasing Brooklyn, It's Raining Cupcakes, and The Day Before, which she shared with us at the SCBWI Smooze on Saturday, April 30th:

1) Have your first page start at a moment of significance;
2) Remember voice is important but have your characters doing something;
3) Have a conflict of some sort where the reader is playing catch up; and,
4) Leave your reader with questions.

If your reader has questions, they'll likely turn the page to find the answer.

She also gave us some morsels of what not to do:

1) Starting with dialogue is hard because the reader will likely have too many questions;
2) Editors and agents see too many stories starting with a dream;
3) Remember not to have too much back story; and,
4) Starting with action can be disorienting.

Another point she made was that we don't want to read about ordinary people, we want to be transported or entertained by the extraordinary.

Lisa went above-and-beyond the first page and also talked to us about picture books and cover art for books. She even recommended a few books on craft and much, much more.

It was a wonderful way to spend a morning, listening and learning from Lisa.